History of Macedonia 1354-1833

A. Vacalopoulos


VII. Macedonia in the 16th and 17th centuries


1. From the eve of Lepanto to the middle of the 17th century: the first signs of active resistance to the Turks


 __1_   —   __2_   —   __3_   —   __4_   —   __5_   —   __6_   —   __7_


(1.) While maintaining their resistance to the Jesuits' attempts to proselytize them, the inhabitants of Macedonia — whether in the large towns, in the rural areas, or on Mount Athos — demonstrated in no uncertain terms their deep loathing for the Turks. The unrelieved oppression and the manifold hardships that they encountered in daily life combined in reinforcing an attitude altogether hostile toward their conquerors. As in other Balkan lands, the mountains became the refuge of desperate groups who lived by banditry. However, in view of the overwhelming strength and ruthlessness of their rulers, they did not as yet venture upon operations of a wider scope. Thus the inhabitants of Macedonia looked on in a state of daze while Suleyman I (1520-1566) marched through their country in 1537 on his way to Avlón. The Sultan was at that moment bent on crushing the Chimariotes of Epirus and then crossing over to Italy to attack Charles V on his own territory on behalf of Francis I of France, then an ally of the Turk.


Nevertheless, there could not have been a Macedonian, whether in the mountains or in the plains and towns (see fig. 63), who did not live in hope of liberation. Fostered by a wealth of legends, traditions and folk-songs, their faith in the ultimate restoration of their nation grew ever stronger with the passage of time. The increasing harshness



1. See evidence of Spandugnino in Κ. Ν. Sathas, Μνημεῖα ἑλληνικῆς ἱστορίας. Documents inédits rélatifs a l'histoire de la Grèce au moyen âge, Paris 1890, vol. 9, p. 219, «...sopra le montagne asperrime a pericoli di neve e di ladroni».





of Turkish rule only served to stimulate them into taking more drastic steps. One wonders what can have occurred in 1565 to have necessitated the calling in of the reserve detachments (ikinci nöbetli) of Yürüks from Thessalonica and Tríkala to defend Thessalonica? [1] The situation grew worse as the years went by. Α little later, in 1568, during the reign of Selim II (1566-1574), the Turks proceeded to seize "metochia" and



Fig. 63. Costume of a woman from Macedonia

Fig. 63. Costume of a woman from Macedonia.

(Nic. Nicolay, Les navigations, pérégrinations etc., Anvers 1577)



other estates belonging to the monasteries on Mount Athos and throughout the empire generally, under the pretext that the monasteries had tax obligations to settle. At this juncture they appear to have plundered and destroyed monasteries even within the confines of the holy peninsula



1. Gökbilgin, Rumeli᾽de Yürükler, p. 78.





itself, slaughtering those distraught and enraged monks who attempted to oppose the Turks' high-handed behaviour [1].


In addition, Selim II embarked upon the seizure of churches in Thessalonica and made away with the columns of others (eg. St. Menas' Church, the Church of the Reminder (Ὑπομιμνήσκων), and the Church of the Holy Angels (the Rotunda today)), no doubt to make use of them in Turkish buildings [2]. What is more, on 27 January 1570, the theological students (softas) of Sérres violated the monastery of the Venerable Forerunner and murdered some of the monks [3].


Like the rest of the Greeks, the inhabitants of Macedonia expected their liberation to come from the Christian West. They followed with rapt attention the major events taking place on the European scene and the clashes between the European powers and the Turks. The celebrated sea-battle of Lepanto (1571), in which the combined fleets of the king of Spain, of Venice and of the Pope destroyed the Turkish fleet, must surely have sent a shock wave of enthusiasm and expectation throughout Macedonia. Lepanto had shown quite clearly what the European powers could achieve, if they joined forces against the common enemy of Christendom.


The ensuing rage of Sultan Selim II was formidable, to say the least [4]. His unquenshable ire burst upon the Christian populations of his empire. Frightful slaughter and imprisonment of Greeks is reported to have taken place in the district of Thessalonica and on the Holy Mountain. The death-toll was over 30.000. The principal target was the monks, for the Turks feared that they would use their influence to incite insurrections among the Christian populations [5]. Doubtless these reports reflect earlier accounts of similar tribulations suffered on Athos and in Thessalonica (such as we have touched on above) and now repeated with even greater intensity in the new wave of terror that inevitably followed the Turkish defeat at Lepanto [6].



1. Vacalopoulos, Ίατορία, 2, pp. 169-170, where the relevant bibliography may be found.


2. A. Vacalopoulos, Ὑπῆρξε ἐπὶ τουρκοκρατίας μητροπολιτικὸς ναὸς ὁ Ἅγ. Γεώργιος (Rotonda) καὶ πότε; «Μακεδονικὰ» 4 (1955-1960) 549.


3. Zesiou, Ἔρευνα..., ΠΑΕ 1913, p. 228.


4. Ath. Comnerios Hypselantes, Τὰ μετὰ τὴν Ἅλωσιν (1453-1789), Constantinople 1870, p. 106.


5. Ε. Charrière, Extrait de négotiations de la France dans le Levant, Paris 1858, vol. 3, p. 262, footnote.


6. K. N. Sathas, Τουρκοκρατουμένη Ἑλλάς, Athens 1869, p. 172.





Two records from this period provide us with positive information on the subject. We learn that at Sérres (see fig. 64, 65) — the second most important Greek centre in north-east Macedonia — the Turks plundered the metropolitan church together with seven other churches, and devastated the monastery of the Forerunner, the 'suburbs' and the 'metochia' [1]. They subsequently sold the plunder (ecclesiastical manuscripts, etc.) wherever they could. Thus, for instance, we hear that the priest Argyros, son of the priest Cyrus, of Prosániki purchased a Gospel [2].


One cannot but wonder whether at this period any revolutionary



Fig. 64. Sérres. Koca Mustafa Camısı

Fig. 64. Sérres. Koca Mustafa Camısı.

(Photo G. Keroplastes)



plans had been set in motion if not actually translated into action in Macedonia (as had happened in Southern Greece), though we know nothing of them today.


It is not known what repercussions there were further north in the celebrated Greek centre of Melnik. At all events, life cannot have been too easy in that remote spot (for Melnik occupied an extremely isolated position at this period). The city's metropolitan, Methodius (1575-1581),



1. Zesiou, Ἕρευνα..., ΠΑΕ 1913, p. 228.


2. See P. Pennas, Ἱστορία τών Σερρῶν (1383-1913), Athens 1938, p. 41. See also by the same author, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, part 1 (1938) 16.





is led to declare in a letter to his friend Zygomalas that he wondered why the Empress Eudoxia had not thought of choosing Melnik as a place of exile for her enemy Chrysostomus [1].


After the battle of Lepanto, the Metropolitan of Thessalonica, Joasaph Argyropoulos (the offspring of a great Byzantine family of former times), was denonnced by certain monks, one of whom even took their slanderous charges to the Grand Vezir, Mehmed Pasha, at Constantinople. They alleged that the Metropolitan had passed information about Turkey to Italy, Germany, France and Spain. As a result, Mehmed Pasha ordered him to be strangled. Fortunately for Argyropoulos, a



Fig. 65. Sérres. Hagia Sophia Camısı

Fig. 65. Sérres. Hagia Sophia Camısı.

