Kottas Christou (Greek: Κώττας Χρήστου) or Kote Hristov (Bulgarian/Macedonian: Коте Христов), known simply as Kottas or Kote,[1][2] and often referred to as Konstantinos Christou (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Χρήστου), was a Slavophone revolutionary chieftain in Western Macedonia during the Macedonian Struggle.

Kottas Christou
Kote Hristov
A portrait of Kottas.
Native name
Коте Христов
Nickname(s)Kote (Коте)
Kottas (Κώττας)
Bornc. 1863
Roulia, Monastir Vilayet, Ottoman Empire (now Kottas, Florina Greece)
Diedc. 1905 (aged 42)
Monastir, Monastir Vilayet, Ottoman Empire (now Bitola, Republic of North Macedonia)
  • IMRO (1899–1900)
  • HMC (1900–1905)
Years of service1898–1905
  • Korestia band (1898–99)
  • Kostur band (1900)
  • Karavangelis' band (1900–05)
Battles/warsIlinden Uprising
Macedonian Struggle Executed
Spouse(s)Zoi Sfektou

Kottas was born in the village of Roulia (Greek Ρούλια, Bulgarian/Macedonian Руля/Руља), in 1863, and was elder of Roulia from 1893 to 1896. He began anti-Ottoman rebel activity in 1898, killing four local Ottoman officers. He was first associated with the pro-Bulgarian Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO). Afterwards he became associated with the pro-Greek irregular Hellenic Macedonian Committee.[3] He was captured by the Ottomans, convicted of robbery and hanged in Monastir in 1905.[4]

Background Edit

His seal, in Greek, while member of the IMRO (1900). The slogan "Eleftheria i Thanatos (Freedom or Death), was the central slogan of Greek War of Independence.

Though a Slavophone, who only spoke Bulgarian, Kottas had a Greek identity.[5][6][7][8] He was initially a member of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) movement, but he felt deceived after he realized the real purposes of the Bulgarian-directed IMRO.[3] However, according to the resident of Kastoria Georgi Raykov, Kotas was the initiator of his co-villagers renouncing the Greek Patriarchate and recognizing the Bulgarian Exarchate. Also, according to Raykov, Kotas attempted to kill the Greek Metropolitan Philaret, but the bishop found out and avoided the ambush.[9]

Conflicts Edit

Kottas was sentenced to death by IMRO twice for murders of their members. The IMRO also accused him under the pretense of theft. Kottas developed ties with the Greek bishop of Kastoria, Germanos Karavangelis, in order to organize his struggle against the IMRO. His mission was to kill IMRO leader (voivode) Lazar Poptraykov and other leaders in order to protect Greek civilians. Karavangelis funded his troops.[10] Gotse Delchev had repeatedly pardoned and vainly tried to reform Kottas before he was finally outlawed by the IMRO, after entering the service of the Greek bishop. At the time of the Ilinden Uprising (1903), when all old wrongs were forgiven in the name of the common struggle, Kottas was received back by the IMRO at the insistence of Lazar Poptraykov, the same voivode he set out to kill. During the uprising, Poptraykov had been wounded and taken refuge with Kottas, who used the opportunity to kill him and present his head to the Greeks.[11] The Greek bishop was wary of him because of his native Slavic tongue and hatred of Turks. His behavior toward the Ottomans was an obstruction to the Greek tactic, as it was often necessary to cooperate with the Ottoman officers against the Bulgarian enemy (IMRO).[12]

Kottas, a veteran klepht, kidnapped Petko Yanev, a Bulgarian seasonal worker recently returned from America, and tortured him and his family until he had extracted all the savings Yanev had brought. However, Yanev complained vigorously to the vali Hilmi Pasha himself, and to foreign consuls. The British consul pressed Hilmi Pasha to act, and eventually, Kottas was arrested by the Ottomans.[13]

He was executed by hanging in 1905 in Monastir. His last words before hanging, said in his native Lower Prespa dialect, were "Long live Greece!"[14][4] The loss of Kottas was detrimental to the Greek movement.[15] After his death, many volunteers from free Greece came to Macedonia to participate in the struggle, in addition to the locals.[16]

Legacy Edit

The Kottas Museum.

Kottas was married to Zoi Christou (née Sfektou), and together they had 8 children; Sofia Christou, Dimitrios Christou, Sotirios Christou, Vasiliki Christou, Christos Christou, Lazaros Christou, Paschalini Christou and Evangelos Christou.

Kottas still has surviving descendants in Greece.

The village he was born, now in the Florina regional unit, has been renamed Kottas in his honour.

There is a bust of him in the village of his birth.

There is a street named after him in Kastoria.

He is memorialized in the Captain Kottas Museum, which was built at the site of his birth.[17]

Kottas is known for saying, "The difficult part is to kill the bear first, and then, it is easy to share the skin."[citation needed]

He is revered as a national hero in Greece,[18] and considered a Bulgarophone Greek[19][20][21][5] and the first fighter in the Greek Struggle for Macedonia,[2] while he is considered a predatory warlord by Slavic Macedonians[18] and a renegade Grecoman in Bulgaria.[22][23] Kottas' objectives are not easily identifiable by contemporary historians. It seems that his chief goal was the rejection of Ottoman rule.[18] From the beginnings of his insurgent action, without having a Greek or Bulgarian consciousness, he had formed the outlook of a Christian chieftain antagonizing Ottoman rule, whom IMRO was forced to coopt. After his distancing from the IMRO and the Exarchists -when they turned against other Christians-, his accession to the patriarchist camp and his recruitment in the Greek cause, his stance was characterized by fluidity, as he maintained relations with his former comrades, balancing between the two camps, but constantly opposed to Ottoman rule, contrary to Karavangelis.[24]

