A special place in the history of the German Philhellenic movement that manifested itself at the beginning of the 19th century, is undoubtedly held by those brave scholars and academic people, who openly declared their support for the Greek Struggle from the very beginning. A very important advocate for the rights of the Greek revolutionaries was the German professor of philosophy at the Albertus-Universität of Königsberg, Wilhelm Traugott Krug (1770 – 1842). When the news of the outbreak of the Revolution in Moldavia under Ypsilantis spread in Germany in February 1821, the first public statement in favor of the Greeks was expressed by Krug.

Krug was born on June 22, 1770 in the Radis region of the German state of Sachsen – Anhalt. His parents did not trust the poor education offered by the village school, and decided to provide him private teaching at home. At the age of twelve he began attending the school of the monastery of Pforta, from which he graduated in 1788 as one of the top students. He then studied Philosophy and Theology in Wittenberg, Jena and Göttingen. From 1801 he worked as a professor of philosophy at the Brandenburgische Universität Frankfurt. From 1805 onwards, he succeeded the great German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804), at the University of Königsberg (Albertus – Universität). Professor Krug was especially beloved because of his ability to focus on the practical side of the issues he was analyzing, using an understandable language, rather than just theorizing.

Liberal Krug had taken part in the last phase of the Napoleonic Wars (1813-1815), as the leader of a cavalry corps from Saxony. Until then, Saxony was considered a middle-size power, but after its defeat on the battlefields, it lost its prestige at the Congress of Vienna (1815). These developments would certainly had an impact on the patriot German professor. As early as 1808, Krug had envisioned and co-founded the Prussian secret society Tugendbund (“Association for the Practice of Virtue”, 1808), which aimed to stimulate German nationalism after the defeat of Napoleon.

Many Philhellenes, veterans of the Napoleonic Wars, saw in the Greek war for Independence, a continuation of their struggles on the battlefields. European citizens, inspired by a liberal political spirit, perceived in the Greek case the embodiment of the Struggle for Justice and Freedom. Along this line, Krug evolved into a fiery protagonist in favor of the Greek positions, a pioneer of German Philhellenism. Krug was neither politically radical nor a militant opponent of the Holy Alliance. His thoughts on the case of the Greeks were influenced by his romantic beliefs and his Christian faith. He understood that Greeks had to be given back their ancient homeland, where they would henceforth live as an enlightened, Christian people.

Krug’s brochure “The Rebirth of Greece” (Griechenlands Wiedergeburt) was published at Easter 1821 and then circulated across the German border. In it the professor appealed for support of the Greek struggle, emphasizing that “Turkish rule cannot be considered legal in any way, it is simply illegal … nothing can legally establish the dominance of one people over another”. Similar views were expressed by the professor of Classical Philology in Bavaria, Ireneos Thiersch (Friedrich Thiersch, 1784 – 1860), who argued in his brochure “The salvation of Greece, the case of the obligated Europe”, that Europe had a moral obligation towards Greece, to which it owed its origin and progress.

 

Krug’s brochure “Letztes Wort über die griechische Sache” (Last words on the Greek issue), Altenburg & Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1822 (SHP collection).

 

In August 1821, influenced by his Greek students in Leipzig, Krug publicly called for the creation of Philhellenic committees. The purpose of the Committees was to raise funds to finance Philhellenes volunteers who would go to Greece. These initiatives mobilized the reactionary reflexes of the suspicious Prussian government. In contrast to the cities in the south of Germany, where the Philhellenic committees spread (Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Tübingen, Darmstadt, Freiburg), their establishment in Prussia was not allowed until 1826. On the occasion of the celebration of St. Michael in September 1821, Krug addressed the German people again with “The Last Words on the Greek Question”, arguing in support of the Greek Revolution. He will do the same a year later with the issuance of another philhellenic brochure. Despite the fact that he faced censorship and reactions from the Prussian government, his ideas were widely publicized in Germany.

The writing activity of German academics in favor of Greece served as a catalyst for the evolution of the philhellenic movement. It is worth mentioning the close relationship that Krug developed with the publisher Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus (1772 – 1823), which influenced Brockhaus in the publication of works that highlighted the importance of classical antiquity.

From 1834 onwards, Krug retired to a quiet life, devoting himself to his philosophical, theological and publishing interests. The issue of the right of the people to self-determination seems to have worried him in the years after the new Greek state was founded. He even submitted a petition to the parliament of Saxony, on behalf of the Israeli Community of Dresden, which claimed the emancipation of the Jews in the kingdom of Saxony. As expected, opponents of the emancipation vehemently opposed his proposals.

 

Krug’s tomb in Leipzig, Germany.

 

SHP honors the Philhellene Wilhelm Traugott Krug for his valuable contribution to the development of Philhellenism and the Greek Struggle for Independence.

 

Sources and bibliography

  • deutsche-biographie.de
  • wikipedia.de
  • Konstantinou, Εvangelos, Griechenlandbegeisterung und Philhellenismus, Europäische Geschichte Online, 22-10-2012
  • Papoulia, Basilike, Die griechische Wiedergeburt in der Sicht der politischen Romantik, στο: Hänsel, Bernhard, Die Entwicklung Griechenlands & die deutsch-griechischen Bezierhungen im 19. & 20. Jahrhundert, Verlag Otto Sagner, München 1990, σ. 65 -78.
  • Τράκα, Θεολογία, H Ελλάδα και ο Ελληνικός Αγώνας για την Ανεξαρτησία μέσα από τη γερμανόφωνη πεζογραφία της δεκαετίας του 20 κατά τον 19ο αιώνα. Διδακτορική Διατριβή. Ιόνιο Πανεπιστήμιο, Κέρκυρα, 2012.

 

Admiral Lord Cochrane, portrait of James Ramsay, circa 1830.

 

Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1775-1860), was a British admiral, a legendary seaman, one of the most emblematic and famous sailors of all time, a hero in Britain and Latin America, and a Philhellene. This diverse personality was a pioneer of naval strategy, but also an important inventor, whose plans and inventions were implemented for many years, even after his death.

He was born in Annsfield, near Hamilton in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was the eldest son of Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald (1748 – 1831) and Anna Gilchrist, granddaughter of Major John Roberton, 16th Lord of Earnock[1]. His father was an inventor. Two of Thomas Cochrane’s brothers distinguished themselves as officers in the British Armed Forces.

The first was Major of Cavalry William Erskine Cochrane, who fought in the Napoleonic Wars as an officer in the 15th Dragon Regiment of the Royal Guard, under the command of Lieutenant General Sir John Moore[2]. The second was Archibald Cochrane Jr., who served as captain of the British Royal Navy[3].

Admiral Thomas Cochrane was a descendant of families with a strong military tradition. From his uncle, Admiral Alexander Inglis Cochrane, he was a cousin of the admiral and later governor of Newfoundland, Thomas John Cochrane (1789 – 1872)[4]. Under the influence of his uncle, Thomas Cochrane enlisted in the British Royal Navy on 23 July 1793 with the rank of ensign[5]. Initially, he served under the command of his uncle on the frigate “Hind”, which was chartering at the port of Sheerness[6]. When his uncle took command of the frigate “Thetis”, Cochrane followed him and visited Norway with him[7].

In order to highlight the prestige and the specific weight of the Cochrane family, it is important to remind here that Sir Alexander Cochrane commanded the British fleet against the USA in the war of 1812. Amongst other things, he recruited the first all-black marine corps to fight the Americans, and burnt all public buildings in Washington DC, including the White House.

In 1795, Thomas Cochrane was drafted into the North American and West Indies Squadron of the British Fleet and was promoted to the rank of sub -lieutenant[8]. On May 7, 1796, after examinations, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant[9]. In 1798 he was placed as a naval officer in the flagship of the Mediterranean fleet “HMS Barfleur”, under the command of Admiral George Keith Elphinstone, 1st Viscount Keith[10]. There he proved his leadership skills and courage in defeating piracy. He did not even hesitate to break with his provost, lieutenant commander Philip Beaver[11], as a result of which he was trialed by the Maritime Court. In this trial he was acquitted, and thus proved the correctness of his views[12]. This result, however, had the effect of acquiring a permanent enemy. Admiral John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent, who had lieutenant commander Beaver under his protection[13].

In February 1800, Cochrane captured the French corvette “Généreux”, which he drove to the British Mahon base in Minorca, Balearic Islands, Spain[14]. This success resulted in his promotion to captain and his appointment as captain at the brig “Speedy” on March 28, 1800[15]. In one of the operations he took part in on this ship, he was in danger of being captured by the Danish Royal Navy during a reconnaissance mission, as Denmark was an ally of the French[16]. But in the end the Danes did not capture his ship, so Cochrane and his crew escaped capture[17].

One of the most important acts of Cochrane, which made him internationally famous, was the capture of the Spanish frigate “El Gamo”, on May 6, 1801. This frigate had a crew of 319 men and was armed with 32 guns, when the Cochrane ship carried only 14 cannons and had a crew of 54 men[18]. Cochrane used a trick. He raised the American flag and came very close to the enemy frigate, so that its cannons could not fire against his ship[19]. Then the Spaniards lost their morale and surrendered with their ship, despite the fact that the balance of forces was 6 to 1[20].

 

The British ship HMS Speedy captures the much larger Spanish frigate El Gamo, a 19th century painting.

 

Cochrane as commander of “Speedy”, managed to capture or destroy 53 ships within 13 months, resulting in being targeted by enemy forces. Thus 3 French warships (ancestors of the battleships), under the French Admiral Charles-Alexandre Linois, managed to capture him on July 3, 1801[21]. However, a few days later he returned to his country, after being exchanged with the officer of a French warship[22]. On August 28, 1801 he was promoted to the rank of commander[23].

After the Peace of Amiens, Cochrane received a postgraduate training at the University of Edinburgh[24]. In 1803, Admiral Jervis appointed him commander of the frigate “Arab”, which was a unit of the Metropolitan Fleet, and had taken over patrol duties between the Orkney Islands of Scotland and the Northern Sea[25].

In 1804, when William Pitt Jr. was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain, Cochrane was ordered from the new Lord of the Admiralty Henry Dundas, 1st viscount of Melville, to command the newly built frigate “Pallas”[26].

In August 1806, he became commander of the frigate “Imperieuse”, which was originally a unit of the Spanish Royal Navy called the “Medea”[27], before joining the British fleet. At the same time, in October of the same year, Cochrane was elected Member of Parliament for Honiton[28]. Shortly afterwards, he resigned from this seat in May 1807 to be elected to the constituency of Westminster[29]. After being elected to Westminster, Cochrane joined the Liberal Party and, in collaboration with the Reform leaders William Cobbett, Francis Burdett (later a member of the Philhellenic Committee of London) and Henry Hunt, helped to reorganize the British Royal Navy[30].

In parallel with his political career, Cochrane continued to be the captain of the frigate “Imperieuse”, with which he conducted raids on the French shores of the Mediterranean, in the context of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1808, in collaboration with a group of Spanish rebels, he captured the fortress of Mogat, which controlled the Barcelona-Gerona road. This success contributed in delaying the operations of the French Army Corps commanded by the French general Guillaume Philibert, 1st Count Duhesme[31].

Following the capture of the Mogat Fortress, Cochrane took part in the defense of the Castell de la Trinitat in the city of Rosas, on the outskirts of Barcelona. In fact, Cochrane fought stubbornly and bravely, and left last when the battle was over[32].

Cochrane then received the rank of master and continued his action. Thus, between 11 and 24 April 1809, he took part in the British operations against the French fleet, and in fact played an important role in the naval battle of the Bay of Biscay in Spain[33], contributing to the British victory.

It is also worth mentioning here, another aspect of the multidimensional personality of this great officer and politician. From 1793 to 1818, Cochrane also distinguished himself as a science – inventor, who introduced many innovations in naval strategy and engineering. Indicatively, we note that in 1805, he proposed the change of the system of arrangement of ships in convoys. That is, instead of merchant ships being behind warships, Cochrane suggested that they be placed in the centre surrounded by warships. This idea provided greater security, and prevailed in the circles of the British Admiralty, which honoured Cochrane with a special prize[34].

Also in 1806, when Cochrane was captain of the frigate “Pallas”, he applied a system of engineering that added agility and flexibility to ships[35]. Finally, in 1818, in collaboration with the famous engineer Marc Isambard Brunel, he patented the tunnel shield, which contributed to the safe and fast opening of tunnels, reducing accidents at work[36].

Another important aspect of his life is the following. Thomas Cochrane faced a major judicial adventure in 1814, and it took many years of effort to restore his reputation. One day, an unexpected piece of news surprised the public. Thomas Cochrane, one of Britain’s greatest naval heroes, was accused for a stock market fraud. The story is as follows. At that time, three swindlers appeared, posing as French royalist officers and convinced City stockbrokers that Napoleon had been defeated and was dead. This information was considered reliable, and boosted the price of gold. In fact, members of this gang crossed the London Bridge in a closed carriage and distributed leaflets that read in French “Long live the King and the Bourbons”. At the same time, another member of the gang announced in Dover that Napoleon’s forces had been decimated by the Cossacks (although this news did not reach London before the fraud was uncovered).

Some profited from this situation to the detriment of investors, some of whom suffered great losses. An investigation then took place which also attributed responsibilities to Thomas Cochrane. A trial followed which sentenced him to one year in prison. The public that adored the great national hero, rebelled and he was later released to avoid incidents. The government was also alarmed by the fact that Burdett, Cochrane’s friend had sided with him. In fact, Castlereagh had banned the publication of Cochrane’s speech to the Parliament when he was excluded further to a vote. Six months later, Napoleon himself, exiled to the island of Elba, stated the following when he learned of this story: “Such a man should not have been subjected to such humiliating punishment”.

Following his dismissal from Parliament, repeat elections took place to fill his vacant seat in Westminster County. The anger of the people was great for this persecution, which was considered a political conspiracy. The 5,000 voters who gathered to announce the candidates, chanted rhythmically ‘Cochrane – Cochrane – forever’, resulting in the withdrawal of all three candidates and the re-election of Cochrane on July 16, 1814; just 26 days after his conviction. Cochrane remained a Member of Parliament and was constantly fighting for political reform in Great Britain until 1818, when he left for South America.

After his expulsion from the House of Commons, he was stripped of his knighthood. It took him many years to restore his honour. So in 1832 he won a royal pardon, and was restored as a rear admiral. Twelve years later Queen Victoria returned to Thomas Cochrane also his title of knight.