(Photo G. Keroplastes)



friend warned him in time, and he fled in terror to Michael Cantacuzenus (who bore the curious nickname of Şeytanoğlu — 'Son of Satan'), beseeching his intervention, inasmuch as Cantacuzenus was a friend of the Pasha. The powerful Greek recommended Argyropoulos to remain at Adrianople, while he himself went to Constantinople to defend the Metropolitan's cause. He told the Pasha that Argyropoulos was not the kind of man to have done what his accusers claimed, that he was not familiar with any foreign language. The case was concluded with the



1. M. Crusius, Turcograecia, Basle 1584, p. 341. Spandonides, Μελένικος, p. 19.





payment of 2.000 ducats to Mehmed Pasha, while the slanderous monk was sent to ply an oar on the galleys [1].


It is now quite apparent that the Ottoman empire was at this period passing through difficult times. The lack of ships, and more so of sailors, was so acute that the Turks were driven to enlisting the mountain Yürüks to serve with the fleet [2].



2. The endeavours of two Epirote Greeks, Matthew (or Manthos) Papayannis and Panos Kestolikos, are worthy of mention at this point. As "Greek representatives of enslaved Greece and Albania", they came to an understanding with Don John of Austria, who was probably at that moment in Corcyra in connection with the second campaign of the Holy Alliance against the Turks in 1572. But these intrigues came to nothing, because in the following year (1573), the Christian alliance was in its essentials dissolved: the Venetians made peace with the Turks and retired from their fringe positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to concentrate on new ones nearer home.


The Venetian withdrawal was naturally a bitter disappointment for the peoples of the Ionian and Adriatic coastlands of Greece. Nevertheless the two Greek patriots, Papayannis and Kestolikos, continued their efforts to bring about a realisation of their plans. In memoranda which they submitted to the Council of the Spanish State, they affirmed that 40 persons had banded themselves together and held a conference (it is not stated where or when), with a view, no doubt, to discussing the various questions which might arise in the eventuality of their staging an insurrection. But these communications with Spain, which went on for some two years or more, brought no positive result [3].


The revolutionary fervour which took hold of the inhabitants of the Epirote and Albanian littorals, reached considerable proportions, spreading into the interior of Macedonia as far as the Ohrid region, as may be deduced from an ordinance directed by the Sultan to the Bey of Ohrid on 23 February 1573. According to this dispatch, a letter had been intercepted, which had been addressed in friendly terms to Venice



1. Gerlach, Tagebuch, p. 215. Regarding the personage of Joasaph, see P. Zerlentis, Θεσσαλονικέων μητροπολῖται ἀπό Θεωνᾶ τοῦ ἀπὸ ἡγουμένων μέχρι Ἰωάσαϕ Ἀργυροπούλου (1520-1578), ΒΖ 12 (1903) 139-143.


2. Gökbilgin, Rumeli᾽de Yürükler, p. 78.


3. Ι. Κ. Chasiotes, Ὁ ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀχρίδος Ἰωακεὶμ καὶ οἱ συνωμοτικὲς κινήσεις στὴν Βόρειο Ἤπειρο (1572-1576), «Μακεδονικὰ» 6 (1964-1965) 237-246.





by Albanians from certain villages in the Ohrid region. Α copy of the letter had been sent to the Bey, and he was instructed that the persons referred to in the letter as well as the signatories of the document must be arrested, put under guard and sent to Constantinople under strong escort to receive punishment [1].


We find a further appeal to the West in the form of a letter dated 1 June 1576 and addressed by Joachim, Archbishop of Ohrid, to Don John of Austria (it also bears the signatures of Photius of Veles, Nectarius of Berat, and Sophronius of Kastoriá). In this Joachim wrote that although the final dissolution of the Christian alliance had caused considerable grief to the Christians of south-east Europe, the ground there was favourable for the execution of fresh enterprises. Throughout the eparchies of his archbishopric the people were awaiting him (Don John) with great longing, as for a Moses. But, sadly, Joachim and his fellow-ecclesiastics were left with nothing but their expectations. Notwithstanding, the Archbishops were to continue to battle for the liberation on their flocks, and with even greater vigour and intensity, as we shall see [2].



3. Towards the end of the 16th and at the beginning of the 17th century significant efforts were made by various European states to incite insurrections in Dalmatia, Albania, Epirus and Thessaly. The purpose of such activities was not, however, to prepare the ground for some great campaign, but simply to create pockets of agitation in the western sector of the Ottoman empire. We possess as yet very incomplete knowledge of the proportions which these activities assumed and of the revolutionary ferment at work among the Southern Slavs, Albanians and Greeks. That such a ferment was gathering force amongst the inhabitants of Thessaly, Epirus and Macedonia around the close of the 16th century is attested by an appeal addressed by these peoples to the Pope at Rome (in all probability Clement VIII), calling upon him to hasten to their liberation. "The Christian peoples of Thessaly, Epirus and Macedonia are all agape in eager expectation of this; and henceforth the whole of Greece will readily suffer loss of thousands of dead on behalf of the Faith. Thus are we also prepared. And as befits the holy doctrines, Most Blessed Father, arise against the hostile dragon... Lend a ready ear to our zealous delegations; hearken to our ambassadors, and allow



1. D. Šopova, Macedonia in the 16th and 17th cent. Documents from the archives of Constantinope (1557-1645), Skopje 1955 (in Macedonian Slavonic).


2. Chasiotes, ibid., pp. 246-247.





your ears to be needled by their words". In an attempt to persuade the Pope that the enemy is not 'fighting-fit' the letter continues: "The rabble of infidels is small indeed, quite insignificant, fearful of war and exceedingly weak on account of many things, including the triumphs of the present emperor [Rudolph II] and of the warrior Michael [of Wallachia]. The way is therefore very ready; deliver us out of the hand of the harsh tyrant..." [1].


To be sure, conditions in the rural areas of Macedonia were lamentable. For many years now, life had been rendered intolerable by the various forms of oppression, the tax-burdens [2], the conscription of candidates for the Corps of Janissaries [3], the plunderings and the extortions practiced to the detriment of the Christian inhabitants and even of the poorer Moslems [4]. In addition, there were the various contemptuous regulations apropos the Christian rayas, as for instance, the law forbidding them to go on horseback or to carry arms [5] (the same no doubt applied to the Jews as well [6]). To complete the picture of this grim period one must add the countless fears, large and small, that beset the lives of the non-Moslem inhabitants, and the frequent epidemics that ravaged the cities, like the one that swept Kastoriá, Skopje, Monastir, Véroia and other places [7] in 1611.


The roads of those regions were dangerous for travellers. On a journey from Ragusa to Constantinople via Skopje, Philippopolis and Adrianople, the Venetian senator, Constantino Garzoni, writes that the journey was not only exceedly wearisome but dangerous to boot, since a good many 'assassins' were active on their route [8].



1. See Mich. T. Laskaris, Πέτρος Λάντζας, Διοικητὴς τῆς Πάργας (1573) καὶ ὄργανον τῶν Ἱσπανῶν ἐν Ἠπείρῳ (1596-1608), «Ἀϕιέρωμα εἰς τὴν Ἤπειρον εἰς μνήμην Χρίστου Σούλη», 1956, pp. 103-104.


2. Turski Dokumenti za istoriata na Makedonskiot narod, first series (1607-1669), vol. 1 (1607-1623), pp. 17, 33. See also p. 31.


