Nikos Apostolidis, ex NTUA Professor, member of the Advisory Board of SHP, and
Constantinos Velentzas, member of the Advisory Board of SHP

We learned recently that for the first time in the history of Greece, the yield on the 10-year Greek government bond has fallen below 1%. Something which can admittedly be considered an achievement, especially after the financial crisis of the last decade, when the return on the ten-year bonds reached the unbelievable level of 36.5%.

Coincidentally, this reminds us of the famous “loans of England” or loans of the independence, which were the first state loans concluded by Greece before it was even formally recognized as a free state.

According to the literature of the 20th and 21st centuries, many academic, journalistic and political circles refer to these loans as “burdensome” or even “robbery”, claiming that they constitute an example of exploitation of a poor country by foreign bankers, and generally of the economic exploitation of Greece by “foreigners”.

One would wonder whether these loans that Greece received from the UK, did constitute indeed a “ruthless exploitation” of the country, and whether the representatives of Greece were so foolish or incapable to agree to the terms of these loans.

Let’s examine the details of these loans first.

There were two loans.

A.  The first loan was concluded in 1824 and it had the following characteristics:

Nominal loan amount: £ 800,000.

Underwriters: Loughnan Sons και Ο’Brien

5% interest rate – 1% annual ammortization rate (both on the nominal amount of the loan).

Duration 36 years.

Various commissions, guarantees, etc.

The amount disbursed was £ 472,000 or 59% of the nominal amount.

The loan was negotiated from the Greek side by I. Orlandos and Andr. Louriotis.

B. The second loan was concluded in 1825, and it had the following characteristics:

Nominal loan amount: £ 2,000,000.

Underwriters: Ricardo brothers

5% interest rate – 1% annual amortization rate (both on the nominal amount of the loan).

Duration 36 years.

Various commissions, guarantees, etc.

The amount disbursed was £ 1,100,000 or 55.5% of the nominal amount.

The bond of the second loan, SHP Collection.

The second loan contract also provided for a portion of the above amount to be used to pay off partially the first loan, with a total value of £ 250,000, in order to support their market value in the secondary market.

Both loans were in the form of bond issues, and in both cases the first two years’ interest payments were prepaid.

We will try to reformulate the description of the terms of these loans, in accordance with what is currently the case with the current Greek government bond loans and the terminology used today.

Let’s start with the ammortization rate.

In order to repay the capital, both contracts provided for the payment of 1% of the nominal capital annually for 36 years (the duration of the loan contracts). Of course, the sum of all these instalments amounts to only 36% of the capital. However if (theoretically) those periodic payments were deposited each year into an interest-bearing account   with a relatively low, thus safe, interest rate (equal in the present case to 5%), this deposit would reach 100% of the capital at the end of 36 years.

This method of calculating the final value of a recurring payment to an account (sinking fund) of an amount X during Y years, where the amount deposited is compounded annually at a safe interest rate, has always been used and of course it applies even today. The only difference is that nowadays the safe rate (something like the interest rate of the Bundesbank or the US bonds) is about 3% or less, whereas at the time of the two loans, the safe rate was apparently 5%.

This means that the level of borrowing rates at that time, which of course fluctuated, depending on the risk of each investment, were in general almost double than those of today’s interest rates.

What may confound present-day readers is the fact that the borrowers (i.e. the revolutionary Greek government) received only a fraction of the nominal loan capital.

What was the rationale for this cut? Why, for example, in the case of the first loan, instead of cashing £ 800,000 (which was the nominal amount of the loan), Greece received only £ 472,000, or 59%?

Many think that the difference of £ 328.000 was unduly withheld by extortion and accordingly that the loan was pure “robbery”.

Were these loans indeed onerous, and did the uprising Greeks fall victims to the foreign Shylocks (like the Merchant of Venice)?

Of course not. The terms of the loan simply had to be adjusted according to the risk that loan presented.

Nowadays, the terms of a loan are adjusted according to the risk it presents, through the interest rate. The higher the risk, and the longer the repayment period, the higher the borrowing rate agreed.

Those years, however, it seems that the markets were following a different practice:

The loan contract provided for a standard interest rate (and in particular the market standard “safe” interest rate of 5%) and the adjustment of the lending terms, depending on the risk, was achieved using the method of purchasing the bonds at a price below the nominal rate. This practice is used partially even today.

In other words, this is exactly what also happens today in the secondary bond market, and the interest rate that the creditor received was what is called today the “yield” of the bond.

In effect, the real interest rate paid by the Greek state for the first loan was not the nominal 5%, but about 8.47%, i.e. 5 / 0.59.

Another small correction is needed:

Under the terms of the loans, the Greek state was paying annually 1% of the nominal amount of the loan for the amortization of the capital, while it should actually pay only 0.59% to repay the amount it actually received as a loan. To account for that, we may add this additional charge, which amounts to 0.70% of the real capital, to the interest rate of 8.47% mentioned above, resulting in a real interest rate of 9.17%, which was finally to be paid by the Greek state.

So much, as far as the first loan is concerned.

In the case of the second loan, the data are a little bit different and the real interest rate, which arises from an analysis similar to the one above, is 9.80%.

In conclusion, using present-day terms to describe the two loans, we may state that:

– The first loan was a 36-year bond issue of a total value of £ 472,000 with an interest rate of 9.17%.

It was not in reality a loan of £ 800,000, as many people believe. These people mistakenly believe that the (theoretical) difference of £ 328,000 was unduly withheld by the lenders.

– The second loan was also a 36-year bond issue of a total value of £ 1,100,000 with an interest rate of 9.80%.

It was neither in reality a loan of a value of £ 2,000,000, as the same people believe and again in this case the same as above applies to the theoretical difference of £ 900.000.

The terms of these loans, and especially the real interest rate, as calculated above, can certainly not be viewed as “robbery” at all. Especially if we keep in mind the following:

(a) the guarantees that the borrowers could present, and in particular that :

The aspiring borrowers were not even a recognised state, but merely representatives of a “rebel nation” who had long aspired to form a state, and who, after some initial successes, had even begun to clash with each other, with the conflicts having taken over the dimensions of a civil war. At the same time it must be borne in mind that the Ottoman Empire was referring to this “rebel nation” as “terrorists”, while the Holy Alliance viewed the Greek revolution negatively and as a serious threat to peace in Europe.

(b) that the overall level of interest rates was at that time internationally, higher than what it is today, as evidenced by the fact that the “safe rate” was 5%, while today it is about half that level. Therefore, the (real) interest rate of 9.5%, which was applied to Greece, corresponds to an interest rate of 5.5% – 6% with today’s standards. These terms are very favorable, at least in present day terms, let alone when it comes to 36-year bonds.

Moreover, the best proof that the terms of these loans were not onerous, but rather the opposite, is the following: one of the conditions of the second loan was to repay partially the first loan for a total nominal value of £ 250,000, as mentioned above.

This was done, and the redemption price was £ 113,200 at first stage, i.e. £ 45.3 for each £ 100 bond.

Regardless of whether this repurchase was advisable or not, we note that one year after its issuance, the price of the first loan on the free (or secondary) market had fallen from £ 59 to £ 45.4 (i.e. they were depreciated by 23%) and respectively, the bond yield went from 9.5% up to 11.9%.

So the “markets” had judged that the Greek bonds were overvalued, and that their real value, in line with the risk these bonds represented, was £ 45.4 rather than £ 59.

Therefore, it was the lenders of the first loan (that is the original buyers of the bonds) who had suffered a loss, and not the borrowers. We should also not forget that the real lenders were not some “bad” bankers, who were reasonably eager to earn a commission, but the bond holders who were mainly philhellenes (and most of them simple citizens), who wanted to help the revolted Greeks and to honor the memory and struggle of Lord Byron.

