History of Macedonia 1354-1833

A. Vacalopoulos


XVI. Macedonia during the Greek revolution of 1821


1. Pre-revolutionary stirrings


 __1_   —   __2_   —   __3_


1. As we have seen, the trading activity of Thessalonica had increased considerably, despite the many misdemeanours and high-handed behaviour of her Turkish paşas and the Janissaries. Around the end of the 18th century, the Greeks of Thessalonica, like the Greeks elsewhere, took advantage of the favourable terms of the Treaty of Kaynardji (1774) to improve their economic position. In addition, many Greeks from the rural areas of Macedonia and from parts further south, where life was hard and famine not infrequent [1], settled in Thessalonica and other Macedonian towns, such as Monastir, where they quickly prospered. The flow of Greeks from the areas controlled by Ali Pasha was particularly heavy. The information supplied by Clairambault, French consul at Thessalonica, in a report dated 24 June 1810 (not yet published), about the dense migration of Ali's subjects is interesting. To escape from his tyrannical oppression, most of them fled to Thessalonica, while the remainder were scattered amongst the surrounding villages [2].


The newly formed bourgeoisie reveals its economic vigour by its keen interest shown in the Greek communal life of Thessalonica, by the gifts for the restoration of churches, etc. [3], and more generally, by the intense desire for the liberation of the Greek race. The ideals and patriotic songs of Regas Pheraios and others had made a profound impression upon the Thessalonians. The ladies and girls did not hesitate to sing



1. Corcerning one of these famines see G. Α., Μακεδονικὰ Σύμμοηα, «Ἐπετ. Φιλολ. Συλλ. Παρνασσὸς» 8 (1904) 197.


2. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. Correspondance Consulaire. Salonique, vol. 16 (1810-1812) 26.


3. Vacalopoulos, Ἡ Θεσσαλονίκη στὰ 1430 etc., p. 33.





these songs at friendly gatherings, even when strangers were present. In 1812 and 1813, the most popular of these songs was "What are you waiting for, friends and brothers?" [1].


At this period, a considerable number of people enjoyed the protection of foreign powers and were called μπαρατάριοι. The berats which afforded them various privileges were no longer obtainable only through the consuls of the European powers: it was now possible to procure them directly from the Sultan's secretariat on payment of a fixed sum of money. The fact that the Sultan was prepared to grant berats, on payment of a sum, to merchants from among the Christian rayas, is shown in 1806, when Yiakoumis, son of Païkos, on payment of 1.500 kuruş, was recognised by a berat as a "European merchant" and was granted a variety of privileges [2]. Berats were also granted to merchants of Monastir and to their employees [3].


The Greeks were also able to take advantage of the difficult circumstances in which the French merchants of Thessalonica found themselves as a result of the Napoleonic Wars. The repercussions of that conflict are here reflected in the numerous accounts and politico-economic reports of the French consul to his government. He spies on the movements of the British officers who passed through Thessalonica as well as on those of the British and Austrian consuls. He keeps a close eye on the arrival and departure of all ships in the harbour (including vessels from Malta), and notes the favourable attitude of the Austrian consul towards British merchants, whose goods from the Levant he forwards to Central Europe via Thessalonica and Vienna. On 1 July 1810, the French consul writes disappointedly: "All the measures that have been taken to prevent the import of British merchandise into the European mainland prove useless owing to the conduct of Austria, a matter which causes astonishment in all circles" [4].


The Greek ships of Hydra and other islands, flying the British flag and armed like privateers, played an energetic role in this trade [5].


At all events, trade was flourishing in Thessalonica towards the



1. Holland, Travels, pp. 322-323. About this song which is attributed to other composers, see L. I. Vranousis, Θούριον καὶ προκηρύξεις τοῦ Εἰκοσιένα σ᾽ ἕνα χειρόγραϕο τοῦ Ἑλλην. Ἰνστιτοντον Βενετίας, «Θησαυρίσματα» 4 (1967) 179, 185.


