Henry Fanshawe Tozer.

Researches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 31)
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tion ; for that amusement is still a favourite one in these
parts. The plain, which is forty miles in length by ten
in breadth, is a wonderful sight as seen from the monas-
tery ; it is extremely fertile, though at the end of August
it was brown, from the crops having been removed. All

' Cyprien Robert, 'Les Slaves de Turquie,' ii. pp. 197-212; Urquhart,
' Spirit of the East,' i. pp. 308-310.

Chap. VIII, Plain of Monastir. 17 1

down the centre runs a long line of green, caused by the
marshes which form along the banks of the river Czerna,
the ground near which has never been drained ; and in
various parts lie 170 villages, the inhabitants of which are
partly small cultivators, partly peasants employed by the
large proprietors. The whole plain is environed by fine
mountains : directly opposite, to the east, is the long
Babuna chain, which, though not seen in its full propor-
tions, on account of the elevation of the plain, presents
a picturesque and broken outline : but the most con-
spicuous of all are the distant snow-capped heights of
Kritchova to the north-east. Close to the foot of these,
in another plain, lies the town of Perlepe, where a great
fair for the whole of this territory and Albania is held
once a year in the month of August. Traders resort to
it from all parts of the country, and the retail dealers
depend on it in great measure for their supply. A
great quantity of merchandize is brought overland from
Vienna ; but this year, in consequence of the financial
and commercial crisis throughout the Levant, hardly any
business was done. This part of the country appears to
be a great mart for Austrian wares ; whereas in southern
and part of central Albania the goods are, or were,
almost entirely from England, being introduced by way
of Corfu : this was one considerable advantage which this
country used to derive from the possession of that island.
The plain of Monastir, in consequence of its position,
being removed from the sea, and 1500 feet above it, and
surrounded by high mountains, is exposed to great and
sudden changes of temperature ; in summer the glass
frequently standing at 104 in the shade, while in the
winter for two months the ground is thickly covered with
snow. It is the natural consequence of this that, as at
Madrid, which is in a similar position, diseases of the

1^2 Monasti)' and OcJirida. Chap. VI 1 1.

chest are very common ; and furs are much worn at all
times of the year, from the danger of sudden chills.

The district, comprising this plain and that of Perlepe,
was called in ancient times Pelagonia, and this name
is still used to designate the bishopric of Bitolia.^ The
site of Monastir itself was probably occupied by Hera-
clea, which was one of the principal cities on the line
of the Egnatian Way. The Pelagonian plain was one of
the primitive seats of the Macedonian race, and, as Mr.
Grote has remarked,^ formed a territory better calculated
to nourish and to generate a considerable population,
than the less favoured home, and smaller breadth of
valley and plain, occupied by Epirots or lUyrians. In
this way a hardy yet thriving race was developed which
had in it the germs of a great nation. In the same dis-
trict is laid the scene of the story which Herodotus has
given of the foundation of the Macedonian monarchy,
and which, from its quaint and graphic character, deserves
to be introduced here. How far it contains historical
elements, we cannot say;"* but, as it stands, it bears a
singular resemblance to those Popular Tales which since
Grimm's time have been recognised as the heritage of
the peasantry in every country of Europe. The three
brothers, the youngest of whom is the wisest and the

2 The derivation of the modern name Bitolia is doubtful. Boue suggests
that it is derived from the Albanian word vittolja, a "dove," as the place
was inhabited by the Skipetars before the Slaves. This he would connect
with the corresponding name of Peristeri, given to the mountain which
rises above ('Recueil d'ltineraires,' i. p. 257). Von Hahn, however,
prefers to derive it from the Slavonic obitavati, "to inhabit," and con-
siders it a translation of the name Monastir. This latter name originated in
the monasteiy of Bukova itself (Hahn, ' Reise von Belgrad nach Salonik,'
p. 115).

^ ' History of Greece,' iv. p. 15.

* The historical side of the stoiy is well given by Von Gutsclnnid, in the
* Symbola Philologorum Bonnensium.'

