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          War... From the very early days of history, it has been an unfortunate part of our lives. If you have never witnessed war by reading from books or newspapers, you feel it like a match between two teams. But of course, it's not that easy. Maybe at the end of the day, it has a winner, but both sides lose many precious things during the war; soldiers die, cities burn, and citizens suffer... Here in this article, we would like to share with you a memory of our family about a war which has been found in governmental archives recently. It's Giovanni Marco Sanzoni’s petition to Supreme Porte (the government of the Ottoman Empire), which has been sent just after The Balkan Wars.

           The great ancestor of the Sanzoni Family, Giovanni Marco Sanzoni has immigrated to Karaagac/Edirne from Corleone/Palermo in the 1870s. Here he has been started to work in the construction of Karaagac Train Station. He married here and continued his life in Karaagac.  During his lifetime, he saw the First and the Second Balkan Wars. Before continuing to our story, let's share brief information about those wars.

Le Petit Journal Bulgarlar'ın Edirne'yi
Sükrü Pasha surrenders Edirne, to the Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinad / 1913 Le Petit Journal

       The First Balkan War took place between the Ottoman Empire and Balkan League - Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro -  in 1912 and 1913. After this war, The Balkan League captured most of the area in the Balkans from the Ottoman Empire, and the Ottomans lost their famous old capital Edirne. Bulgaria captured most of the land in the area and became more powerful. But this was unacceptable for other Balkan countries, and Greece, Serbia, Montenegro united with Romania for a second war against Bulgaria, which is known as the Second Balkan War. Bulgaria was increasingly weak in this war, and it was an advantage for the Ottoman Empire to take back Edirne and Kırklareli. The Ottomans used this advantage and took back their old capital Edirne and Kırklareli. Even we explained in a short paragraph, the Balkan Wars were one of the important wars in history, and both sides suffered enormous losses. It affected many people’s daily lives.

             During our research in governmental archives, we found a petition which was named “Balkan War, Foreigners Office: Italian Giovanni Sanzoni's claim for damages to the land in Edirne.” When we first found it, it was just a name in the archive but last month it has been uploaded completely and we had the chance to check it. It was a petition which has been written in French to the Ottoman Supreme Porte in Istanbul by the Italian Royal Embassy, as a request from Giovanni Sanzoni. After we read this petition, we saw that the Italian part of our family in Karaağaç - The Sanzoni Family - has been affected by this war. Maybe it is not a matter of life and death, but it was a matter of their land, their means of living.


             Let's firstly check the petition in its written language and then its translation in English.

1913, The Petition of Marco Sanzoni to Supreme Porte



                  L' Ambassade Royale d'Italie a l'honneur d'informer la Sublime Porte qu'il appert d'une requete qui lui  a ete presentee par le Sieur Giovanni Sanzoni, citoyen italien demeurant a Andrinople, que ce dernier a eu a subir de graves dommages dans ses proprietes pendant le siege d' Andrinople.

                  En effet les troupes de la IIe division sous le commandement de Ibrahim Pacha ont procede a la coupe d'un bois de saules d'une etendue de trois deunums appartenant au requerant sis dans la commune de Abarascli dans la localite dite Suintluk et ce pour se procurer du bois de chauffage, des pieux et des planches pour les tranchees.

                  Les memes troupes ont coupe comme bois de chauffage un grand noyer sis a Caragatch dans la localite appelee Kaldimi Basci ainsi que deux amandiers, seize grands muriers, trois griottiers, soixante petits muriers et un abricotier dans la localite appelee Muscioglan, trente peupliers et dixhuit grands saules dans la localite appelee Salash, quinze grands muriers, un orme, un peuplier, dans la localite appelee Ghecit. En outre le quatrieme Regiment  d'infanterie sous le commandement du lieutnant colonel Djelal bey a procede a la recolte des pommes de terre contenues dans un champ appartenant au requerant et sis dans la commune de Abur-Keni dans la localite appelee Palat.


                  Monsieur Sanzoni aurait subi un dommage de Francs 7050, dont il reclame la reparation.

