The Vlasto Family & Ionia, C3rd B.C.
Earliest references to the Vlasto family.
'Vlasto' (or 'Blasto/us' in some translations from Greek/Latin). Kerofilas says that 'Vlasto' derives from the ancient Greek 'blast' or 'vlast', meaning a young shoot, a bud, something which flourishes or burgeons and, in general terms, implies fruitfulness, potency and vigour.
[See: use of the word by:
The Vlastos were an Hellenic family, known to have been prominent in Ionia in ancient times and who, Kerofilas believes, founded or conquered the Black Sea port of Odessos (now Varna on the Bulgarian coast). Much later they were to become prominent in Crete, Chios and elsewhere in the Mediterranean. Odessos was indeed founded by Greeks in the C6th BC and became important as the Danube port serving the rich grain-growing hinterland. Originally part of the Greek Empire it was re-conquered/inherited by the Romans and became part of both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. In 185 AD it was devastated by a plague which swept the region. Interestingly it was at precisely this time that the Vlastos are first known to have appeared prominently in Rome.
Varna (Odessos): "For over 7000 years Varna was the cradle of several prominent civilisations. Greek colonists founded Odessos as a trading colony in the C6th BC (c. 580 BC), the area being initially occupied by Thracian tribes. Later, under the Romans and their successors, the Slavs, Varna became a major port trading with Constantinople, Venice and Dubrovnik. In 1393 it was captured by the Turks, who made it an important military centre. At various times it was ruled by the Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians and Ottomans, and occupied by Russia, Great Britain, and France during the 1800s. After the Russo-Turkish Wars of the 1870s, Varna became part of the newly created Bulgarian principality. In 1949 the city was renamed in honour of Joseph Stalin; the name Varna was restored in 1956. Near the city, are signs left by ancient cultures such as "Pobitite Kamuni", rows of mysterious stone columns, thousands of years old. Varna contains: the Prehistoric Necropolis (showing the earliest gold in human history), the C2nd Roman Thermae as well as the Thracian Tomb. A granite monument commemorates the Battle of Varna in 1444. Here 30,000 Crusaders were waiting to sail to Constantinople when they were attacked by 120,000 Turks. The Polish King Ladislas was killed in a bold attempt to capture the Sultan Murad. The subsequent retreat foreshadowed Christendom's general retreat before the advancing Ottomans."
Did the Vlastos ever entirely relinquish their interests in the Varna region? It is hard to imagine how they would have acquired and kept their considerable status at the heart of the Byzantine empire unless they owned significant territories within the empire. In 1823, more than 2,000 years after the founding of the city, some Vlastos returned there after the Massacre of Chios in 1822.
The author's great-grandfather, Michel-Ernest Vlasto, who was born at nearby Jassy (now Iasi) in 1848 (died Paris 1900), was among those born or brought up there, though his family had been based for centuries in Chios and before that in Crete (since the C11th) and Constantinople.
It is probable that they had retained property there and there may even have been a continuing community of Vlastos there during the Byzantine and Ottoman eras.
The name Vlasto first appears in the genitive plural in a Greek
stone inscription of the 3rd Century B.C. of Ionian origin.
[A ne pas confondre avec les Îles ioniennes]
[Le Petit Robert]
En grec Ionia.
Ancien nom de la partie centrale du littoral de l'Asie Mineure sur la mer Egée au sud de l'Eolide, entre Phocée au Nord et Milet au Sud. L'Ionie qui comprenait aussi les îles avoisinantes de Chio et Samos, fut colonisée par l'invasion dorienne de la Grèce par des Ioniens venus principalement de l'Attique. Une ligue religieuse rassemblait à Panionion, au cap Mycale douze cités ioniennes (Dodécapole) : Milet, Ephèse, Phocée, Clazomènes, Colophon, Priène, Téos, Chios, Samos, Erythrée, Myonte et Lébédos. Smyrne, cité primitivement éolienne s'y joignit plus tard.
L'Ionie, très prospère déjà à l'aube des temps historiques, aux confins de l'Hellénisme et de l'Orient s'offrit à l'interpénétration des deux civilisations et apporta une contribution considérable à la culture grecque : les bases de la pensée scientifique et philosophique avec son école naturaliste illustrée notamment par Héraclite, Thalès, Anaximandre, Anaximène, la poésie homérique, et une littérature importante, un ordre architectural (ionique) et d'autres réalisation artistiques.
D'autre part, l'expansion des cités grecques vers l'intérieur du pays se heurta à la puissance lydienne et l'Ionie, orientée vers le commerce, amorça un large mouvement de colonisation (+- VI Siècle) étendu du Pont Euxin à la Méditerranée Occidentale. Tributaire des rois de Lydie (- 560) puis soumise aux Perses (-546), l'Ionie se révolta à l'instigation des tyrans de Milet (-499) et reçut l'aide d'Athènes. (Voir guerres médiques)
Indépendante après la victoire grecque de -480, elle participa à la formation de la ligue de Délos, mais elle tomba sous la domination athénienne. Cédée par les Spartiates aux Perses (-386), les cités ioniennes, à l'exception de Milet offrirent leur loyauté à Alexandre le Grand (-334). Elles passèrent d'Antigonos à Lysimaque (-301) puis fut disputée entre les Séleucides, Lagides et Pergame. Léguées par le dernier roi de Pergame aux romains (-133) elles firent partie de la province d'Asie, puis de l'Empire byzantin.
