Dodecanese History

Information about the History of Dodecanese islands, in Greece but also information about many the history of many islands of the group: Ancient times, Byzantine and Venetian period and from medieval to modern times.

Ancient Times

The Dodecanese islands is an island complex with a perfect geographical position that has been the key to the crossing of many civilizations and cultures. The first inhabitants in the Dodecanese history are said to be the Telchines and Iliads. Much later the Cares and Achaies arrived and according to Homer, they took part in the Trojan War. After the fall of Troy, the monarchy was no longer established and this brought many intermarriages with the Dorians.

Those Greek islands are known since the Greek antiquity and no civilization has ever questioned their Greek origin. The Greeks inhabit the Dodecanese in the 14th century and up to this day, excavations have brought to light 18 settlements of Achaia on 8 islands of Dodecanese complex and other Mycenean findings of exceptional value. In the years of Dorians, the three cities of Rhodes island, with Kidnos and Alikarnassos formed a political-economical league with a religious character, the Dorian settlement.

The Dodecanese was the birthplace of the great philosopher Kleovoulos the Lindian, the founder of Medicine Hippocrates, Theocritus, one of the best literate figures, known for his bucolic poetry and hundreds of other chosen personalities in the arts and letters. During the Roman years, Rhodes forced the Romans to come into terms with the maritime law, the first maritime law in world history, while Kos island initiated them to the Hippocratic medicine and the fundamental laws of nature.

Byzantine and Venetian Period

During the Byzantine years, the inhabitants of the Dodecanese followed Christianity. In the centuries that followed, they suffered a lot from the Persians, Arabs, Venetians, Genouates, and Ottomans. Under these circumstances, the inhabitants were forced to abandon their houses and retreat to the mountainous regions. After the first Crusades and the indulgence of the privileges from the Pope, the order of Knights of Saint John started was developed as a strong military and political power. In 1312 AC the order of Knights occupies Rhodes and the rest of its neighboring islands. Rhodes was greatly influenced by the western culture and its port became one of the most important trading centers in the Dodecanese. During that long period, Rhodes shined in art, sculpture, architecture, and letters. The order of Knights fortified the whole town of Rhodes with strong walls to protect the Aegean from the Turkish invasions.

From Medieval to present times

In 1523, with the arrival of sultan Souleiman, Dodecanese is no longer under the rule of the Knights but under the Ottoman occupation. This is one of the darkest periods in the Dodecanese characterized by terror and destruction. The churches are turned into mosques and personal belongings are damaged. Above all, their act of participation in the Greek revolution was greatly punished with slaughters and holocausts.

In 1912, the Ottomans sold the Dodecanese islands to the Italians and a new period of occupation starts. Although the Italians made many public works, including ports, official buildings, and even restored the Medieval Town of Rhodes, the locals were always fighting for their independence. Finally, in 1947 with the Treaty of Paris, the Dodecanese islands became officially part of Greece.

Discover the History of each island

Information about the history of the islands of Dodecanese: