Zakynthos

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Zakynthos
Ζάκυνθος
Regional unit
View of Zakynthos City
View of Zakynthos City
Flag of Zakynthos
Flag
Zakynthos within Greece
Zakynthos within Greece
Coordinates: 37°48′N 20°45′E / 37.800°N 20.750°E / 37.800; 20.750Coordinates: 37°48′N 20°45′E / 37.800°N 20.750°E / 37.800; 20.750
Country Greece
Region Ionian Islands
Capital Zakynthos (city)
Government
 • Vice Governor Eleutherios Niotopoulos
 • Mayor Pavlos Kolokotsas
Area
 • Total 405.55 km2 (156.58 sq mi)
Population (2011)
 • Total 40,759
 • Density 100/km2 (260/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Zakynthian
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal codes 29x xx
Area codes 2695
Car plates ΖΑ
Website www.zakynthos.gov.gr

Zakynthos (Greek: Ζάκυνθος, Zákynthos [ˈzacinθos] (About this sound listen), Italian: Zacìnto) or Zante (Greek: Τζάντε, Tzánte /ˈzɑːnti, -t, ˈzæn-/, Italian: Zante; from Venetian), is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. Zakynthos is a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and its only municipality. It covers an area of 405.55 km2 (156.6 sq mi)[1] and its coastline is roughly 123 km (76 mi) in length. The name, like all similar names ending in -nthos, is pre-Mycenaean or Pelasgian in origin. In Greek mythology the island was said to be named after Zakynthos, the son of a legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus.

Zakynthos is a tourist destination, with an international airport served by charter flights from northern Europe. The island's nickname is "The flower of the Levant", bestowed upon it by the Venetians who were in possession of Zakynthos from 1484–1797.[citation needed]

Contents

History[edit]

Flag of Zakynthos, displaying an ancient depiction of the founding hero Zákynthos. The quote underneath reads: "Freedom requires virtue and bravery", a famous verse by 19th century Zakynthian poet Andreas Kalvos.
Faneromeni church, Zakynthos town
Church and monastery ruins of Panagía Skopiótissa on Mount Skopós
Saint Mark's Catholic church, Zakynthos town
Statue of Dionysios Solomos with the Byzantine museum in the background

Ancient history[edit]

Zakynthos has been inhabited from at least the Paelolithic and later Neolithic Age as some archaeological excavations have proven.[2] The island was important during the Mycenaean period, being mentioned three times on Linear B tablets from Pylos, Messenia. There were also Zakynthian rowers present in the Mycenaean Messenian state. The Mycenaean presence is further attested by the monumental Mycenaean built and tholos tombs that have been excavated on Zakynthos. Most important is the Mycenaean cemetery that was accidentally discovered during road construction in 1971 near the town of Kambi.[3]

The ancient Greek poet Homer mentioned the Zakynthos in the Iliad and the Odyssey, stating that the first inhabitants of it were the son of King Dardanos of Arcadia called Zakynthos and his men.[citation needed] Before being renamed Zakynthos, the island was said to have been called Hyrie. Zakynthos was then conquered by King Arkesios of Kefalonia, and then by Odysseus from Ithaca. Zakynthos participated in the Trojan War and is listed in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships which, if accurate, describes geopolitical situation in early Greece at some time between the Late Bronze Age and the eighth century BCE. In the Odyssey, Homer mentions 20 nobles from Zakynthos among a total of 108 of Penelope's suitors.[4]

The Athenian military commander Tolmides concluded an alliance with Zakynthos during the First Peloponnesian War sometime between 459 and 446 BC. In 430 BC, the Lacedaemonians made an unsuccessful attack upon Zakynthos. The Zakynthians are then enumerated among the autonomous allies of Athens in the disastrous Sicilian expedition. After the Peloponnesian War, Zakynthos seems to have passed under the supremacy of Sparta because in 374 BC, Timotheus, the Athenian commander, on his return from Kerkyra, landed some Zakynthian exiles on the island and assisted them in establishing a fortified post. These exiles must have belonged to the anti-Spartan party as the Zakynthian rulers applied for help to the Spartans who sent a fleet of 25 to the island.[5][6][4]

The importance of this alliance for Athens was that it provided them with a source of tar. Tar is a more effective protector of ship planking than pitch (which is made from pine trees). The Athenian trireme fleet needed protection from rot, decay and the teredo, so this new source of tar was valuable to them. The tar was dredged up from the bottom of a lake (now known as Lake Keri) using leafy myrtle branches tied to the ends of poles. It was then collected in pots and could be carried to the beach and swabbed directly onto ship hulls.[7] Alternatively, the tar could be shipped to the Athenian naval yard at the Piraeus for storage.[8]

Philip V of Macedon seized Zakynthos in the early 3rd century BC when it was a member of the Aetolian League. In 211 BC, the Roman praetor Marcus Valerius Laevinus took the city of Zakynthos with the exception of the citadel. It was afterwards restored to Philip V of Macedon. The Roman general, Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, finally conquered Zakynthos in 191 BC for Rome. In the Mithridatic War, it was attacked by Archelaus, the general of Mithridates, but he was repulsed.[4]

Byzantine Greeks (330–1185)[edit]

The introduction of Christianity on Zakynthos is said to have occurred when either St Mary Magdalene or St Berenice visited the island in the 1st century AD on their way to Rome. In 467 AD, the Vandal King Genseric pillaged Zakynthos and captured 500 Zakynthian members of the local elite. Later in 533 AD, the island was used as a naval station for the troops of Byzantine general Belisarius in his campaigns against the Vandals in Italy.[9]

The Ionian Islands including Zakynthos remained largely unaffected by the Slavic invasions and settlement of the 7th century AD; however, they did suffer raids from Arab pirates in 880 AD and the Pisans in 1099. During the beginning of the Middle Byzantine era, Zakynthos formed a base for the re-establishment of the imperial control and the re-Hellenization of the mainland coast. Zakynthos became part of the Byzantine Theme of Cephallenia, a military-civilian province located in western Greece comprising the Ionian Islands. It was extant from around the 8th century until partially conquered by the Normans of the Kingdom of Sicily in 1185.[9]

There was a close relationship between the Theme of Cephallenia and the Byzantine holdings in southern Italy as the Ionian Islands served as a key communication link with, and staging base, for operations in Italy and defended the maritime approaches of the Ionian and Adriatic seas against Arab pirates. However, Zakynthos was not a central part of the Theme as its strategos was based mostly at Cephalonia. The Theme was also frequently used as a place of exile for political prisoners.

Following the collapse of Byzantine control in southern Italy in the mid-11th century, the Theme of Cephallenia's importance declined and was subsequently headed by civilian governors. Kerkyra and the rest of the Theme except for Lefkada were captured by the Normans under William II of Sicily in 1185. Although Kerkyra was recovered by the Byzantines by 1191, the other islands including Zakynthos remained lost to Byzantium. They formed a County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos under William II's Greek admiral Margaritus of Brindisi.[10]

Neapolitan rule (1185–1479)[edit]

After 1185 Zakynthos became part of the County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos under the Kingdom of Naples until its last Count Leonardo III Tocco was fled from the Ottomans in 1479.

Coat of Arms of the Tocco family

The title and the right to rule the Ionian islands of Cephalonia and Zakynthos was originally given to the Greek Margaritos of Brindisi in 1185 for his services to William II, king of Sicily. The County then passed on to a branch of the Orsini family until 1325, when it passed briefly to Angevins and then from 1357 to the Tocco family. The Tocco used the county as a springboard for their acquisition of lands in the Greek mainland. However, facing the advance of the Ottoman Turks they successively lost their mainland territories and were once again reduced to the County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos which they held until 1479 when the Ottoman Turks raided the island and Leonardo III Tocco fled.

First refugees (1460–1479)[edit]

By 1460, and during the reign of Mehmed II, the Ottoman Turks eventually controlled most of the Peloponnese with the exception of the remaining Venetian-controlled towns of Argos, Napflion, Monemvassia, Methoni and Koroni. After the collapse of the Hexamilion, which was supposed to act as a defense across the Isthmus of Corinth; and hence, protect the Peloponnese, Leonardo III Tocco made an agreement with Venice to accept 10,000 refugees from this region. Leonardo III Tocco and his realm was increasingly vulnerable from Ottoman Turkish attacks. These refugees consisted of Greeks, Arvanite-speaking Greeks and some Venetian officials. Some of them were Stradiotes (see below) which Leonardo III Tocco must have figured would act as a bulwark against the Ottoman Turks. It is likely that a good number of the Stradiotes returned to the Peloponnese at a later stage and perhaps leaving behind their families in Zakynthos.[11]

In April 1463, the Ottoman Turks conquered Argos. The Venetians and their allies attempted a further defence of the Peloponnese but by 1464 more of the peninsula was under Ottoman Turkish control. Consequently, more refugees from the Peloponnese made their way to Zakynthos under the initiative of Stradioti leader, Michael Rallis. Again, another wave made its way to Zakynythos in 1470 when the Ottoman Turks made further headway in the Peloponnese. Another group of Stradiotes under the leadership of Nikolaos Bochalis and Petros Buas were stationed on the island during the last years of the First Venetian-Turkish War of 1463–1479. And so began the cycle of emigration of primarily Greeks from the Peloponnese, Crete, Rhodes and Cyprus to Zakynthos.[12][13]

In total, a little over 10,000 Greeks, Arvanite-speaking Greeks who had retained Venetian citizenship, and some Venetian officials, are said to have emigrated from the west of the Peloponnese (Morea) to Zakynthos during the period 1460–1479. This implies that around 15,000 Zakynthians were autochnous to the island or were at least inhabitants going back generations. The newcomers were given land grants to cultivate previously non-arable land and formed an almost independent community represented by a Venetian official called the Consul. The first consul was Martin di Trino. The presence of this community would play a critical role in the defence of Zakynthos in 1479 and its later occupation of the Venetian Republic.[14][13]

Ottoman Turkish raid (1479)[edit]

During the reign of the Ottoman Turkish emperor, Mehmet II the Tocco family had been obliged to pay a tribute to the Porte to preserve their sovereignty. They were required to pay an annual tribute of 4000 ducats to the Sultan and to pay 500 ducats every time that an Ottoman Turkish sancak beyi or provincial governor visited Arta. Of course, Leonardo III Tocco was also bound by the treaty.

Leonardo de Tocco, Duke of Zakynthos by Carlo Sellito, c. 1510s. It is uncertain which Leonardo Tocco he represented in this painting.

Around this time, Zakynthos had some 25,000 inhabitants bringing Leonardo III Tocco's state more than 12,000 ducats a year, according to the Spanish historian G. Curita.[13]

Conditions for the local Greek Orthodox population were also improving – it is said that Leonardo III Tocco was more friendly to the Orthodox Church than his predecessors. He was also sufficiently Hellenised to use Greek in his documents. Even though he made these concessions, evidence suggests he was regarded as a tyrant by the islanders.[13] The Ionian Islands under Leonardo III Tocco’s reign had also been the refuge of thousands escaping mainland Greece. Most prominently a few agreements negotiated between Venice and the County palatinate of Cephallonia and Zakynthos since the early 1460s - borne by Leonardo III Tocco’s increasing military vulnerability in the face of the Ottoman Turkish threat.[15][13] It also appeared that Zakynthos was by now acting as a staging point for Stradiotes in the service of Venice for their wars on the Italian and Greek mainland.[16]

In early 1479, the new sanzak Bay of Ioannina passed through Arta. This official was not only 16 years of age, had been recently demoted by the Sultan but he was also related to Leanardo III Tocco – likely his cousin by being the bastard son of Leanardo’s uncle, Carlo I who had gone over to the Ottoman Turks. In response to this insult, instead of handing over 500 ducats, Leonardo III Tocco presented a basket of cherries to him. Furious, the Bay reported the incident to the Porte in Constantinople.[17][18][13]

Based on old grudges and for a chance to conquer some of the last Christian states in Greece; and perhaps to create a staging platform for an invasion of Italy, the complaint was taken as a pretext for war by the Sultan against Leonardo III Tocco. The Bay also reported to the Porte that during the recent First Venetian-Ottoman Turkish war (1463–1479), Leonardo III Tocco had provided Stradiotes under the pay of Venice refuge on Zakynthos which helped them to continue their raids on the adjacent Ottoman occupied Peloponesian territory.[19][13]

Therefore, in the summer of 1479, the Sultan ordered the Bay of Valona, celebrated captain and former Grand Vizier, Gedik Ahmed Pasha, to attack Leonardo III Tocco with 29 ships. In early 1479, Gedik Ahmed Pasha had concluded the siege of Scutari resulting in the cessation of that territory to the Ottoman Empire.[20][13] Leonardo III Tocco did not wait the Turkish invasion. He knew that the Venetians were unwilling, and the Neapolitans were incapable, to provide military assistance, and that his own subjects considered him tyrannical. Consequently, long before the Gedik Ahmed Pasha appeared, he collected all his portable valuables and fled from Lefkada to the strongest of his castles, Fort of St George in Cephalonia. However, he did not trust the garrison stationed there. Also, the approaching Ottoman Turks noticed his ship was laden with treasure, so he hastily embarked along with his wife, his son Carlo, and his two brothers on board another Venetian vessel that lay in the harbour across the Ionian Sea to Taranto. Thereafter, he proceeded to Naples.[21][13]

In the meantime, Gedik Ahmed Pash was being watched by the Venetian admiral, Antonio Loredan as he sailed down the strait between Kerkyra and the Greek mainland. But the Venetian admiral did not dare to disturb Gedik Ahmed Pasha in fear of stoking the continuation of the recently concluded First Venetian-Ottoman Turkish war. The Bay of Valona easily captured Vonitza, the last vestige of the old Despotate of Epiros and the islands of Lefkada, Cephalonia, and Ithaka from mid to late August 1479. He slaughtered the officials who worked for Leonardo III Tocco, burned the Fort of St George of Cephalonia and carried off many islanders to Constantinople to be sold into slavery. The destruction was so severe that Ithaka remained uninhabited until the beginning of the next century.[22][23][13]

Detail from Meeting of the Betrothed Couple and the Departure of the Pilgrims by Vittore Carpaccio, 1495. Andrea Loredan is seated on the right.

Ominously, Gedik Ahmed Pasha then proceeded to attack Zakynthos. However, this time he was met by Antonion Loredan. The admiral protested that the island was inhabited by Venetian subjects from the Peloponese and the Ottoman Turkish forces should cease their advances on the island. They then astutely hoisted, undoubtedly with the support of the local autochnones population, the lion-banner of St Mark on the Castle.[22][24][13]

The defenders of the island were also protected by 500 Stradiotes under the fearsome leadership of Stradioti, Petros Bouas. He and his company of Stradiotes were well-known given their exploits fighting valiantly against the Ottoman Turks in the Peloponese for many years. They were probably in Zakynthos following another agreement with the Venetian Republic. Petros Bouas was also supported by Nikolaos Bochalis and Petros Bozikis and their own companies of Stradiotes who arrived over last few years to the island from the Peloppnese and Napflion. Petros Bozikis was Nikolaos Bochalis’s first lieutenant. Subsequently, the matter was referred to the Porte in Constantinople.[13]

However, the forces of Gedik Ahmed Pasha did not wait for the reply and savagely attacked the islanders of Zakynthos. Given they would have been outnumbered, miracoulesly the Stradiotes and the local inhabitants defeated the marauding Ottoman Turks twice in battle around the Castle and Aigialo (the town below the Castle). They also helped to capture and release hostages the Ottoman Turks had taken previously. Not satisfied with their exploits, the Stradiotes again attacked and even took the equipment that was to be used to break the walls of the Castle. Gedik Ahmed Pasha crudely retaliated by attacking any ship near the island and continued small scale raids in the countryside of Zakynthos which was less well defended than the Castle and Aigialo.[13]

Finally, a decision came from Constantinople. The Porte decided Zakynthos would become a possession of the Ottoman Empire but those Zakynthians who chose too could leave before the Ottoman Turks pillaged and occupied the island. Consequently, thousands of Venetian subjects and autochnonous Zakhynthians duly left the island with the assistance of Antonio Loredan’s ships. Most of them were transported to Napfaktos, Kerkyra and the Peloponese.[25]

Treacherously, the Ottoman Turks slipped 500 soldiers onto the island to capture the Zakynthians before they could leave. Howwever, a group of 20 Stradiotes noticed them around Bochali, adjacent to the Castle. Once notified the rest of the Stradiotes and almost certainly local inhabitants surrounded these Ottoman Turkish soldiers slaughtered them all. Thus, due to the bravery of the Stradiotes and local inhabitants the evacuation of most of the population was successfully completed and the Zakynthian people were spared the devastation wrought on Lefkada and to a lesser extent Cephallonia. Nonetheless, a meaningful number of islanders and their imovable property was left behind. Many of those are said to have hid in caves on Vrachionas (the central mountain range); however, vast amounts of their property, valuable icons, vines, olive trees were left to behind to be pillaged by the Ottoman Turks.[26][13]

On 5 November 1479, Gedik Ahmed Pasha gave the order to ravage and then occupy Zakynthos. His forces destroyed most of its churches, monasteries and many of its dwellings. The destruction was said to be horrific. Fortunately, for the time being they only decided to leave a small garrison in the Castle and did not decide to administer the island as a possession. Thus, in late 1479, after an existence of almost three centuries, the County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos disappeared forever.[27][13]

In the meantime, Leonardo III Tocco and his family were met with a friendly reception from King Ferdinand I of Naples. After a short stay in Rome, he returned to Naples and proceeded to plan the recapture of his dominions. Shortly after the death of the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II in 1481, Leonardo III Tocco and a Neapolitan fleet in vain summoned the Ottoman Turkish leader of the garrisons of Cephalonia and Zakynthos to surrender. However, Leonardo III Tocco's brother Antonio and a band of Catalan mercenaries easily recovered the two islands as the Ottoman Turkish garrison was small. But Antonio's success alarmed the Venetians, which were fearful of the islands falling again into the hands of the King of Naples or his vassals. Additionally, they were unwilling to break their treaty with the Ottoman Empire and support Antiono Tocco’s actions.[28][13]

Consequently, the Venetian governor of Methoni (Modon) dislodged Antonio Tocco and his band of Catalans from Zakynthos in 1482. Antonio Tocco hung on to Cephallonia for another year or so. However, he irritated the local inhabitants after giving his implicit support of corsairs using the island as a refuge. This also shocked the Venetians. And so, in 1483 after a futile attempt to bribe him, the Venetian Republic aided by many of the local inhabitants prepared to attack him. Thereupon, the garrison of the Fort of St George slew him and opened their gates to the Venetian commander. Lacking any opposition, he made himself master of the whole island and appointed its first Venetian governor.[29][13]

Leonardo III Tocco pathetically asked for the restitution of the two islands from the new Sultan, Bayezid II. However, the Sultan demanded them for himself. In vain, Venice strove to retain Cephallonia but which in 1485 she accepted she had to cede to Bayezid II. It finally passed into her hands in 1500. But she succeeded in keeping Zakynthos on the condition of paying an annual tribute of 500 ducats.[30][13]

As for the Tocco family, they made no further efforts to recover their island domain as the kings of Naples were now threatened by France, and had no wish to irritate the Sultan into a second attack upon Otranto.[31]

The Stradiotes who had done so much to save much of the Zakynthian population, tirelessly continued their fight against the Ottoman Turks. Petros Bouas and his Stradiotes would continue fight the Ottoman Turks in the service of Venice for many years until his death in 1489. Petros Bozikis continued to support the guerrilla war efforts of his brother in the Peloponese against the Ottoman Turks and later fought in Italy with his band of Stradiotes. He later returned to Napflion after serving time in a Venetian goal. In 1494, Petros Bozikis and his brother returned to Italy to fight the invading French. Nikolaos Bochalis was later found fighting with 50 Stradiotes in Dalmatia’s Šibenik in 1496.[13][32]

Venetian rule (1484–1797)[edit]

Ottoman Turkish rule lasted only until 22 April 1484; however, the Ottoman Turks did not completely occupy Zakynthos during that time - they only stationed a small garrison in the Castle. Then it was swapped with the Ottomans Turks by Venetian secretary Giovanni Dario, negotiator of the treaty of Constantinople (1479), against neighboring Cephalonia and the provision of an annual tribute of 500 ducats.[33][34] From then on Zakynthos remained an overseas colony of the Venetian Republic until its very end in 1797, following the fate of the Ionian islands, completed by the capture of Cephalonia in 1500 and Lefkada in 1684 from the Turks.[citation needed]

Flag of the Most Serene Republic of Venice

Administration of the island[edit]

Venetian rule largely protected the island from Ottoman Turkish domination but in its place an oligarchy was gradually established and maintained. As in Venice itself, the Venetian Republic divided Zakynthian society across three broad societal classes, the Cittadini (some later became Nobles or Nobili) and Popolari based in Zakynthos town and the rural Villani.

Rimada of Alexander the Great, 1620 edition. The first edition was published in Venice by Zakynthian Dimitrios Zinos in 1529.

The civil and military governor of the whole of the Ionian Islands was the Provveditore generale da Mar, who lived on Kerkyra. Authority on Zakynthos was divided into the Venetian, occupied by Venetians and domestic authorities. The Venetian authorities represented the sovereign state and its political and military power over Zakynthos. The domestic authorities were appointed by the local Community Council which was composed of Zakynthians which included mostly Greeks but some Latins. (Consiglio della Comunità).[35] The Venetian representatives led by the Provveditore (the title in Zakynthos or sometimes Retore) were appointed by the Great Council of Venice. The Provveditore's responsibilities included security from hostile raids, taxation, religious and other issues and was appointed for about two years.[36] The subordinate Venetian officials were the consiglieri, two on each island, who performed administrative and judicial functions along with the Provveditore of each island.[37] The three Venetian officials constituted the reggimento ("regime") of Zakynthos.[38][39] The title pf Provveditore in Zakynthos could only be held by a nobleman.[40]

Initially, the Community Council was a relatively open institution including autochnonous inhabitants, large landowners, traders, shippers, notaries and secretaries, professionals, craftsmen, refugees and Stradiotes. However, gradually from the middle of the 16th century, efforts were made to clean up the Community Council with the establishment of a Small Council of 150 (Consiglio Minore) and the implementation of civic criteria such as the exclusion of foreigners, illegitimates, manual workers and non-residents of Zakynthos town. This led to the establishment of the infamous Libro d'Oro first compiled on Zakynthos in 1542. It was a formal directory of Cittadini/Nobles of the members of the Community Council. After the Ionian Islands were conquered and annexed by Napoleon Bonaparte's France in 1797, the Libro d'Oro was ceremoniously burned in Zakynthos town.[41]

Initially, the main opposition to these measures were wealthy foreign merchants from mainland Greece and Italy and manual workers but gradually wealthy local merchants from often humble origins, who had become rich on mostly currant production and trade, resisted the efforts of the Cittadini. The constant influx of refugees from mainland Greece complicated the complex struggle for power and influence in Zakynthos town.[42]

On 15 June 1578, the Small Council of 150 deprived without the permission of Venice, the Communal Council of its right to annually elect the 150 and to also control who could be a member of the Communal Council; and therefore, control who could become a candidate for the Small Council of 150. Consequently, the Communal Council was stripped of effective power. By the 17th century, the criteria for entry into the Community Council became fixed and only those families who fulfilled the criteria of birthright were accepted. The year 1683 marked the strict closure of the Community Council to 93 families. Hence, a Nobility of sorts was established although these so-called nobles were never officially recognised by Venice.[43]

The members of the Community Council were given a number of rights. The most important right was the ability to send ambassadors and petition to Venice on behalf of the Zakynthian population - in practice they mostly petitioned for benefits accruing to themselves at the expense of the rest of the local population. And the right of local administration which as stated above was shared to some extent with Venetian officials appointed by Venice. Some of these local administrative offices included: judici (judges), health and market inspectors, security including signori di notte (nighttime safety), charitable institutions, sopracomiti (galley captains) and capitani contra fures (captains fighting against bandits in rural areas).[44]

The cultural influence of Venice (and of Venetian on local dialect) was considerable. The wealthy made a habit of sending their sons to Italy to be educated. Good examples are Dionysios Solomos, a native of Zakynthos and Greece's national poet, and Ugo Foscolo, also native of Zakynthos and a national Italian poet. However, apart from the wealthy, an overwhelming proportion of the population; particularly, from the Cittadini, Popolari and Villani would have spoken Greek and adhered to the Orthodox faith.

Stradiotes[edit]

When Zakynthos became a Venetian holding in 1484, the Venetian Republic sought to repopulate the island as the native population had dwindled. The Turkish raids in 1479 are believed to have resulted in many inhabitants hiding in the mountains or escaping the island altogether. Consequently, the Venice attempted to entice settlers and Greek refugees from mostly mainland Greece with parcels of land and fiscal privileges – initially these attempts we not successful but they improved later as Venice experienced reversals in mainland Greece. Many of these settlers and refugees were Stradiotes. However, these Stradiotes (also known as Stratioti) were expected provide and upkeep their horses and be ready to serve in war.

Icon of the Stradioti Manessis (probably Comin Manessis) by unknown artist in San Giorgio dei Greci, Venice 1546

Stradioti were mounted troops of Greek and Arvanite-speaking Greek origin. Initially, they entered Venetian military service during the Venetian Republic's wars against the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. Stradioti had previously served Byzantine rulers and were pioneers of light cavalry tactics in European armies. After the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire in the Peloponnese, they found asylum and employment in the Venetian strongholds of Napfaktos, Nauplion, Koroni, Methoni, and Monemvassia. Later, as the Venetian Republic lost these holdings, Napfaktos in 1499, Koroni and Methoni in 1500, Monemvassia and Napflio in 1540, Cyprus in 1570–1571 and later Crete in 1669 to the Ottoman Empire, Stradioti were stationed and resettled in other Venetian holdings such as Zakynthos.

One of the most famous groups of Stradiotes were the 400 Stradioti and their families led by the redoubtable, Theodoros Paleologos. This branch of the Paleologi was not imperial but possibly distantly related. Shortly after in 1498, 150 Stradioti and their families were also settled on the island.

