The Greek War of Independence was a successful war of independence waged by Greek revolutionaries against the Ottoman Empire between 1821 and 1830.
The Greeks were later assisted by Great Britain, France and Russia, while the Ottomans were aided by their North African vassals, particularly the eyalet of Egypt. The war led to the formation of modern Greece.
The revolution is celebrated by Greeks around the world as Independence Day on 25 March.
Greece came under Ottoman rule in the 15th century, in the decades before and after the fall of Constantinople. During the following centuries, there were sporadic but unsuccessful Greek uprisings against Ottoman rule. In 1814, a secret organisation called Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends) was founded with the aim of liberating Greece, encouraged by the revolutionary fervour gripping Europe in that period. The Filiki Eteria planned to launch revolts in the Peloponnese, the Danubian Principalities, and Constantinople itself. The insurrection was planned for 25 March 1821 (on the Julian Calendar), the Orthodox Christian Feast of the Annunciation. However, the plans of Filiki Eteria were discovered by the Ottoman authorities, forcing the revolution to start earlier. The first revolt began on 6 March / 21 February 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 (Morea) into action and on 17 March 1821, the Maniots were first to declare war. In September 1821, the Greeks under the leadership of Theodoros Kolokotronis captured Tripolitsa. Revolts in Crete, Macedonia, and Central Greece broke out, but were eventually suppressed. Meanwhile, makeshift Greek fleets achieved 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. The Ottoman Sultan called in his vassal Muhammad Ali of Egypt, who agreed to send his son Ibrahim Pasha to Greece with an army to suppress the revolt in return for territorial gains. Ibrahim landed in the Peloponnese in February 1825 and brought most of the peninsula under Egyptian control by the end of that year. The town of Missolonghi fell in April 1826 after a year-long siege by the Turks. Despite a failed invasion of Mani, Athens also fell and the revolution looked all but lost.
At that point, the three Great powers – Russia, Britain and France – decided to intervene, sending their naval squadrons to Greece in 1827. Following news that the combined Ottoman-Egyptian fleet was going to attack the island of Hydra, the allied European fleets intercepted the Ottoman navy at Navarino. After a tense week-long standoff, the Battle of Navarino led to the destruction of the Ottoman-Egyptian fleet and turned the tide in favour of the revolutionaries.
In 1828, the Egyptian army withdrew under pressure of a French expeditionary force. The Ottoman garrisons in the Peloponnese surrendered, and the Greek revolutionaries proceeded to retake central Greece. Russia invaded the Ottoman Empire and forced it to accept Greek autonomy in the Treaty of Adrianople (1829).
After nine years of war, Greece was finally recognised as an independent state under the London Protocol of February 1830. Further negotiations in 1832 led to the London Conference and the Treaty of Constantinople; these defined the final borders of the new state and established Prince Otto of Bavaria as the first King of Greece.
Theodoros Kolokotronis – General, Prime Minister of Greece, Leader of the Greek War of Independence (1770 – 1843)
The polemic ethnarch of Greece, captain of the Klephts were highwaymen turned self-appointed armatoloi, anti-Ottoman insurgents, and warlike mountain-folk who lived in the countryside, and one of the purest figures of the Greek War of Independence.
Theodoros Kolokotronis descended from the Kolokotronis family, 11 generations of which had fought against the Turkish yoke and more than 80 members of it had been killed by the Turks.
At the age of 16, Kolokotronis had already earned the title of Captain of the klephts as well as the nickname “Old Man of Moria”. In 1806 he moves to Zakynthos. His time there was to be an important part of his life; he becomes acquainted with the ideas of ancient Greek philosophers and writers by listening to them from important scholars since he himself was illiterate. In addition, he takes lessons on war and strategy by Richard Church (British military officer in the British Army and commander of the Greek forces during the last stages of the Greek War of Independence after 1827) which proved to be crucial in his career later on.
In 1818 he is initiated in the Society of Friends (Philiki Hetaireia) and in 1821, under the order of Alexandros Ypsilantis (Greek nationalist politician) he travels to Moria where he achieves two goals: First to reconcile the Maniates and second to light the fire of the revolution in all of the provinces.
In the beginning, Kolokotronis is alone, completely abandoned by his fellow men. He eventually gathers a significant number of warriors and leads them against the Turkish forces in the victorious battles of Valtetsi (April 1821) and the Battle of the Trenches (August 1821). Kolokotronis’ plan is to rid Peloponnesus of the Turkish forces, reclaim their castles and establish a free zone.
He takes over Tripolitsa, the main fortress of the Turks in Peloponnesus with an army of 10,000 men, having suffered only 100 casualties against an army of 10,000 Turks.
