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Τρίτη, 11 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

On this day 193 years ago: Enslaved Karitsiotes, Gerakites and Alepochorites

Site of fierce battled between Imbrahim's troops and Kolokotroni fighters
Photo courtesy Chrysa Cheliotis of Kounoupia
In 1825 forays by detachments led by Ibrahim Pasha were intent on annihilating and terrorising Laconian people and destroying their land. They slaughtered, captured young men and women and torched villages and hovels in their path.

On the morning of Friday 11 September 1825, one day before Geraki was burned and Vrontamas was engulfed in flames, only four days before the Holocaust of Paliomonastiro, a fierce battled between Ibrahim's troops and Kolokotroni fighters was waged on a peak opposite Agios Giannnis. Many Turks were killed. Since then the locals call that area "Mnimata" (meaning Graves) because the Turks are very likely to have buried their fallen there. It is said that Karitsiotes also joined in that battle. One of their dead was actually carried on a rigged up stretcher back to the village for burial.

Panic-stricken Karitsiotes sought refuge in the thickly wooded forest of Tsouka opposite the village from where that afternoon they watched in horror as Ibrahim's forces set their houses alight. Soon the forest around them was also in flames. Karitsa folklore has it that Georgakis Tsempelis and his wife Eirini were captured and killed in enemy hands. It is also said that on Tsouka the Turks captured, raped and in the end also killed two other young women from the Tsempelis family.

However, official records held at the national archives present a slightly different, more detailed version. It is recorded that Georgakis Konstanti Tsempelis, his wife Erini, and his sister whose first name remains unknown, were among 23 men, women and children, but mostly women and children, listed to be from Karitsa, who were captured by Ibrahim's forces. They were then taken to a prisoner of war camp in Messinia and from there loaded onto ships and transported to the Middle East for the slave trade.

In addition, newly discovered evidence not only matches but also casts further light on the above information that we have about the two Tsempelis women. In crosschecking with the database of the Family Tree South Parnon, the coordinator, Stelios Chagias, is able to reveal the two women were in fact sisters-in-law.

Something else that comes to light is that a third Tsempelis girl, seven-year-old Chrysoula, daughter of Irini and niece of the othe woman also fell into enemy hands. It is said the girl suffered hideous torture, her tender hands bound with rope and dragged behind a horse. Fortunately the little girl somehow managed to escape and avoided the fate of her mother and grandmother.

Here we present the names of all who were captured, purportedly from Karitsa, in alphabetical order, as documented in the original records:

1) Georgákis Kon. Tsempelís (Two children male and female of Konstantís Tzapolís), 2) Eiríni, his wife (Eiríni Georg. Tzempelís), 3) Wife of Dimitrákis Maroúdas with her daughter 4) Pánaina Maroudoú with her daughter (Pánaina Maroudioú , daughter of Pan. Maroudioú), 5) Son of G. Lágos, 6) Two children of G. Mídis, 7) A young child of Mit. Kanéllis, 8) Mórfo Georgáki Mílos, 9) Two male children of Chr. Pérdis, 10) Aikateríni daughter of Chr. Pérdis, 11) Aikateríni Mítrou Kanéllis at cave in Vrontamás, 12) Kanélla Giannáki Mitroúdas. 13) Kanélla Mítrou Brátis at castle of Kremastí, 14) Thanásis Kósta Sakellaríou at Velotá (the settlement of Velotas), 15) Widow Nikólaina Pilógaina (Nikolaina widow of Polygainas), 16) Diamánto Poulítsas from Apidiá at the castle in Kremastí, 17) Two daughters of her daughters .

Clearly the above names, apart from Georgakis and the Tsempelis women, are not of Karitsa origin; indeed they mostly resemble those of Geraki families. It must be remembered that records of the time were often incomplete and inexact. It is also quite possible that to escape the looming Ibrahim onslaught some Geraki folk may have sought refuge in Karitsa where to their misfortune they were forcibly captured. That notwithstanding, it is our solemn duty to honour all, be they recorded accurately, inaccurately or at all, be they from Karitsa or not.


The detail regarding the torturing of the young Chrysloula is something that has been passed on word of mouth in Karitsa and related to Stelios Chagias by the late Katerina Rozaklis (nee Malavazos).

In addition, before Chrysoula escaped, the Ibrahim forces had four members from the Tsempelis family captive:

Chrysoula Tsempelis, herself, aged 7, daughter of Georgakis and Eirini.

Aunt Tsempelis, auntie of the young girl, whose first name is not known.

Eirini Tsempelis (maiden name not known), wife of Georgakis and mother of Chrysoula. After the capture locals referred to her as “Sklavomeni” (the enslaved one).

Georgakis Tsempelis, husband of Eirini and father of Chrysoula had also been taken captive along with his sister, wife and daughter. It is not known how he escaped or how he made his way back to Karitsa, but it is known that he later remarried and had seven more children, three girls and four boys. He died aged 65, in 1861.

Chrysoula Tsempelis, the little girl that escaped, in adult life married Nikolaos Anastasiou Malavazos, also known as Konto-Nikolas, and had four children, all daughters. Late in life she was known as Gria Mou-Mou. She died, aged 95, in 1913. The family Trees of Southern Parnon attribute her with 157 descendants, up to seven generations. Stelios Chagias is a great great great grandson of Chrysoula Tsempelis, while the writer, Dimitris Katsampis, is a great great grandson.

Apart from the above list of captives from Karitsa, there are two additional lists from neighbouring villages Geraki and Alepochori that we deem fir to reproduce below:

1)Kanélla wife of K. Mítros, 2) Konstantína Kon. Nizás, 3) Archontoú sister of G. Smadís (Archontoú G. Aimádis), 4) Antonía sister of G. Smadís (Antonía G. Aimádis), 5) Konstantís Geórg. Asmádis, 6) Dimitroúla Georg. Asmádis (Dímitra G. Aimádis), 7) Kanélla Nikóla Georg. Asmádis, 7) Kanélla Nikóla Fasmoúlis, 8) Athanásis Kon. Monézis, 9) Pános Pétrou Kanéllis, 10) Maroulítsa Pétrou Kanéllis (Maroulítsa Mítrou Kanéllis, aged 1), 11) Panagióta wife of Dim. Maroútas (aged 22), 12) Kanélla daughter of Dim. Karoútas (Kanélla daughter of Dimítrios Maroúta, aged 2), 13) Aikateríni wife of Nik. Ntoúlfas, 14) Michális Chrístou Bárdis, 15) Panagiótis Chrístou Bárdis, 16) Georgákis Chrístou Maroudiás.

1)Konstantína Stamáti Kóntos, 2) her nephew 3) Panagióta Stamáti Kóntos, 4) Eléni Mítrou Kóntos, 5) Panagióta daughter of Mítros Kóntos sister of Eléni, 6) Theodóra Dimitríou Kontoú, 7) a brother of hers, 8) Geórgis Anag. Trýfonas (Geórgis Anagnósti Roufákis, aged 9), 9) Theodóra Anagnósti Trýfona Roufákis), 10) Kyriakoúla Anagnósti Trýfona Roufákis, 11) Lygerí Anagnósti Trýfona Roufákis, 12) Antóna of Zacharía, 13) female children of Zacharía. For folio numbers 1,2,5,8,9,10,11 and 12 referred to in the list it is noted that they were captured at Ntaliánan.

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