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Forum LockedDefense and Suvival on Early Modern Greek Islands

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Defense and Suvival on Early Modern Greek Islands
    Posted: 26-Jun-2008 at 04:42
During the late Byzantine period—as the imperial navy became smaller and less functional due to financial and demographic problems—the emperors found it increasingly difficult to patrol the waters of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. Although there were some small incidents of a ramshackle Byzantine effort at counteracting piracy, most noticeably during the reigns of Manuel II and Constantine XI respectively, by and large the empire could not sustain a prolonged offensive effort against the Turkish corsairs, Venetian traders, and Hospitaller marauders. 
 
After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Aegean islands and many other coastal areas were left without any protection from a centralized government.  It was only with the military aid of the occupying Knights of Saint John that the indigenous Greeks of Rhodes were able to defeat the Ottomans in 1480.  As a result, the populations on the islands, many of which were quite small and clustered into villages, developed their own systems of defense against pirates and invaders.
 
For example, Anthony Papalas describes the efforts of the inhabitants of the small island of Icaria in defending against Turkish corsairs who raided the coast and kidnapped children to convert to Islam during the early modern period.  In addition to corsairs, the Icarian young men had to find ways to evade Ottoman government officials who were looking for naval recruits.  Papalas mentions that the Icarians abandoned many coastal villages and moved inland.  They blocked chimneys of their dwellings and suppressed other signs of life that might be visible to raiding parties.  Shepherds and farmers established “observation points” called viglas to warn inhabitants of danger.  Local militias were organized into a system of “minutemen” to fight when called.  For more information, please see:
 
Papalas, Anthony J. Rebels and Radicals: Icaria 1600-2000. Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2005.
 
Some questions for us to consider in this discussion:
 
1.)    Was this system of defense (viglas, local militia organization) something that the Icarians and other Greek islanders developed independently according to their circumstances; or, perhaps, do we see echoes of old Byzantine administrative structures in this organization?
 
2.)    What were the physical means by which this system operated in terms of armament, tactics, and fortifications in relation to the financial situation on the islands?
 
3.)    During the early modern period (late 15th to 19th centuries here), did the inhabitants on these smaller Greek islands know much about the outside world and the tremendous changes that were taking place?  From whom did they get their information?  What was their conception of the “known world?”  Was Byzantine life preserved to a certain extent on the islands?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jun-2008 at 13:11
I am afraid I can only answer the second question. If you have ever been to a small Greek island then you will notice this. There is a harbor and there is the main city called Chora which is always on a steep hill.

Chora's houses are always one attached to another creating a series of small defensible alleys and they are going up and up and up until you reach a small fort that is the last resort. Such fortification can't stop a determined, large army however it was enough for raiders since they could cause massive casualties, especially with the introduction of rifles.

If an island was richer obviously they would have more weapons, perhaps a canon or two.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jun-2008 at 15:04
fantastic subject. it wasn't just the Turks, before them Saracen pirates and others like the  Genoese and Venetians

 My paternal island of Kaparthos had a very similar story. Flipper has the book that tells the story best.

IIRC  The island was massacred (cant remember if it was Genoese or Venetian) and the local surviving families (#70 families) that hid in the center went on to found the village of Olimbos (my paternal village) in the far northern corner. They hid it behind the mountain looking into the interior so you couldnt see it by sea, Saracens were the issue. It was also built up high so you would have to use the other side (east) of the island to get there, it was practically inaccessible from the south and only by foot. it was fortified originally and from there the island repopulated.



Talk about isolated; these guys speak an archaic Dorian type dialect, the men (usually old) sing in rhyme on the fly.. ive seen photo's from the 1960 showing women using earthenware amphora collecting water.





Edited by Leonidas - 26-Jun-2008 at 15:09
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jun-2008 at 15:59
Fantastic pic. A shame I have never been in Carpathos.

This is a classic example of what "Chora" is.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jun-2008 at 17:23
Thanks guys for the replies!
 
