Home News Archive 25th March - The Day of Reckoning

25th March - The Day of Reckoning

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The Greek Empire of Byzantium ended on Tuesday May 29, 1453 when its capital, Constantinople, fell to the Ottoman Empire. This day is considered the blackest day in Greek history.

By the end of the 15th century, Greece was under Turkish rule. Over the next 400 years, the Greeks were under the occupation of the Turks The passion for freedom is best described in the war song written by Regas Velestinlis (Ferreos) in 1797: "Better one hour of free live, Than forty years of slavery and prison".

Many attempts were made by the Greeks to gain their freedom, but they were unsuccessful and paid by Greeks in very high price.

orkos

Many Greeks rebelled against the Turks and hid in the mountains and caves. The Turks called these men "Klephtes". The Turks gave Greek villagers, who were called "Armatoloi," weapons in order to protect the Turks against the brigands. However, the Armatoloi avoided fighting their "brothers" and in most cases, they united with the Kleftes and went against the Turks in order to destroy them. So places like Mani (near Sparte), Suli (near Ioannina) and Sfakia in Crete remained most of the ottoman period free regions.

These types of Greek troops such as the kleftes and armatoloi were of great importance because they gained a significant amount of combat experience. This group was based on a simple order of rank. The "Kapetanios," being the most prominent position, was usually from a family of great warlords and had to have experience in battle. He had to be accepted by the men he would command, and his orders would not be questioned or disobeyed.

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In 1814, three Greek merchants named Emmanouil Xanthos, Athanasios Tsakaloff, and Nickolaos Skoufas established a secret organization known as "Philiki Etaireia" . The purpose of this organization was to prepare Greece and gather support for the oncoming struggle for independence. The patriotic conspiracy took place in Odessa, now city in Ukraine. As the struggle developed, the revolution was united with a crude plan of action. The nation was ready to start the armed struggle for independence.

The phrase "FREEDOM or DEATH" signified the Greeks' commitment to achieving their independence. On February 22, 1821 General Alexandros Ypsylantis, the leader of "Philiki Etaireia", along with a small army crossed the Pruth River, which marked the boarder between Russia, Bessarabia, and Moldavia. Unfortunately, he and his army were defeated by the Turks. The unofficial but actual date of the beginning of the revolution was March 23, 1821, when Petrompeis Mavromichales, Kolokotronis, Papaflessas liberated the city of Kalamata. 24 March 1821, Bishop Germanos declared Greek Revolution in Patras. Turks found refuge in the castle of the city.

As retaliation Turks massacred thousands of Greeks (Romeoi) in Constantinople, Adrianople, Smyrne, Kydonies and elsewhere in Micra Asia. On 10th Apr 1821, Patriarch Gregorios 5th was hung. In 1822, the Turkish fleet reached the Island of Chios. The Turks murdered thousands of the inhabitants, burned their homes and property, and the rest were sold to slave bazaars.

katastrofi Psaron

But for 4 years Greeks had only victories and managed to throw Turks out of Peloponnesus, Aegean sea, Rumeli and Epirus. Kolokotronis, Diakos, Androutsos, Tzavellas Papaflessas, Karaiskakis, Miaoulis, Kanaris, Nikitaras, Ypsilantis, Makrigiannis, Mpotsares, Mavromichalis, Panourgias, Petimezas, Metaxas, Zaimis, Plapoutas, Sahtouris were some of the leaders of the war against the Turkish oppression.

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As the revolution in Greece intensified, many powerful nations in Europe, such as Great Britain, France, and Austria became involved. Although the governments of these nations officially sided with the Turks, their people supported Greece contributing food, money, and some even fought for the Greeks' independence. The people who supported the Greeks were called "Philhellenes”. Two great Philhellenes were the British romantic poet, Lord Byron, and the French artist Delacroix, who helped in raising money to support the insurrection in Greece (also French Victor Ugho and German Gaete supported the Greek struggle). The "Philhellenes" involvement to the conflict brought attention to it, until the powers of Europe decided to intervene.

The Turks were unable to stop the revolution and so the Sultan of Turkey asked Muhammad Ali, the Pasha of Egypt for help. So under Ibrahim Pasha, son of Muhammad, the well trained by French officers, Egyptian army successfully invaded the Peloponnesus in 1825. In April 1826, Turks and Egyptians captured the city of Messologhion where they slaughtered almost all the population.

In 1827 a treaty was signed in London in which all warfare should stop. So European powers (Russia, France, and England) sent their naval fleets to Navarino Bay on October of 1827, in order to guarantee for the observance of the treaty. There accidentally broke a naval battle and the united Turkish, Egyptian and Tunisian fleet in a few hours, was destroyed. Finally and after Russian pressure against Sultan, the independence of Greece was declared in 1829 in Adrianople which was then under Russian control.

 

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