Chap. VIII. Legend of the Tancnidcu. 173

most successful — the enigmatical conversation about the
sunshine — the sudden swelling of the river to save
the fugitives — are all features commonly found in this
class of stories ; in addition to which the general cast of
the narrative is such as cannot fail to suggest a close
resemblance to the Popular Tales to one accustomed
to study this branch of literature. So that Ave need have
no hesitation in finding a relationship between it and
'Cinderella,' 'The Sleeping Beauty,' 'Jack and the Bean-
stalk,' and the innumerable other stories which a careful
search is continually bringing to light.

" Three brothers, descendants of Temenus, fled from Argos to the
Illyrians ; their names were Gauanes, Aeropus, and Perdiccas. From
Illyria they went across to Upper Macedonia, where they came to a
certain town called Lebasa. There they hired themselves out to serve
the king in different employs. One tended the horses ; another looked
after the cows ; while Perdiccas, who was the youngest, took charge of
the smaller cattle. In those early times poverty was not confined to the
people ; kings themselves were poor, and so here it was the king's wife who
cooked the victuals. Now, whenever she baked the bread, she always
observed that the loaf of the labouring boy Perdiccas swelled to double
its natural size. So the queen, finding this never fail, spoke of it to her
husband. Directly that it came to his ears, the thought struck him
that it was a miracle, and boded something of no small moment. He
therefore sent for the three labourers, and told them to be gone out of
his dominions. They answered, ' They had a right to their wages ; if he
would pay them what was due, they were quite willing to go.' Now
it happened that the sun was shining down the chimney into the room
where they were ; and the king, hearing them talk of wages, lost his
wits, and said, 'There are the wages which you deserve; take that —
I give it you ! ' and pointed, as he spoke, to the sunshine. The two
elder brothers, Gauanes and Aeropus, stood aghast at the reply, and
•did nothing : but the boy, who had a knife in his hand, made a mark
with it round the sunshine on the floor of the room, and said, ' O king!
we accept thy payment.' Then he received the light of the sun three
times into his bosom, and so went away, and his brothers went with

" When they were gone, one of those who sat by told the king what
the youngest of the three had done, and hinted that he must have had

1 74 Monastir and Ochrida. C hap. V 1 1 1 .

some meaning in accepting the wages given. Then the king, when he
heard what had happened, was angry, and sent horsemen after the
youths to slay them. Now there is a river in Macedonia to which
the descendants of the Argives offer sacrifice as their saviour. This
stream swelled so much, as soon as the sons of Temenus were safe
across, that the horsemen found it impossible to follow. So the
brothers escaped into another part of Macedonia, and took up their
abode near the place called ' the Gardens of Midas, son of Gordias.'
In these gardens there are roses which grow of themselves, so sweet
that no others can come near them, and with blossoms that have as
many as sixty petals apiece. It was here, according to the Macedonians,
that Silenus was made a prisoner. Above the gardens stands a moun-
tain called Bermius, which is so cold that none can reach the top. Here
the brothers made their abode, and from this place, by degrees, they
conquered all Macedonia." "

We soon discovered that the monastery at which we
were staying, though built in many respects hke the
smaller Greek monasteries, was such only in name. It
has, it is true, a central church, and a warden and one
monk to perform the services ; but the buildings round
the court are intended, not for monastic cells, but for
places of meeting for the members of different guilds of
tradesmen in Monastir, who come here to hear service,
and afterwards to feast and make merry, on the festival
days of their patron saints. The great monastery of St.
Naum, near the southern end of the lake of Ochrida, is a
similar institution. These guilds, which are found among
the Christians in many of the cities of Turkey, and are
governed by statutes of their own, and presided over by
a judge elected by the body, correspond very closely to
our corporations of the Middle Ages. We were lodged
in a room belonging to the Worshipful Company of

5 'Herod.,' viii. 137-138 (Rawlinson's translation). The gardens here
spoken of are the rich and fertile district in the neighbourhood of Verria
(Berrhoea), to the south of Vodena. What is said of the roses reminds us
of the name of that flower in modern Greek, triantaphyllon, or " the flower
of thirty petals."

