Tsouflia School, Gevgeli

Black-and-white photograph showing the ‘Tsouflia School’ at Gevgeli, one of the many schools founded with funds donated by expatriate Greeks, communities,or wealthy individuals, 1850-1913, Athens, Gennadeios Library.

From the surviving Greek community regulations (for Thessaloniki, Monastir, Veroia, Kavala, Edessa, Krousovo, etc.), which were worked out within the framework of the reforms of 1856 (Hatt-i-Humayun), it becomes obvious that the standardization of administrative authority was largely responsible for bringing lay people (rather than clergy) into public affairs; in other words, it helped to make community administration relatively democratic.

This development, in combination with the extension of privileges of self-government during the 1890s and the healthy state of the economy, which the Greek business class was quick to exploit, determined the outcome of the Greek-Bulgarian rivalry over Macedonia.

In fact, what ultimately defeated the Exarchate was the social and economic resurgence of Hellenism that emerged through the founding of hundreds of Greek schools (more than 1000 circa 1900) and other charitable institutions.

It was natural that the identification of social order with the interests of Hellenism after 1870 (when the Bulgarian Exarchate was founded) would lend a nationalistic tinge to the community differences that already existed and thus disrupt the unifying character, which the Ottoman reforms had had initially.


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