1790-1822 1832-1863

Greece 1821-1832

In 1821 Greek patriots on the Peloponnese and on the islands in the Aegaean rose in Rebellion. The rebels soon controlled the sea, and on the Peloponnese the Turks, with difficulty, held on to a few fortified coastal places. Several provisional governments competed with each other, to merge in 1823. The same year the liberal constitution adopted in 1822 was already revised.
Under the last decades of Ottoman rule, the Greeks were accustomed to the Sultan being far, law and order being a dream and a certain extent of anarchy being reality. The new central administration had to deal with a similar problem - regional factions going their own way; intrigues, anarchy, virtual civil war were the consequence (1824).

Early in the rebellion, on April 10th 1821, Ottoman Turks had hanged Patriarch GRIGORIOS V., blaming him for not having prevented the rebellion (in Ottoman view, the patriarch was the representative of the christian community). By their act they had made the man a martyr of the Greek cause, who had claimed that the Ottoman Empire was 'sent by God in order to protect Orthodox christianity from falling under the rule of the Latin heretics'. Thus they removed the most influential force competing with the romantiv patriots for the leadership of the Greek ethnic community.

Meanwhile abroad, in Western and Central Europe as well as in Russia many artists and intellectuals were inspired by and emphatically supported the Greek Rebellion, among them painter EUGENE DELACROIX and poet LORD BYRON, the latter even travelling to Greece, joining the rebels; he died of malaria a few weeks after arrival.

Meanwhile, Sultan Mahmud II had won an ally in Khedive Mehmed Ali of Egypt. IBRAHIM PASHA, the latter's son, with an army established himself on Crete and landed 17,000 troops on the Peloponnese, suppressing the rebellion mercilessly (1825); the Greek rebels asked the western Powers for help. The Greek fortress of MESOLONGION (Missolonghi) was besieged.

Britain and Russia, in 1827 joined by France, offered to mediate in the conflict; instead of mediating, the three powers eventually took the side of the Greeks, and in the NAVAL BATTLE OF NAVARINO 1827 (the last battle fpought exclusively by sailing vessels), an Anglo-Russian-French fleet defeated the Ottoman-Egyptian fleet. In 1828 Russia and the Ottoman Empire were at war, a situation which provided some relief for the Greek rebels. The Egyptians had evacuated the Peloponnese in 1827; the Turks withdrew in 1828.
The Greeks, in another attempt to establish a government, passed a third constitution (1827) and elected Count IOANNIS KAPODISTRIAS president. He faced the monumental task of establishing the institutions of a modern state - administration, army, jurisdiction etc., in a land which was rather backward and where the willingness to finance such institutions by the means of taxation was rather limited. NAFPLION (Nauplia) became provisional capital. Here, Kapodistrias was assassinated in 1831.

Greece, i.e. the areas in which the rebels dominated - the Peloponnese and the central Aegaean sea, were to be given independence, but where without a leadership, in a state of anarchy. In a treaty signed by Britain, France, Russia and Bavaria, these powers, without Greek participation, agried that Otto von Wittelsbach, 17-year-old son of King Ludwig I. of Bavaria, should become King Otto I. of Greece.

The Presidency of Kapodistrias, from Go Greece
Ioannis Kapodistrias as Governor, from History of Modern Greece, a lecture held by Timothy E. Gregory at Ohio State
Navarino, from The History of the Russian Navy
Greek Revolution 1821-1829, from Nostos, has biographies on leaders
The Greek Revolution and the Greek State, by Steven Sowards
DOCUMENTS Medal issued on the occasion of the Battle of Navarino, for Vice-Admiral Comte de Rigny, from Christopher Eimer
The Treaty of London for Greek Independence, July 6, 1827, excerpts, from Modern History Sourcebook
REFERENCE Richard Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, Cambridge : UP 1992, KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.5 C643a
Article Greece, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, 15th edition, vol.20 pp.178-205, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.20

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 7th 2004

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