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Παρασκευή, 19 Ιουνίου 2015

The evolution of Karitsa: the village's near-500 year history

Present day Karitsa is built within the region known during the long period of classical antiquity as Laconia or Lacedaemonia, but while the area has been continually inhabited since prehistoric times we can only speculate about when the village as such began to take shape and acquire its own identity. Most likely it gradually evolved over hundreds of years during the first period of Ottoman domination, sometime between1453 to 1865.

According to local folklore, the original inhabitants of the district were shepherds and land tillers. They lived in scattered hovels in the cultivatable lowland tilling fields and pastures situated on either side of the creek snaking its way through the tilling fields of the district. They named the creek Lykorema and the extended Tsempelis family cleared and cultivated the land on the west side while the Malavazos folk spread across the eastern side. Leading members of the Tsempelis family were also considered the village “dimogerontes” or brokers with the Ottoman overlords. They were elected every so often, on the voices, at a gathering of select villagers and were required to administer community issues, support the village priest, adjudicate on small claims and most importantly collect taxes on behalf of the Ottomans. Villagers were taxed according to their marital status and their ability to pay either in cash or in kind, or a combination of both. Most often, however, in order to reap maximum profits for themselves brokers would arbitrarily impose unreasonable and excessive contributions from the toiling villagers.

Apart from the Tsempelis family, it is thought that perhaps at times members of the Katsampis clan may have fulfilled this role as well. Their family name sounds suspiciously close to a variation of “kotsampasis”, the Ottoman term for such a position of trust.

The early land tillers and shepherds would move their flocks of goats and sheep back and forth from the lowland pastures in the winter months to the highland pastures on Tsouka, Elatias and Rachi Asfaka in the summer months, but families and household chattels would remain based in the lowland hovels dotted here and there among the tilling fields.

In time, however, the disperse community of early Karitsiotes began to draw closer together and families came to build their hovels in clusters, as is evidenced by the ruins in Sternitsa and Agios Thanasis.

In Sternitsa there are hovel remains such as roof tiles and wall foundations of a small settlement. There are also the remnants of the tiny church of Agios Dimitrios. The water-pit (sterna) there is dated more than 2500 years.

Another, larger, settlement is said to have existed in Agios Thanasis,  below Aetofolia and east of present day Agios Nikolas. Remains of buildings can be seen there to this day. It is speculated that the remains of a tiny church may be that of Agios Thanasis.

However, the location of these settlements according to very old tales, made life very difficult for the original Karitsiotes. First of all there was a shortage of water. There are only a few wells at Agios Thanasis and a solitary water pit at Sternitsa. Secondly, both, but more so Sternitsa, were too far from the mountain pastures of Tsouka, Elatias and Rachi Asfaka, as well as the highland tilling fields at Diaselo, Pigadia, Rongi and Soumpanou. Thirdly, they had to contend with a lack of satisfactory natural defences and protection from the Ottoman overlords who demanded heavy taxes in kind: butter, yogurt, olive oil, cheeses and other foods they needed. Moreover they lived in fear of Islamification, genocide and the mass kidnapping of their children. Lastly, as is often brought up in talks with locals, the air around Agios Thanasis was unhealthy and diseased, teeming with mosquitoes and annoying gnats. This drove the early Karitsiotes to move their settlement. But where, and how?

An amusing tale tells that one fine day a shepherd from the Tsempelis family was looking after his goats and sheep grazing on highland scrub overlooking Agios Thanasis. As the flock was grazing a billy-goat leapt out of a prickly bush with water dripping from its beard. Hence, it is explained, they came upon the first spring of surface water in the area, hidden, how many years nobody knows, behind the dense prickly bushes and pournaria. The find led to the beginning of the village in its present location, a healthier spot with clean air, conveniently located between the highland and lowland pastures and tilling fields, and most importantly with a constant source of running water; albeit still not sufficiently out of the way of the Ottoman oppressors. Word of mouth evidence suggests the Ottomans did have some presence, continuous or intermittent, in the village and some sort of base at the knoll known as Melego.