Born in 1452, Theodoros Paleologos initially served as a tax collector for the Ottoman Turks in the Peloponnese. In 1478, he went over to the Venetians to become the leader of a Stradioti company. Theodoros Paleologos came to prominence when the Venetian Senate noticed his efforts in a campaign in Friuli. The Venetians had such respect for him that they bestowed on Paleologos their highest honour, the Knighthood of St. Mark possibly as early as 1480.[45]

In 1483, Theodoros Paleologos and supported by his brother, Georgios, became governors of the Stradioti in Zakynthos and were granted properties on the island, including the island of Marathonissi in the bay of Laganas, for their service to Venice. As mentioned above, in early 1485, they also moved their extended families to the island. Theodoros Paleologos played a vital role in improving the standing of the Stradiotes in Zakynthos in the face of autochthonous locals which sought to retain their power and privileges. However, after the earthquake of 1513, Theodoros Paleologos moved his extended family to Venice; however, most of his company of Stradiotes remained on the island. After 1525, he became a member of the Venetian diplomatic corps accompanying ambassadors and other high officials to the Levant due to his ability to speak Greek, Italian, and Turkish. Theodoros Paleologos was also passionate advocate of the Greek Orthodox community in Venice. Upon his death, Theodoros Paleologos was given a state funeral by Venice and buried according to Greek Orthodox custom.[46]

Likely portrait of Theodoros Paleologos by unknown artist in Victoria and Albert Museum, London c. 1477–1491

Some family names of the Stradiotes include the Soumakis, Roussianos, Chalkomatas from Napflion, Kapnisis, Commoutos, Minotos, Nomikos from Methoni, Melissinos, Kontostavlis and Skiadopoulos from Mani and Tzibletis, Kumvis, Karreris and Derossis from Cyprus. Other populations also settled on Zakynthos which were not held by Venice but were battlegrounds between Ottoman and Venetian forces such as Mani in the Peloponnese. Even some families from mainland Italy were settled in Zakynthos who were fleeing civil wars going on at that time. They included the less Hellenised at that time of Salviati, Mediki, Valterra, Serra, Bentivolia and Merkati. These waves of Stradiotes and refugees resulted in an island population of mixed classes of soldiers and refugees. By 1621, the settlement of people from certain areas was so dense in certain areas of Zakynthos town that the neighbourhood was named after them like Maniatika given the high proportion of people from Mani.[47][48][49]

Stradioti continued to be employed by Venice as capelatti (rural gendarmes) in the Terra Firma well into the 17th century. Stradioti companies also continued to be garrisoned in some of the towns of Cephalonia, Kerkyra and Zakynthos. In Zakynthos, a slightly different company of Stradiotes from those guarding Zakynthos town were given the responsibility to guard the coast from the frequent pirate raids. They were considered the better fighters with the best horses on the island. They generally kept watch from watchtowers (which are still found on the island) during summer when pirate raids were more numerous and organised themselves using fire or smoke signals to gather fellow Stradiotes and defend the island against a raiding party.[50]

Stradioti continued their service into the 18th century but over time they virtually became a hereditary caste. Some of the Stradioti or their descendants became members of the Ionian nobility while others took to farming.[48]

Fall of Napfaktos (1499)[edit]

The Second Venetian–Ottoman Turkish (1499-1503) is generally believed to have been fought over the control of the lands adjacent to the Aegean, Ionian and the Adriatic Seas. Ultimately, the Ottoman Turks, under the command of Admiral Kemal Reis, were victorious which then compelled the Venetian Republic to recognize their gains in 1503.

The causes of the war are complex but primarily Venice's treaty with France and several border disputes are generally believed to have triggered the conflict. The war started in January 1499, when Kemal Reis set sail from Constantinople with a force of 10 galleys and 4 other types of ships. In July 1499, he met with a large Ottoman Turkish fleet and took over its command - the combined fleet now consisted of 67 galleys, 20 galliots and about 200 smaller vessels. He then set sail towards Napfaktos to engage with the Venetian fleet. In the meantime, the Sultan Bayezid II sent his armies under the command of Mustafa Pasha to Roumeli which rapidly undertook to besiege the key Venetian-occupied town of Napfaktos.[51][52]

Portrait of Antonio Grimani by Domenico Tintoretto in private collection, Milan c. early 17th century

The news of the approaching Ottoman Turkish fleet sent the provveditore of Zakynthos, Nicolo Ferro and the people of the island into a state of panic given that the Sultan’s representatives had protested several times recently to the Venetian ambassador in Constantinople about the reconstruction of the Castle of Zakynthos being in violation of their treaty. In retaliation, the Porte threatened to attack the island. Fears of an attack were magnified when Vola Leudari traveled from Kerkyra to Venice and reported to Council of the Senate on 20 July 1499 that the Porte was greatly dissatisfied with the Republic of Venice because it had failed to abide by the terms of the treaty regarding the island of Zakynthos. He was also dissatisfied with a number of corsairs and pirates finding refuge on Zakynthos with the tolerance of the Venetian state.[53]

The provvedittore of Zakynthos continued to communicate his anxiety and the fears of Zakynthians about a possible Ottoman Turkish attack on three separate occasions to the Council of the Senate during April and May 1499. He also requested permission to spend on strengthening the fortifications of the castle. A month later, Ferro sent another letter to the Council of the Senate about the appearance of the Ottoman Turkish fleet in Zakynthian waters.[54]

Anticipating the appearance Ottoman Turkish fleet in the Ionian Sea, the Venetians surprisingly commissioned Antonio Grimani to gather their fleet at Kerkyra or Methoni to monitor their movements in the area. Although, Grimani was a proven captain, he was 65 and was not an experienced leader of large armadas. Scandalously, it is said that he was only given command because of a large donation to the state and personally funding the arming of 10 galleys. The Venetian fleet consisted of 47 galleys, 17 galliots and about 100 smaller vessels. Although, was outnumbered it had larger galleys and galleons and the plague had broken out in the Ottoman Turkish navy impacting crew numbers and morale.[55][56]

After following each up and down the western coasts of the Peloponnese, from mid to late August 1499, Kemal Reis finally engaged in a series of battles - some of which occurred just south of Zakynthos - and then unexpectedly defeated the Venetian navy at the Battle of Zonchio (also known as the Battle of Sapienza or the First Battle of Navarino). Antonio Grimani’s hesitancy has often been attributed for the heavy defeat. During the battle, Kemal Reis sank the galley of Andrea Loredan who had famously assisted Zakynthos during the Ottoman Turkish raids of 1479.[57][58][59]

A French fleet of 22 ships, composed largely of Hospitallers, and commanded by Gonzave de Cordone, had arrived in the Ionian Sea in mid-August and had anchored near Zakynthos with the intention of assisting Antonio Grimani and his fleet. Antonio Grimani had urged the French captain to stay in Zakynthos because of the continuous movements of the Ottoman Turkish fleet nearby. However, the two allies fell out and the French decided to attack Kefalonia which was then held by the Ottoman Turks. The disagreement between the Venetians and the French allowed the Ottoman Turkish fleet to enter the Gulf of Corinth and head towards Napfaktos to coordinate their efforts with Mustafa Pasha and his Ottoman Turkish land forces which were besieging the town.[60]

A little earlier, by order of Antonio Grimani, company of Stradiotes from Zakynthos, under the command of Theodoros Paleologos who was critical during the Ottoman Turkish raids of 1479, was sent to Nafpaktos to reinforce the castle. However, it was in vain as Napfaktos was surrendered to the Ottoman Turkish forces on 29 August 1499. In early September 1499, Antonio Grimani and his fleet sailed to Zakynthos. A few days later, it was Theodoros Paleologos and his Stradiotes which first announced to Antonio Grimani upon their return to Zakynthos the terrible news of the fall of Nafpaktos.[61][13]

The battle of Zonchio by unknown Venetian artist in British Museum, c. 16th century

Napfaktos had approximately 7,000 inhabitants at the time of its surrender. Many of those inhabitants were allowed to leave following an agreement with the Ottoman Turks. Some of those were refugees from Zakynthos that had fled to Napfaktos following the raids of 1479. On 25 October 1499, many soldiers from Napfaktos made a request to the Council of the Senate to serve in the Venetian forces - their request was accepted shortly after. Many of those soldiers and their families were then allowed to settle and provided with land to cultivate in Zakynthos. Some of the most leaders of these soldiers were the families of Daras, Petas, Mazarakis and Torelis. And prominent families of soldiers were the families of Bouas, Mountanou, Helmis, Grammatikopoulos, Fratis, Mouzakis, Giannitzis, Flokas, Labetis and Kontis. Some of these continue to be prominent on the island today. In a strange twist, some of those allowed to re-settle were prior refugees from Zakynthos. [62]

In anticipation of an imminent attack by the Ottoman Turks, the Zakynthians had started to sell their horses and flee the island with their families and their movable belongings. To deal with the depopulation of the island and decreasing manpower to defend it, Antonio Grimani took the extraordinary step of proclaiming to the people of Zakynthos that his forces would confiscate the movable and immovable property of those who chose to flee from the island. In the meantime, the provveditore Nicolo Ferro, was replaced by Antonio Grimnani with Nicolo Marcello, who had served as an assistant to the provveditore and as a sopracomiti (galley captain) of the island. The new sopracomito was the son of Nicolo Marcello, Nadal Marcello.[13][63]

The fortification of the castle in Zakynthos continued apace and the forces assigned to defend the island began to coalesce. Moro Bianco, who had served in Zakynythos as contestible, was appointed to lead the military forces guarding the castle. Jacometto da Novello was specifically hired from Kerkyra to lead a company of mercenary recruits from Italy. Theodoros Palaeologos and his company of Greek Stradiotes had returned to the island and were training with their war horses into a state of readiness. The provvedittore, Nicolo Marcello reduced taxes for the Stradiotes to encourage them to stay and fight. And the help of his three military leaders he prepared the unarmed population for the defence of the island.[64]

Despite the fear of an imminent attack on the isand, the military leaders of Zakynthos gathered their forces for a planned attack on the castle of St George in Kefalonia toward the end of 1499. Antonio Grimani also called for missions from Kerkyra, Zakynthos, Methoni and Koroni. During the first days of December, Theodore Paleologos sent about 120 Italians, 52 war horses on the galleys of sopracomiti, Nadal Marcello and others. However, they were unsuccessful and returned in March 1500 having lost two-thirds of their forces. Many families from Kefalonia also found refuge in Zakynthos.[65]

Given his poor captaincy during the Battle of Zonchio, Antonio Grimani was arrested on 29 September, imprisoned and put on trial. He was replaced by Melchior Trevisan. However, Grimani was eventually released. Interestingly, he later became Doge of Venice. The Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II gifted 10 of the captured Venetian galleys to Kemal Reis, who stationed his fleet at the island of Kefalonia between October and December 1499.[66][67]

In December 1499, the Venetians planned to attack Napfaktos with the hope of regaining this key town. Initially, the Venetian forces were successful and re-took Napfaktos. However, Kemal Reis set sail from Kefalonia and re-took Napfaktos from the Venetians. He stayed in Napfaktos between April and May 1500, where the Ottoman Turkish forces fortified their positions and the ships of Kemal Reis were repaired by an army of 15,000 Ottoman craftsmen brought from the area.

The Zakynthians remained on high alert during this period due to raids by small Ottoman Turkish naval forces. For example, on 29 May 1500, Nicolo Marcello sent a letter to the Venice regarding the abduction of 22 nuns and raid of valuable items from the island of Strofades off the coast of Zakynthos.[68]

Fall of Methoni and Koroni (1500)[edit]

Bayezid II made further demands on the Venetian Republic in the following months which included Methoni and Koroni. These two strategic towns were often called the two eyes of the Republic as they acted as important early warning posts into the Ionian and then Adriatic Seas and also valuable ports of call for Venetian shipping or Venetian-bound shipping.[69]

By July 1500, the Ottoman Turks had renewed their fleet at Napfaktos and Preveza and set off for Methoni. Their land forces also traveled through the Peloponnese towards the town. The Venetians had gathered their fleet at Zakynthos under their new admiral, Benedetto Pesaro. Unfortunately, the Venetian fleet was no match for their Ottoman Turkish foe and allies were not forthcoming at this time. Despite this they set sail towards Methoni to defend it.[70]

From Zakynthos the Venetians recruited 50 Italian soldiers from the company of Jacomo da Novello, eight gunmen, 35 lightly infantry and 270 Zakynthian Stradiotes. 60 more Italians soldiers, 60 Zakynthian Stradiotes, 36 lightly armed spearmen and 65 Spanish soldiers were added. Consequently, the defence of the island was now severely depleted and the unarmed Zakynthian civilians were increasingly alarmed. So much so they threatened the provviditore, Nicolo Marcello because he had allowed the soldiers to leave the island to defend Methoni leaving only around 50 soldiers to guard the castle. Unsurprisingly, in July 1500 a small Ottoman Turkish party raided the island burning houses and carrying off many valuables. Many Zakynthians had fled once again to the mountains in anticipation of much larger raids. The provvidetore urged Benedetto Pesaro to send back some soldiers to defend the island but as far as we know to no avail.[71]

On 24 July 1500, Kemal Reis and his Ottoman Turkish armada met the Venetians at Navarino again (often called the Second battle of Navarino/Sapienza) and defeated them once more. They then sailed towards Methoni to blockade it. It was badly provisioned by the Venetians and despite a desperate struggle by the defenders and the Venetians, it was surrendered on 10 August 1500. Fortunately, many of the civilians of Methoni had been evacuated to Zakynthos before the battle. Some of these included the De Francescis, Lefkohilos, Kapnisis, Komoutos, Koutouvalis, Minotos, Nomikos and Strouzas families.[72] Some of these families remain prominent to our day. As for the rest, the Ottoman Turks showed no mercy and massacred the defenders that had survived their assault. Some were impaled, tied to flaying posts or left in the open to have their insides eat by dogs. Apparently, the fires from the burning town could be seen from Zakynthos - which would have further terrorised the islanders already fearing an imminent attack on their relatively undefended island.[73][74]

Almost immediately, the Ottoman Turks traveled to nearby Koroni and demanded its surrender. Shortly after on 15 August 1500 it capitulated as well. Within a few days Pylos (Navarino) also fell. Tragically, in less than a week, Methoni and Koroni, the two eyes of the Republic, were lost. Napflion and Monemvassia were the only two Venetian possessions remaining in the Peloponnese. The road was open more than ever for the Ottoman Turks to move on the Venetian possessions in the Ionian Islands of Zakynthos and Kerkyra who were now inadequately defended.[75]

However, one benefit to the Zakynthian economy was that Zakynthos and Kerkyra replaced Methoni and Koroni as stopping points for Venice-bound ships or ships heading from Venice towards Constantinople, Egypt and the Levant. These ports also became important as a layover for pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. Regardless, the Venetian Doge Agostino Barbarigo desperately requested assistance from the Pope and the Catholic Monarchs to stem the Ottoman Turkish tide.[74]

In September 1500, Kemal Reis and his naval forces assaulted Voiussa and in October he appeared at Cape Santa Maria on the Island of Lefkada, before ending the campaign and returning to Constantinople in November 1500.[76]

Siege of Kefalonia (1500)[edit]

A little earlier, on 17 August 1500, the admiral of the fleet, Benedetto Pesaro and other Venetian officers recognized the need reinforce the defenses of their remaining holdings in the Mediterranean including Zakynthos. This included further strengthening of the fortifications of the castle of Zakynthos, perhaps building a larger port and a greater number of soldiers to defend the island its increasingly key geographical location. The Council of the Senate decided to send to the providditore, Nicolo Marcello, ten thousand ducats, technicians, craftsmen and materials to improve the fortifications of the castle. For this purpose, Jacomo Coltrin, who had worked on the fortifications of the castle in Kerkyra set sail to Zakynthos to inspect the works of the fortification of the castle and to advise as best possible.[77]

A second meeting between the Venetian admiral, Benedetto Pesaro and Venetian officers was held on 18 August 1500. Given the recognition of Zakynthos’s increased importance to Venetian trade, it was decided a new marina was to be built in Zakynthos town just below the fortified castle to provide further safe anchorage to the increased number of ships which were expected to visit the island. A separate company of soldiers was also established to guard the port.[78]

Battle of Cerignola: El Gran Capitan (Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba) finds the corpse of Louis d'Armagnac, Duke of Nemours by Federico de Madrazo in Prado Museum, 1835

The defense of the castle of Zakynthos was conducted by Alfonso da Fan with 80 Italian mercenaries, Moro Bianco with 106 Italian soldiers and Jacometto da Novello with the 27 of the 170 Italian mercenaries who survived the first siege of Kefalonia in late 1499. Additionally, in early September 55 soldiers which had been take hostage by the Ottoman Turkish forces during the siege of Pylos found their way back to Zakynthos and joined the defence of the island. And another 50 soldiers from Zakynthos found their way back to the island after the fall of the Methoni and were transferred back to the island and into its defensive force.[79] Despite these actions, the population of Zakynthos remained terrified and demanded from the Venetian admiral, Benefetto Pesaro and the provviditore, Nicolo Marcello permission for unarmed civilians to leave the island for Kerkyra, Dalmatia, Friuli or Apulia. To reassure the population, Benedetto Pesaro left a small armed fleet for the defense of the island and a caravel which could, if needed, transport the civilian population away from the island. Regardless, there is evidence of some Stradiotes and their families fleeing the island and making their way to Apulia.[80]

In the meantime, the absence of the Ottoman Turkish fleet in the Ionian and Aegean Seas towards the end of 1500 provided the Venetians the opportunity to raid islands in the eastern Aegean and all the way to the coast of Anatolia before they returned to port in Zakynthos. In response, to the Venetian calls for help against the Ottoman Turks, the Spanish and French monarchs agreed to send a fleet to Zakynthos under the command of Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba also known as Gran Capitan. The Spanish fleet anchored in Zakynthos for several days. While they waited, the Spanish sent five ships to sail around the western and south-western areas of the Peloponnese to collect information on the plans of the Ottoman Turkish forces. A Zakynthian soldier and spy, knowledgeable with the language, leaders and situation of the Peloponnese was placed on board each ship.[81][82]

Although the Venetians had made plans to take back Methoni, they decided after discussions with the Spanish, to advance on Kefalonia again. And so, by early November 1500, the Spanish-Venetian armada commanded by Gonzalo de Córdoba was anchored in the Kefalonian port of Argostoli whilst the Ottoman Turkish guard were holed up in the Castle of St George. On November 8 the siege began. Despite fierce resistance by the defenders, on 24 December 1500, the combined Spanish–Venetian forces took the castle of St George on Kefalonia and the few remaining Ottoman Turkish guards eventually surrendered.[83][84] The Spanish fleet returned to their base Sicily but the Venetian naval forces carried on and recovered Lefkada. These two victories temporarily halted the Ottoman Turkish offensive on eastern Venetian territories.[85]

A company of Zakynthian Stradiotes participated in the siege of Kefalonia under the command of Markos Sigouros. He had previously been recognised in previous Venetian battles. Markos Sigouros was one of the first to scale the walls of the Castle of St George; however, shortly after he was killed by an arrow to the heart. The Sigouros family was settled in Zakynthos during the rule of the Tocco family and embraced Orthodoxy; however, many of them had fled the island during the Ottoman Turkish raids of 1479. As a reward for Markos Sigouro's faithful service to Venice, she duly rewarded the Sigouros family with a fief, the title of baron and the restitution of their property that was appropriated after 1479. They would become one of the most prominent families in Zakynthian history.[13]

Coat of arms of some prominent Zakynthian families including the family of Sigouros

However, the Ottoman Turkish incursions in Dalmatia escalated to the point where Venice was forced to sign a treaty with Vladislaus II of Hungary and Pope Alexander VI by which they pledged 140,000 ducats a year for the Kingdom of Hungary to actively defend its southern Croatian territories.[86] By the end of 1502, Venice and the Ottoman Empire agreed to an armistice. Alarmingly, in early 1503 Ottoman Turkish raids reached Venetian territory in northern Italy and so Venice was forced to recognize their gains and so end the war. However, it did gain Kefalonia - which then went on to develop in parallel with Zakynthos - but had to hand back Lefkada. Venice was still obliged to pay 500 ducats annually to the Porte for Zakynthos.[87][88]

Even with some respite in the fighting, the Zakynthians knew that the Ottoman Turkish raids would not cease. Jacomo Coltrin visited Zakynthos again on 15 February 1501 to inspect the works on the castle and elsewhere but these works were delayed because of a disagreement with the provviditore. A short while later, despite continued protestations by the Porte regarding the fortification of the castle of Zakynthos, the new provvidotore of Zakynthos, Piero Foscolo continued the works on the castle. On October 15, 1503, he announced to the Council of the Senate the completion of the works.[89]

Battle of Methoni (1531)[edit]

During the early 16th century, the Venetian Republic had refrained from partaking in European campaigns against the Ottoman Turks given its vital interests in the Adriatic and the eastern Mediterranean including Zakynthos. It also tried to remain above the fray when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, ruler of Imperial Spain and Hapsburg Netherlands and the Knights of St John of Malta (recently re-located from Rhodes) attempted seize Methoni (Modon) in 1531 and Koroni (Coron) in 1532 from the Ottoman Turks. In August 1531, the Knights of St John of Malta led by Fra Bernardo Salviati headed towards Methoni. They were joined by 200 Zakynthians led by Ioannis Skandalis. The Zakynthians traveled as merchants on brigantine ships supposedly transporting wine and timber. Some sources even claim some of them were dressed as Ottoman Janissaries. A few scholars believe that many of these Zakynthians were former inhabitants of Methoni and Koroni and perhaps were moved to Zakynthos by the Venetians when those cities fell to the Ottoman Turks only 31 years before in 1500.[90][91]

Codex 33 manuscript of ancient authors such as Sophocles's Ajax, Aristophanes's Wealth and a genealogical tree of Aeschylus with scholia by Pachomios Rousanos, c. 1540

The fleet of the Knights of Malta waited nearby at the island of Sapienza. Skandalis’s father, Nikolaos lived in Methoni as a crypto-Christian, worked in customs and the guard of the port. When the merchant ships arrived Nikolaos Skandalis invited Ioannnis Skandalis and his Zakynthian crew and the Ottoman port authorities to a small celebration for their safe arrival. The Ottoman authorities became heavily drunk and feel asleep. Just before dawn the some of the Knights of St of John of Malta, who were hiding in the lumber, crept out and attacked the port guards, seized the main gate, and fired a cannon to signal to the squadron anchored at Sapienza to help them take the city. The Turkish garrison and their families shut themselves up in the palace. The fleet at Sapienza was late in coming to Methoni and shortly a Turkish relieving fleet arrived. The Knights of Malta and Ioannis Skandalis and his Zakynthians abandoned Methoni shortly after; although, they carried of 1600 prisoners.[90][92]

When news reached Venice that Zakynthians, who were ostensibly Venetian subjects, were in contravention of Venetian policy they decided to act. On the 14 October 1531, they endeavoured to pursue and punish the Zakynthian leaders and participants of this ill-fated campaign to conquer Methoni. The Ottoman Turks also raised objections to Venice that this campaign by the Zakynthians would endanger the good relations and trade between the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire. In fact, some sources suggest that the Ottoman Turks of the Peloponnese considered the Zakynthians responsible for the attack. However, rather than return to Zakynthos, the 200 Zakynthians sailed to Malta and with their own ships participated in piracy around the Peloponese. Later, they joined the Genoese admiral, Andrea Doria's campaign against the city of Koroni.[90]

Towards the end of 1531, a squadron of ships of Charles V and Andrea Doria s anchored near Keri, Zakynthos. The Sultan threatened to raid Zakynthos in revenge for the participation of the Zakynthians in their attempt to conquer Methoni and because Doria's ships were anchored near Keri. On 22 July 1532, a Turkish fleet arrived in the port of Zakynthos. The Communal Council and other local authorities welcomed the fleet but the Zakynthian people fled to the Castle or into the mountains. The Turkish admiral and his entourage requested a riding tour of parts of the island which members of the Communal Council such as Ioannis Sigouros and others obliged. They also provided a feast for the visiting admiral. The Turkish squadron departed shortly after and to show their appreciation, set free some Zakynthians they had previously taken hostage.[90]

Siege of Koroni (1532)[edit]

The Turkish naval squadron returned to Zakynthos and anchored near Argassi. The naval forces of Charles V and Andrea Doria were now anchored near Katastari and Venetian galleys arrived and anchored near Skinari. Despite the strict order from Venice, the local Zakynthians assisted the ships of Charles V and Andrea Doria with supplies of food. Some of the 200 Zakynthians who had previously tried to conquer Methoni in 1531 appeared and committed to assist Charles V and Andrea Dorea to conquer Koroni. Venice sent out an order again to capture the Zakynthians leaders of this campaign, hang them and tie their bodies up in chains in Zakynthos town. The participants were to have their property confiscated and exiled from Zakynthos and other Venetian territories.[90]

After the ill-dated attempt at conquering Methoni in 1531, some of the Zakynthians sailed to Malta and then partook in piracy around the Peloponnese before participating in the siege and conquest of Koroni. In 1532, the Hapsburg emperor Charles V ordered the Genoese admiral Andrea Doria to attack it as a diversion to the campaigns of the Little War in Hungary. Doria managed to capture the city on 25 September 1532 after a few days siege with the assistance of Zakynthians and defeating a Turkish reliving force of 500 cavalry. The Turkish garrison asked for terms and was granted safe passage for their wives and children and goods. The Papal and Imperial banners were raised over the battlements. Andrea Doria’s forces then to lay waste to the surrounding coast. Shortly, afterwards he occupied Patras.[93] However, in spring 1533, the Ottoman Emperor Suleiman the Magnificent sent 60 galleys to retake the Koroni. They blockaded the harbour, but they were defeated by Doria, highlighting the weakness of the Ottoman Navy at that time. An Ottoman land army however was successful in laying a siege around the city, forcing its surrender on 1 April 1534. The weakened Christian garrison was allowed to leave the city unharmed.[94]

Venetian made diplomatic overtures to Imperial Spain, concerned the Zakynthians might shift their allegiance with Imperial Spain and the forces of Andrea Doria. The Zakynthian exiles did not stay away from the island for long and by 4 June 1533 many had returned from their campaign at Koroni, were armed and staying in Zakynthos town and rural Zakynthos. Venice again sent out a message that the exiles must leave the island or risk being executed.[90]

Portrait of Andrea Doria, circa 1526, oil on board, Villa del Principe, Genoa

However, a few years later, with the outbreak of the Venetian-Turkish war of 1537–1540, the foreign policy of Venice changed. On 8 February 1538, Venice entered into a treaty with Charles V and the Papacy against the Ottoman Turks. And so on 28 February that same year, Venice invited the Zakynthian exiles back to Zakynthos and gave them their freedom requiring their services to protect the island from possible Ottoman Turkish attacks.[90]

Currant Production and Trade[edit]

Shortly after the establishment of Venetian rule in 1484, Venice sought to repopulate Zakynthos with the resettlement of many Stradiotes and refugees from mainland Greece to stimulate the production of grain. Not long after, it is reported Zakynthos was exporting grain mostly to Venice to meet the demand by its fleet.

As early as the 1540s, the increase in the cultivation of currants in Zakynthos and Cephalonia attracted the attention of the local Rettore. Even by 1533, there are reports of direct trade in currants between the Ionian Islands and England without the trade being routed via Venice and so avoiding duties. In response, Venice tried to stop the proliferation of currant plantations as they were deemed potentially dangerous for Zakynthos's grain production. The situation had become so dire for Venice that by the early 1580s it is reported that Zakynthos had gone from being self-sufficient in grain to having only 3 months of supplies for local consumption and relying on imports from Ottoman territories. Venice recognised this was not viable in case of war with the Ottoman Empire. However, the farmers and merchants of Zakynthos continued to cultivate more currants – it was reported a field of currants yielded up to 60 ducats of profit, whilst a field of grain yielded around 6.[95]

Early Venetian map of the Island of Zante, engraved by Natale Bonifacio, 1574

One of the primary reasons currants became so much more profitable than grain was the increasing demand from the English market and the emerging relationship with English merchants in evading customs duties. In 1545, for the first time, there was some alarm regarding customs evasion, as the local authorities on Zakynthos were concerned that foreign merchants, later identified as English, were exporting out of Zakynthos and Cephalonia with the support of local inhabitants. In 1580, the returning Rettori from Zakynthos and Cephalonia – Gabriele Emo and Alvise Lando – highlighted the increased English presence in the islands. Emo and Lando recommended that an additional levy be raised to offset their encroachment on local trade.[95]

Despite this, currant production continued to grow becoming an important cash crop and a major factor behind economic fluctuations and outbreaks of civil unrest in Zakynthos for the next few centuries. Zakynthos became so synonymous for currants that the product became known as Zante Currant in England and is still called this in many English-speaking countries like the United States. However, as with most cash crops, currants became a wealth and a curse. It injected large sums of money into the local economy which made certain classes, capable of exploiting emerging credit structures, very wealthy which did not always coincide with a change in status. This led to societal tension. In addition, currant production and trade made Zakynthos and Cephalonia almost entirely reliant on one agricultural product making the islands vulnerable to changes in currant prices.

