Duchy of Naxos

Greek: Δουκατον Ναξου
What: A state in the Aegean Sea from the 13th century to the 16th century.
Empire: Republic of Venice
Duchy established: 1207
Fell to the Ottomans: 1579

Duchy of Naxos coat of arms.

Duchy of Naxos coat of arms.

The Venetians have long had their eyes on the islands of the Aegean Sea during the 12th and early 13th centuries. The strength of particularly one island, Naxos, meant a richer economy for the Venetians who would gain from the islands rich economy and great location for trade. The Byzantine Empire was on the decline and it was a perfect opportunity for the Venetians to conquer the islands. In 1207 Marco I Sanudo established the Duchy of the Naxos or Archipelago (the Byzantine name for the Aegean) that would rule the islands of the Cyclades with Naxos as its centre.

After being conquered the island of Naxos was then fortified with a castle that contained seven towers (only two remain today). The island provided a safe route for the Venetian ships and contained a deposit or marbles that would be exported to Venice. Under Venetian rule the Naxiotes did not have much of a conflict and continued on with their lives. The Venetians brought with them their Roman Catholic religion that was able to co-exist with the Greek Orthodox religion of the island. They also protected the island from pirates who were known to travel the waters of the Aegean Sea.

For the next three hundred years the Dukes of the Archipelago would come and pass until the sultan of the Ottomans, Salim II, took control of the island in 1566 and later handing it over to the Ottman Empire in 1579. The Ottoman Empire eventually drove out the Venetians from the Cyclades islands and the last of the Venetians left from the island of Tenos in 1714. The Venetians would have alasting impact on the islands of the Cyclades. To this day Venetian style buildings can still be seen on the island of Naxos and the castles built by the Venetians on some of the islands are still around.

More info here: http://romeartlover.tripod.com/Nasso.html

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