Konstantinos Christou

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Konstantinos Christou (Capetan Kottas)

Konstantinos or "Kottas" Christou (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Χρήστου, Bulgarian/Macedonian: Константин Христов Саровски, Konstantin Hristov Sarovski, also known as Capetan Kottas) was an insurgent leader associated first with the pro-Bulgarian Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and later with pro-Greek irregular fighters during the Greek struggle for Macedonia. He was born in the village of Rulja (Greek Ρούλια / Roulia, Macedonian Slavic: Руља, now known as Kottas in Florina regional unit) in 1863. He was president of Roulia, from 1893 to 1896. He revolted against Ottomans, at 1898 and killed four local officers of the Ottoman Empire. Later, he was one of the first leaders of the Macedonian struggle.

Konstantinos Christou participated initially at the IMRO movement against the Ottoman Empire. When he realised that he was deceived and he ascertained for the real purposes of the Bulgarians (which directed the IMRO)[1] relatively to the Macedonians (Greeks), he diversified. The day that Marko Lerinski[2] ordered K. Christou to kill a Greek patriarchic priest, Konstantinos Christou decided to join the Greeks. That day, he loathed the Bulgarians and started to fight them.[3] He was sentenced to death by IMRO twice - both times for murders of IMRO members. He had been accused also with the pretence of theft. IMRO upended him twice, in order to murder him. Then he tried to communicate with bishop of Kastoria, Germanos Karavangelis, in order to organize the struggle against Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. His mission was to kill the IMRO leader Lazar Poptrajkov and other leaders, in order to protect the Greek civilians. Bishop funded his troop.[4] Gotse Delchev had repeatedly pardoned and vainly tried to reform, Kottas before he was finally outlawed by the IMRO, after which he had entered the service of the Greek Bishop. At the time of the Ilinden Rising, when all old wrongs were forgiven and forgotten in the name of the common struggle, Kottas, too, had been received back into the Organization, ironically enough, mainly thanks to the insistence of the same voivode — Lazar Poptrajkov. During the Rising, Poptrajkov had been wounded and had taken refuge with Kottas, who had then repaid the voivoda’s magnanimity by murdering him and presenting his head to the Greeks.[5] However the bishop was considered to be wary of him on account of his mother tongue, which was Slavic and his hatred to the Ottomans. His behavior towards the Ottomans was an obstruct to the Greek tactic, because many times, it was necessary to co-operate with the Ottoman officers against the Bulgarian enemy.[6]

However Kottas, was a veteran klepht. In reality, the klephts or hajduks were as much guerrilla fighters against the Ottoman rule, as they were bandits and highwaymen, who preyed also on local merchants and travellers. He kidnapped Petko Yanev, a Bulgarian recently returned from America, and tortured him and his family until he had extracted all the savings, which Yanev had brought. Yanev, however, complained vigorously to the vali, to Hilmi Pasha himself, and to the foreign consuls. The British consul pressed the vali to act, and eventually Captain Kottas, was arrested by the Ottomans.[7] He was executed by hanging in 1905 at At Pazar in Bitola. After his death, a lot of volunteers from free Greece came to Macedonia to participate in the struggle, beside the locals.[8] He has surviving descendants in Greece today. He believed in the co-operation between Greeks and Bulgarians against Turks. He used to say: "The difficult part is to kill the bear first, and then, it is easy to share the skin."

His last words before hanging, in his native Lower Prespa dialect, were "Zhivja Gritsja. Slovoda ili smrt!" ("Long Live Greece, Freedom or Death!").[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle in Macedonia 1897-1913 (Thessaloniki, 1966)
  2. ^ in Greek: Memoirs of Germanos Karavangelis, diligence by V. Laourdas, Institute of Studies of Peninsula of Aemos (ISPA) p.26 (1959)
  3. ^ "Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle in Macedonia 1897-1913 (Thessaloniki, 1966)
  4. ^ Massacre and Barbarism at Zagorichane from http://www.geocities.com/macedonian_world/[dead link]
  5. ^ For freedom and perfection. The Life of Yané Sandansky, Mercia MacDermott,(Journeyman, London, 1988), p 159.
  6. ^ "Newer history of Macedonia 1830-1912" K. Vakalopoulos, Thessaloniki"
  7. ^ For freedom and perfection. The Life of Yané Sandansky, Mercia MacDermott, (Journeyman, London, 1988), p 159- 160.
  8. ^ Memoirs of Georgios Christou Modis
  9. ^ "Newer history of Macedonia 1830-1912" K. Vakalopoulos, Thessaloniki"