Today, currants are still grown in Zakynthos and were recently recognized as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product by European Union.

Sigouros and Soumakis families[edit]

The rise of the currant product and trade in Zakynthos spurred the growth of several mercantile families, such as the Soumakis (Sumacchi) and Sigouros (Seguro), which played a key role in not only local but also international affairs. Some Zakynthian mercantile families had become so prominent in the currant trade, that most Venetians present in England in the last quarter of the sixteenth century were Greek subjects of the Republic, and some of them were Zakynthians. These Zakynthian mercantile families not only contributed to the commercial life of the island as merchants and ship captains but several members of those families became notable Stradiotes, poets, chroniclers, diplomats, priests and even a Saint of the Orthodox Church. Their story provides a glimpse into the commercial and political links of elite Zakynthians during the early part of Venetian rule.

Miniature of Zakynthos port and castle from Carlo Maggi's travelogue known as Codex Maggi drawn by either an unknown Venetian or Flemish master, 1578

The Sigouros family were descendants of the Norman De Segur who had been settled in Zakynthos for many years before the arrival of the Venetians in 1485. At the latest, the family had embraced Orthodoxy before the end of the Tocco family rule. The family escaped the destruction of Zakynthos by the Turks in 1479 and returned a few years later at the beginning of the Venetian rule. They faithfully served the Venetians as Stradioti including service in Italy and Mani, Peloponnese and so was rewarded with Venetian titles as well as inclusion in the Libro d’Oro and managed to regain much of their ancestral land on Zakynthos. They were also allowed to captain warships.[96]

The brothers and Markos (first cousin of St Dionysios) and Agesilaos Sigouros were active as merchants and as shipowners throughout the latter half of the 16th century and 17th century. The extent of their commercial links is exemplified by the fact that vessels belonging to them regularly reached England carrying currants and oil not only for themselves; but, also acting for other merchants from Venice and her territories. in addition, the illegal partnership of Markos Sigouros with some English merchants provides the only surviving trial for smuggling currants in the Ionian islands. The deal between Greek and English merchants involved the delivery of currants in Venice – free of customs – in exchange for textiles – also free of customs – to be delivered ‘at sea’ so the Greeks could sell them in the Ottoman occupied Morea.[97]

From a notable Zakynthian family originally hailing from Crete, Giorgios Soumakis also became one of the most prominent merchants and shipowners in the last third of the 16th century and the early 17th century. Giorgios Soumakis and his almost equally prominent son, Michael divided most of their trading interests between the Ionian Islands and Venice. They were involved in the legal and illegal currant trade with England; and consequently, they were well known as powerful intermediaries in London commercial circles. However, they also traded with Crete where they exported wines to England. There is evidence of problems with Spanish Crown due to the Spanish and English wars going on during that time. Given their influence among the local elites, the Soumakis family also acted as intermediaries for other Venetian merchants trading with the Ionian islands.[97]

In Venice, Zakynthians families like the Soumakis and Sigouros also provided crucial links between northern traders and the Jewish commercial web.[97]

Battle of Lepanto (1570–1571)[edit]

The Battle of Lepanto by an unknown artist

The people of Zakynthos contributed to the famous Battle of Lepanto not only due to the proximity of the battle to the island but also due to the Ottoman Turkish raids prior to the battle and the partipication of a number of galleys from the island. In early 1570, the Provveditore of Zakynthos, Paolo Contarini took active measures for the defense of the island given a new outbreak in the conflict between the Austrians and Ottoman Turks. Throughout spring and early summer of 1571, Ottoman Turkish raiders plundered several monasteries around the island but they were met with fierce resistance by local fighters led by George Minotos and Constantine Vlastos. Many Zakynthians found refuge in the Castle. Shortly after, the Ottoman Turks and Barbary pirates raided and sieged the Castle for 30 days but the islanders bravely repelled the attack – the attackers left for neighbouring Cephalonia. After this historic victory, Paolo Contarini invited the leaders to the Government House in the Castle where young nobles performed, for the first recorded time in modern Greek history, Aeschylus's tragedy, The Persians in Italian translation.[98]

In early October 1571, the united naval forces of Venice, Spain and Pope Pius V under the leadership of Don Juan of Austria gave battle against the Ottoman Turkish fleet at the entrance of the Patras Gulf in the famous Battle of Lepanto (not at Lepanto as is commonly believed). Along with many Greeks from Crete, Kerkyra, Naxos and Cyprus (also Greeks in the Ottoman Turkish fleet), Zakynthian sailors participated in the battle with six galleys financed, equipped and manned by mostly locals. They were led by Andreas Koutouvali, Nicholas Mondinos, Marinos Sigouros (nephew of St. Dionysios), Nicholas Foskardi, Constantine Vlastos, Dimitris Comoutos and Ioannis Montsenigos.[99]

Residents of the Zakynthos watched the battle from the area of Kryoneri and Voidi island where they apparently could hear the cannon and see the ship's sails. After the victory part of the fleet landed in Zakynthos where residents welcomed them with great enthusiasm.

Saint Dionysios[edit]

Detail from the Litany of the relic of St Dionysios in Strofades by Nikolaos Koutouzis, 1786

The life of Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos provides a clue as to life during the early period of Venetian rule. Draganigos Sigouros was born in 1547 to a noble family located in the south-east of the island. The family had roots in Venice and the name appears in the Libro D'Oro as they had fought on the side of Venice in the Venetian–Turkish wars. Draganigos was educated by Orthodox priests and became fluent in Greek, Italian, and Latin. He became a monk in 1568 and was given the name Daniel. Two years later he was ordained a deacon and became a priest in 1577. Daniel was raised to Archbishop of Aegina and Poros under the name of Dionysios in 1577; however, shortly after he abdicated and re-settled in Zakynthos as an abbot of the monastery of the Virgin Mary Anafornitria. Not long after he forgave his brother's murderer following a family feud which were common at the time between rich and powerful families of the island, which later led to him being given the epithet of the Saint of Forgiveness. He died on 17 December 1622. Dionysios was declared a Saint of the Orthodox Church by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1703.[100]

St Dionysios is the patron saint and protector of Zakynthos and his feast day celebrated on December 17 and August 24 where the Church celebrates the transfer of his relics to the island from Strofades.[101]

The Mani and Zakynthos[edit]

Another key source of Zakynthian refugees and influence on Zakynthian culture including its dialect was The Mani in the southern Peloponese.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and Mystras in 1460 the Mani remained the last free area of the former late Byzantine empire. It became a frequent staging point for rebellion by local Maniots and Stradiotes. One of the first major armed insurrections of Stradioti against the Ottoman Empire began in 1463 under the leadership of Krokodilos Kladas and was coincident with the Venetian-Turkish war of 1463–1479. Venice recognised the people from Mani or Maniates as allies in their war against the Ottoman Empire given their military prowess and tactial acumen.[102]

Archangel Michael by Panagiotis Doxaras, c. 1700

After Venice occupied Zakynthos in 1484, it endeavored to re-populate the island with Stradioti and refugees from regions in mainland Greece which it lost to the Ottoman Empire. Given Maniates had fought as allies with Venice against the Ottoman Empire only a few years before, the Maniot Stradiotes were one of the sources of Zakynthian settlers. They settled primarily in the coastal area of Aigallon around present-day Zakynthos town and surrounding villages. Prominent families to settle in Zakynthos were Voultsos, Gerakaris, Doxaras, Kontostavlos, Kouroumalos, Koutifaris, Melissinos, Messalas, Novakos, Samariaris, Skiadopoulos, Stefanopoulos, Someritis and Foukas. Some of these Maniot families were later registered in the Libro d’Oro. A few of these family names are still prominent in Zakynthos today.[102]

After this initial influx, many Maniot families continued to emigrate to Zakynthos following the almost continual conflicts with the Ottoman Turks and pirate raids on their homeland. On 30 August 1670, the Provveditore, Pizani wrote that 1500 people emigrated to Zakynthos and more would have arrived had the Ottoman Turks not blocked shipping to the island. This chain of emigration also helped to maintain trade contact between the Mani and Zakynthos. Gradually, the people from Mani assimilated into Zakynthian society but not without influencing Zakynthian culture and its dialect. Not surprisingly, Maniots were also active participants in the Rebellion of the Popolari in 1628. Of the four Procuratori that were elected by the Popolari, one of them was a Maniot, Anastasios Rousos. Of the 28 Popolari that took up arms, five were from Mani. Some scholars even contend that the practice of blood feud was imported to Zakynthos from the Mani.[102]

One of the most interesting early Maniot emigrants was Panagiotis Doxaras, the father of the Heptanese School of Painting. His family migrated to Zakynthos from the Mani shortly after he was born in 1664. Another interesting migrants was the maternal ancestors of Dionysios Solomos’s mother, Angelili Niklis.

However, the influence was all one way. During the Morean War (Sixth Venetian-Ottoman War) in 1684, Zakynthian Pavlos Makris led a band of 230 Maniot fighters to relieve the castle of Zarnata in the Mani from an Ottoman Turkish garrison that was established after the participation of Maniots in the earlier Cretan War (Fifth Venetian-Ottoman war).

Rebellion of the Popolari (1628–1632)[edit]

The Litany of St Haralambos, St Haralambos Church near Argassi, Zakynthos showing Zakynthian nobles in procession. Painted by Ioannis Korais, 1756

Venetian rule was anything but peaceful during the period of the occupation. The societal changes and inequalities that developed between the various classes of Zakynthian society: Cittadini or Civili (bourgoise citizens), Popolari (urban lower classes) and the Villani (people of the countryside) resulted in the so-called Rebellion of the Popolari which broke in 1628 and lasted for 4 years.

After the Turkish raids of 1479 and the general neglect of the Tocco family rule, Zakynthos and Cephalonia were underpopulated by the time they became part of the Venetian Republic. Consequently, there was no feudal structures or jurisdictions on both islands. Over time, a steady wave of settlers of Stradiotes and refugees arrived and mixed with the relatively small number indigenous inhabitants of the island. The confluence of these factors created a very unusual property situation for the time, characterised by many small and free landowners, which would also be dramatically affected by the currant boom.[103] In addition, the structure of Venetian rule was heavily dependent on local Zakynthians. Given there was no feudal nobility, the Cittadini, members of the local council had political rights and participated in local administration alongside the Venetian Reggimento, had considerable influence. The Popolari had very few political rights. However, in the early years of Venetian rule there was considerable mobility between the Popolari and Cittadini. Gradually, over the course of time the Cittadini attempted to stifle the entry of Popolari into the local governance structures by attempting to close the communal council by adopting the institution of the Small Council of 150 and also by cleaning up the General Council. With the influx of cash from the boom in currant production and trade, discontent increased among some of the newly wealthy Popolari who in turn sought arouse some of the lower strata of the population to rebel.[104]

It is commonly thought a decision by the Inquisitore Antonio da Ponte in 1623 to change the rosters for night wardens in Zakynthos town by extending these to all Popolari sparked the Rebellion of the Popolari. The leaders of the Popolari interpreted this as an abuse of power by the Cittadini and a formal codification of the Popolari's inferiority as the Cittadini could easily manipulate the wardenships.[103] Therefore, the conflict was primarily between the Cittadini and the Popolari classes. Although, the Cittadini were not entirely Venetian, the dissatisfaction of the Popolari was directed towards the Cittadini as representatives of Venetian rule.

The Litany of St Haralambos, St Haralambos Church near Argassi, Zakynthos showing Zakynthian cittadini in procession. Painted by Ioannis Korais, 1756

The situation remained at a stalemate until May 1628. Then the Popolari decided to elect four Procuratori as their representatives and one Avvocato of the people. They also elected four ambassadors to go to Venice to plead directly to the Senate. The Rettore accepted these elections to keep the peace. The following August, the Capitano dell'Armata, Antonio Civran brought matters to a head by demanding that everyone sign up on the new rosters. No one did. He arrested the four Procuratori. The population rose up in arms, the flag of St Mark was insulted, Cittadini homes were threatened with fire and the galley of the Capitano was shot at. Calm was brought about by intermediation by the local Orthodox clergy, high ranking Venetians and even the English merchants stationed in Zakynthos. For the next three years the Procuratori were made part of the council, but in June 1631 the Inquisitore Antonio Pisani arrived and started a trial that lasted until February 1632. The sentences for the rebels was extremely severe but a few years later there was a general pardon.[103][104][105]

By and large, the rich Popolari did not want to overthrow Venetian rule as is commonly thought. Neither did they want to abolish the social hierarchy. Their demands were simply so they could rise within the social hierarchy.[103] Ultimately, they were not successful. In 1683, marked the strict closure of the Communal Council by restricting its membership to 93 families and took on the unofficial title of Nobles. However, the Popolari were to get their revenge a little more than 100 years later.[104]

Importantly, the Rebellion of the Popolari was documented in a chronicle by Angelos Soumakis who was present during the events. It should be noted he was a member of the Cittadini. The Rebellion of the Popolari is often considered the first social revolt on Greek territory in modern history.[106]

Pirates and Corsairs[edit]

Zakynthos was considered a relatively wealthy island throughout the period of the Venetian occupation, so pirates and corsairs presented a constant threat, compelling Zakynthians to remain vigilant. So much so they developed a relatively sophisticated early warning system using special guards, fires and guardhouses which some survive to this day. However, despite suffering from pirate attacks some Zakynthians also became well-known pirates or corsairs. Although the island was never known as a den of pirates like Mani, Peloponnese or Sfakia, Crete.

Given commerce and trade was the primary concern of the Venetian Republic; particularly, with the Ottoman Empire, they severely condoned corsairs and pirates operating in the eastern Mediterranean. However, they did vary their policy depending on whether they were at war with the Ottoman Empire. For example, the combined Christian fleet which also included many Venetian galleys that fought at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 employed Greek sailors who were previously partaking in piracy against the Ottoman Empire. After 1571, with the Ottoman fleet in disarray after Lepanto, many of these Greek pirates continued their activities with relative immunity. Even Christian corsairs from elsewhere in Europe flocked to the Eastern Mediterranean after 1571. It is reported that many of these corsairs, such as those funded by the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, were welcomed in Zakynthos because many of the sailors that served on these ships were Ionian Islanders themselves. During other periods of Venetian-Ottoman conflict, the Venetians urged the Ionian Islanders to conduct espionage and piracy. They not only provided them with protection certificates but sometimes even ships. Of course, after the cessation of fighting it was difficult to control the piratical activities of the Ionian Islanders.[107]

Greek Pirates by Alexandre Gabriel Decamps, 1838

One of the most well-known Greek pirates was Zakynthian, Eustathios Romanos or perhaps better known as Manetas. He was active primarily between 1678-1684 based around the well-known pirate lair of the Aegean island of Milos. Supposedly, he amassed enormous wealth and owned seven galleys with cannons and a large crew. After the outbreak of the Morean War (Sixth Venetian-Turkish war) he joined the forces of Morisini and became a corsair for the Venetians. During the campaign to conquer Preveza by Venice and her allies, Romanos sailed east and captured Arta. For his later services in helping to conquer Chios, he was awarded the title of Colonel by the Venetian Republic. He was also involved in the trade of Turkish slaves. His son, Georgios (Zorzo) also continued the occupation of his father and menaced the coasts of Peloponnese, Zakynthos and Kefalonia. He also employed sailors from these regions and islands. Between 1734-1735, in the service of the Austrians, Zorzo Manetas and his brother Andreas Romanos and their seven galleys and another boat which they had acquired in Trieste with Austrian funds, manned with Zakynthians, Kefallonites, Ithakisians and Lefkadians, captured 15 French ships in the Ionian and Aegean Seas. Manetas and his brother were arrested by the Venetians and taken to Kerkyra. However, a year later they were released and departed for Trieste and Vienna.[107] The Greeks as crews of foreign corsairs gained a reputation for their perseverance, austere lifestyle and hard work. In 1757 Panagiotis Dragos, a captain of an English ship from Minorca equipped 24 cannons and 42 men, mainly from Zakynthos and Kefalonia, and attacked and captured a French ship with a cargo of wheat in the port of Volos. In 1759, Zakynthian Konstantine Kalamatas (some scholars claim he was from Patmos), in the service of England made his presence felt on the Peloponnese coast. His crew consisted of 87 Greeks from the Ottoman Empire and Greek subjects of Venice. Based in Kythera he is known to have seized a French ship, where afterwards they led it to Mani and distributed the spoils.[107]

During the latter stages of the Orlov Revolt, ships captained and manned by Ionian Islanders, including the Zakynthian captain, Padouveros took part in the Battle of Cesme with the Russian fleet against the Ottoman navy in July 1770. The Ottoman fleet was destroyed. After that Ionian Islanders manned large and small ships and conducted operations as corsairs under the Russian flag. Shortly after, the Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca of 1774 between the Russian and Ottoman Empires created even more favourable conditions for the Ionian Islanders allowing them to legally retain the privileges which they had attained as corsairs. In addition, many of the ships the Russians abandoned in the eastern Mediterranean were bought by Greek subjects of the Venetian Republic, namely, Ionian Islanders such as Delikostantis from Zakynthos who operated in an area ranging from the Ionian Sea to the area around Kastellorizo.[107]

Lambros Katsonis was a Colonel in the Imperial Russian Navy, combatant in the Second Russian-Turkish War (1787-1792) and widely considered an early hero of the Greek War of Independence. In the late 1770s he assembled a Greek fleet of 70 ships and harassed the Ottoman Navy in the Aegean and Ionian Islands. Although not Zakynthian, his ships employed many sailors from the island. Later in 1788, in the service of the Imperial Russian Navy, he sailed from Trieste with his fleet manned Greek corsairs to Zakynthos. The Venetian Republic tried to restrict his activities given many of his sailors were Venetian subjects. Later, he tried to organise a pan-Hellenic naval campaign to rebel against the Ottoman Empire but he was ultimately not successful.[107]

Fall of Crete (1645-1669)[edit]

Book cover of recent publication of Eugena by Theodoros Montseleze
Eugena, a tragedy by Theodoros Montseleze was first published in 1646

The Cretan War or the Fifth Ottoman–Venetian War between the Republic of Venice and her allies against the Ottoman Empire and the Barbary States was largely fought over the island of Crete, Venice's largest and richest overseas possession. The war lasted from 1645 to 1669 and was fought in Crete and the seas surrounding Crete. Although most of Crete was conquered by the Ottomans in the first few years of the war, the fortress of Candia (modern Heraklion), the capital of Crete, resisted successfully until it fell after a more than two-year siege. Many Cretans chose to flee rather than submit to the Ottomans seeking refuge in other parts of Venetian-occupied Greece and Venice itself. The Ionian Islands, primarily Zakynthos and Kerkyra and to a lesser extent, Kythera acted either as a place of refuge or a stopover towards Venice. The demographics, social structure, spiritual and artistic development of Zakynthos was significantly impacted by the Cretan War.

Zakynthos received its first wave of refugees mainly from the areas of Chania and Rethymno during the early years of the Cretan War. The siege and fall of Candia in 1669 marked the beginning of a new refugee wave which lasted until the early 18th century. The demographic changes were significant. A Venetian official, Antonio Bernardo reported to the Venetian Senate on May 25, 1670 that the island's population increased by 3,500 ‘souls’ from an existing population of around 24,000 people.[108]

A significant proportion of the Cretan refugees to Zakynthos were from the upper social strata of Crete and had either Venetian or Cretan titles and cittadini status. The Venetian authorities sought to have these titles recognised where these noble Cretan refugees settled including Zakynthos. Additionally, these refugees sought and joined the Community Council which created tension and engendered strong reactions by the pre-existing Zakynthian upper social strata. Amongst these noble Cretan refugees were the paternal ancestors of Dionysios Solomos.[109]

View of Candia by Nicolas Visscher, 1678

Most the Cretan refugees to Zakynthos came from urban Crete and so primarily settled in Zakynthos town in the Castle and the Borgo della marina (where the central part of Zakynthos town is today) and its surrounds rather than in the countryside. The main settlement in Zakynthos town was the southern edge of the town. This district which was known as Neochori or Benardakaika existed until it was destroyed by the Great earthquake of 1953. Many of the Cretan refugees sought to re-form their guilds in Zakynthos if there were sufficient guild members among the refugees or they joined pre-existing guilds in Zakynthos. This contributed to the preservation of artistic and craft skills from the Cretan Renaissance period to Zakynthos and Kerkyra and later modern Greece.[110] Zakynthians themselves made important contributions to the war effort throughout period of the Cretan War with donations of food, money, munitions for galleys, sailors in the Venetian navy and soldiers in the Venetian land forces in Crete. For example, in 1659 the Community Council of Zakynthos decided to impose a new tax on those who exported wine and currants, at considerable cost to the producers and merchants of the island, in a move aimed at supporting the Venetian Republic in its long struggle against the Ottomans regarding Crete. Pavlos Gaitas, along with his brothers Ioannis, Dimitrios and Antonios, equipped a galley with a crew of local volunteers and took part in naval and land battles during the war. Gaitas's contribution to the war effort was rewarded by the Provveditore, Francesco Morosini in 1660 with his appointment into the Community Council of Zakynthos. A move that caused intense reactions from many incumbent members of the Community Council. Zakynthian Prokopios Martinego armed a galley and maintained a crew of 50 for many years throughout the conflict including the Siege of Candia. For his services to the defense of the island, the Venetian Republic officially recognized him in 1669 as a hero of the Cretan War. Another Zakynthian Moukas Romas made important contributions to the Cretan War as well as taking part in the last organized operation of transporting inhabitants of the city of Candia to the Ionian Islands.[111]

Portrait of Kourtios Romas (father of Moukios) by unknown artist, c. 1620

Closure of the Community Council (1683)[edit]

First Morean War (1684–1699)[edit]

The Morean War (or Sixth Venetian-Ottoman–War) was fought between 1684–1699 and was part of the ongoing conflict between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire. The war's theatre was very large, stretching from Dalmatia to the Aegean Sea, but the major flashpoint was the Morean (Peloponnese) peninsula. The war was primarily fought by Venice to avenge the loss of Crete in the Cretan War (1645–1669) only 15 years earlier. The Ottoman Turks struggled in this conflict as they were pre-occupied in their northern frontier against the Habsburgs and their allies. Ultimately, Venice was victorious. However, Venice's revival was short-lived – its gains would be reversed by the Ottoman Turks in what is sometimes called the Second Morean War (or Seventh Venetian-Ottoman War) in 1715. The island of Zakynthos did not experience the war on its soil but like most of Venice’s wars, Zakynthians fought on the side of Venice and Zakynthians held key leadership positions.

In January 1684, the Venetian Francesco Morosini, commander-in-chief gathered an expeditionary force to Greece. Apart from her own forces, Venice enrolled large numbers of mercenaries and aid from Italian and German states, and the Ionian Islands. With the exception of sailors and rowers for the fleet, around 2000 Ionian Islands soldiers were recruited. Morosini set sail to Kerkyra where he was joined by Venetian, Papal, Maltese and Tuscan galleys. At Kerkyra, Morosini was united with the local naval and military forces, as well as forces raised by noble Greek families of the Ionian Islands. There were six galleys from the Ionian islands of which three were from Zakynthos. The Zakynthian Agiselaos Sigouros, Nikolaos Logothetis and Constantinos Minotos captained these galleys. Eustathios Logothetis financed his own body of 150 Zakynthian soldiers. Also, Angelo De Negris from Zakynthos offered his services to Venice. In the meantime, the Venetians had sent the Zakynthian leaders, Pavlos Makris and Panagiotis Doxaras to the Mani to ferment revolt.[112][113]

The Venetian and allied fleet targeted Lefkada. After a siege of 16 days, the fortress capitulated on 6 August 1684. Around 2000 Ionian Islanders participated in this campaign led by, amongst others, Nikolaos Komoutos, Angelos De Negri and Ioannis Koutouvelis from Zakynthos. The latter had armed his own galley of 80 men. The Venetians then crossed onto mainland Greece and captured several towns. In response, Greek leaders from across Epirus, Acarnania and Agrafa had contacted the Venetians with proposals for a common cause. Ottoman rule collapsed across western continental Greece and by the end of the month the Ottoman Turks only held on to the coastal fortresses of Preveza and Vonitsa. The Venetian fleet then launched several raids along the coast of Epirus and even on the north-western coast of the Peloponnese, near Patras. The Preveza castle surrendered after eight days of siege and Vonitsa was captured a few days later.[112][113]

The siege of Koroni by Vincenzo Coronelli, 1688

Venice gathered more forces from allies Saxony and Hanover and in early June 1685, the Venetian and allied forces gathered at Kerkyra, Preveza, and Dragamesto. The force included 37 galleys from various Italian states that includes Italian and German soldiers. A few hundred conscripted and volunteer Greeks from the Ionian Islands including Zakynthos and the mainland were added to this total. Morosini now targeted the Peloponnese where there were signs of revolt by local Greeks helped by several Zakynthians sent by Venice. In particular, the Maniots resented the loss of privileges and autonomy and were ready again to rebel. The Ottomans had recently established garrisons in the fortresses of Zarnata, Kelefa, and Passavas in response to their collaboration with the Venetians in the Cretan War. However, given a lack of proper support by the Venetians the Maniots were forced to submit. Shortly after, the Venetian fleet set sail for the Peloponnese, and on 25 June 1685, the Venetian army with over 8,000 men strong, landed outside the former Venetian fort of Koroni and laid siege to it with hundreds of Zakynthians taking part. The Ottoman efforts to break the siege was defeated and the fortress surrendered shortly after. The Venetians and their allies then set their sights on Kalamata.[112][113]

In the final stage of the Koroni siege, the Mani again rose up in revolt again, encouraged by Morosini's presence at Koroni. As a result, 230 Maniots and some Zakynthians under the leadership of Zakynthian Pavlos Makris forced the surrender of the fortress of Zarnata in the Mani. By the end of September the remaining Ottoman garrison in Kelafa and Passavas had capitulated and evacuated Mani. The Zakynthians Theodoros Voultsos and Nikolaos Doxaras led the campaigns to conquer the castle of Passavas and Kelefa respectively. These Zakynthians leaders and fighters then joined the campaign to liberate Kalamata. Shortly, after Kalamata also surrendered without a fight. It is interesting that a number of these family names are Maniot in origin and were probably Maniot refugees to Zakynthos. The Venetians in turn installed their own garrisons in Kelafa and Zarnata.[112][113] By July 7, 1686, Pylos and Methoni surrendered to the Venetians. Shortly after, the Venetians and their allies landed in the north-eastern Peloponnese. Argos and Napflion, the administrative capital of the Peloponnese surrendered by the end of August. The Ottoman commander, Ismail Pasha withdrew to Vostitsa in the northern Peloponnese after strengthening his garrisons at Corinth which controlled the passage to central Greece. The Ottoman forces elsewhere in the region fell into disarray.[112][113]

The castle of Zarnata and Kalamta by Vincenzo Coronelli, 1686

In the meantime, the Ottomans had formed a strong entrenched camp at Patras with 10,000 men under Mehmed Pasha. As the Ottomans were resupplied from across the Corinthian gulf, Morosini instituted a naval blockade of the coast. On 22 July 1687, Morosini landed the first of his 14,000 troops west of Patras. Zakynthians volunteers included Nikolaos Foskardis, Spyrdon Naratzis and Anastasios Kapsokefalos and Konstantinos Kapnisis. Morosini's German ally attacked the Ottoman camp and they were forced to retreat. The defeat forced the Ottoman garrison of Patras Castle to flee to the fortress of Rio. On the next day with Venetian ships patrolling nearby, Mehmed and his troops abandoned Rio as well and fled east. Within a single day the Venetians were able to capture the twin forts of Rio and Antirrio as well as the castle of Nafpaktos (Lepanto). The Ottomans halted their retreat only at Thebes where Mehmed Pasha regrouped. The Venetians tidied up their position in the Peloponnese – Chlemoutsi surrendered to Angelo De Negri from Zakynthos on 27 July while the German-led force marched east towards Corinth. The Ottoman garrison abandoned Acrocorinth.

