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Aegina

[ee-jahy-nuh, ih-jee-]

Aegina (Greek: Αίγινα (Egina)) is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece in the Saronic Gulf, 17 miles (30 km) from Athens. Tradition derives the name from Aegina, the mother of Aeacus, who was born in and ruled the island. During ancient times, Aegina was a rival to Athens, the great sea power of the era.

The island, along with offshore islets, comprises the Municipality of Aegina in Piraeus Prefecture, a part of the Attica region. The capital is the town of Aegina (pop. 7,410 in 2001 census), situated at the northwestern end of the island. Due to its proximity to Athens, it is a popular quick getaway during the summer months, with quite a few Athenians owning second houses on the island. Besides the town of Aegina, the largest other towns and villages on the island are Kypséli (pop. 1,949), Vathý (1,474), Mesagrós (682), Pérdika (682), Agía Marína (426), Vaïa (239), Álones (233), and Kontós (178).

Geography

Aegina is roughly triangular in shape, approximately 15 km (9 miles) from east to west and 10 km (6 miles) from north to south, with an area of about 87 km² (34 square miles).

An extinct volcano constitutes two thirds of Aegina . The northern and western side consist of stony but fertile plains, which are well cultivated and produce luxuriant crops of grain, with some cotton, vines, almonds, olives and figs, but the most characteristic crop of Aegina today (2000s) is pistachio. Economically, the sponge fisheries are of notable importance. The southern volcanic part of the island is rugged and mountainous, and largely barren. Its highest rise is the conical Mount Oros (531 m) in the south, and the Panhellenian ridge stretches northward with narrow fertile valleys on either side.

The beaches are also a popular tourist attraction. Hydrofoil ferries from Piraeus take only forty minutes to reach Aegina; the regular ferry takes about an hour, with ticket prices for adults within the 4-15 euro range. There are regular bus services from Aegina town to destinations throughout the island such as Agia Marina.

History

Prehistory

Prehistoric archaeological findings of settlements with obsidian tools points to an early inhabitation of the island.

Earliest history (2,000 - 7th century BC)

Mycenaean and Minoan influence

Aegina, according to Herodotus, was a colony of Epidaurus, to which state it was originally subject. Its placement between Attica and the Peloponnesus made it a center of trade even earlier, and its earliest inhabitant came from Asia Minor. Minoan ceramics have been found in contexts of ca. 2000 BC. The discovery in the island of a number of gold ornaments belonging to the latest period of Mycenaean art suggests the inference that the Mycenaean culture held its own in Aegina for some generations after the Dorian conquest of Argos and Lacedaemon. It is probable that the island was not doricized before the 9th century BC.

Political Alliances

One of the earliest historical facts is its membership in the League of Calauria (Calaurian Amphictyony, ca. 8th century BC), which included, besides Aegina, Athens, the Minyan (Boeotian) Orchomenus, Troezen, Hermione, Nauplia and Prasiae, and was probably an organization of city-states that were still Mycenaean, for the purpose of suppressing piracy in the Aegean that arose as a result of the decay of the naval supremacy of the Mycenaean princes.

Aegina appears to have belonged to the Eretrian league during the Lelantine War; hence, perhaps, we may explain the war with Samos, a leading member of the rival Chalcidian league in the reign of King Amphicrates (Herod. iii. 59), i.e. not later than the earlier half of the 7th century BC.

Rise as a sea power (6th - 5th century BC)

It follows, therefore, that the maritime importance of the island dates back to pre-Dorian times. It is usually stated on the authority of Ephorus, that Pheidon of Argos established a mint in Aegina. For example, Kydonia on Crete began minting coins by overstriking Aeginian specimens. Thus it was the Aeginetes who, within 30 or 40 years of the invention of coinage by the Lydians (c. 700 BC), introduced coinage to the western world. The fact that the Aeginetan scale of coins, weights and measures (developed in the mid-7th century) was one of the two scales in general use in the Greek world (the other being the Euboic-Attic) is sufficient evidence of the early commercial importance of the island.

During the naval expansion of Aegina during the Archaic Period, Kydonia was an ideal maritime stop for Aegina's fleet on its way to other Mediterranean ports controlled by the emerging sea-power Aegina. During the next century Aegina is one of the three principal states trading at the emporium of Naucratis, and it is the only state of European Greece that has a share in this factory. At the beginning of the 5th century it seems to have been an entrepôt of the Pontic grain trade, at a later date an Athenian monopoly

Unlike the other commercial states of the 7th and 6th centuries BC, such as Corinth, Chalcis, Eretria and Miletus, Aegina founded no colonies. The settlements to which Strabo refers (viii. 376) cannot be regarded as any real exceptions to this statement.

