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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 31, 2019

Greek refugees and emigrants from former Bizantine Empire in the Kingdom of Poland in the context of the modern migration crisis in Europe

  • Michał Skoczyński EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Political Science


The The Ottoman Turks since the mid-fourteenth century led a gradual conquest of Anatolia and the Balkans. It’s symbolic culmination was the capture of Constantinople in 1453. In this way, a great population of Orthodox Greeks came under the rule of a Muslim sultan. Many of them decided to escape abroad to avoid robbery, rapes and captivity by the victorious forces. In the following years, when initially gentle policy towards the conquered community began to tighten, another wave of Greek migration emerged outside the Ottoman state. Subsequent groups fled from persecution after successive anti-Turkish uprisings. Of these refugees, the largest group settled in neighboring countries - Moldova, Wallachia and Hungary. People with greater financial or intellectual potential - philosophers, scholars, members of the social elite of the fallen Byzantine Empire - chose exile. They headed for Western culture centers, where they could continue their careers or seek support for their political plans. Merchants and craftsmen, who wanted to use their capital and skills at the crossroads of trade routes in the then Kingdom of Poland, which was in union with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, also constituted a larger group. Thanks to their unique handicraft skills and trade contacts in the south, many of these Greeks gained a strong position in the new environment. Some of them made a fortune and even obtained noble titles, though many of them lived modestly or even went bankrupt as a result of the actions of their Polish competitors and had to leave the country. The circumstances and effects of Greek migration leaving the Ottoman state show many similarities to the migration of the population during the modern migration crisis in Europe. An analysis of the events from half a thousand years ago may prove useful in building plans to solve the problem of refugees from the Middle East and to root and integrate migrant communities within the European Union.


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Received: 2019-12-09
Accepted: 2020-01-07
Published Online: 2019-12-31

© 2019 Michał Skoczyński, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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