Emporea Church, Santorini

The Ionian Legacy of Haralambos Halkiopoulos

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Kefalonian Background:

It remains a mystery, whether Haralambos Halkiopoulos, his wife, Asimina, and his family actually lived their lives on the Ionic Island, Kefalonia (also Cephalonia, Kefalinia). There is some evidence that there is a Candia (Crete) and a Thira (Santorini) connection as well. Vital records, conclusive of the family's residence, are elusive. An understanding of the histories of these regions, provide a context and clues for possible movements of the family.

1853 map Detail of Lowry's
1853 map showing the
Ionian Islands
The islands experienced harsh treatment by the Normans and various Latin groups for centuries after the fall of Byzantium. In 1387, they sought the rule and protection of the Venetians, whose treatment in many ways was milder than other groups that dominated the islands. The two centuries of rule by the Venetians resulted in many cultural influences from Italy, especially in the architecture, the performances of opera and much more tolerance to the creation of art than in parts of Greece that lived under Turkish rule. The Venetians gave special governing privileges and status to the richer landowners, who frequently intermarried with the Italians, spoke their language, which became the official language of the Ionian Islands, and converted to Catholicism. Their children were sent to Italy, especially Padua, to be educated, and were able to purchase their degrees. By contrast, most inhabitants of the island were poor, encouraged against education, spoke only Greek and remained faithful to their Greek Orthodox religion. They resented rule by Italy and the power of the Greek nobility, who played into Venetian hands.

Venitian Notary Seal

At the fall of Venice, in 1797, Napoleon briefly acquired the islands, but lost them to both the Turks and the Russians, who lumped them together as the Septinsular Republic. These events antagonized the masses and provided the opportunity to rise against both their local and the Septinsular Republic's governments. After brief Turkish control and Russian intervention to stop the violence, the Treaty of Tiles handed the islands back to Napoleon, who allowed a degree of self-rule. This was the first taste of self-rule by any Greek people in centuries and inspired the notion of Greek independence, which the Greek mainland achieved in 1830.

Britain, however, had acquired the Ionian Islands already by 1815. They set up a British military protectorate that lasted until the Ionian Islands were finally annexed to Greece in 1864. This was frustrating to many of the islanders from the beginning, since the first British High Commissioner over the islands ruled as a dictator, offending the Greek locals with many of his actions, intensifying the Ionian desire for Greek independence. Though subsequent commissioners were far more liberal and even appreciated by the Greeks, the momentum for independence persisted. Once the British realized the expense of holding the islands was greater than any possible benefits, they finally allowed the annexation to occur.

What was the role of the Halkiopoulos family in all these events?

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Copyright: This information is presented only for genealogical purposes and may not be copied in any form without written permission by the author.

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Andrew Jendrzejewski