Rivalry with Athens (5th century BC)

The history of Aegina, as it has come down to us, is almost exclusively a history of its relations with the neighbouring state of Athens, which began to compete with the thalassocracy of Aegina at the beginning of the sixth century. Solon passed laws limiting Aeginetan commerce in Attica. The legendary history of these relations, as recorded by Herodotus (v. 79-89; vi. 49-51, 73, 85-94), involve critical problems of some difficulty and interest. He traces back the hostility of the two states to a dispute about the images of the goddesses Damia and Auxesia, which the Aeginetes had carried off from Epidauros, their parent state. The Epidaurians had been accustomed to make annual offerings to the Athenian deities Athena and Erechtheus in payment for the Athenian olive-wood of which the statues were made. Upon the refusal of the Aeginetes to continue these offerings, the Athenians endeavoured to carry away the images. Their design was miraculously frustrated – according to the Aeginetan version, the statues fell upon their knees – and only a single survivor returned to Athens, there to fall a victim to the fury of his comrades' widows, who pierced him with their brooch-pins. No date is assigned by Herodotus for this old feud; recent writers, e.g. J. B. Bury and R. W. Macan, suggest the period between Solon and Peisistratus, circa 570 BC. It may be questioned, however, whether the whole episode is not mythical. A critical analysis of the narrative seems to reveal little else than a series of aetiological traditions (explanatory of cults and customs, e.g. of the kneeling posture of the images of Damia and Auxesia, of the use of native ware instead of Athenian in their worship, and of the change in women's dress at Athens from the Dorian to the Ionian style.

The account which Herodotus gives of the hostilities between the two states in the early years of the 5th century BC is to the following effect. Thebes, after the defeat by Athens about 507 BC, appealed to Aegina for assistance. The Aeginetans at first contented themselves with sending the images of the Aeacidae, the tutelary heroes of their island. Subsequently, however, they entered into an alliance, and ravaged the sea-board of Attica. The Athenians were preparing to make reprisals, in spite of the advice of the Delphic oracle that they should desist from attacking Aegina for thirty years, and content themselves meanwhile with dedicating a precinct to Aeacus, when their projects were interrupted by the Spartan intrigues for the restoration of Hippias. In 501 BC Aegina was one of the states which gave the symbols of submission (earth and water) to Persia. Athens at once appealed to Sparta to punish this act of medism, and Cleomenes I, one of the Spartan kings, crossed over to the island, to arrest those who were responsible for it. His attempt was at first unsuccessful; but, after the deposition of Demaratus, he visited the island a second time, accompanied by his new colleague Leotychides, seized ten of the leading citizens and deposited them at Athens as hostages.

After the death of Cleomenes and the refusal of the Athenians to restore the hostages to Leotychides, the Aeginetans retaliated by seizing a number of Athenians at a festival at Sunium. Thereupon the Athenians concerted a plot with Nicodromus, the leader of the democratic party in the island, for the betrayal of Aegina. He was to seize the old city, and they were to come to his aid on the same day with seventy vessels. The plot failed owing to the late arrival of the Athenian force, when Nicodromus had already fled the island. An engagement followed in which the Aeginetans were defeated. Subsequently, however, they succeeded in winning a victory over the Athenian fleet. All the incidents subsequent to the appeal of Athens to Sparta are expressly referred by Herodotus to the interval between the sending of the heralds in 491 BC and the invasion of Datis and Artaphernes in 490 BC (cf. Herod. vi. 49 with 94). There are difficulties in this story, of which the following are the principal elements: – (i.) Herodotus nowhere states or implies that peace was concluded between the two states before 481 BC, nor does he distinguish between different wars during this period. Hence it would follow that the war lasted from shortly after 507 BC down to the congress at the Isthmus of Corinth in 481 BC (ii.) It is only for two years (490 and 491) out of the twenty-five that any details are given. It is the more remarkable that no incidents are recorded in the period between Marathon and Salamis, since at the time of the Isthmian Congress the war is described as the most important one then being waged in Greece (Herod. vii. 145). (iii.) It is improbable that Athens would have sent twenty vessels to the aid of the Ionians in 499 BC if at the time she was at war with Aegina. (iv.) There is an incidental indication of time, which points to the period after Marathon as the true date for the events which are referred by Herodotus to the year before Marathon, viz. the thirty years that were to elapse between the dedication of the precinct to Aeacus and the final victory of Athens (Herod. v. 89).

