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An old Greek saying from Mani (an area famous for its fighting spirit), 17th century.
Ottoman rule (Turkish yoke) 


1453 is considered to be one of the greatest landmarks in Greek History since it was then that Constantinople was seiged and finally occupied by Mehmet the Conqueror, the leader of the Turks at that period. This resulted in the Fall of Constantinople and the total destruction of Byzantine Empire. Greeks had lost their leader, Constantine Palaeologus, and they were left all alone, entering a new era of sufferings and cruelties. The representatives of Byzantine aristocracy and the ruling class fled to areas that were under Venetian rule or to other countries in the West.

Ecumenical Patriarchate, whose existence was accepted by Mehmet the Conqueror for his own reasons of course, took on the role of the leader of the enslaved Greek nation. First and foremost, a new, well organized state had to be created, based on literate people, administrative personnel, merchants, craftsmen, scientists and generally on specialties that were unknown to the uncivilized Ottoman conquerors, who were violent warriors leading a nomadic life in the inner part of Asia. That is why the Sultan invited the Greeks to settle in his devastated capital city.

Greeks or Hellenes or Romeos finally managed to develop the city into a major cultural, commercial and financial centre of the Ottoman Empire where the Greek language remained for some years the second official language of the ottoman state. Contrary to the Greek people living in Constantinople and Propontida, the Greeks living in other areas such as the inner part of Asia Minor suffered a lot due to the constant arrival of Turks. There was a great decrease in the number of Christians living in the enslaved areas at that period. To make matters worse, the Greeks had to confront the repulsive act of the mass kidnapping of both the young Greek boys (devsirme) in order to make them janissaries and of the of young Greek girls for the muslim harems, the slave markets for the Christians, the continuous armed Turkish raids and the complete lack of education.

However, things were better at mountainous regions like Pontus, where people managed to keep both their faith and their Byzantine traditions. In other parts such as Epirus, Macedonia and Thessalia, there was a significant immigration of Greek people to Moldavia, Vlachia and Russia while people from Central Greece and Peloponnese moved to areas that were under Venetian ruling such as Lepanto (Nafpaktos), Nafplion (Neapolis di Romania), Methoni (Modon) and Monemvasia (Malvasia). Some people were so much afraid of the Turks that they decided to immigrate even to other countries such as Italy.

Tortures by Ottomans

Ottoman Regime

A turning point in the history of all Turkish races living in nomads occurred when those people got in touch with the Islamic world. They adopted a lot of elements such as their religion, their customs, their political and social framework. The holy law of Islam (sharia) constituted the corner - stone of their social and legal status. The general idea underlying this system was much different to the one underlying the Christian World because according to Islam, every human being is considered to be a vulture, a malevolent creation that needs to be restrained and governed by an absolute monarch called Sultan.

When the Turkish tribes invaded Asia Minor, they were carriers of nomadic culture. The two main sectors of nomadic economy was stock - raising and plundering. The constant search for new grasslands led Turks to raids on nearby rural areas which, according to Islam, were considered to be a type of holy war (jihad). Ottomans treated the enslaved people as flock (rayah or raya) and exploited their labour in farming in order to get all the necessary goods. Moreover, Ottomans used the young janissaries to impose their power violently. The corps of janissaries was called ocak and they were the personal guard of the sultan and they had to be ready at any time to repress any revolution or to confront any external enemies of the empire.

Ottoman invasion of byzantine empire

Although the army was an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, navy was an unknown word to Turks. However, later they managed to develop it. The real knowledge concerning navy came from the Christians who had helped a lot during the construction of war ships. Moreover, they were Christian slaves who manned the crews of the ships. The previously mentioned development in navy in combination with the Sultan's cooperation with the Saracen pirates in Northern Africa resulted in the Turkish domination all around the Mediterranean Sea. The zenith of Turkish navy was during the period of Barbarossa, who was initially Christian but later was converted to Islam and finally managed to destroy the Christian Spanish, Venetian and Pope's fleet.

