- The monastery of Komninos Stefanopoulos family (Tsigou monastery)
We have already narrated the arrival of Nikiforos Komninos, the son of the last leader in Trapezounta David B’ in Oitylo after the fall of Constantinople by the Ottomans, his acceptance by the locals and his appointment as the Head of the community. Also the battles he and his descendants fought against the Ottomans when the last ones attempted to threaten the freedom of the people of Oitylo. One of these assaults that was repelled in 1537 lasted for two days on the 7 and 8 September at the location “louria and Kaisari”. The Head of the community Stefanos Komninos who coordinated the resistance of Oitylo, promised to Holy Mother the erection of a temple in his land, the one which is now called monastery Tsigou.
The monastery was in prosperity even after the immigration of the most of Stefanopoulos families in 1675 to Corsica and was under the supervision of those who remained in the area of Oitylo. Relevant is the text by the scholar Ath. Petridis published by the fortnight “Pandora” in Athens almost 150 years before (we have republished it in one of the above mentioned issues of our newspaper). According to this text in 18th century the monastery of Tsigou had wealth and operated as a loan bank for the locals. It seems that the monastery exploited the land owned by Komninos-Stefanopoulos family who had immigrated, which led to the accumulation of increased financial income with the collection and trade of their products.
There is also recorded the dispute between the parish of Oitylo and the descendants of Komninos-Stefanopoulos who didn’t immigrate about the ownership of the land after the foundation of the new Hellenic state and the application of the law that was established at that time for the confiscation of the land of the ruined monasteries.
The fact that some of the members or branches of the Family of Komninos-Stefanopoulos remained in Oitylo results also from the documents below dated in periods over one hundred years after the immigration of their relatives to Corsica. They are included in the following appendix.
APPENDIX OF SCRIPTURES AND TEXTS
- The scripture on a column at the north side of the holy church in Oiltyo honored by the name “The Assumption of Virgin Mary” is as:
“It is erected and renovated this holy Temple of Holy Mother with the expenses, effort and contribution of the men and honorable lords and protectors of all those who live in this country. So that Holy Mother protects and helps men and women and children and so that the names Stefanopoulos of the three brothers are obeyed and we the slaves amen” by the 1775 Nicolaos Didaskalos from Lagada and Esaias monk from Nomitsi and Panagiotis from Lagada.”
- “1697 February 23, Oitylo”
“We made accounts with my best man mister Dimitris Skloufas and from all our calculations I still owe him 400 rialia which I must give back until Saint Elias coming name day. After this we work together to pick pines for senior Tomenego in order to sell it to him and the difference we share it. We made this agreement and with faith to truth we sign”
“Captain Mihalakis Stefanopoulos certifies the above, Dimitrios Skloufos certifies the above”
- “1695 month December 19, Vytilo”
“Drakos Arxoulisis declares I have borrowed from captain Mixalakis Stefanopoulos 10 rialia because of friendship which I will turn back whenever I please and in faith to the truth and confidence I asked my uncle Menoudos since I cannot write and he changed my confession among good men.
“And I Elias Liantikatis declare the above”
“Menoudos Stefanopoulos wrote the present document and declare the above”
Diaries of captain Michael Stefanopoulos
- “1695 January 4. Reminder of all the whites I give to captain Panagiotis Gerakaris Stefanopoulos”
“I gave him fifteen ducats and eight more and I still have a pair of silver knives, I also gave him when we were in Anapli fifteen ducats, in order to pay a merchant from Kalamata, then I gave him at Anapli eight ducats for Gasparis and then five and a half ducats to pay the workers who built the bell tower and one and a half ducat when his lad came to the sea to buy fish then to Anapli one scarf, the above white ducats are 53 and 1/2 and there is still for the above calpack velvet riali 1”
Other of the same
* We shall express our views about the institution of the Head of the community in Mani
- The dwelling of Medikos-Giatrakos family in Oitylo and their empowerment
The historian of the fall of Constantinople, Jeorgios Frantzis in ΧΡΟΝΙΚΟ, a book he had written in the last years of his life, presents important information about the area of the Messinian Bay and the dominion of the Byzantine lords (quotation in Appendix I). In particular, he mentions that the area of the Messinian bay belonged to the general Nikiforos Melissinos, one of the most important Byzantine lords, who before his death appointed as guardian of his underage son the Bishop of Mystras Theodoros. The last one, due to his intention to take monastic vows, passed on the guardianship to his brother who was also a Bishop at that time and later became the last Emperor, Constantinos.