This case has been the subject of much academic research until recently and many views have been expressed. According to common sense, however, Thomas Cochrane, a famous man with a huge reputation, had no reason to engage in such a foolish and gross fraud that could be revealed in a few days, if not hours. On the other hand, these brazen swindlers had every reason to try to use his name. Finally, for many of Thomas Cochrane’s enemies, this conspiracy was an opportunity to neutralize him politically. Most interestingly, however, public opinion remained loyal to their national hero Thomas Cochrane. It worth noting that when he was fined by a Court with 100 GBP, and he refused to pay it, insisting on his innocence, the people raised the amount pen to pen, and paid it in his name.

On November 28, 1818, Cochrane was demobilized and permanently retired from politics. His restless and adventurous spirit, however, sought new outlets and new fields of action.

So when Chilean leader Bernardo O’Higgins asked him to organize the Chilean Navy, he accepted the mission, and travelled to Valparaíso[37]. In Chile he received Chilean citizenship on December 11, 1818, and was appointed vice-admiral and first commander of the Chilean Navy[38].

Cochrane organized the Chilean Navy, modelled on the British Royal Navy, commanded by the fleet’s flagship, the frigate “O ‘Higgins”. Thus, thanks to his actions, Chile gained a significant advantage over the Spanish Pacific Fleet. Very quickly, the Chilean fleet cut off Spanish communications and captured the city of Valdivia on February 4, 1820[39].

 

The Chilean fleet commanded by Thomas Cochrane, 19th century painting.

 

Following the occupation of Valdivia, Cochrane was ordered to blockade the coast of Peru so that the army of Argentine leader Jose de San Martin could safely cross Chile and reinforce O’Higgins’ forces[40]. This mission was a success. In fact, on November 5, 1820, Cochrane captured the Spanish frigate “Esmeralda”[41].

With his actions and skills, Cochrane helped decisively the struggle for independence of Peru and Chile. The emblematic admiral has always been honoured by the Chilean government. Among other things, Chile named after him two warships in 1879 and 1913, two destroyers in 1962 and 1984, and a frigate in 2006. Every May, Chilean Navy representatives lay a wreath at his tomb on Westminster Abbey.

A majestic monument has been erected in his honour in Chile.

 

Monument to Admiral Thomas Cochrane (Valparaiso, Chile).

The new Statue of Thomas Cochrane in Valparaiso, erected to mark the 200 year anniversary of the founding of the State of Chile.

 

After Chile and Peru, Cochrane took new action in the Brazilian Revolution proclaimed by the Viceroy, Prince Peter of Braganza (and later Emperor of Brazil), against the central Portuguese administration, on September 7, 1821. Cochrane was appointed on March 21, 1823, commander of the Brazilian Imperial Navy, which was formed after the revolution[42].

The Brazilian fleet, led by Cochrane and his flagship the frigate “Pedro I”, had significant success here as well. So on May 4, 1823, Cochrane besieged the shores of Bahia, defeated the Portuguese Royal Navy and forced the Portuguese to leave the area[43]. He then sailed to the state of Maranhão, from which the Portuguese withdrew without resistance. Cochrane had now acquired such prestige that just hearing his name was enough to lower the enemy’s morale. Upon his arrival, it was rumoured that powerful troops of the Brazilian rebels were invading[44]. Shortly afterwards, Cochrane sent Captain John Pascoe Grenfell to Belem, where the Portuguese forces again withdrew[45].

Thanks to the actions of Cochrane, Brazil became an independent state. For his actions, the Brazilian emperor Peter I honoured him with the title of Marquis of Maranhão in 1824[46].

 

Sailors of the Brazilian Navy honour Lord Dundonald, Thomas Cochrane, at Westminster Abbey, 1901.

 

At the end of his mission in Brazil, Cochrane, returned on November 10, 1825 to Great Britain. There he was informed about the course of the Greek Revolution, and began correspondence with the distinguished Swiss Philhellene and banker Jean – Gabriel Eynard (1775 – 1863), in order to inform him about the situation and what was happening in Greece[47]. This correspondence, as well as his personal contact with members of the Philhellenic Committees, convinced him to take on a military role in Greece.

For this purpose, Eynard and the Philhellenic Committee of Paris provided Cochrane with the brig “Sotir”, with which he finally travelled to Greece in February 1827, accompanied by his nephew and secretary George Sutton Cochrane. In fact, on this trip he also accompanied the last instalment of the second English loan[48] to Greece.

Cochrane supported the proposal of the other great Philhellene Frank Abney Hastings, which was for Greece to acquire a fleet of modern warships, which would belong to the state. Cochrane had understood that domination at sea was a basic condition for the success of the Greek Revolution. And this could not be based on the occasional rental of private ships. Especially when from 1825 – 1826 onwards, the Turkish-Egyptians had developed a very powerful fleet, which could not withstand the small Greek ships and the tactics of the first years of the Greek Revolution. Thus it was agreed to build 6 steamships. Thomas Cochrane and Frank Abney Hastings contributed in the design of these ships[49]. When the Greek government received the first wheeled warship “Karteria”, the Greek Navy was, along with the US Navy, the first in the world to use steam-powered warships[50].

When he arrived in Greece, Cochrane tried to revive the morale of the Greeks. Note here that Cochrane was a world legend, who the public believed was capable of performing miracles. Napoleon himself had given him the nickname “sea-wolf”. This fame enlivened the Greek revolutionaries and terrorized the Ottomans. From the end of 1826, the central topic of discussion in Greece was whether and when Cochrane would come. As soon as his decision to take a leading role in Greece was announced, the interest rate on Greek loans fell by 15%. Cochrane had already started offering to Greece.

Indicative of his intentions, is an emblematic proclamation issued by Cochrane on April 12, 1827. In it he called on the Greeks “to block the Hellespont and thus to succeed in defeating the Sultan under the Turks, to destroy by itself the Ottoman power and then the holy flag of the Cross will wave again over the Temple of Agia Sophia“.

In Greece, Cochrane contacted and began consultations with Theodoros Kolokotronis and the British general Richard Church (who had taken over as commander of the Greek Army). He was also in contact with British Admiral Rowan Hamilton. During this period, the third National Assembly took place in Troizina on March 19, 1827[51]. Cochrane was appointed commander of the Greek Fleet[52]. His objective was to cooperate with the commander of the Greek Army Richard Church, in order to strengthen Karaiskakis forces, who fought in Faliro and Keratsini, to end the siege of the Acropolis in Athens. It is recalled that in this phase the Turkish forces had occupied all the cities of Central Greece, and all the hearths of the Revolution had been extinguished. Only the besieged Acropolis remained under Greek control in mainland Greece, and in the Peloponnese only Nafplio and the islands of the Saronic Gulf. This situation, combined with Ibrahim’s supremacy in the Peloponnese, were affecting dramatically the efforts of Greeks and Philhellenes in Europe to gain diplomatic support for the struggle.

The first strategic goal was to expel the Turks from Athens and to strengthen the besieged Greeks on the Acropolis. In mainland Greece, and especially in Attica, the Turks had deployed a strong army. At the same time, they were favoured by the morphology of the ground, which was an open battlefield. Thus, this mission was particularly difficult, despite the fact that the Greeks had gathered a significant force, which was supported by modern and combat-ready warships of the Greek navy (among them the frigate “Hellas” and the steamer “Karteria”). Indeed, mainly thanks to Cochrane’s fame, more than 10,000 fighters had gathered. Cochrane and Church proposed a battle plan based on regular army operations and practices. Unfortunately, only a small part of the Greek forces had received the appropriate training for such a thing. Both in this case and in many others, from Peta to Karystos and Chios, the forces of the Greek irregular fighters did not follow the orders, the instructions of engagement and the discipline required in the army. They withdrew from their positions at the most critical moments of the battle, as a result of which the Greeks and Philhellenes of the Regular Army were abandoned, surrounded by the enemy and decimated.

General Karaiskakis was aware of this problem, and had proposed a guerrilla warfare plan, without a frontal confrontation, with the aim of forcing the Turks to leave voluntarily. This plan, however, required a lot of time, which was not offered. The besieged Greeks on the Acropolis were exhausted and their surrender was a matter of weeks or days. On the other hand, the Treaty of London was expected to impose a cease of fire and hostilities. So it was important for the Greeks to take immediately control, at least of the Attica region.

The plan that was finally implemented, unfortunately led the Greek forces to a great defeat and significant losses, with the leading one being the body of the Philhellenes and Karaiskakis himself[53].

After the disbandment of the Greek Regular Army in Attica, Cochrane in collaboration with Church, took care of the rescue of the scattered men. He arranged for their gathering in Faliro and Piraeus, their boarding of ships and then organized their transport to Salamis, where after a while most of the Greek troops were assembled[54].

Despite the defeat of the Greek forces in the battle of Analatos, Cochrane did not stop his action. He designed and executed many operations, both for himself and for the units of the fleet under his command. In July 1827, he organized an operation that led to the seizure of an important Egyptian corvette, which was delivered to the Greek Fleet under the name “Hydra”[55]. He then organized an operation in the Ionian Sea, targeting the Turkish-Egyptian fleet. The fleets of the three great powers, under the command of the British Admiral Codrington, had also gathered there. Their mission was to implement the Treaty of London, which called for an end to hostilities. Codrington, who had served under the command of Cochrane’s uncle, asked him to withdraw from the Ionian Sea and remain in the Aegean Sea, in order not to offer Ibrahim arguments for violating the Treaty of London. Admiral Codrington also knew that he would put an end to the Turkish-Egyptian fleet by himself. With the intervention of Cochrane, Cordington agreed to accept a squadron of the Greek fleet consisting of 6 ships, under the great Philhellene Frank Abney Hastings, to remain in the Ionian sea. This squadron was assigned the mission to blockade Patras, and to disband the Turkish fleet in the Gulf of Corinth. Thus, in September 1827, with his flagship “Karteria”, Hastings neutralized the entire Turkish fleet in the Corinthian Gulf, at the Battle of Itea. At the same time, Codrington agreed with Cochrane to allow General Church to undertake large-scale operations in mainland Greece. These moves were crucial to support the plan to liberate western mainland Greece. This mission was supported by the great Philhellene Hastings, since he had now neutralized the Turkish fleet in the area[56]. The road to the liberation of western mainland Greece was open.

However, Cochrane had planned other very daring missions. One was a plot to capture Ibrahim Pascha himself. Another concerned a naval campaign of the Greek fleet in Alexandria, aimed at the total destruction of the Egyptian fleet of Mohammed Ali (May 25 – June 5, 1827). Konstantinos Kanaris had also attempted this daring action on August 10, 1825, unfortunately without success.

In this regard, one of the first operations planned by Cochrane after taking command of the Greek fleet, was an ambitious campaign in Egypt, aimed at destroying the fleet of Mohammed Ali, which would interrupt for months the supply of troops in the Peloponnese.

 

Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald. Lithography by James Ramsay.

 

In fact, during this period, an anonymous letter was sent to Hydra from Alexandria, written in Italian, informing the Greeks that at the end of May, the Turkish-Egyptian fleet was preparing to occupy Hydra. Cochrane took this opportunity to design an impressive operation, that would boost the morale of the Greeks. Thus, on May 25, 1827, he assembled the Greek fleet in Kythira. The frigate Hellas, the steamer ‘’Karteria’’, the brig ‘’Sotir’’, ten ships from Spetses (with their captains Georgios Androutsos, Theodosios Botasis, Anagnostis Kyriakos, Nikolaos Raptis, Emmanouil Lazarou, Giorgos  Panou, Ioanni Tsoupa, Andreas Santos, Ioannis Pantelis, and Nikolaos Tsohantaris), ten ships from Hydra (with their captains Andreas Miaoulis, Georgios Sachtouris, Ioannis Lalehos, Antonios Rafalias, Antonios Kriezis, Georgios Sachinis, Lazaros Pinotsis, L. Panagiotou, Theodoros Gionis and Giorgos Lalehos), and eight fireships commanded by Konstantinos Kanaris, Georgios Voudouris, M. Anastasiou, Andreas Papapanos, G. Kaminis, Dimitrios Poriotis, Pantelis Spyrou and Andreas Boutis.

The Greek squadron reached Alexandria without encountering any resistance. According to Cochrane’s plan, the fireships would proceed to the port, selecting Egyptian ships as targets. The Greek fleet would remain outside the port, ready to receive the crews of the fireships. In fact, Cochrane had designed the camouflage of the ships of his fleet, which had been transformed into commercial ones. The frigate “Hellas” had raised the flag of Sardinia, and was acting as a ship escorting and protecting merchant ships.

On June 4, 1827 everything was ready and the operation began. Unfortunately, the captain of an Egyptian ship patrolling outside the port of Alexandria, suspected that they were Greek ships and tried to enter the port to sound the alarm. In this endeavour he was forced into shallow water at the entrance of the port. Two Greek fireships were forced to turn against it instead of pursuing their targeted Egyptian ships. They managed to burn it, but they were neutralized themselves. The incident was immediately noticed by the coast guard which signalled a general alarm.

The precious time lost deprived the element of surprise. At the same time, there was a calm that stuck the fireships at the entrance of the port, while the entire naval squadron remained overnight outside the port of Alexandria. On the morning of June 5, the Greek ships left for Rhodes without losses.

One of the main problems that Cochrane faced, was the complete lack of discipline of the Greek sailors, who had not received relevant training. This deprived him of the ability to command his fleet as he saw fit. Frictions and conflicts with the Greek administration ensued, and finally Cochrane left Greece in December 1827, with his nephew and secretary George Sutton Cochrane. However, he remained always interested in developments in Greece[57], until the end of his life. Another important element is that his action also contributed towards the alliance of Great Britain, France and Russia, which led to the Battle of Navarino on October 20, 1827, where the Turkish-Egyptian fleet was defeated, paving the way for the international recognition of Greek Independence[58].

In 1828, he returned temporarily to Greece, in order to allocate part of the fee he had agreed to receive from the Greek Administration, to care for naval war invalids. In the end, he did not reach an agreement with the Greek Government[59]. Greek literature often mentions the great Philhellenic Thomas Cochrane negatively. He is mainly accused because he allegedly imposed a wrong strategy in the Battle of Athens and for the large compensation that he received (37,000 pounds).

A dispassionate examination of the historical events of the time, however, gives a different picture. Cochrane demanded that the Turks be expelled directly from Athens, because he knew that the Treaty of London was expected, and that the Greek state would be able to claim only the territories it held or in which the Revolution was active. The plan of the battle in Attica would not be wrong if the Greek forces had acted with discipline, like a regular army.

Thomas Cochrane’s salary was high. But he could have received an even higher reward if he had agreed to offer his services elsewhere. The connection of Cochrane’s name with the struggle of the Greeks alone, had a huge impact on the international public opinion of the time and on the strengthening of the Philhellenic movement. In any case, only the value of the warship “Hydra”, which was captured and delivered to the Greek Administration, was much higher than his compensation.

