Recovering Macedonia 13 - The Macedonian Revival III

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Recovering Macedonia Expiration of the Bucharest Treaty of 1913

Part 13 - The Macedonian Revival III

October, 2006

rstefov@hotmail.com

Website: www.Oshchima.com


[Macedonia will remain occupied as long as the Macedonian people are unrecognized, abused and made to feel like strangers on their own native lands. It is a well known fact that Macedonia was invaded, occupied and illegally partitioned by Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria in 1912-1913 against the wishes of the Macedonian people. The Serbian occupied part, now known as the Republic of Macedonia gained its independence in 1991 and is today a sovereign state while the parts annexed by Greece and Bulgaria remain occupied.]

The 18th century witnessed renewed conflicts with several new wars breaking out, resulting in more negative consequences for the Macedonian people.

Internally, the Ottoman Empire was plagued with feudal anarchy, perpetrated by the powerful feudal lords. Some were so powerful that they openly defied the central government by not submitting taxes and by using state money to bolster their own private armies and maintain their own independence.

Besides the renegade begs, the 18th century also gave rise to a new breed of bandits who found it easier to rob innocent people than to work. At times these groups numbered as high as five hundred roaming the Macedonian countryside, robbing and looting entire villages at a time. Most of these marauding bandits were of Turkish and Albanian extraction. They often collaborated with the defiant feudal lords and corrupt state officials, doing their dirty work.

By 1715 banditry had become a reputable profession and, for some, robbing and looting became a way of life. When complaints from Turkish merchants and businessmen began to arrive the Ottoman State had no choice but to intervene.

At times even the martolozes, men hired to protect the population, also contributed to the anarchy. Instead of upholding the law, they held up villages, taking food and materials without paying. Some even committed atrocities under the pretext of pursuing outlaws.

During the Ottoman war with Austria and Russia, which lasted from 1787 to 1792, a new group of bandits, known as the krcali, appeared in Macedonia. The krcali were a large group who used various mountains throughout Macedonia for cover. The krcali were organized in bands of about two thousand. Their ranks consisted of peasants, army deserters and women, people of all faiths and nationalities. They rode on horseback and were extremely mobile. They were known for their surprise attacks and lightening fast ability to loot whole villages and towns. Many districts were devastated by the krcali who were hunted down by the Sultan's army for a decade before they were eradicated.

The greatest victims of this anarchy were the defenseless Christians whose only way of getting justice was for themselves to become outlaws. As in the 17th century, outlawry exploded again in the 18th century forcing the Ottoman State into a crisis. Unable to deal with outlawry on its own, the central government made it the responsibility of the general population by imposing additional taxes on them.

Unable to stop the outlaws by conventional methods, the Ottoman authorities proposed various different schemes including employing them as martolozes (protectors) with a regular monthly income. The bands that agreed to the terms were pardoned for their past crimes. Unable to deal with the outlaws on its own was a clear signal that the Ottoman central government was weakening which prompted a further escalation in anarchic activities.

Attacks on the Macedonian peasant population in both villages and towns were carried out on a regular basis. The pressure of violence caused people to leave the dangerous countryside for the safety of larger towns. Macedonians left their rural homes for the urban setting thus opening up opportunities for foreign influx, mostly Albanians, to fill the void. With more Macedonians flooding the towns the economy began to shift from agriculture to craftsmanship and commerce. Also, coincidental with the movement of people, craftsman trades were gradually set free from small individual commissions for local consumption to the large production of goods for export.

With the majority of the trades operated by Macedonians, leadership in the guilds began to slowly change hands. Macedonian merchants began to venture further out to strengthen their links with the outside world. Ohrid merchants began to trade with those of Port Durazzo thus gaining access to cities in Italy. Also merchants from Kostur opened trade with Venice and Austria. Macedonian trading houses were opened in Solun, Kostur, Bansko, Serres, Voden and Ohrid with bureaus in Bucharest, Timisoara, Budapest, Vienna, Livorno, Venice, Odessa and Moscow.

