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Culture History Ottoman Period Larissa

The north-western area of Larissa near the bridge of Pinios river. On the left, it is raised the mosque of Hasan Bey, and the minaret of Kirklar mosque. On the right, it is visible the Mevlevihane with the minaret of its mosque. (Wordsworth 1839)
(Photo: Archive of N. Papatheodorou)
Celebration of Theophany in Larissa before its liberation. On the bridge, swimmers are getting prepared to dive so as to catch the Holy Cross.
(Photo: Archive of V. Tsolakis)
Celebration of Theophany in Larissa, before its liberation, at Pinios river.
(Photo: Archive of V. Tsolakis)

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Archaic Era - Roman Period
Byzantine Larissa
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Later Ottoman Period II (1800 - 1881)

Theodoros Paliougkas

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In the beginning of 19th century, Larissa is «the most Ottoman city» southerly to Thessalonica. The decline of Ottoman Empire which was on progress; it was accelerated, at this period, by the political agitation that caused the extension of geographic jurisdiction of a certain power of Beys (=Bey is a Turkish title for "chieftain," traditionally applied to the leaders of small tribal groups)
One of them, Bey Ali of Ioannina, acquired the control of a big part of Thessaly, transforming a lot of free villages into his property. (1786); the expansive aspirations of Ali sunk Thessaly and, more specifically, the city of Larissa, in a long period of anarchy and insecurity.
One could say the same thing for the early 19th c. as one had said for the early 18th c. A series of adverse coincidences in the area of Larissa (natural disasters, epidemics, local wars, conflicts, international negative conditions, the dark shadow of Ali and his sons, especially Veli) accompanied the economic collapse of the companies of the mountain and semi-mountainous zone, sweeping along the economic activity of the town of Larissa. Agriculture and animal farming is called upon again to provide the daily bread and that is difficult.

The terrible epidemic of cholera 1813-1814 killed many souls in Larissa and villages close to it.
The revolution of 1821 also hit the region hard. Naturally, there was no word about revolutionary movements in other areas, except for Olympus. The intense concentration of turkish armies in town - a basic supply centre and starting point of the forces for Epirus or the southern areas of the Greek territory, stamped out any thoughts to the contrary. The requisition of grains for the needs of the Turkish army, brought starvation and costliness. The spirits of the Turks lifted after the fall of the family of Ali (1822), and they started behaving in the same way. Beheadings of citizens and priests, slave markets, plundering of churches and monasteries, using the church of Saint Achillios as a storehouse for gunpowder and weapons, are some indications of the new state of affairs.

At the 1839 when Tanzimat started to be applied sparingly, many christians used the relatively calm period to start forming properties of their own. The economy started to stir and the life of the town was gradually revitalised.

The Greek community of Larissa grew and became organised and didn't stay inside the boundaries of the old settlements where they usually lived. They penetrated the turkish settlements or spread to their fringes. Few Ottomans kept their large estates. The majority sold or rented them to Greeks, preferring to enjoy their profits far from Larissa, in Constantinople.
The second large uprising of the Thessalians in the 19th c., the Crimean war in 1854, affects the area of Larissa very little. However, the Great Powers intervened to force the Turkish Government to repeat with the Hati Houmagioun of 1856 the proclamations of the Tanzimat of 1839, but again the conditions remained unchanged.

Only during the time that Housni Pasha was in charge of Larissa, was there an attempt to regulate the relations with the tenant farmers, which was theoretically satisfactory, but was barely implemented. However, the conditions improved.

During the final years before the revolt of 1877-1878, it became noted that large estates (tsiflikia) were being bought from the Turks by Greeks of the diaspora, which were established in Constantinople or the Danubian hegemonies. It was the prelude to the rapid and rapacious acquisitions that took place in the period of 1880-1881 and later created the serious Uprising of the Farmers in Thessaly, which tormented the land almost to our days.

The revolt of 1877-1878 was the worse one in the Thessalian region. The presence of the Greek Consulate in Larissa and the Consulates of the Great Powers, didn't allow for arbitrariness in the urban centres. That rebellion, which was paid for with the blood of and during which many volunteers from free Greece died in the struggle for independence, failed in the military sector, but contributed to the promotion of Greece's assertion of rights in Epirus and Thessaly..

Finally, the concession of the larger part of Thessaly and the region of Arta to Greece, was signed in June 1880.

On 31 August 1881, Larissa welcomed the triumphant Greek army, and on 1st September 1881 the Turkish Occupation had ended; the people placed their hopes on a better future.

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

ΤΕΔΚ Νομού Λάρισας, Οδηγός Νομού Λάρισας, Λάρισα 1998