look who else builds tower houses!:

the maniots are peloponnesian greeks who live — or, up until pretty recently, lived — in a clannish society (or so says wikipedia — ctrl+f for “clan” on this page). the mani peninsula is the middle of the three peloponnese “fingers” that stick southwards into the med — and up until modern times it was hard to get to (or into):

“The terrain is mountainous and inaccessible…. Until recent years many Mani villages could be reached only by sea.”

the explanation given for these tower houses is that they were built to protect the maniots from the ottomans, but look what else characterized maniot society — vendettas (see also here)!:

“Another important aspect of Maniot culture were the vendettas which frequently plagued Mani. Usually, the decision to start a vendetta was made at a family gathering. The main aim of a vendetta was usually to wipe out the other family. The families involved locked themselves in their towers and whenever they got the chance murdered members of the opposing family. The other families in the village normally locked themselves in their towers in order not to get in the way of the fighting.

“Some vendettas went on for months, sometimes years. In vendettas, the families could have a truce or treva, if one family needed to attend a religious ceremony or when it was time to harvest the crops. As soon as the treva ended, the killing could resume. Vendettas usually ended when one family was exterminated or when the defeated family left the town. Sometimes families came to terms, and vendettas stopped when the Turks invaded…. Vendettas continued after the liberation of Greece even though the Regency tried to demolish the towers. The Maniot vendetta is considered the most vicious and ruthless. One of the last vendettas on record required the Greek Army with heavy artillery support to force it to a stop.”

heh.

the maniots eagerly joined the fight for greece’s independence, but then they didn’t want to be governed from athens — or anywhere else. they wanted rid of the ottomans and didn’t want anyone to govern them but themselves. here’s what happened (from here and here):

“The last bey of Mani, Petros Mavromichalis, was among the leaders of the Greek War of Independence. He proclaimed the revolution at Areopoli on March 17, 1821. The Maniots contributed greatly to the struggle, but once Greek independence was won, they wanted to retain local autonomy. During the reign of Ioannis Kapodistrias, they violently resisted outside interference to the point of killing Kapodistrias….

“After the revolution, Petrobey [petros] became a member of the first Greek Senate, under the leadership of Ioannis Kapodistrias. The two men soon clashed as a result of Kapodistrias’ insistence on establishing a centralized regional administration based on political appointees, replacing the traditional system of family loyalties. Petros’ brother Tzanis led a revolt against the appointed governor of Lakonia; the two brothers were invited to meet Kapodistrias and negotiate a solution but when they showed up, they were arrested. From his prison cell, Petros tried to negotiate a settlement with Kapodistrias; the latter refused. The crisis was then settled by more traditional means: Petros’ brother Konstantinos and his son Georgios assassinated Kapodistrias on October 9, 1831.”

mountain people just want to be left alone.

the maniots, btw, are rumored to be the descendants of the spartans. if true — cool!

and, speaking of tower houses and inbreeding and clannishness and tribalism and all that: shibam!

previously: more on albanians and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people and ελλάδα and more on greece

(note: comments do not require an email. woman from mani. cover your neck!)

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