Basil G. Gounaris




In early summer 1992 a lavish monograph was published in Skopje
entitled Macedonia on old Maps. In the first chapter of the book, which is
called ‘A History without a Geography,’ Ilija Petrushevski states that:
These maps present the undeniable historical and
scientific facts about the distinctness of the
Macedonian nation, which differs from its neighbours not only by its territory, which has always
belonged to it, but also by its language, folklore,
traditions and all the other elements of significance in ethnic differentiation.” Petrushevski’s attempt to support the existence of a nation by stressing its
connection with an age-old ethnic core is not a new task in Balkan historiography, nor is it the first time that the testimony of old maps is being
employed to serve such a cause.

It has been stated that the advent of the European Enlightenment in .
the Ottoman Balkans involved a rather slow procedure. Describing,
however, pre-independence nationalist feelings of the Balkan peoples,
especially the situation in the hinterland of the peninsula (Macedonia
included), is a demanding exercise, which far exceeds the purpose of this
paper. In brief, modem Greek nationalism emerged in the 18th century
and was affected by western ideas, but its actual roots lay in protonationalist phenomena noticed in 13th century Byzantium. Under Ottoman
rule these feelings were only partly preserved through the institutions of
the millet system. The folk of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was the Rumi-imillet, with a population which, in addition to the Greek-speakers, included
large numbers of Slav-, Vlach-^and other non-Greek-speaking Orthodox
subjects of the Sultan. In the 18th century a Greek-speaking mercantile elite
started to split from the political and religious leadership of the
Constantinople Patriarchate and to develop secular Hellenic nationalist


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