In conclusion, the contribution of the legendary sea-wolf to Greece was positive.

Thomas’s nephew, George Cochrane, wrote a particularly interesting book about Greece and life after its liberation.

 

COCHRANE George, “Wanderings in Greece”, London, Henry Colburn, 1837. First edition, in two (2) Volumes, it includes two (2) folding maps, a folding plan of Athens and 5 full-page lithographs (SHP collection).

 

On July 1, 1831, Cochrane succeeded his father as 10th Earl of Dundonald, and on May 2, 1832, he returned to the British Royal Navy, being promoted to rear admiral.

As mentioned above, Cochrane continued his father’s tradition, and was an important scientist and inventor who promoted new technologies and practices. He focused on shipping because of his experiences. His work, however, covered other areas, and in fact with great success. His father had founded a company that researched, designed and produced various carbon by-products, tar and varnishes for shipbuilding and maintenance. Actually, his father held the 1st patent for extraction of Oil/Gas.

In 1805 Cochrane won a prize and 50 GDP in a Naval contest for the construction of a specialized and advanced lantern with the aim that ships participating in convoys could safely follow the advancing vessels. In 1812 he presented a plan to attack port forts by combining bombing, sending explosive ships, launching chemical gases, and then landing troops.

Another technique he used was the smoke screen, which was kept a secret weapon until 1914.

In 1818 he undertook, together with the famous British engineer Marc Isambard Brunel, a project to strengthen the underground tunnel in Blackwall that passed under the Thames. This technique has been used to build many underground tunnels internationally. He then designed a pioneering ship (the ‘’Rising Star’’ or ‘’Sun’’), which carried a sail, two 45-horsepower engines, 2 chimneys and an internal wheel. In the 1830s, Cochrane conducted research into the design of a rotary engine and the use of propellers on ships. Also in 1851 he completed the studies and plans for the movement of steamships with fuel based on asphalt (instead of coal), a technique that he patented. Another naval design, codenamed Mosquito Fleet, combined the use of torpedo boats and gunboats.

His work in the field of engineering was widely recognized. Thus in 1857 he was honoured with the title of honorary member of the Scottish Foundation of Engineers and Shipbuilders. His inventions also had civil applications. For example, he had designed a system for street lighting and the installation of piping networks for the transport of liquids. Many of his ideas were implemented many decades after his death. A typical example is the use of compressed air for excavations. Cochrane had invented the well-known compressors, which were first used to open an underground tunnel under the Hudson River in New York[60].

On November 23, 1841, Cochrane was promoted to vice admiral, and on May 22, 1847, Queen Victoria of Great Britain honoured him with the title of Knight of the Order of the Bath for his military and social services[61].

 

Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald. Late 1850s. Daguerreotype of the unknown.

 

From 1848 to 1851, he was appointed commander of the British Navy’s North American and West Indian Squadron. At the same time he was promoted to the rank of admiral of third class[62]. On April 2, 1853, he was promoted to second-class admiral in the British Royal Navy. He was eventually demobilized as a first class admiral on December 8, 1857. At the same time he was elected an honorary member of the Scottish Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders[63]. He died in Kensington on October 31, 1860, at the age of 85 and was buried in Westminster Abbey[64]. He was succeeded as the 11th Earl of Dundonald by his eldest son, retired captain Thomas Barnes Cochrane (1814-1885)[65].

Sir Lyon Playfair wrote his epitaph which reads: “Here rests in his 85th year Thomas Cochrane Tenth Earl of Dundonald of Paisley and of Ochiltree in the Peerage of Scotland .Marquess of Maranhao  in the Empire of Brazil GCB and Admiral of the Fleet who by his confidence and genius his science and extraordinary daring inspired by his heroic exertion in the cause of freedom and his splended services alike to his own country, Greece, Brazil, Chile and Peru achieved a name illustrious throughout the world for courage, patriotism and chivalry. Born Dec 14 1775. Died Oct 31 1860 “.

The life of Thomas Cochrane inspired a number of literary works. For the first time in 1897 a novel appeared in G.A Henty’s entitled “With Cochrane the Dauntless”. Cochrane also starred in Showell Styles’ “The Lord of the Sea” (originally ‘’The Commander’’). He is also one of the main characters in Bernard Cornwell’s novel ‘’Sharpe’s Devil’’, which chronicles Cochrane’s attack on the Chilean port of Valdivia. Another novel is about Cochrane and the South American revolutions. Robert Brightwell’s novel “Flashman and the Seawolf” is based on the life of Cochrane, and in 1967 Pablo Neruda published a collection of poems entitled “Lord Cochrane de Chile”, inspired by his contribution to the struggle for the liberation of Chile. Cochrane’s life also inspired a number of fictional nautical stories, one of which was by Frederick Marryat. In the 20th century, two novels of C.S. Forester (starring Horatio Hornblower) and Patrick O’Brian (starring Jack Aubrey in the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels), had as their main action line, the life of the great sea-wolf.

Finally, the emblematic 2003 film “Master and Commander”, starring Russell Crowe, is based on the legend of the great Admiral Thomas Cochrane (from the novels of Patrick O’Brian – Maturin).

 

The trailer of the movie Master and Commander: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oyQGHHz8U8

The book entitled “Cochrane: the real Master and Commander” by David Cordingly.

 

For his contribution to the Greek war for independence, his name was given after him to a street in Athens.

SHP honours the memory of the great Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, who, in addition to being an emblematic figure of Philhellenism, supported many peoples who fought for their freedom, while at the same time emerging as an innovator in marine technology and science.

 

Bust of Thomas Cochrane in Culross, where his family lived.

 

References

[1] Chaloner, William H., “People And Industries” , εκδ. Routledge, Λονδίνο, 1963, σελ. 55-56.
[2] Moore, James Carrick, ”Life of sir John Moore”, εκδ. John Murray, Λονδίνο, 1833, β’ τόμος.
[3] “Cochrane, Archibald”, εκδ. περ. “The Gentleman’s Magazine”, Λονδίνο, Ιούλιος 1831.
[4] Heathcote, Tony, ”The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 – 1995”, εκδ. Pen & Sword, Λονδίνο, 2002.
[5], Cordingly, David, ”Cochrane The Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane“, εκδ. Bloomsbury Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 2007.
[6] Gardiner, Robert, ”The First Frigates”, εκδ. Conway Maritime Press, Λονδίνο,1992
[7] Cochrane, Thomas, 10ος κόμης του Dundonald, ”The Autobiography of a Seaman”, εκδ. Lyons Press, Νέα Υόρκη, 2000.
[8] Cochrane, Iain, 14ος κόμης του Dundonald, Cochrane, Alexander ”The Fighting Cochranes: A Scottish Clan over six hundred years of naval and military history”, εκδ. Quiller Press, Λονδίνο, 1983.
[9] Harvey, Robert ”Cochrane: The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain”, εκδ. Carroll & Graf, Νέα Υόρκη, 2000.
[10] Chisholm, Hugh, “Keith, George Keith Elphinstone, Viscount”, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1911, 15ος τόμος “Encyclopædia Britannica”, σελ. 716.
[11] Laughton, J. K., “Beaver, Philip (1766-1813)”, εκδ. Oxford University Press, Λονδίνο, 2008.
[12] Cordingly, David, “Cochrane The Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane“, εκδ. Bloomsbury Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 2007.
[13] Brenton, Edward Pelham, “Life and Correspondence of John, Earl of St Vincent, G. C. B., Admiral of the Fleet”, εκδ. Henry Colburn, Λονδίνο, 1838, β’ τόμος, σελ. 81.
[14] Cochrane, Thomas, 10ος κόμης του Dundonald, ”The Autobiography of a Seaman”, εκδ. Lyons Press, Νέα Υόρκη, 2000.
[15] Adkins, Roy, Adkins, Lesley, ”The War for all the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo”, εκδ. Abacus, Λονδίνο, 2007.
[16] McGilchrist, John, ”The Life and Daring Exploits of Lord Dundonald”, εκδ. James Blackwood, Λονδίνο, 1861.
[17] Thomas, Donald, ”Cochrane: Britannia’s Sea Wolf”, εκδ. Cassell Military Paperbacks, Λονδίνο, 2001.
[18] Cochrane, Iain, 14ος κόμης του Dundonald, Cochrane, Alexander, ”The Fighting Cochranes: A Scottish Clan over six hundred years of naval and military history”, εκδ. Quiller Press, Λονδίνο, 1983.
[19] Εφ. “The London Gazette”, Λονδίνο, 8 Ιανουαρίου 1801, φύλλο 15393.
[20] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[21] Vale, Brian, ”The Audacious Admiral Cochrane”, εκδ. Conway Maritime Press, Λονδίνο, 2004.
[22] Grimble, Ian, “The Sea Wolf: The Life of Admiral Cochrane“, εκδ. Birlinn, Εδιμβούργο, 2000.
[23] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[24] Lloyd, Christopher, ”Lord Cochrane. Seaman, Radical, Liberator. – A Life of Thomas Lord Cochrane 10th Earl of Dundonald. 1775–1860”, εκδ. Owl Books, Λονδίνο, 1998.
[25] James, William, ”The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV”, εκδ. R. Bentley, Λονδίνο, 1837.
[26] Cordingly, David, ”Cochrane The Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane“, εκδ. Bloomsbury Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 2007.
[27] Winfield, Rif, “British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817”, εκδ. Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley, 2014.
[28] Cochrane, Thomas, 10ος κόμης του Dundonald, ”The Autobiography of a Seaman”, εκδ. Lyons Press, Νέα Υόρκη, 2000.
[29] Lloyd, Christopher, ”Lord Cochrane. Seaman, Radical, Liberator. – A Life of Thomas Lord Cochrane 10th Earl of Dundonald. 1775–1860”, εκδ. Owl Books, Λονδίνο, 1998.
[30], Cordingly, David, ”Cochrane The Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane “, εκδ. Bloomsbury Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 2007.
[31] Chandler, David G., ,”The Campaigns of Napoleon”, εκδ. Macmillan, Νέα Υόρκη, 1966.
[32] Reay, Justin, “A Place of Considerable Importance: Lord Cochrane at the Siege of Rosas 1808”, εκδ. περ. “The Mariner’s Mirror”, Λονδίνο, Νοέμβριος 2009.
[33] Tracy, Nicholas, ”Who’s Who in Nelson’s Navy; 200 Naval Heroes“, εκδ. Chatham Publishing, Λονδίνο, 1998.
[34], Cordingly, David, ”Cochrane The Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane“, εκδ. Bloomsbury Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 2007.
[35] Cochrane, Iain, 14ος κόμης του Dundonald, Cochrane, Alexander, ”The Fighting Cochranes: A Scottish Clan over six hundred years of naval and military history”, εκδ. Quiller Press, Λονδίνο, 1983.
[36] Kentley, Eric, Hulse, Robert, Elton, Julia, “The Brunel’s Tunel”, εκδ. Institution of Civil Engineers, Λονδίνο, 2006.
[37] Vale, Brian, “Cochrane in the Pacific: Fortune and Freedom in Spanish America”, εκδ. I.B.Tauris, Νέα Υόρκη, 2008.
[38] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[39] Contreras, Gonzalo, ”Lord Cochrane bajo la bandera de Chile”, εκδ. Editorial Zig-Zag, Santiago, 1993.
[40] Lynch, John, “San Martín: Argentine Soldier, American Hero”, εκδ. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2009.
[41] Pérez Turrado, Gaspar, “Las Marinas realista y Patriota en la independencia de Chile y Perú”, εκδ. Ministerio de Defensa, Μαδρίτη, 1996.
[42] Macaulay, Neill, ”Dom Pedro: The Struggle for Liberty in Brazil and Portugal, 1798–1834”, εκδ. Duke University Press, Durham, 1986.
[43] Cochrane, Thomas, 10ος κόμης του Dundonald, ”Narrative of Services in the Liberation of Chile, Peru, and Brazil from Spanish and Portuguese Domination”, εκδ. James Ridgway, Λονδίνο, 1859.
[44] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[45] Vale, Brian, “Independence or Death! British Sailors and Brazilian Independence”, Λονδίνο, εκδ. I B Tauris, 2000.
[46] St Clair, William, ”That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 305.
[47] Θεμελή – Κατηφόρη, Δέσποινα, “Το γαλλικό ενδιαφέρον για την Ελλάδα στην περίοδο του Καποδίστρια 1828-1831”, εκδ. Επικαιρότητα, Αθήνα, 1985.
[48] Τρικούπης, Σπυρίδων, ”Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2007, δ’ τόμος, σελ.118.
[49] Παπασωτηρίου, Χαράλαμπος, ”Ο αγώνας για την ελληνική ανεξαρτησία. Πολιτική και στρατηγική των Ελλήνων και της Οθωμανικής Αυτοκρατορίας 1821-1832”, εκδ. Ι. Σιδέρης, Αθήνα, 1996, σελ.184.
[50] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[51] ”Τα αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας”, εκδ. Βιβλιοθήκη της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1971, γ’ τόμος, σελ. 421.
[52] “Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας”, εκδ. Βιβλιοθήκη της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1971, γ’ τόμος, σελ. 410.
[53] Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική ιστορία της ελληνικής επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος, σελ. 331.
[54] Χρυσανθόπουλος, Φώτιος (Φωτάκος), “Βίοι Πελοποννησίων ανδρών και των εξώθεν εις την
Πελοπόννησον ελθόντων κληρικών, στρατιωτικών και πολιτικών των αγωνισαμένων τον αγώνα της επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Π. Δ. Σακελλαρίου, Αθήνα, 1888, σελ. 260.
[55] Cochrane, George, ”Wanderings in Greece”, εκδ. Henry Colburn, Λονδίνο, 1837, α’ τόμος, σελ. 106.
[56] Συλλογικό, “Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους“, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 2000, 12ος τόμος, σελ. 466.
[57]Cordingly, David, ”Cochrane The Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane “, εκδ. Bloomsbury Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 2007.
[58] Gallant, Thomas, “The Edinburgh history of the Greeks, 1768 to 1913: the long nineteenth century”, εκδ. Edinburgh University Press, Εδιμβούργο, 2015.
[59] Anderson, R. C., ”Naval wars in the Levant, 1559-1853”, εκδ. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1952, σελ. 534.
[60] Cordingly, David, ”Cochrane The Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane “, εκδ. Bloomsbury Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 2007.
[61] Cochrane, Iain, 14ος κόμης του Dundonald, Cochrane, Alexander, ”The Fighting Cochranes: A Scottish Clan over six hundred years of naval and military history”, εκδ. Quiller Press, Λονδίνο, 1983.
[62] Cochrane, Thomas, 10ος κόμης του Dundonald, “The Autobiography of a Seaman”, εκδ. Lyons Press, Νέα Υόρκη, 2000.
[63] Lloyd, Christopher, ”Lord Cochrane. Seaman, Radical, Liberator. – A Life of Thomas Lord Cochrane 10th Earl of Dundonald. 1775–1860”, εκδ. Owl Books, Λονδίνο, 1998.
[64] Cochrane, Iain, 14ος κόμης του Dundonald, Cochrane, Alexander, ”The Fighting Cochranes: A Scottish Clan over six hundred years of naval and military history”, εκδ. Quiller Press, Λονδίνο, 1983.
[65] Βλ. στο ίδιο.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Chaloner, William H., “People And Industries“, εκδ. Routledge, Λονδίνο, 1963
  • Moore, James Carrick, “Life of sir John Moore”, εκδ. John Murray, Λονδίνο, 1833, β’ τόμος.
  • “Cochrane, Archibald”, εκδ. περ. “The Gentleman’s Magazine”, Λονδίνο, Ιούλιος 1831.
  • Heathcote, Tony, “The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 – 1995”, εκδ. Pen & Sword, Λονδίνο, 2002.
  • Cordingly, David, ”Cochrane The Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane “, εκδ. Bloomsbury Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 2007.
  • Gardiner, Robert, ”The First Frigates”, εκδ. Conway Maritime Press, Λονδίνο,1992
  • Cochrane, Thomas, 10ος κόμης του Dundonald, “The Autobiography of a Seaman”, εκδ. Lyons Press, Νέα Υόρκη, 2000.
  • Cochrane, Iain, 14ος κόμης του Dundonald, Cochrane, Alexander, “The Fighting Cochranes: A Scottish Clan over six hundred years of naval and military history”, εκδ. Quiller Press, Λονδίνο, 1983.
  • Harvey, Robert, “Cochrane: The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain”, εκδ. Carroll & Graf, Νέα Υόρκη, 2000.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, “Keith, George Keith Elphinstone, Viscount“, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1911, 15ος τόμος “Encyclopædia Britannica“.
  • Laughton, J. K., “Beaver, Philip (1766-1813)”, εκδ. Oxford University Press, Λονδίνο, 2008.
  • Brenton, Edward Pelham, “Life and Correspondence of John, Earl of St Vincent, G. C. B., Admiral of the Fleet“, εκδ. Henry Colburn, Λονδίνο, 1838, β’ τόμος, σελ.81.
  • Adkins, Roy, Adkins, Lesley, “The War for all the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo”, εκδ. Abacus, Λονδίνο, 2007.
  • McGilchrist, John, “The Life and Daring Exploits of Lord Dundonald”, εκδ. James Blackwood, Λονδίνο, 1861.
  • Thomas, Donald, “Cochrane: Britannia’s Sea Wolf”, εκδ. Cassell Military Paperbacks, Λονδίνο, 2001.
  • Εφ. “The London Gazette”, Λονδίνο, 8 Ιανουαρίου 1801, φύλλο 15393.
  • Vale, Brian, “The Audacious Admiral Cochrane”, εκδ. Conway Maritime Press, Λονδίνο, 2004.
  • Lloyd, Christopher, “Lord Cochrane. Seaman, Radical, Liberator. – A Life of Thomas Lord Cochrane 10th Earl of Dundonald. 1775–1860”, εκδ. Owl Books, Λονδίνο, 1998.
  • “Τα αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας”, εκδ. Βιβλιοθήκη της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1971, γ’ τόμος.
  • Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική ιστορία της ελληνικής επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος.
  • Χρυσανθόπουλος, Φώτιος (Φωτάκος), “Βίοι Πελοποννησίων ανδρών και των εξώθεν εις την Πελοπόννησον ελθόντων κληρικών, στρατιωτικών και πολιτικών των αγωνισαμένων τον αγώνα της επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Π. Δ. Σακελλαρίου, Αθήνα, 1888.
  • Συλλογικό, “Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους “, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 2000, 12ος τόμος.
  • Cochrane, George, “Wanderings in Greece”, εκδ. Henry Colburn, Λονδίνο, 1837, α’ τόμος.
  • Gallant, Thomas, “The Edinburgh history of the Greeks, 1768 to 1913: the long nineteenth century”, εκδ. Edinburgh University Press, Εδιμβούργο, 2015.
  • St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book, Λονδίνο, 2008.
  • Παπασωτηρίου, Χαράλαμπος, “Ο αγώνας για την ελληνική ανεξαρτησία. Πολιτική και στρατηγική των Ελλήνων και της Οθωμανικής Αυτοκρατορίας 1821-1832”, εκδ. Ι. Σιδέρης, Αθήνα, 1996.
  • Τρικούπης, Σπυρίδων, “Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2007, δ’ τόμος.
  • Θεμελή – Κατηφόρη, Δέσποινα, “Το γαλλικό ενδιαφέρον για την Ελλάδα στην περίοδο του Καποδίστρια 1828-1831”, εκδ. Επικαιρότητα, Αθήνα, 1985.
  • Vale, Brian, “Independence or Death! British Sailors and Brazilian Independence”, Λονδίνο, εκδ. I B Tauris, 2000.
  • Cochrane, Thomas, 10ος κόμης του Dundonald, “Narrative of Services in the Liberation of Chile, Peru, and Brazil from Spanish and Portuguese Domination”, εκδ. James Ridgway, Λονδίνο, 1859.
  • Macaulay, Neill, “Dom Pedro: The Struggle for Liberty in Brazil and Portugal, 1798–1834”, εκδ. Duke University Press, Durham, 1986.
  • Kentley, Eric, Hulse, Robert, Elton, Julia, “The Brunel’s Tunel”, εκδ. Institution of Civil Engineers, Λονδίνο, 2006.
  • Vale, Brian, “Cochrane in the Pacific: Fortune and Freedom in Spanish America.”, εκδ. Νέα Υόρκη, 2008.
  • Contreras, Gonzalo, “Lord Cochrane bajo la bandera de Chile”, εκδ. Editorial Zig-Zag, Santiago, 1993.
  • Lynch, John, “San Martín: Argentine Soldier, American Hero”, εκδ. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2009.
  • Pérez Turrado, Gaspar, “Las Marinas realista y Patriota en la independencia de Chile y Perú”, εκδ. Ministerio de Defensa, Μαδρίτη, 1996.
  • Anderson, R. C., “Naval wars in the Levant, 1559-1853”, εκδ. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1952.

