The French Baron De Tott of Hungarian descent left us an important testimony of Macedonian history. For years he lived in the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century and was also an advisor to the Ottomans.
He was one of the first in Western Europe who can be described as a direct contemporary witness, with direct contact with the country or the Ottoman Empire and its inhabitants. Because a lot of what was written in Europe at that time was based on “copy & paste” and with bringing in your own ideas. In this testimony, which can be considered very relevant for the reasons mentioned above, this also becomes clear. The memoirs were published in several editions, and even then many “pasted” some own contents.
However, what emerges primarily from this testimony, Baron de Tott met Macedonians in the 18th century and recorded, how Macedonians were “singing about the heroic deeds of Alexander” in a pub while drinking!
But first, some info’s about the baron,
Who was Baron de Tott?
François Baron de Tott (Hungarian Báró Tóth Ferenc; born August 17, 1733 in Chamigny; died September 24, 1793 in Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Asutria) was a French diplomat and military of Hungarian origin.
He rendered important services to the Ottoman government from 1769 to 1775 as a military advisor and later wrote sensational memoirs about his experiences and observations in the Orient, in which he was the first to describe many of the often erroneous and unreliable reports about the countries there that had been circulating in Europe up to that point corrected.
During an eight-year stay in Constantinople he acquired an excellent knowledge of the Turkish language, customs and institutions. In April 1763 he returned to France.
Tott set out to record the results of his experiences, service and research in the Orient in his valuable Mémoires sur les Turcs et les Tatares (4 vols., Amsterdam 1784).
Tott’s work was a great success. It attracted a great deal of attention and was sometimes attacked. The first edition was followed by four more French editions over the next two years.
Translations of Tott’s memoirs were soon being made as well. The first German translation appeared under the title Oddities and News from the Turks and Tartars. With annotations (3 vols., Elbing 1786), then one with Peyssonnel’s improvements and additions (2 vols., Nuremberg 1787/88). There were also translations into English (2 vols., 1785), into Danish by Morten Halllager (2 vols., Copenhagen 1785), into Dutch by Ysbrand Van Hammelsveld (Amsterdam 1789) and into Swedish (Uppsala 1800).
They still sing of the victories of Alexander
As mentioned, De Tott worked for the Ottomans, including overseeing the construction of forts and coastal batteries on the Dardanelles Strait. In his work, de Tott describes the construction of a battery in more detail, among other things he reports that there were 22 Macedonians among his people or workers.
His “unstoppable Macedonians”, as Tott calls them, always mastered difficult tasks. The baron therefore decided, according to his own statements, to give the men a Sunday off.
The 22 Macedonians, “each with his musket on his shoulder”, then gathered in the village of Fanarki, at the Cape on the European side, in a tavern and, according to the Baron, “still sang of the victories of Alexander the Great”.
A cinematic scene described by the baron with Hungarian roots, which turned into a drama after this scene. Because…
…80 Turkish muskets riddled the Macedonian
One of the Macedonians had to “go out into the fresh air” and encountered Turkish troops who had just arrived, numbering 90 men according to de Tott. One of the Turks is said to have hit “with full force” the Macedonian, “in the arrogance of the obvious superiority of his group”.
The Macedonian, who was now lying on the ground, gestured and told the soldier to “wait until he came back”. The Macedonian then went back to the tavern, took his musket without saying a word to his countrymen, and went back again.
Now he gave the Turk to understand that he should try again. However, the Ottoman pulled his pistol at close range but missed. The Macedonian also fired his musket and hit the Turk. His comrades immediately shot on the Macedonian, who was now lying dead next to the soldier he killed.
Shortly thereafter, his Macedonian compatriots found out about this accident and rushed to the scene with their muskets, where they encountered the picture of two dead corpses. Without any information or knowledge of the incident happened before, the Macedonians attacked the Turks and killed 9 of them.