Andros History

Andros History
About the history of Andros island, Greece

Prehistoric period

The rich history of Andros can be traced back to antiquity where the island was known as Gavros. It was also called Hydroussa, Epagris and Lasia, based on poetic designations referring to the abundant waters and rich vegetation of the Island. Archaeological excavations and the finding of remains of developed settlements have proved that the island was inhabited during the Mycenaean times or even earlier. Its earliest inhabitants are supposed to have been Carians, Pelasgians, Phoenicians, Cretans, while in 1000 BC, Andros got colonized by the Ionians.

During the Geometric period (9th-7th centuries BC), the island became historically recognised. Traces of a Geometric settlement have been found in the village of Zagora, at the south-western side of the island. A considerable part of the old town has been unearthed as well as private dwellings, a sanctuary, a temple, a fortification wall that have a gate built with similar techniques to those used on the Lion gate in Mycenae.

The second half of the 8th century BC was the period of the island's greatest prosperity. During the 7th century BC, Andros participated with the Halkideans to the colonization of Halkidiki as well as the coastal areas of Trace Northern Greece. Up to the 6th century BC, Andros became an independent city-state belonging to the ancient Amphictyony of Delos. The god of wine and festivities, Dionysus, was worshiped as patron of the island. The inhabitants spoke the Ionian dialect.

Ancient times

During the Classical times, the capital of Andros was Paleopolis, whose prosperity is proved by the discovery of 60 silver and bronze coins of the Andriot state as well as by the sunken remains of an ancient agora (market) and the remains of the western part of the wall surrounding the capital. During the Persian Wars, Andros went under Persian domination until the naval Battle of Salamis (480 BC). Then it fell under Athenian domination, paying taxes and forced to send men to fight in the Peloponnesian War. After the war, Andros stayed under the dominance of Sparta, the winner of the war, and was liberated by the Athenians in 393 BC. Later on the island participated and distinguished itself in the battle of Chaeroneia, in 338 BC.

After the battle of Chaeroneia, the island of Andros came under the rule of Philip the Macedonian and afterwards under his son's rule, Alexander the Great. Andros stayed under Macedonian domination until 315 BC. The successors of Alexander the Great were hostile one to another and could not come to a fair separation of the lands, which leaded to a successive conquest of the island by some Egyptian and Macedonian kings. The situation resulted in important changes in the political system, cults and customs. Andros followed the same fate as the other Aegean islands and continental Greece, consecutively falling under Roman, Venetian and Ottoman domination.

Byzantine times

Andros fell under the Roman rule in 129 BC. Pirates and civil wars between Roman governors made the inhabitants of Andros suffer from poverty, while they were badly maltreated. With the years of Emperor Hadrian, their fate became a little better. In the early Byzantine times, the island became property of a Byzantine drungarius (military rank) of the Aegean Sea. Many Byzantine churches and monasteries have been preserved since that period.

Venetian times

Constantinople fell to the Crusaders in 1204 AD and Andros came under the rule of Marino Dandolo, a direct emissary from Venice. Three years later, Dandolo recognised the sovereignty of the duke of Naxos, Marco Sanudo. Later, the Sanudo family took the power and the rule of the island until 1384, when Petro Zeno was brought as the ruler of Andros by Francesco Crispo. This new leader was the most effective one, bringing security, financial and demographic strength to the island.

In the middle of the 15th century, the Somaripa family of Paros took the island, but the inhabitants chased them because of the great oppression they exercised on the island. They created a provisional government which came directly under Turkish rule in 1579. The Venetians leaders laid the foundations of feudalism on the island, which influenced the society of Andros for a long time. They built mansions and castles, such as Faneromeni Castle, and at this time, the basis for the prosperity in the area was the silkworm trade.

Ottoman occupation

The inhabitants of Andros had more privileges than other islands. The Turkish authorities were forbidden of treating badly the islanders or of forcing them to convert to Islam. Some taxes were abolished and property titles or contracts were recognised by the rulers. The inhabitants could wear their local costumes, follow their religion and preserve their churches and monasteries. Of course, the head tax and other taxes as well as some violations of the privileges still existed, but the occupation of the locals with trade brought much income to the Ottoman Empire. At the church of Agia Triada, in Korthi, a school was founded in 1813 by the monk Samuel Plasimis, a little before the Greek War of Independence.

Recent years

Before the Greek Revolution of 1821, 37 Andriots were members of the Society of Friends, a secret society working against the Ottoman rule and from which most members were coming from the Greek islands. Theofilos Kairis proclaimed officially the War of Independence on the 10th of May 1821, raising the flag of the Revolution in the church of Agios Georgios in Chora. The period following the Revolution was also when Andros entered in a great economic prosperity by its superiority in shipping. Its inhabitants were living in great prosperity and wealth.

During 1923 and 1930, Andros was only second to Piraeus regarding ship registration, and the second port of Greece. But World War II caused great losses in human lives and ships, as well as the period of the Italian and the German occupation, during which Hora was bombed and some of the most beautiful mansions of Andros were destroyed. Mass migration was a characteristic of the modern times in Andros.

In the 19th century, a lot of the inhabitants moved to cosmopolitan centres, like Constantinople, Smyrna, Alexandria, and developing centres, like Piraeus and Ermoupolis, in Syros. In the early 20th century, the migration wave was directed towards the US and Canada.After the war, the population of Andros rapidly abandoned the island, headed to the capital for higher studies and jobs in new sectors. The history of Andros can be traced back in the neolithic period.

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