The Revolution of 1821

In 1815, just before the revolution of 1821,the Symiots to be prospering. They had 50 large sailing ships and the same number of fishing ships. They were doing trade with Constantinople, Smyrna, Thessaloniki and others. They lived with comfort and the women were dressed in expensive clothes.

When the revolution was declared, the proestos of the island sent a messenger, Nikitas Chatziioannis, to the sympathetic Patriarch of Alexandria, Theophylos Pagosta, who was on the island of Patmos, in order to consult him on how to act.They came into contact with the people of Hydra on the 29th of May 1821 and revolted. In May 1823, with the decision of the temporary administration, Symi was included into the administrative system of the revolting Greece, in the 13th region of the Aegean together with Karpathos, Tilos, Nisyros and Halki. Later this region became one of the two of the southeastern Sporades. On the 13th of April 1826 with the 10th resolution of Kapodistrias it fell into the 6th region of the islands of the Aegean together with Karpathos and those others already within this region. After the protocol of London on the 3rd of February 1930, however, Symi and the other Dodecanese islands remained outside the borders of the Greek country, a fact which saddened the island's inhabitants. In a letter to Kapodistrias (15th of December 1830) they announced to him their decision to "be united with the Greek country.

The Ottoman commander of Rhodes, Mehmed Sukyur bey, took a series of terrorist measures in order to bring those islands which had revolted back to the Ottoman empire. He raised taxes and, with repeated penalties, put great pressure upon them to return.In 1869 Turkey severely restricted Symi's privileges, made the island their headquaters, established a kaimacham there and raised taxes to 45,000 piastres. It abolished the freedom of the port, installed a custom house, got customs tax and, in 1885, introduced the law for the census of goods and property, to which the inhabitants reacted so violently that the island was blockaded for seventeen days. The effort to maintain their privileges was continuous.

The economic boom of Symi continued despite these unfavourable circumstances. Trade with the large ports of the Mediterranean gave the Symiots the chance to build mansions with many floors and large, richly-decorated churches on the island. Monasteries like Roukouniotis, Panormitis and others were in their heyday. Schools, both primary and secondary, were functioning in Gialos and Chorio and there was also a community health system for the inhabitants. There was even a printing house from which newspapers and periodicals were circulated. In 1863, Photis Mastoridis introduced his sponge fishing technique which involved the use of the skafandro (sponge machine), while the fishing with the voutichtades (naked divers) and 'gangaves' (nets in very deep waters) also still continued.

Of the 25 to 35 men on one sponge machine, as professor Sot. Agapitidis writes, 10 were divers and the rest assistants. The divers went down to the bottom of the sea wearing a diving suit of caoutchouc, sealed on all sides, a metal helmet which was connected via a pipe known as a 'machhittso' to a machine used by the sailors to supply it with as much air as was necessary. Together with the sponge machine, a bigger caique accompanied the "deposito" (a tank or reservoir) where the food supplies were kept and where the cleaning procedures were carried out and the sponges were stored. In 1929 Symi had 14 skafandros, 20 gangaves and 10 caiques with naked divers.



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The Historical Years >> The Revolution of 1821
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