Greek War of Independence

Naval battle of Navarino - Arrival of Ioannes Kapodistrias

Kolokotronis' words

Ibrahim, after resting his troops at Methoni and Koroni, advanced towards Gastouni and assaulted the castle of Helmoutzi, near Glaretza (modern Kullini). The Greek defenders, without provisions and water, capitulated on 5 May 1827. Most of them were sold as slaves in Egypt. Ibrahim continued his destructive project of burning all the villages on his way to Patras, where he arrived on 25 May. The villagers were in desperate condition and had escaped to the mountains, where the shortage of food was enormous. So many Greeks turned in (proskunisan) and signed papers proskunitoharta, where they swore their obeisance to the Sultan. Their leader was Nenekos from Sageika, a village near Patras. The majority of villagers at Patras, Gastouni, Vostitsa and Pyrgos signed those papers and were not harmed by Egyprians. Nenekos with his armed men fought against his compatriotes, with fanatism and hatred. Theodoros Kolokotronis said: "I have never in my life feared enemy or hunger or cold. I have never feared Dramalis or Ibrahim. Today with those traitors I fear for the outcome of our struggle". He was again the only one who could face the situation. He organized the resistance and harassed the Egyptian troops. He managed to send a man and kill the traitor and threatened anyone who would surrender to the enemy: Fotia kai tsekouri stous proskunimenous - Fire and axe to the judas". On 23 June 1827, Ibrahim attacked to the Megha Spilaeon Monastery near Kalavryta, but faced strong resistance from the monks and villagers who had gathered inside with their families. Egyptians withdrew and on 3 Jule, attacked to the Greeks who were under the command of Vasilis Petimezas, at Aghios Vlasios. Ibrahim continued his barbaric methods of destruction and ravage and returned to his base at Messinia. The english Cochrane had little success, as naval commander. In June 1827, he tried to destroy the Egyptian fleet anchored in the port of Alexandria, but failed. Also in August an attempt of the Greek fleet to take possess of the island Vasiladi near Mesolongi, also failed.

On 23 March 1826, Britain and Russia, had signed the Protocol of Aghia Petroupolis (St Petersburg) which stated that Hellas would become autonomous and should pay tribute to the Sultan every year. All Turks should leave the country. The English Prime Minister George Canning, communicated this Protocol to France and found the French King keen to agree with Russia and Britain to sign a treaty to stop the hostilities in Greece. All those three powers wanted to increase their influence in Near East controlling the Greek territories. On 24 June 1827, the representatives of Britain, Russia and France signed the Treaty of London, proposing autonomy for Greece. Their admirals were to impose an armistice and the ambassadors were to present the terms of the treaty to the sultan. The Ottoman warships should return to their bases. Sultan became furious for the intervention of Great Powers in his domestic affairs and the same time Mehmed Ali had prepared a huge fleet of 92 ships, in Alexandria. The fleet, commanded by Tahir Pasha and Moharem Bey, arrived at Navarino bay, on 26 August 1827. So Ottomans openly rejected the Treaty of London, a Treaty which had been welcomed by the Greeks.

On 13 September 1827, the three admirals British Codrington, French De Rigny and Russian Heyden visited Ibrahim at his tent at the city of Pylos. They informed him about the terms of the Treaty and the Egyptian general promised that he would suspend all operations, waiting for new instructions from Constantinople and Alexandria. The admirals returned to their ships, but Ibrahim continued his dirty work of devastating the land. He ordered Kehagiabey not to fight against Greeks but to burn or cut all trees. He threatened him not to loose any man, because his job was to cut and not to fight. This was the way that Ottomans behaved to their subjects. According to Spiridon Trikoupis, more than 100 thousands olives and figs were burnt in Messinia. Kolokotronis informed the admirals about the atrocities and also wrote a letter to the barbarian Satrap, that "the earth will remain ours even if you burn all trees and will make again new trees, and we will still go fighting against you even if is left alive only one Hellenas".

Battle of Navarino The admirals decided to blockade the Turkoegyptian fleet in the bay of Navarino. On 12 October 1827, the allied ships began to move through the narrow entrance into the bay. Codrington in his flagship Asia, De Rigny in the Sirene and Heyden in the Azof, commanded the allied fleet. Moharem Bey had a small boat sent to Codrington asking him not to enter the bay, but the English admiral said: "I have not come to take orders, I have come to give orders". A small boat left one English fregate to ask an egyptian fireship not to come to close, but the english sailors were shot. Those shots started the battle of Navarino. The allied sailors were well trained and the cannon shots were accurate. The Turkoegyptians, though they had the support of the cannons of the shore fortresses, fought unskilfully. After four hours of intense fighting, the battle was over. Dozens enemy ships were sunk with more than 6000 sailors killed. The allied casualties were 175 killed and 475 wounded. No allied ship had been sunk. This victory was feasted to all over Greece. When philhellene George Canning died, the new government in Britain accused Codrington that he had misinterpreted his instructions, and he was relieved from his duties. The Sultan was infuriated when he was informed about the loss of his fleet, and his open opposition to the Treaty of London, caused the departure of the three ambassadors from the Ottoman capital, on 26 November 1827.

