Institutions and Ideology in Greek Society (15th-19th cent.)
The programme aims to study the history of that great part of Greek society which, after the fall of Byzantium (1453), continued to live as part of the Ottoman Empire. Out of this broad research field, two subjects have been chosen for systematic study:
a) The Patriarchate of Constantinople (PC), which was re-established within the framework of the Ottoman State just a few months after the fall of Constantinople. This institution is considered not only as an ecclesiastical organisation, but also as a ruling institution of the society of Orthodox Christians; under the new political circumstances, the PC became the regulating factor between the Muslim government authority and the Christian subjects.
b) The stratification and ideology of Greek society, especially during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; the multiplicity of relations between the Orthodox Christian people and the PC – the institution within the administrative framework of which they lived during the four centuries of the conquest – permitted the emergence of new ideologies among ascending social groups.
The study of the first research subject reveals the course of a ruling institution and at the same time a transmitter of ideology – as was the function of the PC in Greek society under Turkish occupation – over a long period, from the first half of the fifteenth century until the nineteenth. We also examine the ecclesiastical administration at the periphery, namely the Orthodox Christian East, where the social and economic relations among the Christians were regulated or influenced by the PC as well.
The second research subject enables us to examine and assess the way in which the issues of society crossed paths with the direction of the institution, through a ‘stratigraphic’ section of this society. Moreover, we seek to track down the ‘new’ ideas that emerged in Christian society under Ottoman rule and the factors that led to their emergence.
This broad programme, described above in general, consists of the following individual research projects:
The Institution of the Patriarchate of Constantinople
a) The registration of patriarchal acts
The scope of this wide-ranging research programme is to track down, register and document in an electronic database all the patriarchal acts, namely all the official documents containing decisions of the patriarch and the Holy Synod which were issued by the Secretariat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate upon request of individuals or collective entities (such as monasteries, churches, bishoprics, etc.). Patriarchal acts that are known to have been issued, but their text has not been preserved, will also be recorded, in an effort to render the database even more complete.
Covering the long period of Ottoman domination, this project continues the multi-volume scholarly work Les Regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople, written by the French Assompsionists on the patriarchal acts of the Byzantine period. Other than the creation of a reliable and rich database (where more than 7000 patriarchal acts have already been recorded), namely of an invaluable serial source, we intend to use this data in order to study the multiple aspects of Neohellenic society, such as its communication with the PC on matters of everyday life, the people who staffed the various services of the Patriarchate, the function of the monasteries, the ecclesiastical contributions and taxes, the succession to various ecclesiastical dignities, etc.
b) The judicial and ideological functions of the institution
Apart from the pivotal role assigned by the ruling Ottoman power to the upper rank of the ecclesiastical administration, during the Post-Byzantine period the PC held onto the judicial duties that had been executed by the Church from the Byzantine era onwards. It was allowed to decide and decree upon a variety of issues that emerged among Christians, that is, all civil law matters. Therefore, the study of Post-Byzantine law is irrevocably linked to the knowledge of the several aspects of the way in which the institution of the PC functioned. Some of the immediate goals of the project are to study and edit the official and private Post-Byzantine canon law collections, which were in use by the PC. In parallel, the project plans to include a compilation and register of minor, unknown sources of Post-Byzantine law.
c) The individuals
This project aims to record the ruling institutions of Christian society under Ottoman rule, mainly the PC, as already mentioned. On the other hand, the scope of the project encompasses the compilation of data concerning the people (the Phanariots) who either staffed the ranks of the institution or influenced decisively the relations between the Christians and the two authorities, the PC and the Ottoman Porte, as they often had access to both of these powers. The eventual aim is to present the administrative framework of the institution and the people who served terms of office for the PC (patriarchs, bishops, archbishops, lay officials and exarchs), given that the existing registers are often insufficient and inaccurate.