 

 

Thomas Moore (1779-1852), was the most famous Irish poet of the first half of the 19th century. He was a Catholic patriot and a supporter of the Whigs in Great Britain.

In addition to his work as a poet and writer, he was a musician, and a “squib” writer for newspapers. He became known by the nickname “Anacreon Moore” after the famous lyric poet of the antiquity. He was one of the first members of the Philhellenic Committee of London, and a friend of Mary Shelley and Lord Byron. In fact, Lord Byron (1788 – 1824) had handed over his memoirs to him to publish after his death. Moore considered it right to burn them so as not to tarnish the great romantic poet’s reputation. Willing to make up for the loss of the memoirs, he composed his own biography of Byron, having Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851) as a valuable source and help. He became widely known for his “Irish Melodies”, which conveyed themes from life in Ireland. With this work he helped to develop a distinct poetic tradition in English language in his homeland, which until then was expressed in Gaelic; he was established as the “national bard” of Ireland. Moore was a passionate advocate of Freedom in his homeland.

He was born on May 28, 1779 in Dublin. He was the only son of Catholic parents, who according to the political situation of the time did not have the right to vote, to hold important positions or to be jurors in courts, to carry weapons and to attend good schools. His mother was a brave woman, who encouraged him to cultivate his artistic side and fight against the “yoke of his Catholicism”. Moore considered Catholicism to be the national religion, central to the Irish national identity. He was probably however rather inconsistent as a Catholic, already as a student at Trinity College, a cheerful spirit that loved everything Protestants disliked: music, theatricality, humour.

In 1795 he started studying law at Trinity College, with Robert Emmett and Edward Hudson as his classmates, who were members of “The Society of the United Irishmen”; a group of sworn fighters in the Kingdom of Ireland who opposed British rule and aimed at “equal representation of all peoples in a national government”. Thus Moore was gradually introduced to the political processes of his time. In 1796 the attempt of the French Republic to support the outlawed United Irish by invading Ireland failed. Although not a sworn member of the “United Irish”, such as Hudson and Emmett, Moore was accused of provoking mutiny for writing a text in which he invited his classmates not to support the forthcoming Union Act. He was later acquitted of the charges, and abstained from any involvement in the Irish Revolution of 1798; he moderated his tone as a writer, choosing humour and parody.

In 1799 he moved to London, where he translated poems by Anacreon. He dedicated “Odes to Anacreon” (1800) to the Prince of Wales. At this time he began to emerge socially, singing for the aristocracy and literary circles. In 1801 he decided to publish his own poems, which dealt with lighter issues. He then travelled to Virginia, USA, and Bermuda (1803) and wrote his impressions in “Epistles, Odes, and Other Poems” (1806), in which he criticized Americans for defending slavery. When the “Edinburgh Review” critic Francis Jeffrey, called Moore “the most licentious of modern versifiers”, Moore challenged him to a duel, which was finally cancelled. Lord Byron, who had also been harshly criticized by Jeffrey, satirized the duel, a fact which annoyed Moore. The misunderstanding between Byron and Moore was however resolved with the intervention of Samuel Rogers, who brought the two men in contact in November 1811. Since then, a friendship developed between the two poets that lasted over time.

That same year, Moore married the Protestant actress Elizabeth “Bessy” Dyke, with whom he settled in London. They will have five children, none of whom will survive. During this period, he began to publish humorous, political comments in favour of the Whigs. In his texts he mocked politicians and hypocrisy. He even resorted to personal attacks, as in the case of the Irish Secretary, Lord Castlereagh (1769 – 1822), who was a very harsh suppressor of the United Irish.

Moore’s best-known work is “Irish Melodies” (1808-1834), which established him as a national bard. Lord Byron claimed to have known them by heart, and they were the source of inspiration for his own work “Hebrew Melodies” (1815). Moore was motivated by Dublin music producers William and James Power to conceive a major Irish work that would enlighten people’s souls far beyond the rhetoric of politicians. His ambition was from the beginning to become the Irish equivalent of the Scottish Roberts Scots: that would be, the national poet of the Irish. The main source of the Irish Melodies was Edward Bunting’s Collection of ancient Irish music (1797), which Moore knew through Hudson. Combining happy and sad musical tones, it expresses a variety of patriotic, erotic and philosophical themes. Although in England the work was known as a parody, it received many translations into German, French, Czech, Hungarian, Italian.

For these works, Moore was attacked by the columns of “The Anti-Jacobin Review”, which followed Torys’ political line, as ” the melancholy ravings of the disappointed rebel“. In a completely different direction, the Irish politician and leader of the Catholics, Daniel O´ Connell (1775 -1847), also known as “The Liberator”, used the Irish Melodies in his campaign for Repeal in the early 1840s. Moore’s song, “Where is the slave?” made the crowd and O´ Connell himself cry “I am not a slave!”

The anxieties and struggles of the Irish people for freedom and justice, also inspired by the American and French revolutions, were echoed in the Greek struggle for Independence. British policy towards Turkey and Greece was directly related to Great Britain’s wider interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Greek Revolution symbolized, from an Irish point of view, a form of reaction against British rule, albeit indirectly. The Irish sought their independence, as did the Greeks. This is the mentality that motivated Thomas Moore to support the Greek Struggle. Thomas Moore was among the first fifty supporters of the Philhellenic Committee of London. Together with Lord Byron, he supported the Greek liberation struggle with money, armaments and propaganda. The people who rallied around the Greek issue at that time had diverse motivations. One should not forget about the political games taking place in the background. In his poem, “The Ghost of Miltiades”, Moore criticizes those who engage with rather “selfish” intentions in the “cause of freedom”:

“Of Liberty foes the worst are they /
Who turn to a trade her cause divine /
And gamble for gold on Freedom´s shrine”

The poem about Miltiades is not the only Greek reference in Moore’s work. In 1826, inspired by Byron, Moore composed the series of poems “Evenings in Greece”. The scene takes place on the island of Zea, the birthplace of Bacchylides, Simonides and other notable men of ancient Greece. Zea is an ideal place, “the most cultivated in Greece”. As Moore said, he connected a series of songs in a thread of poetic narration, so that those who could not sing would participate as readers. His emblematic poem “The sky is bright – To Greece we give our shining blades” has been set to music by Henry Bishop (1786 – 1855). Another well-known philhellenic poem by Moore is “The death of a Greek warrior”.

 

The sheet music of Henry Bishop’s composition for Thomas Moore’s poems.

 

One issue that Moore was harshly criticized for was the destruction of Lord Byron’s memoirs, which the poet entrusted to him in 1818; Byron recounted his life, his love affairs and the views he had formed up to that time. When he died in 1824, Moore, along with publisher John Murray (1778 – 1843) to whom he had sold the copy to publish, politician John Cam Hobhouse (1786 – 1869) and some of Byron’s friends, who were concerned about his fame and reputation, gathered together and burned the only copy of his memoirs. Contemporary research does not attribute responsibility for this act solely to Moore.

Thomas Moore started composing a biography of Byron himself, which is considered to be his best prose work. He concealed much information about Byron’s personal life, which did not seem to satisfy Lady Byron, who still saw his work as very revealing about the poet’s life. Mary Shelley, also a friend of Byron and a valuable helper of Moore in completing biographical information, had the opposite opinion. For Shelley, Moore’s portrayal of Byron’s personality was fair, and she praised his eloquent literary style. Literary critic Howard Mumford Jones (1892-1980) considered Moore’s “Letters and Journals of Lord Byron: With Notices of His Life (1830)” to be “one of the four or five major English literary biographies”.

 

Thomas Moore’s memorial in Ireland.

 

The Great Famine of Ireland in the late 1840s led Moore’s health to weaken. Thomas Moore’s end reminds of Mary Shelley’s end: he passed away on February 25, 1852; he had lost all his children and mourned the death of most of his comrades and friends.

SHP and Greece honour the memory of Thomas Moore, the great bard and defender of freedom, whose work presented in the most emblematic way, the struggle of the Philhellenes, who offered to Greece “their shining blades”. They also offered to Greece “the terrible edge of the sword” (as per D. Solomos’s national hymn) that led to its Freedom and independence.

