History of Macedonia 1354-1833
XIV. Macedonia in the time of Ali Pasha (end of 18th century to the beginning of 19th)
2. Southern or Lower Macedonia
(iii) The Paşalık of Thessalonica (region of Thessalonica and Chalcidice)
__1_ — __2_
The paşalık of Thessalonica embraced Chalcidice and the fertile lowlands bounded on the east by the Thermaïc Gulf and stretching westwards to the foothills of Vermion and Yenitsá. These lowlands belonged to a handfull of Turkish landowners who had become so powerful that the successive paşas of Thessalonica were never able to impose their authority upon them .
1. Yenitsá was a small but nonetheless important township at this time. Its inhabitants, numbering 4-5.000, were nearly all Turks . Ali Pasha did not venture to interfere with this venerable Moslem centre, since it was still governed by descendants of the celebrated Evrenos family, which had figured so prominently amongst the early Turkish generals .
4. See Leake's account in Temperley, History of Serbia, p. 332.
5. Beaujour, Voyage, vol. 1, p. 197.
6. Cousinéry, ibid., vol. 1, pp. 86-87.
The chief product of the region was its excellent tobacco, for which Yenitsá was the main market centre . The walls of the houses in the town were festooned with tobacco leaves hung out to dry . Annual production amounted to some 5.000 bales of 100 okas each .
Fig. 171. Excavations at ancient Pella.
(Photo Ph. Petsas)
Of Pella, so famous in antiquity, nought remained, says Beaujour, but a few insignificant ruins (though in the light of modern archaeological research these have proved to be of outstanding importance) (see figs. 171, 172). Beaujour believed he could detect the outlines of a magnificent harbour and traces of the canal linking it with the sea . Pella
1. Beaujour, Voyage, vol. 1, p. 197. See also Leake, Travels, 3, pp. 266-267, where there is information on tobacco and its processing.
2. Leake, ibid., 3, p. 267.
3. Beaujour, ibid., vol. 1, p. 87. Leake, a little later, records only 2.000 bales with 80 okas each ( ibid., 3, p. 267).
4. Beaujour, Tableau, vol. 1, p. 87, note. But see also Leake, ibid., 3, pp. 265-266. On the plan of ancient Pella see information in Clarke, ibid., vol. 2, pp. 335-336.
extended also over the hill that rises a little to the north of the lake. It is interesting to note that the village which now stands on the site of ancient Macedonia's capital was called Ta Palátia (The Palaces). It used also to be called Áyii Apóstoli (Holy Apostles), or in Turkish, Allah Kilise (Church of God) . The popular name of Ta Palátia recalls the splendours of its ancient past and rightly fixes the site of ancient Macedonian's capital city.
Fig. 172. Ruins of ancient Pella.
(Photo S. Iordanidis)
At the beginning of the 18th century Bulgarian tenant farmers had been settled at Pella , on about 60 estates of more or less uniform
1. Anonymous, Descrizione della Macedonia, ibid., 5, p. 443.
2. Beaujour, Voyage, vol. 1, p. 197. On the same village and on its Bulgarian inhabitants see Leake, Travels, 3, p. 261. On Pella's archaeological surroundings see interesting details on pp. 261-264. See also Struck, Die Makedonische Niederlande, p. 88, where there is a topographical sketch of the district.
size. The latter had been created by the landowner, Selim Bey, a member of the Evrenos family of Thessalonica, which at that period constituted a seperate branch of the Evrenos family of Yenitsá. To each tenant-farmer the bey gave one yoke of oxen for ploughing, and received in return a fixed proportion of the yield . He had to his disposal a separate number of peasants for his own lands. There was no regular communal organization of the area, though the peasants had the right to appoint their own representative (kâhya) to defend their rights and protect them from unjust demands on the part of the subaşı .
It is also worth mentioning that twenty minutes away from Allah Kilise is a spring which the Greeks called Pélli and the Bulgarians Pel . This would show that the ancient name for the place had been localised to a particular spot in this area; though why this should be is not at all clear.
