Ottoman rule in Macedonia, with all its social, economic and political consequences, had a tremendous effect on the intellectual activity of the region. During this period the Greek and Jewish communities played a substantial role in the development of learning.
A major factor was of course the Church, which from its base on Mount Athos, did much to promote the cultivation of learning as a means of supporting the Orthodox faith. The monasteries of Macedonia, from Grevena (Zavordas Monastery), Meleniko and Serres to Moschopolis, Elassona and Ochrid, took great pains over the issue of education, as their well-endowed libraries indicate.
From the 17th century, the intellectual life of Macedonia, though initially restricted to the larger urban centers, began to show impressive development. Thanks to the private efforts of wealthy city dwellers and scholars, libraries and schools began to open and scholarships were made available.
In western Macedonia especially, the rising bourgeoisie, which had created eminent communities in the West, now imbued with the spirit of the Enlightenment (18th century), took the lead in founding institutions of higher learning, schools and libraries, as well as undertaking the publication, abroad, of books and newspapers. The region became an important center of art and modern Greek learning aimed at awakening a national conscience among the enslaved population.