3. See Turski Dokumenti, ibid., 1, pp. 105-107 (Dec. 1622). Šopova, Macedonia, p. 36, where there is the ferman of 1573 concerning the safe dispatch of Christian children to Constantinople. See, too, Pennas, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, p. 54, where it is recorded that in 1622 Baïram Pasha came to Sérres with orders to enrole Janissaries, and took 6 children from the castle of Sérres. In 1636 another 5 children were taken.


4. See Mertzios, Μνημεῖα, pp. 169, 170, 173-174.


5. Turski Dokumenti, ibid., 1, p. 43.


6. Turski Dokumenti, ibid., 1, pp. 97-98.


7. Mertzios, Μνημεῖα, pp. 147-148.


8. Albèri, Relazioni, series III, vol. 1 (1840), pp. 373-374.





Another Venetian, the ambassador Vincenzo Gradenigo, affords us a typical picture of the hardships to be encountered in those parts. The account of the journey he made in August 1699 runs as follows. Disembarking at Naupactus, he followed the road that went to Lárissa, Platamón and Thessalonica. On the way, quite a few men out of his party succombed to illness [1]. When he reached Platamón, the following incident occurred, as he describes it in a letter to the Doge: "While our baggage was on the shore, ten cut-throats appeared and desired to open the packages so that they could seize whatever took their fancy. There was an outstanding 'kapıtzı' (porter) present who jnformed them that the baggage belonged to the Bailo, who was travelling as the ambassador of Venice to the court of the Great Lord at Constantinople. Thereupon, they asked him where I was, saying amongst themselves, 'These are all sick; it is better that we take them prisoner or kill them one and all', since in this way they were the more likely to gain possession of our belongings. With this purpose in mind they came up the mountain to where we were; but the 'kapıtzı' took a different path and arrived before them to inform us of their intentions. While the sick men were sent down to the shore with 16 carts, I deployed the 20 Greeks who composed our escort, and we others gathered together to await the outcome. Meanwhile, the bey had arrived with the cut-throats and one janissary; one of them, on horseback, began to attack us with a lance. Just at that moment the cadi arrived on the scene (he had been summoned by the 'kapıtzı') alongwith 50 Greeks. He wanted to enter the caravanserai where the cut-throats were, but they prevented him doing so, stationing themselves in front of the doorway and wielding scyth-shaped blades [yataghans]. There-upon, the cadi ordered the Greeks to attack them and take them dead or alive; and verily, this they did with stones and staffs, even though the cut-throats were armed. The Greeks performed their duty valiantly; they wounded ten of them and on the cadi's orders caught them and tied up two of them and the janissary likewise. But they did not touch the bey. The trial took place forthwith, and of the three men the first was sent to the tower, where he was to be hanged the following morning, the second was sentenced to 200 blows on the soles of his feet and he was beaten in my presence, while the third one, as he was a janissary, was sent hence to Thessalonica to await orders from Constantinople (for since he was a janissary, he could not be tried by anyone but the Ağa of the Janissaries). However, the cadi wrote a bitter denunciation of him to the Sublime Porte, in which he called him a wandering cut-throat... All this transpired in the space of three hours. None of the Greeks or the Turks suffered anything, except the 'kapıtzı', who was wounded in the head by a stone, and another Turk... Such then was the danger from which we were delivered by the help of God..." [2]. The combativeness of the Greeks, illustrated in this incident by the 20 men of Gradenigo's escort and by the locals whom the kadi of the district brought with him, is surely characteristic of the race.


Some interesting information about the district of Sérres from 1598 to 1642 can be gleaned from the accounts which Synadinos, a priest



1. Zerlentis, Σημειώματα περὶ Ἑλλήνων, p. 13. See also Sp. Lampros, Ἐνθυμήσεων ἤτοι χρονικῶν σημειωμάτων συλλογὴ πρώτη, ΝΕ 7 (1910) 181.


2. Mertzios, Μνημεῖα, pp. 163-164. See also the text of the letter in H. Brown, Il viaggio di Vincenzo Gradenigo, bailo da Venezia a Costantinopoli 1599, p. 53.





from Sérres, patiently composed. In his chronicle he speaks of the extortions practiced by the Turks upon the Christians, which resulted in their being plundered almost out of existence or else being driven to accepting the Moslem faith. Thus we find ordinary people giving up the struggle and succumbing (as, for instance, the sexton Amarianos Temeroutoglou, who changed his faith aftera savage beating [1]) or else demonstrating a heroism such as leaves an indelible impression upon the reader. Α number of them make the supreme sacrifice and are looked upon as martyrs by their compatriots. Examples he quotes include the sexton Manoles Bostantzoglu [2], and Patroulas, of whose sacrifice Synadinos gives us a simple and moving description: "...and they had bound his hands; and he said 'do not bind me: I shall go into the flames of my own accord', and so saying he leapt voluntarily into the fire. All the Turks were standing around, and they piled on abundant wood and dried vines, until he was burnt up entirely and not a single bone was left of him. And after this there came a great whirlwind that scattered all the ashes and nothing remained. Thus he endured valiantly to the end as a pious Christian. He received the martyr's crown, and his soul joins those of the saints. May his memory endure for ever!" [3].


There are times, however, when even priests voluntarily embraced Islam [4], unable to bear the incessant hardships that exhausted their endurance. There occurred by no means infrequently cases of false accusations («avaníes») and the condemnation of Christians through the action of false withnesses [5].


On the other hand, for some Greeks the desire for retribution was so overpowering that they would resort to exercising secret vengeange upon their oppressors; though by killing Turks they could only invite terrible reprisals [6].



4. These conditions of smouldering revolution obviously suited men of a more adventurous temperament. Amongst such characters the so-called Sultan Jahja—professedly abrother of Ahmed I (1603-1617) — must hold special place. Α Franciscan monk, Raphael Levaković [7], has



1. Pennas, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, σ. 31.


2. Pennas, ibid., p. 28.


3. Ibid., p. 27.      4. Ibid., p. 36.      5. Ibid., p. 37.      6. Ibid., pp. 28-29.


7. St. Antoljak, 'Sultan Jahja' u Makedoniji, «Godišen Zbornik na Filosofskiot Fakultet na Universitetot vo Scopje» 13 (1960-1961), part 5, p. 132.





written an account of the 'Sultan's' activities — akind of "Memoirs of Jahja"—which is full of interesting though, for the most part, unlikely details. Levaković, in fact, allows his imagination too much rein in his treatment of Jahja; he lacks sound historical judgement and is prone to rash generalisations [1]; and altogether his work is sadly lacking in concrete facts. In using this account as historical material, one must try to discern just how faithfully Jahja's various statements have been transcribed by this fanatical Catholic monk; for it seems quite clear that out of his passionate devotion to the Slav cause, the Croat has, in many instances, distorted his hero's words. It must be borne in mind, moreover, that Levaković was the leader of a group of Croats who worked with tremendous zeal, in collaboration with the 'de Propaganda Fide' movement, to spread Roman Catholicism throughout the Slav countries. These men had the most unshakeable faith in a great mission to be carried out in the world by the Slavs. They were the advisers to the 'Congregatio' on all matters relating to the Slav liturgy and the history of the Orthodox Church in the Slav lands. We must remember, too, that in 1640 a daring, enterprising and fanatical Catholic came into contact with this group in Rome — no other than Jurij Krizanić, the celebrated founder of the Pan-Slav movement, and a hater of all things Greek [2].


In view of this, one must not be surprised if one finds the pages of Levaković (who, incidentally, was designated Catholic Archbishop of Ohrid in 1640, with a view to winning over those Bulgarians who inclined to Catholicism [3]) full of favourable reports on the Slavs on the Balkan countries and unfavourable criticism of the Greeks, particularly of their clergy.


