Epirus (historical region)
Epirus ( modern Greek Ήπειρος Ípiros ( f. Sg. ); Ancient Greek Ἤπειρος Ḗpeiros , German 'mainland, continent' ; Albanian Epir [-i] ) is a historical-geographical region in the southwest of the Balkan Peninsula . It extends along the coast of the Ionian Sea from the Ambracian Gulf in the south to the Ceraunian Mountains near Himara and Oricum in the north. Today the area belongs partly to Greece and partly to Albania . In general, only the southern part is called Epirus today. There it forms the Greek region of the same name .
In Epirus is Dodona , which in ancient times was the most important oracle site in Greece after Delphi .
While the southern border of Epirus is clearly marked by the Gulf of Ambrakia and the Pindus Mountains in the east form a natural barrier to Thessaly and Macedonia , the northern border in antiquity cannot be clearly identified, especially inland. Epirus is characterized by numerous mountain ranges and deeply cut valleys. Only the Amvrakikos Gulf, around the Lake Ioannina and on Lake Butrint there are greater levels. The Epirotic rivers all have their source in the Pindus Mountains; the Arachthos , the Acheron , the Louros and the Thyamis (Kalamas) flow into the Ionian Sea. The Aoos flows northwest into the Adriatic. From north to south, Epirus was divided into the coastal subregions Chaonia , Cestrine and Thesprotia . In the interior, the Molossis and in the northeast the territory of the Antintans joined. In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, the region was even more forested than it is today, although the Greek part in particular still has a lot of forest.
In the late Middle Ages, the extent of the Epirus landscape was equated with that of the Despotate created in 1204 . In the 13th century, this principality also comprised large parts of central Albania and reached in the south over Arcanania to the Gulf of Corinth .
In the extreme northeast of Epirus on the upper reaches of the Devoll lie the plains of Bilisht and Korça . These have only been included in Epirus since the 19th century, and only from the Greek point of view. In ancient times, this region was an Illyrian settlement area and the area surrounded by mountains is most likely to open towards Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa , i.e. towards the Macedonian landscapes of Lynkestis and Orestis . In the medieval church organization, the region was subordinate to the Archdiocese of Ohrid . The Ottomans also had the plain of Korça administered from Macedonia; the area belonged to the Vilayet of Monastir . When it came to the division of European Turkey in the 19th century, Greece claimed Korça as part of Epirus for itself.
Only through similarities with dated industries in other large areas can a few artifacts be assigned to the Middle Paleolithic , such as Kokkinopilos, which has the characteristics of the Moustérien , and a hand ax that was dated 150,000 to 200,000 years ago.
Camps of groups of hunters can be found from around 16,000 BC. BC, when the climate became milder and drier, can also be found in the higher regions of Epirus. In summer they moved to the Pindos Mountains, which became more attractive for the animal herds as the plains became increasingly forested. The Klithi Cave in northern Epirus near Konitsa was visited by these late Ice Age hunters for several months during the warm season. This happened between 16,500 and 13,000 BP . 99% of the bones found in the cave came from goats and chamois. While plant food was of considerable importance in the plains and valleys, it hardly played a role in the mountains. In contrast to Klithi, numerous groups of hunters met at the site near Kastritsa . The third important site in Epirus, Asprochaliko , is the oldest site of these hunting groups (26,000 BP).
Epirus on the edge of the Greek world
From the late Bronze Age , quite a number of finds scattered throughout Epirus have become known, which suggest a denser settlement of the country at the same time as the beginning of the Mycenaean culture in central Greece. Mycenaean ceramics and individual metal finds from this culture show that the inhabitants of Epirus had ties to the Mycenaean Greeks in that early period (after 1600 BC). But who these epirotics of the late Bronze Age were is in the dark. Nor is it known what happened in Epirus after the end of the Mycenaean palace period in southern and central Greece (from around 1200 BC).
Information about Epirus, which was initially sparse, has been available since the middle of the 8th century BC. Chr. Handed down. During this time, Dodona is documented as a place of worship in the Thesproter area , but archaeological research has not yet been able to clarify whether it was newly established or re-established. Around the same time, at least before 700 BC. BC, the Elians founded several colonies in the estuary of the Acheron: Pandosia, Elaia, Bouchetion and Elatreia. This brought southern Epirus and especially the Thesproters into closer contact with the Greeks. After 650 BC At the mouth of the Arachthos, the Corinthian colony Ambrakia was added. It was the main place for the Greeks to trade with Epirus.
The Epiroten settled in small open villages; Apart from the few Greek colonies, there were no cities. A total of three large tribal associations shared Epirus: the Chaonians in the north, the Thesproters in the south and the Molossians in the interior. Each of them in turn was divided into several sub-tribes. At that time the Chaonians, Thesproters and Molossians formed autonomous associations between which there were no closer political ties. While the kingship of the first two had already been abolished and the power lay with the tribal assemblies, the Molossians still had kings who were in command of the army during the war. The Chaonians, on the other hand, chose two chiefs (πρόστατοι) from the nobility. The tribal organization of the country continued into the Hellenistic period.
