October 11, 2017
Our trip to northern Greece hosted by the wonderful Craig and Sue continued with a visit to the Byzantine city of Ioannina. The city’s foundation has traditionally been ascribed to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD. Ioannina flourished in the late Byzantine period (13th–15th centuries). Part of the Despotate of Epirus following the Fourth Crusade, many wealthy Byzantine families fled there following the sack of Constantinople, and the city experienced great prosperity and considerable autonomy, despite the political turmoil. It surrendered to the Ottomans in 1430. Between 1430 and 1868 the city was the administrative center of the Pashalik of Yanina. In the period between the 18th and 19th centuries, the city was a major center of the modern Greek Enlightenment. Ioannina joined Greece in 1913 following the Balkan Wars.
The thing to do when you’re in Ioannina is to take a boat to the island, where you can see Ali Pasha’s house.
Ali Pasha (1740 – 24 January 1822), often referred to as the Lion of Yannina, first came to notice as a brigand, finally as an Ottoman Albanian ruler.
His diplomatic and administrative skills, his interest in modernist ideas and concepts, his popular piety, his religious neutrality, his suppression of banditry, his vengefulness and harshness in imposing law and order, and his looting practices towards persons and communities in order to increase his proceeds caused both the admiration and the criticism of his contemporaries, as well as an ongoing controversy among historians regarding his personality. Finally falling foul of the Ottoman central government, Ali Pasha was declared a rebel in 1820, and was killed in 1822, aged over 80. Quite a character.
Byron described the Pasha in a letter to his mother: “His highness is sixty years old, very fat and not tall, but with a fine face, light blue eyes and a white beard; his manner is very kind and at the same time he possesses that dignity which is universal among the Turks. He has the appearance of anything but his real character; for he is a remorseless tyrant, guilty of the most horrible cruelties, very brave, and so good a general that they call him the Mohametan Buonaparte.”
What of the re-enactment, you ask. Er, don’t you? Fear not, we didn’t forget.