Some credence (though here once again one should adopt an attitude of extreme reserve) may be given to certain passages in Levaković's account which deal with the relations between Jahja and the monk Bessarion and the famous Greek klepht Vergos, who came from a village in the Grevená district. The klepht's father was a Greek peasant and his mother an Albanian. During the 36 years that he was a klepht, Vergos waged inexorable war against the Turks: according to Jahja's exagger-



1. See for example Antoljak, 'Sultan Jahja', pp. 157-158.


2. Ed. Winter, Russland und das Papstum, Berlin 1960-1961, vol. 1, pp. 337-338 ff. See also the special study of V. Valdenberg, Križanić's acquaintance with the Greeks (in Russian), «Byz. - Sl.» 7 (1937-1938) 1-24, particularly pp. 11-12, where Krizanić's antipathy to the Greek clergy becomes quite evident.


3. Winter, ibid., 1, p. 338.





ated account, he had slain 2.000 Turkish sipahis, janissaries, etc. On a number of occasions he had plundered Turkish caravans and seized great quantities of cloth and other merchandise [1] — episodes which no doubt caused the Turkish authorities considerable perturbation, but about which we have no corroborating information from other sources. Vergos used to share out his booty among the poor and the monasteries of the Holy Mountain. According to Levaković, Vergos was also in contact with the other klephts of the Balkan lands further north, often employing that ancient method of communication, signal fires [2]. In the final years of his life, Vergos, now a man of 72 met Jahja and confided to him many thoughts and observations, the fruit of his experience acquired throughout a long and turbulent life. He communicated to him, for instance, how to wage war successfully against the Turks, among which passes and defiles it was best to operate, and suchlike.


In 1639-1640 Jahja sent a memorandum to the Pope, in which he expounded a plan for a general uprising of the Greeks, Bulgars, Serbs and Albanians [3], but nothing came of it.


Jahja's endless comings and goings all over the Balkans and throughout the Western European countries, too, are very impressive [4]; although, to be sure, the accounts of many of these peregrinations do not always correspond with actual events: quite a number are obviously figments of his imagination. Indeed, just which of the above-mentioned details are true and which are not, constitutes an important question. At all events, the accounts of his descent on the northern Balkan countries and his raids on such Macedonian towns and cities as Xánthi, Komotiní, Philippi, Dráma, Kavála, Amphipolis, Zíchna, Sérres, Rendína, Galátista, Sochós, Lefkochóri (Klepe), Nigríta etc. [5] are without doubt the figments of a wonderful story-teller's imagination. We possess not the smallest allusion from any other sources, which might serve to corroborate and thus to confirm the information which Jahja has given. His account of the religious situation in Albania, Bulgaria and Greece is of some interest,



1. Antoljak, 'Sultan Jahja', p. 132.


2. Ibid., p. 121.      3. Ibid., pp. 144-145.


4. Some details about his movements can be found in St. Papadopoulos, Ἡ κίνηση τοῦ Δούκα τοῦ Νεβὲρ Καρόλον Γονζάγα γιὰ τὴν ἀπελενθέρωση τῶν βαλκανικῶν λαῶν (1603-1625), Thessalonica 1966, ρρν 242-245. Α summary of Jahja's escapades may be found on pp. 220-230.


5. Antoljak, ibid., pp. 153-154.





though equally vague and unsupported. He says, for example, that many villages, particularly in Albania, were without priests, and that a Catholic priest hardly ever visited them. He also maintains that many Catholics went over to Islam. This all seems true enough, although we cannot believe him when he says that the situation in many of the Macedonian towns and villages was tragic, and that a large number of them (such as Xánthi, Komotiní, Philippi, Dráma, Kavála, Sérres, Rendína, Galátista, etc. [1]) were without priests. The inhabitants of these districts and of others further north, he says, were unbaptized except for a few of the old folk, and sometimes a number of them would go all the way to Sofia or Novo Brdo for a service or confession [2].


The following random example may serve as an indication of the untrustworthiness of Levaković's work and of the care we must take in using it as a source. Among the towns and cities of the southern parts of Eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace mentioned as lacking priest, Levaković cites Sérres and Philippi. Yet, as we know from the contemporary and reliable chronicle of the priest Synadinos, Sérres had a good number of priests and a metropolitan as well. Moreover, the villages around Sérres also had energetic Greek Orthodox priests [3]. As for Philippi and its environs, Crusius reports at the close of the 16th century that a certain Gabriel Kallonas from Corinth was priest there [4].


The archbishops and metropolitans of Ohrid were hard at work making great efforts to strengthen the Church economically and to free their people from bondage. To this end, some made visits to the Orthodox states of Europe (Russia, Moldavia and Wallachia) to seek charity, while others went to the Western countries and established relations with the Pope [5]. In a letter to the Archbishop of Ohrid, dated 28 September 1624, Urban VIII expresses his pleasure that the Patriarch of Ohrid recognises him as heir of the apostle Peter and vicar of Christ. He assures the archbishop that if he accedes to Papal authority "with a sincere heart and true belief", then God will free his country from the yoke [6].



1. Antoljak, 'Sultan Jahja', pp. 156-157.


2. Ibid., p. 157.


3. See Pennas, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, part 1 (1938) passim.


4. Zerlentis, Σημειώματα περὶ Ἑλλήνων, pp. 9-10.


5. Snegarov, History of the Archbishopric of Ohrid, pp. 90, 94.


6. Snegarov, ibid., p. 96.





But on the whole Catholic propaganda failed to take root in Ohrid. The town's higher clergy never in fact subjected themselves to the Pope and their flock remained faithful to Orthodoxy [1].



5. As regards the political situation in Macedonia, some concrete evidence emerges from the accounts of travellers and from contemporary documents that have survived. From these we can piece together a true picture of the resistance offered by the inhabitants and of the anarchy which reigned throughout the region during this period. To quote a typical example of the kind of evidence to be found in travellers' accounts, Deschayes wrote in 1621 that if one undertook a journey from the coast of Epirus (i.e. opposite Corcyra) to Thessalonica, crossing Western Greece, strewn as it was with mountains and bristling with klephts, one could be certain of running a very real danger of falling into brigand hands [2].


Forays accompanied by slaughter, burnings and ferocious outrages were common from the Danube as far as the Peloponnese around the first half of the 17th century [3]. If we have no information pertaining to the districts of Sérres, Dráma, Kaväla, Bansko and Kostivarsko [4] — a fact that surprises Matkovski —, it is because all these regions were thickly populated by Turks (the warlike Yürüks, what is more) so that the klephts found difficulty in operating in those parts. The Turkish documents of that period afford us a great deal of interesting information about contemporary Macedonia, and about the Western portion in particular.


The region stretching from Veles to Grevená (especially the Greek districts of Olympus, Piéria and Vérmion) lent themselves to klephtic activity. The material provided by the Turkish archives of the Islamic court of Véroia is relatively abundant on this subject, though the picture painted therein of the klephts and their exploits ought not to be taken without a good many reservations, since these documents were composed from the point of view of the tyrannical Turkish authorities,



1. Snegarov, History of the Archbishopric of Ohrid, p. 103.


2. L. Deshayes, Voiage de Levant, fait par le commandement du roy, en l'année 1621; etc. Paris 1632, p. 467.


3. Vasdravellis, Ἀρχεῖον Βέροιας - Ναούσης, pp. 10 ff. Α. Matkovski, The hayduks in Macedonia around the first half of the 17th century (in Bulgarian), «Izvestija na Instituta za Istorija» 14-15 (1964) 196.