As the final victory of Athens over Aegina was in 458 B.C., the thirty years of the oracle would carry us back to the year 488 BC as the date of the dedication of the precinct and the outbreak of hostilities. This inference is supported by the date of the building of the 200 triremes for the war against Aegina on the advice of Themistocles, which is given in the Constitution of Athens as 483-482 BC (Herod. vii. 144; Ath. Pol. r2. 7). It is probable, therefore, that Herodotus is in error both in tracing back the beginning of hostilities to an alliance between Thebes and Aegina (c. 507 BC) and in putting the episode of Nicodromus before Marathon. Overtures were unquestionably made by Thebes for an alliance with Aegina c. 507 BC, but they came to nothing. The refusal of Aegina was veiled under the diplomatic form of sending the Aeacidae. The real occasion of the outbreak of the war was the refusal of Athens to restore the hostages some twenty years later. There was but one war, and it lasted from 488 to 481. That Athens had the worst of it in this war is certain. Herodotus had no Athenian victories to record after the initial success, and the fact that Themistocles was able to carry his proposal to devote the surplus funds of the state to the building of so large a fleet seems to imply that the Athenians were themselves convinced that a supreme effort was necessary. It may be noted, in confirmation of this view, that the naval supremacy of Aegina is assigned by the ancient writers on chronology to precisely this period, i.e. the years 490-480 (Eusebius, Chron. Can. p. 337).

Persian, Peloponnesian, & Corinthian wars

In the repulse of Xerxes I it is possible that the Aeginetans played a larger part than is conceded to them by Herodotus. The Athenian tradition, which he follows in the main, would naturally seek to obscure their services. It was to Aegina rather than Athens that the prize of valour at Salamis was awarded, and the destruction of the Persian fleet appears to have been as much the work of the Aeginetan contingent as of the Athenian (Herod. viii. 91). There are other indications, too, of the importance of the Aeginetan fleet in the Greek scheme of defence. In view of these considerations it becomes difficult to credit the number of the vessels that is assigned to them by Herodotus (30 as against 180 Athenian vessels, cf. Greek History, sect. Authorities). During the next twenty years the Philo-laconian policy of Cimon secured Aegina, as a member of the Spartan league, from attack. The change in Athenian foreign policy, which was consequent upon the ostracism of Cimon in 461, led to what is sometimes called the First Peloponnesian War, in which the brunt of the fighting fell upon Corinth and Aegina. The latter state was forced to surrender to Athens after a siege, and to accept the position of a subject-ally (c. 456 BC). The tribute was fixed at 30 talents.

By the terms of the Thirty Years' Truce (445 BC) Athens covenanted to restore to Aegina her autonomy, but the clause remained a dead letter. In the first winter of the Peloponnesian War (431 BC) Athens expelled the Aeginetans, and established a cleruchy in their island. The exiles were settled by Sparta in Thyreatis, on the frontiers of Laconia and Argolis. Even in their new home they were not safe from Athenian rancour.1 A force landed under Nicias in 424, and put most of them to the sword. At the end of the Peloponnesian War Lysander restored the scattered remnants of the old inhabitants to the island, which was used by the Spartans as a base for operations against Athens in the Corinthian War. Its greatness, however, was at an end. The part which it plays henceforward is insignificant.

Economic decline

It would be a mistake to attribute the fall of Aegina solely to the development of the Athenian navy. It is probable that the power of Aegina had steadily declined during the twenty years after Salamis, and that it had declined absolutely, as well as relatively, to that of Athens. Commerce was the source of Aegina's greatness, and her trade, which appears to have been principally with the Levant, must have suffered seriously from the war with Persia. Her medism in 491 is to be explained by her commercial relations with the Persian Empire. She was forced into patriotism in spite of herself, and the glory won by Salamis was paid for by the loss of her trade and the decay of her marine. The completeness of the ruin of so powerful a state – we should look in vain for an analogous case in the history of the modern world – finds an explanation in the economic conditions of the island, the prosperity of which rested upon a basis of slave-labour. It is impossible, indeed, to accept Aristotle's (cf. Athenaeus vi. 272) estimate of 470,000 as the number of the slave-population; it is clear, however, that the number must have been out of all proportion to that of the free inhabitants. In this respect the history of Aegina does but anticipate the history of Greece as a whole. The constitutional history of Aegina is unusually simple. So long as the island retained its independence the government was an oligarchy. There is no trace of the heroic monarchy and no tradition of a tyrannis. The story of Nicodromus, while it proves the existence of a democratic party, suggests, at the same time, that it could count upon little support.