The Ecclesiastical Institutions at the Periphery
Panagiotis D. Michailaris, Research Director, Supervisor
Researchers: Machi Paizi-Apostolopoulou, Research Director Emeritus
Dimitris G. Apostolopoulos, Research Director Emeritus
Youli Evangelou, Research Collaborator
a) Ecclesiastical organisation and financial life
This project aims to examine the correlation between the development and change of ecclesiastical administrative divisions (bishoprics, archbishoprics, etc.) and the respective demographic and financial situation of each province. The mechanism of succession of bishops and archbishops created the need for big sums of money. They were commissioned with the task of collecting ecclesiastical income and contributions and depositing a part of it with the Patriarchate, so as to assist the patriarch in bringing in to the imperial treasury all regular and extra taxes. However, overburdened as they were by multiple obligations, they were forced to borrow money in the same way as the Patriarchate did. Usually, the lenders were well-off Christians (tradesmen, tax farmers, archbishops, etc.), Muslims and Jews. The ineptness, on the behalf of the archbishops, in fulfilling their financial obligations was frequent, a fact that aggravated the Patriarchate’s vicious circle of leveraging. This led the patriarchs to impose penalties on the inconsistent archbishops, so as to force them to comply with depositing the owed sums of money. However, such a system created a network of mutual dependence, which, in its turn, paved the way for the evolution of certain individuals to possess economic might. At the same time, this situation overburdened the Christian populations through the imposition of ecclesiastical contributions.
In parallel, we aim to study the issues that emerge from the fact that the population of certain ecclesiastical provinces occasionally decreased for demographic reasons (immigration, Islamisation, etc.). This population decrease led to the formation of new ecclesiastical administrative provinces possessing henceforth new financial obligations and new staff.
Furthermore and in the same context, we plan to examine the interference of powerful regional governors (for instance, Ali Pasha of Ioannina) and their role in the internal function of the local ecclesiastical administration: not only were they able to control and influence the people who were in charge of the ecclesiastical provinces, but they also often played an active role in local events and the careers of individuals.
Finally, this research project also includes the examination of the economic function of the ecclesiastical administration, as demonstrated in a series of financial accounts which provide evidence of the relations between the ecclesiastical dignitaries and the Christian laity within their respective provinces (marriages, christenings, issues of civil law, excommunications, etc.).
b) The monastic foundations and their relations with Christian societies
This project aims to study the framework of relations through which there developed a mutual influence between the monastic foundations and the local Christian – sometimes heterodox – societies. In particular, we study the foundation or the restoration of a monastery as a result of the bequest of donors (founders or restorers) and the dependence that originated from the relation between the monastery and the founder, as well as his descendants. More specifically we intend to study: the source of the financial means required for the completion of the foundation; the institutional relations between the monasteries and the PC (stavropegial [patriarchal], parochial, exarchies); the tense atmosphere among the metropolitans, bishops, archbishops, etc., and the stavropegial monastic properties of their province, which did not belong to their jurisdiction; and the function of a monastery and its economic relations with the local Christians (types of employment, donations, leases of monastic property, monastic investments, expenses, debts, loans, landed property, etc).
ΙΙΙ. Exterior Programme
Dimitris G. Apostolopoulos, Research Director Emeritus, Supervisor
Researchers: Panagiotis D. Michailaris, Research Director
Machi Paizi-Apostolopoulou, Research Director Emeritus
Youli Evangelou, Research Collaborator
The Archives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople
The research conducted within the framework of the research programme ‘Institutions and Ideologies in Greek Society, 15th-19th cent.’ at the Institute for Neohellenic Research had come to the conclusion that there is no evidence from the first 150 years after the fall of Constantinople preserved in the Archives of the PC other than one document and eight manuscript folios. These texts were studied and published in 2002, in the scholarly work Aφιερώματα και δωρεές τον 16ο αι. στη M. Eκκλησία. Θεσμικές όψεις της ευσέβειας [Dedications and donations to the Great Church during the sixteenth century: aspects of reverence] (Athens, INR / NHRF).