Christians were allowed to trade with the usual restriction both inside and outside of the Ottoman world but Muslims were prohibited to do so by law. According to Muslim law, ordinary Muslims were not allowed to handle money, speak foreign languages, or venture beyond Islamic held lands. Therefore, a select class of Christians known as the Phanariots was appointed by the Sultan to handle official trade, communication and contact with the outside world.

The Phanariots were a group of wealthy Christians who got their name from the "Phanar" or lighthouse district of Tsari Grad where they lived. After the Sultan installed the Patriarch (highest religious leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church) in Tsari Grad (Constantinople), the Phanar became a thriving community of wealthy and educated Christians. The Sultan placed the Phanariot Patriarch in charge of the Christian Millet because he found him more agreeable than his other (poor) Christian counterparts. The Patriarchy functioned like a state within a state with its own administration and services.

Having the Sultan's favour, the Patriarch took the opportunity to expand his dominion over the entire Eastern Christian Church by replacing whatever legitimate bishoprics he could with his own corrupt people. For example, the Old Serbian bishoprics were abolished as punishment for helping the Habsburgs (Ausro-Hungarian Empire). At about the same time the Macedonian bishopric, including the powerful Ohrid bishopric, was also abolished. After becoming gospodars (lords), the Phanariots replaced all the Romanian bishoprics. As gospodars in Romania, the Phanariots abolished Church Slavonic (Macedonian) liturgy and replaced Macedonian speaking clergy with Romanians. The Romanians however, didn't care much for the Phanariots and pursued Romanian ways. Eventually as more and more bishoprics were shut down the Phanariots redefined the old culture, Christian faith and Christian education to suit themselves and their corrupt ways.

The Ottomans trusted the Phanariots well enough to give them a role in the central Ottoman administration. This included the office of the "Dragoman", the head of the Sultan's interpreters' service. Phanariots participated in diplomatic negotiations with outsiders and some even became ambassadors for the Ottoman Empire. Phanariots were put in charge of collecting taxes from the Christian Millet for the Ottomans and whatever they could pilfer from the peasants they kept for themselves. Many scholars believe that Romania's peasants have never suffered more than they did during the Phanariot period. Phanariots also secured food and other services for the Ottoman court.

The Phanariots, through the Dragoman, were largely responsible for providing "all kinds" of information to the outside world about the Ottoman Empire, including their own desires to rule it some day. Some Phanariots were educated abroad in London and Paris and were responsible for bringing information into the Ottoman Empire. Towards the middle of the 18th century, the Phanariot dream was to replace the Ottoman Empire with a Christian Empire like the Russian model. In theory, they wanted to re-create a multi-cultural Pravoslav Empire (Byzantine) but with a Patriarch in charge. The Phanariots believed that with Russian or German help it was possible to achieve their goals.

The power and money hungry Phanariots were not content with only running the Ottoman administration but sought to possess all the eparchies of the Pravoslav Churches. Pressured by the Phanariots, the Patriarchate of Tsari Grad increasingly began to interfere in the affairs of the various Archbishoprics including the Church of Ohrid. Using his influence with the Sultan, in May 1763, the Patriarch attempted to appoint a man of his choice, the monk Ananias, as head of Ohrid. Ananias, however, was rejected and the Archbishopric elected Arsenius, the Macedonian Metropolitan from Pelagonia. This unfortunately proved disastrous for the Archbishopric. The Patriarch retaliated and by means of bribery and intrigue, with the aid of the Ottoman authorities and his allies among the higher clergy in the Ohrid Church, he gradually did away with the Archbishopric.