Pericles called Aegina the eye-sore (leme) of the Peiraeus.

Roman rule

Aegina passed with the rest of Greece under the successive dominations of Macedon, the Aetolians, Attalus of Pergamum and Rome.

Byzantine period

Church construction activity in the 9th century AD provides evidence of a flourishing economy on the island before its eventual abandonment sometime in the second half of the ninth century as a consequence of Arab raids. 12th c. Emigration and the exactions of the Byzantine officials completed the tales of Michael Choniates in the late 12th century. In 1198, he addressed a memorial to the Emperor Alexios Komnenos III, on behalf of the Athenians, from which we learn that the city was free from the jurisdiction of the provincial governor, who resided at Thebes and who was not even allowed to enter the city, which like Patras and Monemvasia was governed by its own άρχοντες. Piracy Benedict of Peterborough gives a graphic account of Greece, as it was in 1191, that many of the islands were uninhabited from fear of pirates and that others were their chosen lairs. The islands of Aegina, Salamis and Makronesos were strongholds of corsairs. They injured the property of the Athenian Church and dangerously wounded the nephew of Michael Choniates, who found it almost impossible to collect the ecclesiastical revenues of Aegina. Most of the Aeginetan population had fled therefore, while those who remained had fraternized with the pirates. At the time of the Latin conquest most Greece was still nominally under the authority of the Byzantine Emperor. Continental Greece, from the Isthmus to the river Peneios in the north, and to Aetolia in the west, composed the «Θέμα Ελλάδος», which thus included Attica, Boeotia, Phokis, Lokris, part of Thessaly and the islands of Euboea and Aegina. This Theme was at the time administrated together with the Theme of Peloponnese by the same official.

The Franks and Venetians after 1204

Venetians took all the best harbors and markets in the Levant:

  • The Ionian Islands: Corfu, Cephalonia, Zante, Leukas
  • Oreos (north) and to the South, Karystos
  • Aegina, Salamis and the province of Sunium with the Cyclades
  • Crete

Aegina and its external history



All the commercial privileges, which they had enjoyed in the time of the Byzantine Empire should be continued to them. Burgundian Athens embraced Attica, Boeotia, the Megarid, the ancient Opuntian Lokris and the fortresses of Nauplia and Argos and at least 4 ports (Piraeus, Nauplia, Atalante, Livadostro (Corinth )). They did a little amateur piracy. Thebes was the capital.

  • Athens, Thebes, Peloponnese, Euboea

In 1225 Othon de la Roche departed for Burgundy, leaving his nephew Guy as Duke. For 50 years, Athens enjoyed peace, till a fratricidal war between Guillaume de Villeardouin (Prince of Achaia) and the great Barons of Euboea involved Guy, who took the side of the Barons. He became regent of Achaia after the end of it.

Guillaume de Villeardouin was captured by the Byzantines and when he was freed, he was accepted by the Duke of Athens in Thebes. There the Treaty of Thebes was signed between the Prince of Achaia, Venice and the Triarchs. William recognized Guglielmo da Verona, Narzotto dale Carceri and Grapella as Triarchs and they in turn recognized him as their suzerain and promised to destroy the Castle of Negroponte. Venice engaged to cancel all her fiefs by her Bailie since the death of Carintana.

When the Latin Empire of Constantinople fell, the Emperor Baldwin II spend time in the Duchy of Athens. Othon de Cicon, Lord of Karystos and Aegina came to attend him along with other lords. He had played so active a part in the Euboean war and had lent him 5000 Hyperpera in his sore need. Baldwin liquidated his dept to the baron of Karystos with an arm of St. John the Baptist, which the pious Othon subsequently presented to the Burgundian Abbey of Citeaux.

John (son of Guy) got involved in the war of Thessaly and Constantinople. He helped the Sevastokrator of Thessaly Ioannes I` Angelos against Emperor Michael VIII and he wan the imperial army. As a reward he took Ioannes’ daughter, Helena, as a bride for his younger brother William and he extended his influence as far as north as Thessaly. At a battle at Negroponte he was caught prisoner by the Greeks and was carried to Constantinople. Michael took ransom. A year later (1280) he died.

