History of Macedonia 1354-1833

A. Vacalopoulos


VII. Macedonia in the 16th and 17th centuries


2. Macedonia in the second half of the 17th century


d) Western Macedonia


West of Édessa stood the small township of Flórina, which was divided into six 'districts' containing 1.500 houses in all, spaced widely





apart. It had 14 mosques, 3 medreses, a tekke of dervishes, 7 elementary schools and 2 bath-houses. For the convenience of travellers there were two large inns. The town did not possess a covered market, but had , about a hundred business-premises. Its government officials were composed of the kâhya of the town, the serdar of Janissaries, etc. [1]. Flórina was full of gardens, watered by a tributary of the River Erigon (of Monastir) [2].


The majority of the villages around Flórina, like Egri Budjak, Ostrovo and Langa, were inhabited by Turks [3]. Evliya Çelebi relates that he found in the district of Egri Budjak a vilayet of Yürüks. These were living in the old military style and enjoying their old tax privileges. Evliya praises highly the coarse woollen cloth they wove and their hand-some cloaks [4]. In the same district he came upon the little hamlet of Sari Göl, with 300 houses. It was the hass of the Sultana Fatima, the daughter of Sultan Ahmed I (1603-1617) [5].


We now come to Monastir, a large city, full of greenery and built on the lower slopes of a mountain above the River Erigon (Crna). In fact, the vegetation of those parts was so dense that the city could not be seen from a distance because of all the trees that surrounded it. It was divided into 21 'districts'. Its 3.000 or so houses were large, two-storeyed and roofed with tiles. It, too, constituted a hass belonging to Fatimá, and was administrated by her voivoda.


Monastir also constituted a 'has' belonging to Fatima, and was administered by her voyvoda. It was, moreover, the capital of the surrounding region and had 360 villages under its jurisdiction. The government officials in residence included the kâhya of sipahis, the Serdar of Janissaries, the voyvoda of the city and the kâhya of the city, etc. There was no garrison-commander, however, since the castle had been pulled down upon its capture in the reign of Murad I (1362-1389).


An immense number of mosques (70 according to Evliya's reckoning) and 9 medreses adorned the city. The covered market was a stoutly built, circular building with iron gates; in fact, it looked very much like a fortress [6]. But this did not prevent a certain 'hayduk' (klepht) named



1. Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatnamesi, vol. 5, pp. 574-575.


2. Hadschi Chalfa, Rumeli und Bosna, p. 97.


3. Hadschi Chalfa, ibid., p. 99.


4. See Gökbilgin, Rumeli᾽de, p. 77.


5. Evliya Çelebi, ibid., vol. 5, p. 580.


6. Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 572-573.





Bano or Pano [1] from making a secret entry into the city with 500 men, breaking down the market gates and seizing cloth to the value to 70.000 kuruş. This incident had actually happened while Evliya was staying in the city, and he is very indignant at the lack of action on the part of the civic authorities. "In such a large city", he exclaims, "there was not one who made any protest against Pano. What a spectacle, what cowardice!" [2]


Of the 900 business-establishments in the city, those of the turners and the taillors were particularly outstanding. Monastir was famous for its flax, which was finer than that from Egypt [3]. Hadji Kalfa, wrongly informed, states that its inhabitants were Bulgarians [4]. It is known for certain that the tailors and their families were Vlachs (as we shall see later).


Kastoriá was yet another has of the Sultana, constituting a kaza of 150 akçes with 110 villages within its jurisdiction. Α garrison-commander with a force of 50 soldiers was based in its imposing castle, which was built on the western edge of the Lake of Kastoriá, up on a steep cliff, with lofty walls and two iron gates. In its bailey there was accommodation for 200 soldiers, as well as store-rooms for grain and a powder-magazine. No Greek dwelt within the castle, though outside it were 20 'districts' of which 16 were Greek and one Jewish.


The houses of Kastoriá, which numbered some 2.500, looked towards the lake. They had several storeys and reminded one of the houses at Constantinople. The number of Christian churches was large (Evliya Çelebi says there were 70), and they had a host of priests and other clerics (seefig. 96). These churches received a good number of visitors from Constantinople and elsewhere. As the city and the castle were built on a rocky hillside, the roads were not wide.


There was in Kastoriá but a single Moslem school, since the Moslems were few in number. In the majority of its 100 shops fish-paste and various kinds of general groceries were sold. The wine-must which came from



1. In her recent study, Outlaws in Bulgarian lands in the 15th to 18th centuries, «Istoričeski Pregled» 1968, No. 4, p. 45, Cvetkova reads the hayduk's name as Bayo. On the other hand, B. Demetriades, Director of the Historical Archives of Macedonia, reads the name as Bano or Pano. If this is so, the man represented as a Slav hayduk would have been in fact a Greek klepht. However, for a closer examination of this question we must await the completion of Demetriades' researches.


2. Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatnamesi,vol. 5, p. 574.


