History of Macedonia 1354-1833

A. Vacalopoulos


X. Conversions to Islam in Macedonia


2. Conversions to Islam in other parts of Macedonia



Conversion to Islam became increasingly common in Sérvia and its environs. Indeed, things reached such a pass that the city's bishop, Meletius, through the good offices of some citizens of Kozáni, obtained permission from the Patriarch of Constantinople for the transfer of the episcopal see from Sérvia to Kozáni in 1745 [2].


There was, however, no lack of 'new Martyrs' in that area: Such, for example, were Demetrius of Samarína (martyred in the time of Ali Pasha [3]) and Kyranna of Ossa, to name but two.


In Central Macedonia, on the other hand, the only recorded instance of a village going Moslem, is that of Nótia. The Vlach-speaking inhabitants of this village, who were known by the name of Karadjovalides (i.e. from the district of Karadjova), were only converted in 1759. Founded at the beginning of the 18th century, the village had remained, as it were, a tiny Christian island in the midst of a population that had become completely Moslem and Turkish. As a result, Nótia suffered all manner of persecution at the hands of the neighbouring Turks and renegades. The spirit of Ioannis, the Metropolitan of Moglena, who had his seat at Nótia, was finally broken. At midnight on the Saturday before Easter, while the church of St. Paraskevi was echoing to the strains of "Christ is Risen", the Metropolitan explained to the congregation why it was unavoidable that they should embrace Islam. Up to the exchange of populations, the people of Nótia piously preserved the ancient and valuable copy of the Gospels upon which their ancestors had recorded the act of conversion. But all the sacred furniture of the church and the icons were destroyed, except for that of St. Paraskevi, which, being the village's tutelary icon, was enshrined in the wall of the church. Right up to the day of their departure for Turkey, the villagers of Nótia



2. See Maloutas, Τὰ Σερβία, p. 67. See also Ν. P. Delialis, Σνμβολαὶ εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησιαστικὴν ἱστορίαν τῆς Κοζάνης, Reprint from «Οἰκοδομή», Kozani 1958, p. 3. See also pp. 4-6, where the document concerning the purchase of a house for the Bishop of Sérvia is quoted in full.


3. F. G. - H. L. Pouqueville, Histoire de la Régéneration de la Grèce, Paris 1824, 1, pp. 294-298.





celebrated the memory of the Saint, and the womenfolk lit candles over the graves of their relatives on 'Soul Saturday' [1].


Oral tradition tells of the fate of the ill-starred Metropolitan of Moglená. After his conversion he was called Ali and, as an Islamic judge, moved to Lárisa. Α chance meeting in a coffee-shop wit his brother Demetrius, who had had no desire to share the destiny of his fellow villagers and had left Nolia, proved fatal. Overcome by remorse, Ali made it known to Demetrius that he was ready to become a martyr for Christ. He went to the mosque of Turahan, by the bridge over the Peneios River, at an hour when it was full of worshippers, and ascending the pulpit, he made the sign of the cross and began to read a passage out of the Gospel. The congregation was up in arms. They cut him short and slew him inside the mosque. His brother, Demetrius, was betrayed by someone and hanged. The bodies of the two hapless brothers were thrown into a pit, and many years ago the place was marked by a large stone bearing the inscription "Neither yours (Christian) nor ours (Moslem)" [2].


In Eastern Macedonia the inhabitants of the village of Liálovo were Moslems but spoke the Greek dialect of the district [3]. According to Kânzob they had originally come from Chalcidice at the beginning of the 19th century. Liálovo lay in the district of Nevrokop, which was to be embraced by the boundaries of modern Bulgaria; and in 1960 the village population was transferred by the Bulgarian government to another area. The inhabitants of the village of Silyán in the Kavála district were also Moslem but Greek-speaking [4]. There are, besides, instances of villages of which the inhabitants were essentially Greek but had lost their Greek tongue and only spoke Turkish, e.g. Zeliáchova (Zíchna), Pórna, Ráchova, Chorovísta and Noüska. It is difficult to say just when the inhabitants lost their Greek language; the change probably came after a powerful nucleus of Turkish families had been established in their vicinity [5].



1. P. Papageorgiou, Ὁ ἐξισλαμισμὸς τοῦ μακεδονικοῦ χωρίον «Νοτίων». Ἀνέκδοτος ἱστορικὴ παράδοσις τοῦ ΙΗ' αἰῶνος, «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» 2 (1909) 91-95.


2. Ibid., pp. 94-95.


3. George Hatzikyriakou, Σκέψεις καὶ ἐντνπώσεις ἐκ περιοδείας μετὰ τοπογραϕικῶν, ἱστορικῶν καὶ ἀρχαιολογικῶν σημειώσεων, Athens 1906, vol. 1, p. 10.


4. See (though with reserve) the study of Koledarov, The ethnic composition of the Drama region, «Izvestija» 10 (1926) 159. Chauvenistic views abound in this work; see especially pp. 161 ff, 166.


5. Hatzikyriakou, ibid., pp. 132-133, 200.


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