Folegandros History

Folegandros History
About the history of Folegandros island, Greece

Prehistoric times

Historians believe that the name Folegandros derived from the son of Minos, the former king of Crete. The claim of historians is supported by the discovery of ancient coins issued by the local municipality revealing the image of Folegandros stamped on the coins. The island of Folegandros served as an asylum for those who were banished from the island of Crete. There is another school of thought regarding the name of the island, believing that the name Folegrandos is derived from a Phoenecian word meaning a rock-strewn land, which is exactly what the island is.

The history of Folegandros starts in the Prehistoric times. The Cares from Asia Minor were the first inhabitants of the island. Then came the Cretans who ruled the island with emperor Folegandros at the helm. After the Cretans, it was the turn of the Dorians to follow. Archaeologists have found evidence of this by way of inscriptions that were unearthed from here. This is perhaps one of the principal reasons why Folegandros did not take part in the 1st Athenian Alliance which was held way back in 478 B.C.

Ancient times

Archaeologists have unearthed an inscription revealing that Folegandros island paid to the city of Athens an annual tax, which was valued at 2,000 Attican drachmas and not 1,000 drachmas that Sikinos was paying. This signifies that the island was very much dependent on Athens. During this time, the inhabitants of the island worshipped Artemis and Apollo. In fact, there are remains of a sanctuary of Artemis in Chora. The coins unearthed on Folegandros are made of copper and date back to the 3rd and 2nd century B.C. On one side, the coins portray the figure of Folegadros while on the other there is an image of a bull engraved.

In 338 B.C. Phillip II, the father of Alexander the Great, captured Athens. Later on, all the principal islands of Greece came under the rule of Macedonia. Sometimes during the 1st century B.C., when the Romans reigned supreme in Greece, they made Folegandros a place where they banished people for exile.

Byzantine period

Regrettably, not much historical information is available on the eventful Byzantine period, which lasted for 800 years. Historians are of the opinion that the entire island was in a state of oblivion. Historians and archaeologists have been able to come with the information that until 1636 Folegandros was exarchate of the esteemed Patriarchy and since then it was an integral part of the Archbishop of Sifnos. Constantinople was captured by the Franks in the year 1204 and the Venetians made their entry into Cyclades. The former Venetian emperor Markos Sanoudos captured the Aegean islands and set up the Archipelago. Folegandros was also included in this Archipelago. Emperor Sanoudos ruled over the islands with humility and political wisdom. He offered religious freedom to his citizens and made sure he had won their trust.

Later on, Admiral Likarios abolished the decree of Sanoudos on the island. Emperor Likarios after differing in his opinion with his loyalists, he made an alliance with emperor Michael VII Palaiologos, who was instrumental in capturing Constantinople from the powerful Latins. Miszil was the person commanding the army operations and Likarios with his shrewd approach was able to separate Ios, Sikinos, Folegandros as well as Sifnos from the Duchy of Naxos. The islands did not last long with the Byzantines, as in the year 1307 the marauding Spaniard Giannouli Dakoronia conquered all of them. Dakoronia held the islands captive till the year 1464 when the Gozadinians attacked and captured them. During this period the island of Folegandros was subject to wave after wave of Turkish assault, and finding no other alternative, the island was abandoned by its inhabitants.

Medieval times

Following the capture of Constantinople in the year 1453, the Franks had to endure a lot of difficulty in the Aegean. With a view to dethrone the Venetians from the islands, the Sultan and France signed a treaty in the year 1536.

The Turks were well served by admiral Varvarosa, and only those islands that weren't ruled by the Venetians survived while the rest were plundered by Varvarosa army.The islands of Folegandros, Sikinos, Kimolos, as well Kithnos were secured. This is why the Gozadinon dynasty had ruled the island for forty long years. In the year 1617 the dynasty was banished by the Franks and the Turks once again ruled the island. It is to be noted that Folegandros paid taxes to Kapetan Passa. In the year 1715 Kapoudan Passas Tzanoum Hotza, attacked Folegandros and enslaved the majority of the residents as a vengeance primarily for the tacit support of some of its inhabitants with the pirates that plundered the neighboring islands.

During the Turkish rule, the consuls of the Grand Forces were stationed in the island, too. The consul of France, Georgakis Stais, in the year 1770 reportedly held both the offices of the sovereign as well as the commander. or four years The Turkish rule was broken up in 1770 at the time of the Russian - Turkish war. A treaty was signed between Turkey and Russia and accordingly the islands were returned back to Turkey.

Recent years

It was in the year 1828, after many fights of the inhabitants, that Folegandros was set free from the Turkish rule and was integrated to the rest of Greece. Folegandros used to be the place of exile for political prisoners from 1900 to 1970. The exiled prisoners were involved in useful works and they established cordial relationship with the local residents. The political prisoners were experts in wood carving and often would participate in the local fairs and festivals of the island. The history of Folegandros counts on many events and findings from the ancient to modern times.

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