On January 16, 1767 Arsenius was forced to resign his office voluntarily, recognize the Patriarchate of Tsari Grad and personally request the abolition of the Ohrid Archbishopric. The Sultan issued a decree making the abolition legal and annexing its eparchies to the Patriarchate of Tsari Grad. The Ohrid Eparchy itself was abolished and the town came under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Durazzo. Aiming to eradicate every single trace of the once autocephalous Ohrid church, the Patriarchate even changed Ohrid's name to Lychnidos. The local bishops were replaced with Koine speakers throughout Macedonia and new ecclesiastical taxes were introduced.

After the unfortunate loss of the Ohrid Church to the Patriarchate, monasteries were virtually the only cultural centers left in Macedonia. Having a large number of Slavonic (Macedonian) manuscripts in their possession, the monasteries took over the tradition of copying and reproducing liturgical, philosophical, educational and other ecclesiastical documents. Included among the most important of these monasteries were the Lesnovo Monastery near Kratovo, Matejche and St. Prohor Pchinski near Kumanovo, Slepche near Demir Hisar, Treskavets near Prilep, Prechista near Kichevo, John Bigorski near Debar and Polog in the Tikvesh district. The desire to continue in the Macedonian tradition was provided by Sveta Gora (Holy mountain or Mt. Athos) where the Macedonian culture and Slavonic language continued to be cherished and heard in the monasteries of Chilandar, Zograph and Panteleimon.

Among the various documents kept by the clergy in Sveta Gora were monastic records of the names and donations of all visitors to the monasteries. Important documents of Slavonic literacy such as Clement's Charter, the Slepche Letters, the Macedonian Damascene of the 16th century, the Tikvesh Collection of the 16th and 17th centuries and the Treskavets Codicil of the 17th and 18th centuries were also preserved in Sveta Gora.

Monasteries provided shelter for teaching cleric students to read and write in the Macedonian language. During the 17th and more so during the 18th century, Macedonian monks began to open schools in the towns near their churches where they taught basic literacy to willing students. Such schools were also operated in Veles, Skopje and Prilep.

New churches, built mostly by villages in Macedonia during Ottoman rule, were far smaller and more modest than those built in the pre-Ottoman period. Architecturally their form was simple, to make them indistinguishable from the houses in the village. A fresco painting hanging on the interior wall and several icons mounted on wooden iconostases were the only things that distinguished churches from houses.

Icon paintings were still painted in the old style but the quality of the work gradually declined. Original works became a rarity and artistic creativity boiled down to nothing more than imitations and copying the great works from previous epochs. The number of painters, journeymen and apprentices also declined and so did their field work.

During the 18th century several painting studios existed, the most significant being located in the Ohrid and Prespa district, the Treskavets and Zrze monasteries in the Prilep district, Slepche, Lesnovo and the Skopje Tsrna Gora.

Some of the works produced during this and earlier periods were of considerable artistic value and of importance to the churches. Examples of these include the paintings in the Church of the Holy Virgin located in a cave at Peshtani. The snake cross in the Church of St. Demetrius in Ohrid was painted at the end of the 15th century. The monk Makarios, from the village of Zrze, painted the icon of the Virgin of Pelagonia in 1422, and the portrait of Kupen, painted in 1607, was in the Church of the Holy Virgin at Slivnitsa Monastery in the village of Slivnitsa in the Prespa district.

The influence of oriental elements in Macedonian woodcarving also increased during the same period. The double braid, carved in shallow and flat carvings, was a pure and exclusive motif right up until the 17th and early 18th centuries when more intricate carvings began to appear. Good examples of shallow carving are the doors of the old monastery, Church of St. John the Baptist at Slepche. Other exceptionally good pieces of woodcarving are the doors of the Treskavets Monastery, probably carved at the end of the 15th century.

Shallow woodcarvings can also be found on icon frames from the same period. The most interesting is that of the baptism of Christ found in the Church of the Holy Virgin at the Slivnitsa Monastery.

Deep incisions began to appear at the close of the 17th century, showing superior beauty in contrast to the shallow carvings. Good examples of deep carvings are the iconostases of St. Naum Church near Lake Ohrid (1711) and St. Demetrius Church in Bitola (1775).

