Culture & History

History of Ithaki

Ithaca with an extend of is the fifth in size island of the Seven Islands. According to the general census of the year 2001, it has a population of 3.084 inhabitants. It is settled southerly of Lefkada and easterly of Kefalonia from which it is separated with a marine channel of 3-4km width. Ithaca administratively belongs to the prefecture of Kefalonia and its capital is Vathi.

The annexation of Ithaca in the Venetian possessions was realized within the Veneto-Turkish war, dues of 15th century- beginning of 16th century. Ithaca was occupied by the Venetian forces in 1503, while Kefalonia had already been conquered (December of the year 1500). The previous period (1477-1500) was a period of Ottoman raids. The Ottomans sacked Ithaka, along with the rest of the Ionian Islands, in 1479. As a result of the above was the almost complete demographic desolation of the island. Thus, the Venetian Senate, after characterising Ithaca as “isola al presente disabitata”, took measures for the rehabitation of the island by granting lands and exempting from taxation those who would return. Among the new residents of the island were people from Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Corfu, Lefkada, Akarnania and Peloponnesus as well as a lot of “soldiers” (stradioti).

Ithaca was administratively annexed in Kefalonia sharing its fate. In the Venetian documents it was often called as “small Kefalonia” (Cefalonia Picola) or as “the other Kefalonia” (l’altra Cefalonia).

Ithaca was administered by a noble from Kefalonia who was elected by the Council of Kefalonia along with the approval of the prudent of Kefalonia. The Council of the nobles was not constituted in Ithaca, due to its limited territorial extend. Its population was mainly rural and naval.

In Ithaca, just like in the rest of the Ionian Islands, the institution of feudalism was partially developed and due to the island’s limited extend in the years of the Venetian rule it had only had one barony. In addition, Ithaca belonged to the economic district of Kefalonia and the main products that it produced and exported were oil and raisin.

Regarding the ecclesiastical structure of the island, this allocated his own Protopapas under the authority of the Orthodox Episcopal throne of Kefalonia with episcopal power but without the possibility of consecrating priests.

With the Treaty of Campo Formio, in October 1797, the former Venetian possessions were ceded to the French Republic and were divided in three prefectures. Ithaca along with Kefalonia, Lefkada, Preveza and Vonitsa constituted the prefecture of Ithaca with the Argostoli of Kefalonia as its capital, where the French governmental trustee was ahead. Soon, however, the incompetence of the French to deal with the serious social problems and the heavy taxation that they imposed caused the reactions of the Ithacans. As a result, the period of the French domination in the Seven Islands was terminated with the common decision of Russia and of the Ottoman Empire.

The united Russian and Ottoman fleet under the command of the Russian admiral Ushacov who had already occupied Kythira, Kefalonia and Zakynthos captured Ithaca in October 1798. On 21st March 1800 the State of the Seven Islands (the Septinsular State) was founded. The reconstitution, however, of the aristocratic regime caused disturbances in Ithaca and the Ionian Senate decided to send her delegates in order to regulate the abnormal situation. Up to the abolishment of the Septinsular State, Ithaca followed the fates of the rest of the Ionian Islands.

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