History of Macedonia 1354-1833

A. Vacalopoulos


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


3. Revolt of the inhabitants of Western Macedonia between 1444 and 1449



Hatred for the conqueror was deeply seated throughout Macedonia, and its people waited with an earnest expectation for their 'restoration'. The military events in Central Europe and the crusades which were being planned against the Turks must bave evoked a sympathetic response in the hearts of Macedonians. We know for a fact that the crusade of Vladislav (1443-1444), king of Hungary, had made a great impression in Southern Greece, inspiring the despot of the Morea, Constantine





Palaeologus, and his brother-in-law, Carlo II Tocco, Count of Cephalonia, to avail themselves of the Turks' preoccupation in the north and rise in arms against them. Constantine advanced beyond the Isthmus and took Thebes along with the whole of Boeotia, while the Vlachs of the Pindus, under the command of one of Constantine's officers, had begun raids upon the Yürüks of Thessaly [1].


In all probability this restlessness amogst the Christians had spread into Northern Greece as well; and the dwellers on the mountain ranges of Western Macedonia — Hásia, Olympus and Vérmion — who were in contact with their neighbours on the Pindus, must have lived in an atmosphere of insurrection and freedom, even in the towns and hamlets.


This period of insurrection appears to have lasted quite a number of years and received fresh impetus when John Hunyadi began a fresh campaign. But after advancing as far as Kossovo in Southern Serbia, the crusading army sustained a crushing defeat on 19 October 1448. Thus the revolutionary ferment that had developed in Western and Central Macedonia (see fig. 36) petered out before any positive result could be achieved.


There are reasons for supposing that during these troubled years whole districts of Western Macedonia succeeded in shaking off temporarily the Turkish yoke. Though we possess as yet no concrete information about the events of this period, certain details from an act of the Kadı of Véroia, Omer Nurulah, dated 12 July 1599, shed, in my opinion, considerable light on the subject. It is mentioned in this document that Greek citizens of Véroia — in particular those of the quarter of Áyios Nicólaos — had sent a deputation headed by their notables (kocabaşis) to complain to the Kadı that Michael Charitopoulos and 16 members of his patriarchal family, from the same district, were refusing to pay the statutary Sultan's taxes, because they had obtained through a firman the privilege of certain tax-remissions. These had been in return for the great services rendered to the Sultan's forces by the family's ancestor, John Charitopoulos, at the capture of Véroia in 852 (1448-1449). The tribunal rejected the plea of the kocabaşıs and forbade any further disturbance of Michael Charitopoulos, or of any member of his family, regarding the payment of the Sultan's taxes [2]. From this act of the Islamic tribunal we can ex-



1. Vacalopoulos, Ἱστορία, vol. 1, pp. 239-240.


2. I. K. Vasdravellis, Ἱστορικὰ Ἀρχεῖα Μακεδονίας. B'. Ἀρχεῖα Βέροιας - Ναούσης, 1598-1886, Thessalonica 1954, pp. 1-2. The local tradition surviving to our own day names the traitor as Hadjikatvias (see A. E. Christodoulou, Ἱστορία τῆς Βεροίας, Véroia 1960, pp. 41-43). For the development of the question see A. Vacalopoulos, The Revolt in Western Macedonia 1444-1449, «Balkan Studies» 9 (1969) 395-400.





tract two interesting items of information: viz. (1) there existed in active function organs of Greek local self-government; (2) the inhabitants demanded that everyone should conform to his general obligations



Fig. 36. Map of Macedonia (XIII Cent.)  [[ large image ]]

Fig. 36. Map of Macedonia (XIII Cent.), Cod. Vatop. 655, fol. 40v (Ptolemeus' Geography).

Microfilm of the Institute for Patristic Studies (nr. 282), Thessaloniki.



towards the 'community', even though certain individuals might enjoy favoured treatment from the Turks [1].



1. For some fresh details about the self-government of Véroia see C. G. Chionides, Τὰ ὄργανα αὐτοδιοικήσεως τῆς ἑλληνικῆς κοινότητος Βέροιας ἐπὶ τουρκοκρατίας, «Μακεδονικὴ Ζωή» January 1967 (no. 8) 44-45.