On the subject of music, the necessary conditions for the development of professional music in Macedonia were not quite there during the Ottoman era. Folk music, however, flourished and was very popular with the Macedonian people, not only for its entertaining qualities but also for its manifestations of soul, spirit, joy, suffering and pain. Most composers, unfortunately, chose to remain anonymous and cannot be credited for their work. Apart from church music, which continued to be sung in the Pravoslav chant style, folk music dominated Macedonian melodies virtually up until the end of the 19th century.

Apart from being conquerors and tyrants the Ottomans also had positive qualities. Turkish literature in Macedonia started as far back as the second half of the 15th century. Skopje, Enidzhe Vardar, and Endrene (Adrianople) were the largest Turkish cultural centers in the European part of the Ottoman State. Literature and poetry were the most valued and cherished aspects of Turkish culture which flourished during the 15th and 16th centuries but began to decline in the second half of the 17th century.

Wherever a sizable Muslim population lived in Macedonia, it left its mark in the form of Islamic temples, either as mosques or as mescids (smaller mosques).

Another form of Ottoman artistic expression was mausoleums, which also left their mark in Macedonia. Distinguished Ottomans were buried in mausoleums. One of the oldest that has been preserved is the mausoleum at Isaac Beg's mosque in Skopje.

Another group of Muslims who left their mark on Macedonian soil were the Dervishes. Wherever dervishes were found, so were their convents and hermitages.

More forms of Ottoman architectural expressions in Macedonia were the medresas, or religious schools which occupied a place of distinction among Macedonia's urban panorama. Isaac Beg built one of the first significant medresas in Skopje in 1445. Other prominent Ottoman buildings included large numbers of imarets, or free kitchens for the poor and travelers. Medresas and imarets usually existed as ancillary buildings in complexes among the larger mosques.

The Ottomans also owned numerous inns and caravanserais, which were built in the more important urban and commercial centers at various intervals along the main traffic routes in Macedonia. One of the finest was the Kurshumli Caravanserai in Skopje.

Covered markets or bezsnes were also popular in Macedonia, built to meet the needs of growing commerce in the various towns. One such place was the Mustapha Pasha covered marketplace in Skopje.

We must not forget the famous hamams or Turkish public baths, which were offered to the public both in towns and villages. Some, like the Daut Pasha Baths and the Cift Baths in Skopje, were immensely large and beautiful structures. Also of importance were the public systems of piped water, drinking fountains and wells.

Turkish educational institutions, which were emphatically religious in nature, in addition to teaching religion, offered students the opportunity to study Oriental languages, Islamic law, philosophy and mathematics. Education was conducted in the medresas (religious high schools) and the mektebs (religious elementary schools). By the 15th century two medresas were operating in Skopje. The Isaac Beg Medresa, was one of the oldest and most famous in the entire Balkans

Books were also important in the cultural life of the Islamic world. Oriental libraries, consisting mostly of religious books, were set up throughout the mosques, medresas and convents all over Macedonia. The oldest, richest and most important of these libraries was the library in Isaac Beg's mosque in Skopje.

Besides the Turks, the Albanians in Macedonia also possessed a rich culture. Life experiences were preserved in calendar songs, cradle songs, wedding and love songs. Some of the oldest and richest epics still exist in the Debar and Kichevo regions and are part of the Albanian mythological heritage. Albanian literature was also rich in folk tales.

With regard to dress, Albanian women wore clothes exceptionally rich in colour with a unique dress design. One could tell to which village a woman belonged by the colours and patterns on her dress. Men's clothing was fairly standard throughout Macedonia.

Unlike Muslim Turks and Albanians, who were free to enjoy their cultures, Christian Macedonians found the Turkish yoke increasingly unbearable, particularly from the Turkish troops who enjoyed abusing, humiliating and harassing them. With bases in Tsari Grad and Solun, troops constantly passed through Macedonia on their way to and from wars. Dissatisfied with their own condition, the soldiers often took their frustration out on the Macedonian population.

