...freedom fighter...

 
Rodanthi   "i Kritsotopoula"

 

I had been sitting in the shade of some friendly trees in the main plateia of Kritsa when my eyes fell on a plinth and the bronze of a young woman. I tried to read the inscription on the plaque but it was hopeless. Curiosity sent me searching for translation into the nearby craft shop where Sandy was talking to the lady owner. The lady came outside to the plinth where she kindly translated the inscription:
'Rodanthi "I Kritsotopoula" - ("the Cretan girl") a local heroine and freedom fighter who for two solid days in January 1823, led a small partisan resistance against the might of a swarming Turkish infantry intent on taking control of Kritsa.'
Rodanthi was the young daughter of a village priest and his wife, a village weaver, and they lived in one of a huddle of homes in the narrow passageways near a chapel where he tended the spiritual needs and problems of the people of Kritsa.
In her spare time, Rodanthi loved to help her mother by working at the family loom where she would sing in time to the rhythm of the shuttle and tread.
One day a Turkish officer was passing the house and upon hearing Rodanthi's singing was struck by the beauty of her voice.
He knocked on the door and called out for it to be opened. When Rodanthi's mother appeared, he demanded to see the girl who had so charmed him, claiming he wanted to marry her.




The mother, fearing for her daughter's honour, lied and said there was no one singing in the house, that she was there alone and that he must be mistaken. He protested and tried to barge his way in the better to see for himself, but the mother was determined and barred his way, grappling and refusing to let him cross the threshold. The officer had been drinking with his soldiers and in a furious burst of temper he drew a dagger from his belt and stabbed the mother dead. Then he stepped into the house, caught hold of the girl and dragged her off to his lodgings.
But on that night, Rodanthi plied him with drink and as soon as he was asleep, she took the dagger that he had used to murder her mother and slit the officer's throat. Then she cut off her hair, put on some of his clothes and, disguised as a youth, fled into the mountains where she joined the resistance in their fight against the Turks.


It was some time later, after the two-day battle near her village that Rodanthi was shot several times and seriously wounded in the chest. Some of her comrades carried her to a little chapel on the edge of the village in the hope that the local priest might be able to save her or at least administer the last rites according to the Greek Orthodox Church. They could see the youth was weak and losing a great deal of blood. It was when they tore open the shirt to try and remove the pistol balls that they discovered the young man was in fact a girl. And the priest discovered that she was his missing daughter."
In my photographs, you can see the house is still standing in the village. The doorstep was taken through the keyhole of the yard door; and the main room taken through the window to the lane.

Rodanthi   "i Kritsotopoula"


 

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