History of Macedonia 1354-1833

A. Vacalopoulos


XI. The national and religious revival of the Greeks of Macedonia


1. Development of Greek culture in Macedonia



The improvement in the economic fortunes of the Greeks led to a gradual rise in the general level of culture; and this in turn helped to check to some extent the whole-sale conversions which we have observed in the preceeding chapter. One important feature of this period was the establishment of elementary schools in a number of cities and townships, particularly in the mountain areas, where the Turkish yoke was to some degree lighter.


We shall not at this point deal with education in those districts of Macedonia which lost a considerable proportion of their population through emigration; for it seems more methodical to discuss such areas in a separate chapter in which we shall examine the influences that the emigrants exerted upon their homelands.


Also in the other centres and villages where the outflow of emigrants was weaker, even there the movement towards education and art is perceptible. Heuzey's account of conditions in the Olympus region in the middle of the 19th century serves as an illustration of this trend. "Throughout the Olympus region", he writes, "a striking revival of Buzantine art occurred in the 17th century and the first half of the 18th, a revival that can only be explained as the result of a re-awakening of the Greek race. During this period all the villages of Olympus were in a flourishing condition. By virtue of their flexibility and energy, they had achieved a measure of liberty which was respected by the Turks. The desire for learning arose spontaneously, with no help at all from foreign sources, in the humble schools of their towns and villages. At the same time, wealthy individuals spent their money on building churches and





decorating them throughout with frescoes. It seems to me that the frescoes of Livádi, Séli, and of the church of the Holy Trinity at Sparmós were executed with greater technical finesse and artistic feeling than those adorning the celebrated monastery of Phaneroméni near Athens" [1].


This being so, Evangelides' statement that the school at Katafygi was founded only at the beginning of the 19th century [2], can hardly be correct; and the same goes for the school at Velvendós which he says was founded in the last quarter of the 18th century [3]. These two schools were functioning—albeit irregularly—much earlier than the dates he gives.



Fig. 110. Kosmas Balanos

Fig. 110. Kosmas Balanos.

(Μεγ. Ελληνικὴ Ἐγκυκλοπαίδεια, 2nd edit.)



It is recorded that the so-called Hellenic School was functioning at Thessalonica around the middle of the 17th century under the direction of Ioannis of Thessalonica; and it was well-known for the teaching not only of classical Greek but of Latin as well. By the middle of the 18th century two schools are reported to have been functioning in the city. Kosmas Balanos from Yánnina (see fig. 110) taught at one of them up. to 1758, while at the other one (known as the Hellenic Museum) Athanasios of Paros (see fig. 111) was teaching from 1767 to 1770. He was succeeded by Ioannis Kontos from the monastery of Sparmós (hence his appellation Sparmiotes). Athanasios of Paros had a second spell there from 1778 to 1786 [4].


From the beginning of the 19th century (1806) uptil the insurrection of 1821, Athanasios' pupil, Anastasios Kambitis, taught in Thessalonica (from 1790 he had been teaching at Náousa). The Hellenic Museum ceased to function during the Greek War of Independence [5], but after the end of the war it re-opened under the direction of Nikolaos Angelakis and Emmanuel Photiades [6].



1. Heuzey, Le mont Olympe, pp. 52-53.


2. Evangelides, Ἡ παιδεία ἑπὶ τουρκοκρατίας, 1, p. 121.


3. Evangelides, ibid., p. 103.


4. Χ. Poulios, Σύντομος ἔκθεσις τῶν γραμμάτων, «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» 1911, p. 200. See also D. Β. Oikonomides, Ἀθανάσιος ὁ Πάριος (1721-1813), «Ἐπετηρὶς Ἑταιρίας Κυκλαδικῶν Μελετῶν» 1 (1961) 351-352.


5. Evangelides, ibid., pp. 114-116. See also Poulios, ibid., p. 200.


6. Poulios, ibid., p. 200.





The school at Náousa was founded in the mid-eighteenth century. The Naousian monk Theophanes is reported as having taught there. In 1762 he was succeeded by Demetrius Anasiotes. From 1765 to 1775 the headmaster was Amphilochios Paraskevas, and his immediate suc-cessor was Anastasios Kambitis (mentioned above). When the latter



Fig. 111. Athanasios of Paros

Fig. 111. Athanasios of Paros.