South of the lake of Yenitsá stretched the plain of Kampanía, between the Aliákmon and the Axiós. This was inhabited mainly by Greeks, as was likewise the region of Vérmion. The whole area was covered with splendid forests. One would say, postulates Cousinéry, that these bad proved natural strongpoints where the Greeks could find safety from Bulgarian incursions . Right up till the arrival of Greek refugees from Bulgaria, Thrace and Asia Minor, i.e. until 1924, virgin forest had been preserved in those lowland areas as far as Véroia. They were later cut down to make way for farms and other cultivated areas.
The same opinion is expressed in Leake's account. He alludes to the Slavic inroads of the 9th century, and maintains that in that part of Central Macedonia the Slavs drove the Greeks out into the Chalcidic Peninsula and the coastal areas around the mouths of the Gallikós, Axiós and Aliákmon. There, in the marshy tracts and backwaters, the Greeks found at last an adequate bulwark against foreign incursions. This was further attested by the Greek place names . In my own view, however, the marked Slav presence in South Macedonia was not the result of incursions alone, but was also the effect of more prolonged and peaceful infiltration such as had taken place throughout the period of
1. Cousinéry, Voyage, vol. 1, p. 88.
2. Cousinéry, ibid., vol. 1, pp. 88-89.
3. Leake, Travels, 3, pp. 261-262.
4. Cousinéry, ibid., vol. 1, pp. 67-68.
5. Leake, ibid., 3, p. 270.
Turkish domination, as I have explained elsewhere. In this district of Kampanía, known mostly under the name of Rumlúki (viz. country of the Romans, i.e. Greeks), the people were cut off from and indeed sheltered
Fig. 173. Greek couple of peasants from Kampanía (Rumlúki).
(Schultze Jena, Makedonien, plate 6, opposite p. 36)
from the outside world, and thus preserved their own customs and traditional way of life, and their own costumes (seefigs. 173, 174), etc.
The bishop of these riverine lowlands had his seat at Kapsochóri ,
1. Cousinéry, Voyage, 1, p. 67. Kapsochóri, between the rivers Mavronéri and Indjekara (Aliákmon), is situated in a wooded part of the lowlands, in whose vicinity lie a number of other Greek villages (Leake, Travels, 3, p. 259). It was at Kapsochóri that Leake place the ancient Alorus ( ibid., 3, p. 436).
where there was a school at this time . There was a school, too, a little later at Koulakiá , which lay in the midst of a salt march teeming with dug-out canoes . At Kampanía the forests alternated with corn-fields which afforded abundant yields. The jurisdiction of the bishop, who came under the metropolitan of Thessalonica, extended over 28 villages .
Fig. 174. Greek woman from Kampanía.
(Schultze Jena, ibitl., plate 6, following p. 36)
In this out-of-the-way and unhealthy corner of Macedonia the bishop, at the end of the 18th century, was the virtuous and modest Theophilus of Yánnina, a pupil of Evgenios Voulgaris and author of a number of theological and legal works. In addition to his depth of theological understanding, the bishop possessed a wide and diversified knowl-
1. Evangelides, Ἡ παιδεία ἐπὶ τουρκοκρατίας, 1, p. 121.
2. Leake, Travels, 3, p. 259.
3. Ibid., 3, p. 438.
4. See the list of villages on a manuscript of the bishop of Kampania, Theophilus, in Β. Α. Mystakides, Διάϕορα περὶ Θεσσαλονίκης σημειώματα. Ἡ μονὴ τῶν Βλαταίων καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ ἔγγραϕα. Μητροπολῖται Θεσσαλονίκης, ἐπισκοπαί, κλ., ΕΦΣΚ 27 (1900) 387-388.
edge coupled with a forward-looking and liberal outlook. In 1788 he composed the "Nomikon", a handbook of laws and rules of post-Byzantine jurisprudence. Although his many natural talents marked him out for a brilliant career such as might have removed him from the manifold dangers of this marshy and remote area, he made no bid to change his see, and indeed repeatedly refused to accept a more comfortable one. He thus remained abindingly faithful to his hapless flock . One example of his spiritual endurance was his habit of making fun of a number of other prelates who were wont to complain about their various minor difficulties. For example, he wrote to Hierotheos, bishop of Polyaní, who sent a request for a quantity of the famous kaviar that was made in the district: "In the village where I live we are rich in venus-shells and razor-fısh, since they take all the other luxury fish to Thessalonica to be bought up by the well-gilt and well-to-do Thessalonians" . Theophilus had a particular interest in education — he is recorded as being the founder of the schools at Kampanía  — and was polite and cordial in his relations with Europeans .
