Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Papasynadinos: The Chronicle of Serres

Orta Carsi street in Ottoman-occupied Serres
The Chronicle of Serres was written by the priest Synadinos (Papasynadinos / Παπασυναδινός) who lived in Serres, a city of Macedonia, in Northern Greece, during the first half of 17th century. We know very few things about Papasynadinos. He was born in the village Melenikitsi, ten kilometers north of Serres, where he settled in 1615. He became a priest in 1622 and he started to write his chronicle in 1642,when he sought refuge in his village due to the deadly plague that had hit the whole Ottoman empire since 1641. We do not know the exact date of his death, but it was for sure not prior to 1646, since his name is mentioned in a document of the monastery of St John the Baptist near Serres dating from that year. 
The chronicle covers the years 1598-1642 and it resembles the Byzantine chronicles. It is written in the vernacular Greek of the era. Papasynadinos uses many Turkish loanwords that were in the vernacular of the regional dialect of Serres at that time and many dialectical peculiarities as well. It’s considered as a source of valuable informations for the life of the enslaved Greeks during the Ottoman time, their relations with the Ottomans and all the oppresion and acts of violence they suffered by the later. We can find also informations for the function of the institutions of the local self-government in Greece under Ottoman rule and the organization of the Orthodox church. The author uses the Byzantine calendar that was introduced by the Sixth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople and numbers the years from the beginning of the world (date of creation) or 5508 BC. The chronicle was discovered by Spyridon Lambros in the monastery of Koutloumousion in Mt. Athos in the last years of 19th century.
papasyn20 The chronicle of Serres
A copied page from Papasynadinos’ original manuscript
which is kept today in the Athonite monastery of Koutloumousion
It starts with a (lament) for the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans, a very popular topic for Greek folk poetry in the first years of post-Byzantine era.Some scholars doubt whether Papasynadinos was the real author of this ,due to the many differences between it and the main text of the chronicle.There is also a close morphological affinity between this and the one that wrote in 1618 the bishop of Myres (in Asia Minor) Mathaeus (it was published in 1672).
We can see in this that the ethnic names and were used interchangeably by Papasynadinos(or the real author) while the Greeks never applied the name to the other Christian nations of the Balkans:
papasyn1 1 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn2 The chronicle of Serres
papasynfroncov The chronicle of Serres
The chronicle has also been studied by Turkish historians,since it is a good first hand account of the Ottoman administration in the Balkans.The pages below are from by Fikret Adanır and Suraiya Faroqhi,2002:
papasyn196 The chronicle of Serres
The Turks applied the ethnic name (Roman-Byzantine) only to Greeks.
papasyn198 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn199 The chronicle of Serres
And here we see that the Greeks never called the Bulgarians, Serbs and other Christian nations of the Balkans,instead they had their own ethnic names. Below is the Greek text:
papasyn17 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn18 The chronicle of Serres
Some other pages of the chronicle:
A Greek named Patrulas was burnt alive due to the false accusation of a Turk whom he had saved from death in Romania some years ago:
papasyn3 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn4 The chronicle of Serres
The execution of another Greek, Manolis Bostantzoglis,  by impaling is described below. 
The Turks offered him the option to save his life if he converted to Islam but he refused.
papasyn5 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn6 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn7 The chronicle of Serres
A forceful conversion to Islam:

papasyn8 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn9 The chronicle of Serres
Another Greek murdered by a Turk:
papasyn10 The chronicle of Serres
The infamous (the recruiting of Christian children as Janissaries) :
papasyn11 The chronicle of Serres
A Greek was hanged due to false accusations:
papasyn12 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn13 The chronicle of Serres
Another Greek, Alexandrts Tatarchanis, was hanged refusing to convert to Islam to save himself:
papasyn14 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn15 The chronicle of Serres
The term Macedonia was not unknown to the Greeks of Macedonia at that time: 
"...Macedonia, Thessaly and Bulgaria..."
papasyn16 The chronicle of Serres
papasyn19 The chronicle of Serres
It’s also remarkable that Papasynadinos’ native village was in early 20th century 
Slavophone as some other villages in the vicinity that are mentioned in his 
chronicle. It seems that at Papasynadinos time the inhabitants were still 
Hellenophones,since he mentions the Greek surnames of their inhabitants, like 
Skarlatos, Dimos and furthermore some of them were accomodated in the 
regional Greek dialect, like Gerakoudis, Mavroudis. So the question is when and how 
these people lost their Greek language.

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