The ethnicity of the Epirotic tribes is uncertain. On the one hand, their social organization and their material culture show similarities with those of the Illyrians to the north ; on the other hand, Epirus was integrated into their myths and legends by the Greeks. The kingdom of Epirus is said to have been founded by the Trojan prince Helenus , who, like the forefather of Rome, Aeneas , survived the fall of Troy. The Molossian royal house of the Aiakids traced its ancestry back to the Homeric hero Achilles or his son Pyrrhos . At least since the 6th century BC It was written in Greek in Epirus, as indicated by the inscription tablets found in Dodona. Even so, the Greeks did not consider the Epirots to be their equal in the 5th century. They were not allowed to take part in the Olympic Games and, as Pericles in 448 BC, BC invited all Greeks to a Panhellenic congress in Athens, Ambrakia was considered the outermost Greek outpost in the northwest. During the 4th century BC BC Epirus is likely to have been largely Hellenized linguistically and culturally.
429 BC The Chaonians, Thesproters and Molossians were allied with the Spartans and took part in the attack on Amphilochia and Akarnania in the western theater of the Peloponnesian War . At that time the Chaonians were the leading power among the Epirots. In the late 5th century BC The Molossians advanced into the plain of Hellopia; they also took control of the oracle site of Dodona, which until then had belonged to the Thesprotern. This began the rise of the Molossians to become the most powerful tribe in Epirus. This went hand in hand with a reorientation in foreign policy. The Molossians allied with Athens. Their king Tharyps had spent his youth in the city and was finally honored with Athenian citizenship. 385 BC Chr. Followed Alketas his father to the king. Under his leadership, the Molossians joined the second Attic League , which significantly intensified Epirus' relations with the Greek states.
The closer ties to the Greek core area also seem to have had a cultural and economic impact: in the 4th century BC. The urbanization of the Epirotian landscapes can be observed. Through the expansion of existing settlements or the amalgamation of several villages, a number of cities were founded (e.g. Kassope and Orraon in Thesprotia, the Molossian capital Passaron or Phoinike among the Chaonians). These poleis did not become autonomous, but remained part of the tribal unions in whose territory they were located.
With the Molossians as the core, the 4th century BC A Koinon of Epirot tribes out. There was a federal assembly in which one of the tribes presided over each year. It was the authoritative body in all domestic political issues and it also elected several joint federal officials. Next to them stood the Molossian kings from the Aiakid dynasty , who led the army of the Epiroten and who also determined foreign policy. Every year the king had to take an oath at the Zeus altar at Passaron to respect the laws and agreements of the covenant.
In the middle of the 4th century there were numerous power struggles in Epirus, which weakened the country, favored incursions by the Illyrians and made the Epirots become dependent on Macedonia. As early as 357 BC Chr. Had Philip II. The Molossian princess Olympias married. The Macedonian king marched in 352/50 BC. In Epirus to intervene in internal disputes of the Aiakiden. Philipp protected Olympias' younger brother Alexander . This lived since 353 BC. At the Macedonian court in Pella. 343/42 BC In BC Philip drove the Molossian king Arybbas out and put his brother-in-law in his place.
Although Alexander remained closely associated with the Macedonian ruling house, including his marriage to Philip's daughter Cleopatra in 336 BC. Chr. Contributed, he operated an independent and quite successful policy. Soon the tribes recognized him as the hegemon of the union and with his army Alexander represented an important regional power factor. When he died in 332 on a campaign in Lucania , he left a power vacuum that plunged Epirus into domestic political turmoil again, which only decades later ended when Pyrrhos I. 297 BC. Could establish permanent as king. During this time, the Epirot symmachy arose , which now also included the Chaonians in the north. The Molossians remained the predominant power and their kings were the hegemon of the union, but the other tribes could now increase their political weight again.
Pyrrhus' years of reign were marked by far-reaching plans of conquest. The king wanted to emulate his relative Alexander of Macedonia and he participated intensively in the struggle for the redivision of the Greco-Aegean area. 291 BC BC Pyrrhus came into conflict with the Macedonian king Demetrios Poliorketes . This took the island of Corfu from him, which he had recently won as a dowry. 288 but Pyrrhus was victorious all along the line. He managed to get the Macedonians to depose Demetrios, who had been decried as cruel, and to proclaim him king himself. But it could only survive until 284 BC. Hold; then he gave in to Lysimachus in particular , had his claims to the throne bought off and put together a strong army. From 280 to 275 BC In BC Pyrrhus tried to conquer an empire with the western Greeks in southern Italy and Sicily, but failed. After his return, Pyrrhos took part in the internal Greek wars until his death.
Pyrrhus' son Alexander also continued the risky warlike policy; he conquered almost all of Macedonia, lost this kingdom and his own kingdom soon afterwards, but was able to recapture Epirus with the help of the Aitolians .
After Alexander's death (242 BC), there was no vigorous successor among the Aiakids, and the dynasty was discredited by the autocratic and ultimately unsuccessful wars. After a decade of internal unrest, the Epiroten succeeded in ruling the monarchy in 232 BC. And converted the Symmachie into a Koinon . The leadership role in the Koinon passed from the Molossians to the Chaonians. The meeting place of the Federal Assembly was next to the cultically significant Dodona the capital of the Chaonians, Phoinike . After the overthrow of the Aiakiden, a number of cities broke away from the League of Epirots and gained political autonomy. The southern regions of Athamania , Ambrakia and Amphilochia joined the Aetolian League.
In the First Macedonian War (215-205 BC) the Epiroten remained neutral. The theaters of war between the Romans, Illyrians, Macedonians and Aitolians were southern Illyria and Akarnania, which border Epirus to the north and south, respectively. Because Rome was weakened by the attack of the Punians in Italy, the Epirotians could in 205 BC. Initiate negotiations, which then took place in Phoinike and led to peace on the basis of the status quo ante . The Epirots also maintained their neutrality during the Second Macedonian War (200–197 BC).
