Sunday, March 25, 2012

1821-Greek War of Independence

Greek War of Independence
Theodoros Vryzakis (oil painting, 1852, Benaki MuseumAthens) illustrates Bishop Germanos of old Patras blessing the Greek banner at Agia Lavra on the outset of the national revolt against the Turks on 25 March 1821.
Date1821 – 1832
LocationThe Balkans (mainly Greece) and theAegean Sea.
ResultGreek victory and establishment of theKingdom of Greece.
Greece First Hellenic Republic

(Only in the Battle of Navarino)
 Ottoman Empire
 Eyalet of Egypt

(Only in naval battles)
Commanders and leaders
 Alexander Ypsilantis
 Theodoros Kolokotronis
 Demetrius Ypsilantis
 Georgios Karaiskakis 
 Constantine Kanaris
 Andreas Vokos Miaoulis
 General Makriyannis
 Alexandros Mavrokordatos
 Markos Botsaris 
 Sultan Mahmud II
 Omer Vrioni
 Mahmud Dramali Pasha
 Hursid Pasha
 Husrev Pasha
 Reşid Mehmed Pasha
 Ibrahim Pasha
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution (Greek:Ελληνική Επανάσταση, Elliniki EpanastasiOttoman: يونان عصياني Yunan İsyanı) was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between1821 and 1832, with later assistance from several European powers, RussiaUnited Kingdom and France against the Ottoman Empire, who were assisted by theirvassals, the Eyalet of Egypt and partly the Vilayet of Tunisia.
Following the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, most ofGreece came under Ottoman rule. During this time, there were frequent revolts by Greeks attempting to gain independence.[1] In 1814, a secret organization called the Filiki Eteria was founded with the aim of liberating Greece. The Filiki Eteria planned to launch revolts in the Peloponnese, the Danubian Principalities andConstantinople. The first of these revolts began on 6 March 1821 in the Danubian Principalities, but it was soon put down by the Ottomans. The events in the north urged the Greeks in the Peloponnese in action and on 17 March 1821 the Maniotsdeclared war on the Ottomans. By the end of the month, the Peloponnese was in open revolt against the Turks and by October 1821 the Greeks under Theodoros Kolokotronis had captured Tripolitsa. The Peloponnesian revolt was quickly followed by revolts in CreteMacedonia and Central Greece, which would soon be suppressed. Meanwhile, the makeshift Greek navy was achieving success against the Ottoman navy in the Aegean Sea and prevented Ottoman reinforcements from arriving by sea.
Tensions soon developed among different Greek factions, leading to two consecutive civil wars. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Sultan negotiated with Mehmet Ali of Egypt, who agreed to send his son Ibrahim Pasha to Greece with an army to suppress the revolt in return for territorial gain. Ibrahim landed in the Peloponnese in February 1825 and had immediate success: by the end of 1825, most of the Peloponnese was under Egyptian control, and the city of Missolonghi—put under siege by the Turks since April 1825—fell in April 1826. Although Ibrahim was defeated in Mani, he had succeeded in suppressing most of the revolt in the Peloponnese and Athens had been retaken.
Following years of negotiation, three Great Powers, Russia, the United Kingdomand France, decided to intervene in the conflict and each nation sent a navy to Greece. Following news that combined Ottoman–Egyptian fleets were going to attack the Greek island of Hydra, the allied fleet intercepted the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet at Navarino. Following a week long standoff, a battle began which resulted in the destruction of the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet. With the help of a French expeditionary force, the Greeks drove the Turks out of the Peloponnese and proceeded to the captured part of Central Greece by 1828. As a result of years of negotiation, Greece was finally recognized as an independent nation in May 1832.
The Revolution is celebrated on 25 March by the modern Greek state, which is a national day.