Through his "Nomikon" Theophilus rendered a great service to the enslaved Greek people, for the work seeks to strengthen the coherence and endurance of the race. His particular concern was to discourage his fellow Christians from resorting to Turkish courts. "When members of the Christian faith ... betake themselves to external (i.e. Turkish) tribunals... they should be shunned and detested... since on their own initiative they have cut themselves off from the assembly of Christian folk... and have favoured the infidel faith..." .
Continuing our course towards the Thessalonica district, the only village to be mentioned by Cousinéry as being Bulgarian is Yeniköy, which lies over by Chortiátis and is the present-day Asvestochóri (see fig. 175). However, its population, which was engaged in the production of lime (exported via Kallípoli to Asia Minor), was not composed only of Bulgarians — Cousinéry was in this case mistaken in his obser-
1. For full details about the man and his work see D. S. Ginis, Νομικὸν ποιηβὲν καὶ συνταχθὲν εἰς ἁπλῆν ϕράσιν ὑπὸ τοῦ πανιερωτάτον ἐλλογιμωτάτου ἐπισκόπου Καμπάνιας Κυρίου Θεοϕίλου τοῦ ἐξ Ἰωαννίνων (1788), Thessalonica 1960, pp. V-XXVII.
2. Ginis, ibid., p. XXVII. On the fishing of shell-fish and octapus and the hunting of wild boar in the district of Koulakiá, see Leake, Travels, 3, p. 438.
3. Evangelides, Ἡ παιδεία ἑπὶ τουκοκρατίας, vol. 1, p. 121.
4. Cousinéry, Voyage, 1, p. 67.
5. Ginis, ibid., p. XXVI.
vation  — but of Greek Vlachs from the Ágrapha region, as we have remarked earlier. Anyway, as the Frenchman states himself, the population spoke also both Greek and Turkish . This is not the only occasion
Fig. 175. Womar's dress from Neochóri (Asvestochóri).
(K. G. Tsekos, Ἱστορία τοῦ Ἀσβεστοχωρίου, Thessaloniea 1957, p. 30)
when he regards language as the sole indication of race. It seems very likely that these people recorded as Bulgarians had come into the district as building labourers and had colonised the village jointly with Greeks
1. Cousinéry, Voyage, vol. 1, p. 111.
2. Cousinéry, ibid., vol. 1, p. 111.
during Turkish times —hence the name Yeniköy, which means New Village in Turkish. Nor is this the only instance of peaceful infiltration by Slavs and the formation of new settlements during the centuries of Turkish occupation, when the unrestricted movement of peoples throughout the Balkans was possible .
At Yeniköy there was not sufficient farmland to go round, as there was at the neighbouring Chortiátis, so the menfolk worked traditionally as builders on a seasonal basis right up till the beginning of the 20th century. After celebrating with their families at Christmas and the feasts of St. Basil and of Epiphany, they formed themselves into small gangs of 8-10 men and went off to other localities. They were to be found in all the villages of the Balkan Peninsula, where they would work until the beginning of December when they turned homewards with their year's savings. Their homecoming was naturally a joyous occasion for all, and this was usually the time when marriages and festivities took place in the village .
2. Thessalonica at this period continued to be the chief port for Central, if not for the whole of Macedonia. Ships put in there with goods from ports all over the Ottoman empire and from foreign parts as well . There were at Thessalonica factories producing quality silks and woollens, which were in great demand in the markets of Turkey and at Constantinople .
