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Chapter 1 Socio-Historical Considerations 1. “Macedonia” as Ethnic, Political, and Geographical Term The Balkan region bounded by Epirus, Thessaly, and Thrace on the southwest, south and east has since ancient times had the name “Macedonia”. 1.1. The first Macedonian kingdom, formed around 640 B.C., covered the area of the river Aliakmon (Bistrica) and the lower reaches of the river Axion (Vardar);1 its capital was Vergina, which at the time was a port on the Aegean Sea (cf. Hammond 1970: 63). In the time of King Philip II, who ruled in the period 359–36 B.C., the Macedonian kingdom spread over an area which bordered on the mountains Olympus, Kambunia, and Pindus to the south, the mountain Boion (Gramos) and Lake Lychnitis (Ohrid) to the west, the river Erigon (Crna) and the Iron Gate straits on the river Axion (Vardar) to the north, and the river Nestos (Mesta) to the east. Towards the end of his rule, Philip II acquired the lands to the west of Lake Lychnitis and to the east of the river Nestos, but the newly acquired lands have been treated as annexes to his kingdom (cf. Andriotes 1960: 144), which can be referred to as “Classical Macedonia ”. Philip’s son Alexander the Great conquered not only most of the Balkans but also a great portion of southwest Asia and created the Empire of Macedonia, thus replacing the ethnic reference of the name “Macedonia”2 with a political one. 1.2. In the second century B.C., the Roman conquerors gave the name “Macedonia ” to one of their first provinces in the Balkans. In the subsequent centuries the borders of this province varied, stretching from the Adriatic Sea (to which they referred as “Macedonian”) to the western borders of Classical Macedonia and from the eastern borders of the latter to the Black Sea.3 1 The Anciet Macendonians were most probably a blend of various ethnic groups, the substratum of which was Thraco-Phrygian (cf. Petruševski 1969: 33; Koledarov 1985: 12). Three thousand years ago, these groups inhabited the region around the upper reaches of the river Aliakmon, from where they spread eastwards. 2 The word “Macedonia” can be analyzed into the root maced-, the suffix -on—signalling ethnicity, and the suffix -ia—signalling territory. 3 For a substantial period of time, this province encompassed even the whole of Epirus and Thessaly, as well as northern and central Peloponnesus, i.e., most of present-day Greece. 4 A GRAMMAR OF MACEDONIAN 1.3. Around 800 A.D., when the Roman administrative system of provinces was substituted by the Byzantine system of themes, the name “Macedonia” was given to a Thracian theme with Adrianopolis (Edrene) as its capital,4 the traditional Macedonian territory constituting a separate theme, the theme of Thessaloniki (cf. Koledarov 1885: 17–25; Andriotes 1960: 147). Thus, in Byzantine times5 the name “Macedonia” was neither an ethnic nor a political term—it referred to an administrative unit. 1.4. When in the seventh century A.D. the Slavs settled in the Balkans, the Ancient Macedonians had been Hellenized, had transformed into citizens of the Eastern Roman Empire, and were referred to as “Romeians”.6 If they lived around Thessaloniki , in the Byzantine theme of Thessaly, or, fleeing from the Slavs and Bulgars,7 had migrated to the theme of Macedonia, in the southeastern part of the Balkan peninsula, they intermingled with Armenians, Assyrians, and other Asians, with whom the Byzantine rulers had populated the theme to help fight off the Slavs and Bulgars. If they stayed in their traditional area, they blended with the Slavic population, which all over the Balkans had formed their principalities, referred to as “sklavins”. 1.5. From the beginning of the seventh century the area which was traditionally designated as “Macedonia” began to be referred to as “the region of the sklavins”, or “Sklavinia” (cf. Niederle 1923). However, the autonomy of the sklavins was gradually reduced and by the end of the eleventh century the name “Sklavinia” became vacuous and disappeared. The southernmost sklavins—the ones that had settled in Ellada— were hellenized. The eastern sklavins either joined the Bulgarian state or were conquered by it. The Bursjaks, who had settled around the lakes of Ohrid and Prespa, during the last quarter of the tenth century and the first fourteen years of the eleventh (976–1014) were part of the kingdom of Samuel—the only mediaeval Slavic kingdom formed in the heart of Ancient Macedonia...


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