Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios was the Great Dragoman of Cyprus from 1779 until 1804. Although the word “dragoman” simply means “interpreter or guide”, the Great Dragoman wielded considerable political clout, being the main link between Greek Orthodox subjects and Ottoman authorities. One of the principal responsibilities was the collection of taxes. By creaming off his own cut, being personally tax-exempt and amassing large estates, Kornesios became the richest man on the island. But his comeuppance arrived in 1804 when a revolt against the authorities drove him and his family to seek asylum in Constantinople. From there, he organized troops to put the rebellion down. When he returned to the island, further political skulduggery led to his downfall. He was called back to Constantinople, found guilty of embezzlement and maladministration, and beheaded.

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