Thessalonica was also an important centre for the collection of wool from various regions of Macedonia. For instance, some 400 or 500 thousand okas of top-quality wool, famed throughout the Levant, came from Albania and Lárisa. Α further 300.000 okas was brought from Yenitsá, Doïráni, Strumica and Sérres .
The city had consulates for France, Britain, Venice and Holland;
1. See also the other Yeniköy near Pella which had been founded and inhabited by Bulgarian tenant-farmers (Leake, Travels, 3, p. 261).
2. Greg. I. Demopoulos, Αἱ παιδικαί μου ἀναμνήσεις. Νεοχώριον (Ἀσβεστοχώριον), «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» 1909, pp. 167-176. See also with regards to the colonisation of the village and the composition of its population, Tsekos, Ἱστορία τοῦ Ἀσβεστοχώριον, pp. 24-29.
3. Lascaris, Salonique, p. 23. There is a description of Theassalonica and its monuments at the beginning of the 19th century in Leake, Travels, 3, p. 235.
4. Lascaris, ibid., p. 20.
5. Beaujour, Voyage, 1, pp. 148-150,154. On Thessalonica's trade at this period see Clarke, Travels, 2, pp. 364-366.
and vice-consulates for Germany, Denmark, Naples and Ragusa. Indicative of Thessalonica's commercial importance is the fact that quite a number of foreign merchant companies had branches in the city. Of the 18 firms operating before the Napoleonic Wars, 11 were French, 2 British, 1 Venetian, 1 Austrian and 3 under Leghorn Jews, two of which were under German protection and the other under French. There was, incidentally, no prescribed number for those who could claim the protection of the powers concerned, and vice-consuls would often secure berats for Greeks and Jews who were in a position to purchase them .
However, Thessalonica's trade showed a steady decline following the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars (1792 and after). The falling-off of exports brought stagnation in the market and a rise in the cost of living . Damage to French trade was particularly heavy. On this subject the French consul, Beaujour, writes in 1795 in an unpublished report, that his government "will bear in mind that the quantity of exports to this port before the war had been to the value of three million francs, that the total of our imports supplied all our factories in the southern regions; that this trade was all to our advantage, because we carried to Thessalonica manufactured goods and took away raw materials. Nor will the French government forget that our trade with Turkey provides for the upkeep of our fleet in the South and feeds our sailors and their families. It is important for the commercial well-being of the democracy, not to say for our political influence in Europe, that we keep the trade with the Levant in our own hands and thereby preserve our dominance of the Mediterranean" .
At this period Thessalonica had about 60.000 inhabitants. Of these 30.000 were Turks, 16.000 Greeks, 12.000 Jews, 2.000 foreign merchants, and some 500 families of Dönmes or Mamins (as the Jewish converts to Islam were called), who sought to avoid any kind of intermingling with the true Moslems. There were also a number of Gypsies and black slaves . All these various peoples were organized in self-governing com-
1. Lascaris, Salonique, pp. 24-25. For information on the British and French consuls at the beginning of the 19th century see Clarke, Travels, pp. 346-347.
2. Leake, Travels, 3, pp. 252-254, where there are some interesting economic details.
3. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Correspondance Consulaire, Salonique, t. 15 bis (1795-1809) 89.
4. See Beaujour, Tableau, vol. 1, pp. 52-53. See also Cousinéry, Voyage, vol. 1, pp. 19-20. See also Clarke, ibid., 2, p. 349, where there is mention of relevant information from Walpole, who refers to «a number of Bulgarians». See also numbers recorded by Clarke himself: ibid., 2, p. 363; and by Leake, ibid., 3, p. 248. There is a description of the life and pursuits of the Gypsies in Cousinéry, ibid., vol. 1, pp. 20-21.
munities, were dedicated to their own religious convictions, and attended the churches, synagogues and mosques (the latter being former Byzantine churches; see figs. 176, 177). Of these buildings we have already spoken in Chapter VII; but there is one important item of information recorded by the traveller Holland, which we might note as meriting
Fig. 176. St. Sophia at Thessalonica.
further examination and research. He writes that the underground church of St. Demetrius had a passage communicating with the mosque (perhaps he means the minaret), anf that the latter was, so tradition had it, on the very spot where there had stood the ancient Hebrew synagogue in which St. Paul preached to the Thessalonians .
