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Galatz


Greek community    EN

Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN

After 1829, favourable conditions caused the increase of the Greek emigration to the Romanian Principalities. The first major actors in Danubian grain trade were the Ionian Greeks under British protection, already powerful at the Danube since Turkish times. In 1831, 83 British subjects, mostly Ionians, were recorded in Galaţi, but the new commercial freedom instituted in 1829 acted as the catalyst for a further immigration[1]. In 1835 there were registered 184 Ionians in Galaţi, and two decades later, in April 1859 another census shows the evolution of the local Ionian community. There were recorded 237 British subjects, 190 of them Ionians, of whom 133 came from Cephalonia and 33 from Ithaca[2]. This trend continued, so that there were 4,196 Greeks recorded in 1890[3].

During the first about three decades after 1829, most of the prominent local Greeks were involved in grain trading and their contribution is decisive in securing the access of Danubian cereals to the world markets. Members or agents of influential Greek entrepreneurial families of mid 19th century, they had excellent connections in Mediterranean and western European ports[4]. Even stronger was their position in fluvial and maritime shipping along the Lower Danube.

Regarding the organisation of the local Greek communities, they were established in 1864. According to the charter of the Galaţi community, it aimed to preserve and promote Orthodox religious values, to provide education for the young generation, to found a philanthropic society for helping poor and suffering people, “all these for the social, cultural and moral progress of the Greek inhabitants”[5].

Church, school and philanthropic associations were the three pillars onto which the communities were based. The “Metamorphosis” church was founded in 1866 and consecrated in 1872. It acted as the centre of the religious and social life of the local Hellenic diaspora, and coordinated the confessional schools and charitable activities for the poorer members of the congregation.

Besides these confessional schools, several private institutions were also created at Galaţi. By mid 19th century sources mention in Galaţi the schools established by Coumbaris, Tetzis and Mitropoulos. The Veneris Institute was founded in 1857, a Greek Commercial Institute opened a year later, and a high school for girls was established in 1887 under the direction of Maria Volos[6]. These schools were highly popular on the local educational market, and the Veneris Institute was attended, during its first quarter–century of activity, by 4,358 pupils, among whom 2,743 Greeks, 693 Jews, 647 Romanians, 96 Bulgarians, 44 Germans, 36 French, 25 Serbians, 20 Armenians, 19 Russians, 14 Hungarians, 8 Englishmen, 7 Italians, 4 Bohemians and 2 Danish children[7].

The communities in the Danubian port–cities worked in close cooperation with the Greek consuls, who acted as mediators both with the Romanian authorities and the Fatherland. Greeks in Romania supported the national cause during the Cretan Revolt (1866–69) and the anti–Turkish war of 1895, and celebrated all national holidays and accomplishments. In the same time, they received the financial support of Greek patriotic associations, which assisted local schools, churches or cultural initiatives. Regarding their relations with local authorities, despite the political disputes between Romania and Greece in late 19th and early 20th century, they were generally good.

The community was chaired by the Community Committee and by the Community Council. The committee consisted of nine members, divided into three sections: the administrative section (chairman, vice-chairman, and cashier); the schools ephorate (three members) and the church administration (three members). The committee was elected for a 3-year mandate by the voting members. Entitled to vote and to be elected were all the members over 20 years of age who paid their annual fee regularly (more than five francs a year). The church clerks, servants and the professors hired by the community could not vote during the general assemblies. The Community Council was elected by the same general assembly and consisted of twelve members.

The charters of the Greek Community were drafted by an editing committee made up of: Periclie Akatos, Gheorghe Sfaelo, Gheorghe Hagiapostolis, H. Andruţo, H. Apostolides, Spiru Caliga, and K.M. Lambrinidis, after having them discussed, revised and approved during the general assembly gathered on 28 March and 11 April 1899, meetings held under the patronage of the Community Committee, represented by: Dr Spiru Caravia, Nicolaie Athanasulis, Ilie Latufis, and George Brotondos[8].

Picture 3.2.1.1_1 The Greek Church (about 1910)
Source: www.bvau.ro

Picture 3.2.1.1_2 The Greek Church (about 1906)
Source: www.bvau.ro

Picture 3.2.1.1_3 The Greek Church (about 1910)
Source: www.bvau.ro

Pictures 3.2.1.1_4 and 3.2.1.1_5 The Greek School (about 1906)
Source: www.bvau.ro

 


[1] More details in Paul Cernovodeanu, “L’activité des maisons de commerce et de négociants ioniens du Bas–Danube durant l’intervalle 1829–1853”, in Actes de IIe Colloque International d’Histoire, (Athens, s.e, 1985), vol. I, 91–105.

[2] The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, Foreign Office, FO 78 (Turkey), File 265, fols. 213–221 and file 644, fols. 580–594.

[3] Moise N. Pacu, Cartea judeţului Covurluiu. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice, (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891), 109.

[4] Details in Constantin Ardeleanu, “Aspecte cantitative şi calitative privind rolul economic al grecilor cu protecţie britanică din portul Galaţi în primii ani după Războiul Crimeii”, in vol. Minorităţile etnice în România în secolul al XIX-lea, edited by Venera Achim and Viorel Achim (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 2010), 27–38.

[5] Mariana Delia Pohrib, “Statutele comunităţii elene din Galaţi adoptate în anii 1899 şi 1924”, Danubius, 27 (2009), 127–148.

[6] Cornelia Papacostea–Danielopolu, Comunităţile greceşti din România în secolul al XIX-lea (Bucharest: Editura Omonia, 1996), 87–89; Paula Scalcău, Grecii din România, second edition (Bucharest: Editura Omonia, 2005), 238–239.

[7] Pacu, Cartea, 183–184.

[8] Pohrib, “Statutele”, 127–148.


References

Web sites:

Archival sources:

The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Public Record Office, Foreign Office, FO 78 (Turkey), File 265, fols. 213–221 and file 644, fols. 580–594.

Bibliography:

Ardeleanu, Constantin, “Aspecte cantitative şi calitative privind rolul economic al grecilor cu protecţie britanică din portul Galaţi în primii ani după Războiul Crimeii” [Quantitative and Qualitative Aspects Regarding the Economic Role of the Greeks with British Protection at Galaţi in the First Years after the Crimean War], in vol. Minorităţile etnice în România în secolul al XIX-lea [Ethnic Minorities in Romania in the 19th Century], edited by Venera Achim and Viorel Achim (Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, 2010), 27–38.

Cernovodeanu, Paul, “L’activité des maisons de commerce et de négociants ioniens du Bas–Danube durant l’intervalle 1829–1853”, in Actes de IIe Colloque International d’Histoire (Athens, s.e, 1985), vol. I, 91–105.

Pacu, Moise N., Cartea Judeţului Covurlui. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice [The Book of Covurlui County. Geographical, Historical and Mainly Statistical Notes] (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891).

Păltănea, Paul, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918 [The History of Galaţi from Its Beginnings to 1918], second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008).

Papacostea–Danielopolu, Cornelia, Comunităţile greceşti din România în secolul al XIX-lea [The Greek Communities in Romania in the 19th Century] (Bucharest: Editura Omonia, 1996).

Pohrib, Mariana Delia, “Statutele comunităţii elene din Galaţi adoptate în anii 1899 şi 1924” [The Statutes of the Greek Community from Galaţi Adopted in 1899 and 1924], Danubius, 27 (2009), 127–148.

Scalcău, Paula, Grecii din România [The Greeks from Romania], second edition (Bucharest: Editura Omonia, 2005).


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