In 1463, Demetrius Chalcocondyles called on Venice and "all of the Latins" to aid the Greeks against "the abominable, monstrous, and impious barbarian Turks".[2]
The Fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the subsequent fall of the successor states of the Byzantine Empire marked the end of Byzantine sovereignty. After that, the Ottoman Empire ruled the Balkans and Anatolia, although there were some exceptions.i[›] Orthodox Christians were granted some political rights under Ottoman rule, but they were considered inferior subjects.[3] The majority of Greeks were called rayas by the Turks, a name that referred to the large mass of non-Muslim subjects in the Ottoman ruling class.ii[›][4]Meanwhile, Greek intellectuals and humanists, who had migrated west before or during the Ottoman invasions, such as Demetrius Chalcocondyles and Leonardos Philaras, began to call for the liberation of their homeland.[5] However, Greece was to remain under Ottoman rule for several more centuries. In the 18th and 19th century, as revolutionary nationalism grew across Europe—including the Balkans (due, in large part, to the influence of the French Revolution[6])—the Ottoman Empire's power declined and Greek nationalism began to assert itself, with the Greek cause beginning to draw support not only from the large Greek merchant diaspora in both Western Europe and Russia but also from Western European Philhellenes.[7] This Greek movement for independence was not only the first movement of national character in Eastern Europe, but also the first one in a non-Christian environment, like the Ottoman Empire.[8]

[edit]Greeks under Ottoman rule

History of Greece
William Faden. Composite Mediterranean. 1785.I.jpg
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The Greek Revolution was not an isolated event; numerous failed attempts at regaining independence took place throughout the history of the Ottoman era. Throughout the 17th century there was great resistance to the Ottomans in the Morea and elsewhere, as evidenced by revolts led by Dionysius the Philosopher.[9] After the Morean WarPeloponnese came under Venetian rule for 30 years, and remained in turmoil from then on and throughout the 17th century, as the bands of the klephtsmultiplied.[10] The first great uprising was the Russian-sponsored Orlov Revolt of the 1770s, which was crushed by the Ottomans after having limited success. After the crushing of the uprising, Muslim Albanians ravaged many regions in mainland Greece.[11] However, the Maniots continually resisted Ottoman rule, and defeated several Ottoman incursions into their region, the most famous of which was the invasion of 1770.[12] During the Second Russo-Turkish War, the Greek community of Triestefinanced a small fleet under Lambros Katsonis, which was a nuisance for the Ottoman navy; during the war klephts and armatoloi rose once again.[13]

Rigas Feraios (here portrayed by Peter von Hess), who developed plans for a co-ordinated, pan-Balkan uprising against Ottoman rule, is regarded as a forerunner of the Greek Revolution.
At the same time, a number of Greeks enjoyed a privileged position in the Ottoman state as members of the Ottoman bureaucracy. Greeks controlled the affairs of the Orthodox Church through the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, as the higher clergy of the Orthodox Church was mostly of Greek origin. Thus, as a result of the Ottomanmillet system, the predominantly Greek hierarchy of the Patriarchate enjoyed control over the Empire's Orthodox subjects (the Rum milleti[14]).[3] The Greek Orthodox Churchplayed a pivotal role in the preservation of national identity, the development of Greek society and the resurgence of Greek nationalism.iii[›] From the 18th century and onwards, members of prominent Greek families in Constantinople, known as Phanariotes (after the Phanar district of the city) gained considerable control over Ottoman foreign policy and eventually over the bureaucracy as a whole.[15]
Due to economic developments taking place both within and outside the Ottoman empire, the 18th century witnessed the ascence of two merchant groups to prosperity: Albanian sailors of several Aegean islands, like Hydra and Andros, became affluent maritime merchants and Rumeli muleteers of Slav, Greek and predominantly Vlach origins turned from muleteers and peddlers to independent merchants and bankers after the treaty of Passarowitz. As commerce expanded in the Balkans, Greek became the area's 'lingua franca' and continental merchants homogenized through a process of assimilation to the Greek 'high culture' by the end of the century.[16]They generated the wealth necessary to found schools, libraries and pay for young Greeks to study at the universities of Western Europe.[17] It was there that they came into contact with the radical ideas of the European Enlightenment, the French Revolution and romantic nationalism.[18] Educated and influential members of the large Greek diaspora, such as Adamantios Korais and Anthimos Gazis, tried to transmit these ideas back to the Greeks, with the double aim of raising their educational level and simultaneously strengthening their national identity. This was achieved through the dissemination of books, pamphlets and other writings in Greek, in a process that has been described as the modern Greek Enlightenment (Greek: Διαφωτισμός).[18]
The most influential of the Greek writers and intellectuals was Rigas Feraios. Deeply influenced by the French Revolution, Rigas was the first who conceived and organized a comprehensive national movement aiming at the liberation of all Balkan nations—including the Turks of the region—and the creation of a "Balkan Republic". Arrested by Austrian officials in Trieste in 1797, he was handed over to Ottoman officials and transported to Belgrade along with his co-conspirators. All of them were strangled to death and their bodies were dumped in the Danube, in June 1798.[19] Rigas' death ultimately fanned the flames of Greek nationalism; his nationalist poem, the Thourios (war-song), was translated into a number of Western European and later Balkan languages and served as a rallying cry for Greeks against Ottoman rule:
Ὡς πότε παλικάρια, νὰ ζοῦμε στὰ στενά,
μονάχοι σὰ λεοντάρια, σταῖς ράχαις στὰ βουνά;
Σπηλιαῖς νὰ κατοικοῦμε, νὰ βλέπωμεν κλαδιά,
νὰ φεύγωμ᾿ ἀπ᾿ τὸν κόσμον, γιὰ τὴν πικρὴ σκλαβιά;
Νὰ χάνωμεν ἀδέλφια, πατρίδα καὶ γονεῖς,
τοὺς φίλους, τὰ παιδιά μας, κι ὅλους τοὺς συγγενεῖς;
Καλλιῶναι μίας ὥρας ἐλεύθερη ζωή,
παρὰ σαράντα χρόνοι, σκλαβιὰ καὶ φυλακή.
For how long, o brave young men, shall we live in fastnesses,
Alone, like lions, on the ridges in the mountains?
Shall we dwell in caves, looking out on branches,
Fleeing from the world on account of bitter serfdom?
Abandoning brothers, sisters, parents, homeland
Friends, children, and all of our kin?
Better one hour of free life,
Than forty years of slavery and prison.[20]

[edit]Klephts and armatoloi

Portrait of a Greek armatolos by Richard Parkes Bonington (oil painting, 1825–1826, Benaki Museum).
In times of militarily weak central authority, the Balkan countryside became infested by groups of bandits that struck at Muslims and Christians alike, called "klephts" (κλέφτες) in Greece, the equivalent of thehajduks. Defying Ottoman rule, the klephts were highly admired and held a significant place in popular lore.[21]
Responding to the klephts' attacks, the Ottomans recruited the ablest amongst these groups, contracting Christian militias, known as "armatoloi" (αρματολοί), to secure endangered areas, especially mountain passes.iv[›] The area under their control was called an "armatolik",[22] the oldest known being established inAgrafa during the reign of Murad II (r. 1421–1451).[23] The distinction between klephts and armatoloi was not clear, as the latter would often turn into klephts to extort more benefits from the authorities, while, conversely, another klepht group would be appointed to the armatolik to confront their predecessors.[24]
Nevertheless, klephts and armatoloi formed a provincial elite, though not a social class, whose members would muster under a common goal.[25] As the armatoloi's position gradually turned into a hereditary one, some captains took care of their armatolik as their personal property. A great deal of power was placed in their hands and they integrated in the network of clientelist relationships that formed the Ottoman administration.[24] Some managed to establish exclusive control in their armatolik, forcing the Porte to try repeatedly, though unsuccessfully, to eliminate them.[26] By the time of the War of Independence powerfularmatoloi could be traced in Rumeli, Thessaly, Epirus and southern Macedonia.[27] To the revolutionary leader and writer Yannis Makriyannis, klephts and armatoloi—being the only available major military force on the side of the Greeks—played such a crucial role in the Greek revolution that he referred to them as the "yeast of liberty".[28]

