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The 10+1 Most Important Figures of Greek Independence

The Greek Revolution of 1821 was Greece’s epic struggle for independence. Greek people had been enslaved for many centuries and the revolution was one of the most significant historic events in modern Greek history. The national regeneration struggle was long, unfair, filled with important heroic figures of Hellenism, whose actions marked the Greeks’ national course.
KolokotronisTheodoros Kolokotronis
(April 3, 1770 – February 4, 1843) Kolokotronis was a Greek general and the pre-eminent leader of the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829) against the Ottoman Empire. Kolokotronis’ greatest success was the defeat of the Ottoman army under Mahmud Dramali Pasha at the Battle of Dervenakia in 1822. In 1825, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Greek forces in the Peloponnese. Today, Kolokotronis ranks among the most revered of the protagonists of Greece’s War of Independence.
Kolokotronis was born at Ramavouni in Messenia from a family of klephts and grew up in Arcadia in central Peloponnese where his family originated. The Kolokotronis family were a powerful and respected clan in Arcadia in the 18th century.
After the war, Kolokotronis became a supporter of Count Ioannis Kapodistrias and a proponent of alliance with Russia. When the Count was assassinated on October 8, 1831, Kolokotronis created his own administration in support of Prince Otto of Bavaria as a King of Greece. However, he later opposed the Bavarian-dominated regency during his rule. On June 7, 1834, he was charged with treason and sentenced to death though he was ultimately pardoned in 1835. Kolokotronis died in 1843 in Athens, one day after his son Konstantinos’ (Kollinos) wedding.
KaraiskakisGeorgios Karaiskakis
Born Georgios Iskos (January 23, 1780 or January 23, 1782 – April 23, 1827) was a famous Greek klepht, armatolos, military commander and a hero of the Greek War of Independence.
Karaiskakis was born in a monastery near the village of Mavrommati in the Agrafa mountains.
At a very early age he became a klepht in the service of Katsantonis, a famous local brigand captain. He excelled as a klepht – agile, cunning, brave and reckless – and rose quickly through the ranks, eventually becoming a protopalikaro, or lieutenant.
He was killed in action on his Greek name day, April 23, 1827, after being fatally wounded by a rifle bullet in battle.
MakrygiannisGeneral Yannis Makriyannis
(1797–1864) Born Ioannis Triantaphyllou, was a Greek merchant, military officer, politician and author, best known today for his Memoirs. From humble beginnings, he joined the Greek struggle for independence, achieving the rank of general and leading his men to notable victories. Following the Greek independence, he had a tumultuous public career, playing a prominent part in granting the first Constitution to the Kingdom of Greece and was later sentenced to death but pardoned.
Makriyannis was born to a poor family in the village of Avoriti in the vicinity of Doris. “Makriyannis” was a nickname he acquired because of his height. His father, Dimitris Triantaphyllou, was killed in a clash with the forces of Ali Pasha.
Despite his important contributions to the political life of the early Greek state, general Makriyannis is mostly remembered for his Memoirs. Aside from being a source of historical and cultural information on the period, this work has also been called a “monument of Modern Greek literature,” as it is written in pure Demotic Greek. Indeed, its literary quality led Nobel laureate Giorgos Seferis to call Makriyannis one of the greatest masters of Modern Greek prose.
DiakosAthanasios Diakos
(1788 – April 24, 1821) Diakos was a Greek military commander during the Greek War of Independence, considered a venerable national hero in Greece.
Diakos was born Athanasios Nikolaos Massavetas in Phocis, in the village of Ano Mousounitsa, or according to other sources, in nearby Artotina. The grandson of a local klepht, he was drawn to religion from an early age and was sent away by his parents to the Monastery of St. John The Baptist, near Artotina, for his education. He became a monk at the age of seventeen and, due to his devotion to faith and good temperament, was ordained a Greek Orthodox deacon not long afterward.
Popular tradition has it that while at the monastery, an Ottoman Pasha paid a visit with his troops and was impressed by Diakos’ good looks. The young man took offense to the Turk’s remarks (and subsequent proposal) and the ensuing altercation resulted in the death of the Turkish official. Diakos was forced to flee into the nearby mountains and become a klepht. Soon afterward, he adopted the pseudonym “Diakos”, or Deacon.
Diakos served under a number of local klepht leaders in the region of Roumeli, distinguishing himself in various encounters with the Ottomans.