4. Matkovski, ibid., p. 197.





and make no mention of the reasons which compelled the peasants to take to the mountains to adopt the life of outlaws.


The British diplomatist, David Urquhart, who passed through Macedonia some centuries later (i.e. in 1830), has left us a vivid description of the wretched conditions he encountered there. It would, perhaps, be useful to quote at this point an extract of his report, since it helps us the better to imagine the feelings and reactions of the Macedonian peasants in conditions that could not have differed much from one place to another during the period at present under review. "But if the population of Turkey is not inimical to the principles of the administration, they detest the local governor, whether the Pasha of the province or the Ağa of the village. This, as far as I have been able to judge, is the evil of Turkey. The peasant, in times of convulsion or under a petty tyrant, chained down by family attachments — by the responsibility of relatives and fellow-villagers for his conduct —, endures labours, pays; but ventures neither to remonstrate nor complain, until some crowning indignity bursts all these bonds at once; he flies to the mountains, enlists with some of the Capitani as an Armatole, or joins some more ignoble party of maurauders; and with Albanian kirtle, pistol in his belt, and musket over his shoulder, he presents the veriest contrast of what he has been. The tame, submissive beast of burden becomes the wolf of the plain and the vulture of the mountain; but he is armed not against the supreme authority, and therefore is not rallied under a principle—he resists a subordinate authority in its aberrations, but his resistance is favourable to the supreme power, by being directed against abuse" [1].


Between bands of men such as these co-ordination was virtually non-existent, and one could hardly expect otherwise. There was little likelihood of any close bonds such as might have united them in a common cause, elevating their activities above the ordinary round of violence and channelling them into enterprises aimed at the liberation of their oppressed compatriots. It is, moreover, difficult to distinguish what might be termed insurgent movements directed against the governing class of feudal rule from the other type of lawlessness that was no more than sheer banditry. The sentiments which most marks them out are a sympathy for their persecuted fellow-countrymen and an intense hatred for their Moslem conquerors and oppressors, particularly the representatives of the Turkish authorities—the sipahis, voyvodas, village



1. D. Urquhart, The Spirit of the East, London 18392, vol. 2, pp. 182-183.





subaşıs, and suchlike [1]. There does not appear to have existed at this time in Macedonia any estated - gentry that were Christian. The old Byzantine landowners of Macedonia, who had kept their estates by virtue of their recognition of Turkish overlordship, had by now disappeared completely, most probably after their acceptance of the Moslem faith [2].



Fig. 66. Α Klepht

Fig. 66. Α Klepht.

(Pouqueville, Voyage de la Grèce, Paris 1826, Frontpiece)



The Greek klephts (see fig. 66) (and this is how we find them termed in the Turkish documents) were active all over Southern Macedonia (i.e. the parts embraced by the present-day Greek frontier). Thus, for example, from the Archives of Véroia we learn that in May 1627 the 'armatoli' of Véroia, Kokkinos, Doukas and others, had captured a certain Prodromos, an inhabitant of the village of Grammatikó in the district of Ostrovo. They had been pursuing him for highway-robbery, murder and the plundering of property in the villages (no doubt on the farms belonging to the Turkish sipahis, janissaries and beys of the district). They asserted that he was a member of a band of brigands [3]. Under the same charges the above-mentioned 'armatoli' handed over Chrysostomos Pitsagonas to the subaşı of Véroia. The man had confessed that along with other 'male-factors' he had committed many robberies and murders during the summer [4]. In another document from the same archive, dated 29 May 1627, we learn that four of the Turkish inhabitants of Véroia have denounced one Nikos, a chief of 'brigands' together with two of his comrades, the charge being that among many other crimes, he had killed the subaşı himself, who had gone to the festival at Dóliani, and



1. Matkovski, The hayduks..., «Izvestija» 14-15 (1964) 197.


2. Vakalopoulos, Ἱστορία, vol. 1, pp. 206 ff.


3. Vasdravellis, Ἀρματολοὶ καὶ κλέϕτες, p. 49.


4. Vasdravellis, ibid., pp. 49-50.





as confirmation of their accusations they invoked the testimonies of the 'armatoli', John Mavrovoutis and Zaraouras [1].


There were some inhabitants, like those of Dragoš of the Monastir district, who refused to pay ispence [2] (a term covering a variety of taxes on land and crops); while others (in the Grámmos region, for instance) moved to the district of Monastir [3] and settled at Melovista, a town which, as we shall see, was destined to become a commercial centre of some importance.


All these incidents — and there were countless others like them — must be seen as reactions on the part of the oppressed peasant. They are symptoms indicative of a weakening of the Sultan's authority, if not, indeed, of the growing decadence of the Ottoman empire as a whole. At the same time, the power of the local Turkish officials and feudal lords was steadily increasing. It was they who were the real masters of the various localities, and the tyranny they exercised over the inhabitants was often severe. One example of this growing weakness of the Sultan was the vain attempt to improve matters made by Osman II at the end of March or the beginning of April 1621, when he appointed a new official to the post of Sancak Beyi of Thessalonica in the place of Mustafa, whose men had been perpetrating every manner of oppression upon the unfortunate rayas [4].


This paralysis of the state machinery was widespread. Even the Voyvodas, whose specific duty was the maintainance of law and order, oppressed and tyrannized the helpless rayas in the most flagrant manner, extorting from them both money and food. The situation became so bad that the Sultan was obliged to send out a ferman to the Sancak Beyi of Thessalonica and to the Kadis of Epirus, Western Macedonia, Albania, and the other more northerly regions, expressly instructing them to check such arbitrary and spoliatory behaviour [5]. The tax-collectors, needless to say, were no less guilty of abuses of this sort [6]. No wonder the inhabitants were driven to the mountains and to brigandage.


There is a letter, sent out in the spring of 1622 by Kenan Pasha, Beylerbeyi of Rumeli, to the Kadıs of Kastoriá, Monastir, Flórina,



1. Vasdravellis, Ἀρματολοὶ καὶ κλέϕτες, p. 50.


2. Turski Dokumenti, first series, Skopje, vol. 1 (1963), p. 123.


3. Turski Dokumenti, ibid., 1, p. 81.


4. Turski Dokumenti, ibid., 1, p. 50.


5. Turski Dokumenti, ibid., 1, pp. 58-59.


6. Turski Dokumenti, ibid., 1, pp. 59, 72-73, 107, 109.





Prilep, Veles, Sari Göl and Djuma Pazan, which reveals an urgent need for the suppression of rebel activities and the restoration of law and order in those districts [1].


From this document we learn that the klephts and hayduks were not only Christians but Moslem as well. Mention is made, for example, of one Mousli, son of Abdullah, and better known by the nickname 'Konli', who along with others had plundered some shops in Monastir [2]. However, the activities of Moslem brigands is most marked in areas which are part of present-day Yugoslavian Macedonia [3]. In the more southerly districts—that is to say, those forming part of Greek Macedonia today—such operations are confined almost exclusively to Greek klephts, as we observed earlier on.


