During the 10th to 12th centuries many churches were built and the Frankish invaders of the mid 13th century built or restored fortresses, but the Maniots succeeded remaining autonomous under a series of invaders: the Franks, Byzantines, Venetians and Ottoman Turks, against whom they revolted in 1769 and 1821. Revolts occurred as well during the Venetian occupation. The churches date mostly from the 11th and 12th centuries and are built in Byzantine style-smallish structures in the shape of the Greek cross with a dome above;the walls were made of a mixture of stone and brick, the latter in banded patterns. Some churches have gable end belfries, a feature possibly introduced by the Franks. There are also some marble fragments in places. Inside are frescoes, dating mostly from the 12th-14th centuries, executed in what is known as 'naïve' style. The churches are often out in the countryside and hard to reach. Then there is the problem of finding out in what neighboring house there might be a key.
The Maniots were also adventurers, settling in Corsica, where they formed communities under the Republic of Genoa during the 17th century. . They were described as 'pirates by sea' and 'pestilent robbers by land' by a British traveler and writer, the piracy centering in the Cycladic islands. One of the famous leaders in the Greek War of Independence--Petrobey Mavromikhalis-- was a Maniot. The Ottomans had chosen to deal with these fiercely independent people who had revolted against the preceding occupiers by granting them a certain level of autonomy, carried out by appointing certain clan leaders as 'Beys', who would then control all of the other clans, but the plan backfired finally when Petrobey Mavromikhalis (who had been appointed Bey) united the clans in a revolutionary army that was a vital element in liberation from the Turks and the subsequent formation of the Greek nation. The first president of the new nation however (Kapodistrias, who was seated at Nafplio), had Mavromikhalis and other members of his clan imprisoned when they challenged his authority, and was assassinated by Mavromikhalis' brothers. Ironically, the Maniots were later enlisted by the monarchy to form a special militia, in which they served willingly.