1. Holland, Travels, p. 317. As regards the altar from whose steps St. Paul preached see also Walker, Through Macedonia, pp. 51-52.
Thessalonica was governed by a paşa or, in his absence, by his representative, the mütesellim . The paşa's jurisdiction extended west-wards as far as Véroia and eastwards to Kavála . Since his salary could not possibly cover the enormous expenses necessary for the upkeep of his entourage (which sometimes amounted to 1.000 persons), he cast around him for ways of securing funds. One way was to levy respect-
Fig. 177. Church of St. Catherine at Thessalonica (Yakub Paşa Camısı).
(Diehl - Le Tourneau - Saladin, Monuments, p. 181, fig. 78)
able amounts of money from the Greek and Jewish communities, and from the villages, even including Turkish ones .
As always, the supreme judicial power was exercised by the molla, who also performed the duties of police superintendant and market inspector. It was he who determined the price of merchandise and sanctioned or prohibited the export of certain items . The paşa might also
1. Svoronos, Commerce, p. 14.
2. Cousinéry, Voyage, p. 48.
3. Lascaris, Salonique, pp. 20-21. See also Beaujour, Tableau, vol. 1, pp. 47-48.
4. Svoronos, ibid., p. 15.
take part occasionally in legal cases that were open to controversy. In addition, there was a mufti, who could be consulted in matters of civil and criminal law . There was also a nakib with special judicial powers relating to emirs and the 'descendants of the Prophet' .
Commanding the force of Janissaries was the yeniçeri ağası, holding the rank of çorbacı . On occasions when the Janissaries threatened the security of the state, the Porte would send one of the Corps' higher-ranking officers with authority to act in whatever manner he saw fit and without the interference of the paşa or the molla .
All the above mentioned offices were for one year's duration only. In certain circumstances the paşa or yeniçeri ağası could stay in office for a second year on payment of a sum of money; but this did not apply to the molla . It was the general practice that whenever a town wished to be relieved of an unpopular governor, it paid a sum greater than that which the governor himself would put down to prolong his term of office .
In the district of Thessalonica there were only Janissaries (15.000 strong) and hardly any sipahis. The actual city garrison was composed of about 1.200 men belonging to the 36th company. But young Turks preferred to be assigned to the 2nd, 44th and 72nd companies, which traditionally had their headquarters at Thessalonica. These troops constituted a hive of unrest, and for want of something better to occupy their energies, they were wont to molest the Greeks, Jews and Dönmes. What is more, all items of prime necessity came under their control. The artillery corps was made up almost entirely of Dönmes, who joined it so as to ensure for themselves certain privileges. These people were totally ignorant in the use of cannon and were therefore quite inept when it came to defending the city in times of emergency. To quote a typical case: in 1772 when a Russian squadron put in an appearance, they had to seek the assistance of Albanian artillerimen .
The military importance of Thessalonica was by this time insignificant. The city possessed no real defence works. It was vulnerable not only from the sea but from the northern quarter too, for the surround-
1. Cousinéry, Voyage, vol. 1, p. 48.
2. Lascaris, Salonique, p. 20.
3. Cousinéry, ibid., vol. 1, p. 48.
4. Lascaris, ibid., p. 21.
5. Lascaris, ibid., p. 20. See also Beaujour, Tableau, 1, p. 11,
6. Beaujour, ibid., p. 12.
7. Lascaris, ibid., pp. 18-19.
ing heights dominated the city. Beaujour on one occasion expresses his belief that if they would only construct some kind of defence works on the small burun (promontory) — i.e. the one known today as Karabournáki — the city's harbour could be afforded some degree of protection and would not be exposed, as it was now, to even the slightest danger .
