THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ARMATOLES (Gr. ἀρματωλός, a man-at-arms), the name given to some Greeks who discharged certain military and police functions under the Turkish government. When the Turks under Sultan Mahommed II. conquered Greece in the 15th century, many of the Greeks fled into the mountainous districts of Macedonia and northern Greece, and maintained a harassing warfare with the conquerors of their country. These men were called Klephts (modern Gr. κλέφτης, ancient κλέπτης, a thief, a brigand), and during the 16th century the Turkish pashas came to terms with some of them, and these men were allowed to retain their local customs, and were confirmed in the possession of certain districts, while in return they undertook some duties, such as the custody of the highroads. Those who accepted these terms were called armatoles, and the districts in which they lived armatoliks. Strengthened by a considerable number of Christian Albanians, they rendered good service in defending Greece, and to some extent repressed the ravages of the Klephts; but their power and independence were disliked by the Turks. After the peace of Belgrade in 1739 (between Austria and Turkey), the Turkish government sought to weaken the position of the armatoles. Their privileges were restricted, Mahommedan Albanians were introduced into the armatoliks, and towards the end of the 18th century their numbers were seriously reduced. Irritated by this policy the armatoles rendered considerable service to Ali Pasha of Iannina in his struggle with the Turks in 1820-22, and afforded valuable assistance to their countrymen during the Greek war of independence in 1830.
Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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