The beautiful Helen of Kea The life of Helen was novelistic, interesting and adventurous. She was born in 1809 of a father from Epirus and a mother from Kea. Her family was wealthy. Chased by the Turks, they fled to Kea, where the locals established the surname Ioannitis for them. In Tzia, Eleni was educated in literature and music, and she travelled frequently with her family, who were engaged in trade. As she grew older she charmed with her beauty and wit.
In 1825, at the age of 16, she married the first archon of the island, Michael Pagalos, with whom she had a large age difference. Michael was a scion of the Pagalos family, of Venetian origin, who built their mansions on top of the castle of the ancient city of Ioulida. On sunny days the couple used to go to their country house in Mylopotamos. She enjoyed riding her horse, picking flowers from the garden and watching the farm work. She soon became pregnant, but Michael never met his daughter.
In 1826 Vassos Mavrovouniotis, a chieftain who was active in the revolution, fell in love with Helen and stole her. Michael died shortly afterwards, gravely ill and bitter, while the statue of her, as he had ordered it himself, adorned the door of his garden in Milopotamos for years. Helen, who longed for a life of adventure, lived at Vassos’ side and accompanied him on his military campaigns either as a nurse or as his secretary, because of her education, and participated in important negotiations. She is even referred to as a heroine of the revolution and the first Greek war nurse. After the revolution, Helen expressed her liberal ideas and her opposition to Ioannis Kapodistrias.
During Otto’s reign she lived with Vassos in Athens and he served the royal regime, gaining high ranks and financial privileges. In addition to the daughter Helen had with her first husband, she and Vasos had four sons. Helen loved riding, music, European fashion and enjoyed giving dances at which the Athenian aristocracy gathered. In 1839 their marriage was dissolved and Helen remarried, but they never ceased to care for each other. After Vassos’ death in 1847, Eleni gave up social life and devoted herself to caring for her children. Her eventful life, full of passions and love, adventures and struggles, prestige and wealth, ended in 1891, when she was in her old age.