Perseus , who since 179 BC Was king of Macedonia, gathered allies in the following years, since a war with Rome was foreseeable. Many Greek cities took his side; Athens, the Achaean League and the Epirots, however, allied with the Romans. 171 BC The third Macedonian War began, and Perseus was able to achieve some successes at first. When he was in 170 BC BC conquered some cities in Illyria, part of the upper class fell away from the Romans and went over to the Macedonians. This breach of loyalty offered - in addition to the discontent of the army because of insufficient booty - the pretext that Lucius Aemilius Paullus marched into Epirus after the end of the war and had the Roman soldiers extensively plundered. The fact that 70 places were destroyed and 150,000 people were led into slavery is probably an exaggeration of Livy, because there were not even three dozen cities in the country.
In the Roman Empire
Epirus became part of the in 146 BC. Established Roman province of Macedonia. The Koinon of the Epiroten dissolved more and more; Smaller regional city alliances, such as the Praesebes Koinon around Butrint , continued to exist and formed the basis of the political organization in Epirus well into the imperial era. After the end of the Roman Civil War, the region experienced a centuries-old period of peace and prosperity. In the south, Emperor Augustus built the colony of Nikopolis in memory of the victory of Actium , which quickly grew into by far the largest and economically strongest city in the country, not least because of the imperial tax exemption. As a port, it was an important stop on the route from Italy to the east of the empire. 27 BC Epirus was assigned to the new senatorial province of Achaea ; by Emperor Vespasian , however, the country was constituted as a separate imperial province. When the empire was reorganized under Emperor Diocletian, the provinces of Epirus nova and Epirus vetus were formed, the latter comprising the historical landscape of Epirus.
Christianity spread early in Epirus and possibly the first Christian community in Nicopolis goes back to the apostle Paul, who wanted to spend a few months in the Epirotian city. Nicopolis later became the metropolitan seat for all of Epirus. 787 AD for the last time a bishop from this city was recorded as a participant in a council ; soon afterwards Nicopolis was finally given up. In memory of the important archbishopric, the Epirotic diocese of Preveza still bears the double name Nikopolis-Preveza.
When the Roman Empire was divided (395 AD), Epirus became part of the east . At the beginning of the 5th century AD, the Goths under Alaric also devastated Epirus before they withdrew from the Balkans to Italy. Thereafter, the Eastern Roman rule in Epirus and southern Illyria stabilized again. Under the emperors of the Thracian and Justinian dynasties, the region once again experienced a prolonged period of prosperity, during which the Balkan provinces further north suffered repeatedly from the invasions of the barbarians.
Slavs also settled in Epirus from the 7th century . They mainly settled in the mountainous interior. For a long time they made up a large part of the local population there. Numerous Slavic place names bear eloquent evidence of this. The vast mountainous region north of Ioannina - the ancient Molossis - still bears the Slavic name Zagoria today . The coastal areas in Epirus remained Greek. The late antique urban culture survived here in parts. Even if many ancient cities were given up at some point, new foundations often took their place (e.g. Ambrakia → Arta , Nikopolis → Preveza ).
To defend the Balkans, the Byzantines transferred the thematic organization from Asia Minor to Europe in the 8th century . From then on, Epirus formed the theme of Nicopolis. Nevertheless, at the end of the 9th century, the region came under Bulgarian rule for a few decades. The victory of Tsar Simeon I in the Battle of Bulgarophygon (896) enabled the Bulgarians to occupy Epirus. Parts of the country remained Bulgarian until the beginning of the 11th century, before Emperor Basil II finally smashed the first Bulgarian empire in 1018. The temporary Bulgarian rule strengthened the Slavic element in the Epirot population. The Hellenization or Albanization of the Epirotian Slavs lasted a very long time and was only completed in the 17th century under the Ottomans.
From 1081 and 1108 Epirus suffered several times from attacks by the southern Italian Normans under Robert Guiskard and his son Bohemond of Taranto . In 1085 the attackers even succeeded in taking Ioannina. After Bohemond had failed against the Byzantine army before Durazzo , Emperor Alexios I was able to bind him in the Treaty of Devol . There have been no new attacks from the west for the time being.
When the Byzantine Empire fell apart after the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, the despotate of Epirus emerged under Michael I Angelus as one of the successor states dominated by Greece. In the first decades of its existence, the Epirotic principality was a serious competitor to the Nicean Empire in restoring the Greek Empire. The despots Michael I and Theodoros I were able to significantly expand their state through conquests in the east and north at the expense of the Latins and Bulgarians. At times they also ruled Macedonia, Thessaly and central Albania. After the loss of Thessaloniki in 1230, however, the Epirotic despots were quickly overtaken by Nicaea. They were able to hold their own on the Ionian coast, however, and throughout the 13th century Epirus sided with the enemies of the Byzantine emperor in numerous wars. From the west, the Neapolitan Angevines tried successfully to gain a foothold on the Epirotian coast. Despot Nikephorus I had to marry off his daughter Thamar to Philip of Taranto in 1294 and, in this context, had to recognize the overlordship of his father, King Charles II of Naples .