There were always Turkish soldiers in Solun so in spite of harsh living conditions no Solunian dared cause trouble unless living conditions became unbearable. In 1712 a plague broke out as a result of poor living conditions and by 1713 over 8,000 people had lost their lives. In 1720 the people of Solun had had just about enough of Turkish rule and took up arms when their wheat supplies were cut and there was no bread to eat. The same happened in 1753, 1758 and again in 1789. According to descriptions of 18th century Solun, the city had not grown beyond the confines of the Pravoslav walls, parts of which still remained in good condition. Solun had four big towers, three of which were rectangular and one circular, (the White Tower still exists to this day) located at the southern part of the fortified walls.

The population of 18th century Solun numbered approximately 40,000 people, most of whom were Turks and Jews. The streets in the commercial district were covered over with boards forming a continuous roof, providing shade for the shoppers on the hot summer days.

On the international stage, the military balance continued to shift away from the Ottomans as they continued to lose their edge in technology and modern weaponry. While western economies continued to improve, Ottoman economic development remained stagnant. A century of military defeats suffered at the hands of the western Europeans devastated the Ottoman Empire. More recently, the emergence of Russia as another powerful Ottoman foe also added to the Ottoman misery.

Ottoman-Russian wars began as early as 1677. Russia attacked the Crimea in 1689 and in 1695 captured the crucial port of Azov. Russia, up to this point, had been completely cut off from the Black Sea and had suffered immensely both economically and politically at the hands of the Ottomans.

Faced with multiple fronts, the Ottoman Empire began to shrink and for the first time since its invasions of Europe it began to permanently lose conquered lands. By the year 1700 the Sultan had surrendered almost all of Hungary, as well as Transylvania, Croatia and Slovenia to the Habsburgs while yielding Dalmatia, the Morea and some Aegean islands to Venice and Padolia and the South Ukraine to Poland. Russia had gained some territories north of the Dniester River, lost them for a while and regained them again later.

Another minor but crucial event for the south Balkans took place in 1711 when one of the Moldavian gospodars (lords) was accused of collaborating with the Russian army and was held responsible for the Russian invasion of Romania. As punishment the Ottomans replaced all Romanian and Moldavian gospodars with Phanariots from Tsari Grad.

Ottoman losses were not limited to Europe alone. On the eastern front, in a series of unsuccessful wars between 1723 and 1736, the Turks lost Azerbaijan and other lands to the Persians. A decade later in 1746, after two centuries of war, the Ottomans abandoned the conflict with Iran leaving their Iranian rivals to face political anarchy.

The agreement signed at Kuchuk Kainarji in 1774 with the Russian Romanovs, similar to the 1699 Karlowitz treaty with Austria, highlights the extent of the losses suffered by the Ottomans during the 18th century. The 1768 to 1774 war, the first with Tsaritsa Catherine the Great, included the annihilation of the Ottoman fleet in the Aegean near Chezme. Russian ships sailed from the Baltic Sea through Gibraltar, across the Mediterranean Sea and sank the Ottoman fleet at its home base. By this victorious engagement Russia forced the Sultan to break ties with the Crimean Khan. Without the Sultan's protection, the Khans were left at Russia's mercy. In a sense, the Sultan too lost out because he could no longer count on the Khans for help.

The 1774 Kuchuk Kainarji Treaty gave Russian ships access to the Black Sea, the Bosphorus and Endrene (the Dardanelles). By this treaty Russia built an Orthodox church in Tsari Grad and became the self appointed "protector of Orthodox Christians" inside the Ottoman domain including Wallachia (Romania) and Moldavia. Also, for the first time, the Ottomans allowed Russian (outside) consular agents inside their empire. Russia at the time did not have enough ships to fill the shipping demands so many of the shipping contracts went to Phanariot captains who were on friendly terms with both the Russians and Ottomans.

