History of Macedonia 1354-1833

A. Vacalopoulos


I. The invasion of Macedonia by the Ottomans and the resistange of the Greeks


5. The Τurkish Conquest of Central and Western Macedonia



While the siege of Thessalonica continued throughout 1385 and 1386, the Turks took Véroia, which was formerly the possession of the Serbian regional governor, Radoslav Hlapen, but at this time was once more in Greek hands [7]. Asik-Pasha Zade does not mention the date of



7. Hadschi Chalfa, ibid., p. 84.





the capture of the city by the Turks [1]. Hadji Kalfa, however, tells us that the Turks under Lala Shahin took Véroia 'with conditions' in A.H. 777 [2] (i.e. 1373-1374). This date, together with others recorded by various Turkish historians and travellers [3], is not to be relied upon, since these people were writing, as we have said before, many years, if not whole centuries, after the events described. The exact date of the capture of Véroia, which accords with the order in which the events took place, is, in my opinion, the one recorded by the Byzantine 'memoire' of that period, namely 1385-1386 [4] — perhaps even 1387, if we take into account the various other Greek 'brief chronicles' [5]. I do not believe that Véroia could have fallen into Turkish hands before the above mentioned dates, i.e. not in 1373-1374, as Hadji Kalfa writes [6]. But we must pay some attention to his report that the city's surrender was 'conditional'. For lying as it does at the foot of Mt. Vérmion, Véroia must have been threatened by the free Greeks still at large on that massif. Perhaps it became at that point a tributary city of the Turks — semi-independent as Thessalonica was to become in 1387. In fact the fate of Véroia in the years that followed seems to have had much in common with that of Thessalonica. When in 1391 Bayezid I (1389-1402) took the latter by storm, he no doubt continued westwards to incorporate once and for all into his empire the neighbouring city of Véroia, although when precisely this occurred cannot be established for certain.


At that time the governor of Véroia was a Christian of Turkish origin, Lyzacos, nephew of Kaykaus II, Sultan of Iconium. Bayezid I had brought this man with his family to Zíchna, of which he designated him subaşi. It seems likely that Lyzacos, who held a fief under the Byzantine regime, thought it expedient, as did countless others, to offer



1. Asik Pasha Zade, Chronicle, translated by Richard Kreutel. Vienna 1959, pp. 92-93.


2. Hadschi Chalfa, Rumeli und Bosna, p. 86.


3. See K. Stathopoulou - Asdracha, Οἱ τουρκικὲς καταλήψεις τῆς Βέροιας (14ος-15ος αὶ.) καὶ τὰ προνόμια μιᾶς χριστιανικῆς οἰκογένειας, «Ἐπιθεώρηση Τέχνης» 20, no. 122 (1965) 151-152.


4. See Ν. Α. Beïs, Συμβολὴ εἰς τὴν ἱστορίαν τῶν Μονῶ τῶν Μετεώρων, «Βυζαντὶς» 1 (1909) 236 στ'-η'.


5. S. Lampros, Βραχέα χρονικά. Published through Constantine Amantos, Athens Academy, «Μνημεῖα τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς Ἱστορίας», Athens 1932-1933, vol. 1, pp. 44, 69, 85.


6. Hadschi Chalfa, ibid., p. 86. As Stathopoulou - Asdracha accepts, Οἱ τουρκικὲς καταλήψεις τῆς Βέροιας, «Επιθεώρηση Τέχνης» 20, no. 122 (1965)151-152.





his military services to the Sultan, Bayezid I, but then found himself transferred to Zíchna, where he was given new lands—a new timar (fief). Demetrius Sultan and Michos Sultan, relatives of Lyzacos, came later to the court of Murad II (1421-1451) to seek the renewal of this timar [1].


