Our History

Macedonia The Cradle and Shield of Hellenism

By: The Federation of Western Macedonian Societies/Association
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It was in Macedonia that the Greeks first appeared. Greeks were living in Western Macedonia as early as the 3rd millennium BC. This region is not simply Greek, but the cradle of Hellenism.

  • THE MACEDNOI (The Macedonians)

These Greeks included the Macednoi. Another Greek branch, the Dorians, later moved south, whilst the Macedonians remained in the north, to emerge centuries later, prosperous and indestructible, as key players in Greek and world history.

 

  • GODS - MUSES - HEROES

In the south-eastern corner of this birth-place of the Proto-Hellenes, on the lofty peaks of Mt. Olympus, the Greeks enthroned their gods, whilst below, in Pieria, sang the Ancient Greek Muses. One of the Greek Macedonian's mythical heroes was Hercules.

 

  • THE MACEDONIANS

The history of the Macedonians had its illustrious beginnings in Orestis, i.e. the Kastoria area, in about 700 BC. From here came the Macedonian kings, the Argeads.Herodotus (484-420? BC) speaks of the Greek ness of the Macedonians: "They are Greeks" he writes, "and I myself happen to know it is so. "He was well acquainted with the fact and needed no-one to prove it to him.

 

  • I AM OF GREEK STOCK

Herodotus preserved what the Macedonian King Alexander I (498-454 BC) said to the Athenian ambassadors during the Persian wars: 'Athenians...I, too, am of ancient Greek stock and I would not like to see Greece enslaved. "This was the Macedonian who, after the Battle of Plataea (479 BC) was honored by the Athenians "as one of the Greekest of Greeks" and, as a Greek, was crowned victor at Olympia.

 

  • MACEDONIA

The land of the Greek Macedonians was Macedonia, which began with Orestis and during Philip's time was extended from the Pindus and Mt. Olympus about as far as Velesa (to the north) and the Nestos river (to the east).

 

  • ORESTIKON ARGOS

Appian (2nd century AD) mentions 'Argos in Orestis, whence the Argeadae Macedones"and asserts that the founder of the Macedonian dynasty came from Argos, which was built near the source of the Aliakmon, Orestikon Argos. This is also mentioned by Strabo (66 BC - 24 AD) and Pausanias (2nd century AD).

 

  • THE MACEDONIANS ADVANCE

The Macedonians from Orestis united with their Greek Macedonian neighbours in Elimea, Eordaea, Lyncestis, Pelagonia and northern Tymphaea and, having gained considerably in strength, advanced eastwards, conquered Aegeae and spread into Central Macedonia. Later they expanded across the wider region of ancient Macedonia, which was defined earlier. It was here that the Greek Mace donians who had existed since 2000 BC set down their roots, and it is here, in 2000 AD, that genuine Greeks continue to live and call home, despite the dramatic fortunes of forty centuries.

 

  • SHIELD OF THE GREEKS

The Macedonians, who were constantly "fighting the Barbarians to maintain the stability of the Greeks'; as Polybius of Arcadia writes, maintained their forces in prime condition, organized themselves and, whilst their southern brothers were being worn down by civil wars, they entered the limelight of history, vitalizing the Greek spirit and carrying it unvanquished as far as the Indus.

 

  • PHILIP

Philip 11(359-336 BC) was the ingenious general and politician who made Macedonia a very mighty power. Later he attempted to unite the Greeks in one state and to crush their age-old enemies, the Persians. In 337 BC he established the "Council of the Greeks " at Corinth. A new historical era had begun. Then suddenly Philip was assassinated.

It was then that Alexander came onto the scene, a phenomenon the likes of which would never be seen again in the history of the world.

 

  • ARISTOTLE

Aristotle, from Stageira in Halkidiki, the great Greek philosopher whose intellect con quered the nations, served as teacher to the young man, who "shed light all over the world"

 

  • ALEXANDER THE GREAT

In the summer of 336 BC Alexander became King of Macedonia, "a great general, a great politician and a great law-giver", as Napoleon the Great wrote. Of all the people ever to have lived, he was the first in history to be called "Great"

 

  • A NEW, GREAT AND GREEK WORLD

In the spring of 334 BC at the age of twenty-two "Alexander [son] of Philip " rose up like a demigod in the eyes of the world of his time and through his great campaign, which was "victorious, brilliant, glorious, more highly praised than any other and unrivalled", he changed the course of world history.