Originally posted by Vorian

I am afraid I can only answer the second question. If you have ever been to a small Greek island then you will notice this. There is a harbor and there is the main city called Chora which is always on a steep hill.
 
Yes, the smaller islands especially were forced to resort to this type of community organization because of the piratical raids.  On Icaria there was a collection of small villages in the interior, the largest of which had about 300 houses and the smallest five during the early modern period.  It was only much later in the nineteenth century that the villages were able to finance the building of infrastructure like bridges and defined roads.  Trade between islands was performed using smaller crafts akin to fishing boats.  Many of the villages had to become Chorai because they were forced inland by the raids.
 
Originally posted by Vorian

Chora's houses are always one attached to another creating a series of small defensible alleys and they are going up and up and up until you reach a small fort that is the last resort. Such fortification can't stop a determined, large army however it was enough for raiders since they could cause massive casualties, especially with the introduction of rifles.
 
I think the Icarians and other islanders soon specialized in this type of guerilla defense.  They utilized the familiar terrain, the close quarters in the villages, and the natural environment to their advantage and to their the bewilderment of their attackers.
 
Papalas mentioned that the Icarians utilized the impassibility of the mountain paths and the fortifications at their peaks.  When the Ottomans sent a small force to occupy the island in the seventeenth century, they eventually decided to withdraw because of the danger and financial strain of hauling cannons up into the mountains to besiege the forts.
 
Originally posted by Vorian

If an island was richer obviously they would have more weapons, perhaps a canon or two.
 
I wonder how and by whom these forts were constructed?  Were they built in previous centuries by the Icarians' Byzantine ancestors or by Western European engineers?  It would be interesting to know if they resembled late Byzantine kastra in construction if the native Icarians built them.
 
The question of the armament of the islanders is fascinating.  From 1500-1800 or so it would have been very difficult for the peoples on the smaller islands to procure firearms.  These weapons were an expensive luxury and would have had to be imported over a distance from mainland Greece or Asia Minor, not to mention past the watchful eyes of Ottoman officials and corsairs.  If there were any cannon founderies they would have been on the larger islands such as Crete and Cyprus.
 
Originally posted by Leonidas

My paternal island of Kaparthos had a very similar story. Flipper has the book that tells the story best.
 
Are there any buildings left over from the early modern period on Karpathos?  What book is this that Flipper has?
 
Originally posted by Leonidas

IIRC  The island was massacred (cant remember if it was Genoese or Venetian) and the local surviving families (#70 families) that hid in the center went on to found the village of Olimbos (my paternal village) in the far northern corner. They hid it behind the mountain looking into the interior so you couldnt see it by sea, Saracens were the issue. It was also built up high so you would have to use the other side (east) of the island to get there, it was practically inaccessible from the south and only by foot. it was fortified originally and from there the island repopulated.
 
Very nice picture indeed.  You mentioned the singing of the old men and the women using amphorae to draw water.  Do you remember any other continuities with the past that were evident in Olimbos?  How was your village administered?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Jun-2008 at 17:44
The main city of Milos is the best example I have visited. Try to raid this, pirate!!










Edited by Vorian - 26-Jun-2008 at 17:45
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Post Options Post Options   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Jun-2008 at 21:01
I will reply on based what I've learned from the human perceptions of their senses and their wishes and desires though it might be a bit off on the general question of the topic.

1. There must be some remnant of the old system, even if we can't see it. It is rather logical to assume that the people would have enjoyed the Roman times of safe trading and living and would have aspired to get those times back. This would also be pictured in an organization that would be created to defend themselves from enemies of not only them but also of the previous empire.

They may not have wished to go and recreate an imperial roman society of defense and they didn't do it but the educationary system of the roman empire must have laid it's foundation even to those areas but we can see that they didn't start building quintiremes and wasting resources but moved into defense which could be taken as a sign of decadence. Another way of how the empire taught them in it's final centuries (how often was the Roman Empire on the offensive if we don't consider the sallies against the Ottomans in the 1453)...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jun-2008 at 04:52
Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

Originally posted by Leonidas

My paternal island of Kaparthos had a very similar story. Flipper has the book that tells the story best.
 
