History of Macedonia 1354-1833

A. Vacalopoulos


IV. The troubled state of Macedonia in the 15th century


2. The resettlement of Thessalonica and the founding of Naousa


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1. Immediately after its capture Thessalonica was well nigh a deserted city. It had lapsed into a state of stagnation; its harbour was lifeless; its inhabitants numbered no more than a few thousand Greeks. The erstwhile 'μεγαλούπολης' of the city's prime was no more. Disturbed by the situation, Murad took steps to repopulate the city, two years after its capture, and to provide some sort of shelter for the new settlers, both Greeks and Turks. To this end he proceeded to sequester the houses of inhabitants who were absent and indeed of those who were still living there. Of the principal churches only four — the so-called 'catholic' (central) churches — remained in Christian hands. The Church of the Asomati (the Rotunda), the Church of St. Demetrius and the Church of the Holy Wisdom were three of these. Their survival as churches





was owed to the vigorous efforts of the new archbishop, Gregory. The finer monasteries and houses Murad subsequently bestowed on members of his household and other dignitaries, and what was left he shared out amongst the Turks who had come at his command from Yenitsá and other places. For himself the Sultan had a palace (seray) built inside the city. The new settlers took over some of the less noteworthy houses and a number of churches here and there,provoking disorder and turmoil by their tyrannical behaviour towards the older inhabitants [1].


Α heart-breaking scene had ushered in the era of Turkish occupation as the splendid churches of Thessalonica were ransacked. The Sultan had ordered a great number of marbles to be stripped from the churches and monasteries and transferred to Adrianople to be used to pave the floor of a bath there. It is impossible today to envisage the grief that this caused to the Thessalonians, if not to the inhabitants of Macedonia generally. The historian, Anagnostes, who felt intensely the feelings of his enslaved compatriots at that moment, wrote: "Many men would in other circumstances have preferred Thessalonica to their own homeland, and the city would have been full of pious inhabitants and monks overflowing with joy and delight, side by side with the Christian population of the city, had not Murad come to that accursed decision and if things had not reached such a pass. But as it is, those who had fostered this longing in their hearts, have now changed their minds, and we ourselves are sorry we ever came; so much have our hopes been thwarted. Everything is topsy-turvy, as the saying goes". Anagnostes goes on to compare the city to a ship beaten by the winds, and appeals to the pity of God and St. Demetrius the Triumphant with a secret prayer for the deliverance of Thessalonica: "Θεοῦ δὲ ἄρα τοῦτο ἂν εἴη ... ἰθῦνοα πρὸς γαλήνην καὶ σωτηρίαν χαρίσασθαι ... καὶ πλεῦσαι δεύτερον, ὅ ϕασι, μεταβεβλημένων ἁπάντων ἑπὶ τὸ βέλτιον καὶ ὃ σννοίσει τῇ πόλει ... μεσιτεύσαντος τοῦ ἡμεδαποῦ τροπαιούχου καὶ μάρτυρος ... Γένοιτο δὲ μὴ οὐκ εἰς μακράν, ἱλέῳ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπιβλέψαντος ὄμματι καὶ ϕιλανθρωπευσαμένου συνήθως ..." [2].


The Turks showed a particular preference for the upper part of the city and the acropolis (see fig. 33), no doubt for reasons of security. The garrison-commander (dizdar) had his residence in the upper city, possibly in a converted palace or church. This stood in front of the caucus of buildings which formed the fortress and which are standing to this day with the lion of St. Mark over the gate. Cousinéry saw in the court-



1. Vacalopoulos, History of Thessaloniki, pp. 76-77.


2. John Anagnostes, Bonn edit., pp. 526-527.





yard a shattered Greek inscription and two beautiful columns of green marble [1]. One can see them still on the ruined site in front of the convict-prison (see fig. 34). Our colleague, Mr. S. Pelekanides, has discovered the existance of an early Christian basilica on this site.



Fig. 33. The citadel of Thessalonica

Fig. 33. The citadel of Thessalonica.

(J. Ancel, La Macédolne, Paris 1930, table LVII)


Fig. 34. Site of an ancient Christian basilica in front of the prison of Heptapyrgion, Thessalonica

Fig. 34. Site of an ancient Christian basilica in front of the prison of Heptapyrgion, Thessalonica.



From the heights of the city the Turks will have been able to keep the movements of the rayas under constant surveillance and, from their vantage-point, nip in the bud any threat of revolt. Nonetheless, it appears



1. Cousinéry, Voyage, vol. 1, p. 44.





that Greek quarter survived in the upper city, centred subsequently around the monastery of Vtataeon [1].


The Turks were from now onwards masters of the city in both word and deed (see fig. 35). Their symbols were the minarets thrusting confidently skywards next to appropriated churches and newly built mosques. From their summits the monotonous call of the müezzin disturbed the melancholy silence of the ruined city, as he summoned the faithful to prayer each day. As the years went by, Thessalonica lost its Byzantine colour and took on the form of a Turkish city —Selanik.