(M. Basilakis, Ὁ Ἀθανάσιος Πάριος καὶ τὸ ἔργον του, «Χιακὰ Ἐκκλησιαστικὰ Χρονικά», vol. 3, part 2, Chios 1958)



left Náousa to take up the post in Thessalonica, his place was taken by Nikolaos Angelakis, assisted by Emmanuel Photiades [1]. The school at Náousa was functioning regularly up till the Greek Revolution [2].


There appears to have been a school also at Polýgyros. Α layman whose name is not known to us was teaching there at the beginning of the 19th century; he was a member of the revolutionary Friendly Society



1. Poulios, Σύντομος ἔκθεσις, p. 202. See also Evangelides, Ἡ παιδεία, p. 135.


2. Evangelides, ibid., p. 135.





(Φιλικὴ Εταιρεία) [1]. Galátista also appears to have its own school [2].


At Édessa a school was founded around the middle of the 18th century. One of its teachers was Amphilochios Paraskevas of Yánnina, whom we find later at Kozáni and Náousa. In 1764 there is record of Konstantinos, a pupil of Evgenios Voulgaris, at the Édessa school [3]. From a public register of Edessa we learn that in 1773 it was decided to engage a teacher with an annual salary of 300 kuruş—a quite considerable sum for those days [4]. The school was closed for a short period during the War of Independence [5].


There is mention of a school at Yenitsá in the 17th century [6].


One school which deserves special mention is the Athonias Academy, which played such a significant role in the spread of education throughout Macedonia. Monastic schools appear to have functioned on the Holy Mountain as far back as Byzantine times; and the tradition — attenuated maybe — continued throughout the Turkish occupation [7]. It is nevertheless a fact that monks of considerable educational and cultural attaintment lived on Athos for varying periods of time, and they must certainly have exercised a benign influence upon their brethren. Many of these learned monks wrote works on theological subjects, as for example did Gabriel the monk, Theophilus, Pachomius Rousanos, Theophanes Eleavoulkos Notaras, Symeon Kavasilas, Dionysius of Agrapha, Agapius Landos, to mention but a few [8].


At the beginning of the 18th century Joseph Vatopedinos and Cyril were teaching on Athos. In 1749, thanks to the efforts of Alexander Mavrokordatos and the Patriarch Cyril V, the Athonias Academy was founded on the summit of a hill north-east of the monastery of Vatopedi, in a most entrancing spot full of olives and other trees, which provided an ideal setting for solitude and study (see fig. 112). The abbot of the monastery of Vatopedi, Meletius Vatopedinos, had also played a leading part in the founding of the Academy [9]. The school accepted not only



1. Poulios, Σύντομος ἔκβεσις, p. 201.


2. Evangelides, Ἡ παιδεία, p. 137.


3. Ibid., p. 107.


4. Edessaeos, Ἔδεσσα, «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» 1908, p. 218.


5. Evangelides, ibid., p. 108. See also Poulios, ibid., p. 201.


6. Evangelides, ibid., p. 109.


7. Hadschi Chalfa, Rumeli und Bosna, p. 81.


8. Gedeon, Ἄθως, pp. 209 ff.


9. Evangelides, ibid., pp. 87-88. Concerning Joseph Vatopedinos and Cyril, see Smyrnakis, Τὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος, p. 366. See also Α. Angelou, Τὸ Χρονικὸ τῆς Ἀθωνιάδας, «Ν. Ἑστία», Christmas 1963, 89-90.





monks of Athos but those from monasteries outside the Mountain and even laymen. It had nine classes; the four lowest were devoted to elementary subjects, while in the five higher ones Latin was amongst the subjects taught [1].


In 1750 the headmaster of the Academy was the Peloponnesian monk, Neophytos Kavsokalyvites; but he proved unsuitable for the post and was unpopular with his pupils. In 1753, therefore, the Corfiote



Fig. 112. Ruins of the Athonias Academy

Fig. 112. Ruins of the Athonias Academy.

(G. A. Sotiriou, Τὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος, Athens 1915, p. 56)



teacher, Evgenios Voulgaris (see fig. 113), hitherto employedat Kozáni [2], was invited to the Academy, where he undertook the teaching of philosophy, mathematics, natural philosophy and theology. His colleagues at that time were Neophytos Kavsokalyvites and Panayiotis Palamas from Messolonghi (who was later to found the Palamean School in his native town [3]), both of whom gave instruction in Greek and classical studies.



