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Greek War of Independence (1821-29)

O PatriarchisThe Russians had been converted to Christianity by Byzantine missionaries, and with the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, Moscow had been declared the ‘third Rome’ by the head of the Russian church.

By the late 18th century, rebellions against Ottoman rule in Greece were fomented by Russian agents sent by the Empress Catherine the Great, and though put down brutally by the Ottomans, by 1821 uprisings broke out all over Greece, one of its main financiers in the beginning the Filiki Eteria (Friendly Society), which was the first Greek independence party, which formed in the city of Odessa, one of the new cities created by Catherine the Great in the Black Sea region where Greeks were encouraged to settle, (often given free land and/or financial aid).

battle TurksThis large port was named for ‘Odysseas’ (Odysseus), the legendary Homeric hero.

The War of Independence began in March of 1821 in the Peloponnese, when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Greek flag at the monastery of Ayia Lavra.

There were massacres on both sides, though Greeks will speak mostly of the ones involving Greek victims, such as the massacre on the island of Hios (Chios), which had been an island favored with many privileges by the Ottomans, and punished horribly for its entering into the independence struggle.

Atrocities against Turks include, notably, the slaughter of 12,000 Turkish inhabitants of the city of Tripolitsa (Tripoli) when it was captured by the Greeks.

Although the Greeks proclaimed independence as early as 1822, after the capture of Athens, Thebes , Messolonghi, Navarino (Pylos in modern times), Monemvasia and Nafplio, civil war developed between Greek revolutionary leaders both in 1824 and 1825, having to do with regional conflicts over how the new nation was to be governed.

By 1827, the Turks had taken back Athens, as well as Messolonghi and much of the Peloponnese. The famed destruction in the same year of theTurkish-Egyptian fleet in the Battle of Navarino by the combined Russian, French and British fleet led first to the declaration of a holy war by the Sultan Mahmud II, and then the Russian response, which was to send Russian troops to defeat the Ottoman army, with fighting going on until 1829, when the Russian army was at the gates of Constantinople, and the war was ended with the sultan’s acceptance of Greek independence with the Treaty of Adrianople.