Sunday, October 18, 2009

Corsican Maniots

St. Spyridon greek orthodox church of Cargese - SkyscraperCity

Corsican Maniots are descendants of Maniots (Mani is a region in south Peloponnese , Greece) , who migrated to the Corsican region during the 400 year Ottoman rule over Greece. To this day the Cargèse region of Corsica is referred to as Cargèse la Grecque (Cargèse, the Greek). [1] The origins of the Greek Maniots community in Corsica dates back to the 17th century, when Greece was then under Ottoman Turk rule and there was a flow of Greek exitance from the Byzantine Empire towards countries in Western Europe. Particularly severe was Turkish rule towards the Maniots, some of the most resilient mountain clans throughout the Ottoman Empire, in the region of the Mani area, Laconia, south-east of Peloponnese, near the ancient city of Sparta. Adding to the tensions in the Mani region was long vendettas between some of the more powerful Maniots families which included; the Stefanopoulos family (descentants of Comnene Dynasty from the Empire of Trebizond, kin to the Kalomeros).[2][3]), the Mavromichalis, the Mourtzinos (claim descent from the Palaeologus Dynasty) and the Yatrianon, also know as Yatrians (the Medici Family is descentant from them). Hundreds of Greeks decided to emigrate and in 1663 his Grace Parthenios Calcandis, the Greek Catholic Bishop of Vitylo, negotiated with the Republic of Genoa, then ruling Corsica, for asylum. The Genoan administration promised to grant the Greeks the territory of Paomia for a small fee to Genoa and to recognize the religious authority of the Pope. On June 25, 1665 the Genoa government granted the request of the Greeks but it took another ten years for the migration to take place. The Greek names of the emigrants were Italianized before they left for Corsica: for instance, Papadakis was changed to Papadacci. In five years the colonists built a village, Paomia where they were engaged in agriculture and weavery. Within one year, the Greeks built the five hamlets of Pancone, Corone, Rondolini, Salici and Monte Rosso, transformed the area in one of the wealthiest agricultural lands in Corsica and lived in peace with their Corsican neighbours. When the Maniots refused to help the Corsicans in a local uprising against the Genoa clashes between the two began, they were forced to leave their village and move to another one, to Aiaccio. After Corsica was sold to France, the Maniots returned to their original area and George Stephanopoli, nicknamed Capitan Giorgio, who was a maternal relative of Laure Junot, duchess d'Abrantès,[4] accepted on behalf of the Maniots, France's offer to settle in the new village of Cargese, where they have lived since then alongside their Corsican neighbors.

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