Vlastos (Greek: Βλαστος) is the name of an ancient noble family, probably of Greek descent, with origins tracing back to 1st century Rome. The family history has never been impartially studied and the first 1000 years are not well researched.
Today, there are about 400 Vlastos families around the world, half of them living in Crete. Less than 20 families live in Chios, less than 20 live in other parts of Greece, and less than 30 live in the rest of Europe. About 15 families live in Russia, 15 in the United States and Canada, and 8 in Australia.
The Vlastos family re-appears in Constantinople before the 11th century.[clarification needed] There, they were well established, powerful and respected. Due to "faulty" translations (Vlastos means "offspring"), intermarriages with other known families are not known. For example, a person mentioned as Komnenovlastos is recognized as a Komnenos and not as a Komnenos x Vlastos offspring.
The Vlastoses were "warlords" (Condottieri), with a private army serving the needs of the Emperor of the day at a fee. They were also represented in the Senate.
In 1182, the Emperor Alexios II Komnenos (1180–1183), ordered the resettlement of Crete. Some authors have used the date 1082. The text below clears this error. Only Alexis II was "Porphyrogenitos". Further more, if Alexios I was the emperor at the time, his daughter Anna would have mentioned it in her account of her father's life and achievements, in her book The Alexiad. Another year mentioned is 1092, it is a fictitious number.
"Αλεξιος ο εν Χριστω βασιλευς και αυτοκρατωρ Ρωμαιων ο Κομνινος. Δια το απειρον και πλουσιον ελεος του επουρανιου θεου και σωτηρος ημων Ιησου Χριστου της αειπαρθενου Μαριας Θεοτοκου της μητρος αυτου και του παναγιου και ζωοποιου Πνευματος εγω ο επι γης κρατεος βασιλευς και αυτοκρατωρ Ρωμαιων θεια προνοια βασιλευς ολης της ηκουμενης, της θεοφρουρητου και πριφημου και κυριας πασων των πολεων της Κωνσταντινουπολεως πρωτος και κορυφαιος των ορθοδοξων Χριστιανων, των τιμωντων και πιστευοντων την ομοουσιον και προσκυνητην αγιαν τριαδα των ομολογουντων ενα θεον τρισυποστατον, των σεβοντων τα δογματα της αγιας και ηκουμενικης πρωτης συνοδου, συνοιθρησμενης και πληρουμενης υπο ενεργιαις, των αγιωτατων και φιλοχριστων βασιλεων ημων και ισαποστολων Κωνσταντινου και Ελενης και των λοιπων αγιων συνοδων Αλεξιος ο Κομνινος ο «πορφυρογεννητος» βασιλευς Κωνσταντινουπολεως, νεας Ρωμης και καθολικος διαδοχος των μακαριων βασιλ εων, του Ιορδανου και πασης Αιγυπτου, Αραβιας, Φρυγιας, Μεσοποταμιας, και παντος του Ευξεινου Ποντου, και εως τας Βρετανιας νησους, Ευροπης και πασης Αρμενιας, Κιλικιας, Ελλαδος και πασης της οικουμενης απο την ανατολην εως την δυσι..... etc. etc".
Alexios II ordered the 12 Condottiero families (Phokas, Skordylis, Kavadas, Kafatos, Archoleos, Chortatzis, Moussouros, Varouchas, Melissinos, Litinos, Argyropoulos, and Vlastos) to migrate and resettle the island of Crete. Fokas and Skordyllis were in charge. The purpose of the expedition: To increase the Christian population, defend the island from Arabs and pirates, and collect taxes. Allegedly, it took 850 ships to transport the 12 families, their soldiers and supplies and horses to Crete.
"Oι δε αρχοντες και στρατιωται Βλαστοι να εχουν και αυτοι ταις πρωταις τους μεριδαις εις ταις Μεσσαραις ως και πρωτον. Εχοντες οι ανω ειρημενοι αρχοντες και στρατιωται και λαμβανοντας τους ουτους των τοπους και επαρχιας μετα των διαδοχων αυτων δια της Δουκικης εξουσιας ημων απο τωρα και εμπροσθεν με τα μερη των την εξ αυτων παντοιαν λαμβανοντας προσοδον, κρατωντας και ποιουντας τους ορισμους του κρατεου και αγιου βασιλεως ημων, και των αυτων διαδοχων και της δουκικης εξουσιας, και ουδεις της εξ ημων εξουσιας να μην εναντιωθη ποτε εις τας αυτας καβαλαριας και τοπαρχιας αυτων των ειρημενων αρχοντων της ενδοξου ημων βασιλιειας, δια γαρ τουτο εγενετο το παρον γραμμα και εδοθη εις τους αυτους αρχοντες δι'ασφαλειαν παντων τωμ ανω αμην.Signed: Κομνινος ο Μεγαλος Δουκας της νησου Κρητης και εξαδελφος του ενδοξου βασιλεος ημων διε της δουκικης εξουσιας εγραψα".
