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Religions 2010, 1, 54-77; doi: /rel Article OPEN ACCESS religions ISSN Economic Functions of Monasticism in Cyprus: The Case of the Kykkos Monastery
Religions 2010, 1, 54-77; doi: /rel Article OPEN ACCESS religions ISSN Economic Functions of Monasticism in Cyprus: The Case of the Kykkos Monastery Victor Roudometof 1, * and Michalis N. Michael Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Cyprus, PO Box 20537, Nicosia 1678, Cyprus Department of Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cyprus, PO Box 20537, Nicosia 1678, Cyprus; * Author to whom correspondence should be addressed: Received: 9 October 2010; in revised form: 18 November 2010 / Accepted: 25 November 2010 / Published: 1 December 2010 Abstract: The article presents a comprehensive overview of the various economic activities performed by the Kykkos Monastery in Cyprus in its long history (11th 20th centuries). The article begins with a brief review of the early centuries of Cypriot monasticism and the foundation of the monastery in the 11th century. Then, the analysis focuses on the economic activities performed during the period of the Ottoman rule ( ). Using primary sources from the monastery s archives, this section offers an overview of the various types of monastic land holdings in the Ottoman era and the strategies used to purchase them. Using 19th century primary sources, it further presents a detailed account of the multifaceted involvement and illustrates the prominent role of the monastery in the island s economic life (land ownership, stockbreeding activities, lending of money, etc.). Next, it examines the changes in monastic possessions caused by the legislation enacted by the post-1878 British colonial administration. The legislation caused the loss of extensive land holdings and was the subject of extensive controversy. Keywords: Orthodox Christianity; Cyprus; Kykkos; economy Religions 2010, Introduction Monasticism occupies a privileged position in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Just as in Western Europe, the operation of monasteries in the Byzantine and post-byzantine commonwealth entailed a broad range of functions from spiritual to cultural to economic. The intertwining of economic functions and cultural relations in the post-byzantine world has been duly noted; Nikolai Iorga s classic Byzance aprés Byzance: Continuation de l' Histoire de la Vie Byzantine [1] highlights the connections between the monastic communities of Mt. Athos and the Danubian principalities. However, the analysis of the economic functions of Orthodox monasteries lags considerably behind in relation to the state of scholarly knowledge about their Western counterparts. In this article, we examine mostly the economic functions of monastic communities in Cyprus through a historical overview of the case of the Kykkos Monastery. This monastery is arguably the wealthiest among Cyprus s monasteries and is an important reference point for the Orthodox world [2]. The monastery also has a long history of socioeconomic activities. Unlike other monasteries, this monastery s archives offer privileged access to these activities. The Archive of the Holy Monastery of Kykkos [3] is one of the richest archives concerning the Ottoman period of the island. Due to its very good condition, various important works relating to the history of the monastery during the Ottoman period already have been published. The archive includes thousands of Ottoman and Greek documents that relate to the activities of the monastery since the Ottoman conquest of the island. The Kykkos Monastery Ottoman Archive, containing 1,465 Ottoman documents that chronologically cover the entire Ottoman period of the island s history ( ) and also the first three decades of the British period, has already been published in a seven volume series [4,5]. The Kykkos Monastery Greek Archive is separated into two sections: The first includes 665 documents and covers the period between 1619 and 1839; the second includes 559 documents and covers the period between 1789 and Currently, two volumes of the Greek documents from the monastery s archive have been published [6,7]. Also, many codices of the Ottoman period of the monastery [8-12], several collections of other archives concerning the activities of the monastery [13,14], and references to the monastery of Kykkos in the Greek Cypriot press [15-17] have also been published. Nearly all this material has been published in Greek and hence it is inaccessible to non-specialist or international readership. Drawing upon the aforementioned sources, in this article we aim to present an overview of the socioeconomic activities of the Kykkos monastery throughout its long history. In the article s opening section, we briefly provide an overview of the origins of monastic life in Cyprus and of the Kykkos Monastery in particular. In the next section, we turn to the situation during the Ottoman era ( ), and then we focus on the 19th century, a period from which there are well-kept records and