According to the Greek historian Paparrigopoulos:

"The total of Greek young boys that were kidnapped during the dark ages of turkish oppression were one million. They were taken by force from their families and were converted to fanatic janissaries who led the muslim army against their own fathers."

Ottoman barbarians invade and massacre in byzantine empire

The Greeks' position

According to the basic principle of the muslim religion, the holy war (jihad) against the infidels, that is anyone who does not belong to Islam, is a widely accepted practice. The only way for the so called infidels to avoid extermination is to beg for mercy before a war. Thus, they are made to pay tribute to the ruler, that is the sultan. The sultan's Christian vassals, who were also called rayahs (flock), had restrictions concerning their settlement, their movement and their dress code. It was not permitted to reside in specific areas, to occupy higher positions and offices, to gather together in order to talk with each other, to raise their voice to the muslims or even to be surrounded by attendants. Moreover, they were obliged to wear a blue turban (sarik) on their heads. They were not allowed to carry guns or to ride any horses. The marriage was permitted only between a muslim and a Christian woman while the opposite, that is a Christian marrying a muslim woman, was punishable by death. The turkish law allowed a muslim to hire a Christian woman for a specific period in order to have children and then turn her away. Is it possible that foreign rapists in Greece today(2013) may think of the same principle of raping a young lady in order for them to have a baby and then let her free again?

Ottoman tortures

However, the infidels had the right to occupy positions related to trade and arts because these positions were considered to be insulting for the conquerors, who had to care only about war and stock - raising. This belief actually accounts for the progress achieved by the enslaved Christians and Hebrews which continued up to the 20th century in the occupied territories in Asia Minor. A second positive point was the fact that Mehmet the Conqueror dictated the privilege of religious freedom for the Greeks. Of course, this does not mean that there were not violent inslamizations or banning on the operation of schools. That is why at times they were the priests who took on the role of the teachers. They tried to teach only the necessary things in the so called "secret schools".

"My brilliant little moon shine my way to school, to learn letters, letters and God's things."

While the Greek language was theoretically permitted to be spoken and the Greeks living in Fanari were excellent users even of Ancient Greek, there were certain leaders at Cappadokia and Egypt who cut the tongue of anyone who did not speak Turkish. This is a common practice even today (2013) among the cryptochristians of the Black Sea or the Kurds. As far as religion is concerned, building new churches was forbidden while only repairing existing ones was permitted. The church bells stopped ringing, Christians were not allowed to show the crosses or bury their dead near muslims. While inslamization was encouraged, there was the death penalty waiting for anyone daring to rebel against Islam.

The most important discriminations between the Turks and the infidels were those concerning the heavy taxation that was imposed on the Greeks. That was actually the reason why the sultans had to put up with the existence of non muslim people in their territory. While there were countless types of taxation, the one, that is still known even today, was the head money (harach or harac), that is the money that someone had to pay in order for him to have the right to keep his head on his shoulders only for one year. Moreover, there were the so called baksis (bribery), which were paid to the local Turkish leaders making Christian people's life even worse.

However, things would not be so bad for the enslaved people despite the imposition of so heavy taxes, if the muslim judges were more fair. The same offence would be punished in a different way considering the religious belief of the offenders.

Decay of the Greeks

When the first Seljuk state was created with Ikonio as its capital city, the Byzantine people underestimated the danger because they believed that they would assimilate them in the same way they assimilated other peoples such as the Albanian or the Slavic immigrants who had swamped the empire the previous years. However, the Turks almost assimilated the Christians since their faith had been shaken especially after the Fall of Constantinople. Moreover, the heavy taxation lead a great number of people to turn to Islam. Becoming a muslim was a way to live a better life. When there was a voluntary inslamization, it was celebrated in a special way since it was considered a great victory of Islam against Christianity.

