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Aphrodite of Milos  

Piracy

(2nd millennium BC – 19th century AD)

Piracy, a predatory profession, began since the prehistoric era according to various writers of the antiquity. With the Minoan rule at sea it was almost abolished, it continued however once again at the historical period, following the collapse of the Cretans.
 
The pirates, hard and unscrupulous people, strike both at sea and land; they plunder, slaughter, destroy and take captives. The most competent of the prisoners are used as oarsmen; the remainder are sold in slave markets.

 
Those that suffer the most are the islanders and the coastal populations.

The cove of Kleftiko

The cove of Kleftiko


Milos supported by its geographic position, on the crossroads between the east and the west, and offering secure shelter with its innumerable coves (Sarakiniko, Kleftiko etc) and mainly her safe harbour, Pollonia, with three escape exits, (between Milos-Ypolivos, Ypolivos-Kimolos and Kimolos-Milos), was the main naval outpost of the pirates.
 
There they sell their loot, they buy food, make repairs and joyously spend the winter, some of them also wedding to Melian women.
 
At periods when big naval forces dominate the Aegean the piracy gets repressed (as Athens 5th c. BC, Rhodes 2nd c. BC, Rome 1st-3rd c. AD, Byzantium 6th-11th c. AD, Venice 12th –15th c. AD). However at periods of naval force downfalls and in wartime, it flourishes and dominates.
 
The origin of the pirates varies in time. They are Greeks and foreigners, Christians and “infidels”.
 
They often demand ransom. In 1532 the horrible Kourtoglou captures the Melian “katzilieri” (secretary and progressively notary). His release was exchanged for 20 golden duchies, a huge amount for the period.

One of the numerous coves of Milos


On the 17th c., with the big acme of Chora, Milos becomes the main trade centre of the pirates.
 
In 1677, Kapsis is crowned “king of Milos” and establishes the "Free Piratical Kingdom of Milos", which however lasted for only three years. In 1670 the Turks arrested him and had him hanged in Istanbul.
 
On the 17th c., the “kourso”, a new form of piracy is introduced. The pirate acts on his own behalf, with his own boat, on his own expenses, his own interest, sets his own objectives, robs, slaughters, destroys, takes slaves. The koursaros acts with a boat of a European country and under its flag; he is an employed belligerent.


The Kourso is recognized by all countries, it is subjected to specific laws and is accountable to the naval court martial. On the 17th and 18th c. the seas burst of pirates and koursaroi. The coastal areas and the islands are depopulated.
 
In the beginnings of the 19th c. the horrible pirates Liolios, Katramados and Fragopoulos, abduct the family of the French ambassador L. Brest in Kimolos and demand 5000 francs as a ransom.
 
During the Greek revolution a lot of Greek pirates abandon piracy and engage themselves on the fight against the Turks. A brilliant example is Katsonis.

The cove of Sarakiniko


A lot of pirates write, that with their struggle at sea they contributed to the Greek revolution as much as the ‘armatoloi' and ‘kleftes’ on the mainland.
 
After the end of the revolution, by a decree issued by Kapodistrias, an end was given to piracy under the leadership of Miaoulis.

 


   
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