Kefalonia




The past

Being at the crossroads of all communications from the times of the ancient world, the history of the island is very rich in events. All movements of civilizations directly or indirectly affected Kefalonia (Cephalonia). On one side of the historical spectrum - wars, heavy sieges, occupations, theft of residents in slavery. On the other - an extraordinary flowering of crafts and arts: music, dance, painting, architecture, and literature filling up the already rich culture of the whole Hellas. In more recent times, after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the cultural potential of provinces of the Ionian Islands of Greece (Corfu, Lefkos, Zakynthos, and Kefalonia) was still preserved during fat fest of swelling Venetian banking houses lasting on these ruins about 300 years. Be as it may, Kefalonia (Cephalonia) can be called a hothouse of many cultures, which have left an indelible mark on the island.

A short history of the ancient world and the Middle Ages.

Archaeological discoveries in various parts of Kefalonia (Cephalonia) suggest that the first settlement on the island appeared about 10,000 years ago.

The highest flowering of civilization in Kefalonia in ancient times was in the Mycenaean period, from 1500 to 1100 BC, as evidenced by the rich archaeological excavations of burials in Levathos, Mazarakata, Metaksata, Paliki, and Kontogenada.

Describing the time of Odysseus (12th century BC), three islands were called by Homer as Kefalonia: Dolihion, Eliessa, and Sami. As already stated above, according to the same mythology, Cephalus exiled from Athens on the right of the conqueror became the ruler of the tribe of tafits that inhabited the south-western tip of Kefalonia, now called Paliki. Later, almost according to the King Lear story sung by Shakespeare, Cephalus divided his kingdom among his four successors. According to the tradition of ancient Greece, these four parts became autonomous democracies.

The information about Kefalonia at a time of the Roman and Byzantine empires is very scarce and fragmentary. In fact, the only mention dates back to 886-912 AD, when Kefalonia became the seat of the Byzantine governor in the Ionian islands.

26 years after the occupation of the British Isles by William the Conqueror, i.e. in 1082, on Kefalonia the Norman presence was noticed. The administrative center of the island was in Peratata (Levathos), in the castle of St. George, and the port - on the territory of the present city of Argostoli.

In 1479, the Seljuk Turks invaded Kefalonia, but twenty-one years later, on December 24, 1500 the Venetians captured the castle and the island was controlled by them the following 300 years. The Venetian rule on Kefalonia had a strong influence on the culture, business management, and architecture. In the place of a natural bay that was used primarily by the Normans, the town of Argostoli was founded in 1528 and in 1534 – the town of Lixouri. The status of the capital of Argostoli originates from 1757, i.e. from the moment of the transfer of the Venetian governor residence from the castle of St. George to Argostoli.

Kefalonia’s nature precluded the development of large farming and in that context the islanders relied on commercial shipping and logistics.

Napoleon, who set the beginning of the military redrawing of the European borders, abolished the Venetian state in 1797. As a result of it, over the next 18 years in a succession of wars, the Ionian islands were alternately ruled by the French, Russians, Turks, and Brits. After the final defeat of the Napoleon`s army, according to the results of 1815 Vienna Congress and the Paris Convention and the Code adopted there, the islands had the status of a sovereign formation with a great name "United States of the Ionian islands". Nevertheless, such "independence" was ensured by a direct Britain’s "patronage" through the British governor.

As you can see, the enumeration of all applicants to lay their hand of the islands is quite voluminous. Whatever it was, they all passed away through the "fault" of freedom-loving, active, and brave islanders, not reconciled to the life in a “draught” of someone`s desires.



Kefalonia
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