At the head of the Greek clergy — and of the Greek commurıity generally, for that matter — was the metropolitan. Several bishops
Fig. 178. Jews of Thessalonica.
came under his jurisdiction, the most important being those of Galátista (Ardaméri), Kapsochóri (Kampanía), Kítros, Rentína and Platamón . Leake mentions also the bishoprics of Lykostómion and Platamón, Sérvia, Pétra, and Hierissós . The Orthodox archbishop was also vested with secular power , for he was in essence the president of the 'Πολιτεία', as the Greek community was called . Similar authority in the religious sphere was exercised by the Jewish Grand Rabbi (Haham),
1. Beaujour, Tableau, vol. 1, p. 28. See to the opinions of the British consular official, Leake, in a report of 1807, in Temperley's History of Serbia, p. 334.
2. Cousinéry, Voyage, vol. 1, pp. 48-49.
3. Leake, Travels, vol. 3, p. 251.
4. Lascaris, Salonique, p. 20.
5. Leake, ibid., vol. 3, p. 250.
though his secular powers exceeded those of his Orthodox counterpart . In fact the Grand Rabbi often enjoyed the protection of the foreign powers — particularly of France and England — and thereby managed to render himself unassailable from Turkish quarters .
The Greeks, Jews (see fig. 178) and Dönmes were almost exclusively engaged in industry and commerce, in contradistinction to the Turks who usually lived on incomes derived from their estates (either private holdings or leased) and from interest on loans. It was customary for them to make loans with high rates of interest; i.e. 20%-24% .
Writing in 1795 the French consul at Thessalonica affirms: "Those Greeks who have trading connections with Germany are in constant competition with the French merchants established in Thessalonica, and they usually enjoy a more advantageous position, for they know the locality and purchase their goods at first hand" . The Greeks alone carried on the trade in furs, and they showed themselves the most progressive element in the city. The unwofked furs from Germany, Poland and Russia were processed and made up into exquisite articles to be sold at the various trade-fairs. The Greeks also dealt in thick woollen cloaks, much sought-after by seafarers, waggoners, and the like, for they afforded excellent protection from rain and snow .
However the chief agents of industrial and commercial activity in Thessalonica had remained the Jews. They had obtained the contract for the production of blue cloth for the Janissaries' uniforms the moment Murad II had taken the city. By virtue of their privileges they were able to purchase the wool they needed at a fixed price of below 12 kuruş an oka, whereas it normally would cost around 30 kuruş. But when European firms started to produce the same kind of material in large quantities, Thessalonica's production declined markedly . The Porte tried in vain, sometime in the 18th century, to nullify the import of foreign textiles by setting up a woollen mill in Thessalonica. The factory did not live up to their expectations: it failed to imitate effectively the textiles that came from Christian Europe, and the Porte was obliged to
1. Lascaris, Salonique, p. 20.
2. Beaujour, Tableau, vol. 1, pp. 49-50.
3. Lascaris, ibid., p. 18.
4. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. Correspondance Consulaire. Salonique, t. 15 bis (1795-1809) 85.
5. Lascaris, ibid., pp. 17, 18, 22, 23. See also Svoronos, Commerce, p. 17.
6. Lascaris ibid., p. 23.
designate the cloth exclusively for the use of the Janissary Corps . As to when this occurred, we find the answer with Pierre Tarillon. Writing in 1714 to the Count de Pontchartrain he states that in the past few years two vezirs had tried in vain to help the Jews in their bid to imitate French textiles .
From the end of the 18th century the death knell began to toll for the ancient Jewish industry of Thessalonica. Large quantities of coarse woollen cloth — the so-called' 'Londrins' — and of the better quality 'mahouds' were being imported from England; and at the same time 'Londrins' were coming from France (that is to say up to the French Revolution of 1789), as well as from Austria, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Tuscany, Naples and Ragusa. From 1785 Greek agents were importing German textiles — referred to as 'Leipzig cloth' —,which were quickly distributed throughout the whole of Macedonia . By 1827 the Thessalonica Jews no longer provided textile workers, and by 1875 all the city's inhabitants were dressed, without exception, in European cloth .
