Archived Pages from 20th Century!!

Peloponnese: History

Click on any thumbnail for a high-resolution map
If you do not want in-line images click here


Greek migrations in/out of Peloponnese

Early Greek settlements

The History of Peloponnese is, in many cases, synonymous to the History of Greece.

Greek city-states

The area played a significant role during the Greek domination of the Mediterranean and the Aegean Civilization.

Greek colonization, 750-550 B.C.

The ancient history of the peloponnese is very much that of the Greek mainstream. During the Mycenean period (around 222-11 BC), the peninsula hosted the legendary kingdoms of Agamemnon at Mycenae, Nestor at Pylos, and Menelaus at Sparta, who organized the Trojan expedition.

The Mycenaean epoch

During the Dorian and Classical eras, the region's principal city-state was Sparta, which, with its alies, brought down Athens in the ruinous Peloponnesian Wars.

The Peloponnesian wars

As a cushion against complete Spartan domination of the Peloponnese, certain cities established the Achaean League, including the cities of Patra, Corinth, Argos, and others. During the Persian Wars, however, most cities, including Athens and Sparta, were allied against the invaders.

The Persian wars

The Persian threat was finally removed by 330 BC when the combined Greek armies under the leadership of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great (son of Philip II), crossed into Asia Minor. Alexander was without doubt the most able commander of the ancient world and one of the greatest Greek commanders of all times.

Alexander's campaign

Under Roman rule, Corinth was the capital of the southern Greek province. From the decline of the Romans, through to the Turkish conquest, the Peloponnese - or the Morea, as it became known, from the peninsula's map-outline resemblance to the leaf of a mulberry tree - pursued a more complex and individual course. It is a history of occupations and conquests, with attendant outposts and castles, which has left an extraordinary legacy of castles and medieval remains throughout the region.

The Peloponnese retained a nominally Roman civilization well after the colonial rule had dissipated, with Corinth at the fore, until, in the sixth century, the city was devasted by two major earthquakes. Around this time, too, came attacks from barbarian tribes of Avars and Slavs, who were to pose sporadic problems for the Byzantines, the eastern emperors of the now-divided Roman empire, at the ancient site of Byzantium. The Byzantine Empire was to carry the Greek and Orthodox culture for another thousand years.

Byzantine Empire during Justinian

The Byzantines established their courts, castles and towns from the ninth century on. Their control was only partial, though, as certain parts of the Morea fell under the control of the Franks and Venetians. The Venetians settled along the coast, founding trading posts at Monemvassia, Pylos, and Koroni, which endured, for the most part, into the fifteenth century. The Franks, led by Champlitte and Villehardouin clans, arrived in 1204, bloodied and eager from the sacking of Constantinople in the piratical Fourth Crusade. They swiftly conquered large tracts of the peninsula, and divided it under feudal baronies under a Prince of Morea.

Byzantium after 1261

Towards the middle of the thirteenth century, there was a remarkable Byzantine revival, which spread from the court at Mystra to exert power over the peninsula once again. A last flicker of Greek rule, it was eventually distinguished by the Turkish conquest, between 1458 and 1460, and was to lie dormant, save for dporadic rebellions in the Mani, until the 1821 War of Greek Independence.

Ottoman advances in the 14th and 15th cents.

In this the Peloponnese played a major part. The banner of rebellion was raised near Kalavrita, by Yermanos, Archbishop of Patra, and the Greek forces' two of the most successful leaders - Mavromichalis and Kolokotronis - were natives of, and carried most of their campaigns in the Peloponnese. The battle that decided the war, Navarino Bay, was fought off the west coast at Pylos.

Greece, 1829

The first Greek Parliament was convened in Nafplio. After independence, however, power passed from Nafplio to Athens were it was to stay. Although Peloponnese had been the cornerstone of Greek History for thousands of years, it was soon surpassed by the struggle of the newly-formed Greek State to regain some of its old territories, especialy during the victorious Balkan Wars and the disasterous Asia Minor Campaign.

The distribution and resettlement of Greek and Turkish minorities, 1919

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the region developed important ports at Patra, Korinthos, and Kalamata. It was little disturbed until World War II, during which the area saw some of the worst German attrocities and some of the bravest resistance in the mountains. The civil war left many of the towns polarized and in ruins. In its wake, there was substantial emigration from both towns and countryside, to the US and to Athens and other Greek cities.


[Back]Back to the main menu

Main Menu: