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The Byzantine period and Venetian rule (330-1538 A.D.)

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04The information we have on Shiathos during the first years of the Byzantine period is extremely scanty. All we know is that, administratively, it belonged to the province of Thessaly, which constituted part of a Macedonian "theme" (military district) and that, with the propagation of Christianity on the island, an episcopate ( bishopric ) was created under the Metropolitan Bishop of Larissa.

n 758 A.d., during the reign of Constantine Copronymus, the Byzantine fleet anchored in Skiathos harbour, whence it sped to the rescue of Thessalonica, where a Bulgarian and Slav attack was imminent .
During the 7th century A.D., Skiathos suffered much from Saracen pirate raids in the Aegean.

Following the overthrow of the Byzantine Empire by the Franks, in 1204, and concession of the Aegean islands to the Venetians, Skiathos, Skopelos and islands of the Cyclades were taken over by the brothers Andrea and Jeremia Ghisi, Venetian merchants.

The Ghisi brothers granted Skiathos self-deterrnination, and several privileges, which are listed in the well-known "Capitula Sciati et Scopuli", and which were still in effect during the 2nd period of Venetian rule.
However, they abolished the Orthodox episcopate.
They built a new fortress called Bourtzi in the great harbour for their residence and for the security of the town.

The Ghisi brothers ruled the islands until 1259, their successors continuing for a further 17 years, until 1276, when the Byzantine fleet drove them out of the N. Sporades.

Skiathos remained within the Byzantine state until 1453.
Byzantine rule, however, was rather nominal, as the pirate raids that plagued the Aegean at that time did not allow Constantinople to make its presence effectively felt on the islands which it had reclaimed.
It thus appears that around the middle of the 14th century, the people of Skiathos, desperate following the continous raids on the island, both of pirates and of Turks, abandoned their coastal town and built a new, safer one - the Kastro ("fortress',) on the northern side of the island, on a steep rock which constituted a naturat fortress.
When Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, the people of Skiathos chose Venetian rule, realising that Venice would from then on be their only possible protection against the Turks.
They therefore asked the Venetians to take over the island on the condition, however, that they would confirm the privileges that the Ghisi brothers had give the island, and that the see of the Orthodox bishop would remain there, reguests which were granted.
Thus began the second period of Venetian rule in Skiathos, which lasted until 1538.

The life of the island, however, did not seem to improuve.
The pirate raids continued and Venetian rules were so harsh, that when ,in 1538,the fortress was besieged by Barbarossa, some of the inhabitants, in order to rid themeselves of the tyranny of the Venetians, did not hesitate to surrender it to him.



 


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12 Nikotsara Str.
37002 Skiathos
tel: + 30 24273 50100
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email: dimos@n-skiathos.gr

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