Fig. 35. Α Turkish bath at Thessalonica. (Early Turkish dominalion)

Fig. 35. Α Turkish bath at Thessalonica. (Early Turkish dominalion).



Α number of the Greek inhabitants, some indigenous and others brought in by Murad from other parts of the empire, were selected for the duty of garrisoning the towers and coastal walls of Thessalonica. This they did in conjunction with Turks; and in return for their service they were exempted from certain taxes [2].


At this time, too, the city council of Thessalonica appears to have been reconstituted.



2. During this period there are signs that Murad made an attempt



1. Vacalopoulos, History of Thessaloniki, p. 77.


2. I. K. Vasdravellis, Ἱστορικὰ Ἀρχεῖα Μακεδονίας, Α. Ἀρχεῖον Θεσσαλονίκης, 1695-1912, Thessalonica 1952, pp. 2-3.





to round up the terror-stricken Christian populations scattered throughout the mountains and forests of the interior (and even those in Greek lands under Venetian rule) and to concentrate them into communities once more. Thus, with the rehabilitation of Thessalonica must be linked the founding of what is Náousa today. As we have observed earlier, it was in this region that Sheik Lianes, the tutor of Ahmed Evrenos, was active. According to the local tradition surviving in a manuscript of the last century (perhaps a copy of an earlier one), Sheik Lianes came into contact with the inhabitants of Palionáousta, which was situated upon the lower crest of Vérmion, near the locality known today as Toúrlia. Finding them in a half-wild condition, the Sheik decided out of compassion to do something to help them [1]. He prevailed upon them to settle in present-day Náousa and procured from the Sultan numerous privileges on their behalf. (These we shall be enumerating a little later). Behind this oral tradition, which survived to the beginning of this century, lies a kernel of truth: these barbarized natives were Christian refugees from different parts of the region, who in their degradation must have become a danger to the whole neighbourhood; hence their transformation into peaceful and productive elements of the community became a matter of prime importance. It was Sheik Lianes who undertook that task and brought it to a successful conclusion. As regards the date when Náousa was founded, local tradition has it that the city was founded 20 years before the capture of Constantinople (1453). This being so, it corresponds exactly with the resettlement of Thessalonica. This dating seems highly probable, taking into consideration that the Turks had been spreading out towards Vérmion after 1385-1386, when Véroia was taken. The inhabitants of the region had thus been living for quite a number of years in isolated groups on the approaches of that massif, free and safe maybe, but in a lamentable and half-wild condition.


Tradition goes on to tell that Sheik Lianes, after founding Náousa, built a hermitage near modern Kióski, and it was there that he was buried. When the Turkish warlord, Ahmed Evrenos, returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca and learnt of the Sheik's death, he gave orders that his body should be exhumed and re-interred in one of the mosques of Yenitsá [2].



1. Vasdravellis, Ἱστορικά, «Μακεδονικὰ» 3 (1953-55) 133.


2. See Ν. G. Philippides, Ἡ ἐπανάστασις καὶ καταστροϕὴ τῆς Ναούσης, Athens 1881, p. 26, note 1. See also Vasdravellis, Ἱστορικά, «Μακεδόνικα» 3 (1953-55) 134.





Šheík Líanes' patronage of Náousa had resulted in the granting of various privileges to its inhabitants, which may be listed as follows: No Moslem was permitted to settle in Náousa except for the kadı and the voyvoda, who collected the Sultan's taxes. The statutary taxes paid to the mosque of Evrenos at Yenitsá (vakfı), were extremely light, amounting in all to 900 kuruş [1]. In addition, the people of Náousa payed a small sum towards the burning of a candle-lamp and two candles at the tomb of Sheik Lianes at Yenitsá [2]. The historian of Náousa, Eustathios Stouyannakis, fecords some additional information which he no doubt took from local spoken tradition, but which is, I believe, of a later date: namely that no Moslem was allowed to enter the town on horseback; that its administration was delegated to one of the notables (ἄρχοντες), who was selected by the people and who chose as colleagues in office whomsoever he wished. This official had absolute administrative and judicial authority; only a general assembly of the citizens could overrule him. The election of this archon had to be confirmed by the kızlar-ağa [3].


These numerous privileges, together with various other facilities that the inhabitants enjoyed, enabled them subsequently to develop certain branches of manufacture: the manufacture of arms, cabinet-making, textile manufacture, and dyeing [4] — crafts which have survived in that district to the present day.



1. Vasdravellis, Ἱστορικά, «Μακεδονικὰ» 3 (1953-55) 129.


2. Ε. Stouyannakis, Ἱστορία τῆς πόλεως Ναούσης, Part Ι, Edessa 1924, p. 51. See also Vasdravellis, ibid., p. 129.


3. Stouyannakis, ibid., p. 52.


4. See Stouyannakis, ibid., pp. 36 ff. See also Vasdravellis, ibid., pp. 128 ff. For legends about the Evrenos family see Beaujour, Tableau, 1, pp. 111-116, based on a Turkish manuscript.


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