History Zagori – Tsepelovo

• Zagori • Paths • Tsepelovo • History • Saint Nikolaos • Saint John

Little before the revolution of 1821

It is really very difficult for someone to speak for a place so beautiful, so imposing, so remarkable and simultaneously so neglected. Epirus, Ioannina, Zagorochoria (Zagori’s villages) are few of the most beautiful sites of our country and it is not an exaggeration to say with a significant historical value, which we all owe to know.

The Epiru’s Greek man was nursed with humanitarianly ideals and played very important role in the intellectual and economic rectification of our country. Is not accidental the fact that the majority of the benefactors are from Epirus. Clever and active stood Zagori’s residents during the occupation of Epirus from Turks until its’ release. They achieved to extract privileges from the Sultan, the so called “Siouroutia” and simultaneously to create revolutionary organisations for the acquisition of the much desired freedom.

Therefore the way of Zagori’s self-government offered brilliant results and contributed in the intellectual growth, in the maintenance of national identity and mainly in the creation of a peaceful movement.

Constantinos Rados from Tsepelovo is considered to be the first inspirator and introducer of the idea for the foundation of “Philiki Etaireia” (Friendly Association). Mr Anagnostopoulos reports that: “I was given the same speech that I heard from Xanthos, by Mr Rados, that what Skoufas was thinking was tutored by him back in Moscow”.

And the schoolteacher Georgakis Sotiriou, from Zagori’s Negades writes in his metrically but unpublished memoirs:

Tsepelovo gave birth to Rado Constantino
fervent patriots those “Philikoi”
he first conceived the idea of “Philiki Etaireia”
for the dismissal of the hateful Turks
and to Tsakalof and Skoufa and Manoli Xantho
to them he said his idea with all his heart,...

Zagori’s residents did not have big experience in the war neither military tradition like the residents in other regions of Epirus.

However Tsepelovo’s habitants showed with their contribution in the “Philiki Etaireia” in the important fight of 1821 as well as in each effort for national independence, that they did not fall short of eagerness, sacrifices and fights. They were clever diplomats and with the pretext of neutrality they played decisive role in the revolution of the gender in 1821. There were many habitants from Tsepelovo that helped Ali to take the title of Pasha in Ioannina and other that reacted to his placement, who had indeed force and influence in Constantinople (Istanbul). Against Ali were the Ressaioi, relatives of Noutsou.

Ali used a lot his relation with Zagori’s residents, but also a lot of other means in order to become Vizier in Ioannina. To them he had promised that days of glory and acme for the Zagori will come, if they helped him to become first Pasha in Ioannina. Ali became Pasha in Ioannina and kept his promise. In his time order prevailed in Zagori and the management of publics were satisfactory. The privileges that were given rendered it autonomous and in particular the monastery Rogovou in Tsepelovo were intended to become University and headquarters of the political and religious leader Neofytos Doukas, of justice Christodoulos Klonaris and director of the university Gennadios. Of course all these were not accomplished as after the favourable turn in 1817 of the “Philiki Etaireia”, followed the national revolt in 1821 and the suppresion of privileges in 1868, facts that also meant the pause of Zagori’s intellectual growth.

Of course there were also times that Ali violated his promise and illegalized. Lambridis in his book concerning Ali Pasha writes the following: “Marianista from 1748 bought by three brothers from Tsepelovo at the presence of Ali, by violence, was sold for the price of 3.000 grosia, to his sister Siahnitsa”.

Ali visited Tsepelovo in 1814. Went up in the mountain Rodovoli and reached up to Dracolimni. Returning in the village he was welcomed in the house of Ioannis Ressou and then returned in Kapesovo in the residence of his friend Alexi Noutsou. In Ressou’s house he entered on his horse from the upper main entry and after dismounting he was entertained in the eminent “houtzerie” of Ressou’s family.

Relevant with Ali’s visit to Zagori’s villages is also the time note that exists in the church of Saint Nikolaos at Skamneli, during June, written in 1863. Ali liked Tsepelovo. It exists relative note that shows the subjective attitude of Ali in favour of Tsepelovo’s residents.

Vezier Ali Pasha
To you Bagiotes, Skamnelites and Negades, seeing this note, as the timber was cutted by Tsepelovites, so and to the following years should be cutted unhinderebly without being prevented by anyone and from the beginning. If anyone wanted to prevent Tsepelovites... the repentance from decisions
4 May 1807 (signature)

However apart from the certain sympathy that nourished by Ali for Tsepelovo’s residents, they from one side in order not to suffer from the oppression that was practised to them, many times – the feelings of Ali were never steady for anyone – and from the other side in order to have him always with their side, paid enough money to him and his seraglio. This can be realised also from certain curtailments from old accounts.

And the difficult, the very difficult years passed. And Ali’s big ambition made him to confront the Sultan, who declared Ali an apostate and sent troops to Epirus for his extermination.

Aggelos Papakostas writes relatively:”When Ali Pasha proded by his immoderate ambition that was moved by his Greek advisers and in particular those that had entered in the “Philiki Etaireia” took the decision to turn himself against the Sultan. He did not imagine of course that the war would take place in Epirus”.

In August of 1820, when he saw the troops of Pasombei reaching outside Ioannina he decided to put fire in the beautiful and famous city of Epirus. Many habitants resorted to Zagori’s villages, transporting everything precious they had rescued, but in the same time very determined to coordinate from there the revolutionary organisation on behalf of Epirus. This organisation and Ioannina’s habitants were directed from Tsepelovo by the grate patriot and poet Ioanni Vilara. Along with his friends Athanasion Psalida casted down plans for mutining the entire Epirus.

It is worth remembering with admiration and awe the persons that fought for our homeland and to try to iminate them, because they led the Greek nation to brilliant fighting and cultural “tops”.