Are there any buildings left over from the early modern period on Karpathos?  What book is this that Flipper has?
from what i can tell not much, i think outlines of the walls, but they have rebuilt houses all over. Some still use ancient wooden locks. Internet resources are quite bare, literal ones are in Greek so I am always struggling to find more information. Flipper has a book (karpathica?)  that is a authority on that island



Because of the Arabic raids, the inhabitants of the region were also forced to abandon their homes and take refuge in the mountainous and hard-to-access nearby Olymbos which maintained a castle around the central and highest part of the village.

  In the end of the 19th century, when the sailing boats of the pirates were forced out by engine-powered battleships, the inhabitants of the castle in Olymbos took heart and moved down to settlements by the sea, just as the inhabitants of Korαki (village of Aperi) moved down to Pigαdia (officially recently renamed "Kαrpathos" and capital city of the island) during the same era
link

here are some photo's you may see walls and construction lines but I have no idea what the layout was like. the garden are in the valley right below the village and when i was there it seems they used stepped fields as there isn't any flat land.

IIRC looking north side on village shot, should show how steep this place is



IIRC the same but looking south mid way down.



facing the sea on the west side, this would not have had any dwellings showing over the mountain line.



from
www.karpathos.org/photos/albums/olympos_05/index.shtml

I have personal shots that look down that side (IIRC there is a small spot for small boats to land), accessible by a walking track but certainly not a point to be attacked from. When i can locate the soft copy i will post.

Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

Originally posted by Leonidas

IIRC  The island was massacred (cant remember if it was Genoese or Venetian) and the local surviving families (#70 families) that hid in the center went on to found the village of Olimbos (my paternal village) in the far northern corner. They hid it behind the mountain looking into the interior so you couldnt see it by sea, Saracens were the issue. It was also built up high so you would have to use the other side (east) of the island to get there, it was practically inaccessible from the south and only by foot. it was fortified originally and from there the island repopulated.
 
Very nice picture indeed.  You mentioned the singing of the old men and the women using amphorae to draw water.  Do you remember any other continuities with the past that were evident in Olimbos?  How was your village administered?
with the adminstration i dont know. Today they run their northern corner by themselves  - seperate from the rest of the island. I will try and locate some soft copy personal photos that show the slope facing the water. as for archaiasm, where does one start the dress, bake bread, and have weddings like they have done at least as far back as mediaval.

Oh, property is passed down the maternal line.

on the ryming music


 Folk songs and rhymes composed and sang at the same time ("mantinades"), proverbs, riddles, tales, myths, games, wishes, curses, oaths are part of the everyday life of people - younger and elder, men and women -  since ancient times.
 
A special place in the hearts of Karpathian people has the traditional karpathian festivity ("kathisto glenti"). The men sit around a table with the music players of the traditional instruments, drinking wine and composing and singing songs. They are given the opportunity to express their feelings - joy or pain depending on the occasion. The "lyra", "laouto", "tsambouna" and the "violi" are the traditional karpathian musical instruments
and are inseparable part of a karpathian festivity.
link



costumes


making the boots worn by both women and men

but mainly by the womenWink


from
www.karpathos.gr/various/index.htm



Edited by Leonidas - 29-Jun-2008 at 08:46
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Jun-2008 at 08:39
Jackpot of flikr

 coming in from the east coast, the only realistic way for the pirates to enter

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiorinaldo/sets/72157603817485393/with/2228567314/

what looks like fortifications on top of the village (south looking North)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wimbledonian/sets/72157594328239673/



there are tonnes of  other peoples personal pictures (better than the other sites)
www.flickr.com/groups/karpathos/pool/
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Aug-2008 at 18:58
Originally posted by rider

They may not have wished to go and recreate an imperial roman society of defense and they didn't do it but the educationary system of the roman empire must have laid it's foundation even to those areas but we can see that they didn't start building quintiremes and wasting resources but moved into defense which could be taken as a sign of decadence. Another way of how the empire taught them in it's final centuries (how often was the Roman Empire on the offensive if we don't consider the sallies against the Ottomans in the 1453)...
 