In Alexander's great state and those of his successors the torch of Greek civilization was carried far and wide, the Greek tongue became the universal lingua franca, and the world was rapidly Hellenized. "The prince of Greece shall come... "wrote the prophet Daniel. And the Jews themselves, as is mentioned in the Old Testament, could see that "the rule of the Greeks (Macedonians)" was leading them "directly to (assuming) the Greek character". The Greek Macedonians were creating a "new, great Greek world...".

  • THE ROMANS

In 168 BC Macedonia was subjugated by the Romans...

 

  • PASSING THROUGH MACEDONIA...

In 49 AD Saint Paul, "passing through Macedonia", preached the Word of God at Philippi, Thessaloniki and Veria in Greek as his audiences were Greeks. His epistles to the Thessalonians and the Philippians, as well as that to the Corinthians, were written in Greek as they were addressed to Greeks.

 

  • THESSALONIKI

Thessaloniki, built in 315 BC and Macedonia's third capital after Aegeae and Pella, was at that time the greatest administrative, commercial and cultural center in the Balkans.

 

  • THEY ALL PROCLAIM THEIR GREEKNESS

Splendid monuments from the ancient, Hellenistic and Roman eras, which are constantly being brought to light by the farmer's plough or the archaeologist's pick, at Aegeae, Pella, Dion, Thessaloniki, Sindos, Derveni, Edessa, Veria, Levkadhia, Aeane, Olynthus, Potidaea, Amphipolis, Philippi, Argos Orestikon, Florina and as far north as Stobi, testify to the fact that Greeks were living in these places as early as the 3rd millennium BC and that it was the Greeks who created them.

 

  • THE BYZANTINE ERA

During the Byzantine era Thessaloniki became "Symvasilevousa" (joint capital), a center and beacon of Hellenism which, with its Christian civilization, shed its radiance all over the Balkans and even further afield. At this time two of its sons, Cyril and Methodius, spread the light of Christ and Greece amongst the Slavs.

 

  • OTHER CENTERS OF MACEDONIAN HELLENISM

Throughout that thousand-year period Macedonia, along with other centers - Philippi, Serres, Melenikon and Stromnitsa to the east, Veria, Kastoria, Servia, Heraclea and Ochrid to the west, and Prilep and Velesa etc. to the north - was the powerful lungs of the Greek Empire of Byzantium.

 

  • THE SLAVS AND THE BULGARS

During the first decades of the 6th century AD the Balkans began to suffer the assaults of the Slavs, who lived in south- east Poland and White Russia and were slaves of the Avars. This is why they were called Sklavenoi, Sklavoi, Slavs. The Avars used the Slavs in their assaults on Byzantium. In so doing they opened up the way for them and whetted their appetite for predatory raids on Greek territories. In 681 AD the Danube was also crossed by the Bulgars, who established their own state between the Danube and the Balkan Peninsula, in Moesia.

 

  • GREEK MACEDONIA A TARGET

Since then Macedonia, with its fertile plains, warm beaches and, above all, its wealthy capital, has been the target of all these groups. Their conversion to the Christian faith, which took place in the 9th century, has not proved able to appease them.

The last Slav invader Stephen Dusan divided his short-lived state into a northern section with the Serbian lands, about as far as Velesa, and a southern section with the Greek (as they were called) lands.

 

  • THE TURKS

During the 14th and 15th centuries virtually all of the Balkans were subjugated by the Turks. Legends, traditions and heroic songs tell of the resistance of the Macedonians against the Turks and the capture of the Macedonian castles. In this large and fertile area the conquerors established many powerful military centers, permanently settled many Turks and endeavored to wipe out the Greek element.

 

  • FREEDOM STRUGGLES

In Macedonia the revolutionary movements started up at the same time as the country was subjugated. The Macedonian mountains became filled with klephts and also saw the appearance of the first Greek amartoli.

 

  • AN ASTONISHING PERIOD OF PROSPERITY

During the period of Turkish rule many communities in Macedonia organized themselves in an exemplary fashion. In the 17th century these witnessed the beginning of an astonishing flourishing of economic and cultural life. During this period many Macedonians elevated themselves from persecuted serfs to become wealthy merchants, businessmen, bankers, scholars and nobles. They became national benefactors. They founded schools, libraries and public welfare institutions. They made a decisive contribution to the spiritual awakening and national resurrection of Modern Greece.

 

  • THE FIRST GREEK NEWSPAPER

In 1791 the Markides Pouliou brothers from Siatista published the first Greek newspaper. They printed the Great Map and the songs of Rhigas, together with whom other Macedonians were martyred in the cause of freedom.