The firman in question relates, therefore, to privileges which were granted to John Charitopoulos at the time of the capture of Véroia in 1448-1449. I cannot agree with Mrs Stathopoulou-Asdracha, who believes that the passage in question has been erroneously inserted in the copy of the court minutes that were in the hands of the kadı. Mrs Stathopoulou - Asdracha has put the capture of Véroia "around 1430, in conjunction with the development of the general attack on Thessalonica and its environs" [1]. In my opinion, the original dating is correct and corresponds to a definite occurance. This becomes all the clearer when placed within the framework of contemporary hostilities throughout the Balkans, as we shall see presently. The omission from the document of the actual Turkish month when Véroia fell certainly deprives us of a valuable piece of information, but this event must be put after the Hungarian defeat at Kossovo on 19 October 1448, which drowned any hope of liberation that lingered in the hearts of the people of Macedonia. It was then that the Turkish forces were ranged against Véroia and took it with the co-operation of John Charitopoulos and other members of his family.


In another Turkish document of half a century later a firman dated 12 September 1648, the privileges of the Charitopouli are again renewed. Herein it is once more recounted that "at the capture of Véroia they contributed in manifold ways great assistance and services" [2]. Just what kind of services these were is not specified. John Charitopoulos, perhaps a former Byzantine pronoiar [3] (in other words, a Christian sipahi or official in free Véroia), had presumably been quick to facilitate the entry into the city of Murad ΙΙ's troops.


One wonders if this movement on the part of the citizens of Véroia should be linked with the schemes of Constantine Palaeologus and his contacts with Greeks of the extreme north. In the absence of any evidence, the question must remain unanswered, although the supposition seems a likely one.


After the capture of Véroia the Sultan did not delay in rewarding Charitopoulos and other members of his family, near or distant. He granted them exemption from the payment of the Sultan's taxes so long



1. Stathopoulou - Asdracha, Οἱ τουρκικὲς καταλήψεις τῆς Βέροιας, «Ἐπιθεώρηση Τέχνης» 20/122 (1965)153.


2. Vasdravellis, Ἀρχεῖον Βέροιας - Ναούσης, p. 33.


3. See Stathopoulou - Asdracha, ibid., pp. 153-154.





as they payed a lump sum of 1.049 akçe a year [1]. By the term 'Sultan's taxes' are meant, so it would seem, the additional taxes of avarızı divaniye ve tekâlifi örfiye, as they are specifically termed in the firman of 1671 [2]. It was doubtless impossible for the members of the Charitopoulos family to be exempted from the subject tax (haraç). The family had these privileges re-endorsed, one may recall, by a firman issued in 1684, because — as the Turkish document explains — certain 'trouble-makers' (clearly the same Christian towsmen from the Áyios Nikólaos quarter) were attempting to extort money from them [3]. Reading between the lines, their fellow-Greeks were bringing pressure to bear to induce Charitopoulos family to accept their share of the community's burdens.


P. Aravantinos, an Epirote scholar of the last century, has recorded a remarkable incident connected with the period under review. He is generally reliable, drawing his information from older local chronicals, some of which have been subsequently lost. In 1458, he recounts, the inhabitants of Aetolia who still retained their independence (no doubt this refers to the unsubdued inhabitants of the Agrapha region, and of Pindus generally), crossed over Mt. Kópanos near Tríkala and poured down into Thessaly. After setting fire to a number of villages, they pushed on, ravaging the country as they went, as far as Sérres in Macedonia, at which point they turned back laden with booty to their homeland [4]. I have no idea where Aravantinos found this information, and for that reason cite it here with great reservation. For one thing the date he gives cannot be correct. The incident could not have occured in 1458, when Mehmed II made his first expedition against the Greeks of the Peloponnese, but rather ten years earlier, in 1448 when possibly the Christian population attempted an uprising after news of Hunyadi's successful campaign, prior to his defeat at Kossovo [5].



1. Vasdravellis, Ἀρχεῖον Βέροιας - Ναούσης, p. 33.


2. Vasdravellis, ibid., p. 57. See also the court minutes of 1681 on pp. 77-78.


3. Vasdravellis, ibid., pp. 32-33. See also fresh disturbances in 1671 on pp. 57-58, and in 1681 on pp. 77-78.


4. P. Aravantinos (P.A.P.), Χρονογραϕία τῆς Ἠπείρου, Athens 1856, vol. 1, p. 176.


5. See Α. Ε. Vacalopoulos, The Revolt in Western Macedonia 1444-1449, «Balkan Studies» 9 (1969) 395-400.


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