In addition to the Greeks and the Slavs already mentioned, two other ethnic groups appeared on the scene of Epiroti history in the Middle Ages. These were the Aromanians and the Albanians . The former are either descendants of Latin-speaking Roman provincials or came to Epirus from the north at some point in the Middle Ages. The latter applies in any case to the Albanians. They came into the country since the 13th century. The transhumant pastoralism practiced by both peoples favored their expansion. Many Wallachians and Albanians also entered the service of local princes as mercenaries. Some also managed to rise to the nobility through military service and enfeoffment.
In 1318 the eparchy of Ioannina was elevated to the second metropolitan seat of the Greek Church in Epirus, because the city was of political importance as the residence of the Epirot despots.
Favored by the depopulation of the country by the plague, the Serbian tsar Stefan Dušan conquered Epirus in 1348. After his death, the Serbian empire fell apart and the despotate became an independent principality again. Dušan's brother Simeon was expelled from Epirus in 1356, and the former despot Nikephorus II again took over the rule. The despot's power steadily declined, however, and direct rule lay in many parts of the country with the feudal people (including Albanians, Serbs and Latins). The following decades were marked by constant clashes between a large number of local rulers. This should make it much easier for the Turks to conquer the country later. When Nikephorus died in 1359, the princely power completely fell into disuse. Albanian clan chiefs asserted themselves as local rulers in most of the inland cities, while some coastal towns were held by Napoletan vassals.
At the end of the 14th century, large parts of Epirus were first conquered by the Turks. In 1430 Ioannina fell to the Ottomans. In 1443 the Albanian prince Skanderbeg was able to extend his sphere of influence to Epirus for a short time. Gjin Muzaka and Pjetër Shpata , two Albanian dynasts from the north of the country, also took part in the League of Lezha formed by Skanderbeg against the Turks . In 1449 the Turks conquered Arta. The Venetians lost almost all of their possessions in the country by 1479. Only the places Butrint and Parga remained under their control until the end of the Mark Republic (1797).
The establishment of Ottoman rule had far-reaching - and not only negative - consequences for Epirus. While the country suffered from the never-ending wars of the local princes and foreign powers in the 14th and 15th centuries, there had been peace in the country since 1480, which lasted around 300 years apart from minor uprisings. In the first century of Ottoman rule, the administration was efficient and taxes were low, which also had a positive effect in Epirus, although the country was not one of the economically important provinces of the empire. Part of the cultivated land was converted into timare (military fiefs ) for the maintenance of the Sipahi , which, compared to the previous feudal rule, initially meant a better position for the dependent peasants. With the decline of the Sipahi troops in the 17th century, most of the timars came into the hands of large landowners, who then increased the peasant taxes considerably.
The religious foreign rule of the Muslims in Epirus was softened by a series of privileges for individual places or groups of the subjugated Christian population. Ghazi Sinan Pascha, the conqueror of Epirus, promised Ioannina tax breaks and freedom of trade because the inhabitants had surrendered the city without a fight. The Wallachian villages in the Pindus Mountains were given local self-government, partly as Derbendschi (pass guards), partly as places for the maintenance of the Valide Sultan (mother of the Sultan), which they equated with the Muslim population without having to change their faith. In 1492 the Himariots were granted autonomy rights through an agreement with Sultan Bayezid II . In many remote and mountainous areas, Turkish rule has always been limited.
Elsewhere, of course, Ottoman rule was also associated with religious oppression, churches were expropriated and converted into mosques, including the Metropolitan Church in Ioannina. From the end of the 15th century onwards, tens of thousands of Orthodox Epirotians left their homeland and settled in Italy, where they were able to preserve their religious traditions in their own churches to this day. The Ottomans were challenged in the area of Ioannina in the early 17th century by a revolt of Christian peasants under the leadership of Bishop Dionysius. The events triggered a new wave of Islamization, because after the crackdown, those in power also took action against bystanders. So all Christians were expelled from the castle district and their churches were converted into mosques.
As in the entire Balkans, the dervish sects in Epirus and, among them, the Bektashi in particular, played a major role in Islamization. As early as the 15th century, dervishes had come to the country with the Ottoman troops. A certain Haydar Baba is documented for 1431 and during the reign of Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512) Hüseyin Baba founded the first Tekke (dervish monastery) on Epirotic soil in Konitsa .
After an unsuccessful siege of Corfu in 1537, the Ottoman fleet defeated a Christian armada in the naval battle of Preveza the following year . This gave the Turks absolute control over the sea off the Epirotian coast for decades. In addition, they were now the strongest sea power in the entire Mediterranean.
In the 18th century, the Ottoman power also declined in Epirus and the Albanian pasha Ali Tepelena , who became provincial governor in Ioannina in 1788, was able to establish a quasi-independent rule on the Ionian coast. Many Albanians converted to the Bektashi at this time because Ali Pasha was promoting this sect. There were significant Tekken in the southern Albanian-Epirotic area in Melçan, Melan , Konitsa, Korça , Koshtan Frashër and Gjirokastra ( Zall-Tekke ). Ali made a pact with the rebellious Greeks and tried to establish an independent state, but was murdered by Ottoman agents in February 1822. In July of the same year Ottoman troops under Reşid Mehmed Pasha were defeated by an army of Greek rebels near Arta.