William (Guy’s brother) reigned the next 7 years as the leading figure of Frankish Greece. [The Angevin Kings of Naples had become overlords of Achaia by the treaty of Viterbo.] He spent money on the defense of Peloponnese and Euboea.

Helena Angelina (William’s Greek wife) left to rule after William’s death. She married his brother-in-law Hugh de Brienne. Helena's son Guy II, at the ceremony of his coming of age and becoming Duke of Athens (1294), made Bonifate of Verona a knight and as a reward for his service, he gave him 13 castles on the mainland and Salamis (to bring him in revenue 50,000 sols ) and he bestowed the hand of Agnes de Cicon (daughter of Othon de Cicon), cousin of the Duke of Athens, lady of Euboea, Karystos (was at the time in the hands of Greeks) and Aegina. Attica now for the first time supplies Euboea with corn. Guy II died in 1308.

Walter de Brienne (Count of Lecce ) became the new Duke. He thought he might use the coming Catalans against the Duke of Thessaly (Ioannes II`), who made alliance with the Despot of Epeiros and the Emperor. The Catalans won but at the end turned against their employer and occupied the regions from Thessaly to Athens (1311). Only four survived: Boniface of Verona, Roger Deslaur, the eldest son of the Duke of Naxos and Jean de Maisy (άρχοντας of Euboea).

The Catalans in Aegina (1311-1451)

The Catalan company annexed to Attica and Boeotia the Duchy of Neopatras, including part of Thessaly, while Catalan lords held the castles of Salona and Karystos and the island of Aegina. The Company needed a leader and they offered the post to Boniface, but he refused. Then they turned to Roger Deslaur, who accepted for a while. King Frederick II of Sicily sent as their Duke his (bastard) son Manfred Fadrigo. He was among the Principal Catalans in 1335 and he died in 1338 leaving castles to his sons: His second son, Don Jaime, succeeded his elder brother (or cousin?) Don Pedro in his estates, held for a time the island of Aegina—because the people of the island rebelled against him—and became later on vicar-general of the Company.

Yet another son, Bonifacio, inherited Karystos and Lamia and received from Don Jaime, with certain reservations, Aegina, thereby reuniting the old possessions of his namesake and grandfather, Bonifacio da Verona. [The island of Salamis seems to have been subdued by the Greeks and paid taxes to the Byzantine governor of Monemvasia.]

Administration

The feudal system continued to exist, but not anymore under the Assizes, but under the Customs of Barcelona. And the official common language was now Catalan and not French. Fiefs of the Duchies of Athens and Neopatras (over the last years)

  • Κομητεία Δημητριάδος
  • Μαρκιονεία Βοδονίτσης
  • Κομητεία Σαλώνων

Count Ludwig Fadrique (1365-1381) was master of Lidoriki and Zetouni and later of Siderokastron (Delphoi) and Aegina.

  • Αυθεντεία Σιδηροκάστρου

Stefan Melissenos (1318-1333) => Othon de Novelles, marshal of the Duke, husband of Stefan’s sister => Count Ludwig Fadrique (1365-1381) => Maria Fadrique Cantacouzena (1382-1384?)

  • Αυθεντεία Αιγίνης
  • Αυθεντεία Στειρίου (Φωκίδα)
  • Αυθεντείαι Καρδίτσης και Αταλάντης
  • Αυθεντεία Καπραίνης (Χαιρώνεια)
  • Αυθεντεία Estanyol

Chief-officials = vicar-general , marshal in Thebes. Always chosen from the ranks of the Company and particularly from the house of de Novelles since 1363. Soon both offices were represented by one man, beginning at 1368 with Roger de Lluria. They minted no coins and they had no ducal Aula. Each city and district—on the example of Sicily—had its own local governor (veguer, castellano, capitan), whose term of office was fixed at 3 years and who was nominated by the Duke, the vicar or the local representatives. The principal towns and villages were represented by the sindici, which had their own councils and officers. Judges and notaries were elected for life or even as inherited offices. The Catalan state was declining under the Turkish and the Venetian (of Negroponte) threats; and also a new threat by Nerio Acciajuoli, Baron of Corinth.

