Proceedings of The 3rd International Conference on Advanced Research in Social Sciences and Humanities
The Organization and Merchants Ethnicity of the Greek Companies in Transylvania in the Late 18th Century and Early 19th Century
Bogdan E. Anagnastopol
In Transylvania, there were two of the most important Greek centers dealing with the trade of oriental goods from the Levantine area to Central Europe, since the last decades of the Byzantine Empire. The organization of these merchants into trading companies came as a natural consequence of the trade relations that took place on the East-West route. The cities where these merchants settled in Transylvania were Sibiu and Brasov, but some Greek merchants carried out economic activities in Cluj, Alba Iulia, or Oradea as members of the Greek Companies in Sibiu and Brasov. As a result of the privileges they enjoyed over time, these companies developed progressively, and through the power to practice justice within the organization, they enjoyed legal autonomy. The organization of the companies allowed the preservation of the ethnic character of the merchants, by setting up Greek schools and churches, they practiced democracy in the election of leaders and offered support to the Enlightenment movement to gain freedom from the Ottomans. Although their name is the Greek Company, the ethnic origin of the members is much broader. Until 1783, merchants were Greeks from Macedonia or Greece, and after that date, all merchants from the Ottoman Empire who wanted to escape Ottoman pressure were allowed to join the company. The largest number of Greek families in Transylvania was recorded immediately after the revolutionary struggles of Filiki Eteria in Drăgășani and Bucharest. Following the defeat suffered by them, the Greeks took refuge in Brasov and Sibiu, in an attempt to escape the Ottoman repressions.
Keywords: Greek merchants, Transylvania, Greek ethnics, Greek Revolution, Merchants organization.