In those areas, there were members of the family of Melissinos who were also taking part in their administration. The primary dominion of Melissinos family in the areas of Mani (Oitylo, Leuktro-Proastio, Zarnata) is connected to the occupation of the castles at the Messinian bay that were occupied by the remaining Franks in the first years of 15th century. The Byzantine dominion in the areas of the Messinian bay changed commissar and Constantinos Palaiologos, who exercised the administration for some years through Jeorgios Frantzis, who had engaged his underage daughter to the master of the place Nikolaos Melissinos, passed it on to his brother Thomas, after his ascend to the throne of Constantinople. The grown up now Nicolaos Melissinos after the occupation of Constantinople and the invasion of the Ottomans to Peloponnese abandoned the area to his relatives and escaped to Eptanisa and then to Crete.
Maria, the sister of the above mentioned Nikiforos Melissinos was the wife of the duke of Athens Antonios Atzagiolis; the duchy had been bought from the Catalan rulers by this family. In the jurisdiction of the duchy was amongst other areas, Nauplio and the east coastal area of Peloponnese which was the dowry of Maria Melissini. Anyway, a branch of Medikos family in Florence that lived in Athens, took part in the financial administration of the duchy on behalf of the Catalans. Members of the family kept on occupying high posts in Athens as well as in Nauplio and the east Pelooponnese. One of them, in fact, Pierros Medicos of Athens had taken the place of the governor and general captain of Nauplio. Members of Medicos family got married to Greek women and became Greek acquiring also translated names such as Iatros, Giatros, Iatropoulos, Giatrakos.
From the above mentioned fragmentary historical information results the dwelling of Medikos family to the areas of the east side of the Messinian bay and of course Oitylo which was of great importance since it had important administrative and military posts, from the beginning of the 15th century and before the fall of Constantinople and Mystras by the Ottomans.
Probative evidence of the power of Medikos family from Oitylo is the letter-call for help which was sent to the Pope of Rome Grigorios XIII by representatives of Mani in 1582 amongst whom Nicolaos Iatros is also mentioned (Appendix II).
Jeorgios Sfrantzis: ΧΡΟΝΙΚΟΝ. VOLUME B.2
…the Bishop Theodoros gave to his brother Bishop Constantinos the other part of Taygetus that is the castle and area of Peloponnese Lefktron Maini and all the occupied areas up to Pylos, Oitylo and the free Zarnata castle and Gastitza and Dioasiston and Mele, Dyrrahion and Polianoun and the surrounding areas. And he gave to him the towns and castles at the Messinian bay. All these were ruled by Nikiforos Mellisinos. The reason of this offer to the bishop Theodoros was: Nikiforos Melissinos had a son named Nicolaos which was christened by bishop Theodoros. When he went to the monastery the son was three years old; he made a will and named Theodoros as the guardian of the child and all his land and money and declared that if his son dies without descendants then all his belongings towns and counties and castles pass on to the bishop Theodoros both those in and out of Peloponnese.
“honourable and worthy Pope of Rome and high priest and Christian; we kneel before you, we the Maniots, every one, young and old priests and elders and we kneel before your kingdom ; and write for your kingdom and send the wishes of the first priest with the child whose father is the governor all over Mani. Or of three hundred villages and sixty counties. In order to tell you things about God and all Christianity; and we plead to your kingdom to write to the king: because now we can take Morea back; and condemn the big ruler. If you knew how to find six thousand lads that serve you outside Morea; where there is help from your kingdom, there is help from us the Maniots”. “I Kalapothos Foukas agree with the above”. Nicolas Diatros agree with the above written letter” “I, the priest Xrisospathis declare the above written” “I Kostatis o Niklo agree with the above written letter” “I, Tzilidinis Abelourgos agree with the above written” “I Thodoris Kontostavlos agree with the above written” “I Protopapas Mouriskos of Mani sign with my own hand”
The signatures were handwritten and out of the letter there is the note:
“honourable pope of Rome global king and bishop of Christianity”