Amid such conditions of unrest it was only to be expected that every form of violence and fraud should thrive. The appearance of Jewish forgers in Thessalonica [4] and among the goldsmiths of the kazas of Hrupista and Naselić, obliged the Sultan in 1619-1620 to issue a ferman instructing the Kadıs of Monastir, Prilep, Flórina, Kastoriá, Hrupista, Naselić, Veles, Kičevo, Prespa, Ohrid, Djuma Pazarı, Sari Göl, and Sérvia to take the necessary measures to deal with the situation [5]. Around the middle of May 1620, a fresh ferman was issued designating the imperial-official Ahmed Dervis as Master-assayer of the silver used by the gold-smiths and other artisans [6].


Even in Thessalonica ítself the situation was far from satisfactory. Α large number of taxes and other heavy economic burdens were made to weigh upon the Jews [7]. It appears that the new Sancak Beyi (and former Beylerbeyi of the Empire), Hadji Abdul Kerim [8], was unsuccessful in his efforts to bring to herel the insubordinate wlements within the army. In this connection, the Venetian ambassador of the time records a rather curious incident. On the 23 July 1622, he says, the sipahis had



1. Turski Dokumenti, first series, 1, pp. 67-68. See also p. 85.


2. Turski Dokumenti, ibid,; 1, pp; 118-119. See alsovp. 125-126.


3. As regards the measures taken by the Turkish authorities against the hayduks see A. Matkovski, Massnahmen der osmanischen Regierung zur Unterdrückung des Haiduckenwesens in Mazedonien in der ersten Hälfte des 17. Jahrhunderts, SOF 26 (1967) 46-71.


4. Mertzios, Μνημεῖα, pp. 166-167.


5. Turski Dokumenti, ibid., 1, pp. 44-45.


6. Turski Dokumenti, ibid., pp. 47-48.


7. See Emmanuel, L’industrie des tissus des Israélites de Salonique, pp. 45-46.


8. Turski Dokumenti, ibid., 1, p. 50.





rounded upon the Jews and demanded a substantial sum of money; but the Kadı allowed them the right to defend themselves. Accordingly, the Jews, who at that time numbered some seven thousand [1], banded with the Greeks to launch an attack upon the sipahis, killing a good number of them without appreciable losses to themselves [2]. We cannot tell if this information is correct; though there can be no doubt that at this period the Jews were living through difficult days.They suffered continual oppression in the form of extra taxes and contributions imposed on them, or else demands that they should deliver large quantities of woollen goods. The result was that many wealthy merchants, in a bid to escape both the extortions and the frightful epidemics which were then scourging the city, packed their bags and left for Smyrna and elsewhere [3].


Even if the Venetian ambasssador's account is true — and if it were, it would certainly attest to the honourable character of the Kadı of Thessalonica—, the case is a very rare one. Essentially, there was a complete lack of justice. The kadıs, presumeably basing themselves on the Koran, pronounced verdicts in favour of those in power and who offered them bribes. To be sure, whenever the raya was opposed to Moslem litigants, he could expect no justice whatever. Even the local supreme courts failed to administer justice and pronounced unjust verdicts.


The rayas were, of course, utterly frustrated with this situation; they could find redress in no quarter. It was unendurable for them to be tried according to the justice expounded in the Koran, as interpreted by the Kadıs, who refused to punish the Turkish oppression, though it was this, in fact, that was the primary cause of the anarchy rife throughout the country. It is true that in 1626 the Sultan Murad IV sent Kenan Pasha as his representative to the European provinces with instruction to establish order and punish the extortionists, slanderers and wrong-doers in general; and during his stay at Sérres Kenan Pasha did in fact punish quite a number of Turks who had injured rayas (eg. Kulogli of Siderókastro who "had spread villanous slander throughout the whole of Bulgaria and Macedonia"), and finally managed to impose order, which endured for a limited time in that region [4]. Entrusted with the task of establishing order in the Véroia district as well, Kenan Pasha



1. Mertzios, Μνημεῖα, p. 176.


2. Mertzios, ibid., pp. 173-174. See also the swashbuckling behaviour of pirates in the city in 1640 (Mertzios, ibid, p. 185).


3. See Emmanuel, Histoire des tissus des Israélites de Salonique, p. 46.


4. Pennas, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, vol. 1, p. 40.





despatched thither the Bin-başı Isa Ağa; but the latter appears to have closed his eyes to what was going on there. The result was that on a day in June 1627, the distraught Greek rayas, with Emmanuel Martzelos at their head, broke into the Islamic court of Véroia with loud protestations, just as the hearing of their cases had been wound up. "Why do you administer justice according to your holy law?" they shouted, "We do not accept what you do. We shall have to get rid of a few janissaries and sipahis. Now that the inspector of kazas has been, how much longer must the Moslems and we come under the Moslem religious law (seri)?" Thereupon the Moslems requested the assistance of Isa Ağa, who was just getting ready to leave Véroia, and in the fracas that ensued, Martzelos knocked off the turban of Esseït Mehmed Bey (a descendant of Mohammed), threw him to the ground, and was on the point of killing him when some other Moslems managed to intervene and save him. The outcome was that the heroic Martzelos was condemned to death [1].


It is not difficult to discern what lies behind this account. It is plainly a demonstration on the part of the indignant rayas of Véroia, on the very point of Isa Ağa's departure, because he had done nothing to redress the situation.


What had been going in Véroia to produce such an explosive situation, and how the affair came to culminate in the invasion of the Islamic Court in session and the fracas which followed, are questions which are unfortunately not clarified in the Turkish document. The statements made by the Turkish withnesses in evidence against Martzelos, to the effect that he was a "trouble-maker and an agitator", and that "it would benefit the Moslem community if he was wiped off the face of the earth" [2], show plainly that the Greek in question was one of those insubordinate and energetic elements from among the rayas, who would not take lying down the injustice and oppression that was their lot.


However, law and order was not to be achieved by means of executions and the rule of fear. In their frustration, not a few Greeks took the road to their natural protector, Mount Vermion, and the marauding raids which they launched from that stronghold, brought the Turkish authorities to a difficult pass. Consequently, the intensified activity of the klephts and robbers made necessary the detailing of a substantial number of 'armatoli' by the Islamic court of Véroia in the following



1. Vasdravellis, Ἀρχεῖον Βέροιας - Ναούσης 1598 -1886, pp. 12 - 13. See also various cases of arbitrary behaviour, conscriptions, extortion, etc., on pp. 4 ff.


2. Ibid., p. 13.





year (5 February, 1628) to guard the defile which lies near the village of Ano Megálos Ayiánnis. The leaderof these 'armatoli' was Demos Nikou [1]. But in spite of this, the inhabitants of the village of Dránista (in the neighbourhood of Véroia, maybe, or of Édessa) were forced to abandon their village in 1639-1640, not only because of the excessive taxation, but also because of the demands made upon them by the klephts [2]. The devastation of Dránista may in fact date from then.


Between 1622-1645 various other 'hayduks' (brigands) — Albanians, Turks, and Slavs—were active in north-west Macedonia, beyond the present Greek frontier, as well as in Albania [3]. In 1639 the band of the famous brigand-chief, Bento Ali, made a raid on Monastir, attacking the prisons and setting free the prisoners [4]. All the outlaws operating in the Christian lands under Turkish domination were known under the general appelation 'hayduks' [5]. Hence Cvetcova's affirmation that the 'hayduks' were principally Bulgarian [6] lacks foundation.