2. See these privileges in Zepos, Ἀνέκδοτα τονρκικὰ ἔγγραϕα, ΑΙΔ 11 (1944) 84-86.


3. See berats of 1834 in Zepos, ibid., pp. 86 ff.


4. See unpublished report of 1 July 1810 (Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. Correspondance Consulaire. Salonique, vol. 16 (1810-1812) 29).


5. See unpublished report of 5 April 1811 ( ibid., vol. 16, p. 139).





end of the war, and newcomers came to the city from land and sea, some to set up new businesses and others on their way to Malta and Constantinople. The French consul notes on 1 June that the continuous movements of the protégés of Austria and Britain had greatly increased the volume of trade [1].


The trade between Thessalonica and Malta was, doubtless, one factor which prompted the young Thessalonian, John N. Papafis (see fig. 188), to settle permanently in Malta, after living in Smyrna and Alexandria, where he had stayed for two years. He prospered, mainly from his activities as a broker in Malta, but never ceased to think of his native country and particularly of Thessalonica where he was born. From time to time throughout his life he made generous contributions to the city, and one of his unforgettable monuments is the Papafis Orphanage (ὁ Μελιτεὺς) built in 1904 and still functioning with splendid results today [2].



Fig. 188. John N. Papafis

Fig. 188. John N. Papafis.

(Ζ. Ν. Tsirpanlis, Παπάϕης, «Μακεδονικὴ Ζωή», no. 25, June 1968, p. 10)



The flourishing trade of Thessalonica occasionally attracted the keen interest of Ali Pasha. In 1813 there was a notable rapprochment between Ali and the British who, in their war against Napoleon, were looking for an opportunity to sever communications between Turkey and France in the re gion of Dalmatia. Austria, for her part, looked favourable upon this development, which would benefit trade between Hungary and herself, thus making Vienna a great centre of commerce [3]. In this connection, the death of Ismail Bey of Sérres, a faithful friend of France, was a great loss for the French. In



1. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères. Correspondance Consulaire. Salonique, vol. 16, p. 296.


2. Ζ. Ν. Tsirpanlis, Ἰωάννης Νικολάου Παπάϕης (1792-1886), ὁ Θεσσαλονικεὺ ς καὶ ὁ "Μελιτεύς", «Μακεδονικὴ Ζωή», τεῦχ. 25 (Ἰούνιος 1968) 10-15, where there is also bibliography.


3. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères etc., vol. 17, p. 98. See also pp. 104, 106.





the place of Ismail, the Porte appointed his son, Yusuf, who had been previously governor of Thessalonica [1].


During this period, the Turks took advantages of the international turmoil to attack the Serbs, in an attempt to solve the Serbian question by force of arms. Despite their resistance, the Serbs were soon overcome. However, this action had a depressing effect on Thessalonica's trade via Vidin. Two caravans loaded with cereals left the Macedonian capital to fall a prey to Serbian revolutionaries. Although this was a serious loss to the Greeks, they remained sympathetic to the Serbian cause [2].


Amongst the more important Greek trading companies were those of Goutas Kaftantzoglu, of Constantine Skambalis, Papatheos, Sapountzis, Païkos, Rongotis, Balanos, and others. The Greeks were energetic and "our worst enemies", as the French consul asserted because they were working in co-operation with British and Austrian factories, and did not handle French merchandise [3]. In addition, there were innumerable itinerant German traders travelling the lenght and breadth of Turkey [4].


In 1814, peace was established in Europe with the ending of the Napoleonic Wars and a new period of European history dawned. The results of the peace were perceptible in Thessalonica. "Tranquility and order", writes the French consul, "were soon resorted amongst the French. The hostility of foreigners towards us has died down, and there is nothing to prevent the Europeans from maintaining friendly relations with one another, in order to survive in these lands. Reconciliation on an international scale is awaited in all lands. Such a desirable conclusion will have favourable repercussions here in Thessalonica, where the recent animosity has tended to disturb the felicitous harmony which is so essential for our esteem and well-being in Turkey. Enjoying the advantages of peace, everyone will devote themselves to their business and here, as elsewhere, French and foreigners will unite in one family" [5].