Sanctuary gate with a representation of an Angel with the symbols of Passion by Nikolaos Kallergis, 1732

Morosini now gave orders for the preparation of a campaign across the Isthmus of Corinth towards Athens. After Mystras surrendered the Peloponnese was now under complete Venetian control and only the fort of Monemvasia remained in Ottoman hands. It was placed under siege on 3 September 1687.As long as the Ottomans held onto eastern Central Greece, the Venetian position in the Peloponnese was not secure. Venice and her allies decided on 31 December to abandon Athens and focus on the conquest of Halkida. However, this was ultimately a costly failure and Morosini accepted defeat. The prominent Zakynthian leader, Pavlos Makris died of the plague during this campaign. On 22 October 1687, the Venetian army headed for Argos. Morosini attempted an unsuccessful attack on Monemvasia in late 1689 but his failing health forced him to return to Venice soon after. He was replaced as commander-in-chief by Girolamo Cornaro. This marked the end of Venetian ascendancy.[112][113] In late 1688, the Turks turned for help to the Maniot leader Limberakis Gerakaris. In spring 1689, Gerakaris attacked and seized some towns and villages in western Greece and later Ottoman forces swept through Central Greece; although, repulsed in an attack on Napfaktos. The Venetians scored a success with Monemvasia falling on 12 August 1690.[112] In 1692, Gerakaris then spearheaded several Ottoman invasions of the Peloponnese but he was largely unsuccessful. He went over to the Venetian camp but after his brutal and savage treatment of the civilian population Gerakaris was arrested and imprisoned.[112][113] After several naval engagements in western Greece and Chios the Ottomans were encouraged to invade the Morea again, but were defeated by General Steinau and driven back to their base at Thebes. There were several naval clashes between the opposing fleets in the north-east Aegean but they were generally indecisive. The Treaty of Karlowitz, signed in January 1699, confirmed the Venetian possession of Kephalonia, the Morea with the island of Aigina, which became organized as the Kingdom of the Morea. Although the Venetians managed to restore some prosperity they failed to win the trust of their Greek Orthodox subjects.[112][113]

Plague, pestilence and famine[edit]

Following the fall of various Venetian-occupied cities and forts in mainland Greece and the fall of Crete in 1669, Zakynthos became a key port for Venetian trade from and towards the Levant and Constantinople - where the Ottoman Turkish authorities lagged western Europe in disease prevention and control. Additionally, Zakynthos was only a short distance from the Peloponnese where again the Ottoman Turkish authorities were lax in enacting policies to prevent disease and building appropriate infrastructure to improve sanitary conditions and the health of the inhabitants of the area. Consequently, many merchants and sailors entered and exited the port of Zakynthos from Ottoman Turkish controlled ports - these merchants and sailors were sometimes unwilling to undergo the increasingly strict measures Zakynthos enacted to avoid plague, pestilence, cholera and other disease outbreaks. Therefore, the people of Zakynthos were at significant risk of being impacted by the plague, pestilence and other disease epidemics.[114]

Zakynthos town as depicted in icon of Agios Haralambos wiping out the plague by Nikolaos Kalergis, 1732

Zakynthos did suffer from serious outbreaks of the plague in 1617, 1646, 1692 and 1728 and also smallpox in 1713, 1748 and 1778. One of the most famous victims of the 1728 plague was the painter and sometime doctor, Hieronymous Plakotos. He and his son died in his doctor's clinic and the local authorities decided to burn it, including his paintings, fearing a further outbreak. From the beginning of the 18th century the sanitary measures taken by the Venetian authorities and enacted by local Cittadini such as strict control of population movements and quarantine, improved lazarettos, better trained public health offices and coastal garrisons, reduced the incidences of outbreaks in the 18th century.[114]

One of the Prophets from Panagia Faniromeni Church, Zakynthos town believed to be originally by Heironymous Plakotos but repainted by Nikolaos Doxaras, c. 1750s

The increasing reliance by Zakynthians on currant production and trade for income given the outsized profits available to farmers and merchants compared to other crops and the resultant rising dependence on grain imports from the Peloponnese increased the risk of famine over time despite the island being capable of self-sufficiency in grain and other basic food crops. These risks were particularly heightened during the often frequent periods of conflict between the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Turkish Empire when access to grain from the Peloponnese was restricted. Zakynthos suffered from serious famine in 1523 and 1687.[95]

Despite the wealth generated by the arable land, favourable climate and geographic position of Zakynthos - and the frequent immigration from other areas of the Greek mainland and Crete - the frequent outbreaks of plague, pestilence, disease and famine during the Venetian occupation had deleterious impacts on the demographic and economic growth of the island.[95]

Second Morean War (1714–1718)[edit]

The Seventh Venetian-Ottoman War (or the Second Morean War) was fought between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire between 1714 and 1718. It ended with an Ottoman victory and the loss of the Venetian Republic's last major possession in the Greek peninsula of the Morea (the Peloponnese). This was the final war between these two powers. Again, there was little activity on Zakynthian soil; however, there was naval activity directly offshore and the island acted as an embarkation point for some of the Zakynthian and foreign sailors and soldiers that participated in the siege of Kerkyra. Like most of Venice’s wars, Zakynthians fought on the side of Venice and Zakynthians held key leadership positions; particularly, during the siege of Kerkyra in 1716.

Portrait of Matthias von der Schulenburg, Panagiotis Doxaras, 1719

After the First Morean War, the Ottomans were determined to reverse these losses; especially the Morea. In addition, a large part of the Ottoman queen-mother drew her income from this area. Venice only had a few thousand troops in the whole of the peninsula and they were plagued by supply, disciplinary and morale problems. The local population was also less than friendly. The seizure of an Ottoman ship carrying the treasures of the former Grand Vizier as well as the Venetians granting of sanctuary to the Prince-Bishop of Montenegro, after he had launched an abortive revolt against the Ottomans provided the pretext. On 9 December 1714, the Ottoman Empire declared war on Venice.

In early 1715, the Ottomans assembled an army of around 70,000 men in Macedonia and marched south towards Thebes while an Ottoman fleet numbering 80 warships swiftly captured the last Venetian island possessions in the Aegean. The Venetians relied mainly on mercenaries and could only muster 8,000 men and 42 mostly small ships under the command of the Captain General Daniel Delfin. This force was not only insufficient to meet the Ottoman army in the field, but also inadequate to man the many fortifications in the Morea. On 25 June, the Ottoman army crossed the Isthmus of Corinth and entered the Peloponnese. The citadel of Acrocorinth surrendered after a brief siege. The Ottomans then advanced against Nafplion, the main base of Venetian power in the Morea. After only nine days of siege, the Ottomans successfully stormed the fort. The Ottomans then advanced to the forts of Navarino and Koroni which were abandoned by the Venetians. They gathered their remaining forces at Methoni; however, being denied effective support from the sea it capitulated. The remaining Venetian strongholds also capitulated in exchange for safe departure. Within one hundred days, the entire Peloponnese had been re-taken by the Ottomans.[112][113]

A Comedy of the Quack Doctors, a play by Savoyas Rousmelis was first published in 1745

The Ottomans then decided to move against the Venetian-held Ionian Islands. They swiftly occupied Lefkada. On 8 July 1716, a 33,000 Ottoman army landed on Kerkyra, the most important of the Ionian islands for the Venetians. Despite an indecisive naval battle, the Ottoman land army continued its disembark and advance towards the city of Kerkyra. On 19 July, after capturing the outlying forts the siege began. Led by Count Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg, the defence had roughly 8,000 men. Among them were over 400 Zakynthians led by Frangiskos Romas and assisted by Nikolaos Kapsokefalos and the brothers Eustathios and Nikolaos Logothetis. The strong fortifications and the determination of the defenders withstood several assaults. After a great storm on 9 August caused significant casualties among the besiegers, the siege was broken off on 11 August and the last Ottoman forces withdrew on 20 August. For his efforts in helping to defend the city of Kerkyra from the Ottoman Turks, the Zakynthian leader, Frangiskos Romas was bestowed honours by the Venetian Republic in 1723.[112][113]

Shortly after, Pope Clement XI committed to providing financial support and France guaranteed Austrian possessions in Italy. Consequently, Austria intervened and on 13 April 1716, renewing their alliance with Venice. In response, the Ottomans declared war on Austria. The Austrian threat forced the Ottomans to direct their forces away from the Morea; however, Venice was too weak to mount any large-scale counter-attack. With the Austrian victories in the Balkans the Ottomans were forced to sign the Treaty of Passarowitz. Although the Ottomans lost significant territories to Austria, they maintained their conquests against Venice in the Peloponnese except for Preveza.[112][113]

Orlov Revolt (1770–1771)[edit]

The Vision of St Constantine in St Spyridon, Zakynthos by Stylianos Stavrakis c. 1756

The Orlov Revolt was a Greek uprising primarily centred in the Peloponnese. It erupted in February 1770 following the arrival of the Russian Admiral Alexey Orlov, commander of the Imperial Russian Navy during the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774) to Mani. The revolt was a major precursor to the Greek War of Independence and was part of Catherine the Great's so-called Greek Plan. Eventually, it was suppressed by the Ottoman Empire. Many Ionian Islanders participated in this war including Zakynthians; however, none of the war was fought on Zakynthian soil. Increasingly, the participation of Zakynthians (who were effectively Venetian subjects) in wars outside of Zakynthos took on a national character which went against the wishes of the Venetian rulers and often resulted in reprisals. In fact, Venice in accordance with their purported neutrality did their best to reduce the participation of Zakynthians in the Orlov Revolt and made overtures of peace to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Following a long period of peace, on 23 October 1768 the Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia in response to supposed aggressive Russian foreign policy and interference in Crimea, an Ottoman vassal at the time. Hoping to weaken the Ottoman Empire and establish a pro-Russian independent Greek state, Russian emissaries had been sent to Mani in the mid-1760s to make a pact with the strongest local military leaders. At the same time, notable Greeks approached various Russian agents discussing the project for the liberation of Greece. In preparation of war, Russian agents promoted Greek rebellion to support military actions in the north. Several Greeks serving in the Russian army were either sent to Mani or worked with other Russian officers to ferment insurrection in the Morea. The organization of the Greek rebellion was put under the command of the brothers Alexei and Grigroy Orlov.[115]

The ceiling of Panagia Faniromeni, Zakynthos town. Originally painted by Nikolaos Doxaras and assistant Stefano Pasigetis 1753–1762

In return for the supply of men and arms, the Greek rebels expected massive Russian aid of around 10,000 soldiers and military equipment. Russia also planned to incite other Orthodox Christians to revolt and sent agents to Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Crete. Another Orlov brother, Fyodor was sent to coordinate rebels in Morea which was considered the most important strategic area in mainland Greece given some of its important ports. The first Russian fleet contingent (out of two) departed in August 1769 and arrived in the Aegean in December. This expedition of four ships, few hundred soldiers and inadequate arms supplies greatly disappointed the Greeks. Nevertheless, combined Russian-Greek forces attempted a campaign.[116]

The arrival of the Russian fleet in Mani in February 1770 saw the establishment of local armed groups in Mani and Kalamata. However, the small Russian expeditionary force could not convince a part of the local Greeks to take arms as the Russian manpower was smaller than expected. Mutual distrust developed between the Greek and Russian leaders. Initially an army of 1,400 men was formed but additional reinforcements from Crete arrived shortly after. In the meantime, many Zakynthians and Kefalonians had crossed over to the Morea. The Zakynthians captain, Palikoukias of the ship Atta furnished with 20 cannon and a paid crew of 80 sailors had lowered the flag of St Mark of Venice and raised the Russian flag. The Zakynthians also chartered two ships and disembarked Lechena, around Gastouni. The Venetian Provveditores of the islands expressed alarm at the fanaticism of the locals for the Orlov Revolt to his superiors in Venice. By early March, the Greek rebels were initially successful and managed to defeat Ottoman forces in Laconia and eastern Messenia in southern Morea. In the north-west of the Morea in Elis, Zakynthian and Kefalonians managed to control the area after a force of around 2,000 Zakynthians led by Vassilieos Makris, Nikolaos Fourtounis, Xanthopoulos and Thrakiotis sieged Pyrgos and then conquered Gastouni and most of Elis. They set up a government administration along similar lines as the Venetian Republic. Nikoalsos Fourtounis was appointed Provveditore of Pyrgos and Gastouni.[117] Along with a Kefalonian force, the Zakynthians the besieged Patras. The siege last 20 days until the reinforcement of Turk-Albanians arrived. In response, many of the Zakynthians and Kefalonians left the area including Gastouni. When they returned to Zakynthos and Kefalonia many requested a pardon from the authorities as their participation in the Orlov Revolt was considered a crime. Following pressure from the Ottomans, Venice attempted to pursue the Zakynthian and Kefalonian leaders. The leader, Vassileios Makris escaped punishment but was pursued later in 1776 for his leadership of the Zakynythian force in the siege of Patras. However, the case against Makris and others like Nikolaos Fourtounis was finally heard in 1781 and they were eventually pardoned.[118] The broader Orlov Revolt however failed to effectively spread – the fortresses of Navarino, Methone and the administrative center of the Morea, Tripolitsa (modern Tripoli) remained under Ottoman control. Meanwhile, a Greek revolt started in Crete. However, again the support promised by the Russian emissaries never arrived and the Cretan leaders were left to his own devices. They managed to organize a band of 2,000 well armed men who descended from the mountains onto the plains of western Crete. The Cretan uprising was soon suppressed by numerically superior Ottoman army. With the assistance of Greek islanders, the Russian fleet scored a major victory against the Ottoman navy in the Battle of Cesme but this did not help the Greek army in Morea. A Zakynthian ship under the command of Padouveros participated in this battle. The revolt was soon crushed. Greek reinforcements from Macedonia and Olympus region faced opposition in their descent to Morea and were unable to assist the revolutionaries. Given manpower issues arising necessity to fight a major war with Russia on its northern borders, the Ottoman Empire hired Albanian mercenary troops and they defeated the Russo-Greek expedition at Tripolitsa.[119]

The Adoration of the Shepherds, Nikolaos Koutouzis, c. 1780

Ultimately, the Orlov Revolt was a failure which cost a huge number of lives. The Greeks were effectively forgotten in the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji that followed the cessation of hostilities between the Ottoman and Russian Empires. Consequently, they became increasingly distrustful of the Russians as a result. However, some connections to Russia remained strong in part because of the influence of prominent Greeks in Russia such as Count Mocenigo of Zakynthos that served as Russian Ambassador in Tuscany.[120]

Freemasonry in Zakynthos[edit]

French rule (1797–1800) and (1807–1815)[edit]

By the time of the French Revolution, the Republic of Venice was already in serious decline given the opening of new sea routes outside of the Mediterranean and the loss of many territories in the eastern Mediterranean. Even in areas under Venetian occupation like the Ionian Islands, there was widespread discontent given heavy and unequal taxation and aristocratic form of governance and control. Consequently, the European Enlightenment; and specifically, the ideas of the French Revolution and the Neohellenic Enlightenment found fertile ground in places like Zakynthos. These ideas were often transmitted by the sons of Nobles and Cittadini who had studied primarily in Italy and/or by foreign agents stationed in on the island. Many of these ideas were also propagated by newly formed political associations constituted by people from all classes of Zakynthian society, which were influenced by Freemasonry and Carbonarism, and resembling the Jacobins in France. In addition, the patriotic poems of Antonios Martelaos and Thomas Danelakis, the patriotic hymn O Thourios of the proto-martyr of the Greek Revolution Rigas Ferraios, and the La Marsellaise and Carmagnoletranslated into Greek are said to have been very popular in the taverns, salons and streets of Zakynthos during this period. The Zakynthians enamoured and increasingly active in realising these ideas were called Patriots. However, reactionary forces often led by the Nobili also began to mobilise to counter the so-called Zakynthian Patriots.[121][122]

Flag of the Septinsular Republic

Conspiracy to massacre the Patriots (1796)[edit]

Many of the Zakynthian patriotic revolutionaries coalesced around the figure of the French consul, Constantine-Yakynthis Guys. The consulate was also the source of much Jacobin propaganda spread around Zakynthos town and the rest of the island. Probably due to fear engendered by reactionary forces on the island, on 20 October 1796 the French consulate was set on fire and the blame was laid at the hands of the Venetian authorities for inflaming some of the locals to resist the messages of the French Revolution. The local Nobili requested the Venetian regimento to deal with the Zakynthian Patriots but the Venetians authorities of the island were largely powerless against the growing revolutionary tide and the emerging geopolitical situation in the Ionian Islands and northern Italy instigated by the military victories of Napoleon. In response, the Nobili who had obstinately rejected the new ideas of the French Revolution and Neohellenic Enlightenment, took matters into their own hands and organised a council at the palazzo of Dimitrios Comoutos. One of the leaders, Draganigos Makris proposed local hoodlums and gangs massacre leadership of the Zakynthian Patriots during the litany of All-Saints. Although, it is documented that this plan had the support of most of the Nobili, it was shrewdly rejected by Dimitrios Comoutos for fear it would incite the French to occupy the island.[123]

Later, after the French did arrive to occupy Zakynthos, and the French General Antoine Gentilli visited the island shortly after in late 1797. During his discussions with the local authorities of the time, he learnt from Guys about the conspiracy by the Nobili to slaughter the Zakynthian Patriots. He was so angered by this that he decided to gather all the Nobili and exile them in distant French Guiana. Before it could be implemented, the Nobili heard about Gentili's decision and quickly raised money to ostensibly support the French troops and democracy. By this action, they spared themselves the trip to South America.[124]

Burning of the Libro D'Oro (1797)[edit]

The Treaty of Campoformio signed on 18 October 1797 dismantled the Venetian Republic and awarded the Ionian Islands to France. Gentili and his French expeditionary force of 1500 Frenchmen, 600 Venetians and boats captured in Venice, and took control of the Ionian Islands a few months before on 26 June 1797 and rapidly formed French prefectures under the name of "Départements français de Grèce" (French provinces of Greece). Zakynthos was made part of the French départment Mer-Égée.[125]

Initially, there was strong domestic enthusiasm for the French in Zakynthos. A group of armed men led by Spyro Psimaris took down the flag of St Mark from the castle before the arrival of French troops and the French consul, Guys managed to form a guard before the arrival of Gentili's troops. Most of the locals were relieved to be rid of the Venetians and were hoping political and social liberalisation would be ushered in. They also believed the French would provide a bulwark against the menacing Ottoman Turkish Empire. Even the peasants (the so-called Villani according to the Venetians) made their appearance in Zakynthos town demanding the lowering of usurious interest and taxation foisted on them by the Nobili. Ironically, some of these large landowners were ardent supporters of the ideas of the French Revolution. Importantly, this was the first time this class had entered Zakynthian politics after centuries of oppression under the Neapolitans and the Venetians. Gentili met many of their demands.[126]

However, it was quite clear early on that the French were not interested in giving the islands self-determination in accordance with the principles of the French Revolution and the desires of the Ionian Islanders; but, occupation as exemplified by the letter Napoleon sent to Gentili:[127]

''You will make every effort to win the sympathy of the people there, since you have to govern them ... If the inhabitants there declare a willingness to be independent, you have to deal with this desire.''

The Assumption by Nikolaos Kantounis, c. late 18th/early 19th century

At this stage, Zakynthians were not aware of French policy. In every square across the Ionian Islands, including St Marks in Zakynthos, the locals planted the Tree of Freedom. Locals also ran to the houses of the Nobili and collected their wigs, Venetian uniforms, coats of arms and parchments with nobility titles. They gathered these items in central squares like St Marks and ceremoniously burned them. The crowd even sought the wig of the last Venetian provveditore, Francesco Bragadin but he demanded payment for his wig. The crowd raised the necessary funds and then burnt his wig too. They also burnt the detested Libro d'Oro, containing the pedigree trees of local Noble families. The former Nobili in Zakynthos locked themselves in their palazzo for fear of retribution from the lower classes. In some sense, the Popolari had finally triumphed after their humiliations in 1628 and 1683.[128]

But this was not to last. And even very early on during French rule support for a rival power was evident. For example, 20 days after their arrival, a crowd of Zakynthians chanted for the Russian emperor and raised the Russian imperial flag in Zakynthos town. The French garrison had to disperse the crowd by force.[129][130]

The French initially tried to organize the administration of the Ionian Islands according to their own revolutionary standards that included the greater participation of lower classes than Venetian rule. In Zakynthos doctors, lawyers, former so called Nobles, Cittadini, Popolari and clerics from the Orthodox and Catholic churches were included in a 40-member interim governing council. Importantly, this council included Antonios Martinengos (1754–1836) who was to play a key role in Zakynthian politics for the next 20 years or so. Furthermore. the civil and criminal courts were reorganised, a jury system was gradually introduced, the first public schools were established and the first printing presses were set up. The Ionian Islanders even adopted the French Revolutionary Calendar in official documents dating back to the 1st year of Freedom and establishing a 4 August national holiday.[131]

However, the initial Zakynthian enthusiasm for the French rapidly dissipated primarily due to discontent about greater levels of taxation, the method of tax collection and the habit of French authorities borrowing from local merchants and failing to later meet their obligations. Also, promises of self-government did not come to fruition. But what really bothered the locals was the growing contempt French had for their institutions, like the Orthodox religion, its Church and other traditions. Ionians Islanders including Zakynthians mobilised by Nobili who had lost their privileges began to conduct public protests and form political associations to disseminate new ideas against French rule. These activities were also noticed by the Russians, the British and the Ottoman Turks.[132]

Septinsular Republic (1800–1807)[edit]

Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov by Peter Bajanov, 1912

Following French naval losses in the Mediterranean, and mobilization by the Russians and Ottoman Turks alarmed at previous French advances in the Mediterranean and even mainland Greece - and encouraged by the British - the French were forced to surrender the Ionian Islands under the pressure of siege and assault by Russian and their Ottoman Turkish allies. Many large landowners of Zakynthos, some merchants and the Church assisted.[133] Following the collapse of French rule, a combined Russian-Ottoman Turkish fleet under the command of Admiral Ushakov captured the island of Zakynthos on 23 October 1798 after capturing Kythera a few weeks before. The remaining Ionian Islands were captured shortly after.

Admiral Ushakov and the peasant uprising (1798)[edit]

The French garrison forces on Zakynthos included 444 men and 47 officers, their auxiliaries and remaining Zakynthian supporters. They feared they were unable to put up a strong defence against Ushakov's approaching forces; particularly, since the fortifications of the castle above Zakynthos town were in severe disrepair. Furthermore, much of the local population ranging from the old Nobili who had fled to their estates in the countryside, to the devout peasants were supportive of the Russian advance; although, they knew little of the involvement of their Ottoman Turkish allies at that time.[134]

Perhaps the turning point of this episode was the mobilisation of 8,000 armed peasants waving Russian flags from all areas of rural Zakynthos and led by a so-called Kapa-Nikolis from the village of Macherado. This shocked the French garrison and their Zakynthian supporters - what they thought was a small revolt now resembled a mass uprising across the rural parts of the island. Following their appearance after the arrival of Gentili, the peasants were now starting to become an important political factor in Zakynthian history.[135]

Three Zakynthians peasants by Gerasimos Pitzamanos, 1804-1807

The French abandoned their coastal batteries and retreated entirely into the castle above Zakynthos town. Sensing a crushing victory over the French and the Zakynthian Patriots, and buoyed by their newly found political freedom, the peasants rushed the French into Zakynthos town but were held at bay by the French artillery. In frustration, they ransacked government buildings, public records were burnt in St Mark's Square (including the Tree of Freedom) and the prisons were opened. They even pillaged the homes of pro-French Zakynthians and stormed the Jewish neighbourhood in Zakynthos town because they had sided with the French.[136]

The Zakynthian peasants were dismayed when they noticed the presence of Ottoman Turkish troops among the Russian force; however, Ushakov persuaded them they were strictly under his command. The French garrison shot at the incoming Russian force from Zakynthos castle but foreseeing a massacre given the size of the peasant army gathered under the castle, they negotiated a surrender shortly after. The French soldiers were treated with respect by the combined Russian-Ottoman Turkish force but the pro-French Zakynthians were not afforded the same privilege and were either beaten in St Mark's Square by the peasants, imprisoned awaiting trial or fled the island. Ushakov was jubilantly welcomed by the Zakynthians including Nobili who wore their finery once again to greet the Russian admiral. However, they were extremely reluctant to offer the same hospitality to his Ottoman Turkish allies.[137]

Like the French, Ushakov promised self-determination and respect for the traditions and customs of the island. However, despite their hatred of the French, the Zakynthian Popolari, Cittadini and peasants rapidly realised that the form of self-government proposed by Ushakov would likely entail being governed by the Nobili and prey to their venality. Consequently, the peasants demanded direct annexation to Russia to counter the Nobili. However, Ushakov did not have a mandate to meet their demands and resorted to the powers in Constantinople and St Petersburg regarding the long-term future of the island. In the meantime, three local archons and an elected council were to be appointed by Ushakov to govern the island. The council was to be evenly divided between the Nobili and Cittadini so that the Nobili would not monopolise government; however, in reality the Nobili would rule and provide protection to the Cittadini.[138]

Three Cittadini or Popolari perhaps as part of a militia in Zakynthos town by Gerasimos Pitzamanos, 1804-1807

Plot to massacre the Nobles (1799)[edit]

Resistance continued to grow among the Cittadini, Popolari and some of the peasants to the reinstatement of the privileges of the Nobili, and even the reinstatement of a recreated Libro d’Oro so detested by the other classes of Zakynthos. Only the names prior to the arrival of the French were to be included. Much of the resistance coalesced around the figure of Antonios Martinengos. Although probably the richest man in Zakynthos, and from an old aristocratic family, he was refused inclusion in the recreated Libro d’Oro because he was deemed of illegitimate birth. His enormous wealth also generated resentment among the old Nobili. Consequently, he savagely turned against his own Nobili class. It is said he was capable of mobilising thousands of supporters the Cittadini, Popolari and peasant classes and across all areas of Zakynthos.[139][140]

In a fit of fury, he started planning along with the rural leader and relative, Stelios Stravopodis, the massacre of the Nobili during one of their meetings in Zakynthos town with the Russian lieutenant in place of the absent Usakaov, Tisenhausen to elect the archons and local council of the island scheduled for 21 October 1799. According to Martinengos’s plan, crowds were expected to gather waiting his commands next to the building where the Nobili were planning to meet in St Mark’s Square. Within that crowd was an armed group under the leadership of Michael Tsintos or Kolelas. Another group under the order of Martinengos was going to set fire to the meeting place of the Nobili. In the chaos that would have eschewed, the armed group would enter the building and murder the Nobili. So, after only two years after the Conspiracy to massacre the Zakynthian Patriots, the tables had now turned and the Nobili were in the firing line.[141][142]

As planned on the morning of 21 October 1799, a crowd started to gather around the meeting place of the Nobili waiting on Martinengos. The Nobili thought the crowd had gathered to await the election of the archons and local council. However, during the previous evening, Martinengos had changed his mind about the abominable crime he was planning and sent Stravopodis to the crowd and armed group to advise they cease their operations. Without the apparent of Martingenos the assembled crowd started to drift back to their homes. But Michael Tsintos and his group set fire to the building before the arrival of Stravopodis. A supporter of Martingengos, also regretting the plan to set fire to the building, advised the Nobili to flee. The Russian soldiers rapidly apprehended Michael Tsintos and several members of his group.[143]

Michael Tsintos and his group were sentenced to death by the Russian occupying authorities. They decided to behead Michael Tsintos and placed his head in the square of Agios Nikolas tou Molou to set an example to the islanders. Other accomplices were savagely beaten by the Russian soldiers. Others were exiled and their property confiscated. Tiesenhausen then announced that the leaders of the plot, Martinengos and Stravopodis were to report to him within 24 hours. However, they had fled into the mountainous interior of the island.[144][145]

In an amazing turnaround of events, Martinengos used his wealth to bribe many officials and so managed to free himself and Stravopodis from the accusation of being ringleaders of the planned massacre of thee Nobili. Furthermore, using important intermediaries, he managed to ultimately gain the favour of Tisenghausen rather than his wrath. Despite protestations from some of the Nobili, a few months later Antonios Martinengos and Stelios Stavropodis even managed to be included in the recreated Libro d'Oro and consequently the local council.[146]

Creation of the Septinsular Republic (1800)[edit]

After a long period of negotiations, on 21 March 1800 the Treaty of Constantinople drafted by the Russian and Ottoman Empires created the Septinsular Republic. Zakynthos was made part of the Septinsular Republic which also consisted of the islands of Kerkyra, Cephallonia, Lefkada, Ithaka, Paxos and Kythera. The Republic was established to be nominally under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire but protected by Russia. Later, when the alliance between the Ottoman Turks and the Russians collapsed the Septinsular Republic came under the sole control of Russia in 1806.