3. Ibid., vol. 5, p. 573.


4. Hadschi Chalfa, Rumeli und Bosna, p. 97.





the vineyards of the surrounding mountains was especially famous [1]. In fact, as Hadji Kalfa informs us, there was a large trade in wine [2].


Evliya gives us a vivid description of the picturesque lake of Kastoriá and the methods of fishing on it, and tells of the fish-paste that was made there and sold to foreign merchants, who conveyed it to the neighbouring districts. Later on, he goes on to talk about the surrounding



Fig. 96. The Catholikon of the Monastery of the Holy Anargyri (eastern aspect) at Kastoria

Fig. 96. The Catholikon of the Monastery of the Holy Anargyri (eastern aspect) at Kastoria.



villages, the greater number of which were Turkish. The reign of terror inflicted by the klepht Pano was felt throughout the whole district [3].


On the opposite shore of the lake was a large Greek village called Léhtsista [4]. The mountains surrounding Kastoriá were inhabited by a stock of people derived from the mixture of Serbs and Vlachs [5], while Hrupista (Árgos Orestikón) was inhabited by Bulgars [6]. Northwards, be-



1. Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatnamesi, vol. 5, pp. 575-576.


2. Hadschi Chalfa, Rumeli und Bosna, p. 97.


3. Evliya Çelebi, ibid., vol. 5, p. 576.


4. Ibid., vol. 5, p. 576.


5. Hadschi Chalfa, ibid., p. 97.


6. Ibid., p. 98.





yond the present-day Greek frontier, lay Ohrid, inhabited (Hadji Kalfa tells us [1]) by Bulgarians.


As far as I know, Evliya and Hadji Kalfa are the last foreign travellers to mention Serbs along with the other nationalities in 'Greater Macedonia'. Later on, that is to say, from the beginning of the 18th century, there is mention only of Bulgarians, afact which show sthat the Bulgars — through the steady descent of farmers andlabourers — formed the largest Slav group and gradually absorbed the sparse Serbian element. Did any separate remnant of the Serbs survive? Cvijić affirms that this mixture of Bulgars and Serbs created an "amorphous mass, which preserved here and there elements of Serbian traditions, but by and large the region constituted a land devoid of ethnic consciousness" [2]. This groups of Slavs was to remain 'amorphous' during the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century; but after the turn of the century these people, already Bulgar in name, began to acquire a Bulgarian national consciousness.


Cvijić admits that Bulgarian propaganda had contributed in a general way to this orientation. But as a fervent nationalist devoted to the idea of a greater Serbia, re-created with the proportions of the old Serb empire, and relying on the 'amorphous' nature of the Slav feeling of nationality, Cvijić had hopes that if Serbia annexed 'Greater Macedonia' she would, within a short time, be able to re-convert the cities into Serbian ones, just as they had become in the past Bulgarian within some twenty or thirty years [3].


But when Cvijić talks about 'Bulgarian' cities (in quite general and unspecified terms), he means the cities of Northern Macedonia, situated mainly in what is nowadays Yugoslavia. About the presence of Greeks in these cities (a subject we shall be treating at greater lenght presently) Cvijić displays complete—though doubtless studied—ignorance. He does, however, recognise the Bulgarian character of the present Bulgarian Macedonia, where in 1878 there had taken place a number of uprisings, having a distinctly Bulgarian character [4].


The antagonism between the Serbs and the Bulgars over the occu-



1. Hadschi Chalfa, Rumeli und Bosna, p. 140.


2. J. Cvijić, La péninsule balcanique. Géographie humaine, Paris 1918, p. 313· Cvijić attempts to illustrate and develop this theme in 1907 — i.e. at the time of the struggle for Macedonia! — and in his pamphlet Remarques, pp. 5 ff.


3. Cvijić, Remarques, p. 12.


4. Cvijić, ibid., p. 12.





pation of present-day Yugoslav Macedonia has exacerbated the relations between the two countries. Here, then, in the 19th century are to be discerned the beginning of a problem which persists to the present day [1].


Before we bring to a close this description of the more important towns and cities of Southern Macedonia, we ought to say a few words about the two famous castles of the region, those of Platamón and Sérvia, which were vital points in respect of the communications between this part of Macedonia and the rest of Greece.



Fig. 97. Ruins of an old inn below the Castle of Platamon

Fig. 97. Ruins of an old inn below the Castle of Platamon.



Platamón stands on the south-east boundary, between Macedonia and Thessaly, and at the time of which we are speaking, was no more than a village contained within the medieval castle. In front of it was the spring of Faïk Pasha, and down by the sea was its small outport [2] (see fig. 97, which shows an old warehouse lying on the old highway which skirted the castle).


Sérvia lies on the south-west boundary. It was inhabited by both Turks and Greeks, the former dwelling on the plain and the latter on



1. See the recent publication of the Bulgarian, D. Angelov, Clement of Ochrida and Bulgarian Nationhood, «Etudes Historiques» 3 (1966) 61-78. See in particular pp. 62, 76, note 33, where there is a response to an article of the Tugoslav, Taskovski, on the same subject.