Kolokotronis’ next move is to stop Dramali Pasha’s procession to Peloponnesus. He holds his position in the castle of Argos and occupies all of the water supplies in the area. This strategy combined with the severe drought during that time of the year proved to be detrimental for Dramalis’ army. Nevertheless, with an army of 36,000 warriors Dramalis had taken his victory for granted and had notified the High Porte that he had defeated the Greeks in Dervenakia some days earlier. Kolokotronis gathers an army of 8000 men together with Demetrios Hypsilantis, Papaflessas, Plaputas and Nikitaras Stamatelopoulos and in July 1822 he exterminates Dramalis’ forces in the battle of Dervenakia. It was one of the most glorious battles in the chronicles of the Greek War of Independence.
Following his protagonist role in numerous victorious battles, Kolokotronis finds himself in the midst of a civil war incited by the British forces. He is imprisoned in Hydra until in 1825 when he is called to confront Ibrahim’s forces who roam the lands of Peloponnesus. Kolokotronis returns with a small number of klephts but this time he is unable to successfully fend off the Egyptian forces from the lands of Moria. For the first time, he is forced to betray his principles and sign a treaty by which the British forces would assist Greece in the war.
With the assassination of Ioannis Kapodistrias, elected as the first head of state of independent Greece, he is considered the founder of the modern Greek state, and the architect of Greek independence, and the coming of Otto as King of Greece, Kolokotronis is accused for treason and imprisoned for the second time until Otto reaches adulthood and takes control of the administration of Greece.
From the first day of his adulthood, Otto frees Kolokotronis and appoints him as member of the Council of State.
Plapoutas was a general of the Greek army who fought in the Greek War of Independence of 1821. One of the greatest and most heroic figures of the war, Plapoutas’ deeds and bravery are often overshadowed by those of Theodoros Kolokotronis, with whom they fought side by side in almost every battle. He played a decisive role in numerous battles, most notably in the Battle of Valtetsi as well as during the civil war against Ibrahim.
Plapoutas was from a family of heroes with a military background. He was employed by the Ottoman army as a kapos (commander) in Karytena. He had also served the English army in Zakynthos prior to the start of the Greek War of Independence.
A flaming patriot, he was initiated in the Society of Friends (Philiki Hetaereia). Together with his father and brothers in 1821, Plapoutas hoisted the Greek flag of independence in Gortynia and gathered an army of 800 warriors. From that point onward, Plapoutas never stopped fighting, partaking actively in numerous major battles of the Greek War of Independence.
Plapoutas fought in the victorious Battle of Valtetsi in 1821, together with Theodoros Kolokotronis, Nikitaras, Mitropetrovas and Anagnostaras. The same year he fought in the Battle of St. Vlasios of Tripolitsa and the Battle of Tripolitsa, in which the Ottoman forces were decimated. He participated in almost every battle of Peloponnesus together with Kolokotronis’ son Ioannis. He was the first to face Dramali outside of Argos in 1822 with his army, during the latter’s expedition in Peloponnesus. Of course, Plapoutas could not have been absent from the most important battle of the Greek War of Independence, the Battle of Dervenakia, where together with all the major generals of the war, he granted one more victory to the Greeks and halted Dramali’s descent to southern Greece.
During the Civil War, Plapoutas and Kolokotronis’ affiliations were temporarily compromised. Nevertheless, with Ibrahim’s arrival in Greece in 1825 on the side of the Ottoman Empire, Plapoutas and Kolokotronis rejoined forces and took out Ibrahim’s forces in many subsequent battles.
After Greece’s independence, Plapoutas served Ioannis Kapodistrias loyally and occupied several political positions. Following Kapodistrias’ assassination, Plapoutas, alongside Kolokotronis were charged with conspiring against King Otto, imprisoned and sentenced to death, only to be made innocent by two judges Georgios Tertsetis and Anastasios Polyzoidis. He later became general, member of the Parliament and aide-de-camp of King Otto.
While I was in Cyprus recently, I was very pleased to meet Mr Costas Papachristou in Pyrgos.
Mr Papachristou is originally from Athens and is related to Plapoutas via his grandmother’s grandfather.
We had several interesting conversations about Greek history during which he proudly revealed that he had inherited a pistol which was previously owned and used by Plapoutas during the Greek War of Independence.
Source: greatestgreeks.wordpress.com en.wikipedia.org and greekreporter.com
Image: Painting of Dimitris Plapoutas in Royal Phalanx uniform www.nhmuseum.gr
Photo: Costas Papachristou holding Plapoutas’ pistol