Sucb is the epilogue to the mutual antagonism amongst the Great Powers on the Macedonian scene, and in the port of Thessalonica in particular.



2. The economic ascent of Thessalonica and of the other urban centres of Macedonia coincided with the cultural and political renais-



1. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères etc., vol. 17, p. 99.


2. Ibid., vol. 17, p. 107.      3. Ibid., vol. 17, p. 108.      4. Ibid., vol. 17, p. 109.


5. Ibid., vol. 17, pp. 163-164.





sance of the Greeks. Α few years later, the revolutionary fervour of the Southern Greeks was to spread to these parts, and the seeds of the Society of Friends (Φιλικὴ Ἑταιρεία) were to be sown and speedily take



Fig. 189. Benjamin, bishop of Sérvia and Kozáni

Fig. 189. Benjamin, bishop of Sérvia and Kozáni.

(N. Delialis, Διαθῆκαι εὐεργετῶν τῆς πόλεως Κοζάνης, Thessalonika 1970, table II)



root [1]. In fact, the Society had already made some progress in Macedonia [2]. Written evidence exists to show that Dem. Hipatros, who had entered Macedonia in 1820, initiated into the Society the Thessalonian notable,



1. Vacalopoulos, Ἡ Θεσσαλονίκη στὰ 1430 etc., pp. 32-33, where there is also bibliography.


2. See I. Philemon, Δοκίμων περὶ τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς Ἐπαναστάσεως, Athens 1860, vol. 3, p. 141.





Christodoulos Balanos [1], It is very likely that, even before Hipatros' arrival, there were members of the Society in Thessalonica; there is mention that in 1819 the Russian consuls at Thessalonica and Sérres, who were of Greek origin, co-operated with the Society [2], as did Ignatius, Bishop of Ardaméri, who saw to it that the klepht-captains Karatasos and Gatsos, and the prelates, Benjamin of Kozáni (see fig. 189), Anthimus of Grevená, Hierotheos of Hierissós and Athos, and Constantius of Maronaea were also initiated. And these were not the only ones; there followed a host of lesser clergy and laymen. The Society's web spread throughout the whole of Macedonia, from Drínos in the north to Olympus in the south. However, its activities were limited at this period since the Turks had a tight grip on the situation [3].


It is indisputable that Hipatros and others initiated many inhabitants of Macedonia into the Society. Oral tradition has it that the following were introduced: the families of Papayannakis and Katsaras of Polýgyros, the notables of Thessalonica, Christos Menexes, George Païkos, Miltiades Hadji Nanos (nicknamed Agathonikos), Hadji Antonios Papachristos, Constantine Tattis, Kydoniatis, and others. The majority were merchants and, between them, they were responsible for considerable revolutionary activity [4]. Tradition also states that, about the middle of 1820, John Papareskas, the secretary of the local governor of Kastoriá (Mehmed Bey), joined the Society of Friends. He became a fervent recruiter of new followers before he was killed with 65 of his comrades, fighting inside the church of St. George at Náousa [5]. Another initiate at Kastoriá was John Karabinas, first cousin of George Theocharis, and also Gregory Protosyngellos, abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Anárgyri, who was betrayed by a monk named Cyprian, arrested by the beys of Kastoriá, Demir and Mehmed, and later drowned in the River Nestos while on the way to Constantinople (ten others were drowned with him but their names are not known to us) [6].



1. Vacalopoulos, Ἡ Θεσσαλονίκη στὰ 1430 etc., pp. 33-34, where there is even older bibliography. See also St. I. Papadopoulos, Ὁ Φιλικὸς Δημήτριος Ἵπατρος, «Ἑλληνικὰ» 16 (1959) 149-165.


2. See in D. G. Kambouroglou, Mémoires du Prince N. Ypsilantis, d'après le manuscrit No. 2144 de la Bibliothèque Nationale de la Grèce, Athens - Paris, p. 45.