In charge of the Vlastos family was the Archon and Senator (Εντιμος και ευγενης αρχων) Manousos (born c. 1160), son of Demetrius (born c. 1135), with his brothers Stefanos, Symeon, Ioannis, Prokopios, Marinos and Georgios. In Crete, although it was planned to settle in Messara, the family settled to the south of Rethymnon, in the area known as Amari. The village Rustica, was associated with the Vlastos family.
22 years after the arrival of the 12 families, Constantinople fell into Latin hands and the Venetians bought Crete from the Latin Emperor. Soon the first Venetian soldiers arrived. Genoa was also keen to control Crete and later the Byzantine Emperors wanted to have Crete back. There was a new revolt every few years and the Vlastoses were practically involved in every one of those.
The history of the Vlastos family in Venetian Crete can be easily followed due to the excellent record keeping of the Venetians. Selected wills and other documents included in the saved protocols of the notaries working in Venetian Crete, kept in Venice, are being published every year in Latin or translated. The books  are a good example.
In 1272, the brothers Chortatzis started a revolt against Venetian rule that lasted 30 years. The Cretans were getting stronger and winning. When it became clear that a win was possible, Alexios Kallergis joined the revolt. The Venetians were keen to negotiate a truce and c. 1299 Alexios Kallergis travelled to Venice to negotiate a truce. He made numerous demands to advance his family. One demand was, in order to reduce the powers of the existing "Archons", to take over their properties (fiefs), horses, etc. The Venetians liked the idea and agreed to it. The properties owned by the Archons were reduced in half. Only the properties of the Vlastos family were off limits. Some claim the Vlastos family was too powerful to be provoked. At the time, Demitrios Vlastos was the head of the family, he was the son of Ioannis. About 200 years later records show that only the Vlastoses still owned fiefs in Crete.
Another significant event was the revolt of Josef, "Sifis" Vlastos  (born c. 1410 Rethymnon - executed by the Venetians in August 1454). He was the Leader of the Revolt, which had substantial local support as well as the backing and probably was financed by the Imperial families. Information about the revolt was sold to the Venetians, and all leaders and their families, including Josef’s family, were killed.
In the early 17th century, the Turks invaded Crete from the west and many families, including the Vlastoses, fled Crete. A couple of Vlastos families stayed in Chios (c. 1630), others moved further North to Constantinople, Wallachia and Moldavia. Another escape route was by Kithira, Corfu and Venice.
Two hundred years later, Vlastoses were migrating again. Many Cretans migrated to Italy, the United States, Ukraine and Russia; from Chios migration was to Moldavia, Wallachia, Italy, France, England and the United States. Moldavia and Wallachia were very popular destinations for many Vlastoses, the majority migrated from Chios.
There were also some Vlastoses living on and off in Constantinople since 1100. In the 17th century, allegedly, the Vlastoses were involved like most Phanariots, in the fur trade. Furs were in great demand and the fur trade did bring privileges. One prominent Vlastos at the time, was Chrysoskoleos, and his house address is given as "Στο Φαναρι, τελος, στο Σταυροδρομι" (In Phanari, at the end, on the cross road). In the same street were the houses of many well known families of princesses of Wallachia and Moldavia. Chrysoskoleos was neither a Cretan nor from Chios.
Over the years, the Vlastos family produced many highly educated persons and scholars, in the fields of medicine, science, architecture, iconography, philosophy and also authors, journalists, hoteliers, army officers, and businessmen.
Only a handful of families outside the imperial families were permitted to have "Coat of Arms" and Vlastos was one of them. The Vlastos blazon is: Gules, three plates 2 and 1 (Red, Three White Disks (forming a triangle), two on top, one at the bottom). Many Vlastoses own privately designed "Coats of Arms". One, almost 150 cm in diameter, is on display in the Byzantine History Museum of Heraklion, Crete.
Some Vlastoses worth mentioning are:
Georgii Vlastos, son of Konstantin, 1827 Moscow, Russia – 1899 Stavropol. Governor General of the Stavropol Province (1865–1875).
Meletios Vlastos, son of Georgilas, born 1576 Rethymnon - c.1643. Well known preacher, scholar and teacher. In 1625, he was a priest at the church of the "Panagia Trimartyri" in Candia, Crete. Later he taught at the school of the Sinaitic Metochion of the St. Catherine's Monastery. Cyril Lucaris (born 1572 in Candia, Crete) was one of his many famous pupils who later did become a Patriarch. In many Greek websites, Meletios is mentioned as a Patriarch; however, he was never a Patriarch.