Over time, Russia appointed the Zakynthian nobleman, Georgios Motsenigos (1765–1836) as commissioner of the Republic and in turn appointed the Kerkyrian and future prime minister of independence Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias as secretary-general. The Zakynthian Spyridon Neranztis (1760–1833) was also recruited to help draft the various Constitutions of the Septinsular Republic and also became financial administrator. The administrative capital of the Septinsular Republic and location of the Ionian Assembly was in Kerkyra.[147]

Crucially, the creation of the Septinsular Republic was the first time Greeks had been granted even limited self-government since the fall of the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Empire in the mid-15th century. However, despite some hope for the national aspirations of Diaspora Greeks, its constitutional structure were not reflective of the will for self-determination by the peoples of the Ionian Islands as it essentially handed back power to the Nobles.[148]

The Descent from the Cross by Nikolaos Kantounis, c. late 18th/early 19th century

The Septinsular Republic was an aristocratic federal republic. Political franchise was restricted to males of legitimate Christian birth on the islands, who did not keep a shop or practise any mechanical art and could read and write. They also required a minimum yearly income which varied between the islands. The official language of the Septinsular Republic was at first Italian. The revised Constitution of 1803 recognised Greek, along with Italian, as one of the two official languages of the Republic and Eastern Orthodoxy as the state religion. Inadvertently, this was an important step towards ultimate national liberation. The overwhelming majority of the people on these islands during this period were ethnically Greek and Christians, with a small number of Jews on Kerkyra, Zakynthos and an even smaller number on Cephallonia. The majority of the Christians were Eastern Orthodox. However, there was a significant number of Catholics, especially on Kerkyra and less so in Zakynthos and Cephallonia. The Constitution of 1803 recognized Orthodoxy as the dominant faith.[149]

Another important development around 1803, was the formation of a 1,200 strong militia recruited from all classes of the islands. Some members of the old Ionian Island Nobili resisted this- harking back to their arguments made on the eve of the Rebellion of the Popolari in 1628 - arguing that only peasants should be subject to military obligations. However, it was finally passed in the Ionian Assembly.[150]

Despite the tensions, the creation of a native governing elite helped the formation of persons and a bureaucracy which aided in the Zakynthos's smooth final unification with Greece. Even some Ionian Islanders involved in the government of the Septinsular Republic, such as the Kerkyrian Ioannis Kapodistrias, played key roles in the formation and administration of the Greek state in 1832. Outside of narrow government circles, political, literary, medical and scientific associations, including Freemasonry, helped to create a civic culture.[151]

However, one of the most difficult problems the nascent Septinsular state had to overcome was the formation of a strong central government out of the civil administrations that Ushakov had established on each Ionian island. The general lawlessness of the islands and the prominence of vendetta feuds made governing by the local civil administration difficult let alone a central government located elsewhere. Even during the convocation of a Senate in Kerkyra in late 1799 to establish the central government experienced difficulties due to the separatist tendencies in Zakynthos and Cephalonia - they refused to send delegates to Kerkyra. The general crisis was averted when Ushakov went as far as having to persuade, with a suggestion of force, these islands to send delegates to Kerkyra for the Ionian Assembly. Over time, the senate in Kerkyra degenerated into pro-Russian and pro-Ottoman Turkish camps. Not surprisingly, the old Nobili favoured an authoritarian form of central government preferred by the Ottoman Turks whereas the Cittadini and Popolari favoured broader representation and protection from the Ottoman Empire. Several hundred Zakynthians even sent a petition on April 4, 1799 requesting the inclusion of the Popolari in government to ward off further civil strife on the island.[152][153]

Coup d'état of Antonios Martinengos (1801)[edit]

The governance of Zakynthos was also made difficult by the intervention of other foreign powers like the British. Britain had steadily grown alarmed by the growth of Russian power in the Mediterranean; particularly, Kerkyra. It also had a strong interest in the currant trade between Zakynthos and Kefalonia and northern Europe. In order to provide a counterweight to the power of Russia, Ottoman Turkish Empire and the Septinsular central government, and also because of narrow economic interests, some Zakynthian Nobili maintained contact with the British Admiral Nelson via the intermediary of Spyridon Foresti, the British consul in Kerkyra. The Zakynthian local council even went as far as to award Nelson a Gold Sword in appreciation for his efforts to help in removing the French from the island.[154]

Increasingly, agitation grew on Zakynthos, as the Cittadini, Popolari and peasants began to understand that essentially complete power had been handed back to the Nobili of each island which were given almost free rein to oppress the local population again as they had done for centuries. In addition, one of the articles in the constitution of the Septinsular Republic only recognised the Nobili included in the Libro d'Oro before November 1799 - which would have excluded the newly included Antonions Martinengos, his brother and Stelios Stavropodis. Another consequence was they would be excluded from the local council. This created another rupture with the senate in Kerkyra and their allies among the Nobili on Zakynthos.[155] A small Septinsular force from Kerykra was to be sent to Zakynthos to quell dissent. At the same time in Zakynthos, 2,000 armed peasants under the leadership of the Nobili gathered at the estate of Nikolaos Foskardis and planned to lay siege to Zakynthos town and deal with Antonios Martinengos and his party. In turn, Antonios Martinengos's forces took all measures to defend the town and the local council.[156][157][158]

On 8 January 1801, James Callander, a British officer under the service of Nelson, arrived in Zakynthos to spread anti-French propaganda and to do the bidding of the British. He had met with Antonios Martinengos and his party and they came to the conclusion they needed each other to realise their objectives on the island.[159]

Broader geopolitical events had evolved and the Russian military contingent was withdrawn from Zakynthos and the other Ionian Islands. On the night of 19 February 1801, armed locals of Martinengos's party led by Tzortzi Strouza-Solomos, along with the support of the British officer James Callander, lowered the Russian and Ottoman Turkisdh flags from the castle and raised the British flag. Furthermore, they declared independence from the central government of the Septinsular Republic. In effect, initiating a coup d'état. They faced little resistance from the peasants under the guidance of Foskardis and Septinsular troops based in Kerkyra failed to arrive.[160]

A representative of the Septinsular Republic who also happened to be Zakynthian, Nikolaos-Draganigos Sigrouros-De Sylla arrived on the island and met with the British consult, Sargint, Callander, Martinengos and the Nobili. A short time later, an armed group under the orders of Martinengos surrounded the palazzo of De-Sylla and demanded he leave the island. The next day almost the whole town was up in arms against De-Sylla. Some members of the Cittadini and Popolari had now set up a cannon threatening the palazzo of De-Sylla. Also, a ship from the Septinsular Republic tried to dock in Zakynthos but was also threatened by an armed group representing Antonios Martinengos. Finally, De-Sylla and his family was led away to an Ottoman Turkish frigate anchored off Zakynthos by a British escort. Furthermore, the forces under the leadership of the Nobili, Foskardis noticing that the British were providing some legitimacy to the part of Martinengos, also deemed it prudent to withdraw. Later, after a request by a visiting British naval captain, the party of Martinengos took down the British flag.[161]

In 1807, the Septinsular Republic was ceded to Napoleon's First French Empire, but the islands were not annexed by France, keeping their institutions of government and the Constitution of 1803.

Greek War of Independence (1821–1832)[edit]

Filiki Eteria[edit]

The Filiki Eteria (or Society of Friends) was a secret 19th-century organization created to end the Ottoman rule of Greece and establish an independent Greek state. The Society members were mainly young Greek merchants from Russia and Romania, local Greek chieftains and clergy, some Phanariots and scholars inside and outside Greece. The Society was responsible for initiating the Greek War of Independence in the spring of 1821. Fired by their zeal for the liberation of Greece ordinary citizens and prominent members of Zakynthian society were also active members of the Filiki Eteria.

The Oath by Dionysios Tsokos showing the swearing in of a person to the Filiki Eteria in Zakynthos

Since the Orlov Revolt in 1770, as had always happened in Zakynthian history, a groups of Peloponnesian refugees had settled on the island.; although, they had retained links with their ancestors in the Peloponnese. When the Peloponnesian chieftain and unofficial leader, Theodoros Kolokotronis, was being pursued by the Ottoman Turkish authorities he naturally fled to nearby Zakynthos where over the course of time he trained with the various occupying powers of the island.[162][163]

Kolokotronis was initiated into the Filiki Eteria in Zakynthos. Despite the potentially serious consequences it would have to their reputation and social position, several prominent Zakynthians joined and became active in the Filiki Eteria. They were, amongst others, Dionysios Romas, Anastasios Flambouriaris, Frangiskos Karvelas, Nikolaos Kolyvas, Antonios Martelaos, Constantinos Dragonas, Caesar Efstathiou Logothetis and Antonios Martinengos. Some of them were persecuted by the British occupiers of the time, such as Dionysios Romas and Anastastasios Flambouriaris, and had to flee the island. Dionysios Solomos also became a member in 1818. In addition, Nikolaos and Panagiotis Stefanou whose grandfather migrated to Zakynthos after the Orlov Revolt joined the Filiki Eteria and participated in the Greek War of Independence. Panagiotis Stefanou helped in the liberation of the harem of Hirsut Pasha during the fall of Tripoli in 1821.

Giorgios Tertsetis was another prominent participant in the Filiki Etaria and the Greek War of Independence. After returning from his studies in Italy, he joined the Filiki Eteria and then joined the war in the Peloponnese. He became a professor and judge soon after the Greek state was established and defended Kolokotronis against charges of high treason.[162][163]

Outbreak of Greek War of Independence[edit]

With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, one of its leaders, Alexander Ypsilanti invited the Ionian Islanders to form a corp to help in the fight. Zakynthian participants included Nikolaos Katanis, Spyridon Daliostros, the brothers Nikolaos and Theodoros Kalamas and Giorgios Avramiotis. Other Zakynthians who were members of the Filiki Eteria helped to arrange shipment of ammunition, food and money to the Peloponnese, while taking care of refugees from the Peloponnese and raise money for the hospital foundation in Nafplion. In addition, many Zakynthians played important roles in key battles.[162][163]

Battle of Lala (1821)[edit]

The Battle of Lala (9–13 June 1821) was one of the first major conflicts of the Greek War of Independence. It was a significant victory for the Greeks against the relieving Ottoman Turkish and the Muslim Albanian forces living in Lalas, Elis which constituted a serious impediment to the liberation struggle in the Peloponnese.

Muslim-Albanians had settled in Lalas, east of Pyrgos for several generations. For many years they raided the nearby farms, burnt houses and livestock of Greek and Turkish landowners on the plains of Gastouni and Pyrgos and even further afield. Consequently, Muslim Albanians of Lalas had become the quasi-sovereigns of Elis.[164]

With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in late March 1821, some Greek military leaders recognised the Muslim-Albanian menace around Lalas and the possibility of coming to the aid of the coreligionists, the Ottoman Turks. As a result, the local Greeks initially attempted to siege the Muslim Albanians of Lalas but were not successful. Shortlybafter on May 13, a small force of Greek soldiers occupied a mountainous position near Lalas. Their position was vulnerable and likely to fall until the appearance of 500 volunteers of Ionian Islanders from Cephallonia and Zakynthos and their four cannons. The Zakynthian volunteers were led by Dionysios Sembrikos.[164]

The Battle of Lala by Peter von Hess, 1835. The depiction of Cephalonian leader, Metaxas is unlikely to be incorrect as the Ionian Islanders probably wore a more western-style military uniform.

On May 30 the Ionian Island force had grown with the arrival of fighters from Elis and Kalavryta. The combined Greek force endeavoured to surround Lalas. The Muslim Albanians of Lalas realised their difficult position and were shocked by the number and organisation of the Ionian Island volunteers. Some of the Ionian Island volunteers are likely to have received training in Western military tactics and organisation. The other Greek rebels were also impressed with the organisation of the Ionian Island force. Despite some disagreement between the Ionian Islanders and the Peloponnesians on the timing of their attack on the trapped Muslim-Albanians, the Ionian Islanders sent a letter to the Muslim-Albanians allowing them to surrender peacefully or be attacked and given over to the Peloponnesians. The letters was signed by Dionysios Sembrikos and the Zakynthian Panagtios Strouzas. However, this attempt at resolving the stalemate was indecisive.[164]

The combined Greek forces decided to attack but were disorganised and it was repelled. The Muslim-Albanians requested assistance from Yousef Pasha in Patra who responded with around 1000–1500 men including 300 horsemen. When Yousef Pasha’s force approached the Muslim-Albanians in Lalas, they attacked the Greek forces, trapping them and allowing Yousef Pasha's fighters to enter Lalas. The Peloponnesians wanted to withdraw at a safe distance but the Ionian Islanders were opposed to this. Yousef Pasha could not wait was he was afraid his main force would be attacked in Patras. Therefore, he took the initiative and attacked first with the aim of breaking the Greek camp, taking their cannons and fleeing to Patras. He met stiff resistance from the Ionian Island force with the Muslims-Albanians sustaining a significant number of casualties. The Zakynthian leader, Dionysios Sembrikos was also injured in battle along with several other Zakynthians.[164]

On 14 June, the Turkish and Muslims Albanians retreated and fled to Patras without capturing any Greek cannon. The combined Greek forces entered Lalas. Ultimately, the Muslim Albanians left Greece and sailed for Anatolia.

The Greek victory was significant as the Muslim-Albanians of Lalas were considered very good fighters. Their displacement from Lalas meant the surrounding area of Elis and the broader north-eastern and central Peloponnese was less vulnerable to attack. The victory also strengthened the resolve of the Greek forces. For their participation in the battle, the Ionian Islanders including the Zakynthian volunteers were prosecuted by the British rulers upon their return to the Ionian Islands with arrests, imprisonment and confiscation of property.[164]

Portrait of Dionysios Romas by Spyridon Pelekasis, c. 1880s.

By 1824 Dionysios Romas, then in northern Italy, returned to Zakynthos and just before the second civil war reached its climax formed the Zakynthos Committee with fellow Zakynthians, Panayiotis Stefanou and Konstantinos Dragonas. Their aim was the strengthening of the independence struggle via economic and political means.[165] To avoid the British persecution and imprisonment, Dionysios Romas departed for Venice, where he remained for four years.[165]

British rule (1815–1864)[edit]

After a second period under French control (1807–1809) following the Treaty of Tilsit, Zakynthos was occupied by the Great Britain on 16 October 1809 after they defeated a nearby French fleet. It was then made part of the British protectorate of the United States of the Ionian Islands from 1815 to 1864.[citation needed]

The Treaty of Paris in 1815 charged Britain with protecting the 'single, free and independent' United States of the Ionian Islands. However, it rapidly enacted a repressive Constitution in 1817 and requiring the ratification of the Constitution by the Protective Power despite the Ionian Parliament, maintained garrisons in the forts at the expense of each island and kept foreign affairs in the hands of Britain. In addition, the Protective Power showed little sympathy for the refugees from the Greek War of the Independence. These factors created resentment among the Ionian Islanders.[166]

Events of Ipsolithos (1821)[edit]

On 30 September 1821, following the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, an Ottoman Turkish ship carrying Muslim refugees, after having being pursued by Greek naval vessels, tried to dock in the port of Zakynthos to obtain provisions. The local Zakynthians became angered given the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Turks against Christians in the Ottoman Empire resulting in the infamous Events of the Ipsolithos.

A small group of British soldiers and their presiding officer attempted to ensure the refugees received supplies and adhered to the quarantine regulations. However, the local Zakynthians, some of whom some were armed attacked the British soldiers, killing one and wounding several soldiers including the officer. The soldiers retreated and waited for reinforcements. Consequently, the serving Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, Thomas Maitland declared martial law for the second time in two years. The declaration also included a ruling to disarm, with a few exceptions, the local population. Maitland also pursued the ring leaders of the attack including Ioannis Klavdianos, Theodoros Petas, Panagiotis Roumeliotis, Dionysios Kontonis and Antonis Grampsas. They were eventually executed based on controversial testimonies by public hanging near Agios Nikolas to Molou in Zakynthos town. As if that was not sufficient punishment, their homes were also demolished. Other Zakynthians who had agitated against British rule were either imprisoned or exiled.[167][168]

As a signal to the local Zakynthians to obey the British authorities, the bodies of four of the ringleaders were hung in iron cages on the hill overlooking Zakynthos town. This was a common punishment by the English in their colonies. The body of Yiannis Kavdianos was hung in a cage opposite his home in rural Zakynthos. His mother ultimately went mad at having to view this scene on a daily basis.[169][168]

The Party of the Radicals[edit]

A drawing of Konstantinos Lomvardos by Ioannis Oikonomou, 1888

Around the time of other revolutionary movements in Europe in 1848, the Party of Radicals was formed out of an earlier group called the Liberals to agitate for the end of the British occupation of the Ionian Islands and in favor of union with the Kingdom of Greece. The Party is often labelled the first party of principles in Greek history and a precursor to the socialist movement in Greece. However, the Party not only agitated for union with Greece but also protested against the political and social situation in the Greek state. Not surprisingly, contacts were maintained with key figures of the Risorgimento including Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini.

In late 1850, the Party’s MP Ioannis Typaldos proposed in the Ionian parliament in Kerkyra the resolution for the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece. The resolution was signed by several Zakynthians as well as Kerkyrians and Cephalonians. Britain responded with the closure of newspapers like To Mellon in Zakynthos, persecutions, imprisonment, and even exile. The two major protagonists Elias Zervos and Iosif Momferatos were exiled to Antikythera and Erikousa respectively. In 1862, the Party was split into two factions, the United Radical Party and the Real Radical Party. The former gave priority to Union rather than socio-political reforms, while the latter believed that only through social reform could complete national rehabilitation be achieved. The Real Radical Party struggled as it faced resistance not only from Britain but also from the Kingdom of Greece. In contrast, the United Radical Party under the leadership of Zakynthian politician and doctor, Konstantinos Lomvardos (1820-1888) and to a lesser extent the Zakynthian journalist, Georgios Verikios (1818-1891) carried on with their struggle for the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece.

Finally, on May 21, 1864, the Greek flag was hoisted on the Ionian Islands to welcome the Greek army and unification with the Kingdom of Greece. The United Radical Party was dissolved immediately.[170]

Konstantinos Lomvardos was one of the most prominent members of the Radical movement and a member of the Ionian Parliament from 1852. He was well known for his rhetorical powers. After the Union with the Kingdom of Greece, Lomvardos participated in the government of Koumoundourou as Minister of Education, Interior and Justice. In 1871, he joined the party of Charilaos Trikoupis and was elected President of the House. From 1875 to 1888, he served as Minister of the Interior, Justice and Education. Apart from his political activities, Lomvardos published a number of political and scientific texts. Lomvardos was the founder of the Lomvardos party of Zakynthos.[171]

Party of the Radicals members of the Ionian Parliament by unknown artist, c. 1855

Other notable Radicals from Zakynthos were Nathaniel Domeneginis (1793-1854), a fiery patriot elected Member of the Ionian Parliament in 1850. He signed, along with Frangiskos Domeneginis and Angelos Desyllas, the first resolution of the Union with Greece. He wrote various leaflets and articles in favor of the Union and against the British occupation. Excited by the revolt in Epirus in 1854, he decided to fight under the command of the generals, Karaiskakis and Tzavelas. In the Battle of Petta in 1854, he was arrested and executed by the Ottomans. Ioannis Lisgaras (1805-1872), was a notary from Zakynthos who in 1851 was exiled to the island of Othoni. He was elected Member of the Ionian Parliament of 1852. He fought for the Union with Greece with numerous articles and brochures. In 1866, he was elected Mayor of Zakynthos and was distinguished for his honesty and his excellence in administration and finance.[172]

Frangiskos - Lambrinos Domeneginis (1809-1874), cousin of Nathaniel Domeginis, was a composer, music teacher, conductor, painter and an enthusiastic Radical. In 1829, he took part in the Greek Revolution as an officer of the regular cavalry and distinguished himself in operations around Euboea. He signed the first resolution of the Ionian Parliament and a year later he was exiled to Antikythira. During his exile, he was re-elected as a member. In 1853, he returned to the House and submitted a resolution, together with Lombardos and Verikios, for the return from the Kefalonian Radical exiles Elias Zervos and Iosif Momferatos. He was involved in the Italian-Greek committees where he came into contact with Giuseppe Garibaldi and other prominent activists in the Risorgimento. Dimitrios Kallinikos (1814-1890) was very wealthy and well-educated and together with Ioannis Ioannopoulos, Georgios Verikios and Pavlos Tavoularis published the newspaper O Rigas, the first radical newspaper from Zakynthos. He was exiled in 1851. Shortly before the Union with Greece he fell out with the Radicals and ceased participation in the movement. Georgios Verikios was a journalist, orator and prefect. He was one of the first to support the right of self-determination and Union with Greece. He was the editor of the Magos and O Rigas newspapers. Verikios was exiled and expelled from the British occupation for his ideas.[173]

Union with Greece (1864)[edit]

The first free Parliament of the Ionian Islands declares that it is the unanimous, firm and resolute desire of the Ionian people to acquire their independence and unite with the rest of their Nation, liberated Greece.

Mother and Daughter by Konstantinos Iatras, c. 1860–1865

A declaration from the Ionian Parliament in late 1864.

And so in 1864, Zakynthos together with all the other Ionian Islands, became a full member of the Greek state, ceded by Britain to stabilize the rule of the newly crowned Danish-born King of the Hellenes, George I. The last British troops left the Ionian Islands on June 2, 1864.[citation needed]

Cultural life continued to blossom in Zakynthos in the years following unification; however, whereas in the years prior to the British occupation, talented and ambitious Zakynthians would be educated in Italy and often return to the island, increasingly they would migrate to Athens. This trend accelerated in the years following unification with Greece. Arguably, over the long term this was detrimental to the cultural life of the island but it also meant that Ionian Island culture was exported to the rest of the Greek world.

Seashore Zante 1892 by Charles W Wyllie

Balkan Wars (1912–1913)[edit]

First World War (1914–1918)[edit]

The First World War period was dominated by two parties on Zakynthos, the Romas and the Lomvardos party. The Romas party were elected as deputies for the Liberals led by Greek prime minister, Eleftherios Venizelos whereas the Lomvardos party for the Royalists. It was not unknown for key figures in the parties to change sides. Many of the elements of the National Schism were reflected in these two local parties. The clubs situated on the island played a key role as meeting points for these two political poles but there was also rallies, agitation and reports of general tension on the streets of Zakynthos town.

Due to the National Schism and the ongoing First World War, Anglo-French forces fortified the Ionian Islands from 1915 in support of Eleftherios Venizelos and Entente. A French naval squadron landed 600 men on Zakynthos in late 1915 and also another 280 Senegalese (a French colony of the time) in early 1917. A French flag was flown over the Castle. In mid-1917, the French Senegalese soldiers departed and the French flag was lowered from the Castle.

The population of Zakynthos had been reduced dramatically in this period due to emigration and starvation during 1916–1917. From 49,104 inhabitants in 1906, the population was 37,340 in 1920.[174]

Second World War (1940–1945)[edit]

Mussolini-led Italy invaded Greece in October 1940 but the invasion was halted after the Greek army pushed the Italians back into Northern Epirus and some of Albania. This forced the allies of Fascist Italy, the Germans, to come to the aid of Italy. The combined forces engaged the Greek forces in April 1941, and by the middle of May, Greece was occupied by Nazi Germany. Germany occupied and administered important cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki, the Bulgarians controlled the north-eastern portion of the country, while Italy controlled the majority of the Peloponnese and the Ionian Islands.