Ottoman tortures

Schiltberger (15th century) quotes the following: "When a Christian wants to become an infidel, he has to raise his hand in front of all the people present at that moment and say "La il lach illalach" meaning "Mehmet is the only true prophet of God". Then they lead him to the judge who puts him on a new turban in order to be different from the rest of the Christians. After they have carried him about on a horse in order for everyone to know that he has been converted to Islam, he is taken into a mosque in order to be subjected to circumcision."

Another torture that led to further decrease in the number of Greeks was the mass kidnapping (Blood Tax or Devsirme) of young children (6 to 12 years old). These were the janissaries or yeniceri that constituted the personal guard of the Sultan. They were fearless fighters who fought their fathers' faith and the whole practice started in 1362 by Murat I.

Today (2013), thanks to the turkish propaganda and the slavish obedience of the Greek State, the whole suffering of the Greeks during the Turkish rule tends to be taken out of the History school books and of course to be eliminated from our memory in order to make us adopt the idea that globalization is the only acceptable way of living. Fortunately, various testimonies of people who lived under the turkish yoke are the best source of evidence for the tortures the greek people suffered for almost four centuries.

Slaves in harem

St. Nicodemus of Mount Athos (18 c.) urged his Christian brothers to be patient and have endurance, because Ottomans imposed heavy taxation to the Christians in order to make them change their faith and become muslims. A song of the region of Epirus mourned the loss of a brother and a son who were forcibly taken to serve the ottoman army as janissaries. There are many extant letters of the enslaved Greeks addressing the Pope and imploring him to send ships and rescue them from the ottoman tyranny.

Cryptochristians were pretended to be muslims and followed the rituals of the muslim religion publicly, never stopped worshipping Jesus Christ secretly inside their houses. In 1916, when Pontos was liberated by tsar' s russian army, Chrysanthos bishop of Trapezous (Trebizond) received representatives from dozens of muslim villages who told him that the villagers were cryptochristians and wished to return to the faith of their fathers. They had carried gospels and vestments of the 18th or even the 17th century in order to show them to him and persuade him that they were telling the truth.

Settlements and emigrations

Another characteristic of the expansionist policy of the Turkish chauvinists which was put in practice from the very first steps of the Ottoman Empire was the mass transference of Turkish population in new places, the so called settlement. Settlement is still a common policy in cases such as Cyprus and the Western part of Thrace where there is a very tough and bigoted turkish minority. Turkey also sends thousands of illegal muslim immigrants - settlers to Greece every year expecting them to facilitate its expansionist ambitions in the west after some years Asia minor was gradually settled starting from the 12th century, while in 1354 the Turks took advantage of a disastrous earthquake that hit Callipoli (Gallipoli) in Hellespont (Dardanelles Straits) and set foot on European land for the first time. The settlements went on during the whole period of the Ottoman Rule mainly in Thrace, Macedonia and Thessaly. The French Consul in Salonica, Beaujour (18th century), mentions that the aim of the settlement of Yuruks (Turkish settlers from Konya and Karaman regions) was to suppress any Greek rebellion and enforce discipline in the Greek villages.


The harsh Turkish rule resulted in the mass exodus towards safer destinations such as Venetian dominated countries, Southern Italy, countries bordering on the Danube, Russia and mountainous and difficult of access areas in the Greek territory. This emigration of the literate Greek people resulted in the benefit of the Western world but in the illiteracy of the enslaved Greeks. Some Byzantine intellectuals who fled their ancestral lands were Bessarion, John Argyropoulos, Manuel Chrysoloras, Isidoros, Theodore Gazis, Leon Pilatos (Leonzio Pilato), George of Trebizond, Demetrios Chalcocondyles, Constantine Lascaris, Markos Musuros, and Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco).

Pilatos or Leontius Pilatus was a famous scholar and promoted Greek studies in Western Europe. Among his students were the Italians Boccaccio and Petrarch. Manuel Chrysoloras taught Greek language and literature to the Italian humanists. His students were the first generation of classical Greek scholars in Italy. His "Erotemata sive Quaestiones" (1484) was the first Greek grammar used in western Europe and the first printed book in the greek language. He also left many letters; "the Syncrisis", a comparison of old and new Rome; and a Latin translation of Plato's Republic "Platonos Politeia".