The details of the Turkish advance westwards have not been established with any degree of certainty. We do not know, for instance, exactly when Náousa, Édessa, Kastoriá, and Ohrid fell [2]. The inhabitants of the äncient town of Náousa, situated on the lower heights of Vérmion, do not appear to have put any resistance to the Turkish forces, but rather to have scattered throughout the surrounding forests in their search for refuge. It may be that they formed a temporary settlement in these forests, living in pitiful conditions, as we shall be describing later on.


Sweeping onwards beyond Náousa, the Turks reached the district of Édessa in 1389 [3]. Stephen Dušan, and after his death the Serbian military governor, Radoslav Hlapen (who had occupied a few fortresses in the area besides Véroia [4]), must have given a new lease of life to the older Slav settlements in those parts, as well as facilitating the influx of fresh Slav colonists, both Serb and Bulgar. Consequently, besides the indigenous Greeks there had been created an indeterminate amalgam of Slavonic peoples; and in the area around Édessa, in all probability, Greek inhabitants would have been absorbed by the numerically superior Slavs.


According to tradition, the city of Édessa put up a fierce resistance to the Turks. However, when the exhausted enemy were on the point of raising the siege, an inhabitant of Édessa, named Peter, presented himself to the pasha in command of the Turkish army, and offered to lead a company of soldiers along a narrow path up to an eminence which dominated the city (the place where the cemetary of the Assumption formerly stood). From this point the Turks managed to break through the



1. P. Wittek, Yazijioghlu Ali on the ChristianTurks of Dobruja, «Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies» 14/3 (1952) 639-668. See also E.A. Zachariadou, Οἱ χριστιανοὶ ἀπόγονοι τοῦ Ἰζζεδδὶν Καϊκαοῦς στὴ Βέροια, «Μακεδονικὰ» 6 (1964 -1965) 62-74.


2. Jireček, Geschichte der Serben, vol. 2, p. 107. See also Jireček - Radonić, History of the Serbs (in Serb), vol. 1, p. 316.


3. See G. F. Seybold, Nesri's Notiz über die Eroberung von Vodena - Edessa und Citroz- Kitros- Pydna durch Bajezid I Jildirim 1389, ZDMG 74 (1920) 291.


4. Epirotica, Bonn edit., p. 213. Jireček, ibid., 1, p. 415. Jireček - Radonić, ibid., 1, p. 238.





lines of the defenders and enter Édessa unimpeded. Once inside the city they abandoned themselves to slaughter and rapine. The traitor, known by the contemptuous name of Kel Petros or Scurfy Peter (kel being the old Slav for 'scurf), not only consented to embrace Islam in order to gain a military rank, but pressed his daughter to change her faith too. On her refusal the infuriated father denounced her to the Turkish pasha. In vain did the conquerors try to shake her faith, subjecting her to various forms of humiliation and ruthless torture. She was finally condemned to be buried alive on a hill south-west of Édessa, where the army barracks now stand. In fact, this hill is still called Kız Tepe today, i.e. 'Hill of the Maiden' [1].


West of Vérmion, in the region of Western Macedonia, the Greek inhabitants abandoned the plains and fled for safety into the mountains or migrated to the mountain slopes and plateaux, especially after the settlement of Yürük Turks in the small fertile plains of that region, as we shall describe later. Many of those inhabitants converted to Islam during the last few centuries of Turkish domination, have survived to the present day as the Greek-speaking Vallahades Turks.


The capture of Kastoriá also presents problems. We do not know if it surrended conditionally [2], or whether it was taken by storm. The fact that several of its mosques were built on the top of the remains of Byzantine churches is not an altogether convincing indication that the city was captured after a battle [3]. At the head of the Turkish forces



1. E. Stougiannakis, Ἔδεσσα ἡ Μακεδονικὴ ἐν τῇ Ἱστορίᾳ, Thessalonica 1932, pp. 229-231. See also Dionysius, Metropolitan of Edessa and Pella, Ἀκολουθία τῆς Ἁγίας ἐνδόξου νεομάρτυρος Παρθένας τῆς Ἐδεσσαίας, Athens 1958, pp. 24-26.


