Who The Macedonians Are

By Sir Arthur J. Evans

A distinguished English archeologist and ethnographer, and a well known authority on the Balkans, Sir Arthur J. Evans was one of the persons chosen by the London Balkan Committee as a member of the British Relief Mission charged with the task of visiting Macedonia after the Great Insurrection of 1903, to distribute aid to the victims of Turkish soldiery called out from Asia to crush the insurrection.

Sir Evans is an author and well known authority on the Balkans. Among many other works, Sir Evans is the author of the important book, The Adriatic Slavs and the Overland Route to Constantinople. The letter below, which deals with the Macedonian question, appeared in the London Times, on September 30, 1903. All italics are editor's. Sir Evans writes:

"Sir: As one who had the exceptional opportunities for studying the Macedonian problem from the inside, I may perhaps be permitted to point out some of the most essential conditions of the present) situation. I have traversed Macedonia at different times in almost every direction - from the Aegean side, from Albania, from the Kossovo vilayet, from Servia, and from the Bulgarian Principality. I have spent months there engaged in archaeological researches in the most out of the way districts, and though my main objects were scientific and not political, I had perhaps all the better opportunity for forming an unbiased judgment on the condition of the country. Nor, perhaps, do these impressions lose in value from the fact that they were formed before the beginning of the actual insurrectionary movement. "

  • No Macedonians, but Bulgars:



    "Let me begin by correcting an almost universal fallacy. There are no 'Macedonians'. There are Bulgars. There are Roumans - the relics of the Latin speaking provincials of Rome's Illyrian provinces, who still hold their own in the Pindus range and in the neighbouring towns. There are Greeks, including more or less superficially Hellenized Roumans. There are 'Turks', including Mohammedan Bulgarians, and some true Turkish villages in the Vardar valley representing a settlement earlier than the Ottoman conquest. There is an infusion of Skipetars or Albanians on the western and northern fringe. Finally, there is the large Spanish Jew population in Salonika. But there are no 'Macedonians'."

  • The Greek claim to Macedonia a dream:



    "It is an unpleasant duty to have to tell one's friends home truths, but the Greek claim to Macedonia, at least as regards the greater part of the interior of the country, is a dream. In some of the towns there is a fair Greek population, but even in that case, as in Monastir, for example, the statistics rest on an artificial basis. The truth is that a large number of those described as Greeks are really Roumans. Till within recent years Hellenism found a fertile field for propaganda among the representatives of the gifted Romance speaking race of the Pindus region. Today Janina has quite forgotten its Rouman origin, and has become a center of Hellenism. Athens, the nearest civilized center, offered natural attractions to the quick-witted mercantile element in the towns. But, for good or evil, the tide has turned. A counter propaganda, of which Bukarest is the center, has made itself felt, and the Rouman civic element east of Pindus is probably lost to Hellenisrn notwithstanding the fact that much money is expended by Greek committees in the endeavor to gain recruits for Greek nationality. Parents are actually paid to send their children to the Greek schools."

  • What the " Bulgarophone Greeks " are:



    "One of the most comic results of this competitive ethnography was a map published some years ago under Athenian auspices and circulated in this country. According to this Macedonia was, for practical purposes, divided into two elements - the Greek and the 'Bulgaroplrone Greeks' - as if some Celtic enthusiast should divide Britain between the Welsh and the 'Anglophone Welsh!' Macedonia, indeed, is full of artificial distinctions, the true lines of ethnic demarcation being continually crossed by classifications founded on religious adherence (for the time being) to the Greek Patriarch or to the Bulgarian Exarch. A Bulgar village may, for political purposes, be bribed or coerced into accepting allegiance to orthodox Greek ecclesiastical superiors. Its inhabitants are then complacently described by those who effected their spiritual transfer (which 'spiritually' means nothing) as the hope of Hellas. But these artificial annexations do not go very far. The language of the villagers remains Bulgar, and the deep underlying instincts of race are only held in ternporary suspense. The friends of Greece can only regret that she should be misled by such artificial pretensions; that she should grasp the shadow and lose the substance whiclh might have been found in an understanding, on a reasonable basis of give and take, with her Slavonic neighbours. The late M. Tricoupis to my personal knowledge, saw things much more clearly. He was well aware that, except a narrow fringe to the south and some sporadic centers of no great magnitude in the interior of the province, the Greek element had no real hold on Macedonia. His chief anxiety, for which he had solid grounds, came, indeed, from that direction, but not from the Bulgarian quarter. That cool political observer would certainly never refrained from qualifying, as did the present Greek Premier, an exceptionally industrious and peaceful population who, for fifteen centuries, have been tillers of the Macedonian soil, and only now owing to indescribable oppression have been goaded into revolt, as 'Bulgarian wolves', apparently recent intruders into a Greek fold! The brigands of Pindus and Olympus have been rarely recruited from the Bulgar element. I myself was once dogged for nearly ten days by a brigand band along the Pindus horder, but they were not Bulgars."

    "The fact is that even in this country - largely owing to interested efforts to disguise the true situation of the great preponderance of the Bulgar element in Macedonia is only imperfectly realized. I can only say, as my personal experience after exploring almost the whole interior of the province, that outside the fringe already referred to, and some small urban centers, practically the whole mass of the population is Slavonic, speaking characteristically Bulgarian dialects. The Bulgarian traits, such as the placing of the article after the word, extend even to the Uskub region, sometimes claimed by the Serbs, whose real speech only begins north of the Shar range. Where, as in certain small towns as Kastoria, the Greek element was in a majority, it was far outweighed by the populous Bulgar villages around. This great preponderance of the Bulgar element is a fundamental factor in the present situation, which has been much obscured by statistics drawn from Greek sources. It is liable to be very imperfectly realized by foreigners and even by Consuls whose experience with Macedonia has been mainly confined to towns like Salonica or Monastir."

    Extent of The Bulgarian Speaking Districts

    By W. Martin Leake

    Some glimpses into the true ethnic character of Macedonia may be gathered from the work of Mr. William Martin-Leake who had spent a considerable time in the Balkans, and Greece in particular, with scientific mission. As a classic scholar and one devoted to scientific investigation in Greece proper, his views, though tinged with Grekophil tendencies, are based on facts. This passage reveals a good deal to the preponderance of the Bulgarian element in South Macedonia. The following quotation is from Martin Leake's book, Researches in Greece, London, 1814, p. 375.

    "The most southern districts of Greece, where the Bulgarian language is in common use, are: on the west side of Macedonia, some villages in the vicinity of Koritza, and on the eastern hills bordering the great plains of Thessalonica, Pella, and Edessa. The former district is insulated among Greece and Albania, but the latter may be considered as the Southern extremity of the modern Bulgarian dialect, extending from thence with scarcely any interruption through all the Northern part of Macedonia proper, as well as its acquired provinces of Peonia, Pelagonia, etc., and from thence throughout the whole of Moesia, and the interior of Thrace, as far as the Danube, and the neighborhood of Constantinople. All the great towns in Macedonia, however, and even some entire districts in the southern part of this province, are occupied chiefly by Turks, who have displaced both Greeks and Bulgarians, and have colonized in this and the neighboring province of Thessaly in greater force than in any other part of Greece ".