By the end of 1827, Ioannes Kapodistrias had completed his visits to the European capitals, where he tried to convince the European leaders that Greece deserved independence. When the british under-secretary of war had asked him what is Greece, he answered: "the Greek Nation is a Nation which never stopped its existence. Greeks after the fall of 1453, continued to speak the language of their fathers, which is the Greek language, and remained Orthodox, under the protection of the Holy Church." When the same person had asked him what should be the borders of this Nation, he answered: "The borders of Greece have been carved by those whose blood has been shed in massacres which took place at Kydonies, Cyprus, Mesolongi, Chios Crete, Psara. Those borders have been defined by the ancient geographer Stravon. From Macedonia and Epirus to Crete and from Ionian islands to Minor Asia." On 6 January 1828, he came to Nafplion, the capital of the Greek state. Ioannes Kapodistrias Only the British governement was openly hostile to the first governor of Hellas, because he had good relations with Russia. (Britain always feared Russia, and for this reason supported the Ottoman empire. Russia should stay out of the Mediterranean Sea). Kapodistrias was greeted from the crowd, and was enthusiastically welcomed by all Greeks, who saw a Greek leader after 400 years of foreign occupation. He was granted full power and founded the Panhellenion, which replaced the Vouleutikon and the Ektelestikon. His work was very difficult. He had to create a state from zero. The citizens were in desperate condition, hungry, homeless, uneducated, undisciplined, their fields destroyed, there were no schools, no hospitals, no teachers, no doctors, no laws, no money. He trusted nobody and thought that he would have to manage everything himself. This was a mistake. He governed like a dictator, and behaved presumptuously. And to worsen the things, he brought with him his arrogant brothers Viaros and Augoustinos, who had not participated to the struggle of Greece. Most of the fighters and the political leaders, with a few exceptions began to hate the new leader, who didn't care to understand them. Kapodistrias was a very competent man, had served as Minister of Exterior of the Russian empire, had created the Constitution of Switzerland, which resulted to the unification of all Helvetic candons. He was in touch with all European philhellenes, like the Swiss Heynard, and all his fortune was given to the homeless and to orphans of his country.

Kapodistrias founded schools, orphanages, postal system, courts of justice, currency, tactical armed forces. He wanted to direct everything himself and had no trust to anybody. His imperious behaviour created many enemies, especially from Mani and from Hydra. His two main goals were to push his northern borders as further as possible, and to throw Ibrahim out of Peloponnese. The allied forces tried without success to convince the Egyptian general to leave. In June 1827, Russia declared war on Ottoman empire. In August 1828, a French force of 13000 arrived in Peloponnese, under the command of General Maison. The fortresses of Methoni, Koroni, Patras and Rio were easily captured by the French. In October, Ibrahim with 15000 men left for Alexandria. It was estimated that 25000 Egyptians had been killed during Ibrahim's campaign in Peloponnese. So ended that bloody campaign which devastated whole areas and caused death and slavery to thousands of Greeks: men, women and children. Peloponnese was liberated in October 1828, after almost 600 years of foreign occupation (200 years Frankish and 400 years Turkish occupation).

In western Roumeli, Greek forces concetrated their efforts on capturing cities who were still under Turkish control. On 5 March 1829, Vonitsa, a port at Amvrakikos Bay was captured by Greeks and later also Kravasaras, modern Amphilohia. Kriezis was in command of the naval forces who operated there. So was cut off the communication between Ioannina, where was the base of operations of Kioutahes, and the others cities south of Makrinoros Mount. Kitsos Tzavelas and Ioannes Stratos had already recaptured Lidoriki and Malandrino, north of Epahtos, modern Nafpaktos. On 17 April 1829, the Turkish garrison of Nafpaktos was surrendered and followed the garisson of Mesolongi on 3 May 1829. In eastern Roumeli, Demetrios Ipsilantis was appointed by Kapodistrias, as commander of the land forces. Ipsilantis liberated the cities of Arahova, Salona, Livadia and Talanti. The Albanian leaders, who were in dispute with Kioutahes (Resit pasha), refused to fight any more, and left for their homeland. The last battle of the war was fought at Petra, near Thebes on 12 September 1829, between Ipsilantis and Aslabey Mouhourdari. The Turks were defeated and they agreed to leave and go northern of Thermopylae. The Sultan never accepted the Treaty of London of 1827, and insisted stubbornly that the war could be ended only by the Greeks (rayas), returning to their allegiance to the Sultan. When the Russian army had taked Adrianople, Turkey decided to accept the allied mediation and an armistice with Greece, and signed the Treaty of Adrianople in September 1829. The Greek Nation was at last a reality.

Greeks were the first people to be liberated from Ottomans and to win Tsertsetis for Kolokotronis full independence. The Greek Revolution marked the beginning of the Ottoman Empire's decadence. An empire whose main characteristics were barbarity, harshness, brutality and unjustice. During those 400 years of slavery, it is estimated that one million boys were transformed to musulmans. In Byzantine empire lived twenty millions Greeks and after the liberation, less than one million Greeks were counted in the free Greek Kingdom. Hellas which is the oldest civilization of Europe, has a very small population. But Ottoman occupation, which succeeded the Latin occupation of 1204, didn't achieve to eliminate the identity of Greeks or Romios. As we see now many other races which have suffered slavery and genocide have been lost for ever. Such examples are the American Indians and the black race in USA. Black people have lost for ever their African identity and have forgotten their roots. On the contrary Greeks and Jews who have suffered a lot, who were almost exterminated, managed to survive. They have kept their identity, their religion, their language, they remember and teach their glorious past to their children.

Constantine Paparhigopoulos - History of Helenic Nation
Spuridon Trikoupis - History of Greek Revolution
Samuel Gridley Howe - Historical Sketsch of Greek Revolution
Kolokotronis' memoirs
David Brewer - The Greek war of Independence

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