Lord Byron. Portrait. 19nth century. Oil on canvas. Collection SHP.

It is also worth noting that all the loans which were agreed by Latin American countries with English banks between 1822 and 1825, had a structure similar to that of the Greek loans. In general, if one takes into account all the facts, the terms of the loans to Greece were better. Indicatively, all loans (with the exception of the first loan of Mexico) had an initial interest rate of 6%, instead of the 5% that Greece had, while important commissions were paid.

For example, the terms of the first loan of £ 3,200,000 that Mexico received from Bank B.A. Goldsmith & Co, in 1824, were as follows. The price to buy a £ 100 bond was £ 58. The interest rate was 5%. The sale raised £ 1,850,000. However, commission of £ 750,000 were deducted. So Mexico finally got £ 1,100,000. The comparison with the terms of the Greek loan is straightforward. It is reminded that after a revolution which began in 1810, Mexico was already an independent state as of 24 August 1821.

The final conclusion is that the famous “English loans” were not robbery at all, and those who negotiated them were neither traitors nor fools. Actually, it seems that they were assisted by worthy financial advisers.

It is likely that the subsequent management of the loans was not appropriate, and it seems that several lapses have occurred, but the loans themselves were made on very reasonable terms, given all the parameters.

The problem arising from these loans was not their terms and conditions, which were not harsh at all, but the inability of the Greek state, first to use the funds optimally in favour of their struggle, and then to serve them during the years that followed, even with these objectively favorable terms.

However, it is worth noting some other parameters related to these loans. In addition to the financial aspects, these loans constituted the strongest political acts of official recognition of the revolted Greeks and the prospect of establishing an independent Greek state in the future.

The loans were made possible when the great British politician and Philhellene George Canning took the office of Foreign Affairs Minister in the United Kingdom.

Portrait of George Canning, by Thomas Lawrence, SHP Collection.

Order of the Redeemer, the medal awarded by King Othon in 1838, to the son of George Canning, Charles John Canning, SHP Collection.

Canning drastically changed the policy of his predecessor, Castlereagh. He recognized Greece as a country in war and turned on the green light for the City of London to issue loans in favour of Greece.

Gazette de France 10/3/1827. “George Canning addressed a new formal note to the Sultan for the pacification of Greece. He requested the immediate cessation of hostilities at land and sea and negotiations for a diplomatic solution in the Greek problem. It seemed that England and Russia would do anything to stop the war”. SHP Collection.

In any event, even if the Greeks had made the best use of their loans, history has shown that the liberation of Greece needed a major naval battle in Navarino.

Thomas Whitcombe circle, the Battle of Navarino, 20 October 1827, SHP Collection.

This battle involved 29 of the best ships of the three allies with the most experienced personnel aboard, under the command of the great British admiral Codrington, who crashed the Turkish-Egyptian fleet of 90 ships.

Admiral Codrington, SHP Collection.

In addition, in order to persuade Ibrahim Pascha to leave Greece, it took another 10 months and the presence of a regular army of 15,000 men under General Maison, and at the same time, continuous negotiations between Codrington and the Egyptians to reach a final agreement only in July 1828.

Has anyone ever calculated the value of this support that Greece received from its allies, and firstly from the United Kingdom? How many more loans would Greece have to receive, and which blood tax would Greeks have to pay on their own to gain their freedom?

If all of this is taken into account, then we can conclude that these loans were almost gratuitous, and that the help and support that Greece eventually received was then, as it is today, unprecedented internationally.

Greeks owe this support to the Philhellenism, to the admiration expressed by the western world to the Greek culture and heritage, which radiates through the centuries by the marbles of the Acropolis of Athens.


  • Ανδρεάδης Ανδρέας, Ιστορία των εθνικών δανείων, Αθήνα 1904

Google Maps offers a very interesting application. It presents a list of Philhellenes who offered their services to Greece and supported the Greek War of Independence, and indicates on the map the country and the city of origin of each one of them.

This application enables users to have a global view of the geographical regions where the Philhellenic movement was developed, and the provenance of Philhellenes.

Up to date the list mentions 92 names of Philhellenes. SHP will cooperate with Google to extend it to include all known names, and important information on them.

You can access the map and the associated information here.

Studying the history of Greeks and Philhellenes who played a role during the Greek Revolution, it is difficult to identify among the great fighters, Greeks and Philhellenes, a heroic figure who loved Greece, identified with her cause and was present for so long and in so many fronts and battlefields, as George Jarvis.

George Jarvis (1797-1828), was born in Altona, Denmark. Today Altona is a suburb of Hamburg, Germany. But from 1640 to 1864, it was part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Jarvis’s father was Benjamin Jarvis, an American merchant from New York who was assigned Consul of the USA in Altona, Denmark. His mother was Maria Carolina Dede from Germany.

Jarvis had received a classical education, was a fan of Greek culture, and when the Greek Revolution broke out, he became an enthusiastic follower. He was influenced by the German Philhellenic movement, and had a keen interest as a student at the University where he was studying at Heidelberg. In 1821, he was already an educated young man who spoke English, French and German.

In November 1821 he decided to go to Greece. After a long and difficult voyage, he passed through Frankfurt, Zurich, Strasbourg, Lyon and finally, arrived in Marseilles, shortly after the departure of the ship carrying the German General Charles Norman and his battalion of Philhellenes to Greece. Shortly afterwards, he found another ship (the Swedish “Trondjem”) destined for Greece, arriving at Hydra on 3 April 1822. It is noteworthy that the same ship was transporting to Greece, another of the brave and emblematic Philhellenes, the Officer of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, Frank Abney Hastings. Jarvis was the first American philhellene to come to Greece since the beginning of the Greek Revolution.

When he arrived in Greece, he went to the government at Corinth, and enlisted in the Greek Navy, under Giacoumakis Tombazis and Antonis Rafael, captain of the Corvette “Themistocles”. He also developed a close friendship with Demetrios Voulgaris from Hydra (later Prime Minister of Greece) and the Greek merchant and member of the “Filiki Etairia”, Emmanuel Xenos. Xenos had bought a house in Nafplion, and had turned it into a meeting point for Greeks and Philhellenes. Jarvis’s first mission was to organize the combat capacity of ships. One of the first expeditions in which he participated with “Themistocles”, was to go to Chios at the time of the massacre and destruction of the island by the Turks, in order to seek and rescue fugitives from the island.

Jarvis writes in his diary: “On 9 May 1822, we went ashore again. A horrible appearance, the crops in excellent condition, the well-cultivated land, the horses, the goats and the sheep grazing, but no living soul. Four times we found a bunch of dead men and women. How seedy the coast, the gorges and the valleys were and how beautiful the view was! But here a corpse that was thrown over the rocks tied handcuffed and terribly mutilated, there another headless, almost still warm, over a dozen corpses that began to rot, and on the other side an even greater number of naked corpses, who had just lost their breath. A coats full of heads! ”

He participated with the Greek Navy in 13 naval battles and war operations.

Indeed, as he states in his diary, “as a Greek Navy officer, I spent two years with them in various operations in Chios, Mytilene, the coasts of Asia Minor, Syria, Crete, Cyprus, the Archipelago and the Peloponnese. Thirteen different campaigns with them, in which we burned several ships of the line, as well as smaller ones, confiscated others. We conquered and defended fortresses and gave every possible help to Christian refugees. The younger Greeks in many ways resemble their ancestors. The same people who fight like seafarers, when they come back are enrolled as soldiers on land. So I was present at the siege of Athens, Nafplio, the defense of Messolonghi and the battle with Hursit-Pasha in Morea.”

