THRAKI (Ancient country) BALKANS
Thrace, as a geographicalerm, does not coincide with one particular perople, since it was not inhabited solely by Thracians in antiquity. The Thracians had migrated to Southeastern Europe after the Greeks, after the middle of the second millenium B.C. and in particular in the 12th century B.C. At the same time, Thracian tribes settled in Asia Minor, especially in Bithynia and the Troad. Thracian tribes inhabited Central Macedonia until the founding of the kingdom of Macedonia by the Temenids (early 7th century B.C.), at which time they were forced to move eastwards. In the end, the Thracian tribes were resitricted mainly to the northeastern area of the Balkans. From the 7th century B.C. Greek colonies were founded on the Thracian seashores by colonists from the islands of the Eastern Aegean and the Ionian city-states of Asia Minor, a fact which led to more intense mutual influence between the Greeks and Thracians throughout the historical period.
In the Classical Period, the great kingdom of the Odrysians, which covered at its height the area from the Strymon River to the Black Sea and from the Aegean to the Danube, was created. The Odrysian kings were subjugated in 342 B.C. by the Macedonians, and after the fall of the kingdom of Macedonia in 168 B.C., became subject to the Romans. In 47 B.C. the kingdom of the Odrysians was terminated and Thrace became established as a Roman province. During the Hellenistic and Roman tribes, the diaspora of the Thracian tribes due to movement elsewhere and service in the Roman army produced the final disappearance of the Thracians and their ethnic and cultural assimilation. After the hellenization of the main area of Thrace, the romanization of its northern areas followed. The subsequent spreading of Christianity contributed to the full integration of these populations into the Greco-Roman world.
Many settlements from the Neolithic Age still exist. In this age, however, the settlements are fewer but with a greater concentration of population. Houses are rectangular, with arches. At the end of the Late Bronze Age, migrations of the Thracian tribes and their settlement in ancient Thrace begin. Important sites from the Late Bronze Age: 1. The Acropolis of Kremasto Erganis 2. Agios Georgios Maroneias 3. The Mourgana Plateau at Neohori Stavroupolis
Early Iron Age (1050-7th Century B.C.)
About 100 sites from this period are known. Both mountain and plain settlements have been located. Important sites of this period: 1. Rizia, Province of Evros, near the Ardas River 2. Tsouka Sarakinis, Province of Rodopi 3. Vryhos at Samothrace Town. 4. Tombs and cemeteries in the areas of Roussa, Goniko, Kotronia, and Koila of Evros Province. 5. Outdoor temples, cliff drawings, carved rock tombs, and rocks with conch carvings.
Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Periods
In the 7th century B.C. the Greek colonies of the Thracian coasts were founded by Greeks from the islands of the Eastern aegean and from the Ionian city-states of Northern Greece. Between the mouth of the Nestos River and the Abdera, Dikaia, Strymi, Maroneia, Orthagoria, Mesimvria-Zoni, Drys, and Sali were founded. On the Western coast of the Black Sea the Milesians founded Apollonia, Odessos, Tomi, and Kallati, while the Megarians founded Mesimvria. Significant archeological sites are Abdera, where parts of the fortifications and cemeteries of the Archaic and Classical town have been revealed, as well parts of houses, the acropolis, the theater, and the cemeteries of the Classical and Hellenistic town; Maroneia, where the fortifications, the acropolis, the theater, temples, and houses have been found; Samothrace, where a series of buildings used for the Mysteries of the Great Gods has been excavated; and also Dikaia, Strymi, Kalyva in Xanthi Province, Mesimvria, and Sali.
Thrace becomes a Roman province in 46 B.C., with Perinthos as its capital. The Greek city-states of Thrace kept the status of free cities. Until the age of Diocletian (279 A.D.) the Romans maintain the political organization of the Greeks and the Greek administrative system. During the Roman period, urbanization of Thrace, following the model of the Greek city-states, is conducted. The villages and towns of Thrace were organized in a common federal system. In this period, Traianopolis, Plotinopolis (now Didymotiho) and Adrianople are founded.
