History of Zakynthos
In the ancient times a first settlement in Zakynthos was created in 1600BC by a man called Zakynthos, the son of Dardanos, king of Phrygia. Soon the island became part of Arkeisios's kingdom of Kefalonia and his successor Odysseus, the eminent hero of Homer's epic poems Iliad and Odyssey.
A democratic regime was established in Zakynthos that lasted more than 6 centuries, while a degree of autonomy was sustained during the Macedonian and later the Roman rule.
In the Middle Ages the island was part of the Byzantine district (thema) of Cephallenia until 1185, when it was taken by the Sicilians and later integrated in the Venetian state in 1479, under feudal rule. After the disintegration of the Republic of Venice in 1797, Zakynthos, along with the other Ionian Islands (the Heptanese), came under the control of the French, the Russians, the Ottomans and eventually the British, with the Tilsit Treaty of 1809. From 1815 it was territory of the United State of the Ionian Islands until 1864, when all the islands were annexed by Greece.
Despite more than 500 years of foreign occupation, control and influence, the Zakynthians preserved the Greek language, tradition and orthodox faith. In the 19th century it became one of the most notable cultural centres in the Mediterranean with an acknowledged Music School and generations of artists and scholars, such as the poets Andreas Kalvos and Dionysios Solomos and the writer Gregorios Xenopoulos.