The invasion and control of Kerkyra and the Ionian Islands, was part of Mussolini’s strategy to resurrect the Roman Empire. Consequently, the Italians ruled the Ionian Islands as a separate entity from the rest of Greece with the aim of formal annexation after the war. The Italians began to implement political, social, economic, educational and cultural measures to de-Hellenise the islands. For example, the Italian political authorities forbade all communication with mainland Greece, introduced the compulsory learning of the Italian language and limited the teaching of Greek history. Additionally, the economies of the islands were re-orientated towards Italy including a new currency, tax system and application of Italian law. Concentration camps were also established in Paxos and Othoni.[175]

The whole administration of the Ionian Islands was set up by the Central Civil Affairs Office based in Kerkyra with a vice governor on each island including Zakynthos with authority to issue decrees about administrative matters. The head of the Office belonged directly to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, very few of the proposals were implemented as the Germans were concerned of further alienating the Greek population which was already strongly opposing the Bulgarian annexations in the north-east.[176]

On the 14 Sept 1943, after fascism fell in Italy, the Italians surrendered and the Germans took control of the Ionian islands. The German occupation of Zakynthos lasted almost 12 months with the population suffering many depredations. As the British Marines moved in to drive out the Germans, Zakynthos was liberated on 12 Sept, 1944.[177]

Jews of Zakynthos[edit]

During the Nazi occupation of Greece, Mayor Karrer and Bishop Chrysostomos refused Nazi orders to turn in a list of the members of the town's Jewish community for deportation to the death camps. Instead they hid all (or most) of the town's Jewish people in rural villages. According to some sources, all 275 Jews of Zakynthos survived the war;[178][179] however, other sources state that about thirty died of starvation,[180] or state that some elderly Jews, incapable of fleeing the town, "disappeared" in a German SS truck.[181] Statues of the Bishop and the Mayor commemorate their heroism on the site of the town's historic synagogue, destroyed in the earthquake of 1953.[178]

In 1978, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel, honoured Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Loukas Karrer with the title of "Righteous among the Nations", an honor given to non-Jews who, at personal risk, saved Jews during the Holocaust.[178] After the war, all of the Jews of Zakynthos moved either to Israel or to Athens.[182][183]

Greek Civil War (1946–1949)[edit]

Great earthquake of 1953[edit]

The island suffered a series of four severe earthquakes in August 1953, resulting in the total destruction of its infrastructure, including most of the state archives. The third and most destructive of these quakes, registering 7.3 on the Richter Scale, occurred at 09:24 UTC (11:24 am local time) on 12 August 1953. It had its epicentre directly on the southern tip of the nearby island of Kefalonia, also causing widespread destruction there. The quake was felt throughout most of the country, and only three buildings on Zakynthos were left standing after the disaster: the St. Dionysios Cathedral, the National Bank building, and the church of St. Nicholas "tou Molou" (of the Quay). Other buildings in outlying areas also managed to avoid complete collapse.

Panorama of Zakynthos city.

After the quake[edit]

The Cathedral of Saint Dionysios, patron saint of the island

After the earthquakes, the island's roads were expanded and paved along with the GR-35, one of the roads linking with the town and Porto Roma along with Laganas, Keri and Volimes and from Lachans to Keri.

Mining is common on the island. A small mountain located in Zakynthos' west side was mined during the 1990s, though it is no longer in use. Today mining continues, but with two quarries on the mountain range on the western part of the island. Tourism continues to thrive and Zakynthos is currently one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

A few earthquakes hit the island from 2000 to 2010, one on Sunday 8 June 2008 at 6.4 on the Richter scale, felt without any damage or injuries. Another less serious tremor occurred four months later on Saturday, 11 October, measured at 4 on the same scale and also causing almost no damage.

April 2006 earthquake series[edit]

Starting in the early morning hours of 4 April 2006, a series of moderate to strong earthquakes occurring on an almost daily basis began shaking almost the entire island. On 11 April, however, the phenomenon intensified in both magnitude and rate of events. At 03:02 local time of that day, a powerful, magnitude 5.7 earthquake hit the area, only to be followed by an even stronger tremor, registering 5.9 on the Richter Scale, at 8:30 p.m. (20:30) EET.

On 12 April, a committee of the nation's most prominent seismologists had an emergency meeting with the Greek Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, in order to assess the emerging situation. The meeting ended in a scientific consensus that this specific area of the Ionian Sea was simply not ready to produce an even stronger quake, advising the nervous citizens of the island to remain calm. However, at 19:52 and at 19:56 local time of that same evening, two more earthquakes shook the region, sending scores of terrified people into the streets. The earthquakes had a preliminary moment magnitude of 5.8 and 5.4 respectively.

Seismologists at the Athens Seismological Institute were once again taken by surprise by what turned into an unprecedented riddle concerning whether or not these were in fact foreshocks of a major event. The chances are, nonetheless, that this was just a phenomenon known as earthquake swarm, characterized by a pattern of a considerable amount of magnitude-wise similar tremors, all occurring within a limited number of days or weeks. As a result of the recurring jolts, moderate damage was reported to a total of sixty residencies and one library, while a small crack appeared on the eastern part of the capital's port. In addition, several rocks tumbled down onto one of the island's main roads, running through its mountainous areas.

The Ionian Islands are situated upon one of Europe's most notorious faults, capable of producing earthquakes potentially causing both widespread damage and considerable loss of life. However it should be stressed that, following the catastrophe of 1953, the authorities of Zakynthos have enforced a strict program of antiseismic standards, which also applies to the rest of Greece, to be applied in every building to be constructed. All buildings have been built on a swimming slab and enforced with steel, to standards determined by the government, to ensure safety.

After the quake and the wildfires of 2006[edit]

On Thursday 18 July 2006, the western portion of the island was hit by a forest fire. The fire spread to the island's forest and ended up spreading by hectares. Firefighters along with helicopters and planes from the mainland arrived to fight the fire's expansion and further deforestation. The fire lasted for several days and on 20 July, much of the area was contained; though it had become unpopular and unattractive scenery. One of the conflagrations appeared as a fiery line visible from as far away as the southern portion of the island and the Ionian Sea.

Geography[edit]

Three-dimensional view of Zakynthos relief

Zakynthos lies in the eastern part of the Ionian sea, around 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of the Greek (Peloponnese) mainland. The island of Kefalonia lies 15 kilometres (9 miles) on the north. It is the southernmost of the main group of the Ionian islands (not counting distant Kythira). Zakynthos is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) long and 20 kilometres (12 miles) wide, and covers an area of 405.55 km2 (156.58 sq mi). Its coastline is approximately 123 km (76 mi) long. According to the 2011 census, the island has a population of 40,759.[184] The highest point is Vrachionas, at 758 metres (2,487 feet).

Zakynthos has the shape of an arrowhead, with the "tip" (Cape Skinari) pointing northwest. The western half of the island is a mountainous plateau and the southwest coast consists mostly of steep cliffs. The eastern half is a densely populated fertile plain with long sandy beaches, interrupted with several isolated hills, notably Bochali which overlooks the city and the peninsula of Vasilikos in the northeast. The peninsulas of Vassilikos to the north and Marathia to the south enclose the wide and shallow bay of Laganas on the southeast part of the island.

The capital, which has the same name as the prefecture, is the town of Zakynthos. It lies on the eastern part of the northern coast. Apart from the official name, it is also called Chora (i.e. the Town, a common denomination in Greece when the name of the island itself is the same as the name of the principal town). The port of Zakynthos has a ferry connecting to the port of Kyllini on the mainland. Another ferry connects the village of Agios Nikolaos to Argostoli on Kefalonia. Minor uninhabited islands around Zakynthos included in the municipality and regional unit are: Marathonisi, Pelouzo, Agios Sostis in the Laganas bay; Agios Nikolaos, near the eponymous harbor on the northern tip; and Agios Ioannis near Porto Vromi on the western coast.

Flora and fauna[edit]

The mild, Mediterranean climate and the plentiful winter rainfall endow the island with dense vegetation. The principal agricultural products are olive oil, currants, grapes and citrus fruit. The Zante currant is a small sweet seedless grape which is native to the island. The Bay of Laganas is the site of the first National Marine Park and the prime nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean.[citation needed]

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Zakynthos (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 20.2
(68.4)
21.4
(70.5)
24.2
(75.6)
25.6
(78.1)
34.2
(93.6)
35.8
(96.4)
42.2
(108)
38.4
(101.1)
36.8
(98.2)
30.4
(86.7)
26.6
(79.9)
22.2
(72)
42.2
(108)
Average high °C (°F) 14.4
(57.9)
14.5
(58.1)
16.1
(61)
18.9
(66)
23.4
(74.1)
27.8
(82)
30.7
(87.3)
30.6
(87.1)
27.6
(81.7)
23.0
(73.4)
19.0
(66.2)
15.8
(60.4)
21.8
(71.2)
Daily mean °C (°F) 11.3
(52.3)
11.5
(52.7)
12.9
(55.2)
15.5
(59.9)
19.8
(67.6)
24.1
(75.4)
26.7
(80.1)
26.6
(79.9)
23.8
(74.8)
19.6
(67.3)
15.8
(60.4)
12.8
(55)
18.4
(65.1)
Average low °C (°F) 8.1
(46.6)
8.2
(46.8)
9.2
(48.6)
11.1
(52)
14.4
(57.9)
18.2
(64.8)
20.4
(68.7)
20.9
(69.6)
18.8
(65.8)
15.7
(60.3)
12.5
(54.5)
9.6
(49.3)
13.9
(57)
Record low °C (°F) −2.6
(27.3)
−2.0
(28.4)
0.0
(32)
2.6
(36.7)
5.0
(41)
8.4
(47.1)
12.0
(53.6)
13.4
(56.1)
10.8
(51.4)
5.2
(41.4)
2.8
(37)
0.2
(32.4)
−2.6
(27.3)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 150.4
(5.921)
112.8
(4.441)
89.6
(3.528)
51.3
(2.02)
17.0
(0.669)
7.2
(0.283)
5.0
(0.197)
9.1
(0.358)
25.4
(1)
146.5
(5.768)
159.1
(6.264)
169.9
(6.689)
943.3
(37.138)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 12.8 11.3 8.2 6.1 2.5 1.1 0.5 0.9 2.8 8.1 11.0 13.2 78.5
Average relative humidity (%) 74.3 72.8 72.8 71.7 67.8 62.8 59.3 61.2 66.7 71.7 76.0 75.3 69.4
Source: NOAA[185]

Sights[edit]

Famous landmarks include the Navagio beach, a cove on the northwest shore isolated by high cliffs and accessible only by boat. Numerous natural "blue caves" are cut into cliffs around Cape Skinari, and accessible only by small boats.[186] Keri, on the south of the island, is a mountain village with a lighthouse. The whole western shore from Keri to Skinari contains rock formations including arches.[187]

Cliffs and stone arches at Cape Marathia

Northern and eastern shores feature numerous wide sandy beaches, some of which attract tourists in summer months. The largest resort is Laganas. Marathonissi islet (also known as "Turtle Island") near Limni Keriou has tropical vegetation, turquoise waters, beaches, and sea caves. Bochali hill above the Zakynthos town contains a small Venetian castle.

Administration[edit]

Zakynthos is a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. The seat of administration is Zakynthos, the main town of the island.[citation needed]

Prefecture[edit]

As a part of the 2011 Kallikratis government reform, the regional unit Zakynthos was created out of the former prefecture Zakynthos (Greek: Νομός Ζακύνθου). The prefecture had the same territory as the present regional unit. At the same reform, the current municipality Zakynthos was created out of the 6 former municipalities:[188]

Population and demographics[edit]

  • 1889: 44,070 (island), 18,906 (city)
  • 1896: 45,032 (island), 17,478 (city)
  • 1900: 42,000
  • 1907: 42,502
  • 1920: 37.482
  • 1940: 42,148
  • 1981: 30,011
  • 1991: 32,556 (island), 13,000 (city)
  • 2001: 38,596
  • 2011: 40,759

In 2006, there were 507 births and 407 deaths.[citation needed] Zakynthos is one of the regions with the highest population growth in Greece. It is also one of the only three prefectures (out of 54) in which the rural population has a positive growth rate. In fact, the rural population's growth rate is higher than that of the urban population in Zakynthos. Out of the 507 births, 141 were in urban areas and 366 were in rural areas. Out of the 407 deaths, 124 were in urban areas and 283 were in rural areas.[citation needed]

The population of Zakynthos suffers from an exceptionally high rate of declared blindness of about 1.8%. That rate is about nine times the average in Europe, according to the WHO and in April 2012 the Greek Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity launched an investigation into disability benefits as out of the 650 receiving them at least 600 were falsely declared blind.[189]

Culture[edit]

Literature[edit]

The Ionian Islands never experienced Ottoman Turkish rule; however, they were under the rule of the Venetian Republic and to a lesser extent, the French, British and Russians. Consequently, communication with Western culture; including, literary trends was more direct than most other areas inhabited by Greek people. During the 19th century, a school of literature developed that became known as the Heptanesian School of Literature consisting mainly of lyrical and satirical poetry in the vein of Romanticism prevalent throughout Europe of the time. The School also contributed to the development of modern Greek theatre.

Many scholars believe that the Rimada of Alexander the Great was written in Zakynthos in the early 16th century. This would make it earliest known work by a Zakynthian to have survived. There is no consensus on who wrote this poem although some scholars it may have been Markos Defaranas. Given its date of publication in 1529 in Venice by the Zakynthian Dimitrios Zinos and suggestions it was written a number of years before publication, then Defaranas would have been quite young when he was suspected to have written this piece. The Rimada was a rhyming poem of 6,133 verses describing the life of Alexander the Great, as a fictional character rather than historical, in the Alexander Romantic literary tradition stretching back to pseudo-Callisthenes in Antiquity via the Byzantine romance of Alexander.[190]

Another very early work was the Andragathemata of Bouas by Tzanes Koroneos. The work dramatised the exploits of Stradioti leader, Merkurios Bouas going as far as to give Bouas a mythological pedigree including Achilles, Alexander the Great and Pyrrhus. Stradioti were mercenary Greek and Arvanites-speaking Greek soldiers in the service of various European powers. Tzanes Koroneos was also a Stradioti and a troubadour. The work is a long epic poem in vernacular Greek consisting of about 4,500 rhyming verses and contains valuable historical information of the period. The work was written in 1519 when Koroneos was in Venice. This poem was found in a manuscript in Italy. Koroneos also wrote and sent to Bouas a smaller poem ("pittakion") of about 125 verses in Greek language.[191]

Portrait of a Gentleman, c. 1530

Nikolaos Loukanis was a 16th-century Renaissance humanist born in Zakynthos; however, little is known about his life except that he was one of the first students to attend the Greek school (Gymnasium) founded by the Medici Pope Leo X in Rome in 1514. This school was directed by Ianos Laskaris, a noted Greek scholar. He worked in Venice and in 1526 he produced a translation of Homer's Iliad into modern Greek which is credited as one of the first literary texts published in modern Greek (as most contemporary Greek scholars wrote in the Koine).[192]

Markos Defaranas (1503–1575) was another early Zakynthian poet that moved to Venice sometime between 1536–1540 and composed several poems thereafter. One composition was a didactic poem titled, Pleas of the Father to the Son consisting of 788 rhymed verses and is essentially a compilation of excerpts from other works. The language is a patchwork of Cretan idiomatic forms and archaic elements. As stated above some scholars believe he wrote the Rimada of Alexander the Great.[165] Pachomios Roussanos (1508–1553), was a scholar and theologian who traveled widely across Ottoman occupied Greece, the Holy Land and Venice. He wrote a copious amount of works on theology but also produced interesting scholia on ancient Greek authors. Rousanos is probably most famously known for his works on Greek grammar and comparative languages and in some ways precedes Adamantios Korais.[193]

Antonios Katiforos (Antonio Catiforo) (1685–1763), born from an aristocratic family in Zakynthos, was one of the key figures in the early Neohellenic Enlightenment. After studies in Padua and Rome, the Greek community of Venice invited him to teach at the Flanginian School. Katiforos wrote an important book on Greek grammar in 1734, satirical verse in archaic Greek, vernacular Greek and Italian, and a biographical work titled, The Life of Peter the Great of Russia. He also wrote works on theology, biblical history, hymns and translations in Latin.[194]

Pre-Solomonian Poets[edit]

Despite the literary activity above, it is only really towards the end of the 18th century that the production of literature reaches maturity in the Heptanese School of Literature (also known as the Ionian School). Often the island of Zakynthos was at the centre of this school. In fact, the role played by Zakynthian poet, Dionysios Solomos was so important to the development of this school and Greek literature in general that its periodic divisions are conventionally divided as follows: Pre-Solomian poets, Solomian poets, Post-Solomian poets, Minors and Descendants. Probably the most famous representatives of the pre-Solomonian period (1750–1820) were Antonios Martelaos (1754–1819) and Nikolaos Koutouzis (1741–1813), who also figures prominently in the Heptanese School of Painting.

Other Zakynthian representatives of the Pre-Solomonian period include Stefanos Xanthopoulos (c. 18th century), often considered the first representative; however, sometimes Andreas Sigouros (1665–1747) who was also a teacher and translator of ancient Greek and theology is also included in this group. Xanthopoulos's poetry was influenced by Cretan and Italian poetry, notably Petrarch and included erotic themes and was written in an early form of demotic Greek with few idioms. One group of poems was composed when Xanthopoulos was in prison for murder. Thomas Danelakis (1775–1828) wrote patriotic and lyrical verse in a form of demotic Greek on the liberation of Greece. Nikolaos Kourtsolas (c. 18th century) wrote in a similar vein. This group of poets were opposed by a more conservative group consisting of Nikolaos Koutouzis and Nikolaos Logothetis-Gouliaris (c. 18th century). Despite opposing the more progressive group of poets, their work has a strongly satirical flavour.[195][196]

Antonios Martelaos[edit]

Portrait of Antonios Martelaos by unknown artist c. late 1790s/early 1800s

Antonios Martelaos (1754–1819) was the most prominent representative of the Pre-Solomonian poets in Zakynthos. Although from a noble family, Martelaos developed anti-Venetian views supported by Enlightenment and French Revolutionary ideals. This was no uncommon for young men of his generation in Zakynthos. Apparently, he was also instrumental in burning the Libro 'Doro in the Zakynthos town square. Martelaos mostly wrote patriotic verse which caused intense reactions by the conservative classes of Zakynthos. He largely avoided using dialect and Venetian vocabulary in favour of an early form of national demotic language. Martelaos also wrote epigrams, hymnography, ecclesiastical works and a translation of Torquato Tasso. Critics believe Dionysios Solomos read Martelaos which were reflected in parts of the Hymn to Liberty. Today, Martelaos is probably best known as a founder of a school which included some of the most prominent poets and playwrights of 19th century Zakynthos and Italy. He counted Foscolo, Matesis, Tertsetis and perhaps the children of Kolokotronis amongst his pupils. There have also been suggestions that Solomos himself was a student of Martelaos. Sources suggest he often taught poorer children without pay. Martelaos also became a member of the Filiki Etairia and was later hounded by the British occupiers which led to a deterioration of his health and ultimately his death.[197][192]

Nikolaos Koutouzis[edit]

The most prominent pre-Solomonian exponent of satirical poetry was the priest, Nikolaos Koutouzis (1741–1813). This extraordinary individual was also a key figure in the Heptanese School of Painting. His poetry was also written in a form of demotic Greek characterised by its immediacy which often had a political character. Koutouzis represented the more conservative group of pre-Solomonian poets who often satirised the arrival of the French in 1797 and their naïve supporters such as Antonios Martelaos. Despite his conservative tendencies, his poetry was not only directed towards the French but also towards the bourgeoisie and aristocracy for not setting an appropriate example for the other classes. Like many young men from the so-called nobility, he furthered his education in Italy by studying painting in Venice but returned quite young to Zakynthos in 1766. Many of his poems ran afoul of the local nobility and he often found himself in trouble. However, he remained unrepentant until his death.[198]

Dionysios Solomos[edit]

Portrait of Dionysios Solomos, c. 1830s by unknown artist

Undeniably, there is no greater figure in Zakynthian and perhaps Greek literature than Dionysios Solomos (1798–1857). He is best known for writing the 158 stanza Hymn to Liberty in 1823, which was inspired by the Greek War of Independence of 1821. The first two stanzas were set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros in 1828, and became the Greek national anthem in 1865.[2] Solomos was the central figure of the Heptanese School of Literature and is considered the national poet of Greece. This is not only because he wrote the national anthem, but also because he contributed to the preservation of earlier poetic tradition of Crete and the Ionian Islands of the Pre-Solomonian poets, highlighted its usefulness to modern literature and made vernacular Greek, also known as demotic Greek, a vehicle for high literary expression. Solomos also incorporated the popular songs of Zakynthos into his poetry. His role in raising demotic Greek to this level is often compared to Dante in the Italian language. Other notable poems by Dionysios Solomos include Τhe Cretan, The Woman of Zakynthos and The Free Besieged. Interestingly, no poem except Hymn to Liberty was completed, and almost nothing was published during his lifetime. Solomos also wrote prose and poems in Italian. A statue of Dionysios Solomos sits in Solomos Square, Zakynthos. Additionally, the international airport and a square in Nicosia, Cyprus, are named after Dionysios Solomos.[199]

Portrait of Ugo Foscolo, 1813 by François-Xavier Fabre at Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze

Andreas Kalvos[edit]

Some of Dionysios Solomos’s well-known friends in his early years in Zakynthos included Antonios Matesis (the author of Vasilikos), Georgios Tertsetis, Dionysios Tagiapieras (a physician and supporter of the demotic Greek and friend of Ioannis Vilaras) and Nikolaos Lountzis. Interestingly, there is little evidence to suggest that he was personally acquainted with the second great Greek poet of Zakynthian origin, Andreas Kalvos (1792–1869); although, Kalvos worked under Foscolo’s patronage for a number of years in Italy. Like Solomos, Kalvos was a Greek poet of the Romantic school but their style of poetry and sources of inspiration differed. Under the influence of Foscolo, but in contrast to Solomos, Kalvos took up neoclassicism and archaizing ideals. He is often categorised as among the representatives of the Heptanese School of Literature but many critics believe he is set apart given his influences. Kalvos published only two collections of poems – the Lyra of 1824 and the Lyrica of 1826. Kalvos died in England but in June 1960 the poet George Seferis, who at that time was Greek ambassador to Britain, arranged for Kalvos's remains to be transferred to Zakynthos.[192]

Ugo Foscolo[edit]

Arguably, the most famous poet from Zakynthos was writer and revolutionary soldier, Ugo Foscolo (1778–1827); however, he did not write poems or prose in Greek but in Italian. Foscolo was born in Zakynthos to Venetian nobleman father, Andrea Foscolo and Greek mother, Diamantina Spathis. Despite his noble background, Foscolo campaigned vigorously for the overthrow of the Venetian oligarchy by Napoleon. His early works such as The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis reflected early Romantic sentiments similar to Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. However, his crowning achievement was his poetry book, Dei Sepolcri published in 1807. He also wrote a sonnet dedicated to his island home titled, A Zacinto. Forty-four years after his death his remains were brought to Florence, at the request of the King of Italy, and found their final resting-place beside the monuments of Niccolò Machiavelli, Vittorio Alfieri, Michelangelo and Galileo, in the church of Santa Croce. Foscolo is often considered the Italian national poet.[200]

Portrait of Elisavet Mountzan-Martinengou, c 1820a by Nikolaos Kantounis

Elisavet Moutzan-Martinengou[edit]

Elisavet Moutzan-Martinengou (also known as Moutza or Moutsan) (1801–1832) was born into a wealthy family in Zakynthos Town. She is widely considered to be the first woman prose-writer in demotic Greek, despite the fact that none of her writings were published during her lifetime. Tragically, most of these works were lost or destroyed in the fire that followed the earthquakes of 1953 in Zakynthos. Only some letters, a few fragments and excerpts, some poems, and her famous autobiography, My Story survived this fate. Written in 1826, Moutzan-Martinengou’s autobiography is considered the first case of protest against subjection and social exclusion imposed on women by Greek culture and society. She is often considered an early Greek feminist.[201]

Georgios Tertsetis[edit]

Georgios Tertsetis (1800–1873) is a figure in Zakynthian and Greek history that is hard to define given his enormously varied pursuits and output. He was a Greek War of Independence fighter, lawyer, jurist, politician, poet, historian and writer of memoirs. He was one of the most prominent members of the Solomonian circle. After studying law and Italian philology in Bologna and Padova he became enamoured with the ideas of the Enlightenment. Shortly after he was inducted into the Carbonari movement. When he returned to Greece he became a member of the Filiki Etairia and joined the struggle in the Peloponnese. On his return to Zakynthos, he came into contact with the Dionysios Solomos. Later he joined the fight in western Roumeli. After the declaration of Greek independence he became a professor. He was one of Theodoros Kolokotroni's judges at the Nafplion trial in 1834 that refused to condemn and sign his execution despite enormous government pressure. He was in turn put on trial and acquitted after his famous apology. However, he resigned and left for Paris where he stayed until 1844. There he was associated with Francois Guizot and others.[202]

Shortly after his return to Greece in 1847, he published the poetic collection Simple Language which included poems by himself and others and in 1856 he published two large-scale poems titled, The Marriages of Alexander the Great and Corina and Pindar. The influence of Solomos and Greek folk song was evident. Other works included dramas, a comedy, novels, essays, lectures and translations of ancient authors. From 1861, he was part of several diplomatic missions to Italy and the rest of Europe. Tersetis is best known for his memoirs of Kolokotronis, Nikitaras and other fighters of the Greek War of Independence.[202]

Post-Solomonian Poets[edit]

After the death of Dionysios Solomos and many in his circle, there followed a series of Zakynthian poets and writers often characterised as Minor Solomonian poets. They included the poet Stefanos Martzokos (1855-1913), who is considered one of the last representatives of the Heptanesian School of Literature but with significant influences from the New School of Athens After having studied philology in Paris he returned to the Ionian Islands and Athens to teach but turned to writing poetry after a few years. Influenced by Giacomo Leopardo he is best known for his works, Balantes (1889), Soneta (1900) and New Poems (1906).[203] Andreas Martzokos (1849-1923), brother of Stefanos Martzokos was also a prominent poet and essayist of his time. His most famous works included Nightflowers (1878) and Floisvoi(1880).

