HISTORY OF THE CITY OF KIOS
(now known as Gemlik)
Situated at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, with Russia to the East, Asia to the South, Europe to the North and the Balkans to the West, the City of Kios has enjoyed a turbulent 4,000 years of civilisation. Its fortunes have ranged from great wealth, created by its industrious traders, to destitution and tragedy as a result of invasion and war.
EARLY YEARS. 2,000 - 1,000 BC
The region of Bythinia was occupied by the Hittites during the second millenium BC, and later, during the 12th c. BC by the Phrygians and Mysians, Indo-European races, who migrated from Europe to Asia Minor. During the 10th c. BC the region was occupied by the Bythinians, whose origins are to be found in Thrace. They remained until its colonization by the Milecians. Many famous cities were built on the shores of the Bosphorus during this time, such as Kios, Chalkidon, Kyzikos, Heraklaia and Astakos (later renamed Nikomedeia.)
1,000 BC - The Birth of Christ
From 625 - 555 BC, as a colony of Milecia, Kios prospered, due to its key position as a port and trading point for goods coming to and from the mainland and the industry of its inhabitants. In 553 BC Asia Minor came under the control of the Lydians and Persians. However, provided they paid their taxes to the new rulers, the citizens of Kios were allowed freedom and independence to develop their trade and way of life. In 466 BC the city was liberated by the Athenians. The Athenian General, Kimon, defeated the Persian navy in Cyprus and pushed the Persians back from the sea into the mainland for many years. The city of Kios, along with other cities of Asia Minor, was a member of the Delos Alliance from 466 BC onwards, taking part in the Ionian revolution. However, after the Athenian defeat at Sicely, Kios was again occupied by the Persians from 412 - 334 BC, when it was liberated by Alexander the Great.
The Cities of Asia Minor managed to achieve independence and freedom during this period of frequently changing regimes, particularly that of the Persians, and were able to develop their culture and advance their wealth. They reached the acme of their civilisation in all respects during and after the era of Alexander the Great. (In 330 BC Kios had the first gold coins in history.) Commerce developed rapidly, and gold coins from Kios have been found in Egypt and Phoenicia. Kios later became a member of the Aetolian Alliance. Regrettably, however, the arguments, antagonisms and disputes of the successors of Alexander the Great, lead Kios and the other cities of Asia Minor to subsequent disasters. The worst of these was the assault on the city by Prussias I, King of Bythinia, with the help of King Philip V of Macedonia. The citizens were massacred, banished or enslaved, and a new city named "Prussias next to the sea" was built. This atrocity stirred many people to action, in particular the Rodians and Attalus the First. They even ran to the Roman Senate for help, though this was a fatal mistake resulting not only in their own final ruin, but also that of Greece. The Romans seized this opportunity to invade Greece, fighting and defeating Philip V at the battle of Kynos Kefalae in Thessaly in 197 BC. (The Second Macedonian War.) Philip V was now over committed and unable to prevent the Romans claiming the cities of Asia Minor. The Romans achieved their objective in 74 BC after the death of King Nikomides III, and they occupied Kios and the whole of Bythinia.
THE ROMAN and BYZANTINE EMPIRE
Under the Roman occupation, Kios had an independent constitution, supervised by a Roman Consul. The city kept its Greek character, its commerce, arts and culture, as well as Kyzikos and Apameia. The region became well known and a favourite summer holiday resort for the Roman rulers. Distinguished Philosophers from Kios, such as Asklipiades and Archippos Flavios, managed to ensure many benefits for Kios, including changing its name back to Kios once again.
From the beginning of the 2nd c. AD (112 AD) Christianity began to spread rapidly in the region of Bythinia, including a visit from Paul the Apostle. Plinius, the Roman ruler of Kios, asked the Emperor Trajanus for instructions to stop the Christianization of the area. This resulted in many victims paying "blood taxation". After the foundation of the Byzantine Empire, and the establishment of Christianity as the State religion, Kios was made an Archbishopric. The first Archbishop was Kyrillos, who took part in the first Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea in 325 AD, convened by Emperor Constantine I to determine the nature of Jesus Christ. After the capture of Constantinople by the Osmans and the loss of the cities, the Patriarch removed the Archbishopric from Kios, substituting it with a Metropolis of Nicaea with its seat in Kios. The Bishop of Nicaea became very powerful, playing a major role in the solving of problems and having influence in the election of the Patriarch. At the time of the Greek Revolution of 1821 Kios had five parishes, while Nicaea had but one, and the other Christian villages sixteen.
