Euphrosyne Vasileiou (Greek: Ευφροσύνη Βασιλείου; 1773 – 11 January 1800), better known as Kyra Frosini (Κυρά Φροσύνη, "Mistress Phrosyne"), was a Greek socialite who was executed for adultery in Ioannina by the Ottoman governor Ali Pasha of Ioannina along with 16 other women. In legend, she was allegedly executed for political reasons and was thereby viewed as a national heroine. The case of Kyra Frosini has been portrayed in fiction as a novel, an opera, a film as well as in folk songs.
Kyra Frosini was the niece of the Bishop of Ioannina and married to the wealthy merchant Dimitrios Vasileiou, with whom she had two children. She was a leading member of the local aristocracy in Ioannina and known for her beauty and intelligence. Her spouse was often absent due to business, and Kyra Frosini is known to have had a love affair with Muhtar Pasha, the son of the local Ottoman governor, Ali Pasha of Ioannina. On 10 January 1800, Ali Pasha had Kyra Frosini arrested alongside 17 other women pointed out for the crime of adultery and had them all imprisoned. The arrest attracted attention and protests from the Greek community in the sensitive political climate in Ottoman Greece. Only one of the 18 women arrested were released from custody.
On the night of 11 January 1800, all 17 women, including Kyra Frosini, was executed by drowning in Lake Pamvotida by the order of Ali Pasha. The women were reportedly sewn in sacks and pushed in the lake from a boat in the night, which was at the time a form of execution for women in Islamic law practiced in Ottoman Empire.
The reason for the swift execution was reportedly the immediate rage that had occurred in the community because of the arrests, and the willingness of the next of kin of the accused to forgive their purported crimes. According to one version, Dimitrios Vasiliou had been given the question if he wished to continue to live with a prostitute (his wife), and he had answered yes.
Kyra Frosini and the other women were buried with all honors at the convent of St Anargyroi by the grace of her uncle bishop Gabriel. Reportedly, the women were regarded as martyrs of the Ottomans by their contemporary Greeks.
The case in history
Several theories have been presented as the cause of this event. One theory claims that Ali Pasha was asked by his daughter-in-law to arrest Kyra Frosini for being the lover of her spouse, and that he followed her wish because his daughter-in-law was well connected and he did not wish to lose the support of her powerful family. Another theory claims that Ali Pasha himself disliked the love affair of his son and the influence Kyra Frosini had on his son and that he wanted to have her out of the way, and that he was forced to execute several other women as well, as the actual reason would be exposed if he only arrested and executed Frosini. One theory was that Ioannina was at that point a society strongly influenced by the West and that Kyra Frosini was a representative of the liberal sexual values within the European aristocracy, were women could take lovers, and that Ali Pasha wished to exterminate what he viewed as decadence and restore conservative sexual double standards. Adultery of a woman was considered as a very serious crime in Islamic law and Ali Pasha was at that point in a difficult position against the Ottoman authorities and did not wish to seem to be a weak ruler in his province, particularly since there had been some problems with robberies and kidnappings in the province at that time. In Greece, however, the most popular theory was that the women, at least Frosini, had been executed for political reasons after having been discovered for resistance to the Ottoman Empire, and she was therefore hailed as a national heroine.
- Νεώτερον Εγκυκλοπαιδικόν Λεξικόν Ηλίου" τομ.18ος, σελ.380-381.
- "Δημοτικά Τραγούδια" σ.24-27 - Ν. Πολίτης -(επανέκδοση)
- "Ελληνικά Δημοτικά Ποιήματα" τ.2ος σ.198 Glaude Fauriel - Πανεπιστημιακές εκδόσεις Κρήτης - Ηράκλειο 2000.
- George Finley, History of the Greek revolution, Τόμος 1, σελ. 75