Peuple indo-européen venu du Nord qui envahit la Grèce au début du 2è millénaire avant JC. Considérés comme les premiers grecs (précédant les Achéens) les Ioniens su fixèrent notamment en Béotie et en Attique ou fusionnèrent avec les Pélasges. Refoulés par la poussée dorienne (12è siècle avant JC) en Attique et dans le Nord du Péloponnèse, ils passèrent dans l'Eubée et dans les Cyclades, puis ils colonisèrent la côte lydienne de l'Asie Mineure qui prit le nom d'Ionie, et créèrent les premiers comptoirs en Italie du Suc.
Par les grands mouvements de colonisation (7è-6è siècle avant JC) de nombreuses cités ioniennes furent fondées sur les rivages du Nord de la Mer Egée, de la Propontide, de la Mer Noire, et de la Méditerranée occidentale (Marseille, Emporium).
Le rôle des Ioniens dans la culture grecque fut prépondérant. L'Ionie est la patrie d'Homère, des premiers philosophes; le dialecte ionien est la langue de la majeure partie de la littérature grecque et l'attique (forme d'ionien) devint à l'époque hellénistique la seule langue grecque écrite. Cette contribution aboutit à l'épanouissement culturel d'Athènes, considérée comme la métropole du monde ionien et à l'éclat du classicisme.(5è siècle avant JC).
The Encyclopaedia Britannica
Ancient region comprising the central sector of the western coast of Anatolia (now in Turkey). It was bounded by the regions of Aeolis on the north and Caria on the south and included the adjacent islands. Ionia consisted of a coastal strip about 25 miles (40 km) wide that extended from Phocaea at the mouth of the Hermus River in the north to the territory of Miletus south of the Maeander River, thus extending for a north-south distance of about 100 miles (160 km). Its habitable area consisted principally of three flat river valleys, the Hermus (modern Gediz), Cayster (Küçük Menderes), and Maeander (Büyük Menderes), that led down between mountain ranges of 5,000-6,000 feet (1,500-1,800 m) to empty into deeply recessed gulfs of the Aegean coast.
The region bordered on the Hittite empire before 1200 BC. This particular stretch of coast was known as Asia by the early Greeks. The name Ionia, however, does not appear in any records of this time, and Homer does not recognize any Ionic settlement of the Asiatic coast in Achaean times. The name Ionia must therefore have been first applied to this coast subsequent to the collapse of the Achaean kingdoms in Greece in the face of the Dorian invasion, when Ionic Greek refugees migrated eastward across the Aegean to Anatolia about 1000-900 BC.
The original Greek settlements in the region were numerous and small, but by the 8th century BC they had confirmed their possession of the whole coastline and had consolidated themselves into 12 major cities--Phocaea, Erythrae, Clazomenae, Teos, Lebedus, Colophon, Ephesus, Priene, Myus, and Miletus on the mainland, with the islands Chios and Samos. These Greek Ionian cities formed an exclusive religious league, the Panionion.
The cities of Ionia were pioneers of Greek civic (and probably constitutional) development in the 8th and 7th centuries. They seem to have played little part in Greek maritime enterprise of the 8th century in the Mediterranean, but after 700 BC Ionic seamen of Miletus and Phocaea became active in the Black Sea area and along the Mediterranean coasts of France and Spain, planting numerous colonies. Miletus alone is said to have been the mother of 90 cities. By the end of the 7th century the Ionian cities had achieved great prosperity through their trading enterprises, their colonization efforts, and their manufacture of ceramics, textiles, and metalware.
In this period and down to about 500 BC, Ionic rational thought dominated the intellectual life of Greece. Hecataeus of Miletus pioneered the Greeks' study of geography. His city, Miletus, was the birthplace of natural philosophy in the persons of Thales and Anaximander, and Ionians at home and overseas (Heraclitus, Pythagoras, and Parmenides) would lay the foundations of Greek philosophy. The Ionic dialect of Greek became the language of literature and learning, and Ionic architecture, sculpture, and bronze casting were also influential.
The overseas expansion of Ionia in the 7th century was in part due to the need of a new population outlet after deep Ionic penetrations inland had provoked opposition and conflict with the rising power of Lydia under the Mermnads. After repeated conflicts, most of Ionia finally came under Lydian rule in the reign of Croesus (c. 560-546). After Croesus' fall at the hands of Achaemenian Persia, the cities of Ionia were unable to effectively oppose the latter. The Ionians mounted an unsuccessful revolt against Persian rule in about 499 BC, but their fleet was crushed in a naval battle off Lade five years later. This revolt against the Persians marked the opening phase of the Greco-Persian Wars.
After the Greeks' victory over Persia at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, the Ionian cities regained their independence and helped to form the Delian League with Athens. They had come under Athenian control by the late 5th century, however. Sparta gained influence in Ionia in the last stages of the Peloponnesian War (413-404) but abandoned the Ionian mainland to Persia in 387 BC.
Ionia was nominally independent again from 334 to 301 under the rule first of Alexander the Great and then of Antigonus I Monophthalmus. The region then became part of the Seleucid and later of the Attalid kingdom. In 133 BC Ionia passed under Roman rule and became part of the Roman province of Asia. Under the Roman Empire the principal cities of Ionia experienced a revival of prosperity, and many of the impressive ruins on their sites date from that time. Ephesus, Miletus, Smyrna, and Chios were among the most splendid cities of the Roman world and continued to flourish in Byzantine times.
Part of the above is derived and translated from the French encyclopaedia Le Petit Robert with gratitude.
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