Nationalists from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M) and her diaspora frequently promote the following excerpt from George Finlay’s “A History of the Greek Revolution” published in 1861:
According to G. Finlay in his ‘History of the Greek Revolution volume 1 – 1861: “The Albanian population occupies most of ancient Greece. Albanians now occupy all Attica and Megaris, Boetia and Locris. They occupy the whole of Corinthia and Argolis, extending themselves into the northern part of Ardadia and eastern Achaia…”
Their intent on using the above quote is to imply that the Greek ethno/national identity was manufactured in the 19th century in a region that was dominated by Albanians. In other words they use the above quote to support their theory that most Greeks have Albanian ancestors. Anyone who has read Finlay’s book surely knows that:
a) Finlay recorded significant Greek populations and
b) Finlay made absolutely no mention of any “Macedonian” ethnicity or nation even though he spent a significant amount of time in the region of “Macedonia”. Is it not amusing that the same nationalists who quote from Finlay and present him as a reliable source completely overlook the fact that Finlay did not record any “Macedonians” in the region where nationalists from F.Y.R.O.M claim that”ethnic Macedonians” dominated the demographics for centuries?
Lets examine Finlay’s passages in their context. If no significant Greek populations existed in the geographic region of modern Greece why would Finlay describe 6 Ottoman administrative regions, or Pashaliks, where Greeks formed the majority of the population?
Notice that Finlay, who documented his observations during the early-mid 19th century, made no mention of “Macedonians” in his population descriptions of Turkey’s European dominions! Also notice that Finlay states that Greeks formed the majority of the population in the Pashalik of Thessalonica, a region that nationalists from F.Y.R.O.M and her diaspora claim was populated in the majority by “ethnic Macedonians”! As a matter of fact, Finlay is quite explicit in his description of Greeks dominating the population of the Pashalik of Thessalonica:
Finally, in order to clarify Finlay’s position regarding the demographics of Albanians vs Greeks we have the following excerpt:
Hence Finlay estimated the number of Albanians in the Greek kingdom to be about 200,000. Recall, from the quote above, that Finlay estimated the number of Greeks in the region to be about 1 million!
This surely puts a pitchfork through the far fetched theory being promoted by radical nationalists from F.Y.R.O.M and her diaspora who use Finlay as supporting evdience to claim that:
a) hardly any Greeks existed during the early-mid 19th century and
b) Albanians formed the vast majority of the population in the region and as a result most modern Greeks have Albanian ancestors!
The excerpts from Finlay demolish these theories! To top it all off: George Finlay’s first hand accounts made no mention of any “Macedonian” nation or ethnicity! We might as well add Finlay to the vast number of sources that failed to record any “ethnic Macedonians” prior to the 20th century! Of course this is due to the fact that the “Macedonian” ethno/national identity is a late 19th century construct that was not affiliated to by any significant population until the 20th century!
BY CHRIS PHILIPOU
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