Russian gains at the expense of the Ottoman's began to raise suspicions with western States, particularly since Russia appointed herself protector of all Pravoslav Christians.

The next event to shake the world was the French revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power. Bonaparte invaded Egypt in 1798 which marked the end of Ottoman dominion in this vital and rich province along the Nile. The Ottoman central government never regained Egypt, which later emerged as a separate state under Muhammad Ali Pasha and his descendants. After Ali's death his successors kept close ties with the Ottomans in Tsari Grad but remained independent.

Among the many losses the Ottomans experienced also came some gains. In the 1714 to 1718 war with Venice the Turks took back the Morea.

Towards the end of the 18th century and in the early part of the 19th century, Macedonia, like other parts of European Turkey, was a hotbed of unrest. Trouble was stirred up by the military deserters and by local feudal lords who, in the absence of the Ottoman military, had declared themselves independent and were fighting with one another for greater dominion.

The political and economic insecurity created by this anarchy and by the central government's inability to cope, forced another large migration of Macedonians from the villages into the towns. The sudden growth in the urban population caused an increase in the production of crafts and agricultural products, which became trading commodities for the central European and Russian markets. The fairs in Serres, Prilep, Doyran, Struga, Enidzhe Vardar, Petrich and Nevrokop became commercial trading posts for both domestic and foreign trade. The newly created market network enabled Macedonian businessmen to develop trading ties with the outside world. Businessmen from Veles, Bitola, Serres, Bansko and Ohrid set up their own agencies in Vienna, Leipzig, Trieste and Belgrade. Along with trade also came prosperity and exposure to the outside world. Macedonian merchants became the bearers of progressive ideas, education, culture and Macedonian national sentiment.

The Kuchuk Kainarji Treaty bolstered Russian expansionism in the Balkans, which alarmed the western Powers and initiated the "Eastern Question"; "What will happen to the Balkans when the Ottoman Empire disappears?" The Eastern Question of the 1800's later became the Macedonian Question of the 1900's.

At about the same time as Russia was making her way into the Balkans, the west was also experiencing changes. The industrial revolution was in full swing, coming out of England and progressing towards the rest of the world. France was the economic superpower but was quickly losing ground to England. The French Revolution (1789) gave birth not only to new ideas and nationalism, but also to Napoleon Bonaparte. As Napoleon waged war in Europe and the Middle East, French shipping in the Mediterranean subsided only to be replaced by the Phanariot and British traders. French trade inside Ottoman territory also declined and never fully recovered. By land, due to the long border, Austria dominated trade with the Ottoman Empire exercising its own brand of influence on the Balkans.

As the turn of the 19th century brought economic change to Europe, the Balkans became the last frontier for capitalist expansion. By the 1800's Europe's political, economic and military institutions were rapidly changing. Western governments and exporters were aggressively pursuing Balkan markets on behalf of their western manufacturers. This aggressive pursuit smothered Balkan industries before they had a chance to develop and compete. As a result, Balkan economies began to decline causing civil unrest and nationalist uprisings. While western countries were left undisturbed to develop economically and socially, external forces prevented Balkan societies from achieving similar progress. Mostly regulated by guilds, Balkan trades could not compete with western mechanization and went out of business. Without jobs, most city folk became a burden on the already economically strained rural peasants. The economic situation in the Balkans deteriorated to intolerable levels and like in the previous two centuries, people began to rebel.

Two overwhelming "forces" came into being in the 19th century, which transformed the Balkans. The first was the 1848 "western economic revolution" which thrust the Balkans into social and economic upheaval. The second was "increased intervention" from non-Balkan political forces. As the century advanced these developments merged, working not for the interests of the Balkan people but for the benefit of Europe's Great Powers.

