Dionysis Romas and the Popolari

By: | Post date: June 11, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece

I notice ironies. Or at least, things that strike me as ironies.
The Venetian Ionian Islands, like Venetian Crete, was run as a feudal kind of place. When Napoleon’s troops came to town, after Napoleon had kicked aside what little was left of the Venetian Republic, the people ceremonially burnt the Libro d’Oro, the listing of the nobility of the islands.
Depicted, the crests of those noble families. If you zoom in, you’ll see that most of the family names are Italian, but some are Greek: Xanthopulo, for example.
Actually, you can’t, my picture is too blurry. Here’s a page from Coats of Arms of Zante (Οικόσημα της Ζακύνθου), by Ioannis Laskaratos-Typaldos, published on Facebook:
The families: Dona/Dikopoulos, Donato, Damusa, Xanthopoulos, Oncleso naval, Paidis, Palaiologos, Palladas, Pantuveri, Papadato, Paruta
Venetian Crete rebelled against its masters every couple of decades. There was a rebellion on Zante too in 1628, the Rebellion of the Popolari. That Rebellion gets a lot more attention now than the constant rebellions in Crete, because it was explicitly class based: the popolari were the urban lower classes, seeking greater political representation.
The popolari were rebelling against the cittadini, the established urban bourgeoisie, rather than feudal lords; the boundary between the two classes was porous, and the cittadini wanted to stop it being porous. 60 years later, they succeeded in restricting membership of the city council to just themselves, and they renamed themselves nobles. That bought them a century until Napoleon came to town.
The life work of local author Dionysis Romas (1906–1981) was going to be a set of three trilogies of novels, depicting the history of the island over 3 centuries. (He only got to five novels before he died.)
Romas is depicted with the first of his nine novels, The Sopracomito (The galley commander). Because of modern interests, I’m pretty sure he is best known for his second novel: The Rebellion of the Popolari.
And that makes it ironic that he too is depicted with his family’s heraldic crest of nobility.

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