detailed accounts of various economic activities. In the following sections, we consider developments with regard to monastic property under the British rule ( ), and then conclude with a brief presentation of the contemporary state of affairs. Religions 2010, The Spread of Christianity and the Origins of Monastic Life in Cyprus Christianity was preached in Cyprus by Apostles Paul and Varnavas around the middle of the first century AD. Specific reasons made the island a suitable missionary target: Varnavas was of Cypriot origin, there was a large population of Jews living on the island at the time the apostles targeted it ([18], p. 3), and the island was in close proximity to Antioch [19]. Varnavas is believed to have been the founder of the Church of Cyprus, which is considered one of the most ancient churches of the Christian world. Information about the Church of Cyprus during the first Christian centuries is scarce. By the end of the 4th century AD, Christianity seems to have been the dominant religion on the island, thanks to the work of Epiphanios, the Bishop of Salamis ( AD) [20]. However during the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), there were three Episcopal thrones in Cyprus: those of Paphos, Salamis and Trimithountos ([21], volume 1, p. 250). In 341 AD, the Church of Cyprus was declared autocephalous and the efforts of the Patriarchate of Antioch to control the island s bishops came to an end. The Ecumenical Synod of 691 AD confirmed the canon regarding the autocephaly of the Church of Cyprus [22]. The foundation of monasteries in Cyprus dates to the first centuries of Christianity. After the Christianization of the population and the founding of the Church of Cyprus, the monasteries seem to have begun their operation. Up until the ninth century, when a great movement of monastic reform and reorganization spread throughout the Byzantine world [23], the operation of the monasteries on the island was inchoate. Only two monasteries are believed to have been founded on the island during the fourth century: the Monastery of Timios Stavros in the Stavrovouni area, the founding of which is attributed to St. Elena ([18], p. 9; [24]), and St. Nicolas of the Cats Monastery in the area of Aliki (in the Larnaca area). It appears that the founding of important monasteries in Cyprus took place in the 11th and 12th centuries, a period during which successive waves of monastic reform and reorganization took place both in Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. In the Byzantine world, this movement also represented a reaction to the spread of Islam in the Eastern Mediterranean. With the Arabs march into Syria, Palestine and Egypt in the seventh century AD, the Byzantine Empire lost a considerable part of its holdings and was put on the defensive. Moreover, the strong presence of non-chalcedonian Christians in these areas was further strengthened as a result of them being outside the control of the empire and, hence, free of persecution. Still, the Orthodox maintained a presence in the Islamic regions of the Middle East for many centuries. Faced with the new situation, however, many Orthodox monks moved to Cyprus, which turned into a convenient shelter for the Orthodox from the Middle East [25]. Another turning point that influenced the development of monasticism on the island was the 1071 defeat of the Byzantine army by the army of the Seldjuk ruler Alp Arslan in the battle of Malazgirt [26], which decided the course of events in Asia Minor and opened the pathway for the expansion of the tribes of the Turcomans into formerly Byzantine Anatolia. With that defeat, the Byzantine administration begun falling apart and the influx of the Turcoman tribes caused a commotion that the Byzantines were never able to stop [27]. In 1176, the Byzantine army was defeated once more in Myriocephalum, which terminated the hopes of the Orthodox population to drive off the Turkic tribes [28]. Religions 2010, 1 57 These factors contributed to a search for safe areas for the foundation of monastic complexes and communes. Therefore, during the 11th and 12th centuries several important monasteries were established on the island [29], including the monasteries of Kykkos, Machairas, Koutzoventis, St Neophytos Egklistras, Chrisorogiatissas, Acheropioitou, Panagia Arakou in Lagoudera and that of Panagia of Asinou. The monasteries of Kykkos, Machairas, St Neophytos, Apostle Varnavas and Panagias Katharon are the five stavropegic monasteries of Cyprus. That is, they are not under the control of the local metropolitan but directly under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (see Hekimoglou [30]). Kykkos Monastery is located in the western part of the Troodos mountains, 18 kilometers below Mount Olympus at an altitude of 1,200 meters. The story of its foundation lies between tradition and history. The most important source available is the history of the monastery from a 1421 original manuscript. That original version was destroyed in a fire in 1541, but other copies have been found, mainly from the 17th