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Aktualitet

How many Albanians lived in Athens two centuries ago? The record of a Frenchman who angers the Greeks

How many Albanians lived in Athens two centuries ago? The record of a Frenchman

An article in the Greek newspaper 'Protothema' entitled "Athens of 1850: Albanians, Poles, Maltese, arsonists and others...", quotes a French journalist as having said that Athens was partly inhabited by Albanians at that time.

"One of the foreigners who visited Greece a few years after its liberation was the French writer, academic and journalist Edmond Abou (Edmond Francois Valentin About, 1828-1885). He came to our country as a scholarship holder of the French School and settled in Athens. He stayed in Greece until 1854. He traveled all over our small country at that time, and returning to Paris, published in 1855 his work 'Otto's Greece', provoking a storm of reaction.

In 1856 he published his novel 'King of the Mountains', which also caused a sensation. At the same time he started writing articles for the newspaper Le Figaro. He then took over the management of Shek newspaper.

And "1/4 of the population of Greece in the middle of the 19th century were Albanians," writes Abou.

In chapter two of his book, Abou writes as follows: "Albanians make up about a quarter of the country's population. They are a hardy and hardy race, as well fitted for agriculture as the Greeks are for commerce. The Albanians are a settled population, while the Vlachs are nomads and breeders, working and feeding the Greeks.

They are not looking for work and have no ambition to sit in an office. Every evening at sunset you meet around Athens caravans of entire Albanians returning with their wives from work in the fields. "Almost all of them live on the slopes of the Acropolis, in the same area where the Pelasgians used to live."

But the Greeks do not agree with the French and his description.

"Of course, reading this particular excerpt from Abou's book got us thinking. So we asked for more data on the population of Greece at that time", writes Protothema and continues:

"Is it possible that within two years, 1852-1854, Abou, with the means and conditions of the time, traveled to all countries and made a count of Albanians? Maybe it was impossible. Therefore his reference that ¼ of the population are Albanians is wrong. But who were the Albanians of Abou? Obviously, these are the Arvanites since the areas where they lived, according to Abou, were Attica, Hydra and Arcadia".