Nevertheless, the following question remained unanswered: how would it be possible to study the history of the PC and the society of Christians who lived under Ottoman rule from the mid-fifteenth century until the late sixteenth without archival material? The preliminary work done by the ‘Institutions and Ideologies in Greek Society’ programme was an invaluable starting point but, due to economic reasons, there was no possibility either for further research in archives and libraries in Greece and abroad, nor for the publication of evidence which could substitute for whatever had been ‘removed’ from the Patriarchal Archives. However, in the spring of 2003, the Ministry of Culture accepted our proposal to finance a research programme aiming to reconstruct the lost Archives of the PC, as well as to study the history of the society of Orthodox Christians after the fall of Constantinople, for whom the PC did not only constitute the highest ecclesiastical institution, but was also a ruling instrument and a transmitter of ideology.
In the meantime and despite further funding issues – a fact that forced us to seek the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as other sources of financial support (the J. F. Costopoulos Foundation, the Bodossaki Foundation, the Ourani Foundation etc.) – we succeeded in our efforts and published books with great academic impact in this area of research.
Our first important achievement was the restitution of the ‘Nomimon of the Great Church’, an official law compilation which was constituted in the Patriarchate in 1564. Parts of this valuable historical testimony, which was officially used for at least 30 years at the PC, were tracked down in Samos, Paris and Athens. The first volume of our publication, which comprises a historical introduction and facsimiles of the ‘Nomimon’, appeared in 2008; the second volume was published two years later, in 2010, and includes the transcription of the text of this precious manuscript, as well as the philological identity of its contents. The ‘Nomimon’ constitutes a valuable text which enables historical research to study the judicial framework of the society of Christians under Ottoman rule; it offers a primary source; and it supplies specialists of the History of Law with an official law compilation formed in the sixteenth century.
Furthermore, the recent edition of the official acts that the PC issued in the second half of the fifteenth century, Επίσημα κείμενα του Πατριαρχείου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. Τα σωζόμενα από την περίοδο 1454-1498 [Official acts of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: the preserved material dating from the period 1454-1498] (Athens, INR/ NHRF, 2011), offers new historical testimony concerning the central administrative institution of the Orthodox Church during a poorly known period, testimony that has not been preserved in the Archives of the PC but was instead tracked down in archives and libraries in Greece and abroad.
All our research is being conducted, pursuant to an agreement, at the Institute for Neohellenic Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, in collaboration with the INR’s ‘Institutions and Ideologies in Greek Society’ programme.
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Mάχη Παΐζη–Αποστολοπούλου, Έλληνες λόγιοι του 18ου αιώνα, αφανείς, άσημοι και διάσημοι, σε διασταυρούμενες τροχιές, Αθήνα 2007.
Δ. Γ. Αποστολόπουλος, Το Νόμιμον της Μεγάλης Εκκλησίας, 1564-ci. 1593. Τόμος Α΄. Το ιστορικό περίγραμμα. Τα πανομοιότυπα, Αθήνα 2008.
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Δ. Γ. Αποστολόπουλος, Mάχη Παΐζη–Αποστολοπούλου, Οι πράξεις του Πατριαρχείου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. Επιτομή – Παράδοση – Σχολιασμός, Ι. 1454-1498, Αθήνα 2013.
Γιούλη Ευαγγέλου, Σταυροπήγια και εξαρχίες σε σχέση αλληλεξάρτησης. Η περίπτωση της μονής Θεοτόκου Γηρομερίου (16ος-19ος αι.) (υπό έκδοση).
Dimitris G. Apostolopoulos
2011: «Offikion» of «Great Chartophylax», Patriarchate of Constantinople
1992: Arliotis Award, Academy of Athens
1989: Academy of Athens Award
1983: Aronis Award, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Panagiotis D. Michailaris
2010: Dionysios Kokkinos Award, Academy of Athens
1994: K. Th. Dimaras Award, Gnosi Editions
1996: Academy of Athens Award
1994: Aronis Award, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
The following report appeared in print in 2000; it was updated and posted online in 2004; its most recent version comprises new references up to September 2014.