The Oath of the Greek War of Independence was taken by Greece’s rebelling chieftains on March 23, 1821 after they liberated Kalamata from Ottoman rule.
Following the surrender of Kalamata, the first liberated city in the Morias (today’s Peloponnese) and all of Greece, the chieftains decided to set up a revolutionary committee.
The chieftains named the committee “The Messenian Senate.” The purpose of the Senate was to better coordinate the battles and strategy for the Greek War of Independence.
Its leadership was assigned to Petrobey Mavromichalis, who bore the title of “General of the Spartan and Messenian Army.”
The Oath of the War of Independence
The Messenian Senate leaders then took an oath to fight the Greek War of Independence until the bitter end for the liberation of their homeland.
The oath was the very same one that had been vowed by the ancient Greek warriors before battle, written by orator Lycurgus of Athens:
“I will not dishonor the sacred arms, I will not abandon my fellow warrior, whoever stands next to me in the line of battle.
“I will defend whatever is holy and sacred, alone and with many, and my homeland I will not deliver smaller, but larger and more powerful from what I have inherited.
“And I will willingly obey those who are judges and I will perform my duties as a citizen according to the established institutions and according to all the others the people will establish by joint decision.
“And in case someone tries to overthrow institutions or does not obey them, I will not allow this and I will defend them, alone or with many.
“And I will honor all that is sacred and holy in my homeland.”
The Messenian Senate also decided to write a Proclamation to the European governments and public, to announce the Greek War of Independence.
At the same time, the proclamation calls for aid, reminding Europeans that Greece had always served as the mother of Europe and the cradle of civilization itself.
The Proclamation to Europe of the War of Independence
“Proclamation addressed to Europe by Petros Mavromichalis, Commander-In-Chief of the Spartan Troops, and the Messenian Senate, sitting at Kalamata.
“The insupportable yoke of Ottoman tyranny hath weighed down for over a century on the unhappy Greeks of the Peloponnesus.
“So excessive had its rigors become, that its fainting victims had scarcely strength enough to utter groans.
“In this state, deprived of all our rights, we have unanimously resolved to take up arms against our tyrants.
“All our differences and things that divide us, as fruits of tyranny, shouts lo have been cast aside, and all of us breathe the air of liberty.
“Our hands, tied until now by iron shackles of this barbaric tyranny, are now untied, and they are raised with bravery to take up arms for the elimination of this hideous tyranny.
“Our feet that were running day and night to run errands for our mercilles masters, are now running for taking back our rights. Our head, bowing under the yoke, is now raised and thinks of nothing but our liberty.
“Our tongue that was unable to speak, except for begging in vain to please our barbaric tyrants, now shouts and in the air echoes the sweet name of liberty.
“In a word, we decided to be free or die. For this reason, we invite the aid and support of all civilized nations of Europe so that we can more promptly attain our sacred and just cause and get back our rights, to resurrect our unfortunate people.
“Greece, our mother, was the lamp that illuminated you, and on this ground it asks for your urgent philanthropy.
“We hope that we will attain our sacred goal and we are obliged to you, and in more prosperous times we will show our sincere gratitude for your contribution.
(Signed) PETROS MAVROMICHALIS
Given at the head-quarters of Kalamata, March 28/April 9, 1821″
The original text of the Proclamation of the War of Independence is preserved in the archives of the Foreign Office in Britain.
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