Our Municipality was named after the ancient Aithikia. Aithikia is
mentioned by Homer and Stravonas, who describe Aithikes as people quite proud,
chosen to guard the passage from Epirus
to Thessaly. It is worth
mentioning that in 148 B.C., the Romans, after conquering Thessaly, appointed
the Aithikes in charge of guarding the strategic passages of Pindos
and rewarded them by granting them many privileges. In 1535, Thessaly came under
Turkish occupation. At that time, the mountainous Pindos was enjoying the greatest
prosperity mainly due to the massive transfers of the plain inhabitants of Thesssaly
to the mountains. The income from cattle-breeding and textiles (mostly woollen
fabrics) and the folklore architecture helped build in the villages of the Municipality
of Aithikon beautiful houses, churches, monasteries and bridges, to which all
the influence of the Epirus workmen is obvious.
During the 18th century at least one new and splendid church was built
in every village of the southern Pindos. Nowadays, not only the churches, but
also the numerous and once rich monasteries stand as irrefutable evidence of those
glorious days. In the 18th centuty, the social differentiation had already taken
place 1) the ruling class consisted almost exclusively by the chief shepherds
and landowners 2) the middle class comprised of the craftsmen, the weavers, the
tailors, the copper-workers etc. 3) the lowest class included the chief shepherds,
the cattle-breeders, the poorest mule-drivers and the small farmers. The villages
of Aspropotamos were dominated from powerful families of armatoloi, landowners
and chief shepherds to whom all people obeyed, like the family of the Chatzipetraioi
in Neraidochori, the
Chatzipetroulaioi in Pertouli
and the Pyrgaioi in Pyrra.
In some villages like Drosochori
and Neraidochori, the small industries of woollen fabrics flourished and became
so powerful that they traded their products even in Serres and Vienna. By the
end of the 18th century, the woollies’ traders resided and worked in Monastiri.
Many of the inhabitants of Pyrra were wandering blacksmiths, copper-workers and
Nikolaos Kasomoulis mentions the following:
"As occasion offered, I toured all the villages with him (the commander
of Aspropotamos, Stornaris) Pyrran, Kamnaious, Tyfloseli and Gardiki, which were
inhabited by various people like merchants, shepherds, craftsmen of woollen overcoats
and others, that is to say, small industry owners"
(Kasomoulis Nikolaos, Military Memorabilia of the Greek Revolution 1821-1823,
The History of the Armatolic Coup).
The villages of the southern Pindos are inhabited all year round. The type
of cattle-breeding and the economy they had developed did not demand the regular
transfer of the families. A great number of residents and mainly the families
of craftsmen, the small farmers but also the cattle-breeders lived in the villages
in winter, almost isolated from the rest of the world and working exclusively
on their products.
It is noticeable that during the Turkish Occupation, the men on Pindos
never had to wear a fez and women lived a more liberal life compared to women
in the plains.
The domination of Ali Pasha of Ioannina in 1758 brought about many
changes to the villages of Aspropotamos. When Ali Pasha was appointed "dervetzis"
of Thessaly (i.e. chief of the army that was responsible for the safety of the
mountainous roads and passages) by Pili, the Turks started interfering with the
affairs of the mountainous villages. To start with, many families from Epirus
had to give up their villages during the peak of Ali Pasha's ruling - Chimara
in north Epirus, Syrrako,
- and settled down in the villages of Pindos. Finally, many of the poorest villages
of Aspropotamos had to yield to Ali Pasha and his followers and become big estates.
Some other people were forced to pay rent to have their cattle grazing in the
grasslands of their ancestors, like the residents of Pertouli, Pyrra, Agios
Nikolaos, Drosochori, Gardiki
and Athamania, whereas
some others were forced to leave. The latter were wealthy elders, chief shepherds,
merchants and craftsmen. They left in groups or alone with their families who
were depended on them, like the family of Gousios Chatzipetros, an active eminent
chief shepherd and woollies’ merchant in Neraidochori.
The Chatzipetraioi fall into disgrace with Ali, after refusing to
cooperate and submit to him. The family was economically ruined and in 1812 the
two younger Gousios’ sons, Giannakis and Christodoulos Chatzipetros sought a better
fortune in Serres, where
the family was into business. Cristodoulos Chatzipetros travelled to Vienna with
other merchants from Serres, where he met Napoleon as part of a Greek delegation
and asked him to help to liberate Greece. Some years later, in 1817, Christodoulos
Chatzipetros worked in the royal court of Ali Pasha, offering his services as
a secretary. In order to understand how massive the exodus from the villages of
Pindos was, due to the way Ali Pasha ruled, a comparison , for the period 1806-1815,
between the population data given by F. Pouqeville and the demographic facts of
Trikki code in 1820, that was drawn up by Ali Pasha for tax reasons, would suffice.
In Gardiki only 70 out of 120 families remained, in Neraidochori only 40 out of
300, in Desi 70 out
of 80, in Athamania 28 only out of 80 whereas in Drosochori and Agios Nikolaos
only 40 out of 300.
Ali Pasha's fall and his death in 1822 did not exempt the mountainous
villages from the disasters, since his death coincided with the beginning of the
Greek Revolution. The destruction of villages and the exodus of the inhabitants
continued. In June 1823 the Turkish-Albanian troops, under the command of Selictar
Boda or Poda, tried to invade Aspropotamos. They set off from Pili and moved on
to the villages of the Vlachs, looting and destroying everything in their way.
The inhabitants left their homes and moved to the mountains that were a lot safer.
The villages of Pertouli, Neraidochori and Pyrra were completely destroyed. When
Nikolaos Kassomoulis visited these villages in 1826 he couldn't even recognise
the bedrocks of the houses. Their inhabitants had been waiting for better days
for no less than 18 years. Some of them had left and spread in modern Greece.
The villages of Pindos played an equally major role during the German
Occupation and the National Resistance. The mountainous zone belonged to the free
Greece and there were the headquarters of E.A.M. - E.L.A.S. and the central offices
of the common General Headquarters of the resisting organisations E.L.A.S. – E.D.E.M.
- E.K.K.A of the English.
This text is cited June 2005 from the Municipality of Ethikon URL below, which contains image