Yes, the continuity would naturally be with the late Byzantine Empire as it was under the Palaiologan dynasty.  Supposedly there were many refugees from the imperial appanages and larger islands who settled on the smaller islands like Icaria.  These people undoubtedly brought with them concepts and methods of administration that were in use by the Byzantines.
 
For example, we could say that the vigla were just ad hoc constructions that were used to face the problem of pirates and Ottoman recruiters on the island.  However, there was a distinct system of town watch and defense that was used in Constantinople and other major cities by imperial officials.  Pseudo-Kodinos specifically names the officer in charge of it - the Master of the Vigla.
 
Originally posted by Leonidas

I have personal shots that look down that side (IIRC there is a small spot for small boats to land), accessible by a walking track but certainly not a point to be attacked from.
 
Very nice pictures!  Thanks very much for posting. Smile
 
You can definitely see how the inhabitants at one time moved their living quarters (the town itself) from the coast up into the hills and mountains, in a response to the raiding that they were experiencing.
 
The Ottoman officials would have been quite desparate if they were going to commit valuable men and resources to try and dislodge some unruly villagers from those mountain crags.  It would have been very costly to drag artillery up there and risk a protracted engagement.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mercury_Dawn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2008 at 02:54
It would be easier for the Turks just to raze the docks, and confiscate the ships if they didn't get along.... and colonization would of been simple.... settle in the docks! Let the Greeks have the crags. Did they do this?

Is there any archaeological evidence that  copies of Heron of Byzantium's writings were in use on one of these islands in developing or setting up a system of poliocretics?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Maharbbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2008 at 13:14
3.)    During the early modern period (late 15th to 19th centuries here), did the inhabitants on these smaller Greek islands know much about the outside world and the tremendous changes that were taking place?  From whom did they get their information?  What was their conception of the “known world?”  Was Byzantine life preserved to a certain extent on the islands?
 
One thing to remember is that many of these islanders were involved in the corso. It is not a mere chance if many of the most feared Barbary pirates were from the Greek islands. Besides, they often interacted with corsairs and pirates from other nations giving them food and drinks and often being involved in how the bounty was shared. From them they certainly had weapons of all sorts. IIRC Alonso de Contreras a Spanish corsair of the early 17th cent was so much involved with the Greeks that he even had a wife waiting for him in one of the villages. On top of that the Greek islands were a land of mission for the Latin (mostly French) monks, they tried to bring the schismatics back to the Catholic church for decades.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2009 at 18:48
Originally posted by Mercury Dawn

It would be easier for the Turks just to raze the docks, and confiscate the ships if they didn't get along.... and colonization would of been simple.... settle in the docks! Let the Greeks have the crags. Did they do this?
 
Yes, this is generally what happened.  The pirates and Ottoman naval detachments would force the Greeks to move up to the high places on the islands. 
 
However, when the Ottoman officials came around to start the colonization, the local Greek militias would frustrate their efforts to the extent that an agreement was worked out or the they would establish a small fort on the coast to keep an eye on them.  It was much less risky than dragging bombard cannons and janissaries up into the mountains only to be ambushed! 
 
Originally posted by Mercury Dawn

Is there any archaeological evidence that  copies of Heron of Byzantium's writings were in use on one of these islands in developing or setting up a system of poliocretics?
 
Interesting question.  I have not seen any archaeological evidence of this.  It was probably difficult to gain access to Heron's manuscripts or copies thereof out on the small islands in the Aegean.  They were quite disconnected from Constantinople during the late Byzantine and especially in the early modern period.  Perhaps there were copies in libraries or archives on some of the larger islands such as Crete and Cyprus.
 
