Modern history

There is a scarcity of information concerning the history of Antiparos during the Byzantine period and up to the beginning of the 13th century; however, what we do know is that throughout this entire period and until the Greek Revolution of 1821, the island suffered from raids by marauders from Algeria, Crete, Mani, Kefallinia and elsewhere. These frequent pirate raids are attested to by both the fluctuations in the local population—which reached the point of an almost complete depopulation of the island—and the remains of the defensive works that various rulers of Antiparos had carried out from time to time, aimed at protecting the inhabitants.

In 1207, Antiparos was occupied by Marco I Sanudo, a nephew of Enrico Dandolo, the Doge of Venice. The former took part in the Fourth Crusade, and was one of the leaders of its diversion from its initial aim—a change that would lead to the disintegration of the Byzantine Empire. With the approval of Venice, Marco I Sanudo occupied the Cyclades, the Sporades and other Aegean islands, establishing the Duchy of the Archipelago, with Naxos as its seat. Antiparos remained under the rule of the House of Sanudo until the second half of the 14th century, at which time the island passed into the hands of the House of Sommaripa, through the marriage of Maria Sanudo—Lady of Andros, Naxos and Antiparos—and Gaspare Sommaripa. Antiparos was densely populated in the early 15th century; it is a well-known fact that it furnished the galleons of the Duke of Naxos with 30 sailors. Later, however, as a result of pirate raids, the island became completely deserted. Cristoforo Buondelmonti, a Florentine monk of the 15th century and among the first Hellenophile travellers to our country, noted in his work Liber insularum Archipelagi that Antiparos had very few inhabitants, and that they were involved in geological activities and livestock-raising. He also reported that the island was full of eagles and hawks.

In 1440, the Lord of Paros and Andros Crusino I Sommaripa gave Antiparos to his daughter Francesca as dowry for her marriage to Leonardo Loredano. Thus, Antiparos became detached from the dominion of the Duke of Naxos and found itself under the control of the powerful Loredano family of Venice. At his own expense, Leonardo Loredano relocated cultivators to Antiparos, and also constructed its famous castle. In 1480, the island passed into the hands of Domenico Pisani and, along with Anafi and Ios, constituted a possession of the Pisani family of Venice. In 1537, Antiparos, along with the rest of the Cyclades, fell into the hands of the Ottomans and the formidable pirate Hayreddin Barbarossa.

Antiparos remained under the Turkish yoke until 1770, when the Russian fleet of the Orlov brothers sailed to the island. During the period 1770-1774, Antiparos and Paros were held by the Russians, but following the Orlov Revolt they came again under the Turkish yoke, until the Greek Revolution of 1821.

During the period of Ottoman rule, Antiparos suffered much destruction, not only on account of raids carried by the conquerors themselves, but also by pirates.

The demise of the notorious French pirate Daniel, a Knight of the Order of Malta, and the dramatic events at Despotiko in 1675 are typical of the living conditions of that period. That year, a naval battle took place between Daniel and Turkish vessels off Despotiko, which the pirate had been using as a base for his operations. The defeated pirate set his vessel ablaze and disembarked at Despotiko along with his band, promising the inhabitants great sums if they were to save him. They, however, placed him in chains and surrendered him to the Turkish contingents. When other pirates including Orange, Honora and Hugo de Crevelier learned of the event, they sailed to the islet, and, after the Turkish vessels had departed, plundered it and slaughtered its inhabitants. The most destructive pirate raid of Antiparos was perhaps the one that took place in 1794, when Kefallonian and Maniot pirates plundered the island and slaughtered or captured most of its inhabitants, among whom was the daughter of the French vice-consul.

The taxation paid by the inhabitants during this period was also unbearable. In 1756, in order to pay their tax, Antipariots were forced to sell the islet of Diplo to Parian Petros Mavrogenis and Myconian Tzortzis Baos, for the sum of 100 rials.

However, during those dark years there was a school on Antiparos, where the children of the island learned to read and write. It was at this school that great men received their first enlightenment in education and religious studies, a list dominated by the likes of Neofytos Mavrommatis, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Arta, and Ananias, the deacon who taught, in the mid-18th century, at the Patriarchal Academy [Phanar Greek Orthodox College], and is regarded as one of the wisest Teachers of the Great School of the Nation.

The inhabitants of Antiparos were among the first from the Cyclades to take part in the Greek Revolution. In 1823, there was a discussion—which was abandoned –to cede Antiparos, along with Paros, Naxos and Sifnos, to the Knights of St John, in exchange for money. The island officially became a part of the Greek state through the London Protocol of 3 February 1830 and the London Conference of 18 August 1832.

Antiparos also took active part in the Resistance against the Germans during World War Two. The island had been turned into a secret base for the Allies, and Operation Antiparos is a very well-known ‘chapter’ in the history of World War Two, with the arrests and executions of Greek patriots and Allied soldiers that followed in the wake of the operation.