2. See the naive tradition connected with this in P. Moullas, Ἕνας Μακεδόνας ἀπόδημος στὴν Κεντρικὴ Εὐρώπη, «Σταθμοὶ πρὸς τὴν Νέα Ἑλληνικὴ Κοινωνία», Athens 1965, pp. 127-128.


3. See p. Tsamises, Ἡ Καστοριὰ καὶ τὰ μνημεῖα της, Athens 1949, pp. 172, 176-177. About the remains of Byzantine buildings near the site of St. Athanasios, which were classed as public buildings by some simple person of Kastoriá in the 19th cent., see Moullas, ibid., p. 133. Concerning the capture of Kastoriá, there is preserved a tradition which is nothing but a variation of the 'Castle of Oriá': according to which, Kastoriá fell into Turkish hands by a trick. For this reason the people of Kastoriá too said to the Turks: "Εἵμαστε ἀμανέτι κι ὅχι σκλάβοι, γιατὶ μᾶς πήρατε μὲ τὸν πλάνο", that is to say "We are under security and not like the slaves, because we are captured with the help of the man who tricked us". (G. Kapsalis, Λαογραϕικὰ ἐκ Μακεδονίας, «Λαογραϕία» 6(1917) 455). For the tradition of the princess who threw herself down from the castle of Kastoriá so as not to be taken prisoner by the Turks, see Moullas, ibid., p. 133.





was the famous commander Evrenos [1], in whose name a mosque was subsequently built in a conspicuous position in the city. Since the mosque was built on the ruins of the Byzantine church of the Virgin [2], it is probable that this was the most important church in the city (perhaps the metropolitan church), and that after the capture of the city the Turkish general converted in into a mosque as a symbol of his victory.


The question arises, who were the ruling figures at this time in that part of north-west Macedonia with its capital, Kastoriá? In his 'Essai de Chronographie byzantine', Muralt, citing Leunclavius and Cantemir, states that the Turks took Kastoriá—as they did Belegrada (Berat) and Kruja—from the hands of George Strasimir, count of Zenta [3]. We find a different account, however, in the short chronicle of Giovanni Musachi; though how much credence we ought to give it is, perhaps, debateable. Musachi, who styles himself 'despot of Epirus', states that his ancestor, the Albanian overlord (sebastocrator) Andrea Mouzaki, held numerous disctricts in what corresponds to present-day Albania and Yugoslavia, and amongst them was the town of Nestramo (Nestórion in Greek Macedonia today) — which was at that time in ruins — and Kastoriá, which with the surrounding small towns and villages he had wrested from the hands of Kraljević Marko (1371-1394). In this enterprise Mouzaki had invited the co-operationof his two sons-in-law, the ruler Balsa and Groppa, lord of Ohrid and the surrounding region. But the writer of the chronicle seems to have mixed up his chronology when he writes that Andrea Mouzaki's son was Theodore, who clashed with Vukašin (whom he calls, incidentally, 'Re de Bulgaria') [4]. At all events, whatever the information that can be gleaned from these questionable details, we may take as correct the information he gives us about the natural mingling of these traditionally pastoral wanderers with the established Serbian inhabitants. For Hadji Kalfa, some 300 years later, found a mixed race of people dwelling on the mountains around Kastoriá, who traced their origin to Serbs and Vlachs [5] — or rather, as I believe, Serbs and Albano-Vlachs. But more about this later. This Kraljević Marko, therefore,



1. Evliya Chelebi, Seyahatnamesi, Istanbul, vol. 5 (1899), p. 575.


2. Tsamises, Καστοριά, pp. 172, 176.


3. E. de Muralt, Essai de chronographie byzantine, St. Petersburg 1871, vol. 2, p. 727.


4. See G. Hopf, Chroniques Gréco-Romanes inédites ou peu connues, Berlin 1873, pp. 280-282.


5. Hadschi Chalfa, Rumeli und Bosna, p. 17.





who held the Byzantine province of Kastoriá, had been ousted in his turn by the Albanian, Andrea Mouzaki.