The spring discovered, now known as Kentriki Vrysi (central water spring), is situated below the Tounteiko Roumnai (scrub) of Dothe Gitonia (neighbourhood). In the olden days Karitsa was supplied with water chiefly from this spring which was the nucleus around which the very first stone and slate-covered humble homes were built. An inscribed stone on the wall of the spring makes it known that improvements were carried out in 1876 but the spring itself was of course built hundreds of years earlier, at a time about which no written evidence has been unearthed.

The earliest known written record relating to the village is one showing the figures of the 1700 census by the Venetians. The census lists Carizza (Karitsa), Gierachi (Geraki) and Allupocori (Alepochori) along with 13 other neighbouring villages of Territorio de Eleos Provincia di Laconia. From the census we learn that Karitsa 315 years ago was made up of 37 families and 152 people, 83 male and 69 female. Four years later, in 1704, the province of Elos was disbanded and Karitsa was brought into the larger province of Mistras

Another written record shows the administrative divisions by the Sultans during the second period of Ottoman domination (1715-1820). This reveals that from 1780 onwards Karitsa belonged to a cluster of villages known as Kounoupochoria that were deemed to be wholly owned by the Sultan of Argos. In addition to Karitsa the cluster included the neighbouring villages and settlements of Kounoupia, Niochori, Giotsali, Mari, and Alepochori. This cluster of villages was under the administration of Argos. Geraki was part of another group known as Glympochoria. Along with Geraki this group embraced Agios-Vasilis, Platanaki, Paliochori and Kosmas.

For many years before the revolution of 1821, at least as early as the 1720s and 1730s, a steady stream of Karitsiotes was leaving the village to settle in more well-off areas including Spetses, Astros of Kynouria, Grammousa and Molaous. Many of these would then take on the surname "Karytsiotis". Hence people by that surname now living in the rest of Laconia and in Arcadia are all likely to trace their ancestry to Karitsa. The most famous of them is Dimitrios Karitsiotis, a national benefactor, who was born in 1741 in Astros of Kynouria to parents from Karitsa. He amassed great wealth in Trieste Italy and was a close collaborator of Rigas Feraios, the Hellene revolutionary and famous forerunner of the Hellenic War of Independence.

Karitsiotes took part in the 1821 revolution for national liberation from the Ottoman yoke and in 1828 welcomed the first Governor of liberated Hellas, Ioannis Kapodistrias., albeit amidst widespread poverty, disarray and even continued hostilities with Imbraim Pashas in the south west of the Peloponnese.

Among the first initiatives by Kapodistrias was the division of the Peloponnese into prefectures and an attempt in 1828 to conduct a census of the populations in the liberated areas. This showed Karitsa to be inhabited by just twenty families. From our knowledge of that period the most dominant families would have been the Tsempelis, Malavazos, Katsampis, Antonis, Chagias and Tountas folk. And until such time as the fledgling state was able to organise the local administration of villages, towns and cities Kapodistrias resolved to continue with the system of eldership, that of privileged locals managing community affairs, in place during the period of Ottoman domination. In Karitsa of course that meant continuation under the control of the Tsempelis family. The new governor clarified however that the elders were to have responsibility for health, monitoring prices and oversight of daily issues. At the same time he granted all men, over 25, but typically for the era not women, the right to vote. In time he was keen to organise an efficient system of public administration and significantly reduce the influence of powerful local personalities who were perceived as obstacles to the goals of a strong central government because most often they wanted the continuation of the corrupt practices benefiting themselves and their supporters enjoyed during the years of Ottoman domination. This provoked the opposition of powerful personalities of the time which led to his assassination in 1831.