1. Evangelides, Ἡ παιδεία, pp. 91-92.


2. Angelou, Τὸ Χρονικό, pp. 90-92. Cf. Evangelides, ibid., pp. 91-92.


3. Poulios, Σύντομος ἔκθεσις, p. 201.





Voulgaris' great reputation attracted a large number of pupils to the Holy Mountain. The traveller Hunt tells us that the number of pupils rose from 7 to 200. These Greek young men came from all over Greece and even from countries outside, such as Germany, Venice and Russia [1]. But the school's hey-day was short-lived. There was, alas, a clash of



Fig. 113. Evgenios Voulgaris

Fig. 113. Evgenios Voulgaris.

(K. Sardelis, Κοσμᾶ Αἰτωλοῦ ἀναλυτικὴ βιβλιογραϕία, Athens 1968, p. 28)



ambitions between the Patriarch Cyril and Evgenios Voulgaris, each desiring that the school should be his own exclusive province and linked with his name alone. In the end, the intrigues that the Patriarch indulged



1. See Walpole, Memoirs relating to European and Asiatic Turkey and other countries of the East, London 1818, p. 200.





in at Voulgaris' expense (no doubt with a view to weakening his standing amonst his pupils) brought about a rift between the two men and disharmony between teacher and pupils. Thus jealousy and factiousness was allowed to destroy what was initially an admirable united effort; the atmosphere and harmony so indispensable for the promotion of culture was shattered for ever [1].


When matters finally came to a head, Voulgaris left the Academy at the beginning of February 1759 and retired to Thessalonica. He had been by this time director of the school for 5 1/2 years (1753-1759) [2]. "I have left", he wrote in a letter to Cyril V, who had stayed on at Vatopedi, "because as I have said many times, the School has been divided into four tetrarchies, just as Judaea was during Augustus' reign: some are 'Patriarchites' (Cyrillistes), others 'Meletites' (of Meletius of Vatopedi), others 'Panayiotites' (of Panayiotis Palamas who usurped the power of the Headmaster), and some again 'Evgenites'... some 'blues' and others 'greens'... I left because time and again I was made to appear before the School and be judged alongside poorly qualified and half-useless teachers of grammar..." [3].


The loss of Voulgaris was irretrievable. The memories which that illustrious figure left behind him — memories of his immense spiritual qualities and of his entirely new approach to teaching (he initiated his pupils into the sciences and in the works of the new European philosophers, for example) — made the position of his successors very awkward. It is not difficult to understand why the period of Voulgaris' teaching was to be considered as the school's finest epoch.


Yet the rift between Cyril V and Voulgaris was not the only, nor even principal perhaps the reason for the downfall of this educational venture, which had begun with such promise. If we look for deeper causes, we find that beneath all this personal friction — and even side dy side with it— were latent the beginnings of a clash between those liberal ideas and trends which Voulgaris stood for and the conservative attitude adopted by the monks, who were so firmly wedded to tradition. As



1. Païsios Vatopedinos, Ἡ παρὰ τὴν Ἱερὰν Μονὴν τοῦ Βατοπεδίον Ἀθωνιὰς Σχολή, «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» 4 (1928) 318-323. Christ. Ktenas, Τὰ γράμματα ἐν Ἁγίῳ Ὄρει καὶ ἡ Μεγάλη τοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἐκκλησία, Athens 1928, pp. 24 ff., 90-98. Evangelides, Ἡ παιδεία, pp. 92-94, where the relevant bibliography may be found. See also Angelou, Τὸ χρονικό, pp. 98-99.


2. Κ. Mertzios, Περὶ Εὐγενίου τοῦ Βουλγάρεως. Διὰ τί ἐγκατέλειψε τὸ 1759 τὴν Ἀθωνιάδα Σχολήν, ΗΕ 5 (1956) 417-420.


3. Smyrnakis, Τὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος, p. 148.





Smyrnakis points out, the monks "considered that the subjects taught were irreconcilable with their own position" [1]. Behind the monks were the so-called 'Kollyvades', later to be led by Athanasios of Paros and Nicodemus of Athos. The two parties were in fact reviving the quarrels that had involved the late-Byzantine clerics and scholars, with one side championing the Hesychast doctrine and the other supporting the Orthodox view-point, but maintaining that ancient Greek philosophy could employed in one's approach to the Divine. The liberals' hand was strengthened of course by the strides that had been made in the realm of philosophy and science throughout the rest of Europe; and they accused their opponents of being retarded and conservative. The other side retorted that the liberals were introducing new-fangled ideas and showing irreverence towards the sacred traditions.


