1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Malatia

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MALATIA (Malatieh or Aspuzu) the chief town of a sanjak of the same name in the Mamuret el-Aziz vilayet of Asia Minor, and a military station on the Samsun-Sivas-Diarbekr road, altitude 2900 ft., situated about 10 m. S.W. of the junction of the Tokhma Su (med. Kubakīb) with the Euphrates, near the south end of a fertile plain, and at the northern foot of the Taurus. Pop. about 30,000, including, besides many Armenian Christians, bodies of Kurds and “Kizilbash.” It is a wholly modern place, rebuilt since the earthquake of 1893, contains fine public buildings, and is noted for its fruit orchards. There are Protestant (American) and Roman Catholic missions, and an Armenian Catholic archbishop has his seat here. Eskishehr or Old Malatia (Melitene), 5 m. N.E. and 3 m. from the great medieval bridge (Kirkgeuz) over the Tokhma Su, is said to owe its present desolation largely to its occupation by Hafiz Pasha as his headquarters in 1838 before his advance to fight the disastrous battle of Nizib with the Egyptian, Ibrahim. But it has still many inhabitants and large gardens and many ruinous mosques, baths, &c., relics of Mansur’s city. It was the residence of von Moltke for some months, while attached to Hafiz’s army. The earliest site was possibly Arslan Tepe about 2 m. south of Eskishehr were two “Hittite” stelae, representing hunting scenes, now in the Constantinople and Paris museums, were found in 1894.

In the time of Strabo (xii. 537) there was no town in the district of Melitene, which was reckoned part of Cappadocia. Under Titus the place became the permanent station of the 12th (“Thundering”) legion; Trajan raised it to a city. Lying in a very fertile country at the crossing point of important routes, including the Persian “Royal Road,” and two imperial military highways from Caesarea and along the Euphrates bank, it grew in size and importance, and was the capital of Armenia Minor or Secunda. Justinian, who completed the walls commenced by Anastasius, made it the capital of Armenia Tertia; it was then a very great place (Procop., De aed., iii. 4). The town was burnt by Chosroes on his retreat after his great defeat there in 577. Taken by the Saracens, retaken and destroyed by Constantine Copronymus, it was presently recovered to Islam, and rebuilt under Mansur (A.D. 756). It again changed hands more than once, being reckoned among the frontier towns of Syria (Istakhry, pp. 55, 62). At length the Greeks recovered it in 934, and Nicephorus II., finding the district much wasted, encouraged the Jacobites to settle in it, which they did in great numbers. A convent of the Virgin, and the great church which bears his name, were erected by the bishop Ignatius (Isaac the Runner). From this time Malatia continued to be a great seat of the Jacobites, and it was the birthplace of their famous maphrian Barhebraeus (or Abulfaragius). At the commencement of the 11th century the population was said to number 60,000 fighting men (Assem., Bib. Or., ii. 149; cf. Barheb., Chr. Eccl., i. 411, 423). At the time of the first crusade, the city, being hard pressed by the Turks under Ibn Danishmend, was relieved by Baldwin, after Bohemund had failed and lost his liberty in the attempt. But the Jacobites had no cause to love Byzantium, and the Greek governor Gabriel was so cruel and faithless that the townsmen were soon glad to open their gates to Ibn Danishmend (1102), and the city subsequently became part of the realm of Kilij Arslan, sultan of Iconium.

See H. C. B. v. Moltke, Briefe über Zustände, &c. in der Türkei (1835–1839).  (D. G. H.)