                  La requete porte le sceau du muhtar et des anciens de la commune de Kara-Agatch.

                  L'Ambassade Royale prie la Sublime Porte de vouloir bien prendre acte de la requete du Sieur Sanzoni et de vouloir bien designer un delegue qui puisse, avec un delegue consulaire se rendre sur les lieux et proceder aux constatations d'usage.

      Constantinople le 7 Novembre 1913


             The Italian Royal Embassy is honored to inform the Supreme Porte that there is a request that Mr Giovanni Sanzoni, an Italian resident in Edirne, had to apply: severe damage to his property during the siege of Edirne.



              Indeed, the troops of the 2nd Division under the command of Ibrahim Pasha were involved in cutting down willow trees on a three-acre area belonging to the applicant, located in the Abarascli commune in the locality known as Suintluk, in order to dig ditches and provide piles and boards for firewood.


              In addition to a large walnut tree in Kaldimi Başçı in Karaağaç, in the area called Muscioğlan, two almond trees, sixteen large mulberry trees, three cherry trees, sixty small mulberry trees and an apricot tree, thirty poplar and eighteen large trees in the neighborhood called Salash has been cut by the same troops and a willow tree, fifteen large mulberry trees, an elm and a poplar tree in the neighborhood called Ghecit have been cut as firewood. Moreover, the fourth Infantry Regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Djelal Bey began to collect potatoes found in a field belonging to the applicant, in the Abur-Keni commune in the district of Palat.

              Mr Sanzoni claimed 7050 Francs damage from this situation, which he claimed to repair.

              The seal of the headman and the elders of the Kara-Agaç district are also available on the request.


The Royal Embassy asks the Supreme Porte to note the request of Sieur Sanzoni and appoint a delegate who can go to the scene and carry out the usual findings with a consular delegate.

    Constantinople 7 November 1913

             According to this petition, we understand that during the Balkan Wars, many trees have been cut due to military issues. This could be normal considering the conditions of that day, but the main problem is the trees that have been cut were fruit trees or special-usage trees, and they belonged to some citizens as an important part of their daily lives. Just like Giovanni Marco Sanzoni, he had willow trees in Suintluk and also had a field of potatoes in Palat. But during the war, his trees have been cut, and the potatoes have been harvested. According to this petition, the total damage was nearly 7050 Francs. Not only the trees of Giovanni Marco, as you read, many fruit trees in the region have also been cut.

1931, Map of Edirne / 2mi3museum Collection

              This petition also contains details about the region and the Balkan Wars. While we were checking every word one by one, we identified the names of the places with the help of old citizens of Edirne  - as the petition has been written in French, it was quite difficult to identify those places. Below, we share with you those places and also marked the ones that we found on Google Maps.

         Suintluk = Sögütlük

         Kaldimi Basci = Kaldırımbaşı / Karaagaç

         Salash = The Prison Camp & TOKI Area

         Ghecit = Geçit District, Baglıklar

         Palat = Sarayiçi

         Besides the places, here on this petition, two names have been mentioned as commanders. One of them is Ibrahim Pasha, who was the commander of 2nd Division Troops, and the other one is Colonel Celal Bey, who was the commander of the Fourth Infantry Regiment during the Balkan Wars. We searched a lot for those names, but we couldn't find any detailed information about them. Let's keep those two names here, and maybe we can update this part in the future.

The Portraits / 1950s Cusepina Sanzoni -
Giuseppina Sanzoni

         While writing this article, we reminded that Giuseppina Sanzoni had always been talking about her family’s fields in Edirne. Also, she had been saying that some of those fields are on the other side of borders. Maybe those were the fields written in the petition of his grandfather Marco. Now there is nothing related to Sanzoni Family Karaagaç, Edirne except their memories. But in any case, Sanzoni Family is full of surprises. While we were just at the beginning of 2mi3museum project, there was very little information about them. But by the time we found much information about them in archives, and we met with many people who know their story. Hope to extend their story and to find more clues about them in the future...

        Written by: 2mi3, November 2020

* Special thanks to G. for her great support by reading this article before anyone else and making the necessary corrections.





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