Sixteen months after the assassination of Kapodistrias, 17-year-old Othon, full name Otto von Wittelsbach, prince of Bavaria, arrived to be enthroned monarch and to rule over Hellas. Prior to that the Great Powers of the time (Great Britain, France and the Russian Empire) had decided that the system of government in Hellas ought to be that of a hereditary monarchy, even if the selection of a minor as the supreme ruler was rather bewildering.

The first attempt in April 1833 by Othon and his Bavarian advisers to administer the fledgling state involved the subdivision of liberated Hellas into ten prefectures and forty-two provinces. At that stage the country consisted only of the Peloponnese, Central Greece and the Cyclades and the following were the original prefectures: Argolis and Corinth, Achaia and Ilida, Messinia, Arcadia, Laconia, Akarnania and Aitolia, Fokida and Lokrida, Attica, Viotia, Evia and the Cyclades.

In addition, the thousands of village councils prevalent during the years of Ottoman domination were merged initially into 750 and then into 250 municipalities.

 Prefectures, provinces and municipalities derived their names from the myths, legends and ancient history of each local area, thus acknowledging the ancient roots of the Hellenic people and their cultural attachment to their ancestral places of origin.

Over the next seven years or so, Karitsa, at the time a small community of less than thirty dwellings and around 160 souls, had the opportunity to discover once again the historical thread connecting it with the glorious history of ancient forebears.

First and foremost the new prefecture Laconia, the province Lacedaemonia as well as the capital Sparti revived the names of the area and the city-state during the period of classical antiquity. According to tradition Lacedaemonia in historical times was the proper name of the Spartan city-state. It was named after its king Lacedaemon who in turn gave the capital the name of his wife Sparti. In Greek mythology, Lacedaemon was the son of Zeus and Taygete, and Sparti  the daughter of Evrotas. Secondly, Geraki, a mere ten kilometers from Karitsa, was to be the seat of the municipality of Geronthres named after ancient Geronthrae built by the Achaeans long before the invasion of the Dorians and the Heraclidae and which later came within the federation of the Eleuthero-Lacones.

Other local connections with their ancient forefathers included the municipality of Marion adopting the name of the ancient town Marios, now buried on the slopes of Parnonas no more than three kilometres, as the bird flies, from Karitsa. Like Geronthres, the town of Marios belonged to the Elefthero-Lacones, the federation of local cities established by the Romans peaking 300 years BC. The municipality of Marion was in the province of Kynouria of the prefecture of Arcadia, its capital being Tripolitsa (later Tripolis). Local Kynurians claim to be native to the area, preceding even the Dorians and the Hericladae. In ancient times Kynuria was the apple of discord between Argos and Sparti who succeeded in occupying it at 547 BC. Arcadia in turn took its name from mythical Arcas while the entire region of the Peloponnese derives its name from the legend of the hero Pelops who was said to have conquered the entire region. The name Peloponnesos means "Island of Pelops".

In the first subdivision municipalities could be formed in communities of 300 or more people. Clearly Karitsa did not meet the criteria to have a municipal council in its own right and was required to be part of a merged municipality. But contrary to popular expectation, at first it was not taken in by the municipality of Geronthres, seated in nearby Geraki, nor in fact was it to be part of Laconia the province its folk had culturally and historically always thought to have been an inseparable part of. King Othon and his Bavarian advisers were not known for being especially responsive, nor consultative with locals, or for that matter respectful of regional history, mythology, cultural traditions and symbols. Thus somewhat surprisingly, Karitsa, as part of the merged Kounoupochoria, was placed in the municipality of Mari of the province of Kynouria in the prefecture of Arcadia which had as its capital Tripolitsa, military and political centre of the Peloponnese.

The Kounoupochoria and by extension the village of Karitsa, however, through successive royal decrees, underwent a series of complex administrative changes which saw Karitsa and Alepochori, within a period of seven years, change municipalities, provinces, even prefectures before finally in 1840 ending up in the municipality Geronthres of the province of Lacedaemon of the prefecture of Laconia.