During the Byzantine Empire, Kios obtained great significance due to its location, and even became a favourite holiday spot for the Byzantine Emperors. A military school was founded here by Emperor Justinian, which functioned for 37 years. Unfortunately, though, as well as being at the cross-roads of important trade routes, it was also at the centre of the many conflicts which raged at this time. The area was a theatre of war between the Byzantine Empire and its enemies. It suffered sustained invasions from Goths and Arabs, and disasters and sackings from the Crusaders and the Seljuks. The latter, a continental nomadic people, started appearing in 1100 AD and even managed to get a navy built , using the local Greek population's ship building skills. The first Turkish shipyard started operating in Kios around this time, though this was destroyed in 1092 AD by Emperor Alexios I, whilst trying to save Bythinia from the Seljuks. A new Turkish military shipyard was founded later in 1789 by Sultan Selim, which operated until 1860 AD.
Kios was at the centre of the fighting of the Crusaders and suffered considerable harm and damage as a result. During the First Crusade in 1096 AD it was the main military base, under the name "Civitot". After a long struggle, the Crusaders managed to push the Seljuks back from Bythinia, into the far distant country close to Iconicon. During the 4th Crusade, when the Emperor was Alexios III and the siege of Constantinople was in progress, Kios was captured by the Franks in 1207 and given to the Knights of the Round Table, who held it until its liberation by the Emperor Michael Palaeologos in 1261 AD.
THE MIDDLE AGES
In 1300 AD the Turks appeared under the leadership of Osman the First, destroying all the coastal cities of Propontis and succeeding in capturing Brussa in 1326. Ten years later in 1336, after a hard siege, they managed to capture Kios. The city was completely destroyed from its foundations upwards, and its citizens fled to Mount Argathonion, where they scraped a primitive existence in the hope of one day returning. After three years they were allowed to return and live in the area beneath the city walls, know as Kastrina. This was close to the ruins of the Church of Theomanna. They restored the Church of Koimisis of Theotokou (The Cathedral Church) or Pasariotissa, and started attending mass and organising their social life. Its inhabitants, mainly fishermen and farmers, lacking education, were obliged to accept the Turkish language. The basic features of their lives were a lack of basic necessities, poverty, dishonour and the mass kidnapping of their children. The annual tax for poor people was 159000 grossia. Many of the inhabitants decided to abandon the city, because they couldn't afford the Turkish presence and oppression. The Turks even forbade the cultivation of vineyards and the consumption of wine. (The people of Kios - Kiotes - grew pomegranates instead of vines, and produced a kind of refreshment from the pomegranate juice. They kept this cool in summer with ice from Olympus, the mountain of Brussa.) These harsh conditions were relaxed between 1656 and 1710, when Murat IV was sultan, thus allowing the conditions for achievement and progress to flourish. Many Greek people from Kios and Kyzikos, being skilled shipbuilders, found good jobs after the foundation of the Turkish Military Shipyard. The city of Kios, whose population was mainly Greek, had the right to elect its own mayor. (The last holder of this office was Anastios Pinatsis, who died as a refugee in Thessaloniki in 1938.)
THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Between 1823 and 1839, when Mahmout II was sultan, the first reforms took place, and later, under the sultanship of Abthoul Mezit, the situation of the Christians improved. The religious, social and commercial structure of Kios was restored, and education was re-established with an increase in the number of teachers. Schools for boys and girls were founded at the expense of the Christian community. The classical spirit of Greece, a country of culture and freedom, started being taught again in schools. Religious celebrations and Saint's Days, Christ's Resurrection and Baptism, the School day of the Three Hierarchs, and various social events such as marriage, baptism and carnival : all these were celebrated in full freedom. Everything was so wonderful that even the Turkish people, with blind belief, took part and very often kneeled before the miraculous saints of Kios. Trade was developed to such a great extent that all the Turkish people in the region were dependent upon the Greek citizens of Kios. In 1908, after the announcement of the Turkish constitution, everyone celebrated the freedom and equality of all Turkish nationals, whatever their nationality or religion. But this happy state was not to last long. The appearance of the Neoturks, supporters of Kemal Ataturk, unfortunately indicated the beginning of the catastrophe. The general military mobilisation of non-Muslim people and the systematic pogrom against the Greek and Armenian population resulted in individual pressure, victimization, imprisonment and false accusation of honest people. The most dreadful of all was the death of about 300,000 Greeks in the Labour Battalions, the so-called amele tampourou, perhaps even more violent than the Nazi concentration camps.
