History Box Nr. 2
Frangokastello:A bit of History
Frangokastello - "A bit of history"
Two separate revolutions reached their sad conclusions here: In 1770 Yannis Vlachos - better known as "Daskaloyannis" or "teacher John" - started an uprising in the White Mountains. This was an area -and people - the Ottoman-Turks had never quite conquered. Wild goats, wilder mountains and even wilder men, were - and still are - the make-up of this inhospitable terrain. The Sphaks therefore, had a degree of autonomy, not afforded to other Christian Cretans. They also had their own ports - Loutro and Chora Sphakion, to name just two - and their own fleet. The Russians - who were helping the general Greek cause for independence in the Peloponnese at the time - now offered Daskaloyannis aid in the event of a Cretan insurrection. The uprising that followed was brutally quashed, leading to Daskaloyannis' surrender at Frangokastello castle. Despite pledges of amnesty from the Pasha of Herakleion (then 'Candia'), Daskaloyannis was put to death, the following year. I will not dwell on the details of his execution - there may be children reading - but needless to say, it was rather gruesome!
In 1828, another uprising against the Turks (there would be quite a number more before Crete - in 1898 - was "allowed" autonomy by the 'Great Powers' of the time - Russia, Britain and France - and even after that, further uprisings were necessary before union with Greece was finally achieved in 1913). This was part of the general war for Greek independence, led by Hadji Michaelis Dalianis - from Epirus in Northern Greece - and it was as a result of this revolution that the legend of the "drossoulites" (dew shades) emerged.
And "emerge" is exactly what these shadowy creatures do each year. Ghosts of the 385 men (mostly mainland Greeks), trapped within the castle and slaughtered by the Ottomans - themselves losing at least double that amount of men - walk around revelling in the pure joy of being dead. This happens every year; usually in May.
"Drossoulites", most certainly do exist, but these shadows of former selves, are nowadays more commonly thought of as mirages brought on by particular climatic conditions. These are scientific and unromantic times, and I would rather believe in the ghostly past, but sadly lack that most powerful of all deceivers; imagination!