century [31], and a final form was published by Ephraim the Athenian in 1751 [32]. According to the traditional legend, the event that provided the occasion for the foundation of the monastery was a confrontation between ascetic Isaiah and the Byzantine governor of Cyprus, Manuel Voutomitis somewhere in the mountains of Troodos. This ascetic refused to serve the Byzantine governor because he was avoiding social activities, and so they had an affray. Voutomitis returned to Nicosia where he fell ill, and he believed that his sudden illness was a result of his behavior against Isaiah. Isaiah prayed and his faith cured the Byzantine governor, who felt deeply obliged and wanted to repay him. After having a divine vision, Isaiah asked for transport to the island of one of the three icons of the Madonna painted by evangelist Luke. The two men visited the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Comnenus ( ) and asked him to allow the transport of the icon in Cyprus. After the Emperor himself was cured, thanks to the prayers of Isaiah, they presumed that the transport of the icon to the island was a divine commandment. In the legend, the historical personalities play the roles prescribed by religious tradition. Still, it is certain that the Monastery of Kykkos was founded by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Comnenus at the end of the 11th century, and that from the moment of its founding it was clothed with the luster of the miraculous icon of Madonna (Panagia or Theotokos). Alexios Comnenus issued an edict (chrisovoullo) for the founding of the Holy, Royal, Stavropegiac Monastery of Kykko, the monestary s full title. It is called royal because it was founded at the expense of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus; it is called stavropegiac (founded with a cross) because a cross was driven into its foundation stone ([33], p. 3) [34]. The Emperor sent the first money for the construction of the temple and the cells. For its maintenance, the villages of Peristerona, Milon and Milikourion were bestowed to the newly founded monastery. Only a century after its founding, however, the Kykkos Monastery had to adjust to a new prevalent political and religious order. After Richard the Lionheart conquered Cyprus in 1191 and a brief period of rule by the Knights of the Temple, the island became a kingdom under the Lousignans (1192) ([10], p. 38), which meant the arrival of the Roman Catholic Church on the island. During the Frankish and Venetian presence on the island ( and , respectively), the Roman Catholic hierarchs attempted to convert the Orthodox population to Roman Catholicism. It is important to note that the imperative for Religions 2010, 1 58 the subordination and control of the Orthodox Church was not just a religious matter derived from the Vatican s wishes for proselytism; it was mainly a political issue [35]. From the end of the 12th century until the Ottoman conquest of 1571, the Orthodox Church of Cyprus was in danger of losing its internal structure. The abolition of the archiepiscopal throne and the subordination of the orthodox bishops to the Roman Catholic archbishop who resided in Nicosia brought the Church of Cyprus to the brink of extermination. With the general rule of Pope Alexander IV, named Constitutio Cypria or Bulla or Summa Alexandrina ([35], pp ) [36], which was issued in July 1260, the position of the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus was banned and the powers of its bishops restricted ([18], p. 114). Among other clauses, the General Rule of 1260 anticipated the reduction of Episcopal thrones to four and the obligation of the new bishops to acknowledge the Pope as their leader. At the same time the Roman Catholic bishops became the seniors of the Orthodox bishops ([37], volume 1, pp ). In spite of the problems caused by the above rules and policies, however, the monasteries managed to maintain their contact with the Orthodox flock. The persistence of tradition, the insistence on the Orthodox service and the use of all religious symbols connected with Orthodox Christianity allowed for its survival amidst persecution. Regarding the Kykkos monastery, besides financial problems, in June 1365 a big part of the monastery complex and the church which were made of wood were destroyed by a fire that broke out near the monastery. In this fire, all the books and the manuscripts of the Kykkos monastery were burned, which led the monk Gregarious to write a new description of the Kykkos monastery ([33, p. A]. The monastery was rebuilt by December of the same year thanks not only to the assistance of the faithful, but mainly to the donation by Eleanor, the wife of the King of Cyprus, Peter I ( ), who insisted that the rebuilding of the monastery be done at her own expense ([38], p. 100). From the 15th century onward, it seems that some of the Orthodox monasteries on the island began to increase their property holdings. With regard to the Kykkos Monastery, an indication of this is the request of Simeon, the hegumen of the monastery, in 1522 to the Venetian Council, to bestow an annual quantity of wheat. After consideration of the request, the council decided, in 1554, to bestow a certain quantity of wheat to the Kykkos monastery annually ([39], p. 77). According to the description of the monastery, made in order to examine the demand of the hegumen, in that year there were 30 monks and a few employees a shepherd, two vineyards guards and six other employees in the monastery and the Venetian administration referred to it as the Monastery of St Maria of the Rain ([39], p. 85), a name that probably came from the belief that the invocation during the periods of drought and the procession of the icon of the Madonna of Kykkos finally led to rainfall. 