  • Frederick II sent his son Don Alfonso Fadrique as “President of the fortunate army of Franks in the Duchy of Athens. He married Marulla of Euboea, the heiress of Boniface and so received back everything that Guy II had given to her father. The Venetians renewed their truce with the Catalans. In 1355, he became also King of Sicily by the title of Frederick III.
  • Frederick III dies in 1377. The Navarrese Company makes its appearance till the early 1380s.
  • Problems with people of Athens and Salona wanting independence. Livadia—always a privileged town in the Catalan period—received confirmation of its rights by Pedro IV (king of Aragon and new Duke of Athens) and became the seat of the Order of St. George in Greece, an honor due to the fact that the head of the saint was then preserved there.
  • In 1380, Thebes and Livadia were still in the hands of the Navarrese. Don Louis Fadrique begged the king to bestow him and his heirs the dignity of Counts of Malta, to confirm to him the castle of Siderokastron, the island of Aegina and any castles, which he might be able to recover from the Navarrese and their allies before the arrival of the new vicar-general. The king, conscious to the Count of Salona’s services, granted all these requests and received the envoy’s homage. Then he notified his subjects his intention to send Rocaberti to govern them.
  • Rocaberti arrived in Athens in autumn of 1380. Louis Fadrique and Galcerán de Peralta handed over their office to him. His instructions were:
    • to establish friendly relations with all the neighbouring potentates
    • to grant a general amnesty in his master's name to all the inhabitants of the duchies
    • to reward those who had been conspicuous of their loyalty to the King
    • to restore to the rebel branch of the Fadrique clan all the castles and goods which they had forfeited. Among these was the classic island of Aegina, which thus came to hands of Boniface's son, John.
    • to grant exemption from taxes for 2 years to all Greeks and Albanians who would come and settle in the depleted duchies. He wanted to cover the gaps in the population cause of the invasion of the Navarrese Company.
    • At the request of the people of Livadia, he established in their town, where the head of St. George was preserved, a branch of the Order of that Saint. He privately ordered Rocaberti to bring the relic of the Saint to Spain, an order never executed.

Caopena in Aegina

The Catalan company disappeared from the face of Attica, while 2 branches of the Fadrique family lingered on for a time, the one at Salona, the other at Aegina, where we find their connections, the family of Caopena, ruling till 1451. From John Fadrique, it passed—presumably by the marriage of his daughter—to the family of Caopena, then settled at Nauplia, whose name undoubtedly points to a Catalan origin. The Catalans conveyed the head of St. George and thence the Venetians found it in Aegina when they became possessed of the island and transported it to Venice—to the church of St. Giorgio Maggiore—in 1462. In 1425, Alioto Caopena, at that time ruler of Aegina, placed himself with treaty under the protection of Venice in order to escape the danger of a Turkish raid. The island must then have been fruitful, for one of the conditions under which Venice accorded him her protection, was that he should supply corn her colonies. He agreed to surrender the island to Venice if his family became extinct. Antonio Acciajuoli was against the treaty for one of his adopted daughters had married the future lord of Aegina, Antonello Caopena.

Venetians in Aegina (1451-1537)

In 1451, Aegina became Venetian. The islanders welcomed the Venetian rule; the claims of Antonello’ s uncle Arnà, who had lands in Argolis, were satisfied by a pension. A Venetian governor (rettore) was appointed, who was dependent on the authorities of Nauplia. After Arnà's death, his son Alioto renewed his claim to the island but was told that the republic was firmly resolved to keep it. He and his family were pensioned and one of them aided in the defence of Aegina against the Turks, in 1537, was captured with his family and died in a Turkish dungeon.

Ιn 1463 came the Turco-Venetian war, which was destined to cost the Venetians: Aegina, Myconos, the Northern Sporades and their colonies in Morea. Peace was concluded in 1479. Venice still retained: Lepanto, Nauplia, Monemvasia, Coron, Modon, Navarino, Northern Sporades, Crete, Myconos and Tenos. Aegina remained subject of Nauplia.

Administration Aegina obtained money for her defences by the unwilling sacrifice of her cherished relic, the head of St. George, which had been carried there from Livadia by the Catalans. In 1462, the Venetian Senate ordered the relic to be removed to St. Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. On 12 November, it was transported from Aegina, by Vettore Cappello, the famous Venetian commander. The Senate gave the Aeginetans 100 ducats apiece towards fortifying the island.

In 1519, the government was reformed. The system of having two rectors was found to lead in frequent quarrels and the republic thenceforth sent out a single official styled Bailie and Captain, assisted by two councilors, who performed the duties of camerlengo by turns. The Bailie’ s authority extended over the rector of Aegina, whereas Kastri (opposite Hydra) had been granted to two families, the Palaiologoi and the Alberti.

