Skiathos in Byzantine Times

Unfortunately there are not many information for the years that followed but it is known that during the first Byzantine period Skiathos suffers from pirates’ invasions, a phenomenon that lasted plenty of years. In 4th century A.C. the Christian element at Skiathos is intense and the island obtained a chair of bishop that subject to the Cathedral of Larissa.

In 758 A.C., at the port of Skiathos the Byzantine fleet dropped anchor that hurried to reinforce Thessaloniki against the attacks of Bulgarians and other Slavic races.

In 1204, after the fall of Constantinople by Franks (4th Crusade) the islands of Aegean were conceded to Venetians and Skiathos was occupied by Brothers Andreas and Jeremiah Gizi, Venetian businessmen. Brothers Gizi granted to citizens a local-government with a lot of privileges, they abolished the Orthodox Bishopric and they constructed a new fortress, Bourtzi for their residence and security.

70 years later, In 1271 Byzantines under the orders of Michael VIII Palaiologos managed to be organized and to drive away Venetians and Franks from Constantinople. Michael VIII Palaiologos became emperor of Byzantium and started to liberate places. So, a few years later, in 1276 the byzantine fleet under the orders of Likarios drove away the brothers Gizi from Northern Sporades.

At the same period the continuous invasions of pirates that dominated in Aegean Sea obliged the citizens of Skiathos to leave the seaside city in 1350 and to build a new and more safe city, Kastro (known also as medieval city). Kastro was built at the north side of island on a rugged rock that constituted a natural fortress.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 when the Byzantine Empery did not exist anymore, people of Skiathos preferred the Venetian occupancy under the belief that Venice would be the only possible protection against Turks. So the requested from the Venetians to occupy the island but under the presupposition that people of Skiathos would preserve the rights that were granted to them by the Brothers Gizi and the chair of Orthodox Bishop would remain in the island. Venetians accepted these request but their courteous attitude towards the island did not last for many years and after years their mode of governance changed into tyranny.

Barbarossa or pirate Redbeard

At summer of 1538 Kastro is besieged by Barbarossa (or Redbeard) who was known for his violence all over Aegean Sea. Earlier, he attacked Skopelos where he killed the majority of people fact that terrified people of Skiathos. The tyranny of Venetians and the possibility of bloody depredation resulted to the fall of moral from the part of citizens. After a weekly siege some citizens did not hesitate to kill the Venetian governor in order to deliver Kastro to pirate hoping better governance. When Kastro was consigned to Barbarossa, he knew about the betrayal of governor and he ordered the death of people that committed the murder of governor and he did not hurt the rest of citizens.

Even if citizens continued to suffer from piracy this did not urge them to build small ships and to deal with transports and trade. The rich forest of pines supplied the island with great quantities of qualitative timber that was enough for the building of small commercial ships. Thanks to these ships, people in Skiathos could sell goods of local production such as olives, wine, and olive oil to nearby places. Later thanks to bigger ships that sailed to Egypt, Black Sea, at the seaside of Minor Asia and to others distant places.

After the signature of peace between Venetians and Turks in 1540, the Turkish domination at Skiathos is notarized and the island pays overwhelming taxes while young people are obliged to serve for a certain period the Turkish fleet. Gradually, the obligatory service was altered to financial contribution until Greek Revolution when the maritime registration was into force at new.

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