 

Sources and Bibliography

  • Μακναμή, Τέρενς, Τομ Μουρ, ο Λόρδος Βύρων και η ελευθερία των εθνών, irlandikoblog.wordpress.com/
  • Roessel, David Ernest, In Byron’s Shadow: Modern Greece in the English & American Imagination, Oxford University Press, 2001
  • poetryfoundation.org
  • internetpoem.com/thomas-moore/evenings-in-greece-poem/
  • wikipedia.en

 

 

The German painter Peter von Hess (1792-1871), was a much-loved person of Ludwig I. of Bavaria, a central figure among his envoys during the Greek Revolution. Τhe famous, “cinematic” depictions of the heroes and battles of 1821 are of his own. He artistically captured central events of the Struggle, passing on an important artistic exhibit to future generations and setting a model for both his compatriots as well as a number of Greek painters; the representatives of the so-called “Munich school”.

Peter von Hess was born in 1792 in Düsseldorf and was the son of the copper engraver Carl Ernst Christoph Hess (1755 -1828), with whom he received his first artistic lessons. Already at the age of 8 he creates his own engravings with animal figures. In 1806 he was admitted to the Academy of Arts in Munich. In fact, he is a self-taught painter, as he soon stopped studying in Munich and preferred to develop himself as an artist, taking Dutch and German painters as his role model. The Dutch influence is evident in his ethnographic themes, especially in those relating to Italian and Greek life. He was also influenced by the painter Wilhelm von Kobell (1766-1855), therefore turned to the composition of war scenes, drawing his material from his experiences on the battlefields, between 1813/1815. He had served in the military staff of General Carl Phillip von Wrede (1767 – 1838), whom he accompanied during the Napoleonic wars (Befreiungskriege), as well as at the Congress of Vienna (1815).

 

Peter von Hess in the uniform of an officer.

 

During these years, young Hess exercised as a war scene painter and created various sketches, which later became the basis for his oil paintings. An example of such a war scene is the “Battle of the Nations in Leipzig, 1813”, which he painted in 1853 (“Die Völkerschlacht bei Leipzig 1813”).

 

Peter von Hess, Die Völkeranschlacht bei Leipzig 1813, (Battle of the Nations in Leipzig, 1813), oil painting, 1853/54

 

Between 1816 – 1817 he traveled to Italy and mainly painted landscapes and scenes with “Italian themes”. He moved away from Kobell’s influence and discovered a more personal, plastic idiom in his art. In the 1820s he began to gain recognition as a painter of the Bavarian court. In 1824 he co-founded the Münchner Kunstverein (Munich Art Association), which developed into a Munich urban art forum. Bavarian king Ludwig I. commissioned him to illustrate the Arcaden of his garden in Munich with scenes from the Greek Liberation Struggle. He had already begun to become acquainted with Greek subjects in Bavaria, before painting “Palikars in Athens” (1829, today at the Nationalgalerie in Berlin), and then the lithography of Krazeisen’s work on “Chieftain with his Palikars in battle”.

 

Lithograph of Peter von Hess, based on Krazeisen’s work titled “Chieftain with his Palikars in battle” (SHP collection).

 

In order to complete his compositions he relied on his imagination as well as on journalistic correspondence from Greece, as did his fellow artists (engravers and painters) who had not yet visited the country.

The creation and lithographic reproduction of imaginary depictions of the events of the Revolution, filled journalistic gaps and acquainted Europeans with Greek reality, even in the occasionally idealized version of it.

Some of these artists took the initiative to visit Greece at their own expense and the risk of their lives, in order to base their works on personal experiences. A number of other artists, including Ferdinand Stademann (1791-1873), Carl Rottmann (1797-1850), Ludwig Lange (1808-1868), came to Greece enjoying financial support by Ludwig I. His beloved painter, Peter von Hess, was one of his protected envoys to Greece, commissioned with the creation of “journalistic” works, which would contribute to the consolidation of Bavaria’s ties with the newly built Greek state and propagate the valuable historical lesson offered by Greek fighters to his Bavarian and European compatriots. The artists mentioned above created works inspired by the romantic spirit of the time and following the principles of academic realism.

In 1833 Peter von Hess traveled to Greece with Otto. He depicted – as Ludwig had wished – “The arrival of Otto in Nafplio” (Einzug König Ottos von Griechenland in Nauplia, 1835), which documents the establishment of a European Greek state. Bright colors dominate the landscape, while the painting realistically depicts the costumes of the crowd, to convey the joy of the event to the viewer, whose gaze very cleverly leads Hess to the empty space in front of his composition, right where Otto, the central figure of the composition, is about to pass. Along with “Reception of King Otto of Greece in Athens” (Empfang König Ottos von Griechenland in Athens, 1839), these are his best known works, on display at the New Gallery in Munich.

Peter von Hess’s art is characterized by the faithful rendering of details, the tendency for an idealistic presentation of the figures (as an external expression of the inner kindness of the people he depicts), and the description of historical events. He is a very strong colorist, who prioritizes color over form. He edits human figures with great care in his attempt to describe the mental characteristics of his heroes. The lines of his figures are usually bold, especially when describing naked human members. He is inspired by monumentality, large forms in motion and contrasts, which underline the intensity of all the dramatic events that unfold before the eyes of the spectator. His direction often appears cinematic, an impression intensified by his diagonal compositions, which emphasize the movement and action of his heroes.

His most important work to honor the Greek War for Independence is the creation of 39 images from the Revolution, in which he immortalized the figures of heroes in our memory. Even if Hess did not meet the heroes of 1821, he made sure to rely on the descriptions of ordinary people in order to reconstruct them as truthfully as possible. He respected folk descriptions and combined them with his romantic beliefs: he depicted Bouboulina in the heroic-mythical type known to us until today, leading the fight with her outstretched, right hand, or Androutsos in a way that reflects his courage and determination – his main characteristics that were known to everyone at that time. The first illustrator of the Struggle was Panagiotis Zografos, who designed a series of 25 paintings with the instructions of Makrygiannis. His works followed a naive, post-Byzantine tradition, which established a folk visual art that focused on the description of events. On the contrary, Peter von Hess’s Oeuvre had an epic, romantic character, which he projected on the Greek fighters. Such artistic choices established him as the main illustrator of the Greek Struggle. Both artists offered sufficiently realistic depictions of the historical events.

The paintings of the Greek Revolution were intended to be displayed in the north portico of the Royal Garden (Hofgarten). Hess’s chalk-painted drawings on white cardboard were the basis for the transfer of these scenes to the galleries between 1841 -1844. His paintings were unfortunately destroyed, but his pictures were spread through lithographic reprints and many painters copied them.

Hess listed his 39 scenes from the Greek Revolution following the true historical succession of events. The only “fantastic” depiction is the first scene with Rigas Feraios “sparking the love of the Greeks for Freedom”. In his compositions he has included an impressively large number of fighters of the Revolution with the most famous heroes among them (Alexandros and Dimitrios Ypsilantis, Germanos III of Old Patras, Athanasios Diakos, Gregory V of Constantinople, Petros Mavromichalis, Bouboulina, Odysseas Androutsos, Karaiskakis, Nikitaras, Markos Botsaris, Makrygiannis, Gouras, etc.). He also lists a series of other events of the Revolution, possibly less known today, in a way that makes the viewer feel like he is watching a scene from a movie. For example: “Georgakis and his people blow up in Sekko”, “Kefalas raises the flag of Freedom at the walls of Tripoli”, “Panourgias takes Acrokorinthos”. He painted lesser known moments and people of the Revolution, he is therefore to be thanked for this valuable contribution.

Among the 39 scenes some of them stand out, e.g. “400 Hierolochites fall in Dragatsani”. In this beautifully directed scene, the youthful and idealized figures of the Hierolochites are in contrast with the generic depictions of Ottoman conquerors. The heroic fighters are linked to ancient Greeks or European figures. Hess’s Philhellenism is evident here, as well as a specific ideological program, which aims to validate the kinship ties between Greece and Bavaria. Close to this ideology, Hess dedicates the last three images of the series (nos. 37-39) to the Greek-Bavarian bond: “Kolettis announces Otto’s election as King of Greece”, “The Greek envoys in Munich offer submission to Otto” and “ The arrival of Otto in Nafplio ”. The three Greek representatives (Miaoulis, K. Botsaris, Plapoutas) portrayed by Hess in the second work of the last section, also appear in the work of Philipp Foltz, “King Otto of Greece bids farewell to his family” (New Gallery of Munich).

He completed above images on his return to Munich. He made a second trip to Greece and undertook the decoration of the main hall of Otto’s palace (the current Parliament building), with copies of these scenes. A fire on December 24, 1909 destroyed them. Some copies of his subjects are in the Bayerisches Armeemuseum in Ingolstadt, as well as in the National Bank in Athens. The latter were created in 1900 by the painter Nikolaos Ferekidis, under the direction of the then governor of the National Bank, Stefanos Streit.

Hess established “art historiography” in Greece. The Greek painter Theodoros Vryzakis (1814-1878) was strongly influenced by him in the selection and elaboration of his subjects. Vryzakis studied with him (1841) and is considered the founder of the “Munich school”. The Greek academic painters Nikiforos Lytras (1832-1904), Konstantinos Volanakis (1837-1907), Nikolaos Gyzis (1842-1901) and Georgios Iakovidis (1853-1) also studied in Munich. Gyzis remained in Germany to teach at the Academy of Munich. The Bavarian influence also led to the establishment of the “School of Arts” (1836-1837) in Athens and thus an artistic, national school began to establish for the first time in Greece.

In 1839 Hess went to Russia, where he painted eight large paintings of the war events of 1812, on behalf of Tsar Alexander II. He died on April 4, 1871 in Munich, where his grave is located.

 

Greek priest lays a wreath at the tomb of Peter von Hess.

 

While still alive he was honored in 1861 with the Cross of the Knight of the Order of Value of the Bavarian Crown. He was also honored by the Order of St. Michael (Verdienstorden vom Heiligen Michael, 1838), the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Art and Science (Bayerischer Maximiliansorden für Wissenschaft & Kunst, 1853), but also with foreign medals (Belgischer Leopoldsorden).

Hess was a person of high prestige for Ludwig I., a pillar of his strategic plans in Greece. As such he is honored by the painter Wilhelm von Kaulbach (1805-1874) in his series of paintings on the revival of arts in Bavaria, alongside with the German painter Peter von Cornelius (1784-1867) and the German architect Joseph Daniel Ohlmüller (1791- 1839), which are housed in the New Gallery of Munich.

 

Peter von Hess, “The arrival of Otto in Nafplio on January 25, 1833”, color lithography (SHP collection).

Peter von Hess, “The Entry of King Otto of Greece in Athens”, oil on canvas.

Unknown painter, “the royal family of Bavaria admires the work of Peter von Hess The arrival of Otto in Nafplio on January 25, 1833”, oil on canvas (SHP collection).

Peter von Hess, Fountain in Nafplio, oil on canvas (SHP collection).

 

SHP and the Greek people will always honor and remember Peter von Hess as the Philhellene romantic illustrator of the Greek War of Independence.

 

Sources and Bibliography

  • peter-von-hess.com
  • pinakothek.de
  • bavariagr.de
  • nationalgallery.gr
  • Bαμβακίδου, Ιφιγένεια, Κυρίδης, Αργύρης, Η νεοελληνική ταυτότητα στις φιλελληνικές οπτικές μαρτυρίες (19ος αιώνα): από την αντιληπτική ομοιότητα προς τις εννοιολογικές ομοιώσεις, στο: Διαπολιτισμικότητα, Παγκοσμιοποίηση και Ταυτότητες, Gutenberg 2008,
  • Fuhrmeister, Christian, Jooss, Birgit, (Hrsg.), Isar/Athen Griechische Künstler in München – Deutsche Künstler in Griechenland, Μόναχο 2008,
  • Παπανικολάου, Μιλτιάδης, Εικόνες από την Ελληνική Επανάσταση. Τα 39 πρωτότυπα σχέδια του ζωγράφου Peter von Hess (1792-1871),
  • Πυρπυρής, Π.,  Μια ανάγνωση της εικονογραφίας του 1821. Συμβολή στον οπτικό γραμματισμό. Αθήνα 2016,
  • Στεφανίδης, Μάνος, Ελληνομουσείον. Επτά Αιώνες Ελληνικής ζωγραφικής. Τόμος β´ Η εποχή της αθωότητας. Μίλητος, 2009.

 

 

SHP is pleased to announce the participation of Professor Michalis Tiverios, member of the Academy of Athens, in its Advisory Committee.

Michalis A. Tiberios studied at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Thessaloniki and was awarded a doctorate by the institute in 1976. He completed his studies at the Archaeological Institute of Bonn, as a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung (1977-1979). From 1975 to 2014, when he retired receiving the title of Emeritus Professor, he taught (as of 1987 as a primary professor) at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in the Department of History and Archeology. From 1989 to 1993 he was the President of this Department, while from 1997 to 1999 he was the Director of the Postgraduate Studies. He conducted excavations, among others, in the ancient settlements located near today’s Sindos (1990-2002) and in Karabournaki of Thessaloniki (1994-2014).

In 2011 he was elected a full member of the Academy of Athens in the Class of Letters and Fine Arts at the Chair of Archeology [Ceramics]. He was, among others, a member of the plenary session of the Greek National Commission for UNESCO, a member of the National Advisory Council for Research (1994-98), a member of the National Council for Research and Technology (2001-04 and 2008-09) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Educational Institution of the National Bank (1995-2015). He is a member of many scientific committees and institutes, such as the Academia Scientiarum et Artium Europaea and the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. In 1999 he was proclaimed Honorary Doctor by the University of Bern.

 

 

Mary Shelley (1797-1851) is best known as the author of the classic horror novel Frankenstein or Modern Prometheus (1818), and as the wife of the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Less known is her moral support to the Greek Revolution and her mental identification with the struggle of the Greeks for Independence. She participated in the ideological and political developments around the so-called “Circle of Pisa”, had a personal friendship with Alexandros Mavrokordatos, and influenced Lord Byron’s philhellenic attitude and his decision to go to Greece and identify with the Greeks.

She was born on August 30, 1797 in Somers town, Camden Town, London, and was the daughter of the anarchist philosopher William Godwin (1756 – 1836) and the early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797), who died a few days after giving birth to her daughter. Mary grew up with two half-sisters; the three years older than her, Fanny Imlay, from her mother’s former relationship with Gilbert Imlay, and Jane or Claire, from Godwin and his second wife, Mary Jane Clairmont. Mary is referred to as Godwin’s favorite daughter, with whom she had a special relationship. Her father took exclusive care of her upbringing and home education. On the contrary, her relationship with her stepmother was problematic. As a child she loved to study and write her own stories.