Chap. VIII. Turkish Outrages. 175

Greengrocers. The sitting-room occupied by Mr. Calvert
and his wife was formed by an angle of the wide open
gallery which here runs round the building, and was
screened from the sun by a canvas covering extended
from the wall to the balustrade of the gallery. The
history of the old warden was a very sad one : he was in
the last stage of a decline, brought on by a melancholy
of several years' standing, in consequence of the death of
his brother, who was wantonly murdered by a Turk, in
the open streets, by his side. The mxurderer, after a few
months' imprisonment at Constantinople, again walks
the streets of Monastir, and from time to time comes to
the monastery with others to levy black mail, and require
entertainment from the brother of his victim. But these
things are of common occurrence. It was revolting to
hear, from the best authority, of the outrages which the
Christians in these parts are continually suffering at the
hands of the Turks. Besides the extortion carried on by
g-overnment aeents in the collection of the taxes, murders,
assaults, robberies, and pillage, are constantly happening.
The Turks have no occupation, either agricultural or
mechanical ; they support themselves by stealing from
their neighbours. One seeming improvement has been
introduced of late years, in the taxes not being farmed ;
but the unscrupulousness and cupidity of the collectors
remain the same. The people, in consequence of this,
are afraid to show any outward signs of prosperity lest
they should be despoiled. And so great is the fanaticism
of the Mahometans, that until a very few years ago no
Christian woman, not even a Frank lady, was allowed to
appear in the streets unveiled. The wife of the Austrian
consul, who Avas the first representative of Western
Europe that appeared here, was for some time obliged to
wear a veil.

176 Monastir and OcJwida. Chap. VIII.

One story that we heard at this time, which was well
authenticated, is a remarkable instance of retribution-
In the neighbourhood of Elbassan, in Central Albania,
where the dearth had lately been so great as almost to
amount to a famine, a young Mahometan, who was
reduced to excess of want, went out foraging by night.
He met a man driving a mule laden with sacks, and
having shot him, according to the custom of the country,
brought home his store of grain. The next night he
went off to get it ground, and his father, desiring to
emulate his son's success, started also to try his hand on
a similar exploit. He also shot his man, and brought
home the captured sacks. On examining them, he found
that they were his own, and that the victim was his son.

The Bulgarians, who form the largest element in the
Christian population from Salonica to the confines of
Albania, are a very interesting people, and are highly
spoken of for industry and honesty. They are the most
numerous of all the nationalities inhabiting European
Turkey, and are estimated at between five and six mil-
lions. There can be no doubt that the original Bul-
garians were of Turanian descent, and near relations, if
not actual descendants, of Attila's Huns ; but after their
settlement in Bulgaria Proper, on the Danube, they be-
came so intermingled with the Slavonian inhabitants of
that country that they adopted their language. A large
number of them seem to have emigrated into Western
Macedonia before the ninth century, and there, in all
probability, received a further infusion of Slavonic blood.
The traces of this are very evident in the present appear-
ance of the people ; for the Tartar type of face, which
generally is remarkable for its permanence, has here for
the most part disappeared. Notwithstanding this, you
will not often find a people with such well-marked

Chap. VIII. The Bulgarians. 177

characteristics. They have straight noses, high cheek-
bones, flat cheeks, and very commonly Hght eyes ; their
complexions are frequently almost swarthy from expo-
sure to the sun, but the children are generally fair. The
dress of the women is peculiar ; the principal garment is
a long coat, open in front, reaching nearly to the feet ;
besides this and an under garment, there is a broad belt,
elaborately embroidered, and an apron of bright colours ;
they wear a veil, somewhat resembling the Turkish
yasJimak, but not so closely drawn. The national instru-
ment is a small flute, the Arcadian sound of which may
sometimes be heard in the wild unfrequented valleys.

At an early period of Byzantine history this people
was one of the most dreaded foes of the Greek empire.
They first appeared on the further side of the Danube at
the end of the fifth century, and not long after this their
invasions commenced. Two centuries and a half later,
in the time of the Iconoclastic emperors, we find their
power so greatly increased that it required all the energy
and military talents of Constantine Copronymus (A.D.
757) to keep them at bay, and on one occasion they
carried their ravages up to the walls of Constantinople.
As might be expected from a rude and needy people
settled in the neighbourhood of an old civilization, their
inroads were continually renewed, and from these they
usually returned home laden with plunder. In the
beginning of the ninth century their king, Crumn, was an
able and warlike leader. After a protracted struggle
with the emperor Nicephorus I., he defeated and slew
that prince, who had invaded his territory, in a night
attack on his camp, and converted his skull into a
drinking-cup for his table. Until the end of his life
Crumn was continually at war with the two succeeding
emperors, and proved a terrible scourge to the provinces