[edit]Filiki Eteria

The emblem and the Great Oath of Filiki Eteria, carved in stone at a monument in Kolonaki,Athens.
Feraios' martyrdom was to inspire three young Greek merchants, Nikolaos SkoufasEmmanuil Xanthos, andAthanasios Tsakalov. Influenced by the Italian Carbonari and profiting from their own experience as members ofFreemasonic organizations, they founded in 1814 the secret Filiki Eteria ("Friendly Society") in Odessa, an important center of the Greek mercantile diaspora.[29] With the support of wealthy Greek exile communities inBritain and the United States and with the aid of sympathizers in Western Europe, they planned the rebellion. The society's basic objective was a revival of the Byzantine Empire, with Constantinople as the capital, not the formation of a national state.[30] In early 1820, Ioannis Kapodistrias, an official from the Ionian Islands who had become the joint foreign minister of Tsar Alexander I, was approached by the Society in order to be named leader but declined the offer; the Filikoi (members of Filiki Eteria) then turned to Alexander Ypsilantis, a Phanariote serving in the Russian army as general and adjutant to Alexander, who accepted.[31]
The Filiki Eteria expanded rapidly and was soon able to recruit members in all areas of the Greek world and among all elements of the Greek society.v[›] In 1821, the Ottoman Empire mainly faced war against Persia and more particularly the revolt by Ali Pasha in Epirus, which had forced the vali (governor) of the Morea, Hursid Pasha, and other local pashas to leave their provinces and campaign against the rebel force. At the same time, the Great Powers, allied in the "Concert of Europe" in opposition to revolutions in the aftermath of Napoleon I of France, were preoccupied with revolts in Italy and Spain. It was in this context that the Greeks judged the time ripe for their own revolt. The plan originally involved uprisings in three places, the Peloponnese, the Danubian Principalities and Constantinople.[32]


Combat of the Giaour and the Pasha byEugène Delacroix (1827, oil on canvas, Art Institute of Chicago). Inspired by Lord Byron's poem The Giaour.
Because of the Greek origin of so much of the West's classical heritage, there was tremendous sympathy for the Greek cause throughout Europe. Many wealthy Americans and Western European aristocrats, such as the renowned poet Lord Byron and later the physician Samuel Howe, took up arms to join the Greek revolutionaries.[33] Many more also financed the revolution. The London Philhellenic Committee helped insurgent Greece to float two loans in 1824 (£800,000) and 1825 (£2,000,000)[34]. The Scottish historian and philhellene Thomas Gordon took part in the revolutionary struggle and later wrote the first histories of the Greek revolution in English. According to Albert Boime, "The philhellenes willingly overlooked many of the contradictory stories about Greek atrocities, because they had nowhere else to deposit their libertarian impulses."[35]
The mountains look on Marathon --
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dream'd that Greece might yet be free
For, standing on the Persians' grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.
Must we but weep o'er days more blest?
Must we but blush? – Our fathers bled.
Earth! render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylae.
Byron, The Isles of Greece[36]
In Europe, the Greek revolt aroused widespread sympathy among the public, although at first it was met with lukewarm and negative reception from the Great Powers. Some historians argue that Ottoman atrocities were given wide coverage in Europe, while Christian atrocities tended to be suppressed or played down.[37] The Ottoman massacres at Chios in 1822 inspired Eugène Delacroix's famous paintingMassacre of Chios; other philhellenic works by Delacroix were inspired by various Byron poems. Byron, the most celebrated philhellene of all, lent his name, prestige and wealth to the cause.[38]
Byron spent time in Albania and Greece, organizing funds and supplies (including the provision of several ships), but died from fever at Missolonghi in 1824. Byron's death helped to create an even stronger European sympathy for the Greek cause. His poetry, along with Delacroix's art, helped arouse European public opinion in favor of the Greek revolutionaries to the point of no return, and led Western powers to intervene directly.[39]
Philhellenism made a notable contribution to romanticism, enabling the younger generation of artistic and literary intellectuals to expand the classical repertoire by treating modern Greek history as an extension of ancient history; the idea of a regeneration of the spirit of ancient Greece permeated the rhetoric of the Greek cause's supporters. Classicists and romantics of that period envisioned the casting out of the Turks as the prelude to the revival of the Golden Age.[40]

