S. Soucek
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(1,218 words)

, Turkish rendering of the Dodecanese (Dodekanesos, “Twelve Islands”), the greater part of the Southern Sporades archipelago; they are grouped in a north-west to south-east direction in the south-eastern segment of the Aegean along the Turkish coast. The concept and even the number is somewhat artificial and underwent different interpretations and political expressions in the course of history, hence the relativity of the definition as to how many and which islands constitute this archipelago. The earliest mention seems to occur under the Byzantine emperor Leo III the Isaurian (717-40), when the “Dodecanese or Aigion Pelagos” formed one of his three naval commands. In the later Middle Ages Italian maritime control asserted itself over much of the Aegean, and some of the Dodecanese became a Venetian possession, but others passed under the sway of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem after their establishment in Rhodes (1310). It was from the latter two powers that Ottoman Turkey seized control of the Dodecanese: those pertaining to the Knights as a result of the conquest of Rhodes in 1522, and those belonging to Venice during the ḳaptan pas̲h̲a K̲h̲ayr al-Dīn Pas̲h̲a [q.v.] Barbarossa’s two campaigns in 1537 and 1538. It was then that twelve islands within this archipelago acquired a special status of “privileged islands” that gave the inhabitants a sense of cohesive identity and firmly established their group as a geopolitical unit; the islands were: Ikaria, Patmos, Leros, Kalimnos, Astipalea, Nisiros, Tilos, Simi, Chalki, Karpathos, Kasos and Meis; this was the result of their voluntary submission and consequent treaty sanctioned by Süleymān I, to be confirmed by a number of later firmān s; the mostly Greek and Orthodox islanders had self-rule, against payment of a fixed annual sum ( maḳṭūʿ ). An illustration of the administrative rather than geographical nature of this Ottoman Dodecanese is the fact that the group included Meis (also known as Kastellorizon, Italian Castelrosso), an islet by the southern Anatolian coast near Kas to the east of Rhodes, but not Rhodes itself; like Rhodes, Kos too was excluded, although geographically situated in the midst of the group. The islands of Simi, and later Patmos, appear to have constituted the centre of political gravity and representation of the islanders in their dealings with the Porte and eventually also with other powers.

Encyclopaedia of Islam New Edition Online (EI-2 English)

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