A democratic wave passed over the colony. Society at Nauplia was divided into 3 classes: nobles, citizens and plebeians; and it had been the ancient usage that the nobles alone should hold the much-coveted local offices, such as the judge of the inferior court ad inspector of weights and measures. The populace now demanded its share and the Home Government ordered that at least one of the 3 inspectors should be a man of the people.

Aegina had always been exposed to the raids of the corsairs and was cursed with oppressive governors during these last 30 years of Venetian rule. Venetian nobles weren't willing to go to this island. In 1533, three rectors of Aegina were punished for their acts of injustice and we have a graphic account of the reception given by the Aeginetans to the captain of Nauplia, who came to hold and enquiry into the administration of these delinquents. [Vid. Inscription over the entrance of St. George the Catholic in Paliachora.] The rectors had spurned their ancient right to elect islander to keep one key of the money-chest. They had also threatened to leave the island in a body with the commissioner, unless the captain avenged their wrongs. In order to spare the pockets of the community, it was ordered that appeals from the governor’ s decision should lie to Crete, instead of Venice. The republic should pay a bakshish to the Turkish governor of the Morea and to the Voevode who was stationed at the frontier of Thermisi (opposite Hydra). The fortifications too, were allowed to fall into despair and were inadequately guarded.

  • 16th Century

After the fall of the Duchy of Athens and the principality of Achaia, the only Latin possessions left on the mainland of Greece were the papal city of Monemvasia, the fortress of Vonitsa, the Messenian stations Coron and Modon, Navarino, the castles of Argos and Nauplia, to which the island of Aegina was subordinate, Lepanto and Pteleon.

In 1502/03, the new peace left Venice with nothing but Cephalonia, Monemvasia and Nauplia, with their appurtenances in the Morea. And against the sack of Megara, she had to set the temporary capture of the castle of Aegina by Kemal Reis and the carrying off of 2000 Aeginetans. This treaty was renewed in 1513 and 1521. All the supplies of corn of Nauplia and Monemvasia had now to be imported from the Turkish possessions, while corsairs rendered dangerous all traffic by sea. In 1537, Suleyman the Magnificent declared war upon Venice and his admiral Khairedin Barbarossa spread fire and sword upon the Ionian Islands and in October fell upon the island of Aegina. On the 4th day Palaiochora fell, but the church of St George (Latin church) was spared. He massacred all the adult male population and took away 6000 women and children as slaves. So complete was the destruction of the Aeginetans, that when a French admiral, Baron de Blancard, touched the island soon afterwards, he found it devoid of inhabitants. There, as usual, an Albanian immigration replenished, at least to some extent, the devastated sites, but Aegina couldn’t recover its former prosperity. Thence Barbarossa sailed to Naxos, whence he carried off an immense booty, compelling the Duke of Naxos to purchase his further independence by a tribute of 5000 ducats.

With the peace of 1540, Venice ceded Nauplia and Monemvasia. For nearly 150 years after, Venice did not own an inch of soil on the mainland of Greece, except the Ionian dependencies of Parga and Butrinto, but of her insular dominions Cyprus, Crete, Tenos and 6 Ionian islands still remained.

Ottoman Turks (1540-1687)

  • First desolation of the island by Morosini (1654)
  • Second desolation of the island by Morosini and occupation of Aegina (1687). Siege of Athens (1688) and plague led to the escape of the Athenians to Aegina.

The Venetian revival (1687-1715)

In 1684, the outbreak of war between Venice and the Ottoman Empire led to the temporary re-conquest of a large part of the country by the soldiers of the West and the reappearance of the lion of St. Mark in the South of Greece.

Occupation of Attica by Morosini

In 1687 the Venetian army arrived in Piraeus and took command of Attica. The number of the Athenians at that time exceeded 6000, the Albanians from the villages of Attica excluded, and whilst in 1674 the population of Aegina did not seem to exceed 3000 inhabitants, 2/3 of which were women. The Aeginetans had been led to seediness to pay their taxes. The most significant plague epidemic though began in Attica in 1688, an occasion that caused the massive migration of all the Athenians toward south; most of them settled in Aegina. In 1693 Morosini resumed the command, but his only acts were to refortify the castle of Aegina, which he had demolished during the Cretan war in 1655, the cost of upkeep being paid, as long as the war lasted, by the Athenian, and to place it and Salamis under Malipiero as Governor. This led the Athenians to send him a request for the renewal of Venetian protection and an offer of an annual tribute. He died in 1694 and Zeno was appointed at his place. In 1699, thanks to the English mediation, the war ended with the peace of Carlovitz by which Venice retained possession of the 7 Ionian islands, Butrinto and Parga, Morea, Spinalonga and Suda, Tenos, Santa Maura and Aegina and ceased to pay a tribute for Zante, but restored to Sultan Lepanto. The burden of having to contribute to the maintenance of Cerigo and Aegina, both united administratively with the Morea since the peace, the peninsula not only paid all the expenses of administration, but furnished a substantial balance to the naval defence of Venice, in which it was directly interested.

