Vassiliki Papoulia

ICHT Member (Greece), 1978-2011

ICHT Honorary Member, 2011-2014

Tripoli, Peloponnese 1930 – Athens 2014


It is with a great sadness that we were informed of the sudden death of Professor Emerita Vassil-iki Papoulia on the 28th of April 2014. Professor Papoulia taught Balkan history in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and was honorary member of the International Commission for the History of Towns. Professor Papoulia, in good health and form, seems to have fallen over in her house, and although taken to the hospital, she did not recover. Her numerous friends, colleagues and students, gathered for her funeral in Athens on the 3rd may 2014.
As a teacher and a scholar Vassiliki Papoulia was distinguished for her intellectual openness and her wide horizon of interests. The Greek and foreign academic fora [the Greek and International As-sociation of Studies for South East Europe, the Aristotle Univer-sity of Thessaloniki, the Greek PHILOSOPHIC SOCIETY, THE In-ternational Commission for the history of towns, the Commité International des Etudes Indo-européennes et Thraces, the board of the Institute for Balkan studiesoffered the broad frame-work for her scientific and personal experience and action. She was also founding member of the Greek Historical Society in Thessaloniki, member of the board and Chairman since 1998 and until her death.
Vassiliki Papoulia was born in Tripoli in the Peloponnese where she spent her childhood. Later her family moved to Athens, and she decided to study in the School of Philosophy of the University of Athens (1947). Her teachers (Dionysios Zakynthinos, Georgios Vlachos and Anastassios Orlandos), eminent scholars, inspired her intellectual course. In 1956 she was granted a state scholarship to study turcology in Munich. She followed courses by byzantinologists Franz Dölger and Hans Georg Beck, the turcologist Franz Babinger and Hans-Joachim Kissling She also took courses in archaeology and philosophy being thus in a position to study in depth political events and developments and include and assess the corresponding cultural and social transfor-mations of the time in SE Europe. In 1961 she presented her doctoral dissertation on the topic of the levy of Christian children to be trained for the Ottoman army and administration. Her thesis was awarded a prize by the Südost Europa-Gesellschaft and published by the Südost Institut of Münich (Ursprung und Wesen der “Knabenlese” im Osmanischen Reich, Munchen, Bern 1963).
In 1975 she was elected the chair of the History of the Lands in the Aimos Peninsula, a post ear-lier occupied by Mihail Lascaris. Between 1978 and 1997 (when she retired) she taught in the undergraduate and graduate courses of the Faculty of Philosophy (Aristotle University of Thes-saloniki) while she pursued her extended research and publishing work.
Vassiliki Papoulia enriched the history of the Balkan lands with new themes and perspectives. She examined their transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages; she brought forward their political fragmentation, the nation-building processes, the presence of Greeks as catalysts of diverse developments. Her writings, more than 120 books and articles in Greek, French and German, have been gathered in four volumes. Her constant effort to redefine the content of her field and broaden it thematically and in terms of time, rightfully earned her a wide recogni-tion as one of the top balkaniologists of our days. She was an excellent teacher, and a smiling, unpretentious and direct person, friendly with her students and colleagues. At the same time, Vassiliki Papoulia, Kiki for her friends, was always ready to engage in a fight in order to support her beliefs. She did it with impressive dynamism, spirit, sometimes obstinacy. Her determina-tion to experience and adapt in new working conditions was remarkable. Hence her decision to communicate through her computer with the application of teamviewer with her close friend Maria Karabetsou, the indefatigable secretary of the association.
She will be remembered for these qualities, so precious for an intellectual, a teacher and a friend.

Obituaries by professors Maria Nystazopoulou -Pelekidou, Aimilia Themopoulou, Taxiarchis Kollias, Spyridon Sfetas, Savvas Spentzas and Filippos Nikolopoulos were sent to me by prof. Papoulia’s close collaborator and friend Maria Karabetsou and prof. Dionysia Missiou. My sin-cere thanks for it.

Volume Anoihtosyni (Openness) offered to prof. Papoulia in 2012, edited by her colleagues Theodoros Korres, Panayiotis Doukellis, Spyridon Sfetas and Foteini Toloudi. Panayiotis Doukel-lis is also the author of the opening text titled “Matheteia” (apprenticeship) as well as of the long list of her writings (more than 120 published books and papers).