Kefalonia History

Kefalonia is the larger from the Ionian Islands, covers area of 800km2, with population of 45,000 inhabitants. Argostoli is the capital and Lixouri is the second biggest city.

From time immemorial, there are two explanations about Cephallonia’s name. (This is the second spelling of the island’s name).One is coming from Mythological hero Cephalos, who exiled from Attica / Athens, because he killed his wife Prokris in a hunting accident. And the other is coming from the Greek work Kefali / Head, because the island is the biggest of the Ionian Islands, so is the head of the complex.

The first written script, which mentioned Kefalonia is Homer’s Iliad, on where according to him, Ulysses was accompanied on his way to Troy by a fleet of 12 ships from the Great Hearted Cephallonians. The first evidence of life on the island is coming from 4000 years BC, from the Neolithic period. The famous archaeologists Kavadias did excavations on many parts of the island, where he found ruins in tombs which testify high standard of civilization at the times of the Trojan wars.

Even since the Mycenaean era, the island was divided into four districts, each with its own capital of the same name, SAMI, PALLI, CRANEA, PRONI each independent with its own institutions. (The same names are used in our days also).

Kefalonia took but a little part in the Persians war, in the Peloponnesian wars in the side of the Athenians.

In 216 BC Philip V of Macedonian attracted Palli but was repulsed.

The Romans attacked Sami in 187 BC and its succumbed, as Titus Levies writes, after a heroic four months siege of the two fortresses overlooking the northern harbor of Sami. But finally all the cities surrendered to the Roman Empire. Christianity appears in the island during the 2nd century.

After the division of the Roman Empire, the island was attached to Byzantium until 1082, when it was occupied by the Franks. Roberto Giiskardo the Norman, it is still remembered at the Northern Part, in Fiscardo village, having named after him.

Later the island held for centuries by two Italians families, the ORCINI from 1153-1356 and the TOCCHI from 1356-1478. During this period the Orthodox Sect of the island was abolished.

The Turks occupation was only from 1479-1500, but Venetians fought them out of the island and held it until 1797. During this period orthodoxy regained its position and society followed a feudal way of life known as “LIBRO D’ORO”. (The golden book contains all the high society families). Shipping and agriculture made tremendous progress and the island was known for the huge wheat production sufficient enough to cover the needs of Venice.

The Venetian rule replaced by the French one and in 1809 Kefalonia was taken by the British. It handed over to Greece in 21st May 1864.

Within the modern times 1941-1943 were occupied by the Italians and then by the Germans for a year. In recent years a lot of excavations in several parts of the island gave evidence of all the previous mentioned periods.