2. Hadschi Chalfa, Rumeli und Bosna, p. 101.





the higher ground, where the medieval town used to lie. On a precipitous site nearby towered the famous castle of Sérvia [1].


Sérvia constituted a hass of the nişancı paşas [2] and, as its inhabitants affirmed, had been exempted from the payment of the heavy 'special' taxes by an ordinance of the Sultan. It had a voyvoda, who also performed the duties of governing-judge, a şerif (chief of the descendants of Mohammed) with a salary of 150 akçes, a garrison-commander with 20 soldiers, a kâhya of sipahis, a kâhya of the city, a commander of Janissaries, and other officers.


The castle of Sérvia was built on a small, conical hill, with stout walls reinforced with wooden beams. Within the bailey of the castle were 100 houses belonging to poor Greeks. Vines were cultivated on the surrounding mountains. Without the castle itself, in the lower city with its narrow, climbing streets, were 6 Moslem 'districts', and 8 mixed Greek and Jewish, comprising in all 1800 stone-built houses with gardens full of vines and mulberry-trees. Sérvia was famous for its beautiful face-cloths decorated with silk embroidery, and for its fine-quality 'burnooses', bath-robes with silk fringes and the whitest of soft sheets.


Within the city stood 6 large and 6 small mosques, a number of dervish tekkes, 2 elementary schools, an inn, a bath-house and 100 shops.


The Moslems were few in number, the majority of the population being Greeks. Their houses looked over the River Aliákmon; and they had 7 Christian churches [3], of which six (Ayiou Constantinou, Zoödochou Pēgēs, Ayiou Nikolaou, Ayias Solomonēs, Ioannou tou Prodromou, and Katechoumenon) [4] stood within the precincts of the fortress and one — Ayion Anargyron — was situated outside the walls [5]. Of the six churches within the fortress three are in a very delapidated state today [6]. These churches were never turned into mosques, as withness the fresh repairs and the renovation of their frescoes carried out during the period of Turkish occupation [7]. This view is further confirmed by the absence of mosques within the village of medieval Sérvia, a fact which shows



1. Brown, Relations, p. 68-69.


2. Nisancı Paşa = The highest officer of the Porte, second only to the Grand Vezir (see H. Gibb - H. Bowen, Islamic Society and the West, London - New York -Toronto, Vol. 1 (i) (1951) 124-126).


3. Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatnamesi, vol. 5, pp. 581-582.


4. See Papathanasiou, Τὸ μεσαιωνικὸν ϕρούριον τῶν Σερβίων, p. 72.


5. Xyngopoulos, Τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν Σερβίων, p. 26.


6. Ibid., p. 26.      7. Ibid., p. 15.





that the Turks had never settled in that part of the town; and for this reason there had never been any need to convert the churches into mosques [1]. In this particular locality, therefore, the Greeks had remained undisturbed.


The Greek women and girls of the district were engaged in sericulture [2]. And it is worth noting, too, that the nuns of the neighbouring patriarchal nunnery of Ayion Theodoron also devoted themselves to this work, being under an obligation to send to the Patriarchate, every year during Holy Week, twelve priest's head-dress-covers (ἐπανωκαλύμαυχα) made of silk. Sericulture seems to have thrived traditionally at Sérvia [3]. Indeed, in reference to the manufacture of silk at Sérvia, Evliya Çelebi says that some travellers quite rightly called the city 'Little Brusa' [4]. There was a Greek school functioning in Sérvia during the 17th century [5].


On their journeys to Elaásón, both Evliya and Brown [6] were filled with a certain awe as they peered up at the frowning cliffs of Sarantáporo (Kırk Ceçit), which they describe in vivid colours. Evliya's description of the place, revealing as it does the activities of Greek klephts, who were bent on exterminating the Moslems, is no doubt quite typical. "May almighty God", he exclaims, "grant that I never have to pass through this defile again; for at every turn one can smell human blood. Infidels, called hayduks, are annihilating our people. The roads are everywhere frightful, dangerous and hemmed in by woods; everywhere is just right for an ambush. An enormous number of martyrs lie buried in every ditch. Α horse cannot get through; men on foot are obliged to walk in single file. Glory to God, His protection preserved us, so that we passed through safe and sound..." [7].


In numerous other parts of Western Macedonia, through which Brown travelled, there reigned such disorder that the terror-stricken inhabitants would fly to the protection of the forests as soon as they set eyes upon strangers [8].



1. Xyngopoulos, Τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν Σερβίων, p. 16.


2. Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatnamesi, vol. 5, p. 582.


3. Maloutas, Τὰ Σέρβια, p. 70.


4. Evliya Çelebi, ibid., vol. 5, p. 582.


5. Evangelidis, Παιδεία, Ι, p. 150.


6. Brown, Relation, p. 61.


7. Evliya Çelebi, ibid., vol. 8, p. l88.


8. Brown, ibid., p. 109.


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