William Godwin was the spiritual teacher of the poet Percy Shelley, who visited Godwin’s home frequently from 1812 and even supported his mentor financially. It was there, where Shelley met Mary, at a time when his marriage to Harriet Westbrook was in trouble. Soon the two of them began meeting secretly near the grave of Mary Wollstonecraft. When Godwin, enraged by the news, forbade Shelley from visiting them, the couple left for France accompanied by Mary’s sister, Claire (July 28, 1814). From there they arrived in Switzerland. Shortly afterwards, Claire met Lord Byron and entered into a relationship with him. Byron became a member of their inner circle in Geneva during the Shelley’s second voyage in 1818.

A series of tragic events followed. Pregnant Harriet Westbrook committed suicide, as did Mary’s half-sister, Fanny Imlay. Also, two of the children that Mary and Percy had in the meantime, died (William 1816-1819, Clara Everina 1817-1818). Their third child, Percy Florence Shelley (1819-1889) survived, while Mary lost another child from miscarriage in 1822. These losses stigmatized her soul and found their expression in the motifs of birth / death/ renaissance, on which her best-known work, Frankenstein (1818), is based.

The trigger for Frankenstein’s composition has been given to Shelley by Lord Byron, while they lived in adjoining houses on Lake Geneva. One night, while having fun with “ghost stories”, Byron suggested that each of them wrote a short horror story. Mary ended up writing much more than just a short story. The group of friends was accompanied by Dr. John William Polidori (1795-1821), author of “The Vampire”, who inspired the “vampire literature” of many authors.

The Shelleys returned to England, where they still felt unwanted in their old environment. So they left again for Italy, together with Claire (March 11, 1818), who had meanwhile given birth to Byron’s daughter, Alegra, and wanted to meet him in Venice. Their travel destinations were the Italian cities of Florence, Rome, and finally Pisa, from where Percy often traveled to Livorno and Lucca.

Pisa was the milestone in the rise of both Shelleys’ philhellenism. A collective identity for the Greek intellectuals was forged in this city. There they came in contact with the so-called “Circle of Pisa”; a group of people gathered around the Metropolitan of Hungary, Ignatius, who sought to play an active role in Greek affairs. Among the people around him was Alexandros Mavrokordatos, who was hosted at Ignatius’ house, together with the ruler of Wallachia, Ioannis Karatzas, and his son, Constantine. Their “turban-bearer” friend, as Percy Shelley called Mavrokordatos, began to influence the couple in his own political line. Mary seems to have developed a special relationship with him, as evidenced by a series of unpublished letters they exchanged. When they heard of Pruthos’ passage by Ypsilantis, she and her husband Percy wrote two letters to English newspapers in support of the Greek Revolution. In this way they took a public position in their homeland in favor of Greece.

During their stay in Pisa, Percy composed “Hellas”, his masterpiece poem, in which he envisioned Greece’s rebirth. He dedicated the poem to Mavrokordatos, and probably introduced Byron to him. The developments that took place between Shelley – the circle of Pisa – Byron, resulted in the transmission of the couple’s enthusiasm for the Greek Cause in Byron, who was still focused on the Italian revolutionary movement of the Carbonari. Apart from Greece, the three of them also developed an interest in Istanbul.

Mary wrote with passion about Greece and made sure to be informed through her circle about what was happening in Greece and Istanbul, as well as about the Turkish retaliation against Greeks. On April 10, 1822, the day Percy received a copy of his newly printed work, “Hellas”, Mary wrote to a friend about the massacre of 4,000 Greeks in Constantinople. At the same time, the head of the dead Ali Pasha had been sent to the Sultan after his death. Mary narrated the events of the war that followed between the Greek and Turkish fleets, and enthusiastically realized that the inhabitants of Moria were well acquainted with the famous phrase of Spartan women “This, or on this” ( Ή ταν ή επί τας). In her diaries she often recorded the conversations she had with Mavrokordatos, and most of her entries began with the admonition to herself to read Greek. Her teacher in learning Greek (“it is difficult but so richly rewarding”) was her husband, Percy. In a letter from November 30, 1821, she mentions the promise she made with Percy to travel or even move to Greece, if Greece shall be free.

Shelley’s dream did not come true. The premature death of Percy Shelley on July 8, 1822 marked another tragic loss in the life of Mary, who had since become the guardian of his work. The couple’s friend, adventurer Eduard John Trelawny (1792-1881) removed the heart of his dead friend to hand it over to his widow. The manners of the time did not allow her to attend his cremation ceremony.

In February 1826, Mary published her darkest work, “The Last Man”, an alloy of science fiction and gothic novel, in which she described a nightmarish, dystopian future. During a Greek effort to reconquer Constantinople, an epidemic breaks out and devastates the future world. The only survivor is the storyteller, Lionel Verney, who describes his life before and after becoming “The Last Man”. The main character of the novel is the romantic idealist Adrian, Earl of Windsor, who is motivated by his charity and selflessness; Mary succeeded in immortalizing her beloved Percy in literature. Another character of the novel is the ambitious nobleman, Lord Raymond, who is fighting on the side of the Greeks against the Turks. It is clear that Mary Shelley is remembering her friend, Lord Byron. It seems that for the author, the end of the world included a company of Greeks who were fighting for the Greek cause.

The “last man”, Lionel, is none other than the author herself, who has experienced the loss of every loved one. A few days after Byron’s death (May 14, 1822) she described her feelings of loss, as “the last remnant of a beloved tribe”. With this work she tried to honor and immortalize her time and companions.

After Percy’s loss, she did not remarry, despite proposals by the writer Prosper Mérimée or the playwright John Howard Payne. Her wish was that her tomb bears Mary Shelley, as she told her friend Trealawny. She spent the rest of her life as a devoted mother of Percy Florence Shelley and a daughter of Godwin, whose health was in poor condition. From 1838 onwards she suffered from paralysis and headaches, to the point that she could not read or write. She died on February 1, 1851, most likely from a brain tumor and was buried with Percy’s heart in St Peter’s Church in Bournemouth, near Dorset. A memorial sculpture for the Shelley was commissioned at Christchurch Priory in Dorset County by Percy Florence Shelley and his fiancée Jane Shelley. The monument depicts Mary mourning her dead husband.

 

The Christchurch Priory Memorial in Dorset County depicts Mary Shelley mourning her dead husband.

Mary Shelley’s life was the scenario of a movie film. You may watch here the trailer.

 

SHP and the Greek people honor this passionate Philhellene, who fought to promote the rights of Greece and inspired Lord Byron to identify himself with the Greek Revolution.

 

Sources – bibliography

  • Beaton, Roderick, From Ancient to Modern: Byron, Shelley, and the Idea of Greece Roderick Beaton, The Athens Dialogues. 2010 ; Vol. 1.
  • Λασκαράτος, Αναγνώστης, Τρεις άθεοι «φιλέλληνες»: Βύρωνας, Σέλλεϋ, Τρελώνη. Έρωτες, ποίηση, τυχοδιωκτισμός και Επανάσταση, Λόγος 11.09.2010 & 18.09.2010.
  • Spanidopoulos, John, Mary Shelley as a Philhellene, 20/03/20, honeyandhemlock.com.
  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. August 30, 1797-February 1, 1851, people.brandeis.edu (βιογραφικό σημείωμα για την Mary Shelley από τον ιστότοπο του πανεπιστημίου Brandeis).

 

Santorre Annibale Derossi, Earl of Pomerolo and lord of Santarosa. Portrait. Museo Nazionale del Risorgimento Italiano, Turin.

 

Santorre Annibale Derossi (1783 – 1825), Earl of Pomerolo and lord of Santarosa, was an Italian officer and Philhellene, a hero of the Greek Revolution of 1821.

He was born in Savigliano to noble parents. His father, Annibale Derossi, Earl of Pomerolo and lord of Santarosa, served as a colonel in the Army of the Kingdom of Piedmont[1].

Following the family tradition, Santorre du Santarosa joined the Grenadier Regiment of the Kingdom of Piedmont at the age of just 13[2]. Upon joining the Grenadier Regiment, he took part in the Battle of Mondovi on April 21, 1796, which ended in victory for the French and led to the proclamation of the Republic of Piedmont[3].

This resulted in the Santarosa family taking refuge in Sardinia, which had not been occupied by the French and where King Charles Emmanuel IV had taken refuge[4]. There, Santorre du Santarosa and his father continued their military service[5], until June 1800, when they secretly moved to the mainland of Italy with the Grenadier Regiment of the Royal Guard. Santarosa’s father was now its general and honorary commander[6].

Santorre du Santarosa fought heroically with the rank of lieutenant in the victorious fur the French, battle of Marengo on June 14, 1800[7]. There his father fell heroically and he was taken prisoner[8]. After the battle, the French government offered amnesty to those who had fought against it[9]. Santarosa was released and remained in Turin to study at the University[10].

After graduating from the University of Turin, Santarosa, who despite his amnesty remained loyal to the Royal House of Piedmont, got involved in politics[11]. Thus, in 1807, he was elected mayor of Savigliano[12]. hen, from 1812 to 1814, he served as the Prefect of La Spezia[13].

With the restoration of the Kingdom of Piedmont in 1814, Santarosa returned to the army, as captain of the 1st Battalion of the Grenadiers, of the Regiment of the Royal Guard. From this position, he fought against the French in the victorious for the Piedmontese, battle of Grenoble, on July 6, 1815[14].

In 1816, Santarosa was demobilized and took over the duties of Political Inspector of the Provincial Troops in the Ministry of Military and Naval Affairs of the Kingdom of Piedmont[15]. His contribution from this position, as well as his background as a military commander, led the government of the Kingdom of Piedmont to honor him on August 16, 1820, with the highest distinction of the Grand Cross of the Order of Saints Mauritius and Lazarus[16].

Santarosa was associated from 1819 with the young heir to the throne, Prince Charles Alberto of Carignano[17], who was the only member of the Royal House of Piedmont interested in the unification of Italy[18].

He remained in constant contact with the heir to the throne, Charles Alberto, and with political and military figures, in order to organize the revolution for the expulsion of the Austrians from Italy, the unification of Italy, and the proclamation of a constitution[19]. Eventually this revolution was decided to take place in the first months of 1821, as the Austrians were facing uprisings in Naples[20].

On March 6, 1821, Santarosa and the leaders of the revolution made the final decisions in agreement with Charles Alberto[21], and the revolution began on March 10, 1821, from the military units of Alessandria, Vercelli and Turin[22].

King Victor Emmanuel I resigned on March 13, 1821 in favor of his brother Charles Felix[23], who had returned from Montena, in order not to legitimize the revolution. The new king appointed Charles Albert as interim regent, with the task of granting a constitution[24]. Santarosa was then appointed Minister of War in the new government[25].

Meanwhile, the revolution emerged the radicals Michele Gastone and Carlo Bianco, Count of Saint Jorioz, who were radically different from Santarosa and his rivals, as they supported the Carbonari extremists of Filippo Buonarroti[26]. Due to their actions and the conversion of Charles Felix in favor of the Austrians, the revolution soon degenerated and the government lost its cohesion. Regent Charles Albertus had lost control[27]. Thus, Charles Felix forced him to resign and follow him by force to Novarra on March 22, 1822, where he was obliged to renounce the revolution[28].

Santarosa then warned the people of Piedmont about the possibility of a civil war because of the Austrians[29]. The prospect of civil war, and the expected repression of the revolutionaries from the Austrians, paralyzed the cabinet of ministers, who met for the last time, on April 9, 1821[30]. failing to organize a last line of defense[31]. Thus, on April 25, 1821, the Austrian army, in collaboration with forces loyal to King Charles Felix, invaded Piedmont and disbanded the rebels[32]. Santarosa and many of his associates were arrested by the Austrians. But thanks to the help of Polish colonel Schultz of the Austrian Army, as well as 30 students from the Theresian Military Academy in Vienna and other universities, they managed to escape[33].

After their escape, Santarosa, Luigi Ornato, Ferdinando dal Pozzo and their comrades passed through Genoa, Marseille and Lyon and ended up in Geneva, Switzerland. They left on November 19, 1821, due to pressure from the Austrians and King Felix of Piedmont[34]. Santarosa arrived in Paris[35], under the pseudonym Conti. During this period he wrote his memoirs from the revolution in Piedmont[36]. In February 1822, with the rise of the Villèle government, Santarosa took refuge in Auteuil, at the home of his friend, the philosopher Victor Cousin[37]. From there, he fled after many adventures, to London, in October 1822, where he faced serious problems. He was cut off from his country and his family, and it was impossible for him to work because of the structure of the British society at the time[38]. So he survived by teaching Italian and French, although it was clear that a quiet life did not suit him.

During this time, he continued correspondence with his friend Victor Cousin, while in mid-1823, he became closely associated with the emblematic Philhellene poet Ugo Foscolo and the Philhellene Piedmontese officer, Count Giacinto Ottavio Enrico Provana di Collegno, who was also exiled to London since 1821[39]. At the same time, he came in contact with the Philhellenic Committee of London and with Lord Byron.

His friendship with Giacinto Collegno familiarised him with the positions of the Greek revolutionaries. Santarosa was an important officer, but at the same time, a noble and highly cultured man, a lover of Greek classical culture. Giacinto Collegno, on the other hand, was a typical officer.

In fact, he wrote to his later comrade-in-arms Giacinto Collegno: “I feel love for Greece. It is the homeland of Socrates. The Greek people are brave and good. The centuries of slavery have not destroyed their good character. I believe that Greece is a brother nation“. The Italian Philhellenes had a sense of common cultural origin with the Greeks, and this added an additional dimension to the Italian Philhellenism.

These fermentations with the philhellenic circles of England, soon led them to Greece as volunteer fighters on the side of the Greeks. In September 1824 Santarosa went with Collegno to Nottingham, from where they traveled by ship, and arrived in Nafplio on December 10, 1824[40].

There, Santarosa was examined by a committee of Greeks, who evaluated the motives of the Philhellenes fighters who landed in revolutionary Greece.

This committee was chaired by the President of the Executive, George Kountouriotis and the Minister of the Interior, Papaflessas.

Santarosa’s request was initially met with suspicion because he was exiled and persecuted by the government of his homeland. For this reason he had received in London, and submitted to the committee, a letter of recommendation from Mavrokordatos.

When he appeared, he wore an impressive uniform of a senior officer with his medals. He asked to fight under the flag of Greece. The members of the committee informed him that the administration could not offer any remuneration for his services. Santarosa replied that he knew that Greece needed even the last soldier and that he would not accept any reward even if he was offered it.

He was then asked what rank he wanted to receive in the Greek army, and what rank he had in his country. Santarosa replied that he was “General and Minister of the Army“, but that he wanted to participate in the Greek army as an ordinary soldier, because at that time Greece needed soldiers.

The committee then realized who it was dealing with. In fact, Koundouriotis embraced him for his kindness and selflessness.

