This is a web spot for the History of Corfu. Most of the articles and essays are in Greek, but you can also find some translations to English, under the label "articles and essays in English". Most of the articles refer to historic sources, such as notaric papers from the Historic Archive of Corfu. Many have been published in the newspaper "Corfu Today", while others have been presented in other occasions. The articles and essays are available for use, under the condition that the source and author will be mentioned as it is ethically correct. Visitors are wellcome to place their comments or questions; in anyway, this is the purpose of this blogspot!

Ένας διαδικτυακός τόπος για την Κερκυραϊκή Ιστορία

Η Κέρκυρα έχει την τύχη να διαθέτει τις περισσότερες ιστορικές πηγές από κάθε άλλο μέρος της Ελλάδας, καθώς και πολλούς ερευνητές που καθημερινά αποκαλύπτουν πολύτιμα στοιχεία του παρελθόντος.Σκοποί του συγκεκριμένου ιστολογίου είναι να συμβάλει στην γνώση για το ιστορικό παρελθόν της Κέρκυρας, να διαδόσει αυτή τη γνώση μέσω του Διαδικτύου στους απανταχού Κερκυραίους και όσους ενδιαφέρονται για την ιστορία του νησιού και φιλοδοξεί να αποτελέσει βήμα για την ανάπτυξη γόνιμου διαλόγου για το παρελθόν, το παρόν και το μέλλον αυτού του τόπου. Άλλωστε, ο ιστορικός χρόνος είναι συνεχής - η πραγματικότητα διαμορφώνεται βάσει όλων των συνιστωσών του.Ως βάση εκκίνησης του ιστολογίου επελέγη να αναρτηθούν τα άρθρα του γράφοντος που δημοσιεύτηκαν κατά τα τελευταία δύο χρόνια στη στήλη "Σελίδες Κερκυραϊκής Ιστορίας" στην εφημερίδα "Η Κέρκυρα Σήμερα". Τα άρθρα αυτά αφορούν δίαφορες όψεις και ζητήματα κυρίως της περιόδου της Βενετοκρατίας, όπως αυτά σκιαγραφούνται μέσα από συμβολαιογραφικές (νοταριακές) και εκκλησιαστικές πράξεις της εποχής, οι οποίες προέρχονται από τη συλλογή του ερευνητή της τοπικής ιστορίας Κωνσταντίνου Γραμμένου. Ακόμη, υπάρχουν μερικά άρθρα που βασίστηκαν σε χρονικά σημειώματα, και κάποια που αφορούν λαϊκά ποιήματα και τραγούδια που ανακάλυψε ο ερευνητής Σπ. Τζήλιος.Ελπίζω το συγκεκριμένο ιστολόγιο να προσφέρει απαντήσεις στους αναγνώστες του, οι οποίοι παρακαλούνται να συμμετάσχουν, διατυπώνοντας απορίες, απόψεις, αλλά και να δημοσιεύουν άρθρα με βάση τις δικές τους έρευνες.

Ανδρέας Γραμμένος


The Galleys, the Oarsmen and the Scapoli

October, as the month in which the Naval Battle of Lepanto took place, is a month that brings in mind the galleys. Also, the hardships, the whippings, the illnesses and the battles that cost the lives of thousands of people from the Greek islands and shores.
Even though, since the 15th century the firearms and cannons started to take their place in the battlefields, their dominance was yet to come, especially in the naval warfare. The innovations in navigation and shipbuilding may had introduced the caravel and other types of sophisticated vessels, but the naval battles kept on being decided by resaltos (rebounds) and hand-to-hand fights.
Especially in the Mediterranean Sea, the heavy sail vessels did not prevail until the middle 18th century. Until then the navies of the Mediterranean states were relied on oar ships: the galleys and the galleasses. These vessels were performing good in short distances, while the fact that they could move considerably easily in case of lull weather, gave them a significant advantage. But in what price!
The men that consisted the moving power of the warships were fiercely tantalized oaring for days, covering vast distances. The exhaustion, combined with the awful living conditions and the poor food, caused huge losses in their ranks, which, according to some historic sources, could reach up to 80-85%!
The oarsmen of the Venetian galleys there were Muslim slaves, convicts, draftsmen from the overseas possessions, and also some mercenaries who, either chasing their fortune or been in need of the payment, exposed themselves in the conditions we described above.
Having in mind these very conditions, we can easily understand the reasons for which many of the oarsmen deserted, despite of the harsh punishment they faced. Even the mercenaries coulddesert their post on the bench and the coins that would fulfill their purse trying to save their health and life.
Such a case we detected in the following notaric paper from northern Corfu:

Recoupment payed by deserter (17th century)

1636, day 10th of August. Inside the house of Mr Ioannes Revis, in the village of St. Athanasios. Because Michelis Livadiotis from the above village had agreed to go with the galley of the Noble Venetian Mr Gianalivize Balbi, and received tornesia (coins) from the above Lord and then he left from this galley and today Sinior Capo Zorzis and other scapoli (marines) of the above galley came to find and arrest the above Michelis, and because they did not find him, they wanted to arrest the present Mr Andreas Mourmouris, father in law of the above Michelis, Mrs Eleni appeared and appealed to Sinior Capo to release the above Mr Andreas, and stated that if the above Michelis should have to pay recoupment to the above Lord, she would pay it. And today, willingly, the above and present Mrs Eleni and Mr Andreas, obliged together to give to the above Capo, in December 1636, as much olive oil, as the equivalent of Mr Michelis’ debt.
APC, Not. Vol. M246

Michelis Livadiotis, led by poverty, decided to embark with the galley of Sinior Balbi as an oarsman. This galley was probably private, either as privateer or part of the Venetian Navy, as both were common at the time, and was most probably engaged in the operations of the defense of Crete, which was under Ottoman attack since the 1620’s.
Michelis was exhausted by the hard work and little galeta that was available to eat. For tens, hundreds of miles he was sitting naked on his bench, oaring with three more men, who may were foreigners or convicts, or were too weak to oar forcing him to put an extra effort. He was oaring and thinking of his home island, Corfu, his wife he had left behind. And at some point he decided that money were not worth of any more sacrifice and deserted.

(The above article was written by Andreas Grammenos)