All in all, one can form quite a detailed picture of life in north-west Macedonia—especially in the cities of Monastir, Prilep, Skopje, Flórina and their environs—between the years 1627 and 1635, from a study of the various Turkish documents that compose the second volume of the first series of «Turkish documents relating to the history of the Macedonian people», published in Skopje in 1966.


These documents bear on various aspects of the life of the inhabitants: the appointment of müezzins and teachers; loans contracted by individuals or, more usually, by the villagers as a whole; about lease, purchase or sale of property; complaints from inhabitants, verdicts of the Moslem courts, prohibitory edicts (as, for instance, those relating to the closure of taverns), restrictions on tobacco-growing; pronouncements about the actitities of brigands, the arrest and sentencing of robbers; on conscription of soldiers, emancipation of slaves, etc.


Two of these documents deserve our particular attention: no. 164,



1. Vasdravellis, Ἀρματολοὶ καὶ κλέϕτες, p. 51.


2. See document no. 91 of the Islamic court of Véroia in the typed and translated summary of Ch. Arapidis.


3. Matkovski, The hayduks..., «Izvestija na Instituta za Istorija» 14-15 (1964) 206-211. See also Turski Dokumenti, first series, vol. 2, pp. 154-155.


4. Matkovski, ibid., p. 199.


5. 'Hayduks' were active also in Crete (see Vacalopoulos, Ίστορίαvτοῦ Νέου Ἑλληνισμοῦ, 3, p. 488, n. 3).


6. Β. Cvetcova, Outlaws in Bulgarian lands in the 15th to 18th centuries, (in Bulgarian), «Istoričeski Pregled» 1968, No. 4, p. 55.





dating from the end of July or the beginning of August 1634, which refers to a group of Moslem tanners of Monastir, who make issue with certain of their fellow-tanners for not conforming to the statutory recommendations of their guild; and no. 165, of about the same date, which constitutes a declaration on the part of the chandlers and soap-makers to the effect that they were appointing one Mehmet as their delegate (kâhya) [1]. These documents reveal quite clearly that there existed guilds and a society based upon them in Monastir at this time; and, what is more, that the members of the guilds included both Christians and Moslems. In addition, an artisan was known by the Greek term of 'maïstor'.



6. The fresh outbreak of hostilities in 1645 between Turks and Venetians in Crete, and the bitter fighting that ensued, sent a wave of alarm throughout the Ottoman empire and the Christian countries of Europe alike. In Greece the disquiet seems to have been greatest in Thessalonica and throughout the coastal districts of Macedonia; for there was fear that Venice would launch attacks and even attempt landings in that quarter, particularly around the years 1645 and 1646, as withness the Turkish documents from the Islamic court of Véroia and Náousa. In 1645 the kadıs of Thessalonica and the neighbouring kazas were instructed to form contingents of local citizens — a kind of home-guard, in fact— to keep a vigilant watch, night and day, on the coast, and to protect the life and property of the 'faithful' [2]. In addition, all officers of every rank, and as many men of 'Western Rumeli' as could bear arms were instructed to put themselves under the orders of the Vezir Ahmed Pasha [3].


Α certain dilatoriness, if not actual reluctance was noticeable in the mustering of the forces at Gallipoli (their point of embarkation), and the Sultan was prompted to send out repeated fermans to the religious and military authorities of Thessalonica, instructing the Zaims, 'timariots' and soldiers to make haste to the assembly point. Whoever refused to come or was tardy in doing so, the Sultan threatened in a ferman of the 17th February 1646, not only would be deprived of all that the prophet Mohammed was reserving for him in Heaven, "but



1. Turski Dokumenti, first series, vol. 2, pp. 85-86.


2. Vasdravellis, Ἀρχεῖον Βέροιας - Ναούσης, pp. 23-24.


3. Vasdravellis, ibid., p. 24. See also pp. 25, 26. See, too, Mertzios, Μνημεῖα, p. 149, where there is mention of an order for the embarkation of Moslems.





here on earth, by Allah of Islam, no one will be able to detach him from the fiery talons of my authority" [1].


The diversion created by Crete's resistance gave the klephts an opportunity to move about more freely, and in 1646 they attacked Flórina, with the result that the inhabitants abandoned the city [2]. Besides, on 14th July of the same year, they made a foray into the neighbouring town of Monastir and plundered the shops of its covered market [3].


On the other hand, the high-handed behaviour of the military detachments and officials who passed through the country brought untold suffering to the inhabitants of Macedonia. To quote just one instance, when in 1666 the Grand Vezir, Ahmed Köprülü, passed through Thessalonica on his way to Lárisa in connection with the campaign against Crete, we are told that the inhabitants suffered greatly. "It would be impossible for me to relate all that the Christians endured", commented an anonymous contemporary writer from Véroia. The list of miscellaneous taxes which he reports the Christians to have paid during those years is very typical of the times. He adds, "All these the Christians paid, and they grew weak! Imprisoned, insulted, reproached, beaten daily, and dying wholesale. May God be merciful and pity us, and make better the nations that stand over us" [4].


The situation was clearly anything but favourable for a normal economic development of the rural areas and small townships, or of the larges cities, for that matter. Crop-failures, famine and high prices alternating with good harvests and low prices indicate the lack of economic organization in the locality [5]. The routes of communication were far from safe, and the development of trade met with severe obstacles [6]. Even as early as 1635 we find a ferman referring to the vilayet of Monastir in the following terms: "...On account of the activities of the brigands and rebels, a large number of rayas are dispersing and the inhabitants are leaving the cities and villages. They are moving to other cities



1. Vasdravellis, Ἀρχεΐον Βέροιας - Ναούσης, p. 27. See also a ferman of 1635, by which punishment is ordained for janissaries who had refused to take part in the campaign (Turski Dokumenti, first series, vol. 2, p. 144).


2. Matkovski, The hayduks, «Izvestija» 14-15 (1964) 198.


3. Matkovski, ibid., pp. 202-206. See also Cvetcova, Outlaws in Bulgarian lands..., ibid., pp. 46, 55-57.


4. N.B.X., Χρονικὰ σημειώματα, ΔΙΕΕ 4 (1892-1895) 694-696.


5. See, for instance, the economic state of the Sérres region in Pennas, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, vol. 1 (1938) 33-34, 34-35, 46, 66.


6. See Matkovski, ibid., p. 209-211.





and the vilayet is falling to pieces. Brigandage and revolt is increasing day by day" [1]. On top of this, the frequent deadly plagues and fires contributed to the general devastation [2].


Here, then, lies the explanation of the large-scale emigration of Macedonians — a subject we shall be discussing at lenght in a separate chapter



Fig. 67. Church of Saint Nicholas on the Castle of Sérres

Fig. 67. Church of Saint Nicholas on the Castle of Sérres.