And of course the value and experience of this important officer would justify such an office. But Santarosa’s fame, and his action in Piedmont, forced the Greek authorities not to grant him a high-ranking position. The Greek administration, but also the circles of the Philhellenes internationally, did not want the Greek Revolution to be identified with the carbonari movements. We note here that the Philhellenic Committee of London, Alexandros Mavrokordatos and the representatives of the Greek administration in England (Ioannis Orlandos and Andreas Louriotis), assured the Greek authorities of the origin and military value of the great Philhellene.

Santarosa asked to be sent immediately to the front line. However, he had to wait three months to finally join the Greek army voluntarily in March 1825 as an ordinary soldier, under the pseudonym “Derossi”[41].

He then toured Epidaurus, Aegina, Athens and Marathon, where he inspired the inhabitants, with fiery patriotic speeches. Santarosa, this noble, selfless and conscious Philhellene, was saying: “I love Greece with a love that has something wonderful. … “.

Finally, in March 1825, he returned to Nafplio[43]. In April 1825 he joined the regular army, following Koundouriotis and Mavrokordatos in their campaign in Pylos.

On April 19, 1825, his unit of 100 men arrived in Navarino. From there, on April 21, 1825, he went to Sfaktiria to undertake its defense, as requested by Anagnostaras, who was one of the leaders of its defense[44].

Before moving to Sfaktiria, Santarosa, as an experienced officer, suggested the immediate repair of the castle of Navarino. This action would allow the Greeks to defend themselves better. But he was not listened to by the Greek Administration.

 

Battle of Sfaktiria. Painting by Panagiotis Zografos, dictated by Makrygiannis (SHP collection).

The Sfaktiria in Pylos

 

The defense of Sfaktiria began when on May 5, 1825, the Turkish-Egyptian troops under Ibrahim Pasha began their attack on the island[45]. The decisive phase of the siege began on May 7, 1825, when the reserve unit of 100 men where Santarosa belonged, got involved in the battle, with him fighting on the front line[46].

Ibrahim took advantage of the lack of drinking water, and repeatedly attacked the defenders of Sfaktiria, who were inexperienced in the battle against artillery, and began to surrender[47]. The unit to which Santarosa belonged continued to resist. Santarosa fought heroically to the end, and the next day, when his unit was surrounded, he was seriously wounded. But he refused to surrender to Ibrahim Pasha’s Turkish-Egyptians and continued to fight as best he could, until Ibrahim, an Egyptian soldier, was shot dead[48]. Along with Santarosa, the leaders of the Greek forces, Anagnostaras and Anastasios Tsamados, as well as the chiliarch Stavros Sachinis, fell heroically[49].

In total, 350 of the 800 defenders of Sfaktiria fell heroically.

Eventually, Sfaktiria was handed over to the Turkish-Egyptians on May 13, 1825. The personal belongings of the fallen, including Santarosa, were looted. Sfaktiria was temporarily recaptured for a while by the Greeks on May 16, 1825[50]. An old comrade located the personal belongings of the great Philhellene and was informed of his death.

After the recapture of Sfaktiria, the search for the body of the great Philhellene began[51], mainly by his comrade-in-arms and friend, Giacinto Ottavio Enrico Provana di Collegno, who, however, could not find the body of his friend. The remains of the great and noble Philhellene were found only in 1827, after the Battle of Navarino, where the allied fleet of Britain, Russia and France defeated the Turkish-Egyptian forces[52].

On the 100th anniversary of his death, an official memorial service was held in April 1925 in Sfaktiria and the Monument of Santarosa was erected in honor of the great Philhellene, who fell fighting heroically for Greece. This monument was designated in 2000 by an official decree of the Greek Government, a historic monument[53]. The decision read as follows:

“We characterize as a historical monument and work of art, which needs special state protection according to the provisions of Law 1468/50, the monument of Philhellene Santaroza on the island of Sfaktiria, Messinia, because it is connected with modern Greek history and presents interesting architectural and artistic elements, such as the relief of the figure of Santarosa, the anthem and the small face at the top of the marble column “.

 

The statue of Santarosa in his birthplace in Italy

 

The Municipality of Athens honorably gave its name to one of the streets of the city.

 

Santaroza Street at the intersection of Stadiou Street in Athens.

 

Roads in his honor exist in the following cities: Agrinio, Ilion, Ano Liosia, Acharnes, Gargalianoi, Ilioupoli Attica, Argyroupoli Attica, Thessaloniki, Kavala, Kalamata, Katerini, Keratsini, Kozani, Livadia, Messini, Mytilene, Nees Pagases, Nikaia, Patra and Piraeus.

The Greeks and the SHP, honor the noble Philhellene and hero Santorre Annibale Derossi, Earl of Pomerolo and lord of Santarosa, who fought with modesty, self-denial and selflessness for the ideals of freedom and civilisation, leaving his last breath, fighting for the Greek Independence. The sacrifice of this great Philhellene forms a bridge of friendship between the peoples of Greece and Italy.

 

References

[1] De Gubernatis, Angelo, “Santorre di Santa Rosa”, εκδ. Unione Tipografico Editrice Torinese, Τορίνο, 1860.
[2] Guerrini, Domenico, “La Brigata dei Granatieri di Sardegna”, εκδ. Roux & Viarengo, Τορίνο, 1902.
[3] Boycott-Brown, Martin, “The Road to Rivoli”, εκδ. Cassell & Co., Λονδίνο, 2001, σελ. 271.
[4] Manzotti, Teofilo, “Memorie storiche intorno a Carlo Emanuele IV, re di Sardegna, morto religioso nella Compagnia di Gesù“, εκδ. Tempesta, Ρώμη, 1912
[5] Boselli, Paolo, “Santorre di Santarosa”,εκδ. Nuova Antologia, Ρώμη, 1925.
[6] Τσερέζολε, Ερρίκος, “S antorre Derossi di Santarosa”, εκδ. Εστία, Αθήνα, 1925.
[7] Bestoso, Andrea, “Diario di Andrea Bestoso dal 1796 al 1856”, επιμ. Gabriele Serraferro, εκδ. Comune di Pontestura, Pontestura, 1996.
[8] Gandi, Pier Casimiro, “Biografia del Conte Santorre di Santarosa”, εκδ. Tipografia Saviglianese, Savigliano, 1925.
[9] Biancotti, A.,”Santorre di Santarosa”, εκδ. Casa Editrice Oberdan Zucchi, Μιλάνο, 1935.
[10] Ceva, Bianca, “Santorre di Santarosa”, εκδ. Casa Editrice Leonardo, Μιλάνο, 1943.
[11] Gali, Lorenzo, “Santarosa”, εκδ. Edizioni Garzanti, Μιλάνο, 1946.
[12] Scotta, G., “Santorre di Santa Rosa Sindaco di Savigliano”, εκδ. Universita degli Studi di Torino, Τορίνο, 1975, σελ. 211.
[13] Gullino, A. “Ricerche storico-giuridiche sulla famiglia Santa Rosa e la sua Biblioteca”, εκδ. Universita degli Studi di Torino, Τορίνο, 1996, σελ. 33.
[14] Ferrara, Αrnaldo, “Storia documentale dell’Arma dei Carabinieri”, εκδ. Comando dell’Arma dei Carabinieri, Ρώμη, 2004, α’ τόμος, σελ. 102.
[15] Ambroggio, Giulio, “Santorre di Santa Rosa nella Restaurazione piemontese”, εκδ. Edizioni Pintore, Τορίνο, 2007.
[16] Cavallotti, Felice, “Martirologio italiano”, εκδ. Sonzogno, Μιλάνο, 1898.
[17] Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Ricordi 1818-1824 (Torino, Svizzera, Parigi, Londra)”, εκδ. Olschki, Φλωρεντία, 1998.
[18] Συλλογικό, “L’altro Piemonte nell’età di Carlo Alberto”, εκδ. Fondazione Cassa Risparmio, Alessandria, 2001, α’ τόμος, σελ. 273.
[19] Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Storia della rivoluzione piemontese del 1821”, εκδ. Presso Tutti I Librai, Τορίνο, 1850.
[20] Pepe, Guglielmo, “Relazione delle circostanze relative agli avvenimenti politici e militari in Napoli nel 1820 e 1821”, εκδ. Presso I Principali Libraji, Παρίσι, 1822.
[21] Bertoldi, Silvio, “Il re che tentò di fare l’Italia. Vita di Carlo Alberto di Savoia”, εκδ. Rizzoli, Μιλάνο, 2000.
[22] Bendiscioli, Mario, Gallia, Andriano, “Documenti di storia contemporanea: 1815-1970”, εκδ. Mursia, Μιλάνο, 1972.
[23] Perrero, Domenico, “Gli ultimi reali di Savoia del ramo primogenito ed il principe Carlo Alberto di Carignano: Studio storico su documenti inediti”, εκδ. F. Casanova, Τορίνο, 1889.
[24] Montanelli, Indro, “L’Italia giacobina e carbonara. (1789-1831)”, εκδ. Rizzoli, Μιλάνο, 1971.
[25] Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Storia della rivoluzione piemontese del 1821”, εκδ. Presso Tutti I Librai, Τορίνο, 1850.
[26] Federici, Libero, “L’egualitarismo di Filippo Buonarroti”, εκδ. Il Prato, Πάδοβα, 2007.
[27] Perrero, Domenico, “Gli ultimi reali di Savoia del ramo primogenito ed il principe Carlo Alberto di Carignano: Studio storico su documenti inediti”, εκδ. F. Casanova, Τορίνο, 1889.
[28] Bendiscioli, Mario, Gallia, Andriano, “Documenti di storia contemporanea: 1815-1970”, εκδ. Mursia, Μιλάνο, 1972.
[29] Συλλογικό, “Santorre di Santa Rosa e la rivoluzione mancata in Piemonte nel 1821”, εκδ. Museo Tipografico Rondani, Carmagnola, 2011.
[30] Bendiscioli, Mario, Gallia, Andriano, “Documenti di storia contemporanea: 1815-1970”, εκδ. Mursia, Μιλάνο, 1972.
[31] Montanelli, Indro, “L’Italia giacobina e carbonara. (1789-1831)”, εκδ. Rizzoli, Μιλάνο, 1971.
[32] Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Ricordi 1818-1824 (Torino, Svizzera, Parigi, Londra)”, εκδ. Olschki, Φλωρεντία, 1998.
[33] Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Storia della rivoluzione piemontese del 1821”, εκδ. Presso Tutti I Librai, Τορίνο, 1850.
[34] Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Lettere dall’esilio (1821-1825)”, επιμ. A. Olmo, εκδ. Istituto per la Storia del Risorgimento Italiano, Ρώμη, 1969.
[35] Ottolenghi, Leone, “Vita, studii e lettere inedite di Luigi Ornato “, εκδ. Loeschner, Τορίνο, 1878.
[36] Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Storia della rivoluzione piemontese del 1821”, εκδ. Presso Tutti I Librai, Τορίνο, 1850.
[37] Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Lettere dall’esilio (1821-1825)”, επιμ. A. Olmo, εκδ. Istituto per la Storia del Risorgimento Italiano, Ρώμη, 1969.
[38] Campbell Walker Wicks, Margaret, “The Italian exiles in London, 1816-1848”, εκδ. Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1937.
[39] Provana di Collegno, Giacinto Ottavio Enrico, “Diario dell’assedio di Navarino. Memorie di Giacinto Collegno precedute da un ricordo biografico dell’autore scritto da Massimo d’Azeglio”, επιμ. A. Mauri, εκδ. Pelazza, Τορίνο, 1857, σελ.22.
[40] Barth, Wilhelm, Kehrig-Korn, Max, “Die Philhellenenzeit.Von der Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts bis zur Ermordung Kapodistrias’ am 9. Oktober 1831”, εκδ. Max Hueber Verlag, Μόναχο, 1960, σελ. 214.
[41] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence“, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ.256.
[42] Birtachas, Stathis, “Solidarietà e scambi ideologico-culturali italo-ellenici in epoca risorgimentale: l’emigrazione politica italiana nelle Isole Ionie e in Grecia”, εκδ. περ. “Mediterranea. Ricerche storiche“, Παλέρμο, Δεκέμβριος 2012, τεύχος 26, σελ. 469.
[43] Μπίρταχας, Στάθης, “Εκφάνσεις του ιταλικού φιλελληνισμού κατά τη δεκαετία του 1820“, εκδ. Ηρόδοτος, Αθήνα, 2015, σελ. 385.
[44] Barth, Wilhelm, Kehrig-Korn, Max, “Die Philhellenenzeit.Von der Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts bis zur Ermordung Kapodistrias’ am 9. Oktober 1831”, εκδ. Max Hueber Verlag, Μόναχο, 1960, σελ. 214.
[45] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[46] Συλλογικό, “Italy on the Rimland. Storia Militare diuna Penisola Eurasiatica”, εκδ. Società Italiana di Storia Militare, Ρώμη, 2019, α’ τόμος, σελ. 150.
[47] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[48] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[49] Τσαμαδός, Αναστάσιος, “Ιστορικά Ημερολόγια Ελληνικών Ναυμαχιών του 1821”, εκδ. Διον. Καραβίας, Αθήνα, 2007.
[50] Μακρυγιάννης, Ιωάννης, “Αρχεία Νεωτέρας Ιστορίας. Αρχείον του στρατηγού Ιωάννου Μακρυγιάννη”, επιμ. Γ. Βλαχογιάννης, εκδ. Σ.Κ.Βλαστός, Αθήνα, 1907, α’ τόμος, σελ. 194.
[51] Provana di Collegno, Giacinto Ottavio Enrico, “Diario dell’assedio di Navarino. Memorie di Giacinto Collegno precedute da un ricordo biografico dell’autore scritto da Massimo d’Azeglio”, επιμ. A. Mauri, εκδ. Pelazza, Τορίνο, 1857, σελ. 56.
[52] Φωκάς, Δημήτριος, “Η Ναυμαχία του Ναυαρίνου”, εκδ. περ. “Ναυτική Επιθεώρησις”, Αθήνα, 1927.
[53] “Εφημερίδα της Κυβερνήσεως”, ΦΕΚ 1018/10, Αύγουστος 2000, Αθήνα.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Boycott-Brown, Martin, “The Road to Rivoli”, εκδ. Cassell & Co., Λονδίνο, 2001.
  • Bestoso, Andrea, “Diario di Andrea Bestoso dal 1796 al 1856”, επιμ. Gabriele Serraferro, εκδ. Comune di Pontestura, Pontestura, 1996.
  • Guerrini, Domenico, “La Brigata dei Granatieri di Sardegna”, εκδ. Roux & Viarengo, Τορίνο, 1902.
  • Manzotti, Teofilo, “Memorie storiche intorno a Carlo Emanuele IV, re di Sardegna, morto religioso nella Compagnia di Gesù“, εκδ. Tempesta, Ρώμη, 1912.
  • De Gubernatis, Angelo, “Santorre di Santa Rosa”, εκδ. Unione Tipografico Editrice Torinese, Τορίνο, 1860.
  • Boselli, Paolo, “Santorre di Santarosa”, εκδ. Nuova Antologia, Ρώμη, 1925.
  • Τσερέζολε, Ερρίκος, “Santorre Derossi di Santarosa”, εκδ. Εστία, Αθήνα, 1925.
  • Gandi, Pier Casimiro, “Biografia del Conte Santorre di Santarosa”, εκδ. Tipografia Saviglianese, Savigliano, 1925.
  • Biancotti, A.,”Santorre di Santarosa”, εκδ. Casa Editrice Oberdan Zucchi, Μιλάνο, 1935.
  • Ceva, Bianca, “Santorre di Santarosa”, εκδ. Casa Editrice Leonardo, Μιλάνο, 1943.
  • “Εφημερίδα της Κυβερνήσεως”, ΦΕΚ 1018/10, Αύγουστος 2000, Αθήνα.
  • Gali, Lorenzo, “Santarosa”, εκδ. Edizioni Garzanti, Μιλάνο, 1946.
  • Scotta, G., “Santorre di Santa Rosa Sindaco di Savigliano”, εκδ. Universita degli Studi di Torino, Τορίνο, 1975.
  • Gullino, A. “Ricerche storico-giuridiche sulla famiglia Santa Rosa e la sua Biblioteca”, εκδ. Universita degli Studi di Torino, Τορίνο, 1996.
  • Ferrara, Αrnaldo, “Storia documentale dell’Arma dei Carabinieri”, εκδ. Comando dell’Arma dei Carabinieri, Ρώμη, 2004, α’ τόμος.
  • Συλλογικό, “Italy on the Rimland. Storia Militare di una Penisola Eurasiatica”, εκδ. Società Italiana di Storia Militare, Ρώμη, 2019, α’ τόμος.
  • Provana di Collegno, Giacinto Ottavio Enrico, “Diario dell’assedio di Navarino. Memorie di Giacinto Collegno precedute da un ricordo biografico dell’autore scritto da Massimo d’Azeglio”, επιμ. A. Mauri, εκδ. Pelazza, Τορίνο, 1857.
  • Συλλογικό, “L’altro Piemonte nell’età di Carlo Alberto”, εκδ. Fondazione Cassa Risparmio, Alessandria, 2001, α’ τόμος.
  • Barth, Wilhelm, Kehrig-Korn, Max, “Die Philhellenenzeit.Von der Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts bis zur Ermordung Kapodistrias’ am 9. Oktober 1831”, εκδ. Max Hueber Verlag, Μόναχο, 1960.
  • Ambroggio, Giulio, “Santorre di Santa Rosa nella Restaurazione piemontese”, εκδ. Edizioni Pintore, Τορίνο, 2007.
  • Cavallotti, Felice, “Martirologio italiano”, εκδ. Sonzogno, Μιλάνο, 1898.
  • St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence“, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008.
  • Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Ricordi 1818-1824 (Torino, Svizzera, Parigi, Londra)”, εκδ. Olschki, Φλωρεντία, 1998.
  • Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Storia della rivoluzione piemontese del 1821”, εκδ. Presso Tutti I Librai, Τορίνο, 1850.
  • Pepe, Guglielmo, “Relazione delle circostanze relative agli avvenimenti politici e militari in Napoli nel 1820 e 1821”, εκδ. Presso I Principali Libraji, Παρίσι, 1822.
  • Bertoldi, Silvio, “Il re che tentò di fare l’Italia. Vita di Carlo Alberto di Savoia”, εκδ. Rizzoli, Μιλάνο, 2000.
  • Bendiscioli, Mario, Gallia, Andriano, “Documenti di storia contemporanea: 1815-1970”, εκδ. Mursia, Μιλάνο, 1972.
  • Perrero, Domenico, “Gli ultimi reali di Savoia del ramo primogenito ed il principe Carlo Alberto di Carignano: Studio storico su documenti inediti”, εκδ. F. Casanova, Τορίνο, 1889.
  • Montanelli, Indro, “L’Italia giacobina e carbonara. (1789-1831)”, εκδ. Rizzoli, Μιλάνο, 1971.
  • Federici, Libero, “L’egualitarismo di Filippo Buonarroti”, εκδ. Il Prato, Πάδοβα, 2007.
  • Ottolenghi, Leone, “Vita, studii e lettere inedite di Luigi Ornato “, εκδ. Loeschner, Τορίνο, 1878.
  • Di Santarosa, Santorre, “Lettere dall’esilio (1821-1825)”, επιμ. A. Olmo, εκδ. Istituto per la Storia del Risorgimento Italiano, Ρώμη, 1969.
  • Campbell Walker Wicks, Margaret, “The Italian exiles in London, 1816-1848”, εκδ. Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1937.
  • Φωκάς, Δημήτριος, “Η Ναυμαχία του Ναυαρίνου”, εκδ. περ. “Ναυτική Επιθεώρησις”, Αθήνα, 1927.
  • Μακρυγιάννης, Ιωάννης, “Αρχεία Νεωτέρας Ιστορίας. Αρχείον του στρατηγού Ιωάννου Μακρυγιάννη”, επιμ. Γ. Βλαχογιάννης, εκδ. Σ. Κ. Βλαστός, Αθήνα, 1907, α’ τόμος.
  • Συλλογικό, “Santorre di Santa Rosa e la rivoluzione mancata in Piemonte nel 1821”, εκδ. Museo Tipografico Rondani, Carmagnola, 2011.
  • Τσαμαδός, Αναστάσιος, “Ιστορικά Ημερολόγια Ελληνικών Ναυμαχιών του 1821”, εκδ. Διον. Καραβίας, Αθήνα, 2007.
  • Birtachas, Stathis, “Solidarietà e scambi ideologico-culturali italo-ellenici in epoca risorgimentale: l’emigrazione politica italiana nelle Isole Ionie e in Grecia”, εκδ. περ. “Mediterranea. Ricerche storiche“, Παλέρμο, Δεκέμβριος 2012, τεύχος 26.
  • Μπίρταχας, Στάθης, “Εκφάνσεις του ιταλικού φιλελληνισμού κατά τη δεκαετία του 1820 “, εκδ. Ηρόδοτος, Αθήνα, 2015.

