Zakynthos as all Ionian islands is inhabited since prehistoric times. It is known from Homer and the war of Troy as Iliessa, which means forested and was part of Odysseus kingdom.
Inhabituance of the island
According to Homer, the island was first inhabited by Zakynthos. There are two theories about his origins. The first one says that he was the son of Troy’s king Dardanos. While the second one and most known that Zakynthos came to the island from the Arcadian town Psofida. That’s why he gave this name to the island’s acropolis, while the island was named Zakynthos.
After the war of Troy the island became autonomous. Zakynthos has democracy and a great civilization flourished there. It is characteristic that the residents of Zakynthos had established their first colony in Zakantha, of Spain.
Zakynthos evolved to a strong naval force of that time and had her own coin.
During the Persian wars, the residents of Zakynthos had a detached attitude. While at the time of the Peloponesean war they were at the side of Athens.
During the period of Roman Empire, Zakynthos was a roman eparchy of Achaia and the favorite destination for Rome’s intellectuals. That’s why it was relatively autonomous.
At the time of Roman Empire’s decay it met a lot of invasions from barbarians.
Christianity was spread in the island in 34BC by Mary Magdalene that is said to disembark in the island as she was heading to Rome. Of course there is another theory, according to which Saint Veatriky spread Christianity in the island.
Byzantium and venetian domain
In Byzantine times, Zakynthos was part of Illyrias’ eparchy. It suffered a lot of invasions by pirates and prospective conquerors.
After the siege of Constantinople, Zakynthos was under the Venetian possession.
Another turbulent period starts for the island as conquerors succeed one another. In 1337, Zakynthos was attached to the Kingdom of Neapolis. In 1357 the island is in the hands of Tokkos. In 1480 in front of the Turkish threat, most of the residents abandon the island. Turkish don’t manage to conquer Zakynthos and in 1485 people return to their island.
Venetians settle in the capital, built Kastro and created infrastructure works. The town started to expand out of Kastros’ boundaries, to “egialos”, where it was created the island’s trade port.
Venetians established the typical aristocratic oligarchic regime and residents were separated to noble – who were written in the so-called “Golden Bible” – and to townee and plebeians (laic).
In 1797, when French democratics came to the island, people welcomed them with enthusiasm and abolished the aristocratic regime.
In 1813 British took over Zakynthos.
Residents of Zakynthos, despite British reaction, took part in the Revolution of 1821.
Zakynthos, as all Ionian islands, was adjusted to Greece in the 21st of May 1864.