The conference on the theme ‘Mount Athos in the 15th and 16th Centuries’, which was held in November 2011, examined the period when Athos and its external possessions gradually passed from Byzantine to Ottoman rule, leading to a multidimensional crisis and a series of reverses and adjustments (15th century). This period was soon followed, from the early years of the 16th century, by a period of renewal and prosperity. The conference provided answers to crucial questions, such as the nature and extent of the 15th-century crisis, the mechanisms for adjustment to the reality of Ottoman rule, the continuities and breaks in the institutions (administrative and financial) and the extent of the revival in the 16th century, together with its different aspects and the factors that brought it about.
The theme of ‘Mount Athos in the 15th and 16th Centuries’ was dealt with both in the 35 papers presented at the conference itself and the special studies that were produced and included in the bilingual catalogue for the exhibition on the same theme that was organised and presented in the exhibition spaces of the Mount Athos Center.
The great changes that took place in the 15th century after the conquest of Macedonia and the imposition of Ottoman rule, the drastic decrease in resources brought about by the confiscation of metochia and taxation, together with the pillaging, pirate raids and earthquakes, resulted in one of the worst periods in the long history of the Holy Mountain.
Nevertheless, the Athonite community survived, either by adapting to the new circumstances through making changes to its internal mode of operation or, above all, by maintaining its spiritual standards at an exceptionally high level, together with its monastic tradition and heritage. In this manner, it survived into the 16th century, when the situation became more stable and Mount Athos received the attention and protection of patriarchs, hierarchs and the rulers of Moldavia and Orthodox Russia, enabling it to enter a new period of spiritual renewal and material reconstruction, with a revival in arts and literature – a period in which the Cretan School with Theophanes and Tzortzes left magnificent works in the katholika and refectories of Athos, a period in which monumental complexes were conserved and restored, and the most recent of Athos’s monasteries, the Monastery of Stavronikita, was erected. Bibliographers, painters, craftsmen, scholars, saints and inconspicuous monks all played their part in making this period one of the most important in the history of the Holy Mountain.
The conference was officially opened at 1.30 p.m. on Friday 25 November and at the opening ceremony, apart from the addresses, two papers were presented on general themes by Costis Smyrlis (‘Mount Athos in the Ottoman Empire during the 15th century’) and Kriton Chryssochoidis (‘Mount Athos in the 16th century’).
On the same day, at 12.00 p.m., the related exhibition was officially opened in the exhibition spaces of the Mount Athos Center. In this exhibition its curator, Phaidon Chatziantoniou, an architect at the Centre for the Preservation of Athonite Heritage, sought to highlight the main themes, protagonists and events that characterised these two centuries on Athos.
As has been the custom of the Mount Athos Center in recent years, within the framework of the 6th Scientific Conference, a phototype reprint was published of the important book on Athonite institutions by Demetrios Petrakakos entitled ‘New Sources on the Institutions of Mount Athos’ (in Greek), originally published by the Patriarchal Press in Alexandria in 1915, with an interesting foreword by Charalambos Papastathis, Emeritus Professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
The conference was organised in collaboration with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Institute for Byzantine Research of the Hellenic National Research Foundation.
Date: 25-27 November 2011
Venue: Conference Hall of the Thessaloniki Central Municipal Library
Conference programme: click here
Summaries of conference papers: click here
Conference Scientific Committee
Kriton Chryssochoidis, Director, Institute for Byzantine Research, Hellenic National Research Foundation
Symeon Paschalides, Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Phokion Kotzagiorgis, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Panagiotis Sotiroudis, Professor, School of Philology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Athanasios Semoglou, Associate Professor of History and Archaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Ploutarchos Theocharidis, Architect, Ministry of Culture & Tourism
Ioakeim Papangelos, Doctor of Archaeology
Organisation of Conference
Director: Demetrios Salpistis, Special Advisor to the Mount Athos Center
Supervisor: Anastasios Douros, Head of Administrative and Financial Services
Secretarial support: Maria Giannelou, Nektarios Antoniou, Evangelos Tsikouras
Technical support: Costas Tachtsidis
Mount Athos in the 15th and 16th Centuries
Neai Pegai ton thesmon tou Hagiou Orous
(New Sources on the Institutions of Mount Athos) (phototype edition)
To Hagion Oros ston 15o kai 16o aiona
(Mount Athos in the 15th and 16th Centuries) (exhibition catalogue)
To Hagion Oros ston 15o kai 16o aiona (Praktika tou ST Epistemonikou Synedriou)
(Mount Athos in the 15th and 16th Centuries: Proceedings of the 6th Scientific Conference)
From 2011 to 2015 the annual scientific conferences of the Mount Athos Center and their parallel events (exhibitions and publications) were included in, and funded by, the European Programme ‘National Strategic Reference Framework 2007-2013’ under the general title ‘The Great Spiritual and Cultural Legacy of Mount Athos’.