  • Ottoman Turks (1715-1770)
  • Russians (1770-1772)
  • Ottoman Turks (1772-1821)

After the Greek revolution of 1821, in the year 1828 Aegina becomes for 2 years the first capital of the new Greek State, under the Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias.

Landmarks

  • Temple of Aphaea, dedicated to its namesake, a goddess which was later associated with Athena; the temple was part of a pre-Christian, equilateral holy triangle of temples including the Athenian Parthenon and the temple of Poseidon at Sounion.
  • Monastery of Agios Nectarios, dedicated to Saint Nectarios, a recent saint of the Greek Orthodox Church. Aegina is said to have 365 churches because its inhabitants were constantly attacked by pirates as the island was too close to Athens therefore a primary target.
  • Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first leader of free modern Greece (1776-1831) had a large building erected intended for a barracks, which was subsequently used as a museum, a library and a school. The museum was the first institution of its kind in Greece, but the collection was transferred to Athens in 1834. A statue in the principal square commemorates him.

Culture

Mythology

In Greek mythology, Aegina was a daughter of the river god Asopus and the nymph Metope. She bore at least two children: Menoetius by Actor, and Aeacus by Zeus. When Zeus abducted Aegina, he took her to Oenone, an island close to Attica. This island would later be called Aegina. Here, Aegina gave birth to Aeacus, who would later become king of Oenone; henceforth, the island's name Aegina.

Aegina is the gathering place of Myrmidons, in Aegina they gathered and they trained. Zeus needed an elite army and at first thought that Aegina who at the time did not have any villagers was the perfect place. So he turned the ants (Μυρμύγκια, Myrmigia) into warriors who had 6 hands and wore black armors. Later on Myrmidons were known as the most fearsome fighting unit in Greece led by Achilles.

Famous Aeginetans

The influential Leoussi family has originated from the isle of Aigina and their roots go as far as the 15th century.

Historical population

Year Town population Change Municipal/Island population Change Density
1981 6,730 - 11,127 - 127.3/km²
1991 6,373 -357/-5.30% 11,639 +512/+4.60% 133.2/km²
2001 7,410 +1,037/+16.27% 13,552 +1,913/+16.44% 155.0/km²

Communities and villages

References

Notes

  • Welter Gabriel, Aigina, Archäol. Inst. d. Deutschen Reiches, Berlin 1938.
  • Miller William, Essays on the Latin orient, Rome 1921 (reprint: Amsterdam 1964).
  • Miller William, «Η Παληαχώρα της Αιγίνης. Ηρημωμένη ελληνική πόλις», Νέος Ελληνομνήμων Κ΄ (1926), p.363-365.
  • Rubio y Lluch A., «Συμβολαί εις την ιστορίαν των Καταλωνίων εν Ελλάδι», Δελτίον της Ιστορικής και Εθνολογικής Εταιρείας της Ελλάδος Β΄(1885), p.458-466.
  • Lambros Spyridon ed., Έγγραφα αναφερόμενα εις την μεσαιωνικήν ιστορίαν των Αθηνών, Athens 1906.
  • D’ Olwer Nic., Les seigneurs Catalans d’ Egine, τόμος εις μνήμην του Σπυρίδωνος Λάμπρου, Athens 1935.
  • Koulikourdi Georgia, Αίγινα, 2 vols., Athens 1990.
  • Moutsopoulos Nikolaos, Η Παλιαχώρα της Αιγίνης. Ιστορική και μορφολογική εξέτασις των μνημείων, Athens 1962.
  • Nikoloudis Nikolaos, "Η Αίγινα κατά τον Μεσαίωνα και την Τουρκοκρατία", Βυζαντινός Δόμος 7(1993-4), p.13-21.
  • Pennas Charalambos, The Byzantine Aegina, Athens 2004.

External links

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