It is worth noting that the diary and letters of George Jarvis constitute an important historical source. Jarvis was a noble and honest man and his diary and letters contain facts and real information. While reading his diary, we note on a particular occasions, that he did not mention at all the fact that he was once severely wounded. From the first moment in Greece, Jarvis followed the Greek customs. He was wearing traditional Greek clothes, a foustanela and learned the modern Greek language quickly. Actually, he tutored other Philhellenes to learn Greek as well.

During his presence in Greece, he took action at sea and on land, and he was present in almost all the great battles and historical moments of the Greek War of Independence. Some of these cases are indicative.

In the summer of 1822 he participated in many conflicts between Greeks and Turks in the Argos region. In September 1822 he served in the Navy as a seaman with Hydra’s fleet and combats the Turkish fleet in the area of ​​Spetses. In December 1822, he went to Messolonghi and engaged in battles. In 1824 he returned to Messolonghi and served as an adjutant general to Lord Byron, where he took charge of the training of the Corps of Souliotes. After Byron’s death, Gamba entrusted Jarvis with the management of the artillery and of Byron’s assets and liabilities. Jarvis fulfilled these tasks with great responsibility. He paid the salaries of Byron’s soldiers, and distributed his assets with responsibility to the right recipients.

Personal objects of Lord Byron, which passed to George Jarvis and then to Samuel Howe, SHP Collection

We note here that Jarvis had adhered unconditionally to the correct position that all Greeks had to support the legitimate government, and that discipline and respect to the administration’s policies was essential for the success of the struggle. Jarvis avoided taking position in the frictions and grievances among the Greeks, which disappointed him, and remained loyal to the legitimate governor, who was Mavrokordatos, and to his choices. Even when he clashed with Odysseus Androutsos. It is important to note that Jarvis has never received for himself a salary or remuneration from the Greek government. He was disinterested and dedicated to Greece and to the Greeks in an exemplary manner, as few during the Greek Revolution. He was coaching and encouraging the soldiers and was always first in the battles, in which he was injured several times.

In Messolonghi, Jarvis, together with the engineer Kokkinis, participated in the fortification works of the city (and of Aetolikos) and took part in its second siege. In the autumn of 1824, during the campaign in Epirus, he remained fortified with 50 men on the front line at Kravasaras – Makrinoros, with the Greek army officer Karagiannis. On 26 October 1824, Jarvis signed with another 8 Greek chiefs a letter in which they promised not to abandon their post. This statement was published in the newspaper Hellenic Chronicles published by another great Philhellene, the Swiss Mayer, in Messolonghi.

Jarvis also offered later his services to Theodore Kolokotronis as a political adviser.

An incident that took place during a battle in Tripoli, demonstrates Jarvis’ bravery. After a raid, of the Turks, Jarvis was injured in the thigh. Unable to run, he was abandoned by other fighters and surrounded by the Turkish cavalry, who attempted to kill him with fury. However, refusing to give in, he turned around and pointed his rifle at anyone who approached him, threatening to shoot him. His bravery and heroism encouraged his comrades, who soon after, returned and rescued him.

Jarvis had now received the rank of Lieutenant General, and had formed a team of 45 fighters (all names are known), who were trained and paid at his own expense. With this Corps, he was always at the front line and took on the most difficult missions. He did the same when Ibrahim Pascha invaded the Peloponnese. At the battle of Neokastro, when the Greek forces retreated, Jarvis and his fighters were captured after a fierce battle. Ibrahim personally dealt with Jarvis, and tried to persuade him (talking to him for an hour in French) to move to his camp, offering him a large sum of money and a double salary to his fighters. They all refused and Jarvis was tortured and all his personal belongings were removed. A few days later 1000 Greeks, including Jarvis and his Corps, were released in a prisoner exchange agreement between the two camps. Jarvis arrived ill, injured and in a miserable state at the residence of his compatriot, Philhellene military doctor, Samuel Howe, who treated and cured him. Jarvis had suffered many injuries from his participation in the Greek struggle. But he had incredible physical strength and overcame injuries, deprivations and hardships. After this adventure, he was soon ready to take again action for Greece.

In the battle of Faliro, he fought with G. Karaiskakis and Nikitaras. On 25 October 1826, Karaiskakis began his expedition to Attica, accompanied by some of his friends, including George Jarvis and the German doctor Heinrich Treiber. Jarvis fought alongside Karaiskakis in Attica and Arachova and he was with him until his death, along with Treiber, who treated as a doctor Karaiskakis’ wounds.

Nikolaos Kassomoulis, refers to the Military Memories of the Greek Revolution (1821-1833) – Volume II, to Jarvis with the following comments: “Georgios Zervas (Jarvis), American, attached to Karaiskakis, honest young man, with education, excited to be with this Corps. He died in Argos. Indifferent in to our rivalries. He enjoyed everybody’s love.”

To the Greeks who accepted him affectionately, he was known as “Captain Georgis the American” or “Zervis” or “Zervas”.

From 1827 onwards, Jarvis undertook, in collaboration with another brave American Philhellene, Jonathan Peckam Miller, to organize the distribution of food, clothing, and medication aid sent by the Philhellenic Committees of the USA to the newly established Greek state.

Jarvis died in Argos on 11 August 1828, at the age of 31, and was buried in the courtyard of St. John.

St John’s church in Argos

The cause of his death is unclear. Other sources cite tetanus as a cause, others typhus. This is the most likely version, according to a letter of the Provincial Council of Argos dated 18 December 1828 to the Extraordinary Commissioner of Argolida, which states, “[…] his illness, that is, as a result of information received by doctors, typhus”.  The state’s General Gazette wrote that he died of illness and that he was buried with the honors of a General.

What matters, is that a great and noble hero offered his life to Greece and to the struggle for its independence. Two years after Jarvis’s death, his relatives asked to dispose of the property he had left in Greece. They set themselves as a precondition the settlement of any possible financial debt that Jarvis could have left. Thus, they published a notice to the press, inviting anyone who had a claim to present any evidence he had to the “appointed arbitrator on the account of missing person”.

This attitude of unique decency, honesty and morality, shows the quality of the family environment that had shaped the character of this great man, the hero who sacrificed his fortune, his career, and his life in the struggle for the Independence of Greece.


“Remember me! My friends,

Who here from freedom’s cause remains,

In Grecian seas, in Grecian plains,

To break the most inglorious chains,

And seeks humanity.”