Kraljević Marko, who is such a well-known figure in legends and folk-songs of the Serbian people, was in actuality an insignificant roler of a small district. Recognising the suzerainty of the Sultan, he subsequently became his vassal [1], and is reported to have administered a small region around Prilep (Perlepe) [2]. He met his death, as is well-known, in 1395 on campaign in Wallachia as a liege-lord of Bayezid I (1389-1402), who was attacking the Vlach ruler, Mircea (1387-1402). Krajlević



Fig. 10. Castle of Ohrid

Fig. 10. Castle of Ohrid.



Marko did not leave any descendants, and so his province of Prilep [3] was shared out amongst officers of the Sultan. It would appear that in that area too the Turks met with no resistance, for even after Marko's death the descendants of Vukašin remained undisturbed up to the beginning of the 15th century [4]. Such a privileged position as they enjoyed can alone be attributed to their having voluntarily submitted to the Turks. There can be little doubt that, based on Kastoriá and Flórina, the Turks took Monastir, and spread out towards the lakes of Préspa and Ohrid



1. Jireček - Radonić, History of the Serbs, vol. 1, p. 314. G. Ostrogorskij, History of the Byzantine State, Oxford 1956, p. 481.


2. Ostrogorskij, ibid., p. 489.     3. Ostrogorskij, ibid., p. 489.


4. Moulsopoulos, Βυζαντινὰ μνημεῖα τῆς Μεγάλης Πρέσπας, «Χαριστήριον εἰς Ἁναστ. Κ. Ὁρλάνδον», 2, Athens 1964, p. 155, 156-157, 159.





(Fig. 10) and onto Prilep, Istip [1], and Skopje [2] further north. It is, in all events, a fact that in 1408 Ohrid found itself once and for all under the Turks [3].


Another local ruler who became a vassal of the Sultan was Constantine Dejanović, who was governor of the northern portion of Eastern Macedonia [4], i.e. the part which is beyond the present northern boundary of Greece, and belongs now to Bulgaria. He too was killed in Wallachia in 1395.


Particular emphasis is laid on the fall of Ohrid, because during this period it was an ecclesiastical centre of considerable importance. Its archbishops had ambitions of enlarging their jurisdiction by the incorporation of other dioceses. It was to this end that they annexed the bishoprics of Sofia and Vidin at the beginning of the 15th century; while at the same time they endeavoured to extend their competence over the bishoprics of the former patriarch of Trnovo [5]. In 1439 the archbishops of Ohrid refused to recognise the Union of the Churches agreed at Florence, and the relations between Ohrid and Constantinople were marked by a certain coolness. However, after the fall of Constantinople and the elevation of Gennadius to the Patriarchal throne, a 'rapprochement' of the two centres can be observed [6]. At this particular time the influence of the archbishops was extended over the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia, which were formerly under the patriarchate of Trnovo; [7] but this was not for long [8]. Nonetheless, they did embrace within their spiritual authority the Orthodox communities of Venice, Apulia, Calabria, Sicily, and Dalmatia, which were composed of Greeks and Albanians [9].


At this point we ought to turn our attention to the events which took place in the southern parts of Macedonia towards Thessaly. In



1. H. Chalfa, Rumeli und Bosna, pp. 95-97.


2. I. Snegarov, History of the Archbishopric of Ohrid - Patriarcheion. From its Submission to the Turks up to its Abolition (1394-1767) (in Bulgarian), Sofia 1932, p. 1. He states that Skopje fell in 1392.


3. Snegarov, ibid., p. 1.


4. Ostrogorskij, History, p. 489. See also Jireček - Radonić, History of the Serbs, vol. 1, pp. 314-315.


5. Snegarov, ibid., p. 3, where there are further details. See also pp. 4 ff.


6. Snegarov, ibid., pp. 8-9.


7. Snegarov, ibid., p. 15. See also p. 11.     8. Snegarov, ibid., pp. 16-17.     9. Snegarov, ibid., p. 30.






Fig. 11. Bailey of the castle at Sérvia

Fig. 11. Bailey of the castle at Sérvia.

