The Descent from the Cross, Nikolaos Koutouzis, c. 1790
The Descent from the Cross, Nikolaos Koutouzis, c. 1790

French Republican rule (1797–1799)

By the time of the French Revolution, the Republic of Venice was already in serious decline given the opening of new sea routes outside of the Mediterranean and the loss of many territories in the eastern Mediterranean. Even in areas under Venetian occupation like the Ionian Islands, there was widespread discontent given heavy and unequal taxation and aristocratic form of governance and control. Consequently, the European Enlightenment; and specifically, the ideas of the French Revolution and the Modern Greek Enlightenment found fertile ground in places like Zakynthos. These ideas were often transmitted by the sons of Nobles and Cittadini who had studied primarily in Italy and/or by foreign agents stationed in on the island. Many of these ideas were also propagated by newly formed political associations constituted by people from all classes of Zakynthian society, which were influenced by Freemasonry and Carbonarism, and resembling the Jacobins in France. In addition, the patriotic poems of Antonios Martelaos and Thomas Danelakis, the patriotic hymn O Thourios of Rigas Ferraios, and the La Marsellaise and Carmagnoletranslated into Greek are said to have been very popular in the taverns, salons and streets of Zakynthos during this period. The Zakynthians enamoured and increasingly active in realising these ideas were called Patriots. However, reactionary forces often led by the Nobili also began to mobilise to counter the so-called Zakynthian Patriots.

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