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Culture History Ottoman Period Larissa

On left we can see the mosque of Hassan Bey; on right we can see the Mevlevihane with its mosque’s minaret. Nomads cross the bridge. Engraving at the beginnings of 19th century, S. Pomardi (Dodwell 1819)
(Photo: Archive of N. Papatheodorou)
Street in Larissa. Engraving of 19th century (published at 1851), unknown artist
(Photo: Archive of N. Papatheodorou)

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07/11/2008
Early Ottoman Period (14th century - 16th century A.D.)

Theodoros Paliougkas

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The penetration of the Ottoman Turks into Larissa was completed in three phases, first, under sultan Moyrat Ι, Gazi Evrenos Bey and Hayreddin Pasa the year 788 A.D. (in the Hijri calendar at 1386/7)

A second series of invasions took place under Evrenos Bey during 1392/3, and under sultan Bayazit Ι at 1389-1402.
Turks completed their conquest from 1423 onwards, under Gazi Turhan Bey, general of sultan Murat II and governor of Thessaly for many years with Trikala as his seat.

In the following years, the locals that had fled to the mountains, developed cells of resistance and the life of the Christians in the towns became very difficult, due to the various taxes and restrictions imposed on them. However, systematic penetration of the countryside was also effected by the settlement of populations that came from Asia Minor, especially in settlements on the plain which had been deserted in the previous period and so, the koniarohoria were born.

The largest part of the land was distributed to officers of various ranks, who collected the taxes on behalf of the sultan, on condition that they maintain a small group of fighters, who were in charge of the security of the castles. In amongst these landowners (estate owners), there were also many Christians in the 15th c., a percentage of 17%, who seem to have come to an agreement with the conquerors, to keep their property. Of course, many Greeks - especially the more affluent ones - migrated during the period of occupation, while others fled to the mountain regions of Thessaly, explaining the small Christian population in the towns and the plain.

Thanks to the systematic Turkish recordings of the population, which is gradually being published in recent years, the oldest one being that of 1454, we are able to gather important data about the life of the population in those years.

So we know that in 1454, Larissa for example, had 367 Turkish families that lived in 11 quarters and only 83 Christian ones in one quarter, that we assume to have been the one of Frourio, because Larissa was named at that time Geni Sehir (= new town), due to the new town that the Turks created outside the fortress (frourio), when they found the previous population severely decimated. The increase of the population and economic rebound is apparent during the whole 16th c., a state that starts changing from the 17th c., when the arbitrariness of the administration starts increasing.

The Turks were mostly occupied with small industry and trading. They also developed intense building activities in the towns, resulting in the complete change of their appearance, with the tens of mosques and charitable institutions that usually had many attached shops from the takings of which they supported inns, baths, markets, powder magazines, few of which have survived to date.

As far as the Church is concerned, it is a known fact that the Turks recognised the Patriarchate right after the Fall of Constantinople and through that, the Ecclesiastical authorities, to which they granted independence and special administrative authorities over the Christians. They also largely recognised the property of the Church. On the other hand, a general prohibition to establish new ecclesiastical institutions was in force and the restoration of the old ones required special licenses from the relevant magistracies, that weren't always forthcoming. As for the region of the present-day Prefecture of Larissa, although the existence of a large monastery is not recorded in the 15th c. turkish census - that is how we assume that the large monastic cluster of Kelia on Kissavos must have been deserted - there are 8 large monasteries recorded in the 16th c. in the area between Stomio and Skiti, only 3 of which have survived to our days. The largest of those were the Monastery of Agios Dimitrios at Stomio and the Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas at Agia, which owned significant estates. The same is known about the Monastery of Olymbiotissa at Elassona.

In general, by examining the data gleaned from the monuments and the inscriptions, it is again confirmed that the state noted during this period all over the Balkans, that is, the significant restorative activities in the 16th c. compared to the immediately previous period, is continued in the 17th c., especially the first part of it. The fact that many of the monuments haven't survived to our days, is partly to be blamed on the successive restorations of the places of worship and also the unrest of the 18th and 19th c.


References in Greek language:
Παλιούγκας Θεόδωρος, Η Λάρισα κατά την Τουρκοκρατία (1423-1881), Τόμος A' . Κατερίνη: Εκδόσεις Μάτι, 2007.

ΤΕΔΚ Νομού Λάρισας, Οδηγός Νομού Λάρισας, Λάρισα 1998