Greek War of Independence (1821-1829)

Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash

The Greek War of Independence (1821-1829) was a successful war by the Greeks who won independence for Greece from the Ottoman Empire.
In Europe, the Greek revolt aroused widespread sympathy among the public and Western revolutionary ideas further intensified the Hellenism of Philhellenes.
After a long and bloody struggle, independence was finally achieved and resulted in the establishment of an independent Kingdom of Greece.

Tourkokratia (Turkish Rule)

Ottoman rule of Greece, lasted almost 400 years, from the mid-15th century until the successful Greek War of Independence which began in 1821.
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution, resulted in the establishment of the Kingdom of Greece and confirmed by the Treaty of Constantinople in July 1832.
The belligerents involved were Greek revolutionaries, the United Kingdom, France and Russian Empire against the Ottoman Empire and Egyptian Khedivate.
Tourkokratia (Turkish Rule)
The outbreak of the war saw mass executions, the destruction of churches and looting of Greek properties throughout the Ottoman Empire with the most brutal atrocities occurring with the Constantinople massacre of 1821.
While the Western European countries flourished from the artistic developments of the Renaissance and the intellectual developments of the Enlightenment, Greece languished under Tourkokratia.
During those dark years of occupation, the church and their faith helped the oppressed Greeks to retain their Hellenic identity, language and culture.

A Step Back in Time

Three major wars are defining moments of Greek history and Western culture.
1. The Persian Wars (500-448 BC)
The Battles of Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis has resonated throughout history as a symbol of courage against an enemy many times superior in numbers.
Greece was the birthplace of classical civilization's greatest artistic, literary, architectural, scientific, philosophical and sporting achievements that have become the foundation of western thought and culture.
Had the Persians won, they would have conquered the rest of Greece and then invaded the European continent, thus preventing Western civilization's growth.
2. The Wars of Alexander the Great (331 - 323-BC)
The Persian kings tried to conquer Greece several times between 500 to 448 BC.
Ultimately, it was the Greeks who conquered Persia, when Alexander the Great defeated the Persian Empire during the 330s.
The Hellenistic Age is characterized by the spreading of the Greek language and culture, where Greek art, literature and architecture flourished and Greek became the international language.
3. Byzantine Empire
Constantinople the "Queen of Cities" was to the early Middle Ages what Athens and Rome had been in classical times.
On May 29, 1453, Constantinople was overrun by 160,000 Ottoman forces.
Constantine XI defended Constantinople with a force of only 9,000 for seven weeks.
Finally, the Ottomans breached the walls of the Christian capital and the great Byzantine Empire ended.
The Ottomans besieged and took Athens in 1458, the Peloponnese in 1460, Trebizond in Asia Minor, in 1461 and the Dodecanese islands of Rhodes and Kos in 1522.

Theodoros Kolokotronis (Θεόδωρος Κολοκοτρώνης; 16 April 1770 – 17 February 1843) was a Greek general and the pre-eminent leader of the Greek War of Independence.


The Greek origin of so much of Western civilization's classical heritage, brought overwhelming sympathy for Greek independence throughout Europe which gave rise to "philhellenism" (the love of Greece and its history).
Classicists and romantics of the early 19th-century, envisioned the revival of the Golden Age of Greece through independence.
Hundreds of European aristocrats and veterans of the Napoleonic Wars and Americans joined in the Greek struggle for freedom.
Lord Byron, the most celebrated philhellene of all, gave his name and his wealth to help the Greek people.
His poem, "The Isles of Greece" aroused public sympathy for the Greek cause.
Ultimately he gave his life for Greek independence in Missolonghi on April 19, 1824.
The Ottoman massacres at Chios in 1822 inspired French artist, Eugène Delacroix's famous painting, Massacre of Chios.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the major English Romantic poets, captured the mood of philhellenism in his poem "Hellas." "We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our art have their roots in Greece. But for Greece... we might still have been savages and idolators... The Modern Greek is the descendant of those glorious beings."
Philikí Etaireía (Society of Friends)
Three Greeks came together in 1814 in Odessa, Russia (now Ukraine) to set up the secret organization, Philikí Etaireía (Society of Friends) whose purpose was to overthrow Turkish rule and establish an independent Greek nation.
The three founders were Nikolaos Skoufas from the Arta province, Emmanuil Xanthos from Patmos and Athanasios Tsakalov from Ioannina were joined by young Phanariot Greeks from Constantinople and the Russian Empire, political and military leaders from the Greek mainland and islands, Orthodox Christian leaders and Philhellenes from other nations who were inspired by Hellenism.
Theodoros Kolokotronis (3 April 1770 - 16 February 1843)
Theodoros Kolokotronis was a Greek general and pre-eminent leader of the Greek War of Independence was born in Ramοvouni, Messenia, Peloponnisos.
In 1805 he joined the Russian Navy during the Russo-Turkish War (1806-1812) and served under the command of Richard Church, a philhellene, in the 1st Regiment Greek Light Infantry.
In 1810, he was promoted to the rank of major and for his service in the British Army and he adopted his characteristic red helmet.
In May, 1821, he was named archistrategos (commander-in-chief) of the Greek forces.
Laskarina Bouboulina (11 May 1771 - 22 May 1825)
Laskarina Bouboulina was a Greek naval officer and the first female admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy.
She was a Greek heroine during the Greek War of Independence by giving her property to purchase weapons and ammunition, she was the captain of one of her ships, named Agamemnon and she took part in sieges, blockages against the Ottomans.