(Photo G. Keroplastes)



7. In their efforts to survive, those who stayed behind drew closer together within the reassuring circle of the community and the church, where the old Byzantine way of life was still preserved. We find, for instance, the names of the ancient ecclesiastical offices: the δικαιοϕύλαξ, the δομέστιχος, the ἐκκλησίαρχος, the λαμπαδάριος, the λογοθέτης, the νομοϕύλαξ, the πρωτέκδικος, and others [3]. In this context, the surviving of the governing body of Sérres are of considerable interest. This council was composed, in the Byzantine tradition, of twelve members, and according to contemporary accounts, its electiorı was as follows: all



1. Matkovski, The hayduks, p. 212.


2. See Pennas, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, vol. 1, pp. 36, 42, 45.


3. Papageorgiou, Αἱ Σέρραι καὶ τὰ προάστεια, ΒΖ 3 (1894) 281-282.





the Greek inhabitants would assemble (no doubt in the metropolitan church) in the presence of the Metropolitan, clerics and archons. At this 'Grand Council' a vote was taken — most likely by shouting — for 'twelve just, good, virtuous and God-fearing men', one from each rufet (guild) for the management of public business. Their most important task was the assignment of the economic contributions that were to go towards the community's expenditure on the castle (see fig. 67) and city of Sérres. These contributions were fixed in proportion to each man's capacity, beginning of course, with the 'Twelve' [1]. The Grand Council of Sérres was convened only for important matters with which it was necessary for all Greek citizens to be conversant, as for example questions of weights and measures [2]. Each parish had its 'notables', who are described in the register of Sérres as ethe finest men in the quarter' [3]. In 1614 we find mention of a 'Chief Elder of the Castle' ('castle' here signifying the walled city) [4].


It was here, in the heart of the Sérres community, that Greek historical tradition was fostered and preserved; and it was equally so with other Greek communities, such as that at Melnik. The names of the old Byzantine families still cast their spell, the Greeks of Sérres giving them as Christian names to their children [5]. In the old register of the metropolitan church of Sérres,we find the names Avrambakina and Avrambakis (Avrambakas was the name of a former Grand Primicerius of Sérres), Angelina, Kantakouzini (Kouzini in the 19th cent.), Komnenos, Komneni, Lescarina, Leontares, Margarona, Monomachos, etc. [6].


There is mention, too, of a district called Katakonoz in the suburbs of Sérres, where there had been most probably an estate of the renowned family of the Cantacuzeni [7].


With conditions as difficult as they were, there could have been little scope for education. Such schools as existed were attached to the churches, without separate classes and for boys only. Education was limited to the so-called 'κολυβογράμματα', the most elementary knowl-



1. Papageorgiou, Αἱ Σέρραι καὶ τὰ προάστεια, ΒΖ 3 (1894) 280. For the contemporary social structure and guild organization at Sérres, see Pennas, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, vol. 1, pp. 44, 46, 47, 56, 64.


2. See the relevant decision in Papageorgiou, ibid., p. 281.


3. Ibid., p. 282.     4. Ibid., p. 241.


5. See Vacalopoulos, Ἱστορία, vol. 2, pp. 357-358.


6. Papageorgiou, ibid., BZ 3 (1894) 283.


7. Papageorgiou, ibid., BZ 3 (1894) 292.





edge of reading and writing. The one teacher, usually a priest, taught them only to read ecclesiastical books — the 'Horologion', the 'Octoëchos', the Psalter, the various rituals, etc. But very few people, even from among the 'elders' and monks, could really understand these texts [1].


It was only in the larger cultural centres that the spark of learning had not been extinguished. Demetrius, the Deacon of the Great Church, gains mention as a Thessalonian λόγιος (men of letters) in 1559 [2]. The Athenian teacher, George [3], is teaching in Thessalonica in 1585, as also, about the same time, the Cretan Matthew, who taught there for many years and whose school produced many pupils [4]. Another scholar considered to have come from Thessalonica was the sub-deacon Damaskenos the Studite, the author of the 'Thesaurus' — a well-known and much used ecclesiastical handbook during the period of Turkish rule [5]. Mention must also be made of the Thessalonian monk Malachias Rizos, a cultured man without a doubt, who was invited around the middle of the 17th century by the Archbishop of Palermo to undertake the administration of the Orthodox monastery of Mezzojuso, upon the death of its first abbot. Malachias returned to Thessalonica in 1688 [6].


In 1593 took place an event which was of considerable significance for the development of Greek education, if not indeed for the history of the Greek nation in general. The Patriarch, Jeremiah II Tranos, summoned a council in which — among other matters — it was decided that the Orthodox metropolitans should take definite steps towards the founding of schools, "so that the divine and holy learning might be taught and as much help as possible be given to those who wish to teach and to those who are resolved to learn" [7]. It was, therefore, from this period



1. Crusius, Turcograecia, pp. 205-206. See Pennas, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, Ι (1938) 6, 29.


2. Charises Poulios, Σύντομος ἔκθεσις περὶ τῆς ἐν Μακεδονίᾳ καταστάσεως τῶν γραμμάτων ἀπὸ τῆς ἁλώσεως τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως (1453) μέχρι τῶν ἀρχῶν τῆς ΙΘ' ἑκατονταετηρίδας, «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» 4 (1911) 200.


3. Lampros, Ἐνθυμήσεων συλλογὴ πρώτη, ΝΕ 7 (1910) 181.


4. Μ. Ι. Gedeon, Θεσσαλονικέων παλαιαὶ κοινοτικαὶ διενέξεις, «Μακεδονικὰ» 2 (1941-1952) 18.


5. Poulios, ibid., «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» 4 (1911) 200.


6. Onofrio Buccola, La colonia greco-albanese di Mezzojuso. Origine, vicende e progresso, Palermo 1909, pp. 46, 47.


7. See Tryph. E. Evangelides, Ἡ παιδεία ἐπὶ τουρκοκρατίας (ἑλληνικὰ σχολεῖα ἀπὸ τῆς ἁλώσεως μέχρι Καποδιστρίου), Athens 1936, vol. 1, p. 235. For the minutes of the council, see the notes of K. Sathas, Βιογραϕικὸν σχεδίασμα περὶ τοῦ πατριάρχου Ἱερεμίου B' (1572-1594), Athens 1870, pp. 82-92, especially the 2nd canon on p. 91. See also p. πθ'.





that the foundation of schools became general throughout the Christian Greek communities. The ties between church and school which were close in the Byzantine period [1], now became closer still. Α typical reference is that of the priest Synadinos of Sérres, who records that in 1603 he was taken by his father to the neighbouring village of Kaladendra to be taught 'τὰ κοινὰ γράμματα' by the teacher Demos the Priest [2].


Education was not, however, confined exclusively to elementary learning; the teacher-priests, who were somewhat better educated, instructed the youths (in the narthexes of the churches) not only in the ecclesiastical books like those mentioned above, but sometimes in excerpts of ancient Greek authors as well. Writing about the continuation of his studies in 1619, the priest Synadinos goes on to say: "I went to the priest Parthenios up at the Metropolitan church and learnt grammar and writing. And of the poets, I read Cato, Pythagoras, Aristophanes as well as the canons of Christmas and Epiphany" [3].


At the same time, the copying-out of hand-written books continued to be practiced. Though the brilliant artistic tradition of the copyists began to show some decline in Constantinople and on the Holy Mountain, it did not disappear entirely from the provincial centres. Thus, a bibliographer in Náousa was copying out works by Bryennius in 1615 [4].



1. See Laourdas, Ἰσιδώρου ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ὁμιλία περὶ τῆς ἁρπαγῆς τῶν παίδων, «Ἑλληνικὰ» appendix 4, «Προσϕορὰ εἰς Στίλπ. Π. Κυριακίδην», p. 392: «...(ὁ παῖς), ὁ πρὸς ναοὺς ὀρθρίζων καὶ ἱεροὺς ϕοιτῶν διδασκάλους...».


2. Pennas, Σερραϊκὰ Χρονικά, vol. 1, p. 29.


3. Pennas, ibid., pp. 31-32.


4. Papageorgiou, Αἱ Σέρραι καὶ τὰ προάστεια, ΒΖ 3 (1894) 286.


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