178 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII.

of Thrace and Macedonia, from the merciless way in
which he ravaged the country, sacked the cities, and
carried away the inhabitants into captivity. He seems,
however, to have exhausted his own people in these
wars, for after his death they remained tranquil for some
time. The next occasion on which we hear of them was
one of considerable importance. In the year 861 the
country on the southern side of the Balkan range was
ceded to them, and received from them the name of
Zagora. At the same time the Bulgarian monarch
Bogoris embraced Christianity, which had been intro-
duced into his palace by his sister, who had been carried
as a prisoner to Constantinople and educated there, and
had afterwards been restored to her native country. At
his baptism the Emperor Michael became his sponsor,
and it was pretended that the cession of territory had
been made as a baptismal donation. By the influence of
Bogoris, who was a wise and beneficent prince, his entire
people was converted to Christianity and advanced in
civilization. He ultimately resigned his kingdom to his
son Simeon, and retired into a monastery, where he

The Bulgarians had now become a commercial nation,
and were the most advanced in the arts of life of all the
northern barbarians. Placed as they were between the
Byzantine empire and the German and Scandinavian
tribes, they became the medium for supplying the latter
with the manufactures and gold of the former, and with
the products of Asia. The trade thus caused was a
source of great profit to them, but also involved them in
war with Constantinople. Thus the peace which had
been concluded with Bogoris was brought to an end,
during the reign of his son, by the rapacity of the Greeks,
who farmed the customs of the empire, and in so doing

"Chap. VIII. Bulgarian Histoty. 179

seriously interfered with the traders. In the wars that
succeeded, Simeon inflicted the greatest injury on his
opponents, destroying the fruit trees and burning the
houses of the peasantry, and treating his captives with
merciless cruelty. When peace was re-established (a.d.
923), the treaty was made under the very walls of Con-
stantinople, on which occasion the Greeks were astonished
at the splendid array of the body-guard of the Bulgarian
monarch, and their steady discipline. One of the stipu-
lations of this treaty is of great ecclesiastical importance,
viz., that it required the public acknowledgment of the
independence of the Bulgarian Church, and the official
recognition of the Archbishop of Dorostylon as Patriarch
of Bulgaria, both by the Emperor and the Patriarch of
Constantinople. In the reign of Nicephorus Phocas the
Russians, who had not long before appeared on the scene
■of action, were invited by the Greeks to invade Bulgaria ;
this they did in the year 968, under the command of
their chief Swatoslaf, and so effectually crushed the
Bulgarians that the emperor was obliged himself to come
to the aid of that people, in order to save his own ter-
ritory from falling a prey to the new comers. When, at
last, the Russians were finally defeated and expelled by
the skill and military tactics of John Zimisces, the Bul-
garians for a time became subject to the Eastern

It was shortly after this, however, that their period of
greatest glory* commenced. Towards the end of the
tenth century, while the Byzantine authorities were occu-
pied with a rebellion at home, their chief, Samuel, a man
of great vigour and ability, proclaimed himself king, and
not only recovered the dominions of his predecessors, but
extended his conquests over Macedonia and Thessaly,
and made plundering excursions into Greece and the

N 2

i8o Mo7iastir a7id Ochinda. Chap. VII L

Peloponnese. Finding that the plains of Bulgaria were
unfavourable to him as a scene of war, on account of the
superior discipline of the Imperial forces, he transferred
his seat of government to Achrida (now Ochrida), on the
lake of the same name, in the midst of the mountains to
the west of Monastir ; at the same time he transferred
thither the Bulgarian patriarchate, and from thenceforth
that place became the capital, and the focus of their na-
tional associations. Before long the wisdom of his choice
was shown, for he made himself master of all the country
which now forms the centre of European Turkey, reach-
ing from the ^gean to the Adriatic, and commanding
the principal lines of communication, so that his domi-
nions became as extensive as the European portion of
the Byzantine empire. The rise of this new kingdom,
however, coincided with the culminating period of By-
zantine greatness, and Samuel found a worthy rival in
Basil II., who from his subsequent victories obtained the
title of " Slayer of the Bulgarians." In the year 1002
this emperor defeated the Bulgarian king under the walls
of Scopia (Uskiub), on the Vardar, when he was returning
from a successful inroad into the heart of Thrace. Again
in 10 14, in a battle that took place in the upper valley of
the Strymon, by means of a manoeuvre which enabled
him to attack his enemy at once in front and in the rear,.
Basil inflicted a crushing blow on the Bulgarians ; and
when that prince, with frightful inhumanity, blinded all
his prisoners, and sent them home in that condition,
Samuel was so horrified at the sight that he died of rage
and grief two days afterwards. Within four years from
this time the Bulgarian power was at an end, and the
whole people had submitted to the dominion of the Greek
empire. Once again they rose to importance, when, at
the end of the twelfth century, they joined with the Wal-

