Lesvos History

Lesvos History
About the history of Lesvos island, Greece

An ancient myth connects Lesvos to the the famous lyre-player and singer Orpheus, whose music was moving every living soul on earth. The young musician was lived in Thrace and it was killed by some evil deities called the Furies, who got infuriated by the fact that Orpheus managed to touch them by his music. They cut his body in pieces and threw the pieces in Evros River. The waves brought the head and lyre of Orpheus to Lesvos. In a sign of devotion, the locals placed the head in the Temple of Apollo. Archaeological excavations have revealed that Lesvos has been inhabited since the Neolithic times and during the Bronze Age a very advanced civilization had already expanded.

The history of Lesvos starts in 1507 BC when it was settled by the Pelasgians, followed by the Achaeans in 1393 BC and by the Aeolians around 1100 BC. During the 7th century BC, the island became a centre of artistic and philosophical achievement and a great maritime power. In the 6th century BC, Lesvos was conquered by the Persians. In 479 BC, it was captured by the Athenians and became a member of the Delian League. In 334 BC, the island became a part of the Macedonian Empire and, after the death of Alexander the Great, fell under the rule of the Ptolemies. In 88 BC, the Romans occupied Lesvos and made it part of the Roman Empire.

After the fall of the empire, Saracen and Latins successively occupied the island which finally became a part of Byzantium in 1261. In 1354, Lesvos fell under the rule of the Genoese which lasted until 1460, when they were replaced by the Ottomans. In this period, two strong castles were constructed on the island, the Castle of Mytilene and the Castle of Molyvos. Later, a castle in Sigri was also built. Despite the Turkish slavery, the inhabitants of Lesvos cultivated their faith and hope for freedom. The monasteries and churches were turned into intellectual and revolutionary centres and secret schools were founded.

The marks of the Turkish rule remain vivid till today in Lesvos, as there are many mosques there. In 1824, the islanders revolted against their oppressors but the revolution was drowned in blood. n the 8th of November 1912, the island of Lesvos was liberated by the admiral Koundouriotis and his fleet. The Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, stated the union of the island with the rest of Greece.

Another important fact in the history of Lesvos was the year 1922, when the refugees of Asia Minor came to the island and gave a new economical and cultural flourishment to the local society. To honour the refugees, the authorities have created the statue of Asia Minor Mother in Mytilene. Lesvos was conquered for a last time by the Germans during World War II and was set free on the 10th of September 1944.

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