As tempers became roused, the debate, which had been fruitful enough so far, became charged with passion and fanaticism. The outcome was an irreconcilable rift between two diametrically opposed camps. Such a situation, not uncommon, alas, in the history of the Greek people, not only precludes the fruitful exchange of opinion, but more often than not leads to disaster, as indeed occured on this occasion.


The Kollyvades movement had as its objective a return to the original, genuinely ecclesiastical tradition, which might be summarised as comprising the frequent participation of the faithful in the mystery of Holy Communion, preparation for which included the study of patristic texts and, most important, of the 'niptical' fathers. By this means, they felt, an unbroken link could be preserved with the original church.


There was, besides, a whole mass of miscellaneous theological questions which occupied the minds of contemporary monks and scholars [2].


Much of what went on behind the scenes in the Academy affair still remains obscure, and the more deep-rooted reasons which led to the estrangement between Voulgaris and Athos have not been fully elucidated. However, it is clear that we are dealing here with a clash between two violently opposed outlooks on modern Greek education and culture. There was the liberal and rational attitude on the one side, and on the other the mystical approach of ascetic monasticism inherent in the life on Mount Athos. Indeed, what we see here is nothing less than



1. Smyrnakis, Τὸ  Ἅγιον Ὄρος, p. 142. See also Charilaos S. Tzogas, Ἡ περὶ μνημοσυνών ἔρις ἐν Ἁγίῳ Ὄρει κατὰ τὸν ΙΗ' αἰῶνα, Thessalonika 1969.


2. See G. Papoulidis, Nicodème l'Hagiorite (1749-1809), Athens 1967, pp. 15 ff., where there are details and bibliography about the Kollyvades' movement.





a revival of the Hesychast movement of the 14th century in a new guise.


Voulgaris' place at the Academy was taken by Nicholas Tzerzoulis or Tziartzoulis, a scholar from Métsovo, who had only recently returned from Western Europe and had taught mathematics at the Patriarchal Academy. It was not long, however, before he too was obliged to resign (1761) in view of the students' insistent demands for the return of Voulgaris. Palamas also was unhappy with the situation and likewise resigned [1]. For all their excellent intellectual qualities, both these men had found themselves diminished in stature when compared with their predecessor. It proved impossible for Athanasios of Paros, the most worthy theologian after Voulgaris, to remain at the Athonias Academy; his support of the Kollyvades' views provoked disorders in the classroom [2]. The school began to go rapidly downhill, despite the efforts of the patriarchs to maintain it at its former level [3]. The monk Gabriel of Vatopedi made a tour of Venice, Trieste, Germany, Serbia, Wallachia, Russia, Constantinople, Northern Greece and the islands to collect funds for the purchase of a printing press for the School; but his efforts met with little success [4].


Josephus Misiodax, a former pupil of Voulgaris and a well-known scholar, who was director of the school at Jassy in 1769, made the following remarks in connection with the history of the Academy: "Throw a sad glance at that renowned school of Athos, whose misfortunes and desolation rises like a mist before our eyes. Where is the illustrious Evgenios? Where the numerous throng of students, who to the joy of all Greece formed a veritable Helicon of laterday Muses? Gone is he and gone are they. The thunder of nemesis has fallen upon them, scattering both teachers and taught; and that very edifice which had become so famous in the capital and in the rest of Greece has become, alas, a dwelling and a nesting-place of crows!" [5].


The British orientalist, J. D. Carlyle, travelled through Athos in



1. Poulios, Σύντομος ἔκθεσις, p. 201. See in particular Alkis Angelou, Τὸ χρονικὸ τῆς Ἀθωνιάδας, «Νέα Ἑστία», Christmas 1963, pp. 100 ff.


2. See Oikonomides, Ἀθανάσιος ὁ Πάριος, «Ἐπετηρὶς Ἑταιρίας Κυκλαδικῶν Μελετῶν» 1 (1961) 352-353.


3. Μ. Ι. Gedeon, Δύο ἀνέκδοτα γράμματα περὶ τῆς Ἀθωνιάδος Ἀκαδημίας, «Ἐκκλησ. Ἀλήθεια» 3 (1882-1883) 686-689 and 697-701. Angelou, ibid., pp. 100-103.