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
During the First World War, Turkey, fighting alongside Germany, continued the pogroms, massacre and spoilage of the Greek people. The inhabitants of Kios were organised to protect themselves, buying weapons for their dais with money from the Churches and charitable organisations. At the end of the war, the Allies and the Greek Army entered Constantinople. In the area around Kios the Turkish guerilla forces, tzetes, were still fighting, until they were finally thrown out with the help of the English navy. The Greek army, under the command of General D. Samartzis, restored the city's freedom on the 25th of July, 1920. They received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic welcome, almost the entire population of the city joining the parade, with the Bishop of Nicaea, later to become Patriarch Basil the Third, and the Mayor, A. Pinatsis leading. The chorus sang "Christos Anesti" . (See the relative photo from the personal archives of Mrs. Koundi Nitsa.) Unluckily, national disunity and betrayal by the Allies led to the failure of the glorious expedition of the Greek Army in Asia Minor and the subsequent catastrophe. There was an attempt to establish the autonomy of Asia Minor with the purpose of persuading people not to leave their houses and lose their possessions. The newly formed Soviet Union came forward to mediate between Greece and Turkey, but there was no response from the royalist Greek government. (The only history book to be found on this subject is one by G. Kordatos - The fifth book. ) Regrettably, Amyna started stirring up the people of Smyrna and Asia Minor. A great gathering of Greek - and even Turkish - people from the area met in Kios with the purpose of declaring Asia Minor an autonomous state.
Christians and Muslims declaring the autonomy of Asia Minor, 1920
However, the allied plans were different. The smell of black gold from Mossouli and Mesopotamia forced them to change their mind, and they proceeded to divide up this land which they did not even own, without paying any attention to the rights of independence, self-determination and integrity of the people of the area. According to the census of 1912 in Asia Minor, from the total population, 2,522,151 were Greeks. The right of these people to sustain their national way of life was not respected by the Great Powers; these were the same "Great Powers" who claimed, hypocritically, at international forums and organisations that they protected the rights of small and weak nations. The Germans themselves organised the pogrom of the Asia Minor Greek population.
the long way to "the white death"
Kemal Ataturk now went on to the attack, with the help of those who had previously been allies. The Greek army, abandoned by its former allies, ineffectually irrigated "our land" with its blood. The military section of the city of Kios sustained savage attacks on the 22nd of August, forcing the city to be evacuated on the 23rd of August, 1922. The 30,000 people from Kios and the surrounding villages, already refugees, gathered "en masse" on the beach, waiting helplessly for the ships to save them. The French ships in the port of Mudania, with their powerful radio transmitters, jammed communications between the Greek warship "Panther" and the "Averof", which was in the harbour at Constantinople. Finally, eleven cargo ships arrived, and from 2 p.m. on the 25th of August, 1922, started to embark the refugees, who were leaving behind their treasured homeland, their efforts, their sacrifices and the graves of their loved ones, their belongings ..................... What a crime, my God ! ........................ With what unconsciousness did they allow this to happen ! ............................ What a disgrace to humanity !
book by G.Horton, American General Consul , 1926
How can a Kionian forget the bewitching KIOS, which, as its fairies seduced the legendary Ylas, captivated all who lived there or passed by ! Any Kionian, in any part of the world, lived and lives with the nostalgia of the Fatherland, Kios. Nostalgia for the homeland which respected Greek culture, the Orthodox Church, and which won a glorious page in Greek History.
GLORY AND HONOUR TO ITS DEAD.
Descendants of Kios, let us engrave deep in our soul this vision of our unforgettable homeland.