When Greece became independent in 1829, Epirus remained with the Ottoman Empire. At an early stage, however, the Hellenic national movement claimed the entire area for the Greek state. In the course of an Ottoman administrative reform in 1864, the Vilayet Ioannina was set up, which included all of Epirus and parts of central Albania (a total of 17,200 km²). In 1828 the Zosimas brothers founded a private Greek grammar school in Ioannina. This school, called Zosimea , was the most important educational institution in the country for about a century. It was visited not only by Orthodox Greeks, but also by many Albanians of all denominations.
The era of nationalism
From the Balkan crisis in 1877 to the Young Turkish Revolution in 1908
At the latest after the incorporation of the Ionian Islands into the Greek state (1864), Greek foreign policy increasingly focused on Epirus. As early as 1844, the Prime Minister from the area of Ioannina, Ioannis Kolettis , specified the territorial claims of Greece associated with the so-called Megali Idea and also explicitly mentioned Epirus. During the Berlin Congress in 1878, the Greek representative Theodoros Deligiannis u. a. the annexation of Epirus, but received only vague statements from the great powers about Greek territorial expansion.
Startled by the plans to partition European Turkey (1877), the newly formed Albanian National League of Prizren was only able to quickly formulate a negative program, i.e. the retention of the old borders and the retention of all vilayets with Albanian populations under the Ottoman Empire. The Albanians also included the Epirotic Vilayet Janina . In the winter of 1878/79 Albanian volunteers successfully participated in the defense of Greek troops in Preveza and Ioannina, which were supposed to enforce the territorial gains vaguely promised by the great powers in Berlin. In 1881, through the mediation of Great Britain and France, a Turkish-Greek treaty was concluded and Greece was able to take possession of the region around Arta, while most of Epirus remained with the Ottoman Empire.
Supported by the motherland, the Greek national movement in Ottoman Epirus quickly gained momentum in the last two decades of the 19th century. The national activists were able to rely on the church infrastructure and the dense Greek-language school network. The traditional cultural autonomy of the orthodox rum millet , which was dominated by the Greeks, offered favorable conditions for this. The Albanians had little to counter this. Unlike the Greeks, they were denominationally divided (into Orthodox and Muslims), they had no schools in their language and no nation-state to support them in the background; their interest group, the League of Prizren , was suppressed by armed force by the Ottoman authorities soon after the ratification of the peace in Berlin. After that, the national cause of the Albanians in Epirus was mainly represented by the Bektashi. The great Tekken in Melçan, Frashër , Melan , Konitsa and Gjirokastra became focal points of the Albanian national movement in Epirus. The dervish monasteries served as Albanian-speaking educational centers and they were responsible for the dissemination of Albanian scriptures. Both were forbidden at the time by the Ottoman authorities and also by the Greek Orthodox Church. Nonetheless, there were also Orthodox Albanians, especially in the Korça region, who took part in the national movement and therefore came into conflict with the Greek clergy.
according to religious beliefs,
Albanian in 1920
|All in all||267,000||151,000|
As different as the conditions were, after 1900 two national movements competed for Epirus, and both claimed the entire country from Himara in the north to Preveza in the south, from the Ionian Sea in the west to Lake Prespa in the east. In most areas, however, Greeks and Albanians, Christians and Muslims lived side by side. There were also a number of ethnic minorities: the Wallachians ( Aromanians ) spread all over the country , the Turks in Ioannina, the large Jewish community there and finally the Macedonian Slavs around Korça and Lake Prespa.
In 1908 the Young Turks took power in Constantinople. This reform-oriented movement initially had supporters among the Albanians in Epirus, not least because protection from the growing armed resistance of the Greeks was promised. At that time, irregulars tried to instigate an uprising in Epirus in order to accelerate the connection of the province to the Greek motherland. But when the Young Turks embarked on an aggressively nationalist course the following year, the Albanians distanced themselves from them. Weakened by uprisings in most European provinces and by the war in Libya , the Ottoman military and gendarmerie increasingly lost control in Epirus in the course of 1911 as well. Greek and Albanian freedom fighters operated in different regions.
Balkan War and First World War
Under these circumstances, the Greek army needed few troops in the First Balkan War to conquer Epirus. Just because the main thrust of Greece was directed at Thessaloniki, it took a long time until the Turks were finally defeated in the northwest. On October 18, 1912, Greek troops crossed the border at Arta and advanced north-west. On November 14, 1912, another division crossed the Zygos or Katarra Pass in the Pindus Mountains and took Metsovo . Less than two weeks later, the Turks were trapped in Ioannina. In the north, the Greeks had already taken Konitsa, Përmet , Erseka , Saranda , Himara and Gjirokastra by the end of November. In December they finally occupied Korça as well . In contrast to the allies , the Greek government did not respond to the Turkish request for an armistice in autumn 1912, but continued the fighting in Epirus, on the one hand to conquer Ioannina and on the other to take action against the Albanian rebels. A bitter guerrilla war was waged against the Albanians, in which many volunteers from the region took part. Greeks and Albanians burned each other's villages, destroyed churches and mosques and drove the population out. The Greek militants were much more successful thanks to the backing of the army. Most of the Bektaschi-Tekkes were looted and destroyed by Greek extremists during the Balkan War and the occupation that lasted until 1916, with a brief interruption. The fighting against the Ottoman army came to an end in the spring of 1913. After another attack, the Turks surrendered in Ioannina on March 6th and 30,000 soldiers were taken prisoner.