Outbreak of the revolution

[edit]Danubian principalities

Alexander Ypsilantis was elected as the head of the Filiki Eteria in April 1820 and took upon him the task of planning the insurrection. Ypsilantis' intention was to raise all the Christians of the Balkans in rebellion and perhaps force Russia to intervene on their behalf. On 22 February [N.S. 6 March], he crossed the river Prut with his followers, entering the Danubian Principalities.[41] In order to encourage the localRomanian Christians to join him, he announced that he had "the support of a Great Power", implying Russia. Two days after crossing the Prut, Ypsilantis issued a proclamation calling all Greeks and Christians to rise up against the Ottomans.[41] Michael Soutzos, then Prince of Moldavy and a member of Filiki Etaireia, set his guard at Ypsilantis' disposal. In the meanwhile, Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople and the Synod had anathematized and excommunicated both Ypsilantis and Soutzos issuing many encyclicals, an explicit denounce of the Revolution in line with the Orthodox Church policy.[42]
"Fight for Faith and Motherland! The time has come, O Hellenes. Long ago the people of Europe, fighting for their own rights and liberties, invited us to imitation ... The enlightened peoples of Europe are occupied in restoring the same well-being, and, full of gratitude for the benefactions of our forefathers towards them, desire the liberation of Greece. We, seemingly worthy of ancestral virtue and of the present century, are hopeful that we will achieve their defense and help. Many of these freedom-lovers want to come and fight alongside us ... Who then hinders your manly arms? Our cowardly enemy is sick and weak. Our generals are experienced, and all our fellow countrymen are full of enthusiasm. Unite, then, O brave and magnanimous Greeks! Let national phalanxes be formed, let patriotic legions appear and you will see those old giants of despotism fall themselves, before our triumphant banners."
Ypsilantis' Proclamation at Iaşi.[43]
Instead of directly advancing on Brăila, where he arguably could have prevented Ottoman armies from entering the Principalities, and where he might have forced Russia to accept a fait accompli, Ypsilantis remained in Iaşi, and ordered the executions of several pro-Ottoman Moldavians. In Bucharest, where he had arrived in early April after some weeks delay, he decided that he could not rely on the Wallachian Pandurs to continue their Oltenian-based revolt and assist the Greek cause. The Pandur leader was Tudor Vladimirescu, who had already reached the outskirts of Bucharest on 16 March [N.S. 28 March]. In Bucharest, the relations of the two men deteriorated dramatically; Vladimirescu's first priority was to assert his authority against the newly appointed prince Scarlat Callimachi, trying to maintain relations with both Russia and the Ottomans.[44]

Alexander Ypsilantis crosses the Pruth, by Peter von Hess (Benaki Museum, Athens).
At that point, Kapodistrias, the foreign minister of Russia, was ordered byAlexander I to send Ypsilantis a letter upbraiding him for misusing the mandate received from the Tsar; Kapodistrias announced to Ypsilantis that his name had been struck off the army list and that he was commanded to lay down arms. Ypsilantis tried to ignore the letter, but Vladimirescu took this as the end of his commitment to the Eteria. A conflict erupted inside his camp and he was tried and put to death by the Eteria on 26 May [N.S. 7 June]. The loss of their Romanian allies, followed by an Ottoman intervention on Wallachian soil, sealed defeat for the Greek exiles and culminated in the disastrous Battle of Dragashani and the destruction of the Sacred Band on 7 June[N.S. 19 June].[45]