George Jarvis


Bibliography – Sources

  • Αλεξανδρής Κωνσταντίνος, Η συμβολή του Ελληνικού Ναυτικού εις τον υπέρ Ανεξαρτησίας ιερόν Αγώνα, Παρνασσός, τ. 15, 1921.
  • Άννινος Μπάμπης, Οι φιλέλληνες του 1821, Αθήναι, 1967.
  • Απόστολος Βακαλόπουλος, Ιστορία του Νέου Ελληνισμού, τομ. ΣΤ’, «Η εσωτερική κρίση 1822-1825», Θεσσαλονίκη,
  • Βήτας Αχ., Ο Αμερικανικός Φιλελληνισμός στην Ελληνική Επανάσταση, Αθήνα, 1960.
  • Booras Harris, Hellenic Independence and America’s Contribution to the Cause, Rutland, 1934.
  • Dakin D., British and American Philhellenes during the War of Greek Independence, 1821-1833, Ίδρυμα Μελετών Χερσονήσου του Αίμου, Thessaloniki, 1955.
  • Θ. Βαγενάς και Ε. Δημητρακοπούλου, Αμερικανοί Φιλέλληνες, Αθήνα, 1949.
  • Δρακάκης Ανδρ., «Η πειρατεία εις τας Κυκλάδας κατά την Επανάστασιν του 1821», Μνημοσύνη, τ. Ε’ 1974-1975.
  • Βασίλης Κ. Δωροβίνης, «Τρεις Φιλέλληνες στην Αργολίδα. Νέα και ανέκδοτα στοιχεία για τους Τζώρτζ Τζάρβις, Πέτρο Μπελλίνο και Μπονιφάτσιο Μποναφίν», Σελ. 155-160, Ανάτυπον από τα Ναυπλιακά Ανάλεκτα, Τόμος ΙΙΙ, 1998, Έκδοση Δήμου Ναυπλιέων.
  • Τωμαδάκης Ν.Β., Περί των αιτίων του Φιλελληνισμού, Αθήνα, τ. 59, 1955.
  • Zimmerman Carl R., Philhellenism in the American Press during the Greek Revolution, Neo-Hellenica, t. II, 1975.
  • Jarvis George, Letters from Greece, Γεννάδειος, Ind. 756.
  • George Jarvis, His Journal and Related Documents, 1965. Edited with introduction, prologues, sequel and notes by George Georgiades Arnakis Eurydice Demetracopoulou, Americans in the Greek Revolution, I. 314pp, 8 plates, card covers, Institute for Balkan Studies, Thessaloniki, 1965.
  • William Miller, «The Journals of Finlay and Jarvis», The English Historical Review, Vol. 41, n° 164, October, 1926.
  • Samuel Gridley Howe, Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution, M.D. New York, 1828.
  • Samuel Gridley Howe, Letters and Journals, Boston and London, 1906.

Portrait of Fabvier, created by the German Philhellene Karl Krazeisen, SHP Collection

Colonel Charles – Nicolas Fabvier remains undoubtedly the most important of the French Philhellenes who took part in the Greek Revolution.

He was born in 1782 in the city of Pont-à-Mousson, France. He came from a family of lawyers of noble descent and had obtained the title of Baron. His father was Jean-Charles Fabvier and his mother Anne-Christine Richard. He graduated from the Paris Polytechnic School in 1804 as an Artillery officer and participated in the Napoleonic wars. In 1806-1807 he fought in Dalmatia with General Marmont. He was then sent to Constantinople and in 1808 to Persia to organize the Persian army. In 1811 he joined the army of Napoleon and fought along with Polish units and the officer Poniatovski. During this period, he was wounded.

He returned to France the same year, re-joined the French army with the rank of lieutenant, and served as an aide to General Marmont, with whom he participated in the Spanish campaign. In 1812 he fought with the Grand Army of Napoleon in Russia, where he was again injured. Then, he then took part in the 1813 campaign, again on Marmont’s side, where he was distinguished for his bravery and promoted to the rank of Colonel at the age of just 31. In 1814, Napoleon honored him with the medal of the commander of the Legion of Honor. It is worth noting that he was the youngest person to receive this medal. At the same time, Napoleon commissioned him to sign the surrender of the city of Paris to his opponents of the Holy Alliance.

Since then, he remained in France. From 1817 to 1823, he gradually and actively participated in conspiracies against the Bourbon regime for which he was punished. In 1818 he was discharged, like most Napoleonic army officers. In 1820 he participated in another unsuccessful insurgency against the Bourbons, which led to his conviction. The same was repeated in 1822. This year he entered in contact with the secret organization of the Carbonari, which also comprised members who were prominent Greeks residing in Italy. He subsequently traveled to Spain and took part in the revolution against the monarchical regime. Chased by French police, he found refuge in England, and from there he traveled to Greece.

Lithography with a portrait of Fabvier, SHP Collection

Fabvier first came to Greece in late 1823 under the pseudonym “Borel”. His biographer, Debidour, states that from that time on, Fabvier began to learn the modern Greek language. He had already been taught ancient Greek, while at school during his childhood. Fabvier landed in Navarino with the aim to examine the conditions and to attempt to establish “an agricultural and industrial colony” for his exiled comrades. That is, the Bonapartists French and Italians who had initially fled to Spain and England.

In Greece he cooperated with the Greek irregular forces, and even participated in the battle to the capture the fortress of Koroni, which failed. He then traveled across the country, secretly, to finally reach Nafplion in 1825.

The Greek Government approved his plan to organize a colony, and granted him an area of ​​3,000 to 4,000 hectares (30,000 – 40,000 acres) to build it. In fact, a price was agreed and it was stipulated that the first installment should be paid on 1 January 1826. At the same time, Fabvier undertook to prepare a program to introduce Greeks to the modern techniques of agriculture and industry. The aim was to enable Greece to produce products that it had to import from abroad until then. In addition, Fabvier undertook to provide integrated military assistance, to contribute to the construction of arsenals and fortifications, to provide military tactics training and establish a military academy.

The criticality of the situation, the constant conflicts in Greece, and the subsequent arrival of Turkish-Egyptian troops, did not allow the first plan to be implemented. However, Fabvier proceeded with the organization of the army. In this context, Fabvier traveled again to Europe to meet with the Philhellenic Committees, raise money from the French supporters of the Greek Revolution, recruit volunteers, and arrange the details of their transfer to Greece. During this time, the French secret police was keeping a close eye on him. Thanks to Fabvier’s exhortations, an important number of militaries of the French Revolution, mainly Bonapartists, arrived in Greece in the years 1824 and 1825. These Philhellenes were distinguished from those who came to Greece before, by the fact that almost all of them were army officers of a certain age, with a great deal of military experience in the theaters of battle and not romantic students.

In 1825 Fabvier returned to England for some time to complete his round of contacts, and then settled permanently in Greece at the time when Ibrahim had already landed to the Peloponnese. The Greek government saw in Fabvier the person who was fit and experienced to organise a Tactical Army equivalent to that of Ibrahim. Under these circumstances, on 30 July 1825, Fabvier took in Nafplion command of the regular army (from Colonel Panagiotis Rhodios) and the responsibility to train it. It is recalled here that before Rhodios, another great French Philhellene, Joseph Baleste, was in command.

Then, and thanks to the recruitment of a large number of volunteers from Greece, but also the arrival of several young Greeks and Philhellenes from Europe, two battalions were formed. Each one of them consisted of four companies. This Regular Corps also included a small cavalry unit and an artillery unit. A small music band was also founded. At the same time, in September 1825, an arsenal began to operate in Nafplion. It was tasked with repairing old rifles and cannons, but also with the manufacture of weapons and mortars for the use of the artillery unit. In addition, uniforms and weapons were ordered from abroad.

1828, bronze medal by artist David d’Anger, head of Fabvier, SHP Collection

Handwritten letter of Fabvier, attesting the work and contribution of the great Finnish philhellene August Maximilian Myhrberg (1797-1867), SHP Collection. Fabvier refers to him as a brave, selfless man who served in the Cavalry of the Regular Corps with the rank of Captain.

On 5 October 1825, Fabvier and his Regular Corps, with the exception of a battalion which remained to guard Nafplion, settled in Athens. Upon his arrival, Fabvier issued a proclamation to the inhabitants of the city in which he emphasized the value of the regular army and urged them to join it. Soon, the force of the army reached 4,000, and Fabvier increased the strength of the existing battalions and formed new ones. Thanks to the management of Fabvier, the Regular Corps was trained systematically by philhellenes officers, following the French standard of military training and succeeded to become battleworthy in a very short time. The officers were promoted following a recommendation by Fabvier, either following an order of seniority or by choice for those who were distinguished in their service. The hierarchy of ranks was the French one. Fabvier was in charge of the whole Corps and according to Christos Vyzantios, he was taking care of everything.

