Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A Supermarket, A Girl, And Venice

A Supermarket, A Girl, And Venice

 Historical Connections

It is intriguing to think of the web of connections between small villages and famous and far off places, for instance the connection between the name of our local island supermarket, and 15C Venice. The connection was obviously important enough to be remembered.

I’m still reading Jan Morris’ Venice. (I must see if I can find a copy, as this one has to go back to the library this week.) In this book I have been following with interest the status of women in the 15C, as our supermarket is called Marula, after a famous 15C Lemnian heroine.

15th Century Lemnos


This was the time when the Venetians were very busy in the Aegean. They had arrived there with the Crusaders, and remained afterwards as more than traders. The Admirals of the Venetian navy built forts and took over islands, to protect their boats and cargos. The big and safe ports offered security to the Venetian and Byzantine navies. The island was positioned as first stopping off point after their boats had left the Hellespont.  At that time there would have been shipyards in these bays where boats could dock for repairs.

This relationship between Constantinople, the Greek islands and Venice went on for at least 250 years, though at times uneasy. It was a relationship that benefited the island as having these powerful players in the neighborhood kept the pirates at bay. These pirates and brigands, often a mixture of Arabs, Greeks, and others, would take control of an island or whole areas of the mainland. However after 1479, when the Venetians conceded Lemnos to the Turks, the Turks took up that sole duty for the next 500 years (as well as that of charging great taxes). Though, as often happens, as their power waned in the 19 Century the brigands and pirates began to appear again.  It took the First World War and the arrival of the Allies to finally drive them out.

It was during the time the Venetians were in Lemnos, 1475, when the Turks attacked the village of Kotsinas. During the fighting a girl saw her father struck down and she picked up his sword to led the fighters. They defeated the Turks and turned away the invaders. There is still statue of her on the hill in Kotsinas. The Venetians were very  pleased. As a reward (as I read in one guide book about Lemnos) Marula was given the right to married a Venetian.  

My cousin and Marula! 

Now this might seem strange, but I’ve just read in Jan Moris that, only three years before, one of the most prominent Venetian women of ancient times, Caterina Cornaro, was married the Kind of Cyprus in 1475. It was probably a way smoothing the way for a Venetian take over of that Greek island. So marriage between leaders of islands and Venetians was not so unusual in that era.


                                        Some 15th Century Venetian Beauties

Jan Morris writes of a 15 Century wedding in Venice, and I wonder if Marula had such a wedding. If she did it would have been a very great reward for a girl from a small Greek island, even a very courageous one.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Venetian brides were celebrated through Europe for the magnificence of their clothes and the display of their weddings. They wore their hair long to the altar, cascading down their backs interwoven with thread of cold. On their heads were exquisite jeweled coronets. Their shoulders were bare, and their gorgeous full-skirted dresses were made of silk damask and gold brocade.’ 

Jan Morris Venice pg 147

Venice Today

Tourist Ships and Celebrity Weddings

A Celebrity Wedding. Guess whose?

A Monster Cruise Ship Leaving Venice

Visiting Venice (before taking up the house reno. in Lemnos)

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