Ioannis Tsakasianos (1853-1908) was a satirical poet and playwright. He received no formal training but rather worked in a barbershop in Zakynthos which was frequented by Zakynthian high society including well known writers. He taught himself poetry, foreign languages and the guitar. He later became involved in the theatre but without economic success. Regardless, he published several popular poetry collections and plays including Konte Spourgitis (1888). He also wrote music of which many of his songs have become classic Kantades and Serenades.[204]

Marinos Sigouros[edit]

Marinos Sigouros (1885-1961) was a Greek poet, translator and diplomat. He is also well known as a critic and historian of the Heptanesian School of Literature. Sigouros initially studied law in Athens and then Paris. He then passed his examinations at the Greek Foreign Ministry to become a diplomat with postings in Smyra, Aivali, Cairo, Naples, Venice, Paris, Alexandria and Bucharest. In the Balkan Wars he served as a soldier, fighting in Chios, Florina and Thessaloniki. During WWII, Sigouros was offered the position of Mayor of Zakynthos by the occupying Italian forces but he refused to accept it.[205]

Photograph of Marinos Sigouros by unknown photographer, c. 1920s

As for literature, he contributed poetry and essays on his travels abroad to various literary magazines. Although influenced by the Heptanese School of Literature he is more accurately described as a Descendant of Solomos in that he was more influenced by the trends in Athens. Sigouros also wrote on Dionysios Solomos and other Ionian Island writers. He also translated works by Schiller, Geothe, Tennyson, Dante, Petrarch, Tasso and Leopardi. He also played an important part in establishing the Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice and the Solomos Museum in Zakynthos.[205][201]

Spyros Gouskos[edit]

Dionysios Romas[edit]

Although born in Athens, Dionysios Romas (1906-1981) was from an old and distinguished Zakynthian family and much of his work focused on Zakynthian history. He was the quintessential Zakynthian man of letters - his vast and varied literary output included histories, poems, plays, translations and radio plays for state broadcaster, ERT. He was awarded the State Prize for Zakynthian Serenade (1938) and the Twelve Prize (1957), the State Prize (1972) and by the Academy of Athens for Fine Arts and Letters (1981) for his lifetime literary output. In the late 1950s and 1960s, Romas even worked as a Member of Parliament with the EPE party (he was elected for the first time in 1958 and re-elected in 1961).[206]

Photograph of Dionysios Romas by unknown photographer, c. 1970s

Perhaps his most acclaimed work was Periplous (1570-1870), an unfinished three-part trilogy begun with the publication of the novel, Soprakomitos in 1968. In this series of historical novels, he sought to present in a literary form the historical course of Hellenism over three centuries. Only the first trilogy (1570-1670) was fully completed upon his death in 1981. Fortunately, this trilogy included Rebellion of the Popolari about the events in Zakynthos town in 1628. Other notable works included Zakythina (1957), a brilliant series of essays on Zakynthian cultural history. His poetry and literary works consciously followed in the tradition of fellow Zakynthians Dimitrios Gouzelis, Antonios Matesis and Grigorios Xenopouolos.[206]

Theatre[edit]

Historically, the Zakynthian people have had a very close relationship with the theatre exemplified by the contribution of important local playwrights to the history of Greek theatre and the presence of a number of theatre buildings on the island. However, most remarkable is the production of the outdoor people’s theatre called Omilies that stretch back several centuries until the present day.

In Zakynthos, formal theatrical activity seems to have begun as early as the 16th century with the small-scale production of Persians by Aeschylus in 1571 in the Castle overlooking Zakynthos town to celebrate the victory of the Battle of Lepanto. In 1637, Erofili by the Cretan writer, George Hortatsis was performed in Zakynthos. Several other plays from the Cretan Renaissance such as Erotokritos and the Sacrifice of Abraham by Vintsentzos Kornaros were performed in Zakynthos are documented to have been performed after the fall of Candia (Irakleio) in 1669.[201]

From around 1647, the religious drama Evyena (Eugena) was written by Zakynthian Theodore Montseleze. It showed few influences of the Cretan Renaissance and contained elements of Zakynthian dialect. However, after the conquest of Crete by the Ottoman Empire in 1669, the intellectual centre of the Greeks moved to the Ionian islands; and as a consequence, many of the theatrical elements of the Cretan Renaissance were transferred to islands like Zakynthos. In 1682 or 1683 there is evidence of a performance of the tragedy, Zeno written in Zakynthos. Although, it was initially thought to be a product of the Cretan Renaissance, scholars now generally believe it was written in Zakynthos by an unknown author; perhaps by a Cretan refugee given its mixed Cretan and Heptanesian dialect. In contrast to some of the well-known plays of the Cretan Renaissance it displays more Baroque and Jesuit influences. More evidence of the popularity of theatre on the island is that in 1658, Zakynthian Michael Soumakis wrote a Greek verse translation of Giambattista Guarini’s pastoral tragicomedy set in Arcadia, Il pastor fido.[201]

Savoyas Rousmelis (c. 18th century) wrote the five act play,The Comedy of the Quack Doctors in 1745. It satirises pseudo-doctors that came to work on the island from Ioannina. The play resembles an Omilia in its use of a form of early demotic Greek and local idioms but also has influences from the Cretan Renaissance via the transmission of this literary culture to the Ionian Islands. However, it is more high brow but without losing its comedic character. He also wrote the short moral comedy, Intermedium of Lady Olive. This piece was almost definitely written before the 1780s. Rousmelis also wrote a number of other plays and poems which have not survived. Ioannis Kantounis (1731-1817) translated several theatrical works, which included detailed instructions for scenes, of Pietro Metastasio further attesting to the popularity of theatre on Zakynthos. Kantounis used a mix of Katharevousa and demotic Greek with few local idioms. Unfortunately, his original poetry does not survive.[207][201]

Municipal Theatre of Zakynthos Foskolo, c. 1915 by unknown photographer

The first theatre building was constructed in the Kastro in 1728. It had 300 seats and was funded by Venetian officials and Zakynthian nobles. Performances were held until 1790 when many buildings in the Kastro were abandoned for Zakynthos Town below. In 1780, a second theatre was constructed and stood in front of today's National Bank of Greece building. The Nobile Societa Fillodrammatica del Zante was founded in 1813 which later requested the British administration permission for land to build the fourth theatre in Zakynthos, the Teatro dei Filopatrii. It was built near the prewar Nomarchia building. Given this theatre often served the patriotic purposes of the Greek War of Independence it was dissolved immediately after the Greek revolt of 1821. Importantly, this theatre starred a female actress, Aikaterini Viagini.

Another Zakynthian theater was constructed by a group called the Company of Nobles and it was called, Theater Ada. It was demolished in 1834 for unknown reasons. In 1836, the Italian Giuseppe Camilieri with the assistance of wealthy locals created the another Zakynthian theater called Apollo. The theatre building was situated in front of the present-day Phoenix Hotel and staged many important theatrical and operatic premieres.

In 1875, the Municipal Theatre Foskolos was built and was designed by the famous German architect, Ernst Ziller. It was destroyed by the 1893 earthquake and rebuilt again using a very similar blueprint. It was finally destroyed in the Great earthquake of 1953.

Dimitrios Gouzelis[edit]

Dimitrios Gouzelis (1774–1843) is a fascinating example of a so-called noble Zakynthian swept up by the new ideas of his time. Gouzelis was from an old and noble Zakynthian family and the nephew and student of the poet, Antonios Martelaos. As was the norm for someone of his class, Gouzelis was very well educated having studied Latin, French, Italian and his native language, Greek. Although he best known for his play, O Hasis he also wrote other forms of literature.

O Hasis by Dimitrios Gouzelis, recent edition 1997

Gouzelis was deeply influenced by the ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution and so became an ardent supporter of liberal and progressive values throughout his extraordinary life. With the arrival of the French in 1797 he became an enthusiastic supporter and went so far as to become a captain in the French Civil Guard. However, with the surrender of the French garrison in the castle of Zakynthos; and the subsequent occupation by the combined Russian-Ottoman army, he was tried and sent to prison in Constantinople. Gouzelis was released shortly after the signing of French-Ottoman treaty and returned to Zakynthos. However, the newly resurgent nobility of old forced him to leave again. He traveled onto Trieste and then to Milan where he became a lieutenant in Napoleon's army. In 1801, he traveled to Paris and took the rank of captain. It is suspected he sustained injuries in 1810. After the end of Napoleonic rule, Gouzelis left for Venice and then Trieste again where he translated texts and taught Greek to the Hellenic community in that city.[208]

In 1819, he was introduced to the Filiki Etairia and not surprisingly became an enthusiastic participant. With beginning of the Greek War of Independence, he recruited fellow Zakynythians and crossed over into the Peloponnese. He fought at Tripolitsa, the siege of Methoni and Neokastra (Pylos) and was recognised by the leaders, Dimitrios Ypsilanti and Theodoros Kolokotronis. For his brave actions, he was prosecuted by the British occupiers of Zakynthos and sentenced to exile in absentia and the confiscation of his property. After the creation of the independent Greek state in 1830, he assumed judicial offices and actively participated in political developments. However, he resigned after being given land in Pyrgos, Elis as recognition for his services in the liberation struggle. He spent the rest of his life in retirement on his property until his death in 1843.[208]

Dimitrios Gouzelis wrote a varied body work consisting of poetry, heroic poetry, translations (namely Torquato Tasso), and patriotic dramas throughout most of his life but increasingly using Katharevousa after the beginning of 1821. However, he is most well known for his comedic satire, O Hasis which was first published when he was very young in 1790. It was the revised and completed in 1795 when he was 21 years old. Sources claim that it was first shown during Carnivale in 1800. O Hasis is considered one of his most important works in modern Greek theater. The play centres on a typical Zakynthian braggart, Thodoros Katapodis and his noisy wife, lazy son and his girlfriend. He used Zakynthian dialect extensively in political verse and adhered to a somewhat episodic structure resembling Omilies or street theatre which remain popular on Zakynthos today.[208]

Antonios Matesis[edit]

Portrait of Antonios Matesis by unknown artist, c. 1870

Antonios Matesis (1794-1875) was part of the circle of writers, scholars and intellectuals that surrounded Dionysios Solomos. Apart from writing erotic and patriotic elegiac poetry, an unpublished treatise on language and a number of translations of Foscolo, Milton, Boccaccio, Sappho, Euripides and Cicero, Matesis is best known for his five act play, the Vasilikos (the Basil Plant) first published in 1859 but written and performed around 30 years earlier. It became one of the most emblematic pieces of the Heptanesian School of the Literature. In accordance with the principles of the Solomonians, Vasilikos was written in demotic rather than the puristic Greek often popular at the time. Often categorised as a drama it is interspersed with a number of comedic episodes. Interestingly, it was probably the first Greek drama to contain social content, satirising the Old Regime of the upper social classes of Venetian-occupied Zakynthos. Matesis initially studied Italian philology and philosophy and later was a student of Antonios Martelaos. Under his influence, Matesis became enamoured with the ideals of the Enlightenment and French Revolution popular on Zakynthos in the late 18th and early 19th century. He later learnt French and English. Unsurprisingly, and like many of his liberal contemporaries, he joined the Filiki Etairia hoping to assist in the liberation of Greece.[192]

Gregorios Xenopoulos[edit]

Marika Kotopouli starring in Xenopoulos's play, Stella Violenti 1909s

Gregorios Xenopoulos (1867–1951) came to prominence towards the end of the 19th century. He was one of the most prominent playwrights from Zakynthos and a towering figure in modern Greek literature. He was also a novelist and journalist. As well as being a writer he was lead editor in the now-legendary magazine The Education of Children during the period from 1896 to 1948 and he was also the founder and editor of the Nea Estia magazine, which is still published. He became a member of the Academy of Athens in 1931, and founded the Society of Greek Writers together with Kostis Palamas, Angelos Sikelianos and Nikos Kazantzakis. Although born in Constantinople. His father, Dionysios, hailed from Zakynthos and his mother, Evlalia came from Constantinople. The family moved to Zakynthos soon after, where Gregorios spent his youth until 1883, when he enrolled in the University of Athens.

Xenopoulos's most famous theatrical plays are The Secret of Countess Valerena (1904) and Stella Violanti (1909). The most common subject of his plays was love but often cloaked with a social message. He attempted to balance between the Ionian School and the New Athenian School. Many of his early plays were set in Zakynthos and are regularly revived in theatres across Greece and several have been adapted for the cinema and television. Xenopoulos also wrote many novels and short stories which were also set in Zakynthos. They are covered above.[192]

Omilies or street theatre[edit]

The most remarkable feature of Zakynthian (and Cephallonian) theatre history is the outdoor people’s theatre called Omilies that stretch back several centuries until the present day. Gradually, with the influx of Cretan refugees and gathering influences from Italian Commedia dell’Arte, Omilies began to be performed during Carnival in public places on temporary stages by amateur male actors and singers. Almost all of the Omilies were written and spoken in political verse couplets with significant improvisation during the performance. Omilies also acted as a vehicle for the common people to satirise and lampoon the upper classes. Omilies were primarily original productions but there was also shortened versions of more learned theatre including some well-known plays of the Cretan Renaissance like Erotokritos, the Sacrifice of Abraham and Erofili. Some of the best surviving historical examples of more learned theatre using elements of Omilies include the People of Yannina by Nikolaos Kantounis (1731–1817) and The Comedy of the Quack Doctors written in 1745 by Savoyas Rousmelis.[201]

An Omilia being performed in the Poet's Square, Zakynthos 1907 by unknown photographer

Probably the most famous play resembling an Omilia is O Hasis (The Loser) which was written Dimitrios Gouzelis in 1795. Gouzelis also wrote for the more 'learned theatre' later with less success.[182][172] The unbroken tradition of Homilies continues to the present day; and like they have done for centuries, Zakynthians continue to lampoon local and nationwide figures.

Painting[edit]

Prophet David believed to be originally by Hieronymous Plakotos but repainted by Nikolaos Doxaras, c. 1750s

There are a number of works that survive prior to the Heptanese School of Painting; however, they are exclusively in the Byzantine tradition of icon painting. Most of these works are housed in the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos.

Heptanese School of Painting[edit]

The Heptanese School of Painting (also known as the Ionian Island School) succeeded the Cretan School as the leading school of Greek post-Byzantine painting after the fall of Candia (Irakleio) to the Ottoman Empire in 1669. Like the Cretan School it combined Byzantine traditions with increasing Western European influences such as Mannerism, Italian Baroque and Flemish styles including three-dimensional perspective and the use of oil painting on canvas. The School also saw the first significant depiction of secular subjects such as bourgeois portraiture emblematically emphasising class, professions and psychology. Other subjects from the Heptanese School include genre scenes, landscapes and still lifes.

Shortly after the fall of Candia in 1669 and the subjugation of all of Crete to the Ottoman Empire, a number of artists working on the island fled to Zakynthos – such luminaries of the Cretan School as Emmanuel Tzanes and Leo Moschos were working in Zakynthos before the end of the 17th century. Shortly after, their younger Cretan contemporaries like Panagiotis Doxaras and even native Zakynthians began to produce works in the early decades of the 18th century. Consequently, Zakynthos became an important centre of the Heptanese School of Painting as some of the key exponents of this school were born and worked for long periods of time on the island or spent key parts of their working lives on the island.

Prophet Jonas by probably Stylianos Stavrakis, c. 1750s

Some of the first generation of native Zakynthian artists were Nikolaos Kallergis (1675–1734) and Hieronymous Plakotos (1680–1728). Subsequent generations included Stylianos Stavrakis (1729–1786), his son Dimitrios Stavrakis (1772–1801), Panagiotis Doxaras (1700 or 1706 – 1775) and Ioannis Korais (1752–1799). Some of these artists increasingly moved away from the Byzantine tradition; and some, like Hieronymous Plakotos, Ioannis Korais and Panagiotis Doxaras (under the influence of the Venetian masters, Paolo Veronese and Giovanni Tiepolo) and his son, Nikolaos made a radical break with tradition and heavily incorporated Western European influences in their works. Panagiotis Doxaras was also a prominent theoretician of art publishing On Painting in 1726 which addressed the need for Greek art to move away from Byzantine strictures. He also translated other works of art theory by Italian masters.[209]

Nikolaos Kalergis[edit]

Nikolaos Doxaras[edit]

Nikolaos Doxaras (1700 or 1706 – 1775), son of Panagiotis Doxaras continued the artistic legacy of his father. Doxaras was an interesting figure - early in life he was a member of the army led by M. von Schulenburg and then latest moved to Venice to study painting and military engineering. Between 1753 and 1762, Doxaras worked in Zakynthos and in 1753–1754 he painted the ceiling of Faneromeni Church in Zakynthos town (a style of painting often known as Ourania) that unfortunately was destroyed in the earthquake of 1953. Only a part of it titled, The Birth of the Mother of God has been saved and is exhibited today at the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos. Other works are displayed in the National Gallery in Athens and private collections. Because only a very small part of his oeuvre has been saved it is difficult to assess the quality of his paintings. However, he does seem to have been technically proficient in his use of perspective and adhered to a naturalist similar to his father.[209]

Portrait of an Erudite by Nikolaos Koutouzis, c. 1803

Nikolaos Koutouzis[edit]

Nikolaos Koutouzis (1741–1813) possibly received lessons for a period of time from Nikolaos Doxaras. He continued the move towards western European standards of painting and became the chief representative of the Heptanese School of Painting and highly influential in the course of modern Greek painting in general. Koutouzis was particularly known for his realistic secular portraiture (including a famous self-portrait) that emphasised the emotional background and a critical attitude towards the subject and a critical attitude to the subject. He is also well known for his painting, Portrait of a Lady with a Diadem. He also reputedly painted a portrait of a baby Dionysios Solomos. However, Koutouzis also painted religious subject matter. After living for a period in Venice, he traveled back to Zakynthos in 1766, and painted the famous Procession of St Dionysios. It is likely he traveled back to Venice another two times. Several of his other famous paintings are displayed in the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos and the National Gallery in Athens. Koutouzis also wrote satirical poems on local affairs and scandals which often landed him in strife with the religious authorities of the time.[209]

Chemist Nikopoulos by Nikolaos Kantounis, c. 1825

Nikolaos Kantounis[edit]

It is believed Koutouzis's most famous pupil was Nikolaos Kantounis (1767–1834), one of the most prominent members of the Heptanese School of Painting. It is said he was asked to leave Koutouzis's workshop due to jealousy. However, Koutouzis's almost universally recognised difficult personality might also have had something to do with it. In 1786, he was also ordained a priest and later became a member of the Filiki Eteria (Friendly Society), a secret society instrumental in organising the Greek War of Independence of 1821. He was a student of the poet, Antonios Martelaos. As a result of his subversive actions, the British occupiers of Zakynthos exiled him to the island of Kyra, near Cephalonia in 1821. He was able to return home after the recognition of Greek independence in 1832.

Like Koutouzis, his works can be divided into secular and religious works. A number of his portraits (including a self-portrait) survive and were influenced by Italian and Flemish painting. Apart from his self-portrait he is also well known for his portrait of the chemist, Dikopoulos and Zakynthian female writer, Elizavet Moutzan-Martinengou. Tragically, some of his most important paintings in the churches of Zakynthos were destroyed by the Great earthquake of 1953. However, some of his icons have been preserved in some local churches and the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos.[209]

Later Heptanese School Painters[edit]

Several Zakynthians followed in the artistic path forged by Nikoalos Koutouzis and Nikolaos Kantounis which represented the last painters of the Heptanese School of Painting. However, over the course of time the works of these painters became nearly indistinguishable from the broader trends of modern Greek painting.

Dionysios Tsokos[edit]

Dame by Dionysios Tsokos, c. 1850s

One of Kantounis's students on Kyra was Dionysios Tsokos (1814–1862). Although of Epirote parentage, he was born and spent many of his early years on Zakynthos. He later studied in Venice but returned to Greece in 1847. Tsokos is mostly known for portraits and paintings of historical scenes with a patriotic sensibility which combine elements from the Heptanese School of Painting; particularly Nikolaos Kantounis, Venetian-style colours and Classicism and Romanticism. He established himself as one of the official portraitists of Athenian society depicting many prominent personalities. Tsokos is generally known as one of the most productive and well-known painters of 19th century Greece.[209]

Dionysios Kallivokas[edit]

Another student of Kantounis was Dionysios Kallivokas (1806–1877). After initial training with Kantounis he spent many years in Rome and Florence before returning to Zakynthos to teach and paint. He primarily painted portraits and religious icons and scenes. His many portraits are of people in Ionian Island society. He generally followed classical rules of portraiture but lacked some of the psychological insights of his predecessors in the earlier period of the Heptanese School of Painting.[209]

Konstantinos Iatras[edit]

Konstantinos Iatras (1811–1888) also studied in Rome (as well as Zakynthos) and later returned to teach in Zakynthos and then later Kerkyra and Smyrna. He fell in love with a woman which forced him to leave the priesthood. Their child, Isabella is the subject of one of his most famous paintings. Iatras was mostly known for his watercolours of refugees and fighters in popular costumes that fled to the Ionian Islands. He is also well known for his portraits characterised by their harmony and idealisation of the subject. Some of his works are displayed in the National Gallery in Athens. Iatras also wrote poetry.[209]

Dimitrios Pelekasis[edit]

Music[edit]

Like literature, theatre and painting, Zakynthos has a long musical tradition. For example, in 1816 Zakynthos saw the establishment of the first philharmonic orchestra in Greece. And during the first Olympic Games (Athens 1896), the Music Band of Zakynthos took part in the event. There are two broad musical traditions in Zakynthos which sometimes interact and overlap, the more formal and learned Heptanese School of Music and the more demotic Kantada and Arekia tradition.

Heptanese School of Music[edit]

The Heptanese School of Music (also known Ionian Island School of Music) which denotes the musical production of a group of composers from the early 19th century until the mid-20th century. Initially, the major inspiration for the Ionian School was the Italian musical tradition. However, as early as the 1820s composers began forging a path towards a 'national music' initially using the Greek vernacular language, and later by incorporating folklore elements using melodies, modes and metres from local tradition and mainland Greece. Although the Ionian School of Music was centred in Kerkyra (Corfu), Zakynthian composers and musicians made significant contributions to the movement.

Frangiskos Domeneginis[edit]

Portrait of Zakynthian composer Frangiskos Domeneginis by unknown painter, c. 1860s

Frangiskos (Lambrinos) Domeneginis (1807-1874), was a Greek Revolutionary officer active in Eubeoa, a Radical politician, painter, poet, orchestra leader and an early composer in the vein of the Ionian School of Music (Heptanesian). He was also the cousin of the Radical politician, Nathaniel Domeneginis. Domeneginis began his formal musical studies in Siena, studied law for a time in Bologna and then pursued more advanced musical studies in Kerkyra with Mantzaros. After the end of the Greek War of Independence he returned to Zakynthos and was active in politics and the arts. He was exiled for three years by the British occupying fores to Kythera due to his supposed political activities.[210]

Unfortunately, most of Domeneginis's musical works are now lost. He wrote several operas including Markos Botsaris (parts of which were first staged in Zakynthos in 1849) and Despo, the Heroine of Souli. It can be discerned that Domeneginis was inspired by ideas of Greek War of Independence and the unification of the Ionian Islands with mainland Greece and so was a forerunner of the project his compatriot Karreris was to pursue a few years later. Domeneginis also wrote the Royal Hymn for chorus and orchestra for the arrival of King George I in Zakynthos after unification and several songs based on the poetry of Dionysios Solomos and others.[210]

Iosif Liveralis[edit]

Although born in Kerkyra to an Italian father and Zakynthian mother, Iosif Liveralis (1820-1899) and his family relocated to Zakynthos at the age of 8. He studied and worked for a number of years in Kerkyra, Naples and Milan but after marrying a Zakynthian wife, he moved back to Zakynthos in 1858. He again moved to Patra 12 years later but returned to Zakynthos in 1886. Liverali based himself there for rest of his life. He is often considered a Kerkyrian-Zakynthian composer.[210]

Photograph of Kerkyrian-Zakynthian composer Iosif Liveralis by unknown photographer, c. 1890s

Apart from compositional works, Liveralis was also a pianist, educator, conductor, and impresario. He was initially educated by his older brother, and later was a student of Mantzaros. His operatic, symphonic, choral and piano works have an early and distinctive national character including elements of Greek musical folklore. Probably his most famous work is the opera based on the life of the proto-martyr of the Greek Revolution, Rigas Ferraios (1850) based on a libretti by Gerasimos Markoras. This opera was met with resistance by the British occupiers of the Ionian Islands given its political sentiments inflame the locals. Liveralis also wrote operas on Markos Botsaris (1852) and Greek sea-captain and Revolutionary figure, Konstantinos Kanaris in the Return of Kanaris (1852). A well known piano work is the Awakening of the Klefti (1847). Liveralis was also a prominent chess player.[210]

Pavlos Karreris[edit]

Possibly a student of Kerkyrian composer, Nikolaos Mantzaros (also composer of the Greek national anthem), Pavlos Carrer (or Karreris in Greek) (1829–1896) was one of the most representative figures of the Ionian School of Music and he was also one of the most popular and widely performed composers in 19th-century Greece. He was first Greek music composer to put forward a collection of operatic and shorter vocal works based on national subjects, and Greek-language libretti and melodies inspired by the folk and urban popular tradition of Greece. More than anyone, Karreris is believed to have attempted the creation of Greek national opera and has sometimes been titled as the Composer of 1821. He was especially influenced by Verdi and to a lesser extent, the Belcanto. However, over time and like the rest of the Ionian School of Music, Karrer's compositional signature became more personal.[211]

Early photograph of Zakynthian composer Pavlos Karreris by unknown photographer, c. 1860s

Karreris was the son of a prominent mercantile family from Zakynthos with roots in Cyprus and marriage connections to the old Byzantine elite. He studied music in Zakynthos under Giuseppe Cricca and Francesco Marangoni. In 1850, during the Risorgimento, Pavlos Karreris moved to Austrian-occupied Milan, where he studied with Raimondo Boucheron, Pietro Tassistro and Giuseppe Winter. He achieved early success in Italy where his first operas and ballets were performed on the stages of the Teatro Carcano and the Teatro alla Canobbiana in Milan. Karreris first operatic work, Dante and Beatrice, about the Italian poet Dante Alighieri, his unfulfilled love for Beatrice, his political activities and the Divine Comedy provoked suspicion by the Austrian police given its political undercurrents. A few years later, Karreris's opera, Isabella d’Aspeno met with great applause at the “Carcano” (April 1854 and March 1856). Some scholars believe this opera to have been one of the models for Verdi’s famous opera, Un ballo in maschera. Karreris achieved further success but, like any composer working in Italian during this period, he came up against the mania for Verdi.[211]

Karreris moved back to Zakynthos in 1857 with plans to become a Greek national composer. Shortly after, he married the talented soprano and interpreter of his works, Isabella Giatra. Despite early success in Milan and Italy during the Risorgimento, Kerkyra and then later Athens, Karreris was unable to secure the performance of his opera Marco Bozzari or Markos Botsaris in Greek in his native Zakynthos because the British occupiers feared the subject of the opera (the Greek War of Independence) would inflame pro-independence sentiments among Zakynthians. In mainland Greece, Markos Botsaris was first performed in Patra in 1861. The opera includes the well known aria set to words of a Demotic song, "The Old Man Demos". The work was initially composed to an Italian libretto written by Giovanni Caccialupi but was soon translated and performed in Greek. Markos Botsaris was the most popular Greek opera of the 19th and early 20th century with more than 45 stagings and arousing audiences wherever it was staged.[211]

Marathon-Salamis poster by Greek National Opera, 2003

Other notable operatic works in a national tradition included, I Kyra Frossyni (1868) with a libretti by Zakynthian Elivavetios Martinengos and Despo (1875). Karreris's works became more elaborate as time went on and he also continued to compose works of non-Greek subject matter such as Fior de Maria (1868) and Marie Antionetta (1884). Karreris never managed to watch his last opera on stage, the neoclassical Marathon-Salamis (1888) which many believe is his greatest work. Interestingly, it also had some modernist influences. It had its world premiere in 2003 after its staging was not held as originally planned in 1888 because the Greek Orthodox Church with the support of the National Music School, opposed the scene of Greek worshiping at the Oracle of Delphi. Karreris also left behind several unfinished operas on Greek subject matter which were not saved in the fire following the Great earthquake of 1953. Karreris also composed many vocal music and instrumental pieces. Apart from composition, Karreris was also a teacher and conductor.[211]

Other Heptanese School composers[edit]