Macedonian Theodorus Gaza or Theodore Gazis translated Aristotle in Latin and taught Greek at Siena, Ferrara and Rome. At Ferrara he founded an academy the same period that Plethon founded the Platonic academy in Florence. George of Trebizond taught Greek in the famous school at Mantua, in Venice and Florence. Later he went to Rome, and when Pope Eugene restored the University of Rome, George of Trebizond became the most famous professor.

When Constantinople fell John Argyropoulos took refuge in Italy. He has been professor of Greek in Florence for 15 years before moving to Rome, where he continued to teach Greek until his death. He left a number of Latin translations, including many of Aristotle's works. Athenian Demetrios Chalcocondyles became professor at Padua in 1463. In 1479 he was summoned by Lorenzo de' Medici to Florence and later he moved to Milan. He was associated with Theodore Gazis in the revival of ancient greek literature. Demetrius Chalcocondyles published the first printed editions of Homer and Isocrates. Andronicus Callistus from Macedonia worked as a professor in Rome, Bologna, Florence and Paris and taught Homer, Demosthenes and Aristotle. He died in the Kingdom of England in 1476.

George or Gregory Hermonymus or Charitonymus, born in Sparta was Plethon' s student. After the Fall he fled to France and taught Greek in the university of Paris. In 1476, Pope sent him as his legate to England. Laonicus Chalcocondyles wrote history books which were published in Greek and Latin in Genova and Paris. Constantine Lascaris fled to Italy and he obtained the patronage of Francesco Sforza in Milan. His Greek grammar was the first book printed in Greek characters. He became famous as a teacher of Greek. His brother, Andreas Joannes Lascaris or Janus Lascaris, taught Greek in Florence, Paris and Rome.

Bessarion was born in Trebizond of Pontos. He was educated in Constantinople, and in 1423 he went to Peloponnese to study near Gemistus Plethon. In 1437 he was ordained archibishop of Nicaea by John VII Palaeologus. He accompanied him to Italy in order to help him achieve union between Greek and Latin churches with the aim of obtaining help from the West in their efforts to throw off the turkish yoke. At the councils held in Ferrara and Florence Bessarion supported the Pope and decided to stay permanently in Italy. He changed his faith and became a cardinal. Bessarion was one of the most educated scholars of his time. Besides his translations of Aristotle's "Metaphysics" and Xenophon's "Memorabilia", his most important work is a treatise directed against George of Trebizond, a violent Aristotelian, entitled "In Calumniatorem Platonis". The two great missions of his life were to keep the cultural heritage of the Greek and Byzantine civilization alive in the West and to organize a great crusade against the Turks to reconquer Constantinople and the Christian lands lost by the Ottoman invaders. He managed to achieve his first goal; he trained an entire generation of Hellenists in Rome and formed a great collection of Greek manuscripts. However, he failed to succeed in his second goal despite his heroic efforts as a diplomat.

Most Greeks who could not escape to Italy moved towards inaccessible areas. This exodus took place during the whole period of the turkish yoke, that's why there are a lot of villages today in those areas that lie in rugged regions away from the main roads. For example, Agrafa of Evrytania remained free from the turkish presence as well as the mountains of Pontus. Another safe shelter was Mount Taygetus where a lot of Greek and Slavic people took refuge in case of emergencies. Furthermore, other areas with barren land, such as Mani of Peloponnese and Suli of Epirus managed to keep their independence.

The people living in Peloponnese, Epirus and Roumeli fled towards the Ionian islands that were under Venetian rule, or towards Nafplion, Monemvasia, Methoni and Koroni. Nafplion was a place that all Greek slaves chose in order to protect their lives and their families against the Turkish violence and enjoy the special benefits that the Venetians offered to those who came to Nafplion to live. For example, if a Christian person had lived in Nafplion for 7 years, then he had the right to become citizen of the city.