Laskarina Bouboulina (Λασκαρίνα Μπουμπουλίνα; 1771 – 22 May 1825) was a Greek naval commander, heroine of the Greek War of Independence and considered the first woman to attain the rank of admiral.

Greek War of Independence Timeline

Alexandros Ypsilantis (Αλέξανδρος Υψηλάντης, 12 December 1792 – 31 January 1828), Greek nationalist politician and member of a prominent Phanariot Greek family, a prince of the Danubian Principalities, a senior officer of the Imperial Russian cavalry during the Napoleonic Wars, and a leader of the Filiki Etaireia that coordinated the beginning of the Greek War of Independence.

1821 - 21 February
In February, 1821, Alexander Ypsilantis (12 December 1792 - 31 January 1828) praised ancient Greece in Wallachia: "Cast your eyes toward the seas, which are covered by our seafaring cousins, ready to follow the example of Salamis.
Look to the land, and everywhere you will see Leonidas at the head of the patriotic Spartans".
1821 - 25 March
On March 25 1821, Metropolitan Germanos of Patras blessed the proclamation of independence at the Monastery, Agia Lavra, Peloponnesos with a big Greek flag and announced to the people the beginning of the Greek War of Independence.
1821 - April
During Easter Sunday, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregory V, was taken out of the Patriarchal Cathedral after celebrating the solemn Easter Liturgy and hanged on the main gate of the Patriarchate church, by order of the Sultan.
The door of the Patriarchal Cathedral has remained closed ever since.
Another former Ecumenical Patriarch, Cyril VI, was hanged at the gate of the Adrianople Cathedral and then, after three days, his body was thrown in the Maritsa River.
1821, 23-24 April: Battle of Alamana
After the battle of Alamana, Greek military commander, Athanasios Diakos (1788 - 24 April 1821) was severely wounded and captured.
The Turks made him an offer to become an officer in the Ottoman army if he converted from Christianity to Islam.
Diakos refused, replying "I was born a Greek, I shall die a Greek".
The Turks impaled him on a spit.
1821 - 9 July
Archbishop Kyprianos, along with 486 prominent Greek Cypriots, amongst them the Metropolitans Chrysanthos of Paphos, Meletios of Kition and Lavrentios of Kyrenia, are beheaded or hanged by the Turks in Nicosia and massacres of Greek Cypriots in Cyprus are carried out for forty days.
1821 - 11 September
Theodoros Kolokotronis defeats the Turks during the Siege of Tripolitsa in Peloponnisos.
The city of Naousa is captured by Abdul Abud and massacres its Greek population.
The Chios massacre occurs and a 100,000 Greeks perish, 50,000 were enslaved and about 25,000 were exiled.
The battle at Dervenakia fought on 26-28 July 1822 was a decisive victory by the Greeks.
Theodoros Kolokotronis with only 2,300 men, defeated the 30,000-strong army of Ottoman general Mahmud Dramali Pasha.
The First Siege of Missolonghi - (25 October - 31 December 1822)
Ottoman forces attempt to capture the strategically located port town of Missolonghi.
The Greek National Anthem - Hymn to Liberty was written by Dionysios Solomos in 1823 and set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros was inspired by the Greek Revolution.
It is the only national anthem to extol freedom proclaiming "Eleftheria or Thanatos" - "Liberty or Death" in order to gain that freedom.
Nafplio, a seaport town in the Peloponnese, becomes the site of the Greek Revolutionary Government.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, recognize Greek Independence.
Second Siege of Missolonghi - (20 September - 30 November 1823)
Second attempt by Ottoman forces to capture the port town of Missolonghi.
1824 - June
The civilization of the island of Kasos (Dodecanese Islands) is completely destroyed by the Turkish-Egyptian forces of Hussein Rushdi Pasha.
Third Siege of Missolonghi - (15 April 1825 to 10 April 1826)
The Ottomans failed to capture the city in 1822 and 1823, but returned in 1825 with a larger infantry and naval support.
The Greeks held out for almost a year before they ran out of food and attempted a mass breakout, which resulted in most of them slain.