3. Philippides, Ἡ ἐπανάστασις τῆς Ναούσης, pp. 37-38.


4. Vacalopoulos, Ἡ Θεσσαλονίκη στὰ 1430 etc., p. 34, where the relevant bibliography may be found. Regarding the services rendered by Papayannakis and about his descendants, see Kotsianos, Πολύγυρος, pp. 41-42.


5. Tsamisis, Καστοριά, p. 43.


6. Tsamisis, ibid., p. 41. See also Evang. Tziatzios, Ἡ Φλώρινα στὴν ἐπανάσταση τοῦ 1821, «Μακεδονικὸν Ἡμερολόγιον» (1939) 138, note 2.





Thessalonica was administered at this time by the Mütesellim, Serif Sedik Yusuf Bey, a coarse and tyrannical man, who persecuted the Christians. He kept a vigilant eye on the revolutionary stirrings amongst the Greeks of Macedonia. By September 1820 there was pronounced activity in the region comparable to that in the Peloponnese and other parts of Greece. It was a period full of hope and fear. "The infidel Greeks of the vilayet", says Yusuf Bey to Hayrullah ibn Sinasi Mehmed Ağa, the new Molla (first rank judge), "have been acting suspiciously for some little time now. They are preparing for an uprising... And for this reason we must cut them down unmercifully wherever we encounter them". Yusuf Bey had many Greeks thrown into the dungeons of the White Tower, where their limbs became stiff from the damp and their bodies swollen with hunger [1]. Later, the humane Molla, Hayrullah fell himself under suspicion and was imprisoned there. His memoires have provided much interesting information about Thessalonica at that time. The distrust and confusion that had spread throughout Macedonia were intensified by the rebellion of Ali Pasha of Yánnina, and the situation was further aggravated by the repeated edicts from the Sultan ordering more conscription, etc. [2].


When the first news arrived of the activities of Alexander Hypsilantis in Moldavia, of the general unrest throughout the Balkans [3] and of the insurrection of the Greeks of the Peloponnese and elsewhere [4], Yusuf intensified his vigilance. He had information that the Greeks of Thessalonica and its environs were on the point of revolt. His men seized the priest, Ananias Markopoulos, and found upon him revolutionary documents which implicated him and a number of others from the district, including Vasilikos from the village of Galarinós, in the neighbourhood of Vasiliká, another Vasilikos from Mount Athos, Tzamtzakos from Mademochória, and others. From details at our disposal, it is clear that this revolutionary movement had spread northwards as far as Gevyeli and even as far as Tikves, for two inhabitants of that town were arrested as suspects [5].



1. Abr. N. Papazoglu, Ἡ Θεσσαλονίκη κατὰ τοῦ Μάῖο τοῦ 1821, «Μακεδονικὰ» 1 (1940) 424-426.


2. See Turkish Documents, 4 (1818-1827) 52-62, where there are instances of repeated ordinances of this nature.


3. See Kasomoulis, Ἐνθυμήματα, Ι, p. 139.


4. See Turkish Documents, 4 (1818-1827) 60 ff.


5. I. K. Vasdravellis, Ἡ Θεσσαλονίκη κατὰ τοῦ ἀγῶνα τῆς ἀνεξαρτησίας, Thessalonica 1946, pp. 37-38. See also John G. Xanthos, Ἱστορία τῆς Γευγελῆς καὶ ἐθνικὴ δρᾶσις τῶν κατοίκων αὐτῆς καὶ τῶν πέριξ χωρίων, Thessalonica 1954, p. 15.






3. The revolutionary movement noted in Macedonia was particularly strong in the regions of Thessalonica, Chalcidice and the Holy Mountain. Around the end of March, a member of the Society, Emmanuel Papas (see fig. 190) of Dovísta near Sérres, had arrived from Constantinople and was waiting on Mount Athos for the right moment to act.


