Abdullah Pashë Dreni was born in 1820 in Gjakova. He served in the Ottoman Empire military, where he notably fought in the Siege of Plevna, a major battle of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78), after which he received the title of pasha. Mehmed Ali Pasha, Marshal, Chief of Staff of the Ottoman Empire was residing in Dreni's house, when both of them, as well as Dreni's son, were killed under an armed attack of Albanian rebels, which is known as Gjakova's attack in Albanian's historiography. He is mentioned in Gjergj Fishta's Lahuta e Malcís, a national epic poem, where Dreni is described as forced to defend his unwanted guest, because of hospitality laws prescribed in the Albanian kanun.
The Siege of Plevna, or Siege of Pleven, was a major battle of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, fought by the joint army of Russia and Romania against the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman defense held up the main Russian advance southwards into Bulgaria for five months, encouraging other great powers actively to support the Ottoman cause. Eventually, superior Russian and Romanian numbers forced the garrison to capitulate. The Russian-Romanian victory on 10 December 1877 was decisive for the outcome of the war and the Liberation of Bulgaria.
The Attack against Mehmed Ali Pasha, known in Albanian historiography as the Action of Gjakova (Albanian: Aksioni i Gjakovës), was undertaken from 3–6 September 1878 by the Gjakova Committee of the League of Prizren in the estate of Abdullah Pasha Dreni near Gjakova. During the battle Mehmed Ali Pasha, the Ottoman marshal who was to overview the cession of the then-predominantly Albanian Plav and Gusinje region to the Principality of Montenegro, Abdullah Pasha Dreni, a notable official of the region and former member of the league, many Ottoman soldiers, and volunteers of the Gjakova Committee were killed.
Abdullah Pashë Dreni (1820–1878) was a 19th-century Albanian tribal leader and military of the Ottoman Army.
The Albanians, predominantly a Christian people, were considered as an inferior class of people and as such they were subjected to heavy taxes such as the Devshirme system that allowed the Sultan to collect a requisite percentage of Christian adolescents from the Balkans and elsewhere to compose the Janissary. Since the Albanians were seen as strategically important, they made up a significant proportion of the Ottoman military and bureaucracy. They were therefore to be found within the imperial services as vital military and administrative retainers from Egypt to Algeria and the rest of Maghreb. In the late 18th century, Ali Pasha Tepelena created the autonomous region of the Pashalik of Yanina within the Ottoman Empire which was never recognised as such by the High Porte. The territory he properly governed incorporated most of southern Albania, Epirus, Thessaly and southwestern Macedonia. During his rule, the town of Janina blossomed into a cultural, political and economic hub for both Albanians and Greeks.
The Ottoman Empire made numerous efforts to recruit French experts for its modernization. The French officer and adventurer Claude-Alexandre de Bonneval (1675–1747) went in the service of Sultan Mahmud I, converted to Islam, and endeavoured to modernize the Ottoman army, creating cannon foundries, powder and musket factories and a military engineering school. Another officer François Baron de Tott was involved in the reform efforts for the Ottoman military. He succeeded in having a new foundry built to make howitzers, and was instrumental in the creation of mobile artillery units. He built fortifications on the Bosphorus and started a naval science course that laid the foundation stone for the later Turkish Naval Academy.