The brutal manner of Diakos’ death initially struck fear into the populace of Roumeli but his final stand near Thermopylae, echoing the heroic defense of Spartan King Leonidas, made him a martyr for the Greek cause.
FeraiosRigas Feraios or Rigas Velestinlis
( 1757 – June 24, 1798) Feraios was a Greek writer, political thinker and revolutionary, active in the Modern Greek Enlightenment, remembered as a Greek national hero, a victim of the Balkan uprising against the Ottoman Empire and a pioneer of the Greek War of Independence.
Feraios wrote enthusiastic poems and books on Greek history and many became popular. One of the most famous (which he often sang in public) was the Thourios or battle-hymn (1797), in which he wrote, “It’s finer to live one hour as a free man than forty years as a slave and prisoner.”
In “Thourios” he urged Greeks (Romioi) and other orthodox Christians living at the time in the general area of Greece (Arvanites, Bulgarians, etc.) to leave the Ottoman-occupied towns for the mountains, where they might experience more freedom.
It is noteworthy that the word “Greek” or “Hellene” is not mentioned in “Thourios”; instead, the Greek-speaking population in the area of Greece is still referred to as “Romioi” (i.e. Romans, citizens of the Christian or Eastern Roman Empire), which is the name that they proudly used for themselves at that time.
(1788–1825) Born Georgios Dimitrios Flessas, he was a Greek patriot, priest, and government official of the old Flessas Family. The prefix papa- in the name “Papaflessas” indicates his status as a cleric since the word means “priest” in Greek. He was ordained to the highest position of priesthood, Archimandrites, in 1819.
In 1823, Papaflessas was named Minister of Internal Affairs and Chief of Police by the government of Prince Alexander Mavrocordato under the name Gregorios Dikaios, the name he had when he was in Filiki Eteria. He instituted many reforms, established the mail system and built schools in various towns. He created the title of Inspector General for schools and was the first one to establish a “political convictions certificate” to be given to the friends of the Government. He took part in many battles against the Turks and sided with the government when the civil war erupted in 1824. He took part in the campaign in Messinia and the rest of the Peloponnese to suppress the rebels against the Government. During the civil war, he was initially on Theodoros Kolokotronis’ side, but later switched sides due to his personal ambitions.
Papaflessas was killed during the Battle of Maniaki on May 20, 1825, fighting against the forces of Ibrahim Pasha at Maniaki, Messinia.
KanarisConstantine Kanaris or Canaris
(1793 or 1795 – September 2, 1877) He was a Greek Prime Minister, admiral and politician who in his youth was a freedom fighter in the Greek War of Independence.
He was born and grew up on the island of Psara, close to the island of Chios in the Aegean.
Kanaris gained his fame during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829).
In Chios, on the night of June 6/June 7, 1822, forces under his command destroyed the flagship of Turkish admiral Nasuhzade Ali Pasha (or Kara-Ali Pasha) in revenge for the Chios Massacre. The admiral was holding a celebration, while Kanaris and his men managed to place a fire ship next to it. When the flagship’s powder store caught fire, all men aboard were instantly killed. The Ottoman casualties comprised 2000 men, both naval officers and common sailors, as well as Kara-Ali himself.
He led further successful attacks against the Turkish fleet in Tenedos in November 1822 and in Samos in August 1824.
Kanaris was one of the few who gained the personal trust of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first Head of State of independent Greece. Kanaris served as Minister in various governments and then as Prime Minister, in the provisional government, from March 11-April 11, 1844. He served a second term (October 27, 1848 – December 24, 1849) and as a Navy Minister in Mavrokordatos’ 1854 cabinet.
MavrogenousManto Mavrogenous
(1796 – July 1848) She was a Greek heroine of the Greek War of Independence. A rich woman, she spent all her fortune for the Hellenic cause. Under her encouragement, her European friends contributed money and guns to the revolution.
Mavrogenous was born in Trieste, then in the Austrian Empire, now part of Italy. She was the daughter of merchant and Filiki Eteria member Nikolaos Mavrogenes and Zacharati Chatzi Bati.
A beautiful woman of aristocratic lineage, she grew up in an educated family, influenced by the Age of Enlightenment. She studied ancient Greek philosophy and history at a college in Trieste, and spoke French, Italian and Turkish fluently.
In 1809, she moved to Paros with her family, where she learned from her father that Filiki Eteria was preparing what would become known as the Greek Revolution.