However, the areas that accepted the largest number of Orthodox Christian refugees were those in Italy. The Greek community in Venice consisted of 5000 people, and despite the obstacles they had to face (the Pope and the Cardinals), they managed to found the Orthodox Church of St George in 1537 in order to perform their religious duties. Southern Italy, already having great numbers of Greek people since the Ancient and Byzantine era, was colonized by numerous Greeks and Albanians. The provinces of Apoulia and Kalavria had more than 200 orthodox monasteries during the 15th century as well as areas such as Messina, Napoli, Bari, Brindisi and Palermo. The hundreds of orthodox churches managed to keep both the Byzantine tradition and the Greek language alive. However, they were under close supervision on behalf of papal church, who finally managed to substitute the Orthodox priests for Catholic ones in the 18th century. This resulted in the decline of the Greeks in Southern Italy.

After the Fall of Trebizond or Trapezous in 1461, Greeks fled to Russia. Among them was Zoe Sophia Palaiologina daughter of Thomas Palaeologus, the Despot of Morea. Sophia married Ivan III Vasiliyevich "Tsar of All Rus" at the Dormition Cathedral of Moscow on 12 November 1472. With the help of Ioannes Rallis, Theodore Lascaris and Demetrios Tarhaniotes, she introduced greek literature and grand Byzantine ceremonies in the Kremlin. At that time, large-scale construction of bulildings were under way in various cities. Greek painters painted and decorated the Orthodox churches that were constructed with the support of Sophia. Her son, Vassily III, became the first owner of the palace of Kremlin. Sophia was the grandmother of Ivan the Terrible or Grozny.

Sophia Palaiologina

Another byzantine lady that left Constantinople, after the conquest of it by the barbarians, was Anna Notaras. Her father Lucas Notaras had many friends in Italy, including cardinal Bessarion and so Anna found refuge in Venice. Lucas Notaras and his sons were beheaded by the Turc sultan Mehmet. A faithful Orthodox, Anna Notaras was against the union of the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches. Anna Notaras became the leader of a Greek community in Venice and she she paid all the necessary expenses for the "Etymologicum Magnum" to be printed in Greek. It took six years to be produced and is one of the finest examples of Greek typography. Anna Notaras died in Venice in 1507. She was more than a hundred years old and it is said that she died virgin. When she lost her great love, the last emperor of Byzantium Constantine Palaeologus, she swore not to marry any man.


Piracy, an ancient phenomenon in the Mediterranean Sea, becomes extremely intense in the first centuries of the Turkish Rule and causes serious problems to the inhabitants of the islands and the coastal areas. The situation deteriorated due to the inability of the central government to keep piracy under control. The countries of Northern Africa, such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, depended economically on the pirates and their governors acquired excellent administrative, diplomatic and military skills. As a result, the Mediterranean Sea suffered from a type of undeclared war, which allowed those unscrupulous sea warriors to make a fortune at the expense of the merchant vessels and the economy of the coastal areas and the islands. The Cycladic dwellers were those who suffered more from piracy and that is why we can claim that they were actually under Turkish, Latin and Pirates' domination.

Christians slaves in turkish galleys

The total destruction of a lot of Greek islands by the muslim pirates led to the devastation of whole areas and the mass extermination of Greek population. In 1457 Nisyros and Kalymnos were plundered by Turkish pirates from Asia Minor. The turkish fleet from Gallipoli devastated Neratzia and Peripatos near Kos. The most notorious Turkish pirates of that era were Karacasan, Kurtoglu, Kamalis and Kousaglis. Large numbers of Christian slaves were supplied to Algeria for sale to the Barbary chieftains, who in turn resold them to others. Population had left Antikythera in 1512 and the island became a pirate hideout. In the middle of 16th century Samos was almost deserted because muslim pirates used the forest of this island to get timber for their ships. According to some old extant descriptions in the Vatican's Library, after conquering a specific town, the muslim conquerors slaughtered the men and captured the women and the children in order to sell them as slaves later. An example of the pirates' violence is that of Hayreddin Barbarossa, who managed to dominate in the Mediterranean Sea during the 16th century, terrorizing all the islanders and obtaining thus the title of Captain Pasha by the Sultan. Barbarossa among others captured the islands of Syros, Aegina, Ios, Paros, Tinos, Karpathos, Kasos, Naxos and Corfu taking thousands of prisoners, and enslaving most inhabitants.