 

  • The Year 1821

In Macedonia there had been revolutionary movements in 1495,1571,1611, 1770 and 1809... Many Greek Macedonians were initiated into the Philike Etaireia and became leading activists. Yet in the Macedonian region every revolutionary movement was doomed. The uprising in Halkidiki, Mt. Olympus and Naoussa in 1821 and 1822 was bloodily suppressed. Many Macedonians fought in Moldovlachia and in Southern Greece.

 

  • FOR THE LIBERATION OF MACEDONIA

The Macedonians, continuing their struggle for freedom, rose up again in 1854, with Tsamis Karatasos in Halkidiki and Theodoros Ziakas in Western Macedonia. But these movements also failed. Yet the hope of liberation remained unextinguished.

 

  • THE WHOLE OF MACEDONIA IN GREECE

In 1867 the Serbs fought alongside the Greeks with the aim of liberating all the Christians in the Balkans. It was agreed that, if the Serbs gained Old Serbia, the whole of Macedonia would devolve to Greece.

 

  • PAN SLAVISM

In the middle of the last century Russia raised the standard of Panslavism. In order to carry out its plans it awakened the Bulgarians. The consequences of this Slavic policy were paid by the Greeks of Macedonia.

 

  • THE BULGARIAN EXARCHATE

In 1870 the sultan, pressed by Russia, recognized the Bulgarian Exarchate. The Bulgarians, who had never thought of fighting for their freedom, broke away from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

 

  • THE MACEDONIAN STRUGGLE

These events mark the commencement of the Macedonian Struggle and form the beginning of new trials and tough struggles in Macedonia, which was still held in bondage by the Turks.

 

  • ONLY GREECE

During this period designs were also held on Macedonia, and mainly Thessaloniki, by Austro-Hungary. However, in 1876 the Austrian consul in the Macedonian capital wrote of the Macedonians to his government: "On national issues all of them to a man have the same feelings and regard only Greece as their true homeland..."

 

  • THE TREATY OF SAN STEFANO

In February 1878 the Russians, victors in the Russo-Turkish war being waged at that time, reached the outskirts of Constantinople. There, in the suburb of San Stefano on 19 February 1878, the treaty bearing that name was signed. This provided for the creation of a "Greater Bulgaria", which stretched from the Danube and the Black Sea as far as the Aegean, Mt. Olympus and Grammos!

 

  • LIKE DORIC COLUMNS

At this the Greek Macedonians rose up like Doric columns over their ancestral land in order to rescue it from the clutches of the Slavs and liberate it from their Turkish oppressors. In northwest Macedonia a New Philike Etaireia was founded, with Anastasios Picheon from Ochrid as its moving spirit, whilst the Macedonians in Athens, led by Stephanos Dragoumis from Vogatsikon, formed the Mac edonian Committee. In Siatista a notable boldly and indignantly declared to an English colonel that Macedonia would only become Bulgarian "when the Bulgarians trod over the dead bodies of the Greeks'~

 

  • THE GREEK MACEDONIANS REVOLT

On 18 and 19 February 1878 two revolutionary governments in Kozani (Bourinos) and Litochoro "proclaimed the union of Macedonia with mother Greece'~ The movement was spontaneous. All alone, practically unarmed and lacking co-ordination and aid, from Mt. Olympus up to the Prespa lakes the Macedonians fought until the end of that year. And they succeeded in putting an end to the Bulgaria of San Stefano.

 

  • THE CONGRESS OF BERLIN

The Treaty of Berlin created a smaller Bulgaria, between the Danube and the Balkan Peninsula. Macedonia remained part of Turkey.

 

  • THE COMITADJIS

The Bulgarians, however, did not forget about the Bulgaria of San Stefano. At first they began to take action under the deceitful slogan "Macedonia for the Macedonians'~ Soon, however, they abandoned their pretence and set about annexing Macedonia to Bulgaria by fire and sword. They began to seize churches and schools from the Greeks, to murder priests, teachers and notables, to carry out arbitrary raids on Greek Macedonia. The Macedonian Greeks began to suffer severe hardships and the decade 1894 - 1904 was a dramatic one for them.

 

  • THE FIRST MACEDONIAN FREEDOM FIGHTERS

At that time the first native Macedonian freedom fighters appeared: Kotas, Vangelis, Dalipis and other Macedonian combatants, who rose up in spontaneous response to the Bulgarians with their own rebel bands. Macedonia began to acquire her own defensive force.

 

  • THE NATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF THE CHURCH

The Metropolitan of Drama Chrysostomos, who was later to become a national martyr in Smyrna, wrote: "For Macedonia to become Bulgarian, history and ethnography must be stifled... At the same time Metropolitan Germanos began to take the offensive in Kastoria.