When the struggle began, she went to Mykonos, the island of her origin, and invited the leaders of Mykonos to join the revolution.
Mavrogenous led enlightenment expeditions in Europe and addressed an appeal to the women of Paris to side with the Greeks.
She moved to Nafplio in 1823, in order to be in the core of the struggle, leaving her family.
When the war ended, Ioannis Kapodistrias awarded her the rank of Lieutenant General and granted her a dwelling in Nafplio, where she moved.
MiaoulisAndreas Vokos, nicknamed Miaoulis
(20 May 1768 – 24 June 1835) He was an admiral and politician who commanded Greek naval forces during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1829).
Miaoulis was born in Euboea to an Arvanite family and settled on the island of Hydra. He was known among his fellow islanders as a trader in corn who had gained wealth and made a popular use of his money. He had been a merchant captain and was chosen to lead the islands’ naval forces when they rose against the Sultan’s government. Miaoulis contributed to the cause of the resistance against the Turks in every way possible. He expended the money he had made from his wheat-shipping business during the Napoleonic Wars. Between May 1825 and January 1826, Miaoulis led the Greeks to victory over the Turks in skirmishes off Modon, Cape Matapan, Suda, and Cape Papas.
Miaoulis died on June 24, 1835, in Athens. He was buried in Piraeus near the tomb of Themistocles, founder of the ancient Athenian Navy.
AndroutsosOdysseas Androutsos
(1788–1825) Androutsos was a hero of the Greek War of Independence.
He was born in Ithaca in 1788; however, his family was from the village of Livanates in Phthiotis prefecture. His father was Andreas Androutsos, a klepht, and his mother was from Preveza.
After losing his father, Androutsos joined the Turkish army of Ali Pasha and became an officer; however, in 1818 he joined the Filiki Eteria, which was planning the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman Empire.
In May 1821, Omer Vryonis, the commander of the Ottoman army, advanced with 8,000 men, after crushing the resistance of the Greeks at the river of Alamana and putting Diakos to death, headed south into the Peloponnese to crush the Greek uprising.
Androutsos, with a band of 100 or so men, took up a defensive position at an inn near Gravia, supported by Panourgias, Diovouniotis and their men. Vryonis attacked the inn but was repulsed with heavy casualties (over 400 dead). Finally, he was forced to ask for reinforcements and artillery but the Greeks managed to slip out before the reinforcements arrived. Androutsos lost two men in the battle and earned the title of Commander in Chief of the Greek forces in Roumeli.
Androutsos’ glory did not last long. In the following year, 1822, he was accused by political opponent Ioannis Kolettis of being in contact with the Turks and was stripped of his command. Finally, in 1825, the revolutionary government placed him under arrest in a cave at the Acropolis of Athens. The new commander, Yiannis Gouras, who once was Androutsos’ second in command, had him executed on June 5, 1825.
Laskarina Bouboulina
(11 May 1771 – 22 May 1825) was a Greek naval commander, heroine of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, and an Admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy. Bouboulina was born in a prison in Constantinople; she originated from the Arvanite community of the island of Hydra. She was the daughter of Stavrianos Pinotsis, a captain from Hydra island, and his wife Skevo. She married twice, first Dimitrios Yiannouzas and later the wealthy shipowner and captain Dimitrios Bouboulis, taking his surname.
Allegedly Bouboulina joined the Filiki Etaireia, an underground organization that was preparing Greece for revolution against Ottoman rule. She bought arms and ammunition at her own expense and brought them secretly to Spetses in her ships, to fight “for the sake of my nation.” She also organized her own armed troops, composed of men from Spetses. She used most of her fortune to provide food and ammunition for the sailors and soldiers under her command.
On 13 March 1821 Bouboulina raised on the mast of her ship her own Greek flag, based on the flag of the Comnenus dynasty of Byzantine emperors. Bouboulina sailed with eight ships to Nafplion and began a naval blockade. Later she took part in the naval blockade and capture of Monemvasia and Pylos.
She arrived at Tripolis in time to witness its fall on 11 September 1821 and to meet general Theodoros Kolokotronis. Their children Eleni Boubouli and Panos Kolokotronis later married. During the ensuing defeat of the Ottoman garrison, Bouboulina saved most of the female members of the sultan’s household.
(Information/Photographs from Wikipedia)

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