Α similar decline was suffered by the old Jewish carpet industry. In the past Jewish carpets had been able to compete with those from Smyrna, not so much in quality — for Thessalonican carpets were in that respect inferior — but in price, since they were much cheaper to manufacture . The carpet industry probably petered out after the plague of 1835, which killed off half the Jews of Thessalonica .
There was also a flourishing leather industry in Thessalonica. The tannery was situated in the vicinity of the old port, where tanneries were to be found up to very recent years; and this was in fact the busiest and most profitable of all the city's factories. The tannery enjoyed a number of privileges inherited from the second regiment of Janissaries (ikinci orta); and the corps of leather-tanners enjoyed a great deal of respect in Thessalonica. Apprenticeship to the craft lasted some twenty years, i.e. from the age of ten up to thirty years, and the novices' admission into the tanners' guild was celebrated by the entire city with
1. Emmanuel, Histoire des tissus des Israélites de Salonique, p. 58.
2. Aimé - Martin, Lettres, 1, p. 34.
3. Emmanuel, ibid., pp. 55-57.
4. Emmanuel, ibid., p. 59.
5. Cousinéry, Voyage, vol. 1, p. 49.
6. Emmanuel, ibid., p. 59.
honourary declarations and much feasting and drinking; and this was quite independent of class or religion .
Thessalonica was by now the main centre of German trade. Α considerable quantity of cotton was purchased there by Germans and dispatched to Vienna via Semlin and the Danube. From the Austrian capital it was distributed thoughout Germany and Switzerland. The Germans used to pay a third of the value of the exported merchandise in kind (especially felt and textiles) and the remaining 2/3 in money .
Austrian trade was developing at Thessalonica with equal vigour. We find, for instance, Jean Georges de Paziazi, chargé d'affaires for Eastern trade at the Banque de Prêt et d'Escompte, in close touch with his representative at Sérres, Deli Petrou. Regarding the purchase of cotton at Sérres in particular, ample information may be found in the unpublished reports of the Austrian ambassador, de Choch . In a similarly unpublished letter of Paziazi, dated 21 February 1808, we read that his Bank requires 10.000 bales of top quality cotton for its spinning mills, and that this cotton was produced at Lakkovíkia and other villages; and it is clear that large plantations belonged to Turkish ağas — especially Ismail Pasha of Sérres. The price of top quality cotton coming from Kırk Ağaç and Subuca near Smyrna sold at 3 1/2 paras an oka, whilst the price of other cottons was 3,125, 3,25 and so on .
Α considerable amount of trade in Macedonia was also carried on by the French. The principal goods that interested them were wool and cotton. In 1795 the French consul writes: "Since wool and cotton constitute the chief products of our trade in Thessalonica, it is in the interests of the French government to secure these goods by every means at her disposal. Our factories are experiencing an acute need of these materials, as witness their scarcity in France and their staggering rise in price. We ought not, therefore, neglect the valuable sources that can be assured us in Thessalonica. To this end we must re-organize our trading-agency there and restore it to its former eminence, wherıce it has fallen following the absence of the last consul.
The picture described to us by our merchants in this port is most depressing. Finding themselves deprived for some time now of the presence of our own consul, the majority of the French merchant companies
1. Cousinéry, Voyage, vol. 1, pp. 50-51.
2. Beaujour, Tableau, vol. 2, p. 53.
3. See reports dated 26 March, 13 September, 10 December 1808.
4. See also the relevant letter of the Austrian consul at Thessalonica, de Choch.
established in Thessalonica have resorted to foreign protection. As a result of this unforeseen desertion, the number of French companies in this part of the Ottoman empire has diminished to some five or six only. Moreover, this decline has been keenly perceived by the people on the spot, particularly the foreign merchants. There is a real danger that confidence in our trade will be completely undermined; few of our confrères show any dedication, now that they have been deprived of every support (and for this very reason they are frequently exposed to the slander of their enemies); and they do not venture to apply themselves any more to their commercial undertakings.
