The Arvanites ( Greek Αρβανίτες Arvanítes ; Arvanitic Αρbε̰ρεσ̈ε̰ Arbëreshë ) are a bilingual and culturally independent population group in Greece , whose members are of Albanian descent and some of them still speak an archaic Tuscan dialect of the Albanian language . Traditionally and historically, the Arvanites are Orthodox Christians and belong to the Church of Greece .
By seeing themselves as part of the Greek nation, they played a prominent role in nation building. During the Greek Revolution from 1821 to 1829, they provided a large number of soldiers and military commanders, such as Andreas Miaoulis (1769-1835), Laskarina Bouboulina (1771-1825) and others . But Arvanite intellectuals and clergy also took an active part in shaping and modernizing the Greeks. Today, therefore, they are an integral part of the modern Greek nation. Although they are aware of their independence, most Arvanites see themselves as Greeks today and are therefore often hardly distinguishable from other Greeks.
The popular name comes from Byzantine chroniclers who first mentioned the Arvanites ( ancient Greek altρβανίται Arvanítai ) originating from Arvanon . The modern Albanian name of the state of Albania and the associated popular name - Shqipëri / Shqipëria and Shqiptarë / Shqiptarët (each indefinite and definite form) - were not known to these settlers in the Middle Ages.
The Çamen , who have an Albanian national consciousness and are predominantly Muslim, are to be distinguished from the Arvanites - the Arvanites, on the other hand, traditionally profess Orthodox Christianity . Also to be differentiated from the Arvanites are the Christian-Orthodox Soulioten , who also participated in the formation of Greek nations, but were culturally and geographically closer to the Çamen. A third Albanian group are migrants from Albania who immigrated to Greece from the 1990s.
According to the criteria of linguistic usage, it is estimated that between 25,000 and 200,000 Arvanites live in Greece. Today most of the Arvanites live in southern Greece, but also on some Aegean islands and the Peloponnese , in what is now the border triangle in Thrace and Epirus .
A census in what was then Greece in 1879 is said to have shown that around 225,000 Arvanites lived in the Peloponnese , central Greece, Euboea and Andros . At that time Greece had a total population of about 1.6 million people. Hydra and Spetses , considered "traditionally Arvanitic", were not included in this census.
In the 13th century, the first Albanians came to Greece at the invitation of local rulers. They were in demand as peasants as well as mercenaries for the troops of the Duke of Athens , the Despot of Morea and other princes. But even on its own to Albanian tribes settled in the only sparsely populated by the constant wars regions Thessaly , Boeotia , Attica , South Euboea , Corinth , Argolis , West Laconia (both on the Peloponnese ) and on many islands of Saronen and Cyclades settled in the Aegean Sea . They settled there in their own villages. The influx continued into the 15th century. Around the year 1400, the number of Albanians (Arvanites) in Morea was estimated at around 10,000. In 1450 that number rose to 30,000. The Orthodox Tosks , who had settled in central and southern Greece, soon lost contact with their areas of origin. They lived among the Greeks. In their villages they spoke Albanian dialects well into the 20th century, which over time, however, incorporated more and more Greek elements. At the end of the 15th century, some of the Arvanites fled from the Ottomans advancing in the Balkans to southern Italy and Sicily and strengthened the Albanian émigré communities of the so-called Arbëresh .
The Arvanites took an active part in the development of the modern Greek nation and in the liberation struggle against the Ottomans since the 18th century. Like the Greeks, their Christian-Orthodox identity was transformed into a modern national consciousness. Since the founding of the Greek state and as a result of domestic and foreign policy conflicts (including with Albania), the Arvanite dialects were little respected, and over time most of the Arvanites switched to the Greek language . This process accelerated after the Second World War through rural exodus and urbanization . Today only remnants of the Arvanitika are preserved. Old traditions and customs are still cultivated, especially in folklore .
Arvanitika ( Greek αρβανίτικα arvanítika ) is the name of the Albanian dialect that is only spoken to a limited extent in Greece today. It belongs to the Tuscan sub-dialect of Albanian and has received considerable influences from various Greek dialects on all language levels. Arvanitika is the Greek name for the language, which has now also been adopted by the speakers themselves. The own language name arbërisht is hardly used anymore.
Today the Arvanitika is one of the most threatened languages in Europe. The rapid decline in the number of speakers after the Second World War and even more so after the 1970s is due to various socio-economic reasons and not least to the negative status in Greek society, including the language communities themselves.
- Andreas Miaoulis (1769-1835), Admiral
- Laskarina Bouboulina (1771–1825), participant in the Greek revolution
- Georgios Koundouriotis (1782–1858), politician and Prime Minister of Greece
- Antonios Kriezis (1796–1867), politician and former Prime Minister of Greece
- Dimitrios Voulgaris (1802–1868), politician and former Prime Minister of Greece
- Athanasios Miaoulis (1815–1867), politician and former Prime Minister of Greece
- Pavlos Koundouriotis (1855–1935), admiral, two-time viceroy and President of Greece
- Alexandros Diomidis (1875–1950), politician and Prime Minister from 1949 to 1950
- Theodoros Pangalos (1878–1952), general in the Greek army and politician
- Nikos Engonopoulos (1907–1985), painter and poet
- Hieronymos II. (* 1938), Greek Orthodox clergyman, Archbishop of Athens since 2008 and head of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece
- Theodoros Pangalos (* 1938), politician and deputy prime minister from 2009 to 2012
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