In brief, the province of Kynouria was formed in 1833 as a province of the prefecture of Arcadia, and was headquartered in Prasto, the old and historic centre of Tsakonia. After one year, in 1834, seven municipalities were formed to comprise the province of Kynouria and its headquarters was moved to Agios Petros. One of the municipalities was Parnonos and Karitsa may have comprised part of one of its municipalities but this has not been verified. Yet another administrative change in 1835 saw the establishment of a new province by the name of Prassion, headquartered once again at Prasto, which took with it a sizeable section of the province of Kynouria. The new province broke off from the prefecture of Arcadia, to be part of the prefecture of Laconia and was comprised of five municipalities, one of which was the municipality of Mari consisting of Karitsa, Alepochori, Kounoupia, Niochori, Mari, Giotsali, Poulithra, Chouni, Pelota or Peleta, Amygdalia, Tsoumos, Pygadil, Longari and Tsitalia. The seat of the municipality was Kounoupia. Gkikas Koliopoulos was the selected mayor and I Niarchos the tax collector.

In 1838 the province of Prassion of the prefecture of Laconia was abolished and the section that had broken off returned to the province of Kynouria in the prefecture of Arcadia. Thus the municipality of Mari, and as a part of it Karitsa, returned to the province of Kynouria and the prefecture of Arcadia; Kynouria retaining its territory and its constituent villages, as set in 1833.

Two years later, in 1840, the municipality of Mari was disbanded. The villages of Karitsa and Alepochori broke off from the province of Kynouria of the prefecture of Arcadia to join the municipality of Geronthres of the province of Lacedaemon of the prefecture of Laconia. Geraki, Vrontamas and Velotas had already been part of the municipality of Geronthres ever since 1833.

In those days Karitsa was a distance of two hours travelling time by mule or by donkey from Geraki the seat of the new municipality whilst nine hours was the estimated time to Sparti, the capital of the prefecture of Laconia.

Even though the four villages –Karitsa, Alepochori, Vrontamas and Geraki along with the community of Velotas- now were all part of one municipality, they each maintained separate birth registers for males. First on the Karitsa register is Georgios, son of Dimitris Tsempelis, born in 1841. We are not certain if birth registers existed before then. Records found only go as far as that.

Othon was an autocratic monarch and scaled back the democratic initiatives of the late governor Ioannis Kapodistrias. Whilst he allowed the election of local councils on three-year terms, only the most privileged in each village were entered in the electoral roll and eligible to vote. But even then he maintained final control by retaining the power for him or the prefect, acting on his behalf, to select the all powerful local mayors from a list of three candidates nominated by the local council. In practice authorities at all levels of administration – municipal, provincial, prefecturial and central - were as corrupt as they could be. The King and the authorities appointed and dismissed mayors and officials at will and under all sorts of pretexts, whilst the mayors themselves stacked the electoral rolls. Municipalities were divided into three categories -Alpha, Beta and Gamma grade - according to their population. With a population of around 1500 the Municipality of Geronthres was considered one of the smallest in Laconia. It clearly fell within the Gamma grade of municipalities and as such it was allowed a mayor, a deputy mayor and six councillors. Geraki identity, Dimitris Oikonomou, was the selected Mayor of Geronthres and A Papas the tax collector.

Though totally impoverished and lacking the education and know-how of the present day municipality of Geronthres, its counterpart of the1800s had far greater responsibilities than later councils have ever had. In those days the State under the reign of Othon did not appear to want to undertake, as one would expect, some of the critical functions of government, opting instead to offload them onto totally unready and inept local administrations. Indeed it could be said Othon wanted strong municipalities to cover the deficiencies of the central government.

And so, municipalities like Geronthres had responsibility for a wide range of services including the organisation and maintenance of the local police and the magistrates court as well as monitoring of prices and transactions; development of the environment including the construction and maintenance of local roads, aqueducts, wells and water projects; and, construction and upkeep of primary schools.

