“Macedonia’s” Historic Borders – misconceptions

 

An excellent article by Chris Philipou which deserves further attention.

Nationalists from The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia along with their diaspora cohorts constantly advertise maps which depict what they claim is “historic Macedonia”. There are numerous examples of such maps posted in all sorts of nationalist “Macedonian” websites and forums.

This is an example of such a map:
unitedmak Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Notice the legend in the map above which defines the “historic borders”, and notice that these borders encompass territory that belongs to Greece and Bulgaria.

So, how “historic” are these borders? Nationalists from The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia along with their diaspora cohorts will allege that “Macedonia” has been defined with such boundaries for dozens of centuries. This is, afterall, what they have been led to believe by their own state sponsored institutions including the education system in F.Y.R.O.M. The following map, taken from a F.Y.R.O.M school text book, illustrates how Macedonia was defined and populated circa the period of the Slavic Migrations (6th-7th century AD):
example2 Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Taken from: Grade 7 History, Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Skopje 1992, page 155 

In reality, these boundaries as well as the notion of a “Macedonian” ethnicity were unknown at the time (circa 7th century AD)! The implication of this misinformation and propaganda is that we now have a whole generation of people in F.Y.R.O.M believing that “Macedonia” existed as an ethno/social entity defined by borders that have remained roughly the same for millenia! From this they conclude that Greece and Bulgaria are occupying territory that rightfully belongs to a “Macedonian” nation. In reality a consensus on their definition of “Macedonia” was only established in the 19th century. Even academics from Skopje concede this fact in their publication “Macedonia and its Relations With Greece” published in 1993:

 

scholars2 Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

scholars3 Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

So much for “Historic Boundaries”!! Unless of course 100+ years, in the context of Balkan history, is supposed to be “historic”!

The geographic region of Macedonia has never belonged to a “Macedonian” nation or ethnos, has never been part of a “Macedonian” state and the geographic descriptor “Macedonian” did not have any ethnic signficance until certain Balkan states manufactured and promoted a “Macedonian” identity in the late 19th century. As a matter of fact, prior to the 19th century there were a vast number of depictions of Macedonia produced that did not even include most of the geography that F.Y.R.O.M is located on today:

Example 1: 1747 DG. De L’Isle. Nova et accurata Regni Hungariae Tabula, ad usum Serenissimi Burgundiae Ducis.

map1747 Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Notice how “Macedoine” is depicted as part of the geography of “Grece”

macedoine greece Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Example 2: 1651 – A depiction of “GRAECIA” (Greece) by the cartographer J. Janssonius.
This depiction of Macedonia hardly coincides with the version being peddled by FYROM’s institutions today:

gracia1651 Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Example 3: During the Byzantine period “Macedonia” was defined as an administrative province called a ‘Theme’. The following map depicts the contemporary Byzantine themes including theme of Macedonia. F.Y.R.O.M’s current geography is located in what was the Byzantine theme of BULGARIA

byzantiumthemes10258hb Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Example 4: Ptolemaic Map produced in 1480. Notice that the depiction of Macedonia hardly coincides with the current geography of F.Y.R.O.M

PtolemaicMap1480 Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Example 5: G. Mercator. Macedonia and Epirus 1609. The depiction of Macedonia barely overlaps the current geography of F.Y.R.O.M.
GMercatorMacedoniaEpirvisetAchaiaDu Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Example 6: Macedonia Alexandri M. Patria – Janssonius à Waesberghe ,ca. 1684. Notice that the depiction of Macedonia barely touches the current geography of F.Y.R.O.M:

macedonia17thcent Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Example 7: Macedonia, Epirus et Achaia. – Blaeu ,1659-72. Notice that the depiction of Macedonia barely overlaps the current geography of F.Y.R.O.M.

MacedoniaEpirusAchaia1659 Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

Example 8: Nova Totius GRAECIAE descriptio – Mercator-Hondius-Jansson ,ca. 1633. Notice that the depiction of Macedonia not only barely overlaps the current geography of F.Y.R.O.M, the geography of Macedonia is also depicted within the cartographer’s contemporary definition of ‘Greece’.

GreeceMercatorHondiusJansson1633 Macedonias Historic Borders   misconceptions

As usual, claims from official F.Y.R.O.M sources have no basis in fact or reality. Macedonia surely did not have static boundaries for centuries on end. As shown above, even academics from Skopje concede that the modern geographic definition of “Macedonia”, as espoused by nationalists from F.Y.R.O.M, was established during the 19th century. Prior to the 19th century most of F.Y.R.O.M’s current geography, including the region encompassing Skopje, was not included in a vast number of depictions of Macedonia that were produced by European cartographers. This is why the name NEW Macedonia would be an accurate and appropriate name for the new Balkan state. In light of the fact that the “Macedonian” ethno/national identity is a 19th century construct the name “New Macedonia” would be the best compromise for the name dispute involving Greece and F.Y.R.O.M.

By Chris Philipou

Related posts:

Want more of this? See these Posts:

  1. The Evolution of FYROMian Historiography
  2. Worldwide PanMacedonian Associations Letter to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)
  3. Twisting the words of Finlay
  4. FYROM’s national MYTH and Eugene Borza
  5. Irredentism from FYROM’s Diaspora meets no borders
Comments
Arlean Marinkovic says:

Hey this is a tremendous blog, would you consider being a invitee author on my web log?