Originally posted by Maharbbal

One thing to remember is that many of these islanders were involved in the corso. It is not a mere chance if many of the most feared Barbary pirates were from the Greek islands. Besides, they often interacted with corsairs and pirates from other nations giving them food and drinks and often being involved in how the bounty was shared. From them they certainly had weapons of all sorts. IIRC Alonso de Contreras a Spanish corsair of the early 17th cent was so much involved with the Greeks that he even had a wife waiting for him in one of the villages.
 
I am sure there was a bit of give-and-take between the Greek islanders and the corsairs.  The pirates, willing to make a profit, and the islanders wanting to survive, worked together when it could get past the attention of the Ottoman officials. 
 
Apart from arms and supplies trading, to what extent do you think islanders received information about the outside world and the changes which were taking place?  What was perception of a Greek islander in a small village of geography and space?
 
Originally posted by Maharbbal

On top of that the Greek islands were a land of mission for the Latin (mostly French) monks, they tried to bring the schismatics back to the Catholic church for decades.
 
Greene, Molly. A Shared World: Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000.
 
McKee, Sally. Uncommon Dominion: Venetian Crete and the Myth of Ethnic Purity / Sally McKee. The Middle ages series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.
 
These are two good books which discuss the subject of ethnicity and religion on Greek islands in the early modern period.  Apparently there was a lot of religious syncretism going on between Catholics, Orthodox, and even Muslims in some cases, irrespective of ethnicity.  The notarial records show that problems were created in identifying inheritances when two seemingly different groups intermarried.
 
Yes, Catholic monks and Jesuit missionaries carried out an intense program of proselytization on the islands, as well as the mainland, during this period.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Nestorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Apr-2009 at 14:06
1.)    Was this system of defense (viglas, local militia organization) something that the Icarians and other Greek islanders developed independently according to their circumstances; or, perhaps, do we see echoes of old Byzantine administrative structures in this organization?
 
I suppose the universal principles of survival can cause particular actions, such as the instinctive formation of independent militia organisations. If there is any resemble to old Byzantine administrative structures, one would probably consider it more a phenomenon of human organisational behaviour as oppposed to historical memory. Yet, it is a good question, an intriguing one. Even when the Byzantine Empire existed, there were areas that were certainly not adequately governed by any sort of Byzantine administrative system and yet developed their own independent militia system regardless of the Imperial presence.
 
2.)    What were the physical means by which this system operated in terms of armament, tactics, and fortifications in relation to the financial situation on the islands?
 
I can't quite say for certain about details like this. But we consider several factors. The physical geography of the islands negated contemporary military technology and resource deficiencies to a certain extent, it always has...until the Atomic Bomb! The ability of the secret philo-Hellenic organisations to co-ordinate their movements and actions certainly point to a formidable yet weakened Ottoman administrative system that found itself caught between the modern warfare and the age-old time and tested guerilla warfare. If hostile communicative efficacy was a possibility in Ottoman territory, surely, resource co-ordination no matter how limited would have been possible in itself. But again, physical geography can negate such deficiencies if used properly.
 
 
3.)    During the early modern period (late 15th to 19th centuries here), did the inhabitants on these smaller Greek islands know much about the outside world and the tremendous changes that were taking place?  From whom did they get their information?  What was their conception of the “known world?”  Was Byzantine life preserved to a certain extent on the islands?
 
I would say the following factors were important:
 
1. The Patriarch of Constantinople: It was in the interests of the Pastriarch to keep the peace within Christians in the Empire. Not just for his life, but for his leadership position - which could be precarious at times. It was the Orthodox Church that kept much of the Byzantine memory alive - until nationalism ethnicised religion in that heady period. Many Greeks in that period served as sailors, either within the Empire or without.
 
