Saturday, October 02, 2010

Population changes in Macedonia under Ottoman Rule(14th-18th cent)

The first century of Ottoman rule in Macedonia is characterized by a marked decrease in the Christian population which was primarily due to Muslim Turkic colonization. The Yuruks, a semi-nomadic Turkic tribe, represented the majority of the newcomers, having already appeared in Macedonia since the 14th century. Most ofthem settled in the region of Thessaloniki, in Central and Western Macedonia (Yenitsa, Kilkis, Strornnitsa, Servia, Florina) and as far north as Monastir (Bitola). At the same time, the Christian populations retreated either to the western and southern mountainous regions or to Chalcidice.2

Towards the end of the 15th century it was the tum of Jews to come in lagre numbers from Central and Western Europe and settle, mainly in Thessaloniki. The Askenazim, Jews of German and Hungarian origin, were the first to arrive, but the most numerous group was that of Spanish Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. Other groups came from Sicily and Southern Italy and still more from Portugal in 1497. Jews of Western origin came to be known collectively as Sefardim (Spanish Jews). During the 16th century the Jewish element moved towards the interior of Macedonia and by the end of the century Jewish communities had been established at Skopje (Uskub), Monastir, Kavala, Drama, Serres, Siderocausia of Chalcidice, and elsewhere.3

However, the Jews were not the only mobile part of the population during the 16th century. Christian populations also began to move towards the plains. One part headed for Chalcidice where metallurgy was flourishing: