Turkish Occupation

Thassos was occupied by the Turks in 1455, two years after the fall of Constantinople, when Mohamed II organized an expedition against the Aenos peninsula, while at the same time he sent ten ships to Thassos, Samothrace and Imvros.

This fact drove Pope Kallistos the 3rd to call for a crusade, which aimed in reoccupying the islands from the Sultan. The ships of the crusade arrived in Thassos and in 1457 the Venetians managed to occupy the island after a rough besiege. However, the fleet of the Latin was not sufficient to keep away the sultan, who reoccupied Thassos and Samothrace in October of 1459, under the leadership of captain Zagan Pasha. This fact was rather devastating for Thassos because after the orders of Mohamed II, most of the inhabitants were banished to Constantinople, leaving the island almost deserted.

In 1460 Thassos was given to Demetrios Palaiologos as a treason reward, but in the end of summer 1466 the island was rescued as the Venetian admiral Capello occupied Thassos, Samotrace and Imvros. However, Thassos was meant to experience greater sufferings when in the end of 17th and the beginning of the 18th century the piracy in Aegean Sea was fired up again. The inhabitants to protect themselves transfer the villages to mountainous areas which were safer. In the coasts remained only the “viglaria”, that is the ancient guardposts which sent warning signs with fires.

It worth noting that the pirates were pure Europeans or even Greeks whose cruelty was even greater than those of the Saracenes. They regarded that their occupation was honest and dignified and that is why they taught it to their children. They had also relations and correspondence with highly placed persons and kings, which often helped them to organize their vacations after a good payment.

At the same time, another misfortune comes to strike the already suffering inhabitants. In 1760, Thassos was given for rent, and was obliged to pay a poll tax and various other taxes into the hands of the elder of Greek community (kotzampasis), who oppressed his compatriots. In 1770, the Greek revolution found the Thassians ready to revolt. The cause for that, was the victory of the Russian fleet against Capoudan Passa in Tsesme, which led a Thassian commity to arrange a gathering of representatives of all the islands in order to congratulate the victors. In the summer of the same year, a squadron of the Russian fleet sailed to Thassos in order to protect its timber for shipbuilding. A it is referred in the “Orlofika” (1770), the Russians cut 17000 trees in order to secure their fleet.

After 4 years, the tragic failure of the Orlofian revolution has as a result the withdrawal of the Russians from Thassos, which falls under the Turkish rule. The consequence was an even reater rage of Sultan towards the Thassians. By the end of 18th century, only 2500 inhabitants remained in the island, living in constant fear of pirates.

 

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