Κ. ΠΑΠΑΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΟΥ, Όταν ο μετανάστης ήταν έμπορος: Έλληνες στην Κεντρική Ευρώπη του 18ου αιώνα, Τετράδια Εργασίας, 28, 83-98


WHEN THE MIGRANT WAS A MERCHANT: GREEKS IN CENTRAL EUROPE IN THE 18th CENTURYWhen we discuss migration we often think about the phenomenon of the 19th and 20th centuries related to industrial growth and devolopment. But people who migrated in earlier periods, under different conditions, faced similar feelings and from this perspective we must study such migration movements. For the migrant the leaving of his home and country was always difficult and if he was a young person the unknown future created feelings of insecurity and provoked a kind of stress. Young people who were sent by their parents abroad to become merchants in the 18th century belonged to this group. The Pondika archive, stored in the National Archives of Hungary, refer to a family from Thessalonika, whose members migrated in the middle of the 18th century to Pest (Hungary) in order to become merchants. Through this archive understanding of the migration movement of Balkan merchants of the 18th century has become easier. Through the letters written by Constantine, Michael and Alexis Pondika to each other or to their relatives and collaborators we acquire information on the procedure of migration and the building of a merchant career by a young person who started as assistant. We also find opinions as to the morals, which a merchant should have in order to become and remain successful. In their letters the writers describe their feelings when they see people lacking these morals, when they try to start a business but need the financial support of their family, when they lose all their money and the trust of other merchants. The Pondika family has members with a variety of financial status, such as Michael who was one of the most important merchants and money-lenders of Pest in the second half of the 18th century and Alexis who started his business life as an assistant, and with his insistence became an independent dealer. Finally there was Constantine who was a quite successful merchant but in the end failed in his efforts. Likewise George and Nicolas lost all their money and could survive only with the support of their relatives. Merchants who failed in their financial efforts couldn't support their families or themselves either. Merchants with a successful business life used to send money and support as much as they could to some of their relatives. The Pondika family members decided, in their majority, not to return to their hometown Thessalonica, but to settle in Pest, where Michael and Alexis had their own families. To this aim the Pondika became members of the Greek community of the town and later on Hungarians.

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