Lithography with Fabvier and reference to his fight for the Greeks, SHP Collection

In September 1825, Fabvier, with the Regular Army, took part in the siege of Tripolitsa (which was occupied by Ibrahim). In late October, the Regular Army took part in a campaign in Spetses. The following year, financial resources ran out, and the Regular Corps faced subsistence problems. During this period the Corps participated in a campaign in Karystos, which ultimately failed. The lack of resources, losses during military operations, illnesses and desertions, led to a reduction of the forces, which led Fabvier to reorganise the army on 20 July 1826. Accordingly, the Corps took part in military operations in the Attica region under the command of Karaiskakis. Α letter sent by Fabvier, actually in Greek, to the latter on 12 October 1826 is indicative of this cooperation.

In the battle at Chaidari, the Regular Corps fought bravely. After this, the Corps moved to Methana, where Fabvier organised permanent installations for the accommodation and training of his soldiers, which were bearded the name “Tactical City” (Taktikoupolis).

The Fort of Taktikoupolis, was built by Fabvier in 1826 on the hill of the Strait of Methana, on the narrow strip of land that connects Methana with the Peloponnese. The Fort was built on the ruins of an ancient fortification of the 5th century BC founded by the Athenian General Nikias.

The main, and most heroic, act of the Regular Corps took place in December 1826, when a unit reinforced the Acropolis guard which was threatened and besieged by Reshid Pasha. Colonel Fabvier, in charge of 650 men, managed in the night of 13 December, to break the lines of the Turkish blockade and reinforce the Acropolis guard with men and munitions. During this operation, his life was in danger as he was infected with typhus. This bold act extended for four months the defense of the Acropolis, and this was of great value for the successful outcome of the Greek Revolution, as the resistance of the Acropolis facilitated the developments in the diplomatic field which led to the naval battle of Navarino, a battle of great importance in the history of the Greek nation.

Newspaper ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG No. 70, 11 March 1827, SHP Collection. “The Acropolis is besieged by Reshid Pasha. Fabvier defends it. De Rigny sends an English warship to Aegina to pick up Fabvier, if necessary.”

Newspaper ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG with BEILAGE, No 71, 12 March 1827. “Siege of the Acropolis by the Turks. Its defender, Fabvier is in a dire situation. He has lost many Philhellenes defenders and the head of the battalion, Robert. Bourbachi assembles an army to help him.”

Despite the efforts of the Government, the situation of the Regular Corps in 1827 did not improve at all. Its force was steadily diminishing, due to a lack of resources and means, mainly due to the unstable political climate in Greece. In order to avoid a complete dissolution of the army, Fabvier accepted a proposal by the representatives of Chios (Proestoi) to organize a campaign for the liberation of the island. When Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias arrived, the Regular Corps was fighting in Chios. Unfortunately, this campaign failed and the Regular Corps returned to Methana. The reasons for this failure are many, as in the case of Karystos. Most notably, these were the poor cooperation between the Regular Corps and the irregular fighters, and the lack of coordination. Also, in the case of Chios, the supply was cut off (Miaoulis was busy fighting piracy and was unable to assist them by sea). At the same time, due to its geographical location, it was difficult to integrate Chios into the claims of the Greeks for the borders of the future Greek state. Fabvier was accused of undertaking an unnecessary, and even illegal, military operation, and was led to trial.

This failure was the first reason which put to test the relationship between Fabvier and the new Governor, although at first it seemed quite friendly. Governor Kapodistrias had different views on the character of the army, and it also appeared that he considered Fabvier’s liberal beliefs to be disturbing. This situation annoyed Fabvier, who resigned on 22 May 1828. This disagreement intensified when Fabvier later returned to Greece with Morea’s French expeditionary Corps, and asked for the Greek Regular Army to be reassigned to him. Kapodistrias rejected his proposals and Fabvier, disappointed, finally left Greecefor France in early 1829, taking with him his Greek servant, a corporal named Thiramenis.

A particularly important letter addressed by the great French nobleman, officer and politician Marquis Marie-Joseph de LAFAYETTE (1757-1834), hero of the American Revolution, liberal and philhellene.
The letter is addressed to Madam Moliere [wife of an officer of Fabvier’s staff] from Paris on 27 May 1828. It refers to the failure of the military campaign in Chios.

In France, in 1830, Fabvier participated in the Julian Revolution and then became commander of the Guard of the city of Paris. In 1831, he married the Spanish Maria de las Nieves-Catherine Martinez de Harvas, with whom he had a son, Louis-Eugène, that same year. In 1839 he became Inspector General of the French Army, in 1845 a member of the French National Assembly, and in 1849 a Parliamentary Representative of Meurthe. He retired from the military service in 1848, and was appointed ambassador to Constantinople and then to Denmark. In 1851 he retired from public life. He died in 1855 in Paris, having received eleven wounds to his body from his involvement in battles during his lifetime.

In Greece, the National Assembly of Troezina declared him a Greek citizen and King Otto honored him with the Great Cross of the Order of the Savior. On the day of his death, 15 September 1855, the Greek Army declared three days of mourning and the Acropolis was illuminated accordingly. The Greek state put into circulation commemorative medals and stamps commemorating the centenary of the heroic battle on the Acropolis.

Commemorative Medal for the 100th Anniversary of the heroic battle at the Acropolis, SHP Collection.

For the majority of Greek historians, Colonel Fabvier remains a complex personality. Despite their contradictory views, it is undeniable that he was a man of great military experience, a courageous and brave officer, gifted with an organizational talent. Unfortunately, he ignored partially the methods and techniques of warfare followed by the Greek irregular military, who refused to join the Regular Army and avoided co-operation and coordination with him. This caused a serious malfunction.

Fabvier, however, recognized the bravery of the Greek combatants, while on the other hand many chiefs acknowledged this problem. A passage from General Makrigiannis’ memoirs is indicative of this situation: “We stayed for sometime in Hydra. They gave to me a great certificate and an invoice for my money, my soldiers received their own from me, and I got up and went to the Administration and I told them that I will dismantle my unit and join the Regular Army as an ordinary soldier (they had made of me a General). I told them: ”Our country cannot advance without a Regular Army”. They struggled, they could not stop me. I abandoned my rank and dismantled my unit; I took some of my officers and went to Athens, where Fabvier was based, to train as a simple soldier.”

The great French philhellene was a sincere and selfless friend of Greece, inspired by the values ​​of Greek culture, an exemplary leader, who exercised his duties with justice, conscientiousness and generosity. He had a strong character, stubbornness and perseverance. He always cared for his soldiers, and loved them very much, as both Christos Byzantios and Henri Fornèsy testify. Victor Hugo expresses the same appreciation when describing Fabvier in the French National Assembly in his work on Choses Vues. As Hugo says, his soldiers saw in him not a leader, but a god. He even dedicated to him a poem from the Orientales collection. It is worth noting that Fabvier wore from the beginning a foustanela and a scarf wrapped around his head, similar to those worn by the Greek Generals Nikitaras and Makrigiannis. Fabvier had generally adapted so much to the lives of Greek fighters, that when third persons were meeting him they could not believe that he was not Greek.

Fabvier’s deep love for his soldiers is also illustrated by the fact that he used to call them “his children” and, by extension, his soldiers called him “father”. This is recorded in many letters saved and addressed to Fabvier in 1840. Other letters stored in different places of the General Archives of the Greek State, testify his concern for the poor Greek population and for the safety of the inhabitants of various Greek cities. Even after his departure and until his death, he did not stop to love Greece and the Greeks and to defend the Greek cause at every opportunity.

