Cretans were the first to settle on the island during the
early Copper Age, building a small settlement near Kastri.
Pottery was inspired by cretan patterns and had the
characteristic use of red colour, made from purple sea shells
during the Meso-Minoic III Period (MMIII). The settlement in
Kastri was abandoned during the mid 15th century. During the
early 14th century the abandoned settlement was used as a base
for the construction a of Mycenaic colony. Through the island
must have also come phoenicians, although there is no
archaeological evidence for this. According to Herodotos
(I,105) they built the renowned, during the ancient times,
sanctuary of Kytherian Aphrodite, whose worship was brought,
as it seems, from the east. This sanctuary is said to be
placed in Paliokastro, where the fortified acropolis was.
written reference of Kythera are the verses of Heliad K
261-270 where the kytherian fighter Amfidamas from Skandeia is
mentioned and O 429-440 where there is word about Lykofron.
The island during the 8th and until the 6th century was
inhabited by argeian dorians, who were then forced to leave
after a war against spartans. Two of the administra-tive
measures the spartans took, were the installation of a
permanent garrison and the establishment of the decree of
Kythirodikes, commander of the island sent annually from
antiquity Kythera was an important station for the sailing
between Greece and Egypt or Libya. Due to that the island was
disputed between spartans and athenians. During the
Peloponessian War and until 300BC the island changed hands
between the two of them many times. Its neighbouring with
Sparta gave athenians the opportunity for raids against their
enemies, while on the other hand its occupation by spartans
secured their home city.
first byzantine times, the island was almost deserted and
during the 4th century AD hermits from Peloponess came to it.
Among them was Aghia Elessa, who has been connected with many
legends and in order to honour her, a monastery has been built
and named after her. Pirate raids, especially those made by
saracens from Crete were very often during the 9th century and
forced a lot of the people to refuge to Peloponess. But
because of its important position, the island wasn't totally
deserted. The victory of the byzantine emperor Nikiforos Fokas
over the saracens and the destruction of the Arab State
allowed Kythera to meet a new era of progress, prosperity and
commercial relations with Peloponess and espe-cially with
Monemvasia. Finally the island came in the hands of
Eudaimonogiannides (or Daimonogiannides) family from
during the Fourth Crusade, the island came in possession by
venetians who assigned Marco Venieri with the title of
Marchese as the commander of Kythera. But he had many feuds in
Crete, so he left on his post Daimonogiannides. Venieri family
with other great families revolted against Venice. Their
defeat signed the annexation of Kythera among the other
venetian acquisitions and its rigging from the Duke of Crete
until the 17th century. In 1537 Hayredin Barbarossa lead a
raid against Kythera capturing 7,000 inhabitants of the
island's capital, Aghios Demetrios.
year of the great naval battle in Nafpaktos between the
western allies and turks, Kythera suffered a population
decrease due to the continuing war between Venice and Turkey,
because of the fear for raids. The ending of this war signed
the reorganisation and strengthening of the island by Venice,
as it held an important strategic position.
17th century while a lot of venetian colonies fell in turkish
hands, in the island found shelter many refuges from
Peloponess and Crete. In 1715, during another war between
Venice and Turkey, the fort of Kapsali was surrendered to the
turks by the venetian commander Marceli after a capitulation.
In 1718 Venice took Kythera back with the Passarovic
Convention. This was the only period that Kythera suffered
from the turkish occupation. In the 18th century the island
met high development, which was continued even after the
breaking of venetian domination with Campoformio Convention
(1797), which gave the Seven Islands - a complex of islands
which Kythera is a part of - to France, that had just become a
republic and gave hope to the island's people. In 1798 France
was forced to surrender the island to the russian-turkish
fleet. Until 1800, when the State of the Seven Islands was
founded, the island suffered from conflicts and bloody fights.
The State and the Constitution of 1803 became one of the first
signs of hellenic regeneration and independence which didn't
come until the hellenic revolution in 1821. The second french
occupation during 1807-1809 contradicted the people's hopes
for freedom, while the Ionian State which was created by Paris
Convention in November 1815, became an english colony.
Kytherians made many efforts to free themselves from the
british and unite with Hellas, something that was finally
achieved in 1864, when the Ionian Islands were given as a
"dower" to George A King of the Hellenes.