(A. Xyngopoulos, Τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν Σερβίων, Athens 1957, plate 2)



1389 the Turks under Bayezid I descended southwards from Thessalonica, and having taken Kítros [1], arrived before the foothills of Olympus, that great rampart separating Macedonia and Thessaly. Then they took the castle of Platamón (on what conditions we do not know); although they did not destroy it, as they did so many others. On the contrary, they saw to its repair, and kept it intact right up to the final years of the Turkish domination. Even today a visitor can make out the repairs that were carried out from time to time, and the pointed Turkish arch above the lintel of the gate leading from the outer to the inner bailey [2]. The reasons for its preservation are self-evident: it dominated the road which leads from Macedonia to Thessaly, and formed a fine bastion and guard-post, invaluable to Turkish resistance against the warlike inhabitants of Olympus, whenever they tried to force a descent and cut the enemy's lines of communication [3].


Later on, Bayezid I launched out from Véroia towards southern Greece, halting in front of the castle of Sérvia (see figs. 11 and 12),



1. See Seybold, Nesri's Notiz, ZDMG 74 (1920) 291.


2. A. Vacalopoulos, Τὸ κάστρο τοῦ Πλαταμώνα, «Μακεδονικὰ» 1 (1940) 71-72.


3. See in this connection Vacalopoulos, ibid., pp. 58-59, 64-65.





Fig. 12. Basilica on the citadel of Sérvia

Fig. 12. Basilica on the citadel of Sérvia.

(Xyngopoulos, ibid., plate 3)



which was also the key to Sarantáporo, the famous pass leading south-wards from Western Macedonia. Thus, should it have proved necessary, he would have been able to bypass the castle of Platamón. At Sérvia he met some resistance from the defenders of the fortress, but with his overwhelming forces Bayezid was soon able to take the town, if we are to believe Evliya Çelebi [1]. For 300 years later the traveler was shown the place where all the Turks killed in the attack had been buried. On that spot the first Turkish mosque had been built [2]. Many legends survive to this day, together with folk-songs which are no more than versions of the well-known and extremely ancient motif of the 'Castle of Oriá' [3]. It is possible that the capture of Sérvia in 1393 was not the last. In 1403, after the battle of Ankara (1402) and the death of Bayezid, Manuel II, as is well-known, succeeded in recovering the coastal districts—to an indeterminable distance inland—from the Strymon as far as Lamía, in exchange for his support of Suleiman, one of Bayezid's



1. See mention of the passage in question in A. Xyngopoulos, Τὰ μνημεῖα τῶν Σερβίων, Athens 1957, p. 9.


2. Brown, Relation, p. 61.


3. See Μ. Ε. Maloutas, Τὰ Σέρβια, Thessalonica 1956, pp. 56-62.





sons, in his bid for the Turkish throne [1]. Was, perhaps, Servia also ceded to him then? This seems very likely [2].


Under Bayezid I the monks of Athos offered their submission and began to pay tribute [3].



1. A. Bacalopoulos, Les limites de l’empire Byzantin depuis la fin du XV siècle jusqu'à sa chute (1453), BZ 55 (1962) 59-61.


2. See Bakalopoulos, ibid., p. 60. See also Thomas Papathanasiou, Τὸ μεσαιωνικὸν ϕρούριον τῶν Σερβίων ἀπὸ τῆς ἱδρύσεως αὐτοῦ μέχρι τῆς ὑπὸ τῶν Τούρκων ἁλώσεως, Thessalonica 1939, p. 64.


3. See Arcadios Vatopedinos, Ἁγιορειτικὰ ἀνάλεκτα. 15. Βασιλικὴ διαταγὴ πρὸς Δημήτριον τὸν Βονλιώτην περὶ Ἁγ. Ὄρους, «Γρηγόριος ὁ Παλαμᾶς» 2 (1918) 452.


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