The spread of Christianity and the foundation of Constantinople as
a new capital form key points in the history of Thrace. The emperors fill the
area with forts and fortify the towns again. Anastasioupoli is founded. Byzantine
towns are founded on the sitesof ancient ones (Abdera-Polystilo, Anastasioupoli-Peritheorio,
Maximanoupoli, Mosynoupoli). With the seizure of Constantinople by the Latins
the large cities go into decline and smaller centers such as Koumoutzina, Vira,
and Didymotiho develop. In the 14th century Xantheia and Gratsianou are at their
height. An important group of monasteries which is at its height from the 11th
to the 14th century is Mount Papikion.
Sites worth mentioning where monuments from the Early Christian and Byzantine periods are conserved or have been uncovered are the following: Topeiros, Abdera-Polystilo, Poroi, Anastasioupoli-Peritheorio, Byzantine Maroneia, Makri, Xantheia, Gratsianou, Paterma in Rodopi, Mosynoupoli, Traianoupoli, Feres with the church of Panagia Kosmosoteira (Our Lady the Savior of the World), Didymotiho, the center of the West bank of the Evros River, and the Castle of Pythio.
1348: First Ottoman invasion of Thrace.
1354: Capture of Kallipoli and beginning of the settlement of Thrace by Ottoman Turks
1361/2: Capture of Adrianople and Didymoteiho. Adrianople becomes the second capital of the Sultans after Prousa.
1363-1365: Capture of Komotini (Koumoutzina) and Philippopolis.
1385-1386: Capture of Xanthi.
Early 15th century: Settlement of Yuruki and other Turkic tribes in Thrace. Beginning of mass conversions to Islam of the Christian population.
1453-1456: The last towns and villages in Propontis, on the Black Sea, and on the Aegean are taken (Agios Stefanos, Epivates, Silyvria, Iraklia, Mideia, Agathoupoli, Sozopoli, Pyrgos, Anhialos, Mesimvria, Varna, Ainos).
15th-16th century: Deterioration of living conditions of Christians. Taxes multiply. Extensive kidnapping of children. Exile and movement of Christian populations toward mountain regions. Greek population uprooted from towns, resulting in their abrupt demographic stagnation and the alteration of their ethnic composition. Settlement of Moslems. Extension of the phenomenon of mass conversions to Islam. Destruction of churches and monasteries. Many martyrdoms. Thrace is integrated administratively within the Vilayet of Rumelia. The main administrative and military centers are Kallipoli, Adrianople, and Philippopolis. Also Vizyi, Saranda Ekklisies, Tyroloi, and Tsirmen.
17th-18th century: Recovery of the Greek subjects of Thrace. The region becomes a pole of attraction and place of settlement for concentrated Greek populations from the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, and Macedonia. Community and labor organization of the Greeks is established and developed. The main Thracian urban centers grow in population and economically. Besides Adrianople, Kallipoli, and Philippopolis, also Iraklia, Raidestos, Ainos, Silyvria, and Tyroloi. Later on, Komotini and Xanthi. Greek merchants from Thrace reach Russia, Egypt, and India. Beginnings of modern Greek education. The first Greek schools are founded at Philippopolis, Anhialos, Adrianople, Ainos, Kallipoli, Xanthi, Madytos, Epivates, Raidestos,Tyroloi, and Myriofyto.
Early 19th century: Expansion of the Greek education network and cultural-national reawakening of the Greeks of Thrace. Initiation of many Thracians into the Filiki Etaireia (Society of Friends) from the towns of Philippopolis, Adrianople, Anhialos, Ainos, Sozopoli, Varna, and Stenimahos.
1821: Thracian participation in the Sacred Battalion of Alexandros Ypsilantis. General participation of Thracians in the Greek War of Independence of 1821, both in Southern Greece and in local uprisings ( based in the towns of Stenimahos, Alexandroupoli, Soufli, Malgara, Sozopoli, Anhialos, Mesimvria, Makri, Samothrace, Maroneia, Kessani, and Ainos). Violent suppression of local uprisings, murders of leading citizens and bishops. The best-known fighters of this period are Captain Hatzi-Antonios Visvizis and his wife Domna Visvizi, from Ainos.