Nikolas Vlastos, (Born c 1430 Rethymno, Crete, Greece - Died c 1500 Venice). He was officially "Factor and Administrator of the Notara Estate in Venice". There are numerous comments about his profession and what he did and did not do. The following Statement, (direct translation) may clear up few things. Re: Etymologicum Magnum (Great Etymological Dictionary): "The great etymological dictionary completed by the grace of God in Venice, commissioned by the noble and excellent Nicholas Vlastos the Cretan; at the urging of the most radiant and wise Lady Anne, daughter of the most venerable and glorious Lord Loukas Notaras, once Grand Duke of Constantinople; printed with care and skill for the learned by Zacharias Kalliergis the Cretan, and dedicated to Hellenic letters. 22 August 1499". It is clear, Nicholas Vlastos was financing the project on behalf of Anne Notaras and was neither the "Printer" nor the "designer". Nikolas was a first Cousin to Josef, "Sifis" Vlastos, leader of the 1454 revolt. In 1454, Nikolas, being a close relative of "Sifis", was imprisoned for a few years, and he was saved by the full support of the Notaras family, especially Anna Notaras. (How did Lucas Notaras know Nikolaos Vlastos, a young person from Crete? How could he, one of the richest men in Constantinople, trust a stranger with his estate? Was he a relative?)
Egor Ivanovich Vlastov; (George, son of Ioannis, Vlastos) born c. 1769 in Rethymnon, Crete, Greece - died Jan 29 1837, Russia. He was one of the first group to graduate in 1790 from the Greek Cadets Corp, founded in 1775, by order of "Catherine II, The Great", Empress of Russia, in St-Petersburg, as a branch of Russia's 2nd Cadets Corp, with Count Alexei Orloff-Chesmenskiy the initiator of the new order. The cadets were children of noble Greek families or orphans (parents killed by the Turks) originating from mainland Greece and the islands. The children were transported to St.Petersburg by the fleet of Count Orloff and vice-admiral A. V. Elmanov. G-L E. I. Vlastov's name, as one of the Heroes of the Patriotic War 1812, is engraved on the Christ Savior Cathedral's walls In Moscow. Vlastov was decorated with the Order of St.Georgi y 3 class; of St. Anna 1 class; of St. Vladimir 2 class. Today in Kniagevo, in the house where Vlastov lived, there is a school and its pupils carefully protect the tomb of the hero.
Caterina Vlastos, Born After 1605, was the first wife of the Prince Georgii, Patriarch of the Ghyka family. Her origin was either from Crete or from Constantinople. Chios is not an option; there were No Vlastos in Chios at that time.
List of some Vlastos marriages
- Andronikos Vlastos married Mariora Ghyka, sister of Prince Grigori II Ghyka
- Statarul, "Arapaki" Vlastos married Smaragda Ghika, daughter of Grigori II Ghyka.
- Sigura Vlastos married Count Chrystoforo Kapnisis
- Maria Vlastos married the Great Logothete Constantino Kantakouzenos
- Baron Gregory Vlastos married Princess Balasa Kantakouzenos
- Gregory Vlastos, married (first husband) Sevasti Callimachi daughter of Prince Ioan Callimachi, Ancestress of Aspasia Manos, Queen of Greece.
Sevasti Callimachi was the mother of Maria Soutzo the mother of Sevasti Argyropoulos the mother of Thrassyvoulos Manos father of Petros Manos the father of Aspasia Manos Queen of Greece.
- Cassandra Vlastos married Nikola Caradja
- Ενα νεο χειρογραφο για τα δωδεκα αρχοντοπυλα της Κρητης. Αλεξανδρος Ν. Τσουρδαλακης. Κρητολογικα Γραμματα. 11. Ρεθυμνο 1995, 287-304.
- The Alexiad of Anna Comnena; translated from the Greek by E. R. A. Sewter. (Penguin Classics). Harmondsworth: Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-044215-4
- Wills from Late Medieval Venetian Crete 1312-1420; Sally McKee, editor. 3 vols. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1998 ISBN 0-88402-245-5
- The Documents of Angelo de Cartura and Donato Fontanella: Venetian Notaries in Fourteenth-Century Crete; Alan M. Stahl, editor. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, c2000. ISBN 0-88402-271-4
- Η συνθηκη του Αλεξιου Καλλεργη. Γιαννης Γρυντακης. Κρητολογικα Γραμματα. 15/16 Ρεθυμνον 1999/2000. 35-50
- Η εν Κρητη συνωμοσια του Συφη Βλαστου 1453-1454 και η νεα συνωμοτικη κινησις του 1460-1462. Μανουσακας Μανουσος Ι., Αθηνα 1960.
- Το Βυζαντιο μετα το Βυζαντιο. Translated by Gianni Kara. Original work: Byzance apres Byzance; by N. Iorga, Bucurest 1971.
- The Byzantine Lady. Then Portraits, 1250-1500. by Donald M. Nicol. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57623-7. pp. 96-109