This led to the intervention by the Great Powers who, hearing about the atrocities, decided to take action for the Greek cause.
1826, 10-11 April, Sortie of Missolonghi
With no access to food, the people were forced to eat seaweed washed ashore.
Many of the townsfolk were described as being "skeletal" and could barely walk.
On Palm Sunday, the Turks entered the city of Missolonghi.
Many of the Greeks blew themselves up with gunpowder rather than surrender.
The rest were slaughtered or sold into slavery, with the majority of the surviving Greek Christian women becoming sex slaves to Egyptian soldiers.
The Turks displayed 3,000 severed heads on the walls.
1826 - June
Greek Prime Minister, Andreas Zaimis transfers the site of the government to the island of Aegina.
Georgios Karaiskakis (1782 - April 23, 1827) was killed in action on his Greek name day, 23 April 1827, during the Battle of Phaleron.
The Treaty of London was signed on the 6 July 1827 by Great Britain, France and Russia.
The Sultan thought the Turks had superior naval force and declined to accept the Treaty of London which allowed the three European powers to intervene on behalf of the Greeks.
Battle of Navarino - (20 October 1827)
At the naval Battle of Navarino, in Navarino Bay (modern Pylos), the Allies crushed the combined Ottoman-Egyptian fleet in an overwhelming victory that effectively ensured Greek independence.
Within two hours, three-fourths of the Turkish and Egyptian ships had been sunk or set on fire by their own crews to avoid capture.
No European ships were sunk.
It was the last significant naval battle to be fought between traditional wooden sailing ships.
Russia invaded the Ottoman Empire in 1829 and forced it to accept Greek autonomy in the Treaty of Adrianople (1829)
The Treaty of Adrianople concluded the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29.
1828 - 24 January
Count Ioannis Antonios Kapodistrias (11 February 1776 - 9 October 1831) served as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire and was elected as the first governor of independent Greece (1827-31).
The London Protocol of February 3, 1830, between the three Great Powers established Greece as an independent, sovereign state.
The Treaty of Constantinople recognized Greece as an independent nation in 1832 with the Arta-Volos line as its northern frontier.
Otto von Wittelsbach, (June 1, 1815, Salzburg, Austria - July 26, 1867, Bamberg, Bavaria, is proclaimed the first king of the modern Greek state (1832-62).

Athanasios Nikolaos Massavetas (Αθανάσιος Νικόλαος Μασσαβέτας; 1788 – 24 April 1821) also known as Athanasios Diakos (Greek: Αθανάσιος Διάκος) was a Greek military commander during the Greek War of Independence and considered a venerable national hero in Greece.

Count Ioannis Antonios Kapodistrias (Κόμης Ιωάννης Αντώνιος Καποδίστριας; 10 or 11 February 1776 – 9 October 1831) was a Greek statesman who served as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire and was one of the most distinguished politicians and diplomats of Europe. Kapodistrias  was elected as the first head of state of independent Greece (1827–31) and is considered the founder of the modern Greek state and the architect of Greek independence.

Ezine Articles Author Link
Click on the Link Below

Andrew Papas, EzineArticles Platinum Author

Newsletter Opt-in-Form

The Keen Traveler

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Recent Articles

  1. Paul Julius Reuter

    May 19, 24 10:01 PM

    Paul Julius Reuter was a German-born, British entrepreneur who was a pioneer of telegraphy and news reporting and founder of the Reuters news agency.

    Read More

  2. Pony Express of the Old West

    May 13, 24 12:50 AM

    The Pony Express of the Old West evokes images of courageous young men crossing long stretches of unsettled territories and facing the constant threat of death.

    Read More

  3. Elvis Presley

    May 03, 24 09:30 AM

    Elvis Presley became an international sensation and rose to become the world's greatest king of rock and roll superstar and iconic legend.

    Read More