The London ambassadorial conference of the six European great powers (Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary and Russia) could not find a solution in the spring of 1913 for the state affiliation of the Epirotian areas and postponed the matter. The entire region remained under Greek occupation. In the autumn of 1913, a mixed commission of the great powers toured the country to determine the border between Albania, which had become independent the previous year, and Greece. In addition to the ethnicity of the local population, strategic considerations also played a role. The course of the few streets had to be taken into account. Albania shouldn't be too small and Italy didn't want Greece to be able to rule the Corfu Strait on its own. In December the representatives of the six powers signed a protocol in Florence in which the border was defined.
The Albanian-Greek border, named after the conference venue Florence-Line , has remained largely unchanged since then. It begins near Cape Stilos and initially runs in a south-easterly direction, reaches the southernmost point at Konispol (Albanian) and then turns north-east. Delviniki and Konitsa came to Greece, Përmet to Albania, then the border crosses Mount Gramos , leaves Erseka on the Albanian side and turns north near the village of Trestenik. North-east of Bilisht (Albanian) it crosses the small Prespa lake and finally meets the large Prespa lake at Psarades (Greek) . 6500 km² had been added to Albania and 7500 km² had been given to Greece. As a result of a trip by the Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos to Vienna and Rome, the border was corrected a little in favor of Greece at the beginning of January 1914. Finally, on February 21, the Greek government gave its official approval to the Florence Protocol, and in March the Greek army evacuated northern Epirus.
The Greek public, politicians and especially the Greeks in the areas that fell to Albania were far from accepting the new border and were working towards a revision. Before the withdrawal of the Greek army began, the Greeks held a meeting in Arjirókastro and declared Northern Epirus an independent state. The former Greek Foreign Minister Georgios Christakis-Zografos became head of government . Like Alexandros Karapanos, who was appointed Foreign Minister, he was a close supporter of Eleftherios Venizelos. The Greek bishops of the region supported the national resistance movement, three of them Vassileios of Dryinoupolis, Spyridon of Vellas and Konitsa, and Germanos of Korytsa joined the rebels' government. The armed men at their disposal were not only recruited from locals, but also many volunteers from other Greek regions. After the withdrawal of the Greek army, there was permanent guerrilla warfare between the Greeks and Albanians, with numerous attacks and massacres on both sides.
The powerless Albanian government was unable to take control of the area. The Muslim opposition blamed the unsolved Epirus problem on the German prince of Albania, Wilhelm zu Wied , and thus contributed to the fact that his rule quickly became unpopular with the Albanians. Under great domestic political pressure, his government had to start negotiations with Greece at the end of April. The Corfu Protocol , signed in May 1914, left Northern Epirus with Albania, but granted the Greeks extensive autonomy. They were even given their own armed forces. This confirmed the status quo : Albania's sovereignty only existed on paper; the Greeks had actual power. The Albanian population continued to resist.
The southern Epirus was integrated into the Greek state immediately after the conquest in 1913, so, among other things, an orderly administration was established. Since Greece saw itself as a Unitarian nation state, pressure began to be exerted on the Muslim-Albanian minority to leave the country. In the early years, groups of irregular armed groups raided villages and terrorized the residents. Wealthy Muslim landowners were completely expropriated without compensation. Without a livelihood, they and their families were then forced to emigrate. Hundreds of young men were deported to the Aegean islands. The authorities accused them of participating in uprisings against the new state power. During the negotiations for the Greek-Turkish population exchange in 1923, the Greek government managed to get the Turks to agree to accept 5000 Epirotian Albanians. In return, Greeks displaced from Asia Minor were resettled in Epirus. In 1926 Greece declared the resettlement processes complete. Only now did the Albanians who remained in Epirus receive Greek citizenship.
When the First World War began, the already rudimentary Albanian state disintegrated. In this situation, Great Britain encouraged the Greek government to reoccupy northern Epirus to maintain public order. The warring powers on both sides promised North Epirus to the still neutral states as a gain if they entered the war. Besides Greece, Italy , which was keen to expand in the eastern Mediterranean, was also interested in the region. But first, in October 1914, Greek troops marched back into northern Epirus. In the following year, however, Italy gained diplomatic advantages over the Albanian-Epirotic affair. After the conclusion of the London Treaty , which the Italians a. a. Assured the protectorate of Albania, Italy entered the war on the side of the Entente. Greece did not follow until the summer of 1917.
In August 1916, Italian units marched from their base in Vlora to Northern Epirus and displaced the Greek troops there. The official reason for this was strategic necessity: the flank of the Salonika Front in Macedonia had to be covered. In January 1917, the Italians occupied Konitsa, Delvinaki and Sayada south of the Florence Line to control the road to French-occupied Korça. In fact, this was supposed to create facts for the post-war order. Above all, they wanted to prevent Greek control over the Strait of Corfu. The Italians replaced the Greek civil administration with Albanians and allowed them to use armed police. After years of oppression by the Greeks, the inhabitants of Greek villages have now been the victims of pillage and displacement by the Albanians.
Shortly before the end of the war in the autumn of 1918, the Greek government had notified the allies of its claim to all of Epirus as far as the Vjosa and had met strong resistance from Italy, while France and Great Britain were inclined to comply with the Greek wishes. At the Paris Peace Conference , which opened in February 1919, northern Epirus was just one of several problems for the Greeks and certainly not the most important. During the negotiations it became apparent that Italy and the USA were also rejecting the Greek maximum demands. The Albanians were not officially represented because they did not have a recognized government at the time. The Allies, however, heard an Albanian delegation under Turhan Pasha. The Epirus question remained unsolved until the American delegation withdrew from Paris in autumn 1919. Weakened by internal crises and worn down by the military resistance of the Albanians, Italy gave up its territorial claims in southern Albania the following year. Two years later, after the defeat in Asia Minor , Greece found itself ready to accept the Florence Line .