Suzanna Nerantzi (c. 19th century) was another Zakynthian student of Mantzaros. Nerantzi is the earliest known female Greek composer (in which her works were published) and an accomplished pianist. Several piano compositions were published in 1839 by Francesco Lucca in Milan. Although born in Odessa, Russia Antonios Kapnisis (1813-1885) was of Zakynthian parentage. He was a composer and guitar player. Kapnisis initially studied music in Germany but returned to the Ionian Islands and studied with Mantzaros. After leading the Philharmonic orchestra at Lefkada he returned to Zakynthos and wrote many orchestral and vocal compositions incorporating Greek folk melodies and other elements. Iosif Mastrekinis (1842-1903) was a composer and organist. He studied in Italy and then returned to the Ionian Islands. His five operas, four operattas, symphonies, church and choral music were mostly lost in the fire that followed the Great earthquake of 1953. Fortunately, his opera, Eleasar (1889) has been reconstructed from a piano score and preexisting recordings.[212] [213]

Dionysios Visvardis[edit]

Dionysios Visvardis (1910-1999) displayed precocious talent from an early age, being accepted into the Philharmonic Orchestra of Zakynthos at the age of 12 and rapidly becoming the head clarinetist. At the age of 18 he moved to Thessaloniki to pursue his studies and work as a clarinetist in the Greek military. From 1935, he began compose his own orchestral, piano, choral and marching pieces, of which the most prominent were The Army Passes (1935) (which remains the main marching piece used by the Greek army to this day), Greek Tryptich, Sonata for Piano on a Greek theme, Macedonian Suite, Mirrors in the Lake and Three Greek Sketches. Many of Visvardis’s pieces referenced Greek demotic melodies and demonstrated a strong patriotic sentiment. Visvardis also led a number of orchestras and bands throughout his life and served for a number of years as the high commander of all the military marching bands in Greece. He was also a prominent speaker on subjects of music history and musicology. Visvardis was instrumental in documenting a number of old Zakynthian songs and dances. It has been argued that Visvardis was one of the last representatives of the Ionian School of Music but was also a bridge to the National School of Music.[214]

Alekos Xenos[edit]

Photograph of Zakynthian composer Alekos Xenos by unknown photographer, c. 1950s

Alekos Xenos (1912–1995) after leaving Zakynthos studied at the Athens Conservatory. During this time and shortly after the completion of his studies, he played trombone in a number of orchestras in Athens. A man with intense Leftist beliefs from an early age, he played a key role in establishing, amongst others, the Athens State Orchestra. He was active in the resistance against the Nazi occupation which inspired the composition of his Symphony No. 1 Of the Resistance in 1945. Xenos also wrote several revolutionary songs for various resistance groups during this time. Later Xenos composed the symphonic ballet Digenis did not Die in 1952 and Spartakos in 1963. In 1964 he wrote Cyprus-Our Greece in honour of the liberation struggle on the island. Xenos’s dedication and compositions to the resistance and Leftist cause resulted in Xenos being given the moniker, The Composer of the Resistance.[215]

Timotheos Arvanitakis[edit]

Dimitris Lagios[edit]

One of the most significant musical figures of Zakynthos and all of Greece in recent times was Dimitris Lagios (1952–1991). He made great strides in preserving traditional Zakynthian urban, rural and ecclesiastical music by studying, teaching and recording it extensively after spending years touring the houses, monasteries and taverns of Zakynthos town and the rural towns and villages. Some of this music has references the times of Venetian rule and provide a valuable document of the concerns and aspirations of ordinary Zakynthian people which was often overlooked by historians relying on official texts. Also, some of the music; particularly, Arekia also records the prevailing anti-colonial sentiment of the period of British rule and yearning for unification with Greece. Lagios even recorded a song often sung by men in jail after being incarcerated for offences related to a vendetta which were quite numerous in 19th century Zakynthos.[216]

Lagios also organised the arts and literature festivals, established the group Musical Hermitage and founded the Musical Studies Centre of Kalvos and the Music School of Kalvos in Zakynthos. He is better known in the rest of Greece for his compositions most notably setting Odysseus Elytis's The Sovereign Sun to music which was later performed by Giorgios Dalaras and Eleni Vitali. He also set to music the poetry of Andreas Kalvos and Kostas Karyotakis and wrote more popular music for Sotiria Bellou and Antonis Kalogiannis. Later, he lived for a while on Cyprus and was greatly captivated with the Cypriot struggle for freedom. He set to music the poetry of Greek Cypriot's Evagoras Pallikaridis and Dimitris Lipertis. Sadly, he died early at only 39 years old.[216]

Kantades and Arekia[edit]

The other urban musical tradition of Zakynthos is Kantades and Arekia. In contrast to the more formal music of Pavlos Karrer and the like, Kantades and Arekia are considered popular forms of music. Kantades are also an important musical tradition in Cephalonia; and to a lesser extent, Lefkada and Kerkyra. Given that the Ionian Islands were under Venetian occupation for a considerable period the Italian influence on the music of the Ionian Islands is evident in the use of western harmony compared to many other parts of the Greek world. In addition, the influx of Cretan refugees after the fall of the island to the Ottomans in 1669 also influenced the music of the Ionian Islands.[217]

Kantadoroi (Kantada players) from Zakynthos, unknown date

Arekia is a folk song native to Zakynthos but it is also encountered on other Ionian Islands under different names and slightly different forms. Its name comes from the Italian phrase an orecchio (by ear) suggesting a song sung 'by ear' i.e. without reading a musical score. Arekia usually begins as a solo and then more singers join. Musical instruments rarely accompany the performers. The lyrics of Arekia are often love songs but they also describe scenes of everyday toil, immigration, and social struggle in a satirical way. Some songs even reference bitterness about the British occupation. As for the Arekia share many common elements with the traditional Cretan songs known as Mantinades.[217]

Carnival in Kerkyra (similar to Zakynthian kantada players) by Chalarambos Pachis

Kantades are a related but different musical form to Arekia. The name originates from the Latin cantare meaning "to sing". Kantades is characterized by western type polyphony, consisting of two or more independent melodic voices. In Zakynthos, the Kantada is a four-voice song (canto, seconde, tertsa, bass) accompanied by guitars and mandolins similar to Kerkyra and Cephalonia. Like Arekia, the lyrics of Kantades are often love songs but they also describe toil, immigration, social struggle and the British occupation. However, Kantades in Zakynthos are also sometimes even sadder and pessimistic resembling Italian melodrama. Several songs of this type were created by composers of the Ionian Conservatory and the Greek National Conservatory like Dionysios Lavragas while the poems of prominent poets like Dionysios Solomos have sometimes been adapted. Some of the most important composers of Kantades include Zakynythians Georgios Kostis and Panayiotis Gritzanis. However, there are many songs by artists unknown to us.[217]

Today, Kantades and to a lesser extent, Arekia are still performed throughout the taverns of Zakynthos. Also, the local group Tragoudistes Tsh Zakynthos (Singers of Zakynthos) have toured many parts of the world as far away as the United States, Canada and Australia.[217]

Film[edit]

Reputedly, the first film in Zakynthos was shown in 1912 at a coffee shop on the waterfront in Zakynthos town. A couple of years later, the Municipal Theatre of Foskolos began to show films and in 1925 the open-air cinema Pantheon opened with an orchestra composed of local musicians accompanying the films. A few years later, Attikon opened followed by Titania. After the Great earthquake, the open-air cinemas Loux, Akropol, Pantheon. Astron and Rex operated mostly along the seafront of Zakynthos town.[218]

One of the most important cinematic events for Zakynthos and Greek cinema, was the release of the social drama and romantic film, Stella Violenti in 1931. The film was directed by Ioannis Loumos and was based on the theatrical adaptation of the play by the same name and another piece titled Crucified Love written by Zakynthian, Gregorios Xenopoulos. Xenopoulos also wrote the screenplay. The play was set in Zakynthos around 1880. This film is widely considered the first serious literary adaptation in Greek film history.

In 1948, the melodrama O Kokkinos Vrahos (The Red Rock) was filmed in Zakynthos town and released in 1949. The film was directed by Gregoris Gregoriou and was based on another Xenopoulos novel titled, Foteini Sandri. This movie is also significant as it shows parts of Zakynthos town before the Great earthquake of 1953.[219]

Another landmark in Greek cinematic history which was also filmed and set in 19th century Zakynthos was the period social drama, O Epanastatis Popolaros (The Revolutionary Commoner). Many scenes were also filmed in Kerkyra given much of Zakynthos town was destroyed following the Great earthquake in 1953. The film was directed by Giannis Danialidis and released in 1971. This film is often included in film critic's lists of best Greek films of all time. Once again the film was based on the theatrical adaptation of the novel, O Popolaros by Gregorios Xenopoulos.[220]

The movie poster of Epanastatis Popolaros by Finos Films, 1971

Sokratis Kapsaskis (1928–2007) was a highly regarded film figure born and raised in Zakynthos. He was not only a director but a published poet, essayist (including works on Zakynthians Dionysios Solomos and Andreas Kalvos), historian (again some works on Zakynthian local history), translator of James Joyce and WWII resistance fighter. Kapsaski made 13 mostly highly regarded films between 1956 and 1966 ranging from neorealist dramas to comedies. His films include the One Street Organ, One Life (1958) and The Hot Month of August (1966). He spent the last years of his life in his home village on Zakynthos.[221]

Tonis Lykouresis[edit]

Tonis Lykouressis is a feature and short film director, film writer and documentary maker. He was born in 1945, Athens from Zakynthian parents but has spent a good part of his professional life working in and on Zakynthian-related subjects and the Ionian Islands.

Lykouressis directorial debut feature film, Chrysomallousa (Golden Haired) was set in a village in Zakynthos and was about a teacher's struggle to stage an Omilia in the face of conservative reaction. Lykouressis also co-wrote the screenplay. It was awarded four awards by the Thessaloniki Film Festival in 1978 and was Greece's official entry in the 1979 Cannes Film Festival's Director's Fortnight. A subsequent film, Alcestis released in 1982 was also filmed in Zakynthos.[222]

Lykouressis's most recent film, Slaves in their Chains was released in 2008 and was based on the novel by Kerkyrian Konstantinos Theotokis. The film documents the decline of an noble Kerkyrian family; and although, filmed and set in early 20th century Kerkyra, it deals with many of the same issues of social upheaval that Zakynthian society was experiencing during this time. It was bestowed with 10 awards by Thessaloniki Film Festival and was the official Greek entry for the Best Foreign Film category at the Academy Awards – it was not accepted as a nominee. Lykouressis also contributed to the screenplay.[222]

Lykouressis has also directed several documentaries in co-operation with the Greek state television, ERT. In 2002, he made the documentary, Song of Life which told the famous story of how the people of Zakynthos saved all of its Jewish population during WWII.[222]

Very recently, Lykouressis also directed a musical performance to celebrate the 150 year anniversary of the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece as part of the 2014 Athens and Epidauris Festival. The performance included extracts from works by the most celebrated representatives of the Heptanesian School of Music and Literature such as the Zakynthian Pavlos Karresis, Dionysios Lavrangas and Spyridon Samaras, along with the Dionysios Solomos's Hymn to Liberty, which was set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros. The performance included the City of Athens Orchestra, several opera singers and a choir ensemble composed of singers from the Ionian Islands.[222]

Historiography[edit]

Zakynthos has a venerable histiographical tradition. One of the first documented historians (or probably more accurately chroniclers) on the island was the nobleman, Angelos Soumakis probably born very late in the 16th century. He was contemporary to the events of the Rebellion of the Popolari that began in 1628. His chronicle is the main document used to understand those events.

Leonidas Zois from O Faros tis Anatolis, Encyclopaedic Diary 1901

Ermannos Lountzis[edit]

Ermannos Lountzis (1806–1878) was an important intellectual, social and political figure of 19th century Greece and a native of Zakynthos. He was also a member of the Greek parliament. Most of his historical works cover the period of Venetian, French and Septinsular Republic.[223]

Panagiotis Hiotis[edit]

Working during the same period but largely covering a different historical period, Panagiots Hiotis (1814–1896) was a teacher, historian and supervisor of the Library of Zakynthos shortly after the unification of the island with Greece. He wrote a number of works documenting the history of Zakynthos and the Ionian Islands more generally; particularly, the period leading up to the unification with Greece. Unfortunately, he died without completing his work on the biographies of prominent Ionian Islanders.[224]

Spyridon Deviazis[edit]

Although born in Kerykra, Spyridon Deviazis (1849-1927) spent most of his life in his adopted homeland of Zakynthos where he was accepted as a Zakynthian. He worked as a teacher of Italian, director of a local library and was a contributor of historical studies and biographies to many periodicals and newspapers. He wrote histories on education in the Ionian Islands, art in the Ionian Islands, travel descriptions on Zakynthos by Italian travellers and Ugo Foskolos and the Greek War of Independence.[225]

Leonidas Zois[edit]

Leonidas Zois (1865–1956) was one of the most important Zakynthian historians that followed Lountzis and Hiotis. He was also the principal of the Zakynthian Archives and publisher of journals. Zois was instrumental in rescuing numerous folkloric and historical information based on primary sources and an important donor to the Library of Zakynthos after its books were burned and damaged in the fire that followed the Great Earthquake of 1953. His most important work was the Dictionary of Zakynthian History and Folklore.[226]

Dinos Konomos[edit]

Another historian of the 20th century who contributed greatly to our knowledge of Zakynthian history and an important modern successor to the Zakynthian intellectual tradition was Dinos Konomos (1918–1990). He was also a poet, researcher and archivist. Konomos created the folkloric, historical and literary magazine, Eptanasiaka Phylla which he directed until his death and which was continued by Dionysis Serra. Unfortunately, many documents and other materials he had collected were destroyed in the fire that followed the Great Earthquake in 1953. His greatest work was the multivolume, Zakynthos (Five Hundred Years). He also wrote important works on Nikolaos Koutouzis, Spyros Gouskos, Dionysios Solomos, Giorgios Tsertsetis, Crete and Zakynthos and Zakynthians and the Filiki Eteria.[227]

The Archives of Zakynthos were founded by the Venetians in the late 15th century and continued to operate throughout the period of Venetian, French, the Septinsuler Republic and British rule; and, finally the unification with Greece. The archives were largely destroyed by the fire that followed the Great earthquake of 1953; however, some archives were saved by Leonidas Zois and some of the information and data contained in the archives has since been restored with the collection of archives and books found in the homes, churches and monasteries on the island. Today, the Archives of Zakynthos are housed in the basement of the Municipal Cultural Center.[228]

Science and Medicine[edit]

Ioannis Dimisianos[edit]

Ioannis Dimisianos (Giovanni Demisiani in Italian) (1574 or 1575-1614) was a theologian, poet, chemist, mathematician and advisor to Cardinal Gonzaga, and an early member of the Accademia dei Lincei, an Italian science academy, located at the Palazzo Corsini in Rome, Italy. It was founded in 1603 by the aristocrat, Federico Cesi. Dimisianos was born in Kefalonia from a Zakynthian family with roots in Lakonia. At 14 years of age, Dimisianos travelled to Rome to study at the Collegio Greco. He stayed for 11 years initially as a student and then teacher. Dimisianos attained the qualificatio of doctor in Padua and then later returned to Zakynthos and Kefalonia where he taught Catholicism to the islanders - he was probably recently converted from Orthodoxy. He fell out with the Orthodox clergy and left again for Rome. [229]

Dimisianos is noted for coining the name telescope. Cesi explains Dimisianos melded the two Greek words τῆλε, tele "far" and σκοπεῖν, skopein "to look ". Diminisanos named the instrument telescope for a version presented by Galileo Galilei (originally called spyglass) to the Accademia dei Lincei at a banquet honoring Galileo’s induction into the Accademia in 1611. He also corresponded with Galileo about blemishes in the sun. Unfortunately, nothing else is known about his scientific achievements. Diminianos also wrote a 22 line poem in Greek praising the inventions of Neopolitan polymath and member of the Accademia dei Lincei, Giovanni Battista Della Porta. [230]

Since 2003 Zakynthos possesses two academic departments belonging to the Technological Educational Institute of Ionian Islands. The first of which is the department of Environmental Technology and Ecology, where environmental technologies, atmospheric physics, chemistry, climate dynamics, renewable energy sources, environmental management, biodiversity, and ecosystems dynamics are developed from the basis of natural sciences and mechanics. The department's sections have developed significant laboratory and field station infrastructures along Zakynthos and the Strofades islets. The second department is that of Protection and Conservation of Cultural Heritage.[231]

The freshwater resources on Zakynthos are limited, and as a result a Greek-Norwegian educational collaboration is being established on the island. The Science Park Zakynthos is a collaboration between the Technological Educational Institute of the Ionian Islands (TEI), The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), and the Therianos Villas and Therianos Family Farm on Zakynthos.[citation needed]

Transport[edit]

Zakynthos Airport

The island is covered by a network of roads, particularly the flat eastern part, with main routes linking the capital with Volimes on north, Keri on the south, and peninsula Vassiliki on the west. The road between Volimes and Lithakia is the spine of the western half of the island.

The island has one airport, Zakynthos International Airport (on former GR-35) which connects flights with other Greek airports and numerous tourist charters. It is located 4.3 km (2.7 mi) from Zakynthos and opened in 1972.

Zakynthos also features two ports: the main port, located in the capital, and another in the village of Agios Nikolaos. From the main port there is a connection to the port of Kyllini, which is the usual route for arrivals to the island by sea from the mainland. From the port of Agios Nikolaos there is a connection to the island of Kefalonia.

Notable people[edit]

Bust of Pavlos Carrer
Nikolaos Koutouzis, selfportrait

Among the most famous Zakynthians is the 19th-century poet Dionysios Solomos, whose statue adorns the main town square. The Italian poet Ugo Foscolo was born in Zakynthos.

Ancient[edit]

  • Lykidas (3rd century BC), comic actor
  • Philonides (3rd century BC), comic actor
  • Polyxenos (1st century BC), Olympic victor in boys' wrestling 4 BC
  • Pythagoras of Zakynthos (5th century BC), inventor of the three legged guitar, tripod and contributor to harmonic theory
  • Simonides of Zakynthos (4th century BC), Rhapsode and singer
  • Timotheos of Zakynthos (4th or 5th century BC), tragic actor

16th century[edit]

  • Markos Defaranas (1503–1575), poet
  • Ιoannes Demisianos, (unknown–1614), mathematician
  • Dionysios of Zakynthos (c. 16th century) a Saint of the Orthodox Church
  • Michael Ermodoros-Listarchos (c. 16th century), doctor and scholar
  • Dionysios Katilianos (1540–1629), theologian and teacher
  • Tzanes Koroneos (c. 16th century), Stradioti (mercenary soldier) and troubadour/poet
  • Nikoalos Loukanis (c. 16th century), translator of The Iliad into demotic
  • Alexander Neroulis (c. 16th century), scholar, teacher of philosophy, Greek and Latin
  • Pachomios Roussanos (1508–1553), scholar and theologian
  • Agesilaos and Mark Sigouros (c. 16th century), merchants
  • Ioannis Skandalis (c. 16th century), ship captain and military leader
  • Michael Soumakis (c. 16th century), poet
  • George and Michael Soumakis (c. 16th century), merchants
  • Dimitrios Zinos (1500–unknown), the publisher of the Rimada of Alexander the Great and other Greek vernacular works in Venice

17th century[edit]

  • Ioannis Irakleiotos (1670–unknown), doctor and poet
  • Nikolaos Kallergis (1699–1747), painter
  • Antonios Katiforos (1696 or 1685–1763), scholar, theologian and poet
  • Nikolaos Koursoulas (unknown-1652), scholar, teacher and cleric
  • Theodoros Montseleze (c. 17th century), playwright
  • Pavlos Makris (c. 17th century), military leader
  • Hieronymous Plakotos (1680–1728), painter and sometime doctor
  • Eustathios Romanos (c. 17th century), corsair and pirate
  • Moukios Romas (1645-1669), naval captain and military leader
  • Frangiskos Romas (1670–1742), naval captain and military leader
  • Andreas Sigouros (1665–1747), poet
  • Angelos Soumakis (c. 17th century), historian and chronicler
  • Angelos Soumakis (c. 17th century), doctor and scholar (related to the historian)
  • Michael Soumakis (c. 17th century), writer and translator

18th century[edit]

  • Anastasios Avramiotis (1797–unknown), merchant and member of Filiki Etairia
  • Thomas Danelakis (1775–1828), patriotic and satirical poet
  • Nathaniel Domeneginis (1793–1854), radical politician and soldier
  • Nikolaos Ugos Foskolos (Ugo Foscolo) (1778–1827), Greek/Italian poet and writer
  • Dimitrios Gouzelis (1774–1843), comic playwright and poet
  • Nikolaos Doxaras (1706 or 1710–1775), painter and writer
  • Andreas Kalvos (1789–1869), patriotic poet
  • Ioannis Kantounis (1767–1834), doctor, writer and translator
  • Nikolaos Kantounis (1731–1817), painter
  • Nikolaos Kefalas (1770–1850), seaman, adventurer and writer
  • Ioannis Kontonis (1723–1761), doctor and scholar
  • Ioannis Korais (1752–1799), painter
  • Nikolaos Kourtsolas (c. 18th century), poet
  • Nikolaos Koutouzis (1741–1813), painter and writer
  • Nikolaos Logothetis-Gouliaris (c 18th century), poet
  • Antonios Martelaos (1754–1819), patriotic poet and teacher
  • Antonios Martinengos (1754–1836), patriotic leader
  • Antonios Matesis (1794–1875), playwright
  • Dimitrios Motsenigos (c, 18th century), Orlov revolt fighter and diplomat
  • Georgios Motsenigos (1765–1836), commissioner of Septinsular Republic and diplomat
  • Spyridon Neranztis (1760–1833), constitutional lawyer of Septinsular Republic and diplomat
  • Dionysios Romas (1771–1857), lawyer, diplomat, senator in the Ionian State, advisor to Greek state
  • Savoyas Rousmelis (c. 18th century), playwright
  • Dionysios Sembrikos (c. 18th century), Greek War of Independence leader and fighter
  • Dionysios Solomos (1798–1857), poet, writer of the Greek national anthem and prose writer
  • Panagiotis Strouzas (c. 18th century), Greek War of Independence leader and fighter
  • Dimitrios Stavrakis (1772–1801), painter
  • Stylianos Stavrakis (1729–1786), painter
  • Giorgios Therianos (1775–1850), doctor and scholar
  • Dionysios Tagiaperas (1777–1842), doctor and politician
  • Dionysios Vardianis (1788–1886), mathematician and publisher
  • Giorgios Vendotis (1757–1795), publisher and writer
  • Nikolaos Xanthopoulos (174-unknown), Orlov revolt fighter
  • Stefanos Xanthopoulos (c. 18th century), poet

19th century[edit]

  • Diamantina Bowen (born 1832), noblewoman (wife of first Governor of Queensland, Australia)
  • Spyridon Deviazis (1849-1927), Kerkyrian born Zakynthian historian and journalist
  • Frangiskos-Lambrinos Domeneginis (1809–1874), Radical politician and composer
  • Panagiotis Hiotis (1814–1896), historian
  • Nikolaos Episkopopoulos (1874–1944), novelist and literary critic
  • Panagiotis Gritsanis (1835–1898), musician and scholar
  • Miltiadis Gouskos (1877–1903), Olympic athlete and silver medalist in shot put
  • Konstantinos Iatras (1811–1888), painter and poet
  • Dionysios Iliakopoulos (1855–1895), journalist, writer and publisher
  • Antonios Kapnisis (1823–1885), composer and teacher
  • Dimitrios Kallinikos (1814–1890), journalist and scholar
  • Dionysios Kallivokas (1806–1877), painter and teacher
  • Antonios Kapnisis (1813–1885), composer and organist
  • Pavlos Karreris (Karrer) (1829–1896), composer
  • Nikolaos Katramis (1820–1886), archbishop and scholar
  • Ioannis Koloneos (1868–1920), satirical poet
  • Alexios Kolyvas (1848–1915), philologist
  • Nikolaos Kolyvas (1884–1951), scholar, lawyer and politician
  • Georgios Lagouidaras (1814–1865), poet
  • Ioannis Lisgaras (1805-1872), notary and Radical politician
  • Iosif Liveralis (1820–1889), composer
  • Konstantinos Lomvardos (1820-1888), Radical politician and doctor
  • Ermannos Lountzis (1806–1878), historian and politician
  • Andreas Martzokis (1849–1923), poet and writer
  • Stefanos Martzokis (1855–1913), poet
  • Iosef Mastrekinis (1842-1903), composer and conductor
  • Elisavet Moutzan-Martinengou (1801–1832), female prose writer
  • Suzanna Nerantzi (c. 19th century), female composer and pianist
  • Pausanias Makris (1874–1943), businessman and publisher
  • Alexander Romas (1863–1914), politician
  • Marinos Sigouros (1885–1961), writer, translator and diplomat
  • Stefanos Xenopoulos (1873–1952), art history teacher and artist
  • Dionysios Tavoularis (1842–1928), theatre actor and pioneer of Athenian theatre
  • George Tertsetis (1800–1874), Greek War of Independence fighter, historian, politician, poet, writer, judge and philosopher
  • Dionysios Therianos (1883–1897), journalist and scholar
  • Ioannis Tsakasianos (1853–1908), poet, playwright and scholar
  • Dionysios Tsokos (1814 or 1820–1862), painter
  • Georgios Verikios (1818–1891), Radical politician and publisher
  • Gregorios Xenopoulos (1867–1951), playwright, prose writer, journalist and editor
  • Caesar Zezas (1867–1928), doctor and scholar
  • Leonidas Zois (1865–1956), historian and scholar

20th century[edit]

  • Dimitris Arvanitakis (born 1947), historian
  • Timotheos Arvanitakis (born 1965), composer
  • George Costakis (1913–1990), art collector
  • Foteini Darra (born 1981), singer
  • Kostas Dikefalos (born 1956), sculptor
  • Dionysios Flemotomos (born 1956), poet and teacher
  • Spyros Gouskos (1911–1941), poet
  • Konstandinos Kapsaskis (1923–1993), banker
  • Sokratis Kapsaskis (1928–2007), director, poet, essayist, historian and translator
  • Petros Klampanis (born 1981), jazz bassplayer, composer and arranger
  • Dinos Konomos (1918–1990), historian
  • Stavros Kontonis (1963), lawyer, politician
  • Dimitris Lagios (1952–1991), composer and musicologist
  • Dionysios Lazanis (born 1965), musician, singer
  • Tonis Lykouresis (born 1945), director and cinematographer
  • Dimitris Madouras (1927–1995), journalist and politician
  • Marietta Giannopoulou-Minotou (1900–1962), scholar, writer, translator and publisher
  • Giorgios Mothoneos (1910–1994), doctor and scientist
  • Dionysis Mousmoutis (born 1960), writer and literary critic
  • Maxi Mouzaki (1920-2016), poet
  • Babis Pilarinos (born 1966), painter
  • Dionysios Romas (1906–1981), novelist, essayist and politician
  • Maria Rousea (born 1929), painter, art teacher and restorer
  • Dionysis Serras (born 1947), historian, writer and philologist
  • Dionysios Sourbis (born 1978), opera singer
  • Dionysios Visvardis (1910–1999), composer and musician
  • Alekos Xenos (1912–1995), composer and musician

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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