Christians slaves in muslim bazaars

The people, who were captured as slaves, were carried to slave markets in Asia Minor, in Syria, in North Africa or various other places. There are descriptions of the slave market in Constantinople according to which anyone who wants to buy an enslaved woman, raises the veil that covers her face, spits in her face in order to check if she wears make up or not, and examines her teeth to see if she is healthy. In case everything is ok, he starts bargaining with her boss. According to a French researcher called Pierre Dan, in 1637 there were 25000 captured Christians living as slaves in Algeri. The life of the slaves who worked as oarsmen in the galleys was really awful. The upper part of their body was naked, they were in chains and they had to row all day long. Their food consisted of a crust of bread. If someone stopped rowing, then he would feel the whip on his back and they would not stop whipping him unless his blood started running. Slaves had no dignity and were treated as animals in the era of ottoman globalization.

A Greek slave from Naxos (17. c) describes his terrible experience in the galleys in a letter sent to his wife:

"I was 35 days in the galley. Every day we were beaten. There was no food but some mouldy bread and dirty water. Even during the night we were tied and we could not move our feet. Our hair had lice. Oh, my love, oh my little babies, oh light of my eyes how I miss you..."

Christians slaves in muslim harem

Organization of the Greek Nation - Orthodox Church

The Patriarchate of Constantinople was the second most important institution in Byzantium after that of kingship. It played a significant role during the period of turkish rule since it was the main spiritual and administrative centre of the enslaved Greek Nation. This leading position was set up by Mehmet the Conqueror right after the Fall of Constantinople, when he called Gennadius Scholarius to take on the role of the Patriarch. The Sultan accepted him as the leader of the Orthodox people and allotted him the so called privileges, which constituted the legal basis for the existence and the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate.

This solution was compatible with the policy of the Muslim leaders towards the peoples of the Bible. They could tolerate different religions and provide self administration as long as their slaves did not put up resistance and paid the head tax (harach or harac). It is true of course that Mehmet the Conqueror never demanded the complete islamization of the Christian World since he needed them as workers, craftsmen, farmers and especially as tax payers in order to sustain the enormous muslim army. In addition, we should not forget the fact that the discrimination between the various peoples was mainly based on religious criteria and not on ethnological ones. That's why both Church and State were identical. This is the reason why Church managed to survive through hardships and perform its duties.

Αγία του Θεού Σοφία

The conqueror, when he wanted to convert someone, just made him/her become a Muslim. So, he/she subconsciously lost his/her nationality. If the Orthodox religion was lost, then the Greek consciousness was also lost since the Greek language alone was not able to sustain Hellenism. An example of that case is Crete, where the Turkish-Cretan people even if they kept the Greek language when they became Muslims they were converted to fanatic Turks. The Cappadocians, who spoke the Turkish language, but kept their Orthodox faith, managed to maintain also their Greek consciousness.

The issue of the coexistence of the Orthodox Church and the predominant Muslim state had appeared years before the Fall of Constantinople. The Patriarchate of Antioch, of Alexandria and that of Jerusalem were under Arabic muslim occupation some centuries before 15th century and there was great relevant experience through the long cohabitation of Christian slaves and Muslim conquerors. The official Orthodox Church showed passive attitude towards the heathen conqueror while it was particularly strict towards the Latin clergy and the Pope. In the long list of Ecumenical Patriarchs there were those who openly supported the Ottoman authority but also those who were against it and sought its overthrow. An example of the second case is Neophyte the Second, who, in 1609, sent an epistle to the king of Spain, asking him to free Constantinople from the wild beasts.

