To επιχειρηματικό δίκτυο του Θεμιστοκλή Μαρίνου

Ευρυδίκη Σιφναίου

Themistocles Marinou (1846-1899) was a businessman of the late nineteenth century from the island of Lesbos (Lesvos). The son of Marinos Koumaratzis (1804-1886), who was a member of the Council of Elders (demogerontia) and had repeatedly been elected in the Council of the Christian Community of Mytilene (1842-1845, 1862-1862, 1872-1875, 1882-1884), Themistocles Marinou had inherited commercial legacy in Lesbos from his father. His wife, Melpomeni Hatzi Alatza, came from a wealthy family of Mytilene, who owned lands at Thermi. Themistocles was a merchant and the owner of a steam oil press (1833), a soap factory and a sailing ship in Lesbos. He engaged in commercial, industrial and lending activities. He was an insurance agent for “Phoenix” and in charge of the circulation of the newspaper Neologos in Lesbos (Neologos was published in Constantinople). In 1875 he acquired the Greek citizenship from the Municipality of Ermoupolis. He also worked as a translator at the Russian consulate. His industrial aspirations included the plan to construct a soda factory in Lesbos, along with other businessmen. This plan relied on the existence of local raw materials (salt and olive residue as burning material) and therefore aimed to reduce the import of soda for the needs of the local soap manufacturing. However, the plan came to a halt due to the lack of protectionist taxation in Turkey regarding its industry. In 1884, Themistocles Marinou fell out with the Ottoman Commander of Mytilene, Namik Kemal Bey, and was subsequently accused for anti-Ottoman activity. As a member of the Council of Mytilene Charitable and Educational Institutions, Marinou opposed the effort made by the Ottoman administration to replace the professor of Mytilene High school, Demetrios Vernardakis, who was a graduate of the University of Athens (1895-1897). Marinos also owned a tower in the area Ano Pyrgi, Thermi, a stone cottage with a garden in Mytilene, 23-25 Komninaki Str., and shops in the market of the island.

Themistocles had his son, Marius Marinou (1873-1908), study chemistry at the University of Athens (1891-1893) and then attend the Polytechnic University of Zurich (1894-1898). He wished for his son to become his successor and fulfill his industrial aspirations.

Themistocles Marinou is considered to be a representative of the modern business bourgeois class of Lesbos, which was formed at the end of the Turkish rule and which considered the ottoman administration as anachronistic and politically regressive; therefore they excitedly anticipated the unification of Lesbos and the modern Greek State.

The network of businessmen with whom Themistocles Marinou discussed, collaborated and jointly acted is revealed through three registers of Letter Copies which we have catalogued for the needs of the “Krepis” program; they refer to the years 1884-1887, 1891-1894 and 1894-1898. The records include 1.757 letters of Themistocles Marinou addressed to collaborators, with whom he exchanges information and merchandise, sends payments and money orders, insurance paperwork, newspapers, bills of exchange, and loan agreements.

The periodicity of the letters addressed to certain destinations outside Lesbos displays the extroverted nature of the bourgeois class of Mytilene, which played a dominant role in the economic growth of the eastern Mediterranean, supplying with their industrial products a wide network of markets in Asia Minor, Constantinople and the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea. The density of the correspondence also attests to the transfer of lesbian capital to Egypt, which was a crucial pole of capital accumulation for the Diaspora of Mytilene.

The most important destinations of the letters of the businessman Themistocles Marinou are:

· Plomari, Lesbos and the soap manufacturers who reside there. Themistocles Marinou, acting as insurance agent of the “Phoenix” company, insures the soap cargos sent to the markets of the eastern Mediterranean.

· Towns along the coasts of Asia Minor, namely Ayvalik and Adramittion (Edremit). The letters mostly refer to the exchange of information regarding the cultivation of olive trees and the trade of olive oil, but also the exchange of technical know-how on the creation of mechanized plants for the processing of olive oil. He basically cooperates with Greeks who are Ottoman subjects living across the sea.

· Smyrna. Letters to the machine shops of D. Isigonis, referring to machinery procurement for oil-soap factories. Additionally, there are letters addressed to relatives who supervise the studies of his daughter Despo. Smyrna is also the place for buying imported European goods, mainly garments.

· Alexandria, Menouf, and Marsafa, Egypt. Letters addressed to relatives and friends who have immigrated to Egypt and are active in the Cotton Stock Market, the cultivation of lands in Egyptian villages, and lending with interest to Egyptian fellaheen.

· Constantinople. Letters of commercial and political content, addressed to merchants and businessmen, but also to prominent influential figures of the Patriarchate lay. There are discussions about the course of the stock market investments of Marinos and others, and also about the political developments in the relations between the Christian Community of Mytilene and the Ottoman Authorities on the subject of the “School question.” The School question pertained to the intervention of the Ottoman authorities with the teaching staff of the Greek High School of Mytilene and the expulsion of professor D. Vernardakis. Themistocles Marinou also purchases household products and clothes from Constantinople.

· Athens. Contacts with distinguished Lesbians who had moved to Athens or traveled between Athens and Mytilene, such as Athanasios Vernardakis and Michael Kazazis. The apparent interest for the political situation in Greece, the stockmarket investments in Laurium stocks and bonds, but also a concern for culture, the University of Athens etc are all included.

Marinos, through his correspondence, allows the tracing of his political choices, his opposition to the Metropolitan bishop of Mytilene and to the representatives of the “ellinothomanismos” (Greek-Ottomanism) doctrine on the island; he also offers clues about his support for Trikoupis, his disappointment regarding the Greek political affairs and his bold investment opening to the Greek Kingdom. Marinou is a typical example of the bourgeois class of Mytilene that took advantage of the liberalization of the olive-oil and soap trade, so as to dominate the market, while at the same time developing financial activity in and outside the island of Lesbos.

Research directed by: Evridiki Sifneos. Collaborator: Filippa Chorozi. GIS Cartography: Panagiotis Stratakis
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