In commemoration of the battle in Attica during the siege of the Acropolis, a marble column reminding the brave action of Fabvier and his deputy Major Robert, who was killed while entering the Acropolis, was placed in the courtyard of the Herodous Atticus Conservatory. The column has the following references engraved on both sides:



1829, Honorary Bronze Medal, during Kapodistrias, by artist Stempel von Peuvrier, with Fabviers’ head and the  inscription ELEFTHERIA (FREEDOM), SHP Collection


  • Debidour Antonin, Le général Fabvier, sa vie militaire et politique, εκδ. Plon-Nourrit et Cie, Παρίσι
  • Le Spectateur Militaire, Recueil de science, d’art et d’histoire militaires, 27e volume, XXVII, quatorzième année, Παρίσι, Noirot, 15 avril 1839, σελ. 552-556.
  • Œuvres Complètes de Victor Hugo, Choses Vues I, A la Chambre des Pairs, 1846-1848, Παρίσι, Imprimerie Nationale, 1913.
  • Pellion Jean Pierre, La Grèce et les Capodistrias pendant l’occupation française de 1828 à 1834, Librairie Militaire, Παρίσι
  • St-Clair William, That Greece might still be free – The Philhellenes in the War of Independence, τ. 1, εκδ. Oxford University Press, Λονδίνο-Νέα Υόρκη
  • Victor Hugo, Orientales, “Enthousiasme” 1827.
  • Αργολική Αρχειακή Βιβλιοθήκη Ιστορίας, «Φαβιέρος Κάρολος (1782-1855)» διαθέσιμο στην ιστοσελίδα,
  • Βυζάντιος Σ. Χρήστος, Ιστορία του Τακτικού Στρατού της Ελλάδος από της πρώτης συστάσεώς του κατά το 1821 μέχρι των 1832, εκδ. Κ. Ράλλης, Αθήνα 1837.
  • Βυζάντιος Σ. Χρήστος, Ιστορία των κατά την Ελλην. Επανάστασιν εκστρατειών και μαχών και των μετά ταύτα συμβάντων, ων συμμετέσχεν ο Τακτικός Στρατός, από του 1821 μέχρι του 1833, εκδ. Κ. Αντωνιάδης, Αθήνα 1874.
  • Βυζάντιος Σ. Χρήστος, Ιστορία των κατά την Ελλην. Επανάστασιν εκστρατειών και μαχών και των μετά ταύτα συμβάντων, ων συμμετέσχεν ο Τακτικός Στρατός, από του 1821 μέχρι του 1833, χ.ε., Αθήνα 1901.
  • ΓΑΚ, Συλλογή Βλαχογιάννη, κατηγορία Ε, κυτίο 5, αρ. 885, Αρχείο Καραϊσκάκη (Γράμμα εκ της Ακροπόλεως).
  • Εκατονταετηρίς Φαβιέρου 1826-1926, Εν Αθήναις, Τυπογραφείον «Εστία», 1927.
  • Θεμελή-Κατηφόρη Δέσποινα, Το γαλλικό ενδιαφέρον για την Ελλάδα στην περίοδο του Καποδίστρια, 1828-1831, εκδ. Επικαιρότητα, Αθήνα 1985.
  • Ιστορία της οργανώσεως του Ελληνικού Στρατού, 1821-1954, εκδ. ΓΕΣ, Αθήνα 1955.
  • Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Στρατού, 1821-1997, εκδ. ΓΕΣ/ΔΙΣ, Αθήνα 1997.
  • Καρατζάς Γεώργιος, «Ο Φιλέλλην Φαβιέρος και ο Τακτικός Στρατός επί Επαναστάσεως», περιοδικό Εστία, τ. 7, τεύχ. 159 (14 Ιανουαρίου 1879), σσ. 17-22.
  • Κρεμμυδάς Βασίλης, «Ο Γαλλικός Στρατός στην Πελοπόννησο. Συμβολή στην ιστορία της Καποδιστριακής περιόδου», Πελοποννησιακά, τ. ΙΒ΄ (1976-1977), σσ. 75-102.
  • Λουκάτος Σπυρίδων, «Ιω. Καποδίστριας και Καρ. Φαβιέρος», Μνημοσύνη, Τόμος Β’, Αθήνα, 1968-1969, σσ. 217-277.
  • Μονόφυλλα του Αγώνος, 1821-1827 – Προκηρύξεις, θεσπίσματα, διατάγματα, τ. 1, πρόλογος: Ιωάννης Α. Μελετόπουλος, εισαγωγικό κείμενο: Ιωάννης Κ. Μαζαράκης Αινιάν, εκδ. ΙΕΕΕ, Αθήνα 1973.
  • Σπηλιάδης Νικόλαος, Απομνημονεύματα δια να χρησιμεύσωσιν εις την νέαν ελληνικήν ιστορίαν (1821-1843), τ. 1-2, εκδ. Παναγιώτου Φ. Χριστοπούλου, Αθήνα 1972.
  • Φορνέζι Ερρίκος, Το μνημείον των Φιλελλήνων, εκδ. Χ. Κοσμαδάκης & σία, Αθήνα 1968 [Απομνημονεύματα αγωνιστών του ΄21, τ. 20].

Sir James Emerson, by Richard Austin, 1836

Sir James Emerson Tennent (Belfast 1804 – London 1869), was a British from Northern Ireland. He studied law at Belfast and Trinity College Dublin, where he received a doctorate in law. His second name, “Tennent”, was added to Emerson in 1832, after his marriage to Letitia Tennent.

From his student years, he expressed his love for classical education and Greece. When the Greek Revolution began, he enthusiastically sided with the Greeks and decided to support actively their struggle. He traveled to Greece, and when he arrived in Messolonghi, he joined the artillery corps formed by Lord Byron. He was a close friend of Lord Byron, and stayed with Gamba on the side of the great poet and philhellene until his death.

After the death of Lord Byron, Sir James Emerson Tennent returned to England. About a year later, in the beginning of 1825, he returned to Greece. He first went to the Ionian Islands and from there to the Peloponnese. The Greek administration recognized his experience on the side of Lord Byron at Messolonghi and appointed him captain of the Artillery. Some sources say that Sir James Emerson Tennant fought in the battle of the Acropolis in Athens. During his stay in Greece, he spent a lot of his time in Hydra and Spetses, aiming to record the organization and activities of the Greek Navy. This study is one of the most important historical sources for the actions of the Greek Navy and their operations against the Turkish fleet. In 1826 he published in London his first book entitled Picture of Greece, in which he recorded his experiences. This book contributed to the development of the philhellenic movement in Great Britain and influenced public opinion in favor of the Greeks.

Sir James Emerson Tennent, Picture of Greece, SHP collection

He then published two more books. Letters from the Aegean (1829) and History of Modern Greece (1830).

Sir James Emerson Tennent, History of Modern Greece, SHP collection

His first work presents many elements about Greece, combines travel narrative with political analysis, describes the Greek economy, local production, and even attempts a social analysis of Greek traditions. His second work, on the Aegean, describes a journey from Sounion to Syros, Chios, Smyrna, Ephesus, Asia Minor, Phocaea, Samos, Patmos, Symi, Kastelorizo, the coast of Lycia, Santorini, Sikinos, Ios, Naxos, Antiparos, Paros, Mykonos, Delos, Milos and Kimolos.

Through his work in 1826, Emerson appears particularly positive and optimistic about the prospect of the establishment of an independent Greek state. But he also records the weaknesses of the Greeks (already known to Lord Byron), as well as the difficulties on the way to building a modern European state.

Sir James Emerson Tennent was also publishing systematically unsigned articles in the British press, in which he was supporting the struggle of the Greeks and their efforts to establish a new Greek state.