But before funding any of these works and services the municipality had to pay for the salaries of the mayor, tax collector, municipal secretary, police, local magistrate and other officials. In practice the municipality of Geronthres found it hard enough to meet the salaries of these officials let alone have any surplus for projects, particularly since it was required to raise funds locally and also forward a portion of the tax collected to the central government. At that time direct taxation of rural areas represented the sole source of the State’s revenue.

So A Papas,
the tax collector, would regularly make the rounds of all homes, hovels, sheep and goat folds, threshing rings and oil presses in and around Geraki, Vrontamas, Velotas, Alepochori and Karitsa collecting taxes.

And because money as such was so scarce among the toiling villagers Papas would collect taxes in kind including stock, dairy products, wheat and olive oil, nominally set at ten percent. The required amount was ten percent, but as during the Ottoman days the illiterate villagers fell easy prey to exploitation by corrupt officials who would often charge them more than the nominal ten percent and even swindle them when weighing the produce.

In addition, in lieu of further taxation the mayor frequently required locals to work on community projects. Most often this involved opening up and repairing roads, paths and tracks and attending to water works such as the village spring for household needs, troughs for livestock and digging irrigation ditches to share any leftover water among the village vegetable plots. In the early years, for instance, it was common practice for the Mayor of Geronthres to require eight days work each year from all adult males of Karitsa for village works. Those with money were able to buy their quota at the rate of three drachmas for each day owing.

Given the extreme poverty, it is doubtful that many were able to afford to pay, and on the most part opted to join fellow villagers in work teams. As an illustration of the destitution of the time, in the mid 1850s out of 878 Laconians considered the most well off, and therefore eligible to serve on juries, only nine resided within the municipality of Geronthres and of those just two from Karitsa. Jury lists back then included the names, municipalities and villages of those eligible to serve on jury panels in the criminal courts of Laconia. Other details on the lists included the age, occupation and annual income of eligible jurors. On the list issued in Sparti by the prefect, K Dariotis, on 12 October 1855, the two from Karitsa were: Konstantinos Dimitriou Malavazos, land tiller, aged 60, with annual income of 900 drachmae; and, Anagnostis Konstantinou Tsempelis, land owner, aged 48, with annual income of 500 drachmae. In comparison the wealthiest resident in the area, Anagnostis Rafakos, a 55-year-old landowner from Alepochori declared an annual income of 1500 drachmae; while the doctor from Geraki, Ioannis Kalomoiris, aged 60, had an income of 1000 drachmae. By the standards of the time an annual income of 500 drachmae was sufficient to adequately and comfortably meet the needs of a family of four. Assuming Malavazos and Tsempelis to be among the better-off Karitsiotes one can only speculate on the scale of poverty and hardship among their less well off fellow-villagers.

The process of selecting the all-powerful local mayors from a list of three nominated by the local council which itself was also hardly representative continued throughout the thirty-year reign of Othon, from 1832 to 1862, when he, along with his meddling Queen Amalia, was exiled. Despite hereditary monarchy as a system of government proving such a disaster in Greece, the Great Powers insisted on its continuation, and yet again selected a 17-year old, Georgios A', full name Christian Wilhelm Ferdinand Adolf Georg, prince of Denmark, to replaced the exiled Bavarian. It seems that young Georgios had better advice than his predecessor for in 1864 he assented to constitutional reforms requiring municipal elections to be direct, secret and by an equal vote from all citizens, except women who had not yet won the right to vote. Yet despite this, the centuries-long practice of localism, clientelism, and corruption by officials continued unabated and mayors were perceived as the principal destructive force. As a consequence apart from paying the salaries of officials there was very little in terms of public works outside Geraki, the seat of the municipality. Karitsa still relied on a sole water spring, and a sole mule track carved by mule and donkey shoes through the rocky terrain, across ravines and through thorny scrub remained its only contact with Geraki. Many a time, in the snow, the hail and the rain of winter the track was virtually impassable and Karitsa remained closed off to the outside world. And as yet, no thought of a school.