The co-ordination and organisation of pro-Hellenic groups inside and outside the Empire also testifies to a certain level of porousity in Ottoman border security.
Although, their strength at the time was dependent on western indulgence of their existence which hid how week they truly were. In the end, they resorted to reactive defensive actions like suppressing internal rebellions as opposed to proactive diplomacy and politics which defined their earlier history.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Patrinos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Apr-2009 at 00:12
Byz.Emp. always has nice ideas for new threads!
Thats how vigles were:

Don't try to find any door, there isn't...neither on the other side.... They used to have a rope with a hook in order to climb trying to be as much protected as they could. I know that this type of security in the islands is used for sure untill the Greek War of Indepence in 1820's.
Judging from today Greece's toponymy the system of vigles had a great spread especially of course in the seaside places, which experienced pirate attacks or...were pirates themselves and wanted to keep an eye to any antagonist or any possible "customer", like the untamed Maniates in Mani peninsula,Peloponnesos, where the toponyms vigla, imerovigli(day-vigla), kaminovigla(vigla that communicated with fire signals with other,simiral to ancient phryctories) are very frequent.

According to "De velitatione bellica" (Περὶ παραδρομῆς πολέμου) attributed to Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas vigles must have a distance of about 3-4 miles. Phocas(if he was the real author of this work), speaks about a well organised military system aroud vigles that I don't think that  survived under Ottomans as it was but with its simplest version, meaning just rotation of individual sentinels.

Here is a detail of how byzantine vigles were, this one is a depiction of a collapsed today vigla in Oitylo(Mani), possibly in order to secure the area from nearby Slav newcomers.


1-6: Viglatores' outposts                         11:Officer's room
7: Stalls of horsemen officers                  12: Kaminoviglio
8: Stalls of horsemen viglatores              13: Base of the catapelt
9:Guard's Outposts                                  14:Place for the dogs.
10:Viglatores'  rest rooms

K1:Residency of Domestikos
K2:Vigla's Megas Droungarios' residency
K3:Rest room
K4:Kaminoviglatores

BE, in your question about how aegean islanders kept their byzantine way of life, I think that Westerners( Frankish lords,catholic proselytizers etc) who lived in the islands or came for their reasons increased the conservativeness among the mainly illiterated orthodox Greeks, so you can find places like Olympos in Karpathos that seem very archaic societies.

Of course we cannot talk about aegean islands as a totaly same society from Samothrake to Castelorizo. For example, Chios with its over a hundred thousand citizens, and the rich Mastichochoria cannot be compared with the mainly poor rural societes of Folegandros.




Edited by Patrinos - 04-Apr-2009 at 00:29
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Apr-2009 at 00:55
Originally posted by Marhabbal


One thing to remember is that many of these islanders were involved in the corso. It is not a mere chance if many of the most feared Barbary pirates were from the Greek islands. Besides, they often interacted with corsairs and pirates from other nations giving them food and drinks and often being involved in how the bounty was shared. From them they certainly had weapons of all sorts. IIRC Alonso de Contreras a Spanish corsair of the early 17th cent was so much involved with the Greeks that he even had a wife waiting for him in one of the villages.

In fact even Hayreddin Barbarossa was the son & husband of Greeks from Lesbos
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Post Options Post Options   Quote xristar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Apr-2009 at 01:22
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim


In fact even Hayreddin Barbarossa was the son & husband of Greeks from Lesbos

According to my knowledge (stemming from cheap general magazinesBig smile) is that Barbarossa was a muslim greek (from Lesbos indeed).
A testimony to the efficiency of the greek piracy, eh?Big smile

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Apr-2009 at 03:45
Originally posted by Byzantine Emperor

 
Originally posted by Leonidas

I have personal shots that look down that side (IIRC there is a small spot for small boats to land), accessible by a walking track but certainly not a point to be attacked from.
 
Very nice pictures!  Thanks very much for posting. Smile
 
You can definitely see how the inhabitants at one time moved their living quarters (the town itself) from the coast up into the hills and mountains, in a response to the raiding that they were experiencing.
 