Emmanuel Papas (1772-1821), a wholesale merchant of Sérres with businesses at Constantinople and Vienna, had close connections with



Fig. 190. Emmanuel Papas' statue in Sérres

Fig. 190. Emmanuel Papas' statue in Sérres.



the Turkish ağas and beys of the day, since he acted as a money-lender to them. He had considerable influence over them, especially the local governor, Ismail Bey. From his powerful patronage the Greeks derived not a little advantage. However, after Ismail's death in 1814, the Bey's spendthrift son, Yusuf Bey, accumulated such enormous debts (in the region of a million kuruş), that it became impossible to pay them off [1].



1. Philemon, Δοκίμων, 3, pp. 430-431. See also I. Mamalakis, Ἡ ἐπανάσταση στὴ Χαλκιδικὴ τὸ 1821. Ἡ συμμετοχὴ καὶ ὁ ρόλος τοῦ Ἐμμ. Παππᾶ, XX 1 (1961) 45-46. Pennas, having clearly in mind the monograph of Evang. Stratis, Ἐμμ. Παππᾶς, which I have been unable to use, writes that the person who threatened him was Kyazim Bey of Sérres (Pennas, Ἱστορία τῶν Σερρῶν, p. 68-79); but this is incorrect, since in Papas' «dedicatory» to the metropolitan Chrysanthus he specifically mentions the "sordid" governor as his persecutor (Philemon, Δοκίμων, 3 pp. 335-336). On Yusuf Bey see Cousinéry, Voyage, 1, pp. 146, 153-154.





When Papas insisted on the repayment of at least a portion of the debt,



Fig. 191. Photograph of Constantine Papas, the younger son of Emmanuel Papas

Fig. 191. Photograph of Constantine Papas, the younger son of Emmanuel Papas. Constantine much resembled his father. He died at Sérres, where his wife and three daughters were still living up till 1910.



Yusuf threatened to kill him, and the merchant was obliged to take





refuge in Constantinople in October 1817. It was there, on 21 December 1819, at the age of 47, that he was initiated into the Society of Friends, to which he donated a large part of the sum which he had managed to collect from Yusuf Bey through the intervention of the Porte [1].


We read that Emmanuel Papas was of medium build. He had a long neck and his face, although mild, was full of life and energy. He was a man of few words, speaking slowly and clearly, and was always polite. In discussion, he would always speak last, imposing his views by the logical way in which he expressed his opinions [2]. He had unlimited ambition [3] and tremendous enthusiasm for the cause of Greece's liberation (see fig. 191) [4].


Following the instructions of Alexander Hypsilantis to prepare the ground and to rouse the inhabitants of Macedonia to rebellion, Papas had bought arms and munitions in Constantinople, and on 23 March he loaded them aboard a ship of Hadji Visvizis of Ainos and proceeded to the Holy Mountain, accompanied by his adjutant, John Hadji Petrou, and his secretary, Demetrius Oikonomou. They considered, mistakenly, that the Holy Mountain would be the most suitable spring-board for starting the insurrection in Macedonia, not only because the peninsula provided a naturally strong base of operations, but also because the 3.000 or so men living as monks in the 20 monasteries and 300 hermitages and cells would constitute a considerable army. In addition, the region seemed ripe for revolt, since for two years the monks had been suffering greatly from the exactions and oppression of the Turkish governor [5]. Α number of them appear to have been initiated into the Society of Friends. In the event, however, adequate preparations for rebellion had not been made, nor were revolutionary ideals to be reconciled with the ideological world of the monks within the Athonite regime [6]. Further, the financial position of most of the monasteries had begun to deteriorate from the beginning of the 19th century, particularly after 1810, and there was continual friction over property disagreements, which tended to threaten the cohesion of the community [7].