 

  • ION DRAGOUMIS

From Greek town Monastiri Ion Dragoumis rallied the Greeks to action: "We've had enough martyrs, we need heroes... If we save Macedonia, Macedonia will save us... If we save Macedonia, we will be saved".

 

  • PAVLOS MELAS

In August 1904 Pavios Melas came to Macedonia with thirty companions. On 13 October he hallowed Macedonia with his blood and became a symbol of the Macedonian Struggle.

 

  • A STRUGGLE UNTO DEATH

The death of Mel as shook the Greek nation and gave a new form to the Macedonian Struggle. Many officers soon succeeded Mel as in the fight, which spread from Kastoria, Florina, Monastin and Morihovo as far as Stromnitsa, Drama, Melenikon and Nevrokopi.

 

  • VICTORY

In 1905, 1906 and 1907, exceptionally critical years, the forces of the Macedonian freedom fighters, small but well organized, with the unanimous support of all the Macedonians, achieved a real feat. The Bulgarians, defeated, began to return to their bases. Macedonia had been saved.  This phase of the Macedonian Struggle ended in 1908 with the Revolution of the Young Turks.

 

  • HAIL, HAIL, 0 LIBERTY!

In the autumn of 1912, after a period of servitude that had lasted five centuries, Macedonia was liberated. Just at that moment the Serbs managed to seize Northern Macedonia, taking in the thoroughly Greek Monastiri, Ochrid, Krusovo, Morihovo, Gevgheli, Doir~ni and Stromnitsa... The Bulgarians attempted to occupy Thessaloniki! In the summer of 1913, however, they retreated again, defeated at Lachanas and Kilkis and in other battles. Nevertheless, they retained North-western Macedonia, with Melenikon, Petne and Nevrokopi...

A small part of Western Macedonia, including Koritsa and Moschopolis, was annexed by the powers of that time to the newly- founded state of Albania.

 

  • THE EPIC OF THE MACEDONIAN STRUGGLE

History, legends and songs tell of the exploits and the sacrifices of the Macedonian freedom fighters. Who were they and how many of them were there? Nobody knows. The land of Macedonia treasures their bones lovingly in her bosom.

 

  • THE NEW SLAV CONSPIRACY

The Macedonian Struggle, one of the most important struggles of Modern Greece, is, it has turned out, not over, and will never be over "so long as generations of barbarians sweep down to choke the Greek seed", as Ion Dragoumis said. The present threat comes from Skopje, which has never fallen within the geophysical and historical boundaries of Macedonia. There, insolent counterfeiters, aided by other enemies of Greece, are falsifying  history, usurping the glorious and eternally Greek names of Macedonia and the Macedonians, forging non-existent nations and now, having eradicated the Greek element in the part of Macedonia which they seized, they are conspiring against free Greek Macedonia.

 

  • THE DEBT

Macedonia is Greek. Monuments, names, history, traditions and legends, the vivid traces left behind by the civilization and sacrifices of the Greek Macedonians in present-day Greek Macedonia and beyond our present northern borders testify and proclaim that they are GREEK.

We Greek Macedonians will keep this most beautiful and historic land of our fathers free and Greek for ever.

In the concise text which follows in Greek and English the Administrative Council of the Thessaloniki Federation of Western Macedonian Societies presents a brief picture of the historic region of Macedonia and the brilliant course of its flourishing Greek civilization from the 3rd millennium BC down to the present day.

It serves as a peaceful response to the insolent counterfeiters of history, to those who have stopped at nothing to usurp our name and the name of our homeland, to those who have designs on this Macedonia of ours, which will for ever be GREEK.

Macedonia, the cradle and shield of the Greeks, with its historic capitals of Aegeae, Pella and Thessaloniki, was, is, and always will be part of GREECE.

 

  • A NOBLE PART OF GREECE

In 1714 the Frenchman P. Tarillon, who had lived for many years in Thessaloniki, called Macedonia 'a noble part of Greece. The Macedonians of that time, with their splendid communities in Austro-Hungary, Moldovlachia, Russia etc. - centers of Greek education and civilization - were without question genuine Greeks: as Greeks they were honored with titles and offices by foreigners and they were referred to as Greeks by history.

 

C. STERGIADIS       AR. COSTOPOULOS

 President                         Gen. Secretary

 Members

 I.   TZIMAS, G. HASAPIS, B. CHRISTOPOULOS, P. HOLERIS,

G.  LAZARIDIS, C. SARAGIOTOU, EL. PANIDOU,

C.  SIAMETIS, D. MOURTZILAS