3. The Orthodox Church and Kykkos Holdings in the Ottoman Era In 1571, the troops of Ottoman Sultan Selim II ( ) conquered Cyprus. The new status quo deeply influenced the status of the Orthodox Church on the island. First, in contrast with the Roman Catholic policy of attempting to convert the Orthodox, the new regime was far more tolerant. After a region was conquered and, hence, it officially entered into the world of Islam, the people of the Religions 2010, 1 59 Bible (ahl al-kitab; e.g., Jews and Christians) were included into the zimmi group: the unfaithful who were mentioned in the Quran and hence were entitled to their faith living in the empire under the particular regime that was established by the Ottoman ruler (for the history of the term, see Cahen [40]). The Muslim ruler undertook the obligation to protect them and granted them the right to fulfill their religious duties in exchange for the capitation tax (cizye). The capitation tax was paid by all the non-muslim males in the Ottoman Empire and is classified as a tax imposed by the Quran. For more details about this tax, see Halil [41]. The amount for this tax was in many cases different in various areas of the empire [42]. More specifically for the Church of Cyprus, the new status quo led to the re-establishment of relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the filling of the archbishop s post and the formal reconstitution of the hierarchical structure of the Orthodox Church (e.g., the bishoprics of Pafos, Citium and Kyrenia). In addition to the religious reorganization of the Church, the Ottoman administration itself also duplicated in Cyprus the same pattern of administrative relations it performed vis-à-vis the Ecumenical Patriarchate after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 [43], which involved tax collection, administration of civil matters and, eventually, formal representation of the people by their respective religious hierarchy [44]. Second, the Ottomans used their religious tolerance as a means of gaining the support of the Orthodox population and, hence, achieving political and military goals in particular preventing an alliance between the Orthodox and the main Ottoman adversary, the Catholic West [45]. The Ottoman policy after the conquest of Cyprus [46] is an application of a strategy that owed much to the Ottomans fear that the Western forces might attempt to recapture the island. Although the Orthodox were allowed to continue operating their churches and received preferential treatment as to their religious duties, the followers of the Catholic Church were banned from running their churches ([18], p. 195). The Roman Catholic Archbishop, in Venice during the war, never returned to Cyprus. The issue of ecclesiastical property during the Ottoman period is a very complex and difficult issue. The prevalent perception is that, after 1571, all ecclesiastical property was considered as religious endowments or wakfs [47]. According to Islamic law, wakfs were charitable institutions and their property holdings were protected against taxation. In the Ottoman Empire, any adult Muslim or non-muslim could create such endowments. The Ottomans had a highly favorable view of these endowments and considered that individuals who could afford them should do so (for a detailed categorization of all the types of wakfs in the Ottoman period, see Öztürk [48]). The rationale is that the Ottoman administration recognized all Orthodox ecclesiastical institutions archbishoprics, bishoprics, monasteries and temples as religious charitable organizations whose property was protected by the Sacred Law. As such, all ecclesiastical property holdings were thus included in the Ottoman administrative framework as wakfs. But it is not certain that such assets were recognized as wakfs by the Ottomans right after the conquest of the island. On the contrary, the 19th century overview of these assets, which we will present in the course of this article, suggests that variable land and property regimes applied to ecclesiastical property. Still, the Orthodox monasteries that were assumed by the Ottoman administration to be charitable institutions with a social and financial character were allowed to continue running under the condition that they would be included in the Ottoman rationale abo
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