Municipal elections were held at Geraki every four years but contemptible conduct, fury, harassment, intimidation and bullying regrettably marred the ballot when voters from all four villages converged in Geraki to cast their vote. Karitsa folk, along with those from Alepochori and Vrontamas, would come down with flags, ribbons, banners, and bells and whistles showing open support for the candidate of their choice. The mayor at that time was considered to be the lord and master of his region. He would oversee and decide upon most community issues, including the police and the courts. As a result municipal elections were of vital concern to all villagers.

In the years after the liberation we observe a rapid growth in the population of the village. From a book published in 1853 by Ioannis Ragkavis we learn that at that time Karitsa had 34 dwellings and a population of 174. In comparison neighbouring Alepochori had 44 dwellings and a population of 224 while the regional centre, Geraki, had 194 dwellings and a population of 906. These figures show that within twenty or so years from 1830 to 1853 both the number of houses as well as the number of people in Karitsa doubled. A significant increase in the population is also recorded in the next twenty-year period; reaching 280 in 1879. Ten years later, however, in 1889, the upward trend tapers off. The 1889 census showed a slight increase of four souls with a population of 284.

At about this time the village witnessed an unprecedented mass departure of its most productive workers who were enticed to the United States with promises of riches beyond belief. It is thought that the first villager to make the trip was Dimitris Christou Malavazos (Mazarakos), aged 29, father of five who arrived at Ellis Island in New York aboard the Indipendente on 16 May 1885. Dimitris, illiterate and missing his wife and children, found it hard to adjust from the life of land tiller and shepherd in the village to factory fodder in the United States and returned to his beloved Karitsa less than three years later. Nonetheless, forlorn hopes or not, in the next 37 years about 115, or more than half of the adult males of the village, including two of Malvazos’ sons, would make the same trip seeking, with varying degrees of success, somehow to build a better future for themselves and their children. And while a few settled permanently in the new world, most found it impossible to adjust and were destined to go back and forth a number of times before settling permanently in America or returning home to Karitsa.

Nonetheless, despite the continuing strong tide of immigration, the village was continuing to show a steady net gain in population and in 1896, during the year of the rebirth of the Olympic Games in Athens, Karitsa showed figures of 327 people, while in the following census of 1907 its population had risen to 354.

Hence during the 19th century we note a rapid increase in the population of Karitsa. Naturally this meant a corresponding increase in the number of dwellings and work-animals as well as in the need for water, gardens, vineyards, olive trees, stock animals, land for tilling, and land for grazing; all this within the confined and not so fertile Karitsa lands.

The table on the left shows the figures of the first census by the Venetians in 1700, the early censuses of liberated Hellas, and the regular censuses of the 20th century, from 1920 onwards. Repercussions on the village brought about by such demographic changes will be discussed later.

1912 saw a general shake-up of local government in Hellas. Most area councils throughout the land were done away with and replaced by village councils. In our region the Council of Geronthres was broken up into the village councils of Alepochori, Vrondamas, Geraki and Karitsa. Karitsa was recognised as a self-managed village council on Saturday 31 August 1912, an event welcomed and no doubt wholeheartedly celebrated on the preceding Wednesday and Thursday during the Feast of “Agianniou”, the annual two-day festival in Karitsa on 28-29 August.

Old timers say that they had heard that a Hristos Tsembelis was elected village president of the newly established council. All in all, in the last century, some 14 presidents were elected or appointed to lead the various village councils. We do not have any written records for the period up to 1950. Unfortunately many records were destroyed on New Years Day of 1947. On that day rebel fighters torched nine houses in Karitsa. One of them was the home of the then village president, Leonidas Malavazos, who was holding all council records at home. Hence our information on village presidents is based on the fading recollections of older villagers. The table on the left lists those remembered to have served as village presidents since 1912. We are not totally certain that the first few are in correct time order.