1. Philemon, Δοκίμιον, p. 431. See also Mamalakis, Ἡ ἐπανάσταση στὴ Χαλκιδικὴ τὸ 1821, XX 1 (1961) pp. 46-47.


2. Pennas, Ἱστορία τῶν Σερρῶν, pp. 68-69.


3. Philemon, ibid., 3, p. 431.


4. Philemon, ibid., 3, p. 142.


5. See Smyrnakis,  Ἅγιον Ὄρος, p. 173.


6. See Mamalakis, ibid., 41-42.


7. Mamalakis, ibid., pp. 43-45. See also, by same author, Διήγησις, ΕΕΦΣΠΘ 7 (1957) 226-227.





Papas disembarked at the monastery of Esphigménou (see figs. 192 and 193), whose abbot, Efthymios, was member of the Society. The next day, he unloaded the war materials and requested the heads of the monasteries to attend a general assembly. The monastic representatives met in the monastery of Esphigménou, and spent most of their time dealing with the financial needs of the movement. They made a



Fig. 192. Monastery of Esphigménou on Mount Athos

Fig. 192. Monastery of Esphigménou on Mount Athos.

(Photo S. Stergiopoulos)



request to Psará and other sea-faring islands to send armed vessels to patrol the coast of Athos and protect it from the expected landings of the Turks. Psará did in fact send two ships, belonging to Nicholas Karakostantis and George Hadzidemetrakis. While sailing across the Thermaïc Gulf, they encountered two vessels belonging to the Bey of Thessalonica. Α brig was pursued and set alight near the promontory of Sykiá and a schooner met a similar fate off the coast of the Holy Mountain. At the same time, the secret recruiting and arming of the monks began before their dispatch to Megáli Vígla, a position which controlled the canal of Xerxes, the famous Próvlakas [1].



1. Philemon, Δοκίμων, 3, pp. 142-143. See also Smyrnakis,  Ἅγιον Ὄρος, p. 173. On the number of the monks, monasteries, hermitages, etc. on the Holy Mountain, see Mamalakis, Ἡ ἐπανάσταση στὴ Χαλκιδικὴ τὸ 1821, XX 1 (1961) 38, 39 note 5, 45, 47-52.





Similar preparations for revolution had been observed at Sérres and the surrounding area, where the notables, merchants and clergy (led by the Metropolitan Chrysanthus, who was later Patriarch) were admitted into the Society of Friends. The inhabitants of the Sérres district had heard something of the aims and plans of the Society, and were waiting for a sign from their leaders. The merchant, Kostas Ka-



Fig. 193. Main church of the monastery of Esphigmenou

Fig. 193. Main church of the monastery of Esphigmenou.

(Photo Ang. Vacalopoulos)



somoulis, father of the revolutionary fighter, Nicholas Kasomoulis, had undertaken to recruit men and to fortify the monastery of the Honourable Forerunner. However, when the city notables were told of the hanging of the Patriarch Gregory V, they became so terrified that they could think only of saving themselves. The κέντρον, or local committee, remained inactive.


At the time of this psychological crisis, a message arrived from





Emmanuel Papas, urging the committee to take action, but the proposal was rejected. Thus, the Greeks of Sérres and the surrounding area adopted a passive attitude and were left at the disposal of their rulers. On 8 May, the Turks, infuriated by the landing of sailors from Psará at Tsáyezi, by the capture of Turkish merchants and the seizure of their goods, rampaged through the streets of Sérres and rounded up the peasants into the inns. They searched the houses of the notables for arms, surrounded the metropolitan's residence and told the rayas to surrender their weapons within an hour. Afterwards, they imprisoned the Metropolitan and 150 merchants, and seized their goods as a reprisal for the plundering by the Psarians. The Turks continued their searches throughout the neighbourhood and took possession of all the arms stored in the monastery of the Honourable Forerunner [1]. Meanwhile, the kadı of Yenitsá had thrown into prison those merchants and notables who had not been able to make their escape [2].



1. Kasomoulis, Ἐνθυμήματα, 1, pp. 134-137, 139. See also the oral tradition in Pennas, Ἱστορία τῶν Σερρῶν, pp. 81-82.


2. Kasomoulis, ibid., 1, pp. 134-135.


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