Even after the First World War, national minorities lived on both sides of the border, the treatment of which by the respective government repeatedly gave rise to tensions between Albania and Greece. While Greece did not officially recognize the existence of an Albanian population group and forced assimilation (among the Orthodox) or expulsion (among the Muslims, see Çamen ), the founding of the independent Albanian Orthodox Church in Albania led to new difficulties for the Greek population. In 1921 the four Greek-born bishops and many priests were expelled from the country. From 1928, under the dictatorship of Ahmet Zogu , the church schools of the Greeks were closed.
In 1939, northern Epirus with all of Albania was occupied by fascist Italy. In October 1940, the Italian troops formed in the region to attack Greece. The Greeks were able to repel the attack and in December 1940 they managed to advance to Himara , Gjirokastra and Korça . After Greece had been defeated with the help of the German Wehrmacht in May 1941, South Epirus came under Italian occupation. An Albanian civil administration was established in the Çamen settlement areas. The Second World War meant great suffering for all population groups in the country and was associated with mutual persecution and cruelty. The Italian and German occupiers took advantage of the existing nationality conflicts to stabilize their rule. The Italians favored the Albanians and Aroumuns and founded police units made up of members of these peoples to keep the Greeks down. Part of the Albanian-Muslim population actively collaborated with the Italian and German troops and terrorized the civilian population in Thesprotia from July 1942. The Germans were responsible for the extermination of the large Jewish community of Ioannina, whose members they deported to the extermination camps in March 1944.
The mountains of Epirus soon became a center of anti-fascist resistance. The Greek Epirus was the stronghold of the resistance organization EDES and ELAS . When the former left-liberal and socialist resistance movement EDES of Komninos Pyromaglou and General Nikolaos Plastiras under the leadership of Napoleon Zervas increasingly became a reservoir for royalist forces, a conflict with ELAS broke out in the winter of 1943. In the Albanian part, the communist partisans succeeded in liberating the region around Përmet in the summer of 1943 .
After the liberation in autumn 1944, the approx. 20,000 Muslim Albanians still living in southern Epirus were expelled to Albania by Greek troops because they were accused of collaborating with the Italian and German occupying forces. The displaced Çamen tried to organize themselves politically in Albania to draw attention to their fate and the Albanian government also demanded at the Paris Peace Conference in 1946 that they should be allowed to return to Greece. But since the Albanian communists supported their comrades in the Greek civil war , it was clear from the start that they would not be heard by the western allies and the Greek government. The refugee issue was later simply ignored because of the escalating East-West confrontation.
Since 1946 the Greek Epirus was one of the most important areas of operation of the communist DSE in the Greek civil war. Here she could bring larger areas under her control. As part of the Comintern , the DSE received logistical support from Albania. The civil war ended in August 1949 with a battle on Mount Gramos , in which the DSE suffered the decisive defeat.
From the end of the Second World War until 1990, the Albanian-Greek border running through the Epirus was hermetically sealed. Due to the events of the Greek Civil War, a state of war still prevailed between the two countries. On the Albanian side, the border was closely guarded and people who tried to escape the Stalinist tyranny were shot at. The number of victims is still unknown. After the end of the communist regime, tens of thousands of people (Albanians and members of the Greek minority, but also others such as Roma and Aromanians) left Albania because of the dire economic situation and settled in Greece.
Prehistory and early history
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- Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond: Epirus. The Geography, the Ancient Remains, the History and the Topography of Epirus and adjacent Areas. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1967.
- Nikola Moustakis: Sanctuaries as Political Centers. Investigations into the multidimensional areas of activity of sanctuaries across the polis in ancient Epirus (= sources and research on the ancient world. Vol. 48). Utz, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-8316-0560-2 (also: Münster, Univ., Diss., 2001).
- Thomas F. Tartaron: Bronze Age landscape and society in Southern Epirus, Greece (= BAR International Series. Vol. 1290). Archaeopress, Oxford 2004, ISBN 1-84171-640-5 (Also: Boston, Univ., Diss., 1996: Bronze Age settlement and subsistence in Southwestern Epirus, Greece. ).
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- Paul Magdalino: Between Romaniae: Thessaly and Epirus in the Later Middle Ages. In: Benjamin Arbel, Bernard Hamilton, David Jacoby (eds.): Latins and Greeks in the Eastern Mediterranean after 1204 (= Mediterranean Historical Review . Volume 4, No. 1, 1989). Cass, London et al. a. 1989, ISBN 0-7146-3372-0 , pp. 87-110.
- Donald M. Nicol : The despotate of Epiros, 1267-1479. A contribution to the history of Greece in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1984, ISBN 0-521-26190-2 .
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- Nikolaos Petsalis-Diomidis: Greece at the Paris Peace Conference (1919). (= Institute for Balkan Studies Vol. 175). Institute for Balkan Studies, Thessaloniki 1978.
- Tom J. Winnifrith: Badlands - borderlands. A history of Northern Epirus / Southern Albania. Duckworth, London 2002, ISBN 0-7156-3201-9 .