Gallery Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ For a list of the various forms of his name in Slavic and in Greek, see Κωστόπουλος, Τάσος (2008). Η απαγορευμένη γλώσσα: Κρατική καταστολή των σλαβικών διαλέκτων στην ελληνική Μακεδονία. Athens: Βιβλιόραμα. p. 148.
  2. ^ a b Kostopoulos, Tasos (2009). "Naming the Other: From "Greek Bulgarians" to "Local Macedonians"". In Ioannidou, Alexandra; Voss, Christian (eds.). Spotlights on Russian and Balkan Slavic Cultural History. Studies on Language and Culture in Central and Eastern Europe. Vol. 4. Muenchen/Berlin: Otto Sagner. p. 102., Βούρη, Σοφία. Οικοτροφεία και υποτροφίες στη Μακεδονία (1903-1913): τεκμήρια ιστορίας. Athens: Gutenberg. pp. 192, 196.
  3. ^ a b "Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle in Macedonia 1897-1913 (Thessaloniki, 1966)
  4. ^ a b "Καπετάν Κώττας. Σκότωσε τον Τούρκο Νουρή μπέη και τον εισπράκτορα Ταχήρ. Πρωταγωνίστησε στον Μακεδονικό Αγώνα, τον έπιασαν με προδοσία και κλώτσησε μόνος του το υποπόδιο της κρεμάλας". ΜΗΧΑΝΗ ΤΟΥ ΧΡΟΝΟΥ (in Greek). 2018-02-18. Retrieved 2021-12-02.
  5. ^ a b Stelios Nestor (1962). "Greek Macedonia and the Convention of Neuilly (1919)". Balkan Studies. 3 (1): 178. many leaders who fought and fell in the field defending the Greek cause, though they did not speak but Bulgarian. Such leaders were: Capetan Kottas from Roulia [...]
  6. ^ "«Είμαι Έλληνας, άπιστοι...»". Macedonia (newspaper) (in Greek). Retrieved 2021-12-02.
  7. ^ David Ricks; Michael Trapp (8 April 2014). Dialogos: Hellenic Studies Review. Routledge. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-317-79178-2. Archived from the original on 16 December 2017.
  8. ^ Paulos Tzermias (1994). Die Identitätssuche des neuen Griechentums: eine Studie zur Nationalfrage mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Makedonienproblems. Universitätsverlag. p. 81. ISBN 978-3-7278-0925-5. Archived from the original on 2017-12-16.
  9. ^ Райков, Георги. „Битие на българския народ в Македония при царуването на Турция до отстъпването ѝ от Македония и изтезание на българския народ от гърците и сърбите“. – В: „Борбите в Македония – Спомени на отец Герасим, Георги Райков, Дельо Марковски, Илия Докторов, Васил Драгомиров“. София, Звезди, 2005. ISBN 954-9514-56-0 с. 22.
  10. ^ Massacre and Barbarism at Zagorichane from http://www.geocities.com/macedonian_world/ Archived 2009-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ For freedom and perfection. The Life of Yané Sandansky, Mercia MacDermott,(Journeyman, London, 1988), p 159
  12. ^ "Newer history of Macedonia 1830-1912" K. Vakalopoulos, Thessaloniki"
  13. ^ For freedom and perfection. The Life of Yané Sandansky, Mercia MacDermott, (Journeyman, London, 1988), p 159- 160 Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Dakin, Douglas (1966). The Greek Struggle in Macedonia, 1897-1913. Thessaloniki: Ίδρυμα Μελετών Χερσονήσου του Αίμου/Institute for Balkan Studies. p. 183.
  15. ^ Vakalopoulos & Vakalopoulos 1988, p. 215.
  16. ^ Memoirs of Georgios Christou Modis
  17. ^ "Μουσείο Μακεδονικού Αγώνα Καπετάν Κώττα". Museum Finder | Ανακαλύψτε τα Μουσεία της Ελλάδας (in Greek). Retrieved 2021-12-02.
  18. ^ a b c Koliopoulos, John S.; Veremis, Thanos (2002). Greece: The Modern Sequel: From 1831 to the Present. London: Hurst & Co. p. 240.
  19. ^ Ricks & Trapp 2014, p. 61 "And there are many others (including the famous Kapetan Kottas: see the footnote on p. 321), who are Bulgarophone yet 'genuine Greek patriots' (p. 295) and 'Greeks in their soul' (p. 364)".
  20. ^ Douphlias 1992, p. 157 "Κι ο Κώττας αποκρίθηκε με μοναδική ηρεμία. 'Είμαι Έλληνας κι έζησα με την περηφάνια της μεγάλης φυλής μου πάντα'."
  21. ^ Modes 2004, p. 44 "Ο καπετάν Κώττας ( Κώττας Χρήστου ) γεννήθηκε το 1863 στο χωριό Ρούλια της Φλώρινας. [...] Ήταν ο πιο προβεβλημένος Έλληνας σλαβόφωνος αντάρτης".
  22. ^ Пелтеков, Александър Г. Революционни дейци от Македония и Одринско. Второ допълнено издание. София, Орбел, 2014. ISBN 9789544961022 . с. 236.
  23. ^ Георгиев, Величко, Стайко Трифонов. История на българите 1878-1944 в документи. Т. I. 1878 - 1912. Част II. София, Просвета, 1994. ISBN 954-01-0558-7. с. 276–277.
  24. ^ Ανδρέου, Αντρέας (2002). Κώττας (1863-1905). Αθήνα: Λιβάνης. pp. 173–4, 85–7..

Sources Edit