The percentage of the Greeks who turned into Franks (Italians and French) was smaller than that of those who turned into Turks. Especially in areas such as Roumeli, Crete and Peloponnesus many Franks turned to Greeks, contrary to the Turks, who were never assimilated by the Greek population. Besides, that was absolutely logical since being Hellenized meant having to pay heavy taxes in case of course you were not executed as a renegade of Islam.

While the patriarchal institution started with the privilege of tax exemption, over the years two high taxes were established. That of peskesi and that of harach or harac. If we add the bribes of the Turkish officials, the catering of Janissaries and the ransom paid for the liberation of the Greek slaves, we can easily conlude that the cost for its maintenance was unbearable. Moreover, the loans taken from the Jewish moneyloaners were ruinous and the debt resulted in being "higher than the height of the Pyramids of Egypt", according to an expression used in a patriarchal document.

The moral and the spiritual prestige of the Ecumenical Patriarchate remained intact after the Fall of Constantinople. But the administrative jurisdiction itself was now limited to Asia Minor, the Balkans and the Greek communities in the West. In Asia Minor particularly, due to the massive islamizations, there was a decrease in number of metropolises.

The main concern of the Church was the education of the Christian believers so that they could remain faithful to their tradition, to their language and their religion avoiding in this way to convert into Muslims during the first difficult centuries of the Turkish rule, when education was totally absent. In 1627, Cyril Lucaris sent the monk Nicodemos Metaxas from Cephallonia to London to buy a printing machine. They placed it in a small house near the English Embassy. Under Cyril's guidance, Metaxas began to print a number of theological works in Greek. The next year the Vizier's janissaries broke into the building and destroyed the machine. On 27 June 1638 Patriarch Cyril I Lucaris was strangled aboard a ship in the Bosporus by the Sultan' s soldiers. His body was thrown into the Bosporus and was later recovered after being washed ashore on Halki Island. His body was buried at the Monastery of Panagia Kamariotissa on Halki by Patriarch Parthenius I.


The conquest of the Eastern Christian State by the Ottomans, apart from all the other problems, caused the elimination of the Byzantine Aristocracy of Constantinople. However, gradually and steadily, a new social class started to emerge. The influence that this class could exercise on everybody was due to its economic vigour that resulted from the Greeks' occupation with trade and shipping, activities which were contempted by the conqueror. From the post byzantine society that gathered around the Ecumenical Patriarchate those who had a distinguished position were the islander traders, especially those from Chios, who reached Constantinople mainly after the submission of their island to the Turks in 1566. The richest Greeks followed the ultimate principle of Greeks, that is the Patriarchate, during its wanderings in Constantinople, until it finally settled in the district of Phanari (1601). During the 17th and the 18th century, spacious mansions were erected in the area of Phanari so that the new class of Phanariots could be housed. Then, a peculiar type of mutual dependence bond developed between the Church and the Phanariots since the Phanariots needed the spiritual validity of the Church in order for them to be presented as the secular leaders of the enslaved nation, while the Church needed Phanariots' political expertness and economic support.

A great part of the Phanariots' power resulted from the fact that they had the capability to mediate between the High Gate (ottoman state) and the Greeks so that their compatriots' requests could be satisfied. The ottoman state need to communicate with the Christian countries grew bigger as their power increased and there should be interpreters in order for negotiations to be carried out and agreements to be signed. Since the turkish law forbade the muslims to learn the language of the infidels, the interpreters would necessarily come from the conquered. Greeks were also all those people who staffed the administration of the ottoman state since the Turks were good only at military techniques. The fact that the Ottomans according to Paparrigopoulos inscribed on wood in order to make their calculations is indicative of their illiteracy. When their state expanded, there were constant treasures and riches flocking in so it was impossible for them to handle the public accounting. As a result, both accountants and secretaries came from the Greeks and that is why during the first decades after the fall, the official language of the Ottoman Empire was the Greek one.