- Marie-Pierre Dausse: Bibliography épirote. Epoques classique et hellénistique . (PDF) univ-lille3.fr (mainly French); Compilation of recent literature on ancient Epirus.
- Pierre Cabanes: Epire-Corfou d'Achille à Ali Pacha . clio.fr (French); on the historical relationship between Corfu and Epirus
- James Pettifer: The Greek Minority in Albania - In the Aftermath of Communism . Conflict Studies Research Center, 2001
- Miranda Vickers: The Cham Issue - Albanian National & Property Claims in Greece . 2002
- International Boundary Study 113. Albania - Greece. (PDF; 266 kB) State Department, 1971; laying down the greek alban. Border between 1913 and 1925.
- ↑ James Wiseman, Kōnstantinos Zachos (ed.): Landscape Archeology in Southern Epirus, Greece , Vol. 1, American School of Classical Studies Athens, 2003, p. 103.
- ↑ John Bintliff : The Complete Archeology of Greece. From Hunter-Gatherers to the 20th Century AD , John Wiley & Sons, 2012, p. 40 f.
- ↑ On the research project on the Klithi Cave cf. the comprehensive work Geoffrey N. Bailey (Ed.): Klithi. Palaeolithic Settlement and Quaternary Landscapes in Northwest Greece , 2 Vols., Cambridge 1997.
- ↑ According to ancient writers, there should have been more than a dozen tribes in Epiros. Strabo names 11 of them by name. Strabon, Geographica VII, 7,7-8
- ↑ Pierre Cabanes (ed.): L'Illyrie méridionale et l'Épire dans l'antiquité. Volume 1: Actes du colloque international de Clermont-Ferrand (October 22-25, 1984). ADOSA, Clermont-Ferrand 1987, ISBN 2-86639-011-3 .
- ↑ Velleius Paterculus: Historia Romana I, 1.
- ↑ Hans Beck : Polis and Koinon. Studies on the history and structure of the Greek federal states in the 4th century BC Chr. (= Historia. Individual writings . Vol. 114). Steiner, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-515-07117-2 , p. 135 (also: Erlangen-Nürnberg, Univ., Diss., 1997).
- ↑ at today's Ioannina.
- ↑ Thuk II, 80-81.
- ↑ Liv. 29.12.
- ^ Edward Gibbon : The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. DeFau, New York NY 1906, Vol. 1., Chap. 6, p. 24.
- ↑ Tit 3:12: "As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, come quickly to me in Nicopolis; for I have decided to spend the winter there." This may not have happened, however, see Heinz Warnecke: [Re-evaluation of the sources:] Der Titusbrief In: Heinz Warnecke; Thomas Schirrmacher: Paul in the Storm. About the shipwreck of exegesis and the rescue of the apostle on Kephallenia . 2nd Edition. VTR, Nuremberg 2000, ISBN 3-933372-29-1 , p. 134-138 .
- ↑ Admittedly, most of the old Slavic place names were replaced by new Greek formations in the 20th century by order of the government. See: Otto Kronsteiner: Declining list of Slavic place names in Greece. In: Austrian name research. Vol. 7, No. 1, 1979, ISSN 1028-1495 , pp. 3-27.
- ^ Harry T. Norris: Islam in the Balkans. Religion and society between Europe and the Arab world. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia SC 1993, ISBN 0-87249-977-4 , pp. 127-128.
- ^ Petsalis-Diomidis: Greece. 1978, p. 18 f.
- ^ Petsalis-Diomidis: Greece. 1978, p. 345 f.
↑ Besides the Greeks also Albanians and Aromanians. Petsalis-Diomidis: Greece. 1978, estimates 25,000 Aromanians in the southern part of the country alone.
The Greek side rejected the mother tongue as a criterion for ethnicity and considered all Orthodox believers to be Greeks. Often reference is also made to the commitment of those speaking other languages to the Greek nation. Then z. B. of the Albanophone Greeks.
- ↑ mainly Albanians, about 1–2 thousand Turks nationwide, emigrated in 1913/14.
- ↑ Robert Elsie : Islam and the dervish sects of Albania. (PDF) In: Kakanien Revisted. 2004, (PDF; 155 kB).
- ↑ Large parts of the Albanian settlement area had already come to Serbia in the north and east. See history of Albania .
- ^ Johannes Lepsius (Ed.): The great politics of the European cabinets 1871-1914. Collection of diplomatic files from the Foreign Office. Volume 36/2: The Liquidation of the Balkan Wars 1913–1914. German Publishing Society for Politics and History, Berlin 1926.
- ^ E. Alexander Powell : The New Frontiers of Freedom. From the Alps to the Aegean. Scribner, New York NY 1920, pp. 142-144.
- ↑ a b Vickers: The Cham Issue.
- ↑ For the controversy over Epirus in the years 1912-1919 see: Petsalis-Diomidis: Greece. 1978, pp. 18-28, 49-53, 109-152 and the like. 290-304.
- ^ Richard Clogg : History of Greece in the 19th and 20th centuries. A demolition. Romiosini, Cologne 1997, ISBN 3-929889-13-7 , p. 153.
- ↑ Mark Mazower : Inside Hitler's Greece. The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44. Yale University Press, New Haven CT et al. a. 1993, ISBN 0-300-06552-3 . P. 21.
- ^ Hermann Frank Meyer . Bloody Edelweiss: The 1st Mountain Division in World War II . Ch. Links Verlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-86153-447-1 , pp. 204, 464.