Macedonia

Macedonia was an ancient region between Thrace and Epirus. Central Macedonia is a large plain dominated by the city of Thessaloniki, with Serres and Philippi in the east and Kastoria, Berroia, Ohrid, and Prespa in the west. In the 4th century Macedonia was a province in the diocese of Moesia; by the time of the Notitia Dignitatum it was divided into Macedonia Salutaris and Macedonia II. This administrative structure was retained in the 6th century: Hierokles calls Thessaloniki the capital of Macedonia I and Stobi that of Macedonia II. Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos anachronistically described Macedonia I as an eparchia (under a consularis) containing 32 cities and Macedonia II (under a hegemon) as having eight cities. In the late 6th-7th century much of Macedonia was occupied by Slavs, resulting in Cultural bifurcation: Slavs controlled the countryside and upland regions while the Byzantines retained possession of most of the towns. Byzantine reconsolidation began in the 8th century. A new administrative unit, the theme of Macedonia, was created in 797-801. At the same time, a 9th-century seal of Leo, spatharios and tourmarches of Macedonia, shows that Macedonia was first a tourma of Thrace. In 813, however, the patrikios John Aplakes served as strategos of Macedonia. Several seals of various strategoi of Macedonia belong to the 9th century . The office of the strategos of Macedonia is mentioned in the earlier taktika but not in the Taktikon of the Escurial of 971-75; the theme of Macedonia was probably replaced by that of Larissa - at any rate, a strategos of "Larisa and Makaidonia" in 1006/7 founded a church in Tao. In Byzantine terminology of the 20th-12th century the name Macedonia was applied to Thrace: thus, Niketas Choniates calls Adrianople one of the richest and strongest poleis of Macedonia, and Basil I, born in Thrace, was founder of the "Macedonian" dynasty. A 13th- century historian lists Philippolis, Herakleia, Rhaidestos, and many other Thracian poleis as located in Macedonia. On the other hand, a 14th-century historian distinguishes Thrace from Macedonia, and Kantakouzenos sees Macedonia as a region that included Thessaloniki. After 1204 all of Macedonia fell under the control of Boniface of Montferrat, king of Thessaloniki. The area was invaded by Kalojan and conquered by Theodore Komnenos Doukas of Epiros in 1222, then by John III Vatatzes around 1242. The Chalkidike became a base for the Catalan Grand Companyin 1307-08 and much of Macedonia fell to Stefan Uroš IV Dušan around 1345. The Ottomans conquered Macedonia in the late 14th century, although some cities held out into the early 15th century.

The metropolitans of Macedonia were the bishops of Thessaloniki and Philippi; they were under the authority of the papacy until 732/3, afterward under that of Constantinople. Culturally, Macedonia formed a single unit, although the settlement of Slavs created some division, and the successive Bulgarian and Serbian states contested political control with Byzantine Thessaloniki dominated the south and Ohrid, from the 9th century, the north. Macedonia was the center from which Byzantine culture reached the Slavs of the Balkans. Both Thessaloniki and Ohrid developed cultural forms of their own, and one may speak of distinctly Macedonian styles of architecture and painting, although these were always strongly influenced by Constantinople and individual styles developed in many rural parts of Macedonia.

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Cities of Macedonia 

Thessaloniki
Ohrid
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Ohrid.jpg

Late Antique Macedonia in Tabula Peutingeriana

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Strumica Fortress, Bulgaria

Photo by Тиверополник

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Rentina Castle

Photo by Kostas Chaidemenos

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Platamon Castle

Photo by Haneburger

Sources

Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans 900-1204 by Paul Stephenson

Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium edited by Alexander Kazhdan

Resources

Thessaloniki Album (Byzantine Legacy Flickr) 

Ohrid Album (Byzantine Legacy Flickr)

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Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016