The first families that participated in the public affairs of the Turkish state were the families of Palaeologus, Cantacuzenus, Rallis, Comnenus and Lascaris. Later, other families gained power and influence over the sultan like the Vatatzes, Mavrocordatos, Vlastos, Soutzos, Mourouzes, Ipsilantes, Mavrogenes and Karatzas. The first who became a very important interpreter (dragoman) was Panagiotakis Nikousios, who was born in 1613 in Constantinople. It is worth mentioning that the great interpreters were not mere translators but they had the role of the diplomat and the representative of the Ottoman state in the negotiations and the signing of the various conditions. Alexander Mavrocordatos succeded Nikousios. His father Nicolaos was a merchant from Chios and his mother Roxandra Scarlatos sent him to Padova and Bologna to study medicine and philosophy. He became dragoman for Sultan Mehmed IV in 1673 and joined him in his military campaign against Vienna in 1683.

Spiritual life

The idea that the literate Greeks of Byzantium transferred the knowledge of the classical education together with the manuscripts of the ancient and the Byzantine writers to the West is very old. In this way, they played a very important role in the Renaissance of Europe. Greek and Latin writers of that period continued the Greek culture and initiated the intellectual movement of the Renaissance. Byzantium is the spiritual ancestor of Europe and gave the western and eastern european states three elements that formed modern european civilization: Ancient Greek literature, Roman Law and Christianism.

While in the West of 16th century, science and knowledge were developing, the Greeks were submerging in the darkness of ignorance and illiteracy. "Secret Schools" that were inside monasteries were the only places where young Christians learned how to read and write. In 1544, Nikolaos Sophianos noted that "our people have no knowledge of their glorious past because of their slavery." According to Constantine Paparrigopoulos "the Greek bishops during turkish yoke were totally illiterate. One can imagine how illiterate were the simple people!".

Μεγάλη του Γένους Σχολή

Since 1613 a new era in the spiritual world of Greeks has risen with the appearance of Theophilus Korydalleas, who started founding the first schools. The most important spiritual centre was Chios, which remained in the first line for almost a whole century. Of course a corresponding spiritual movement developed in Constantinople which finally led to the establishment of Great School of the Greek Nation at about 1625. The patriarch Cyril Lukaris invited Korydalleas in Constantinople and included him in the team of his direct partners. Other Greek teachers of that era were Ioannes Cariofilles, Meletios Syrigos, Eygene Giannoules, Paisios Metaxas, Alexandros Mavrokordatos and Sevastos Kyminetes. After 1700 the first schools were founded in Ioannina, Metsovo, Athens, Ampelakia, Zagora, Dimitsana, Patmos, Smyrna, Trebizond, Caisareia of Cappadocia and Iasio of Moldavia.

The most important spiritual teachers of the 17th and 18th century were Methodios Anthrakites, Neophytos Doukas, Eygene Voulgaris, Neophytos Vamvas, Theoklitos Pharmakides, Konstantinos Economou, Nicephoros Theotokis, Demetrios Katartzes, Anthimos Gazes, Konstantinos Koumas, George Gennadios and Adamantios Korais (Smyrna 1748 - Paris 1833). In 1788, Korais, being a doctor of medicine, settled in Paris and experienced the French Revolution which broke out in 1789. This revolution in combination with the american one was the source of hope for the destiny of the enslaved Greek Nation. He was a very productive person and left hundreds of books for the next generations to study.

When we refer to the education and spiritual life of that period we can't help mentioning Kosmas the Aitolos ( 1714 - 1779), the well-known preacher and neomartyr. He received moderate education at schools of his province and was appointed as a teacher at Lompotina (Ano Hora) in Nafpaktia. Later, he went to Aghion Oros (Mount Athos), where he lived as a monk and studied at Athoniada School. His teachers were Panagiotis Palamas,and Eugene Voulgari. His sermon had great impact especially on the people of the mountains. Apart from his religious interests he developed a very rich national action, too. His radical ideas caused great concern to the local authorities. Even the Hebrews accused him of being an agent working for the Russians. That was the last straw. He was finally arrested and got hanged.


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