Kostandinos Rozaklis, one of the earliest presidents of the village council, is regarded amongst the most memorable personalities of Karitsa. In addition to his contribution in civic matters, Rozaklis was a self taught verse writer committing in storylike poetry, in the simplest of language and wonderful Karitsa idioms, incidents that stirred the village either in joy or in grief. The village poet would end each of his creations with the tag, "O Piitis, Kapa Pi ke Rozaklis" (The Poet Kapa Pi and Rozaklis).

Ioannis Antoniou, president of the village at the time of the German and Italian occupation, was killed along with fellow-villagers Leonidas G Tountas and Leonidas H Tountas in 1944 near the Monastery of Elona by forces of EAM; Ethniko Apeleftherotiko Metopo (National Liberation Front). He is the only Karitsa president to have died during his term of office. At the time of the occupation the overwhelming bulk of Karitsiotes of all political persuasions supported the armed struggle and the contribution of all main resistance organisations. But whilst at the beginning the resistance organisations worked closely together, from the middle of 1943 and early 1994, as liberation was drawing closer, contradictions surfaced between groups. Such contradictions led to open rifts and civil war. The village, like Hellas in general, came out of that ordeal deeply distressed. The loss of Antoniou along with that of a number of other fellow-villagers, from both sides, devastated and tore at the heart of the village.

Following the death of Antoniou, Leonidas Malavazos took over as village president. He held office for 11 years from 1944 to 1955. Malavazos was succeeded by Alexis Profiris until 1959.

Kostandinos Antoniou, the son of Athanasios, served as president from 6 May 1959 until 10 July 1968 when he was dismissed by order of the new dictatorial regime. Georgios Lambros was handpicked by the regime to serve as president for the next seven years. He was sworn in on 25 July 1968 and dismissed sometime in 1974 when the village schoolteacher, Kostandinos Giannakouras, was called upon to act in a caretaker capacity. It should be pointed out that despite the widespread unpopularity of the dictatorship Lambros was above reproach in his dealings with the villagers and kept their confidence even in the most testing times.

Kostandinos Giannakouras differs from all other presidents. He was in charge of the single teacher village school. He was not a Karitsiotis. Thus he stands alone as the only non-Karitsiotis to carry out the duties of village president. He was appointed by the dictatorship during its death throes, apparently as caretaker president until fresh elections could be arranged for a new village council.

Leonidas Katsambis was elected on 30 March 1975 and sworn in on 23 May. He was the first village president in the post-dictatorship period and had as his understudy the up and coming Panayiotis Antoniou.

Panayiotis Antoniou, or «Dimarxos» (Mayor) as he is affectionately known, took over as president in 1982. Antoniou the longest serving president in the history of thevillage. He was elected four times in a row to four-year terms, carrying out the duties of president for 16 years without a break. He is considered by many as the most effective of all Karitsa presidents. For a long time during his years in office Antoniou benefited from the whole-hearted teamwork of council clerk, Michalis Rigas.

In 1999, after 86 years of separate local government, Karitsa joined Alepochori, Kalithea and Geraki to make up a new modern council with a very ancient name Geronthres. Panayiotis Antoniou metaphorically handed over the baton to the first mayor of Geronthres, Lambros Vourvouriotis, and to all future successors with the hope and the expectation of all Karitsiotes that the developmental program continues. At the same time a new body, the three member local committee of Karitsa, comprising a local chairperson and two councillors was to be responsible for the upkeep of water supplies, roads and common land. It would also have responsibility for the management of grazing lands and fields. Everyone was optimistic a new leaf in the history of Karitsa had been turned over; a leaf with the most promising of prospects. The present mayor (2003-2006) is Philippos Piliouras and the local committee of Karitsa is made up of Stelios Malavazos, chairperson, along with Karitsa councillors Stelios Hagias and Panayiotis Hagias.

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