In 1832 he was elected a Member of Parliament in Belfast and has since pursued a political career. In 1841 he was appointed “Joint Secretary to the Indian Board” (1841-1845). In 1845 he was knighted and appointed secretary to the British Ceylon colony (“Colonial Secretary in Ceylon”, 1845-1849), now Sri Lanka, until 1850. From 1852 to 1867, he was appointed “Permanent Secretary to the Board of Trade”, in London.

Sir James Emerson Tennent, 1st Baronet of Tempo Manor, Philip Richard Morris (1836–1902), Belfast City Hall

Sir James Emerson Tennent wrote other books on Ceylon and was a close friend of Charles Dickens.

The SHP has in its collection all the decoration medals received by Sir James Emerson Tennent from King Othon for his contribution to the Greek War of Independence. The set includes the Senior Commander of the Order of the Redeemer. The Cross is 8.5 cm high and the Star is 7 cm high.

It also includes a set of Grand Command insignia for the “Royal Order of the Supreme Commander”, consisting of a gold and enamel emblem in the form of a white cross inscribed on a circular green laurel and oak wreath while crowned from a golden crown. The front of the cross depicts the head, in profile, of King Othon and the Greek inscription “King of Greece”. In addition, it includes a silver and gold star with enamel decoration in blue, white, green and a Greek inscription on the back which is signed as “R & J Garrand & Co. Goldsmiths, to the Queen”. Finally, the set includes the highest level (silver) decoration medal of the fighters of the Greek War of Independence.

The whole set is in its original box.

The decoration medals received by Sir James Emerson Tennent from Greece, SHP collection.

In addition, the SHP has in its collection a gold enameled commemorative pin containing Lord Byron’s hair. This jewelry was given to Sir James Emerson Tennent by Count Gamba. The pin bears on one side an inscription “In memory” with golden Gothic characters. On the other side there is a dedication: “Byron by Count P. Gamba to James Emerson, Athens 1825”. Count Gamba was the brother of Lord Byron’s last companion, Teresa Guiccioli, and a close friend and comrade of Lord Byron during his stay in Messolonghi.

Α gold enameled commemorative pin containing Lord Byron’s hair, SHP Collection

Sir James Emerson Tennent, was a great Philhellene who has greatly contributed to the liberation of Greece.

Instead of an epilogue, here is an excerpt from the Greek newspaper ALITHIA of 7 March 1869, announcing the death of Sir James Emerson Tennent:

“The patriarch of the Philhellenes in England, Sir James Emerson Tennent, who fought with Lord Byron for the freedom of Greece and published various writings on the Greeks, including the history of modern Greece, passed away recently in London, having exceeded the 70th year of his life. The memory of this respectable man, who was distinguished for his philhellenism, and published anonymously in periodical columns, important articles in favor of his beloved struggle, will remain permanently in the heart of the Greek nation, which honors those who benefit it”.

Sir James Emerson Tennent (1804–1869), Patrick MacDowell (1799–1870), Belfast City Hall


  • Sir James Emerson Tennent, Picture of Greece, 1826.
  • Sir James Emerson Tennent, Letters from the Aegean, 1829.
  • Sir James Emerson Tennent, History of Modern Greece, 1830.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, “Tennent, Sir James Emerson”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press, 1911.
  • Tyronne Fernando, PC, 154th Death Anniversary of Veera Puran Appu.
  • William E. A. Axon, The Annals of Manchester: A chronological record from the earliest times to the end of 1885, 1886.
  • Εφημερίδα ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ, Αθήνα, 7 Μαρτίου 1869, σελ. 3.
  • Boase, George Clement, “Tennent, James Emerson”. In Lee, Sidney, Dictionary of National Biography, London, Smith, Elder & Co., 1898.
  • Boase, G. C.; Baigent, Elizabeth. “Tennent, Sir James Emerson, first baronet (1804 –1869)”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press.

La fiancee du Klephte, romance, paroles de A. Betourne, musique de Theodore Labarre. Paris, E. Troupenas, [π. 1825], Collection SHP

The SHP co-organises with the V&M Theocharakis Foundation, a series of concerts, in view of the 200th anniversary of the Revolution of 1821, in the context of the actions of the Initiative 21 of the 14 Foundations.

The concerts will present classic music of philhellenic inspiration, composed by European composers during the Greek War of Independence, to support the Greek fighters through concerts and fund raising initiatives:

  • Around Rossini: Italian musician Philhellenism
  • Berlioz and the Revolution: French musician Philhellenism
  • The Muller of the Greeks: German musician Philhellenism
  • Byron and the Muses: English music Philhellenism

SHP and V&M Theocharakis will also present five musical analogues curated by Magda Mavrogiannis, on topics based on the Greek Revolution, such as:

  • Delacroix, Kanaris, Georgia Sandy, Chopin
  • George Karaiskakis
  • Lord Byron – Mary Shelley
  • The legendary Lascarina Bouboulina
  • Elizabeth Chennier – Loumaki

Étienne-Marin Bailly, 19th Century Lithography, SHP Collection

Étienne-Marin Bailly is an important French Philhellene medical doctor, who helped decisively with his work the Struggle of the Greeks.

He was born in Blois, France, in 1795, he studied medicine and served as the personal physician, friend and comrade of the French philosopher Saint-Simon. At the same time, he was the author of various studies of philosophical and medical content.

He arrived in Nafplio in September 1825 to assist with his medical knowledge the revolted Greeks. In particular, Bailly was sent from France, to “run the pharmaceutical sector and establish health services”, with the help of his nephew, also a doctor physician, Félix Blondeau. This plan was funded by the Duke of Orleans. Upon his arrival in Greece, he was frustrated by the primitive image of medicine in a country surrendered to epidemics. He immediately set up a general health care system, through a decision of the interim government, which decided with a decree to withhold 0.5% of all salaries to cover the expenses required to establish the necessary hospitals. Together with the German Chief Doctor, Erik Treiber, and the French physicians Dumont and Bernardi, Bailly initially organized a military surgery in Koulouri, Salamis, which offered valuable services to the armed forces.

In addition, pursuing paragraph (d) of Law (ΜΘ) on Hospitals of 5 October 1825, Bailly was assigned to draft the relevant decree. A little later, he submitted to the Executive Body the plan of a General Organisation for the establishment of Health care establishments. This plan, entitled General Ministry of Health in Greece, regulated the operation of hospitals and provided general provisions on public health. It stipulated that no person could pursue the profession of physician, surgeon or pharmacist without a relevant degree, which was granted by a special committee. In addition, it provided for the establishment of four health care establishments (in Nafplio, Athens, Messolonghi and Chania) and regulated their operating conditions. A special part of the decree was dedicated to the care of wounded soldiers, and required the appointment of a Chief Physician and a surgeon next to each military commander.

At the same time, with the use of money provided by the Philhellenic Committee in Paris, Bailly attempted to establish a central pharmacy. However, lack of resources and other difficulties prevented the materialisation of his ambitious plan. Eventually, only one hospital was organized in Nafplio, and Bailly settled in Athens to set up a new health care establishment there.

Bailly’s contribution was not limited to the organization of health services. With the assistance of his nephew, Félix Blondeau, he managed to cure more than 30,000 wounded and sick soldiers and people of various nationalities. Among them Greeks, Philhellenes, and French officers of General Maison’s expeditionary corps. In addition, Bailly tried to educate Greek physicians, he counteracted the practices of charlatans who exploited the population, and opposed to prejudices which prevailed and harmed public health.
During the governance of Kapodistrias, Bailly continued his activity as a member of the Nafplio Sanitary Committee, saving the city’s population from the plague. Thanks to his work, it is estimated that about a quarter of the total local population was saved from death, hence the designation “Bailly, the god” or “Hippocrates Bailly”.