The Ottoman officials would have been quite desparate if they were going to commit valuable men and resources to try and dislodge some unruly villagers from those mountain crags.  It would have been very costly to drag artillery up there and risk a protracted engagement.
 
I never have got my hands on the 'Karpathica' let alone a translation of it,  with Karpathos the citizens (actaully a handful of surviving family groups) originally built their defenses because the Latins and Arab pirates that based themselves on a smaller ofshore island (saria) or in more open and abandoed villages. I cant remember if it was venetian or genoese that butchered my island I think it was the genoese. Flipper may be able to get the timeline right.

 The Ottomons came later, but yes it was never worth their while to harrass an isolated, introverted and hardened community
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Apr-2009 at 08:14
Many thanks to those who took the time to reply.  Let's keep the historical discussion going! Clap
 
Originally posted by Nestorian

I suppose the universal principles of survival can cause particular actions, such as the instinctive formation of independent militia organisations. If there is any resemble to old Byzantine administrative structures, one would probably consider it more a phenomenon of human organisational behaviour as oppposed to historical memory. Yet, it is a good question, an intriguing one. Even when the Byzantine Empire existed, there were areas that were certainly not adequately governed by any sort of Byzantine administrative system and yet developed their own independent militia system regardless of the Imperial presence.
 
So you think that, because these islands were cut off by the disintegration of the Byzantine government and communication, the inhabitants developed these structures independently? 
 
Very interesting.  As was discussed previously, there probably were no sophisticated archives or manuscript collections on these islands after the Ottoman conquest and perhaps before.  The only archive that I know from an island existed on a monastery on the island of Patmos.
 
Nevertheless, the Byzantine administrative system, both at its zenith and during the tumultuous years of the Palaiologoi, was very flexible.  It made use of both imperial institutions and local ones, applying them where necessary.
 
Originally posted by Nestorian

I can't quite say for certain about details like this. But we consider several factors. The physical geography of the islands negated contemporary military technology and resource deficiencies to a certain extent, it always has...until the Atomic Bomb! The ability of the secret philo-Hellenic organisations to co-ordinate their movements and actions certainly point to a formidable yet weakened Ottoman administrative system that found itself caught between the modern warfare and the age-old time and tested guerilla warfare.
 
Yes, the Greeks did make use of the high, rocky physical geography when they moved inland.  In most cases it did the trick because the Ottomans refused to expend the time and resources to hunt them down or bring them under direct control.
 
Originally posted by Nestorian

1. The Patriarch of Constantinople: It was in the interests of the Pastriarch to keep the peace within Christians in the Empire. Not just for his life, but for his leadership position - which could be precarious at times. It was the Orthodox Church that kept much of the Byzantine memory alive - until nationalism ethnicised religion in that heady period. Many Greeks in that period served as sailors, either within the Empire or without.
 
I wonder how often a representative of the Patriarchate visited the smaller islands in the Aegean?  For much of the Ottoman period, life on these islands was relatively "primative" in that it resembled more the village life of medieval Byzantium than the early modern Balkans.
 
It is interesting to read some of the local Greek chronicles of the time.  Even some of the more educated priests had a strange view of cosmology and geography compared to the knowledge that was being disseminated in Western Europe during the overseas expansion.  Check out this article for more information:
 
Strauss, Johann. “Ottoman Rule Experienced and Remembered: Remarks on Some Local Greek Chronicles of the Tourkokratia.” In The Ottomans and the Balkans: A Discussion of Historiography. Eds. Fikret Adanir and Suraiya Faroqhi. The Ottoman Empire and Its Heritage: Politics, Society and Economy. Ed. Suraiya Faroqhi, no. 25. Leiden: Brill, 2002. 193-221.
 
Originally posted by Patrinos

Byz.Emp. always has nice ideas for new threads!
 
Thanks for the kind words Patrinos. Smile
 
Originally posted by Patrinos

Thats how vigles were: (snip)
 
WOW!  That picture is awesome!  How did you find this site with the pictures?
 