4. Α. Papadopoulos - Keramevs, Ἑλληνικὰ κείμενα, χρήσιμα τῇ Ἱστορίᾳ τῆς Ρωμουνίας, Bucharest 1909, pp. 315-316. See of the same author, Ἔκβεσις παλαιογραϕῶν καὶ ϕιλολογικῶν ἐρευνῶν ἐν Θράκῃ καὶ Μακεδονίᾳ κατὰ τὸ ἔτος 1885, ΕΦΣΚ, Παράρτημα τ. ΙΖ' (1886) 12, n. 1.


5. See Smyrnakis, Τὸ  Ἅγιον Ὄρος, p. 149.





1801 and provides some interesting information about the monasteries. While staying at Vatopedi, he made an excursion to the Athonias to see, as he puts it, "what was formerly an academy". Α great disappointment awaited him: he found there a picture of abandonment and desolation such as had never before met his eyes. Α solitary cock strutted about the immense edifice with its 170 narrow cells and its empty cup-boards. The building was falling into ruins. Inside he found scattered here and there the torn fragments of grammar-books [1].


What had been the cause of this disorder? Had the students staged a riot? The monk Smyrnakis comes to our aid once more. "A little after 1759", he writes, "the School, which had been functioning hitherto, was either burnt down or pulled down after being abandoned by the monks. The reason may have been that the Academy had become the scene of allegedly unbefitting behaviour; or it may have been due to the fanaticism that had arisen over the instruction given at the school or had resulted from the composition of the student body, which was a mixture of lay and monastic element" [2].


Should these disturbances be assigned, perhaps, to a later date — that is to say, to the time when Athanasios of Paros came to teach at the Athonias Academy, and when the Kollyvades' ideas had caused an uproar in theological circles and exacerbated the passions of both sides?


Carlyle is correct in stating that the Academy had not found a worthy director for over forty years. No serious effort had been made by the monasteries to restore to its former importance the foundation which had brought them such honour [3]. The Academy had ceased to function in its original building for quite some years. It was to open again perhaps some 12 or 13 years after Carlyle's visit (i.e. in 1813), though not in its former premises but at Karyés [4]. The Athonias Academy closed for good in 1821, its last teacher being Athanasios Philippides (or Philippoupolites), who took up the post in 1804 [5].


Α printing-press had been set up in 1759 at the monastery of Lavra by the archimandrite, Kosmas of Epidaurus. Its director was a Soterios



1. Alkis Anghelou, J. D. Carlyle's Journal of Mount Athos (1801), «Ὁ Ἐρανιστὴς» 3 (1965) 37-38. See also Walpole, Memoirs, 1, p. 200.


2. Smyrnakis, Τὸ  Ἅγιον Ὄρος, p. 142.


3. Anghelou, ibid., p. 38. See also Walpole, ibid., 1, p. 200.


4. See Evangelides, Ἡ παιδεία, Ι, p. 96.


5. Païsios Vatopedinos, Ἡ παρὰ τὴν ἱερὰν μονήν..., ibid., p. 323. Evangelides, ibid., 1, p. 96.





Dukas from Thasos, who owned another press at Jassy. However, this establishment suffered the same fate as the Academy. As far as we know, the press at Lavra printed only one book: ' Ἐκλογὴ τοῦ Ψαλτηρίου' by Neophytos Kavsokalyvitis [1].


Many of the young men who completed their studies at the Athonias Academy settled down in various parts of Macedonia, and some of them reached the uttermost parts of the Greek world. With their knowledge and enthusiasm they made a notable contribution to the raising of their compatriots' cultural level. And this contribution becomes more estimable when one considers that at that moment Hellenism was passing through a critical period in its history. The Christian populations, (particularly in Western Greece), reduced to desperation by endless years of bondage and living through a night of intellectual darkness, had almost descended to the level of primitive man. Conversion to Islam offered them considerable advantages, and their resistance was dwindling to nothing. But these new teachers, interpreting the spirit of Evgenios Voulgaris, brought fresh hope to the dejected Greeks and afforded them some glimpses of European culture and learning. Thus it was thanks basically to the teaching of Voulgaris at the Athonias Academy that modern education was spread throughout Macedonia and the Holy Mountain. It was only to be expected that on Athos this new teaching would conflict with the mystical spirit that had pervaded that corner of the Greek world from centuries past.



1. K. N. Sathas, Μεσαιωνικὴ Βιβλιοθήκη, Venice 1872, vol. 3, p. LXX. See also Angelou, J. D. Carlyle's Journal, p. 94.


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