Turkey's financial collapse opened the door for western governments to manipulate internal Ottoman policies as well as divert needed revenues to pay foreign debts. On top of that the Ottoman Empire was forced into becoming a consumer of western European commodities. While western Europe prospered from these ventures, Ottoman trades and guilds paid the ultimate price of bankruptcy. Lack of work in the cities bore more pressure on the village peasants, who were now being taxed to starvation to feed unemployed city dwellers, as well as maintaining the status quo for the rich. The Ottoman Empire became totally dependent on European capital for survival, which put the state past the financial halfway point of no return and marked the beginning of the end of Ottoman rule in Europe.

For the oppressed peoples of the Balkans, the dawn of the nineteenth century marked the beginning of national struggles for liberation from the centuries-long domination of the Ottoman Empire. The first was the Serbian uprising of 1804 followed by the Phanariot uprising of 1821. Macedonians, in an effort to liberate their Christian brothers from the oppressive Muslim Turk, took part in both uprisings. In the first Serbian uprising a Macedonian named Volche was instrumental in building the Deligrad fortifications and distinguished himself as a great fighter in battle. Petar Chardaklija was another Macedonian who also distinguished himself as a great fighter in the Serbian resistance. Petar Ichko, another Macedonian, led a delegation that concluded the well-known Ichko Peace Treaty of 1806 with the Ottoman government. When news of the Serbian uprising reached Macedonia the Macedonian people were stirred to action. Unfortunately the Ottoman authorities were ready and concentrated large numbers of troops in Macedonia, quelling the rebellion even before it had a chance to start.

Macedonians also participated in the Phanariot uprising of 1821. Immediately after the outbreak of the Morea revolt Macedonians formed their own bands, particularly in the Voden district and joined up with the Morean rebels. Among the band leaders who fought side by side with the Moreans were the brothers Ramadanovi, Dimche Minov, Dincho Drzhilovich and Demir Trajko.

Strongly influenced by the ideals of the Phanariot freedom fighters who were calling on the entire Balkan population to take up arms against the Ottoman yoke, many Macedonians, particularly those in the Voden and Negush districts, did take up arms. In early March 1822, under the leadership of Atanas Karatase and Angel Gacho, a revolt broke out in the town of Negush. In no time the rebels put down the Turks and declared Negush liberated. The revolt quickly spread towards Voden engulfing a large number of villages. Unfortunately, effort and determination alone were not enough to stop the numerically superior Ottoman army. Isolated and besieged from all sides the rebels were suppressed and dispersed. After a fierce battle the Turks recaptured the town of Negush and persecutions and pillaging followed. To avoid further problems, the population of Negush was either enslaved or resettled in other parts of Macedonia.

The following is part of a letter written by Gacho that reveals the existence of the Negush uprising.

"No sooner had I heard the sound of Ares's bugle and the weeping call of my beloved fatherland for the protection of its rights than I scorned my tranquility, wealth and glory, took arms against the tyrants and managed to stay near Negush during the whole war. There I fought long and blood-shedding battles until the destruction of Negush, where my beloved children and my wife were taken, prisoner, but, thank God, they are now alive, although in a hostile country (exposed) to the will of the barbarians.

Patriot, Angel Gacho, 16th September 1824" (Page 183, The University of "Cyril and Methodius", Documents on the Struggle of the Macedonian People for Independence and a Nation-State, Volume One, Skopje, 1985)

This next letter is from the Sultan to the Kapicibasi, the Solun Mutesellim Jusuff Beg, concerning the uprising in Negush