Originally posted by Patrinos

Judging from today Greece's toponymy the system of vigles had a great spread especially of course in the seaside places, which experienced pirate attacks or...were pirates themselves and wanted to keep an eye to any antagonist or any possible "customer", like the untamed Maniates in Mani peninsula,Peloponnesos, where the toponyms vigla, imerovigli(day-vigla), kaminovigla(vigla that communicated with fire signals with other,simiral to ancient phryctories) are very frequent.
 
It is interesting to see that a distinction is made in both the terminology and the functions of different types of vigla.  So, are these terms/distinctions (imerovigli, kaminovigla) from the late Byzantine or early modern period?
 
Originally posted by Patrinos

According to "De velitatione bellica" (Περὶ παραδρομῆς πολέμου) attributed to Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas vigles must have a distance of about 3-4 miles. Phocas(if he was the real author of this work), speaks about a well organised military system aroud vigles that I don't think that  survived under Ottomans as it was but with its simplest version, meaning just rotation of individual sentinels.
 
Thank you for summarizing the treatise's recommendations for the vigla.  I know of Περὶ παραδρομῆς πολέμου but have not looked at it much since it is beyond the time period I am working on at the moment (late 6th century).
 
This gets to the heart of my question about the military organizations that were installed along with these imperial institutions and whether or not they carried over into the Ottoman period.  It would be an interesting comparative research project!
 
I guess we can tentatively conclude, as you mentioned, that there was a clear paramilitary organization in the Byzantine period, and it devolved into an ad hoc sentry system in the Ottoman?  I wonder how these paramilitary troops were described in the documentary records.  My guess would be "N" under the control of either the tzaousios or the kastrophylax of the kastron.
 
Originally posted by Patrinos

13: Base of the catapelt
 
This diagram is most helpful!  I was wondering if there was a place for mounted weapons on the vigla.  It can be surmised that there were such weapons on the fortifications of imperial kastra.
 
Originally posted by Patrinos

K1:Residency of Domestikos
K2:Vigla's Megas Droungarios' residency
 
I am assuming that the Domestikos and the Droungarios were the military officials who were in charge of the entire force residing in the theme.  These lodgings were for them when they came to survey the kastron and the vigla.
 
Originally posted by Patrinos

BE, in your question about how aegean islanders kept their byzantine way of life, I think that Westerners( Frankish lords,catholic proselytizers etc) who lived in the islands or came for their reasons increased the conservativeness among the mainly illiterated orthodox Greeks, so you can find places like Olympos in Karpathos that seem very archaic societies.
 
Archaic in the sense of medieval Byzantine or ancient Greek?  Perhaps it is a mixture of both at the social level.  I am interested in institutional development most of all.  It would be a nice project to trace this development on the islands for both the military and domestic structures.
 
Patrinos, I am interested in your thoughts on the Strauss article I posted above.  Imbedded is a link to most of it at Googlebooks.  For that question, I am wondering what the local Greek perceptions of the outside world and geographic knowledge was in the early modern period.
 
Originally posted by Leonidas

I never have got my hands on the 'Karpathica' let alone a translation of it,  with Karpathos the citizens (actaully a handful of surviving family groups) originally built their defenses because the Latins and Arab pirates that based themselves on a smaller ofshore island (saria) or in more open and abandoed villages. I cant remember if it was venetian or genoese that butchered my island I think it was the genoese. Flipper may be able to get the timeline right.
 
Indeed.  Many times it was the Italian republics who caused trouble on the islands by their proselytizing and constant vying for economic control in the Eastern Mediterranean.  I will have to send Flipper a note to get him to join the discussion.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Vorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Apr-2009 at 22:37
What I find fascinating is the different way the island societies developed in the Aegean. If somebody vistis Cyclades and then Chios he will see totally different architecture etc.
The Ionian islands are a whole different story of course.


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