The Byzantine Period

During the Byzantine period, Symi belonged, initially, to the prefecture of the islands, (which had its capital on Rhodes), and later to the theme of the Karavians or Karavissians which, from 697, was called the theme of Kiviraiots and had its headquarters in the town of Kivira in Pamphylia with its leader a Drougarian. This was a nautical theme and the Symiots, already known since antiquity as shipbuilders and seamen, were used in the construction and crewing of Byzantine corvettes. Constantinos Porphyroge-nitos informs us that the following cities belonged to the theme of Kiviraiots: Miletus, Mylasa, Myndos, Strovilos, Vargylia, Halicarnassus, Keramos, Cnidus, Loryma (a port), Symi across from the Piraeus of the Rhodians and the Oplo-thiki, Rhodes, Telmessus, Patara, Xanthus, Attalia, Phoenix, Phaselis, Perga, Side and Kivira.

After Constantinople was first conquered, by the Franks in 1204, the governor of Rhodes, Leon Gavalos, made himself 'Caesar' and created his own independent state (in which Symi was also in-eluded) which had its headquaters on Rhodes. However, his domination did not even last twenty years because in 1224 the Byzantine fleet of the emperor John Vatatzes, led by the great domestikos Andronicus Palaeologus, conquered Rhodes. As a result, Symi came under the jurisdiction of the Nicaean Empire and in 1261, with the occupation of Constantinople by Michael VIII Palaeologus, it was again part of the Byzantine state. In 1278, the governor of Rhodes, Krivikiotis, gave Rhodes and the surrounding islands to the corsair Delkavo of Genoa. In 1282 the Genoan admiral of the Byzantine Empire, Andronicus Palaeologus, received, together with his brother Ludovicus, the island as a 'reward' for halting the Turks and Catalans.



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