Another aspect of Bailly’s philhellenic services relates to his work within the committee responsible for managing supplies arriving in Greece from European philhellenic committees at the beginning of 1827. This committee, established by order of the Government, consisted of Bailly, representing the Paris Philhellenic Committee, the Italian Pertini and the military, Bavarian national, Heideck. Bailly assigned part of the supplies to the threatened population, cultivating the idea that France would systematically help Greece. By his action and his policy, he supported the pro-Orléan plans of the French General Roche and the political party of Ioannis Kolettis. In this venture, he was quickly confronted with Heideck on how to manage supplies, in relation to his political role, as well as with Fabvier, whose organizational military actions were not always approved by Bailly. At the same time, Bailly was expressing openly his commitment to Ioannis Kolettis, leader of the French party.

Étienne-Marin Bailly, 19th century Lithography from the work of Karl Krazeisen (1794 – 1878), SHP Collection

Bailly’s work was undoubtedly significant. According to his own report, thanks to his efforts, 6,000 soldiers received food, equipment and ammunition, while 500.000 francs were allocated for fortification works, and maintenance activities in favour of the Navy and Armed Forces.

For all his services, he was granted the Greek citizenship (5 May 1827) by a resolution of the Third National Assembly of Troezina, while the captains of Rumeli also thanked him in turn.

After the liberation of Greece, he left with his nephew in late 1829. He went first to Constantinople and then to France. He died in 1837. Shortly before he died, he was decorated by King Othon with the Medal of the Knight of the Golden Cross of the Order of the Redeemer.






  • Barau Denys, «La mobilisation des philhellènes en faveur de la Grèce, 1821-1829», Populations réfugiées. De l’exil au retour, επιμ. Luc Cambrézy – Véronique Lassailly-Jacob, εκδ. IRD, Paris 2001, [Colloques et Séminaires], σσ. 37-76.
  • Barth Wilhelm – Max Kehrig-Korn, Die Philhellenenzeit, von der Mitte des 18 Jahrhunderts bis zur Ermordung Kapodistrias am 9 Oktober 1831, εκδ. Hueber, Μόναχο 1960.
  • Άιδεκ Κάρολος, «Τα των Βαυαρών Φιλελλήνων εν Ελλάδι κατά τα έτη 1826-1829», Αρμονία, τ. 1 (1900).
  • Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας, 1821-1823, τ. 7: Πρακτικά του Βουλευτικού της Γ΄ Βουλευτικής περιόδου (1824-1826) – Πρακτικά του Βουλευτικού Σώματος, [τ. 4 του Βουλευτικού Σώματος], εκδ. Βιβλιοθήκη της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα
  • Αρχειακή Συλλογή ΚΕΙΝΕ (Ακαδημία Αθηνών), «Αρχείο Ιωάννη Κωλέττη», Φ. 148, έγγραφο 0006, επιστολή του Bailly από τη Μεθώνη προς τον Κωλέττη, «έκτακτο επίτροπο των Ανατολικών Σποράδων».
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The SHP participates as a cooperating institution in Initiative 21 of the 14 foundations and the National Bank of Greece, in the actions to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman yoke. The Initiative 21 prsented already 130 actions during an event at the Concert Hall of Athens (Megaron). The SHP participates in 11 of them, while it organizes alone many other actions in Greece and internationally.

The victory of freedom against tyranny, the exit from the darkness of slavery and the barbarism of cultural silence, to the spiritual light of the Hellenic Ecumenical Civilisation requires constant upgrading to principles and time values​!

You can find more information here.

Giuseppe Chiappe comes from Albenga, in Sardinia. He studied law in Italy and France and practiced law in Livorno until 1820.

According to some sources, he was a member of the secret revolutionary organization of Carbonari in Italy. When their movement failed in 1819, in order to avoid persecution, Giuseppe Chiappe traveled with his wife Chiara and his young son to the Ionian Islands. From there he moved to Hydra in May 1820.

In Hydra, he undertook to teach Italian and French, and he was subsequently appointed as a trainer at the Naval School of the island.

When Hydra declared its participation in the Greek revolution in April 1821, Giuseppe Chiappe asked to join the naval operations. He was placed in the war ship “Agamemnon”, under the commandership of Anastasios Tsamados, where he assumed the duties of secretary and the responsibility of the ship’s logbook.

While in “Agamemnon”, he participated in many operations, which were recorded in the logbook of the ship which carries a significant historical value. Among them, he took part in the siege of the castle on 5 May 1821, in the gulf of Pagasitikos, as well as in other operations supporting the uprising of 24 villages in the region of Volos.

He also participated in the important naval battle of Eressos in the island of Lesvos, during which Papanikolis set fire to the Turkish flagship.

Finally, in June 1821, he took part in the expulsion of the Turks and the rescue of the Christian inhabitants of the city of Kydonion in Asia Minor, which had been burnt and looted by the Turks.

When the fleet returned to Hydra, Chiappe was appointed First Secretary of the Police and Secretary of Lazaros Kountouriotis.

In 1824 Giuseppe Chiappe undertook to publish in Hydra the newspaper The Friend of the Law; the longest-running newspaper during the Greek Revolution, which circulated until 1827.

The Friend of the Law was printed with the use of a press printing machine, donated to Greece, at the request of Korais, by the French philhellene and publisher, Firmin Didot.

The SHP has in its archive an autographed letter signed by Giuseppe Chiappe, sent to the House of Representatives. Hydra, 16 February 1824.

The letter states:

“… I intend to publish twice a week a political newspaper entitled “the Friend of the Law”. I contact your respected administration asking to be appointed journalist, and in line with article 44 of the Law of Epidaure, to obtain permission to follow the regular and extraordinary Assemblies of your respected Body, with the exception of the secret ones ….”.

Copy of the Newspaper The Friend of the Law

Indeed, the newspaper The Friend of the Law became from 1824 to 1825, the official journal of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the independent Greek territory.

In recognition of his work, the leaders of Hydra adopted a resolution granting to Giuseppe Chiappe the status of citizen of Hydra.

It is worth noting that the contribution to the Greek war of independence of Giuseppe’s wife, Chiara, was also remarkable. Chiara Chiappe collaborated with 31 prominent Greek women from all over Greece, under the guidance of the great Greek lady, Evanthia Kairi, sister of the important scholar and fighter during the Greek revolution, Theophilos Kairis, with the aim of drafting an important open letter, in July 1825, that was sent to the philhellene women in Europe and America. This letter was translated into French and Italian, printed in the printing installations of Giuseppe Chiappe, and dispatched to various cities in Europe and America.

In 1827 Giuseppe Chiappe stopped the publication of The Friend of the Law, and published a French-language newspaper, entitled Abeille Grecque (Greek Bee), which circulated in Greece and abroad until 1829.

When Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias came to Greece, Giuseppe Chiappe was appointed to the judiciary in 1830 as secretary of the Court of western Sporades and subsequently as judge at the Court of First Instance at Pylos. In 1835 he was placed in the Commercial Court of Syros and in 1841 in Patras.

Giuseppe Chiappe’s son, Petros, also pursued a career in the Greek justice, and was honored with the degree of Areopagite. The Chiappe family was linked to the family of the important philhellene German doctor Erik Treiber, when Petros Chiappe married Rosa Treiber, daughter of Erik.

Giuseppe Chiappe died on the 1st July 1848 in Athens. Greece honored him for his valuable services to the liberation of the country, with the “Medal of the Struggle” of the Greek Revolution militants and the Cross of the Redeemer.


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