HISTORY OF KEFALONIA

Trip Start May 25, 2009
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Trip End Sep 30, 2009


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Saturday, September 26, 2009

                                         HISTORY OF THE ISLAND



According to Homer, Kefalonia and Ithaca used to compromise, along with Zakynthos, Lefkada and part of continental Acarnania the realm of the sea-fearing, resourceful, much afflicted Odysseus.  It is an endless apotheosis emerging from awesome panoramic images that have marked an intense historic course in the wake of ages.

The above islands experienced their highest peak of development during the Mycenean Period in terms of great cultural and social progress, while their inhabitants were becoming great seafarers following the example of daring Odysseus. Ithaca, the capital of the "Kefallenes" State is mentioned to in Homer's Iliad for the first time, a significant station of commerce both for Continental Greece and Corinth, was one of the most powerful states during this era. 



During classical times Kefalonia was divided into four administrative units, today’s provinces of Krani, Sami, Pali and Pronni, which are called a “tetrapolis” (four –state) by the historian Thucidides. 

These were the names of the four sons of the hero Kefalus, from whom Kefalonia was named after, according to the most prevalent opinion. 



During the Doric Period as well as throughout the historical years, there was a succession of wars, compelling the islands to be fortified by impressive castle walls.  Eventually, Ithaca ceased to be the centre of power, and was attached to Kefalonia while, at the same time, a period of decadence followed which was continued – as it is also the case for the other islands in the Ionian – with the Roman domination, when became “part of an unofficial Roman protectorate in Western Greece”.



During the Byzantine Period intolerably heavy taxes were imposed on its inhabitants, while at the same time violent piratical raids were launched against the island. Years of conquest by various European races then ensued. 
Under the Normans, Kefalonia was appointed the islands administrative centre with the Byzantine Citadel of Saint George, today’s Castro (castle).



After  Franc and Venetian occupations, the island was raided by the Turks, who caused huge disasters.  The Venetian sovereignty characterized by intense class differences, which is a milestone of the island’s history commenced in 1500.  From then until 1797 Kefalonia had been converted into a strategic nerve point for the Venetian fleet.


The capital was eventually transferred to Argostoli in 1757.  The island would pass thenceforward to the republican French, who were welcomed by its inhabitants as liberators.  Despite the conquests and the tempests they suffered, the islands would show a remarkable financial and intellectual development.



After the French who had modernized the islands administration, the territory passed successively to the Russian Turks.  In 1809, British sovereignty commenced under the Swiss commander Philip de Bosset. 



The famous Drapanos stone bridge, which connects Argostoli to the opposite coast, was constructed in 1813. The treaty subjecting the islands to British protection under the name “The United  States of the Ionian Islands” was signed in 1815. 



The first public buildings and many infrastructure projects would be constructedunder the English governor Sir Charles Napier, who was the only one to remain in peoples memory as a friend of the Greeks.  It was during that same period when Lord Byron visited Kefalonia as the representative and president of the Liberation Committee in Greece.



Cephalenes’ contribution to the Greek Revolution in 1821 is peak being the battle in Lala, was significant.  Kefalonia along with the other Ionian islands was joined with the rest of Greece in 1864, after tremendous struggle and has since kept pace with the fate of the Greek State. 



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