Mid-19th century: Persecution of Greeks in rural areas through taxation, banditry, and intensification of forced conversions to Islam. In contrast, economic, social, and cultural development among Greeks in urban centers. At the same time, beginning of Greek-Bulgarian competition, at first in a church context, and later, over education. Takeovers of Greek schools and churches by Bulgarians, mainly in Northern Thrace.
1870: Founding of Autocephalous Bulgarian Church-Exarchy and consolidation of Bulgarian nationalism. Intensification of Greek-Bulgarian nationalist competition and secession of 17 provinces of Northern Thrace from the Patriarchate.
1878-79: After the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, signature of the Treaty of Berlin and foundation of the Autonomous Region of Eastern Rumelia: the first division of united Thrace through the separation of the northern part.
1885: Northern Thrace is definitively integrated into the Bulgarian state by arbitrary annexation. Efforts of assimilation of the Greek element (about 80,000) and persecutions until 1906 and the appearance of the great anti-Greek movement. (Suppression of communities and education. First exodus of Greeks) Also persecution of Greeks during the Second Balkan War and First World War (Suppression of Greek church. Second exodus of Greeks). Signing of Treaty of Neuilly (November 1919) and voluntary population exchange agreement between Greece and Bulgaria (Third exodus of Greek population).
Late 19th century-early 20th: Strong resistance of Greeks of Southern Thrace to Bulgarian propaganda, usually through schools (416 Greek schools with 32,210 students) and associations, and later through armed revolutionary organization ("Pan-Hellenic Organization", 1908, based in Adrianople). Terrorist activity by the Bulgarian guerrilla units of IMRO in Thrace. Social, economic, and demographic prevalence of the Greek element over the Bulgarian (of the 1,030,000 inhabitants of the Vilayet of Adrianople, 365,000 are Greeks and 110,000 Bulgarians).
1908: Young Turks uprising. Two Greek deputies from Thrace in the Ottoman Parliament. Settlement of Moslem refugees from Bosnia in Thrace and violence against Christian populations.
1912-1913: During the Balkan Wars Bulgarian persecutions and Turkish reprisals against the Greek populations.
July 1913: Liberation of Xanthi, Komotini, and Alexandroupoli by the Greek army.
28-07-1913: Treaty of Bucharest. New division of Thrace: Western Thrace (between Nestos and Evros Rivers) is ceded to Bulgaria; Eastern Thrace stays in Turkey. Bulgarian violence in the western region and mass exit of Greeks from there.
1914-1919: Economic, religious, and nationalistic persecution by Young Turks against Greek population of Eastern Thrace. Terrorism by armed Turkish guerrilla units and displacement of entire villages to the interior of Anatolia (about 150,000 people).
1919 Treaty of Neuilly: Allied administration of Western Thrace.
1920-1922: The Treaty of Sevres (August 1920) transfers Eastern and Western Thrace to Greece. Greek administration in Thrace, division into 6 provinces, and reorganization of political, economic, judicial, and health services.
1923: Unsuccessful result of Asia Minor Campaign in 1922 and signing in 1923 of Treaty of Lausanne. Evacuation of Eastern Thrace by the Greek army, administrative authorities, and the Greek population.
1920-1924: Population of Western Thrace by Greek refugees from Eastern Thrace, Asia Minor, Bulgaria, the Caucasus, and Armenia.
1941-1944: Bulgarian occupation of the greater part of Thrace during the Second World War (except for one zone of Evros Province which is under German occupation). Formation of the General Governorship of the Aegean with its capital at Xanthi. Replacement of political, administrative, judicial, economic, police, church, and educational authorities. Policy of persecution of the Greek element and settlement of Bulgarians in the region.
Today: 350,000 inhabitants of Thrace, of which 70% are Christian and 30% Moslem. Most of the latter are in the provinces of Rodopi and Xanthi.
This text is cited Sep 2002 from the Ministry of Macedonia Thrace URL below.
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