The ancient Macedonians were a culturally, ethnically and linguistically distinct people whose modern history began in the 9th century BC with Caranus (808-778BC), the creator of the ancient Macedonian kingdom and the first known Macedonian king.

The first great empire

Philip II (359-336BC) unifies Macedonia, turning it into the most powerful state in Europe. On August 2, 338BC the Macedonians defeat the Greeks at the Battle of Chaeronea, marking the beginning of the so-called Macedonian Era. Philip’s son, Alexander the Great (356-323BC), conquers the Persian Empire, and Macedonia subsequently becomes the world’s largest empire stretching as far as Egypt in the south and India in the east. Alexander’s death in 323BC brings about civil war, and by 300BC the Macedonian empire is divided between Alexander’s generals, Antigonus I in Macedonia and Greece, Ptolemy I in Egypt and Seleucus I in Asia. Stability is secured under the rule of Antigonus II Gonatas (276-239), and Macedonia’s occupation of Greece is strengthened. Philip V (222-179BC) clashes with an eastward-expanding Rome, sparking the first two Macedonian Wars, which end in the defeat of Philip V’s armies and the loss of Greece. Macedonia is reduced to its original borders. Rome defeats the Macedonian army under Macedonia’s last king, Philip’s son Perseus (179-168BC) in the third Macedonian War. By 146BC Macedonia is a Roman province. The Roman defeat of Cleopatra VII in 30BC brings an end to the last of the Macedonian descendants (the Ptolemy dynasty) in Egypt. The last remains of the mighty Macedonian Empire disappear from the face of the earth.

1st Century
Christianity is preached for the first time in Europe by Paul (Pavel) and his epistles in the Macedonian towns Philippi (Philippes), Thessalonica (Thessaloniki) , and Beroea (Véria). A young Macedonian girl called Lydia becomes the first European to convert to Christianity in 51AD.
4th Century
In 395 The Roman Empire is divided into western and eastern regions. Macedonia falls to the eastern (Byzantine) half. The first Byzantine Emperors are Roman, but in time Macedonians, Syrian, Armenian, Phrygian (Amorian), and other non-Romans become rulers.
6th Century
In 518 A huge earthquake destroys 24 ancient Macedonian cities including Skopje. In 535 The Slavs overrun Macedonia, Greece, Illyria, and Thrace and mix into the Macedonians, Greeks, Illyrians, and Thracians. In the same year the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in honour of his birth place rebuilds the ancient city of Scupi on the site of present day Skopje and names it Justiniana Prima.

9th Century

Between 855 and 886 two Macedonians, brothers Cyril and Methodius from Thessalonica (Thessaloniki), the so-called First, Great City of the Macedonians as described by Byzantine historians, create the original Slavonic alphabet, which is perfected by one of Cyril’s students, St Clement, who named it after his teacher, thus giving the world the Cyrillic alphabet.
13th Century
In 1282 the Serbian king Milutin conquers Skopje. King Dushan moves the capital of the Serbian Kingdom to the city.
14th-15th Century
Between 1366 and 1395 King Volkashin and his son King Marko rule a powerful state with its capital in Prilep, and try to stop the Turks from invading the Balkans. In 1392 Skopje and the rest of Macedonia are conquered by the Ottomans. King Marko rules as an Ottoman vassal. Being an important religious and military centre, Skopje is burned to the ground by the Ottomans. Realising the strategic importance of Skopje the Turks station a huge army in the city, which attracts many merchants. Skopje becomes a large and important military, trading and cultural centre. Between 1382 and 1453 Skopje is the European base of the Ottoman Sultans.
17th Century
The Turkish travel writer Evlija Celebija (1611-1682) visits Skopje twice and records a city containing 70 hamams, 120 mosques, 110 fountains and a bazaar almost as big as the one in Istanbul with 2,150 stores and a bezisten. Of the bezisten he notes that the only one he’s ever seen that is bigger was in Damascus. In 1689 Austria conquers Skopje. The General, Picolomini, writes that on his conquests throughout European Turkey he’s never seen a city as beautiful as Skopje. However, realising its strategic importance for the Turks he burns it to the ground. Bitola gradually becomes the new centre of Macedonian politics and culture. In the same year the so-called Karpoš rebellion against the Ottoman Empire begins. Karpoš is eventfully caught and put to death on Skopje’s Stone Bridge.
19th Century
In 1893 the VMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation) is founded in Thessaloniki, its aim to create an autonomous Macedonian state within the Ottoman Empire.
20th Century
In 1903 in Thessaloniki a group of students from Veles and Kratovo known as the Gemidzii carry out a series of bomb attacks on Turkish and Western European companies to draw the attention of Europe to the Macedonian problem. These attacks, considered to be the first ever instance of suicide bombers, were carefully planned so as to harm no bystanders and to only damage the buildings and ships they attacked. In the same year Krste Petkov Misirkov publishes the book, On Macedonian Matters, which discusses the need for the standardisation of the Macedonian language. On August 2 the Ilinden Uprising begins in Krushevo. A large territory known as the Krushevo Republic is created (the first ever republic in the Balkans), but lasts for just 10 days. The First and Second Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913 finally liberate Macedonia from Turkish rule. Macedonia is carved up between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria.
World War Two
In 1941 Macedonia is occupied by Bulgarian and Italian forces. On October 11, 1941 resistance against the occupying forces begins in Prilep. On August 2, 1944 in the monastery of Prohor Pcinski, the first session of the Antifascist Assembly for the Liberation of Macedonia takes place, in which an independent Macedonia as a part of the Federation of Yugoslavia is proclaimed.

Post-war Macedonia

Between 1948 and 1949, immediately
after the Greek Civil War, large numbers of Greek Macedonians are forced out of their homes and/or thrown out of the part of Greece known as Makedonia. Some 40,000 children are lost and separated from their parents and subsequently accommodated in orphanages in Yugoslavia and different countries in Eastern Europe. On July 26, 1963 an earthquake hits Skopje, destroying much of the city and killing 1,100 people. The international community rushes to aid rebuilding the city. The ancient Ohrid archbishopcy is renewed in 1967.

Independence & Beyond
On September 8, 1991 over 95% of Macedonians vote in a referendum in favour of an independent state. In 1993 Macedonia becomes a member of the UN. Under pressure from Greece, the country becomes officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). On October 13, 1995 Greece lifts its trade embargo. In return, Macedonia changes its flag and constitution. On October 3, 1996 an unsuccessful (and unsolved) assassination attempt is made on president Kiro Gligorov. In 1999 during the war in Kosovo, between 360,000 and 500,000 Kosovar Albanian refugees seek refuge in Macedonia. Between March and June 2001 in what’s believed to be a spillover from the recent conflict in Kosovo, Macedonia’s Albanian minority, particularly those living along the border with Kosovo, begin fighting (sometimes literally) for their rights. The results, known as the Ohrid Agreement, have given substantial new rights to the country’s Albanian community. On February 26, 2004 President Boris Trajkovski dies in a plane crash. On March 22, 2004 Macedonia submits an application for EU membership. Candidate country status is granted in December 2005.

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