Paxi History

Paxi History
About the history of Paxi island, Greece

The legend says that Paxi was formed when Poseidon hit Corfu with his trident, which caused its southern tip to come off and form this small island. After this, Paxi become his favourite refugee, because there he could hide his secret romance with the nymph Amphytrite. When it comes to real historical facts, the island of Paxi has been inhabited from the prehistoric times. It is believed that the first settlers were Phoenicians. Since then, it went through several foreign occupations.

The history of Paxi is much related to the island of Corfu, due to their closeness. During the Peloponnesian War, the united fleet of Paxi and Corfu fought on the side of the Corinthians. In 31 BC, this small island was the refugee of Antonio and Cleopatra, before the sea battle of Aktio. In the 2nd century BC, the Romans invaded Corfu and then Paxi. Then this island became part of the Byzantine Empire for seven hundred years.

During these centuries, Paxi suffered constant pirate attacks, which resulted in kidnapping residents, selling them as slaves and stealing goods. In the 13th century, Paxi was conquered by the Venetians, who ruled for about 400 years. The traces of their influence remain until today like churches and ruins of oil presses that date from that period. In fact, the Venetians started an extensive program of olive planting and cultivation. In 1537, the Venetians destroyed the Turkish fleet, which intended to take over Paxi, and pirate Barbarosa plundered the island to take revenge.

In 1797, the Venetians gave the island to the French and Napoleon Bonaparte took control of Paxi. However, the French rule lasted for only one year and then the Russian-Turkish fleet took the administration of the island, who declared Paxi part of the Ionian State. In 1814, the island changed rulers once again and came under the British, after the Treaty of Paris. For the following 50 years, Paxi enjoyed some stability and the British made important improvements in terms of quality of life.

In 1821, the residents took part in the Greek War of Independence, but it was only in 1864 when the Ionian islands, and Paxi in particular, were united to Greece. In 1922, the island received many refugees, after the destruction of Asia Minor. During the Second World War, the Ionian Islands were under the Italian control but the oil trade gave prosperity to the people and saved them from the difficult situations that other Greek places were facing. In the 1950s and the 1960s, many residents were forced to migrate in order to find financial resources.

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