POUQUEVILLE, François Charles Hugues Laurent
François-Charles-Hugues-Laurent Pouqueville (1770-1838) was a French physician, diplomat, writer, and ardent Philhellene. He was born in Normandy. He joined the seminary and became a deacon, but soon, in 1794, moved to Paris to study Medicine. In 1798, as a surgeon, Pouqueville joined the Commission of Sciences and Arts of Egypt, organized by Napoleon. As he was sailing back to Europe in December of the same year, with his health damaged, he was taken captive by pirates and abandoned with other fellow Frenchmen in Navarino. From there they were taken to Tripoli in the Peloponnese as war prisoners of the Turks. Pouqueville stayed in the Peloponnese till the spring of 1799. Subsequently, he was transported to the prison of Yedi Kule in Istalbul, where he remained imprisoned with other Frenchmen for twenty-five months.
Pouqueville returned to France in 1801. A few years later he published his first three-volume work, which appealed widely to the public and was soon translated into six European languages. As a physician, he was able to come in contact with the local population during the years of his captivity, and learned both Classical and Modern Greek. This book, dedicated to Napoleon, was Pouqueville’s credentials for his appointment as General Consul of France in Ioannina and Patras from 1805 to 1816, and as chief mediator in Ali Pasha’s negotiations with the French.
The second period Pouqueville was in close contact with Greece was during the years from 1805 to 1816. His five-volume “Voyage dans la Grèce” (1820-21), later enpanded and republished in six volumes as “Voyage de la Grèce” (1826-27), undoubtedly became an invaluable guide for all subsequent travellers.
With careful consideration, Pouqueville studied the Greek land in depth. He made it known to the rest of the world, and wrote what is probably the most consistent text on geography and morphology of these territories. Pouqueville matches ancient place names to modern locations using classical sources, church archives and Ottoman records; he is an impartial narrator of military events and gives a clear picture of the economic sizes in every region. Thus Pouqueville’s can be considered as among the most profound studies of the historical landscape of continental Greece.
This is an expanded edition of the first publication of Pouqueville’s work on Greece. The table of contexts numbers thirty pages, providing an outline of the regions visited by Pouqueville and the subjects he touches on. The following itinerary is a mere outline of his voyage. The author first describes his journey from Paris to Ioannina by way of the Dalmatian coast and Panormos on the Epirus coast. Subsequently, Pouqueville narrates his meetings with Ali Pasha and his visits to Ioannina, Dodoni, Zagori, Aoos (Vjosë), Berat, the Acroceraunian mountains, Chimarra, Dürrës and the rest of Northern Epirus. Continuing his tour, he visits Buthrotum (Butrint), Paramythia, Parga, Acheron river, Souli, Preveza, Nicopolis and the northern coast of the Ambracian gulf. The text continues with a description of Arta, Amphilochia, Tzoumerka, the southern Ambracian gulf, eastern Epirus, Calarytes, Mount Pindus, Vlachoi and Metsovo. Pouqueville deals with the geomorphology of Epirus, describing its climate, demographics, crops, animal husbandry, waters, products and flora. He also provides information on Thessaly and Macedonia, local dances, Grevena, Trikala, Aliacmon River, Mount Smolicas, Castoria and its notables, Argos Oresticon, Lakes Ochris and Prespes, Siatista, and the regions from Cozani to Pella and to Larissa. He also expands on the Arvanites. Pouqueville dedicates another part to Thessaly (Tricala, Kalambaca, Larissa, Magnesia, Aghia, Volos, Almyros) and its inhabitants, Acarnania (Action, Anactorion, Xiromero, Stratos and Valtos), and Aetolia (Thermo, Vrachori, the lakes, Aetolikon, Mesolonghi, Calydon, Macyneia and Naupactus. He does not omit to describe Doris, Locris, Oite, Spercheios valley, Thermopylae, Lamia, Phocis (Salona, Delphi, Arachova and Steiri) as well as Boeotia (Chaeronea, Copaïs, Thespiae, Thebes and Tanagra), Chalcis and Oropos. Pouqueville deals with commerce in these areas from 1790 to 1815, crops and fauna.
On his way from Ioannina to Patras he writes on Leucada and continues with chapters on the Peloponnese: Achaia, Patras, Kato Achagia, Aigion, Calavryta, Acrata, Sicyon, Nemea, Corinth and Megaris. He reaches Attica and describes Salamis, Piraeus, Athens and its monuments in great detail, Vrauron, Thorikos, Sounion,Kaisariani, Marathon, Eleusis and Megara. He travels from the Isthmus of Cointh to Perachora, Corinth, Mycenae, Argos, Tiryns, Nafplion, Tolo, Ligourio, Epidaurus, Troezen and Methana. In his text, Pouqueville describes Cynouria, Tripolis, Tegea, Mantineia, Lerne, Phloious, Stymphalia, Feneos, Styx, and Calavryta, before arriving in Patras again. He thens starts out to Elis and on his way visits Gastouni, Chlemoutsi, Pyrgos, Catacolon and reaches Alpheios River and Olympia. He returns to Patras via Erymanthus and Mega Spilaion. Finally, he describes the valley of Megalopolis, Carytaina, Bassae, Lycosoura, Gortyna, Dimitsana, and all of Arcadia. From Leontari, Pouqueville reaches Sparta, Mystras and Eurotas, and closes his text with references to the history of Mystras and the peculiarities of Mani region.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou