Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


The Tomb of Ghāzī Evrenos bey at Yenitsa and its Inscription

Vasilis Demetriades

Yenitsa, in Ottoman Turkish Yenije-i Vardar or Vardar Yenijesi, is a small town some 50 km. west of Thessaloniki. Situated at the foot of Mount Païkon, near the lake of the same name (which was drained several years ago), it was in the Ottoman period an important Turkish military and cultural centre, particularly as being the base of the ghāzīs, the ‘warriors for the Faith’, who had followed the great march-lord (uj-begi) Evrenos on his campaigns in Thrace and Macedonia. Very early, perhaps as early as 1372, Evrenos had come to Central Macedonia with his followers and settled in this place, where already there was probably a Byzantine castle. There soon grew up a township, from which Evrenos and his sons and grandsons set out on repeated raids in all directions, devastating the countryside and preparing the way for the definitive occupation of Macedonia, and later of Albania, by the ‘central’ apparatus under the command of the sultan. It is probable that the several occupations of various towns in this area, such as Veria (Turkish: Karaferye) and Thessaloniki, were the achievement of these raiders. Yenije soon had a con-siderable Turkish population, so that in 1430, after the final occupation of Thessaloniki, Murad II was able to order the deportation from there to the newly-conquered city of a thousand Turkish families without reducing Yenije's prosperity.