"...We have heard that the disloyal villains from Negush and the surrounding villages, who rose to arms and for whose destruction we undertook a campaign with a great number of soldiers starting from Solun, built up at the end of the town real and strong redoubts defending the town under the leadership of the repulsive and false captains Zafiraki, Iliamandi, Karataso and others. Although there were a few traveling representatives sent to them from our side who advised them to hand over their arms, promising that they would be pardoned, and that in case they did not do it, they should expect an inglorious end, thus showing them the way to their salvation, they unrepentantly replied with the following curses: 'We do not believe the words of Moslems and shall continue our disobedience and uprising.' Therefore, putting into effect the orders of the declared fetva against them, it was decided that in future their greasy bodies should be erased from the face of the earth. But as for the success of the aforementioned full pressure and complete surrounding of the neighbouring mountains is necessary, you are being ordered to mobilize from among the Moslems in the town (of Ber) 200 young men and distinguished fighters as soldiers, who, having been put under the command of the carrier of his order, our lord privy seal, Abdul Baki-Aga, should form a detachment which should leave for the Negush camp at once. That is why this order is being issued by the Solun divan and the Nengus camp. See that this order will be carried out as soon as possible and avoid any action contrary to it.

Tsari Grad, 3rd recep 1217 (26th March 1822)" (Page 185, The University of "Cyril and Methodius", Documents on the Struggle of the Macedonian People for Independence and a Nation-State, Volume One, Skopje, 1985)

This next letter is from Naum Ichko to prince Milos Obrenovic.

"To the noble Master Milos Obrenovic, greeting him most kindly, I have received your noble letter of the 17th instant and understood what you are writing to me concerning the horse I bought from your servant and which was put up for sale. The Turks wanted to buy it, and it was good I bought it so that it did not come into their hands. I am most yours and the horse is yours too. I am driving it to pasture in Savamala, in a field; in three days the pasture will be finished. I shall be sending it saddled with the first boy who leaves for your palace. Since you already know about the sufferings in Negush, now I am informing you about my misfortune. A cousin of mine with his whole family happened to be there, fleeing from Katranica to Negush for safety; almost at the time Negush was taken they were taken as slaves: his wife, four girls and three sons. Nobody knows if my cousin is alive or dead. The family was imprisoned there by a bolukbasi from Debar and driven to Bitola in order to sell them to the Christians, because the merchants and craftsmen there bought out many slaves; the bishop only bought 30 slaves. When nobody could buy any slaves any more, the woman said to the merchants that she had a relative in Belgrade; the merchants said this to the bolukbasi asking him not to take them to the Arnautluk, but to wait 25 days until they informed me. The bolukbasi consented but said that he will not sell them for less than 4,000 coins. Then the merchants wrote me to send the money as ransom for those 8 souls. We must, my dear Master, not only redeem our relatives but also every Christian soul should be saved from Turkish hands. But it is difficult for me to find 4,000 coins, since the eparchy is weak; therefore I could only spare 1,500 coins and for the rest to 4,000 I beseech you, kneeling before you, kissing your hands and feet, to help me to save those 8 souls for the souls of your parents and the health of noble Milan. It would be good, my dear Master, if you could intercede in favour and ask some of the voivodes or pig merchants whom God has given wealth to help with 100 or 200 coins, to raise small funds, so that the Christians here can also redeem a few Christian souls from Turkish hands. Do you remember how many Serbian slaves were redeemed from Turkish hands by the Christians down there during the first years? The time has now come for us to pay the debt back. Two or three years ago you made it possible for various people to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem; now the time has come for your face to see that holy place. It is Jerusalem to save the slaves; this letter almost comes to you through commissioner Magus.

Please answer me so that Isaija can bring the answer to me by Friday evening, since the commissioner from Bitola is leaving on Saturday, and I may know what to write to the merchants in Bitola concerning those 8 souls.

I remain your obedient servant.

Naum Ichko

Belgrade, 23rd May 1822" (Pages 185, 186 and 187, The University of "Cyril and Methodius", Documents on the Struggle of the Macedonian People for Independence and a Nation-State, Volume One, Skopje, 1985.)

The above letters are proof of the Negush (Nausa) uprising which took place in early March 1822. This is another Macedonian historical event that can no longer be hidden to protect the interests of Macedonia's southern neighbour.

References:

Stefou, Chris. History of the Macedonian People from Ancient times to the Present. Toronto: Risto Stefov Publications, 2005


You can contact the author at rstefov@hotmail.com