Salonica: Slaves and Trade
As a result of joint naval operations "in which the Greek and Ottoman fleets worked together," writes Mark Mazower in his fascinating book about Thesslalonika – or Salonica – "pirates were cleared from the northern Aegean." This was the mid-1830s and once the pirate menace had subsided the tonnage of shipping entering the port increased five-fold over the next three decades. However, as Mazower writes, Greek and Ottoman ship owners then lost out following the introduction of steam power by its French and Austrian owners. Traffic also increasingly began to turn westwards. These were, as this extract shows, years of great change.
Adolphus Slade's fellow-travellers in 1830 to Izmir included five Albanians, a Greek tobacco trader, local Turkish women on the haj, a Maronite bound for Lebanon and an Egyptian slave dealer with nine "negresses" whom he had failed to sell in Salonica. Coffee and spices still came from Yemen, and the Azizeh steamer docked regularly from Alexandria. But the city's orientation was changing. The slave trade, which had linked the city with suppliers from Circassia and the Ukraine to Sudan, Benghazi and the Barbary coast, was targeted by British abolitionists: although it was not formally outlawed until 1880, even before then, slaves had to be smuggled in as domestic servants, or landed furtively outside the town before dawn on the wooden landing –stage in the Beshchinar gardens.
Meanwhile, as local raw materials were exported to western Europe from the hinterland, European manufactures poured in: Manchester cottons and Rouen silks, beer from Austria, watches and jewellery from Switzerland, wine and marble, worsteds and cutlery from Germany, French stationary and perfumes, drugs, billiard tables, cabinets and fancy upholstery. The British consul noted the growing demand for "British-made shoes and boots, felt and straw hats, men's flannels, cotton and linen shirts and vests, handkerchiefs, ties, stockings and socks. " Between 1870 and 1912 the city's imports nearly quadrupled in value.
Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews 1430-1950. Mark Mazower. 2005.
[pp. 225-226 / Harper Perennial]