The Austrian merchants — they are coming to Thessalonica via Semlin and Trieste — are making great efforts to supplant French commercial interests here. And there is a real fear of their succeeding unless our Government is spurred to give our trading posts at Thessalonica some attention, and invests our merchants here with all the powerful protection befitting a mighty and valiant nation, that is naturally popular with the Turks.
If the French government would only cast a compassionate eye on this port of Thessalonica, our trade could flourish here once more. It only needs a worthy consul to represent our government and France would regain her confidence and power in commercial affairs throughout these beautiful lands" .
Even so, the French remained optimistic, for they enjoyed a good number of trading privileges. It is interesting to read a memorandum of the French consul, Félix Beaujour, on the French position at Thessalonica prior to the war in the Eastern Mediterranean, and to discern the antagonism the French felt towards the Italians, Greeks and Jews. "The non-Moslem subjects can offer us no competition in the sphere of Levantine trade. Of all the foreign nations we enjoy the most privileged position in the Ottoman empire. The products of French industry and of our colonies form the basis of exports to these parts, and whatever we import from here is absorbed by our factories. The Italians have no colonial trade whatever, and everyone knowns that their industrial products are inferior in quality and limited in quantity. During the past few years they have made systematic efforts to create in Italy markets for wool and cotton from the Levant, but they have not been successful. Thus the Italians are obliged to trade along the same lines as our-
1. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. Correspondance Consulaire. Salonique, t. 15 bis (1795-1809) 85a.
selves. By so doing they are obliged to employ a larger number of operatives and also to increase the costs of transportation. Hence, in the handling of this trade they are unable to enjoy the same advantages as we.
The Ottoman subjects cannot compete either. They have to pay 5% customs duty, while we pay 3% according to the old tariff, which work out at almost 2%. This is the only duty we have to pay; and once it is settled we can convey our produce freely from one port to another. Conversely, the Ottomans pay customs dues for every movement of merchandise that they make".
There can be no doubt that the Greeks and Jews were serious rivals to the French. They were, for one thing, frugal in matters of food and clothing; though what they saved was whittled away by the extortions of the Turks. Beaujour has some harsh things to say about both Greeks and Jews. His judgement was no doubt coloured by the hatred born of the fierce commercial rivalry that existed between them and the French. He affirms that the Greek and Jewish merchants, members as they are of races which have been rendered senile and depraved by centuries of bondage, exhibit many unpleasant characteristics. Bold in their undertakings, persuasive in their negotiations and beguiling with their promises, the Greeks draw their French colleagues from Marseilles into dangerous enterprises. There is, moreover, a further hazard: since a large number of the French operating in Thessalonica do not reside permanently in the city, but return to France, the Levantine trade is bound ultimately to fall into the hands of Greeks and Jews; and this spells economic ruin for France.
It is quite the opposite with the Greeks, he goes on. After making money abroad, they return with their fortunes to enslaved Greece and enjoy their wealth in their home towns among the mountains, far removed from the eyes of their tyrannical rulers and amidst the most wonderful climate in the world. The Jews, on the other hand, are a cosmopolitan people with fewer ties to the locality than the Greeks, who regard this land as their mother country and the Turkish occupation as burdensome but yet impermanent . These last observations of Beaujour are worth emphasising, for they bear witness to the inextinguishable faith of the Macedonian Greeks — not to mention Greeks elsewhere — in their coming restoration.
1. Beaujour's actual words are: "...Le Grec regarde la Grèce comme sa patrie propre et le Turc comme une bête incommode mais passagère".
It was the Greeks — according to Beaujour — who awoke the Austrians to the desireability of founding their own branch-offices in Thessalonica. Although German trade was still in Greek hands, the Austrians had made some progress and the French were seriously worried about it. The French consul adds: "...the admittance of other nations into the sphere of Levantine trade can be of no advantage to the French" .
Sericulture was a flourishing concern throughout the environs of Thessalonica. The silks produced there rivalled similar products from Brusa .
1. Ministères des Affaires Etrangères. Correspondance Consulaire. Salonique, t. 16 (1810-1812) 130a ff.
2. Cousinéry, Voyage, vol. 1, p. 50.
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