Chap. VIII. CJiurcJi Movement. i8i

lachs in establishing what was called the Bulgaro-Walla-
chian kingdom ; but as this event more properly belongs
to Wallachian history, we will defer speaking of it until
we have an opportunity of giving an account of that
people. After the Turkish conquest the Bulgarians do
not reappear as a nation ; they became the agricultural
population of a large part of Turkey, and have borne
their hard lot with passive resignation. Though endowed
with a stubborn nature, they have shown themselves too
unimpressible to take part in any of the movements which
have affected the Turkish empire.''

It may be well here to add a few words as to the recent
movement in the Bulgarian Church. It will be remem-
bered that in the spring of 1861 we received accounts of
an agitation on the part of that church to free themselves
from the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople,
and that some of the leaders in that movement seceded
to the Church of Rome, while others tried to fraternize
with various Protestant bodies. The explanation of their
hatred of what they call " Fanariote influence," which at
Constantinople was generally ascribed to political causes,
we easily discovered in the country itself. It has all
along been the policy of the Greeks to keep the Bulgarian
Church in subjection, so that traces of an antagonism to
their ecclesiastical rule may be found as early as the
tenth century ;'' and in this they have in later times been
.supported by the Turks, whose aim it has been to use
the Greek Church as an instrument for keeping in order
the other subject races. In consequence of this, Greek
bishops have been appointed to Bulgarian dioceses ; many
of the priests also are Greeks, and the Greek language, of

^ Thunmann, ' Untersuchungen,' p. 275, foil.; P'inlay, 'Byzantine

"> Ibid., ii. p. 81.

1 82 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII..

which the people do not understand a word, has been,
until lately, universally in use in the services. I know of
one instance (I dare say it is not an uncommon one)
where even the priest, a Bulgarian, did not know a word
of Greek, and had only learnt to read the Greek letters,
so that he recited the service without knowing the mean-
ing of the words. In a few places, as, for instance, in the
neighbourhood of Ochrida, permission has been given
within the last few years to introduce the Slavonic tongue,
probably in consequence of considerable pressure ; but
these are quite exceptions. During the summer of 1861
a pamphlet of some learning, though tediously prolix,
was put out by the Secretary of the Constantinopolitan
Synod, to review the history of the Bulgarians in their
relation to the Greek Church, and to show the ground-
lessness of their pretensions and complaints. The writer
urges that the Bulgarians form but a small part of the
population of Western Macedonia ; he says that many of
the people are only Greeks who speak Bulgarian (VpalKoX
Bov'\.yapo(f)a)vovvT€'i) ; and even goes so far as to assert
that the physical appearance and customs of the Bul-
garians in these parts show them to be originally Greek,
and not Bulgarian — all which statements can be contra-
dicted by one who has travelled in the country. He
comments severely on the theories of M. Fallmerayer
(6 Tepfxavo^ ^a\/ji€pavepo<i), who maintains, somewhat
paradoxically, that there is no Greek blood in the veins
of the modern Greeks ; he inveighs against the presump-
tion of those who would drive out from this country the
language of Homer, Demosthenes, and Plato, yea, of the
Gospel — the language of civilization, " which not only
teaches forms of speech, but also enlightens the mind,
and moulds the affections, and informs the will: "and
then, addressing himself to the Wallachians and other

Chap. VIII. Mojtastir to Oclirida. 183

inhabitants of the district, with a view, apparently, to
" divide and conquer," he warns them that the Bulgarians
are endeavouring to get the ecclesiastical superiority over

Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 31)