 

Italian officer of Napoleon’s great army

 

Pietro Tarella (1781 – 1822), was an Italian officer and a Philhellene. One of the first organizers of a regular army in Greece and a hero of the battle of Peta.

He was born in Turin, but his parents, Francesco Tarella and Margherita Minuti, were from Cannero[1].

The bibliography does not provide us with information on the first years of his life. We know that in 1805 he enlisted as a second lieutenant in the army of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy, which was founded by Napoleon with regent Eugene de Beauharnais[2].

As an officer in the army of the Kingdom of Italy, he was a member of Napoleon’s Great Army during the Napoleonic Wars[3]. He served in 1805 as an officer of the guard of the English Channel and was promoted to lieutenant[4]. Then, in March 1807, he took part in the siege of Kolberg, Prussia, where he was promoted for his bravery second-class captain[5].

From May 5 to June 29, 1811, he took part in the victorious for the French siege of Tarragona in Spain[6]. On October 25, 1811, he fought in the victorious for the French Army, battle of Saguntum where he was promoted to first class captain for his bravery[7]. This promotion, as well as his skills as a commander, led the Italian regent Eugene de Beauharnais to approve the appointment of Tarella to his staff[8].

As a staff officer, Tarella took part on May 2, 1813, in the victorious battle for the French in Lützen, Saxony[9]. There he was promoted to Major[10].

On February 8, 1814, the battle of Mincio in Lombardy against the Austrians took place. This battle marked the end of the Kingdom of Italy as a state entity[11]. Thus Tarella enlisted in the French Army and took part in the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815[12].

After the French defeat at Waterloo and the resignation of Napoleon from the French throne on June 22, 1815, Tarella returned to Turin[13]. There he was appointed in the General Staff of the Army of Piedmont with the rank of lieutenant colonel[14].

Tarella joined the liberal movements of his country, as a result of which he was demobilized due to his actions.

With the beginning of the Greek Revolution of 1821, Tarella is one of the first Philhellenes to decide to go to Greece and offer his services. He left Trieste and arrived in Greece (in Hydra) on June 7, 1821[15], with the same ship that carried Dimitrios Ypsilantis, Panagiotis Anagnostopoulos, the heroic French Philhellene Joseph Baleste and the important Italian Philhellene Dania[16].

On July 2, 1821, he was appointed aid de camp of Demetrios Ypsilantis and took part in the battle for the liberation of Tripolitsa. When the operations were completed, Tarella, the British chief of staff of Ypsilantis and prominent Philhellene Thomas Gordon, most of the Philhellenes, and Ypsilantis himself, undertook other missions and did not attend the entrance of the Greeks to Tripolitsa, on September 23, 1821[17].

After the battle of Tripolitsa, Tarella returned to Italy, with the aim of introducing more of his compatriots to the Philhellenic movement, and to procure ammunition for the Greeks fighters and the Philhellenes[18]. Instead, Dania stayed in Greece and took part in the first operation for the liberation of Nafplio, which took place in December 1821[19].

After completing his mission in Italy, Tarella returned to Greece on January 3, 1822[20]. There he undertook the task of forming the Infantry of the first Regular Army in Greece, according to the Law “On the Organization of the Army”, which was passed by the Parliament in Nafplio, on April 1, 1822 and which formed the basis of the military legislation[21].

Tarella took command of the 1st Infantry Regiment, with his direct collaborator, Andrea Dania, commander of the Battalion of the Philhellenes. The commander-in-chief of the Regular Army was the important German Philhellene General, Count Karl Friedrich Leberecht von Normann-Ehrenfels. The first mission of the Regular Army was the termination of the siege of Souli by the Ottoman forces, which would result in the revival of the Struggle in Epirus, the further strengthening of the Greek Forces with experienced officers, as well as the removal of the danger of an immediate descent of the Ottomans to suppress the Greek Revolution to the south[22].

Normann, Tarella and Dania faced several strategic issues. For example, decisions and moves were slow. Instead of the Greeks and Philhellenes moving quickly towards Arta, without allowing the Turks to gather an army that would give them a strategic advantage, they wasted valuable time. On the one hand, the Turks were gathering undisturbed forces, when on the other hand, the Greek army was beginning to face diseases and food shortages. Another big problem was the behavior of the irregular forces. And especially the one of Chieftain Bacolas. There were also concerns about how units of irregulars would be integrated into the battle plan. In fact, many days before the start of the march to Arta, it was rumored that Bacolas had a strange attitude and that he had a relationship with the Turks. Of course, it was impossible to believe that a Greek would betray the struggle of his compatriots[23].

The Greek forces came in contact with the Turks at Kompoti, on June 22, 1822. The war plan provided that, “the Philhellenes, as regular soldiers, should not seek the mountain tops to defend themselves comfortably, but to stay in the great and dangerous points and not to miss the opportunity to confront the enemy[24]. Following this, the 1st Infantry Regiment under Tarella and the Battalion of the Philhellenes under Dania, were placed at critical points at the foot of the hills. The enemy attack was successfully repulsed and the Turks retreated to Arta with heavy losses[25].

 

Representation of the battle of Kompoti. Work of Panagiotis Zografos, commissioned by General Makrygiannis (SHP Collection).

 

Already exhausted by fatigue, illness, hunger and thirst, the Philhellenes left from Kompoti in a hurry at night to Peta, where the Turks were moving. The other Greek forces gathered there, and the preparation for the battle began.

Disagreements arose in the war council of the leaders on two issues: 1) The position of the regular army in relation to the irregulars. That is, who would constitute the vanguard and who the rearguards, and 2) whether or not fortifications (tambouria) should be used. For the first one, the view which prevailed was to place the forces in a circle around Peta. Normann was dissatisfied with this decision and realizing the disadvantaged position of the Greek side, he felt obliged to express his concerns in a letter to Mavrokordatos[26]. Although he was the leader of the Greek forces, Mavrokordatos was absent from the battlefield. He had placed his headquarters in Lagada, six hours away from Peta[27]. In his letter, Normann stressed that the regular soldiers now numbered only 515[28]. He also noted that he was afraid that Bacolas would leave his post and that the other irregular fighters would not be able to help. Mavrokordatos was not convinced and the battle plan did not change. The Philhellenes accepted this decision out of courtesy[29].

After the leaders’ disagreement about the fortifications, the opinion which prevailed was that they should be built. In fact, as many sources confirm, the “tambouria” were also used by Philhellenes. This is a rare case in which European soldiers fought in the “Greek way”. That is, with the methods of the irregulars. It is worth noting that the Philhellenes had a different code of bravery and honor, which results from a position attributed to Dania: “our tambouria are our breasts”[30].

However, other mistakes were also made, which were due to the lack of complete control of the situation from the Philhellene officers. After the battle of Kompoti, Gennaios Kolokotronis and his Corps returned to the Peloponnese, following an order from his father, for which he was criticized[31]. At the same time, 1,200 Greek fighters left the camp and moved to the north to help the Souliotes. The corps comprised Markos Botsaris, Karatasos, Aggelis Gatsos, Georgios Varnakiotis, Alexakis Vlachopoulos and Andreas Iskos. These 1,200 fighters did not even manage to approach Souli. The Turks stopped them in the village of Plaka on June 29, 1822 and crushed them. Those who survived returned to Peta. Gogos Bacolas enticed Marco Botsaris to move towards Souli, and as soon as he left the camp, he warned the Turks to trap him in Plaka[32].

On the day of the battle of Peta, a Corps of Maniates also arrived in Splantza with Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis to help the Greeks. However, they did not form part of a single strategic plan. A corps of Souliotes arrived there and joined them to confront the Turkish forces that were sent to repel them. Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis himself was killed in this battle[33].

All these moves were out of the general coordination plan, and hindered the work of the Greek forces that would face the main attack of the Turks. But again, despite their small numbers, these forces could still be defeated.

At dawn on July 16, 1822, the attack of the Turkish forces that had arrived from Arta (7,000 to 8,000) began. Normann woke up the men, cheered them with warm words and inspected all positions on horseback.

 

Representation of the Battle of Peta. Work of Panagiotis Zografos, commissioned by General Makrygiannis (SHP Collection).

 

At first the forces of the Philhellenes and the Tactical Corps repulsed the numerous enemy troops with great success. The constant and coordinated shots reaped the attackers. The key to success in this way of warfare is for the soldiers to stay calm, to constantly and quickly load their weapons, to fire in a coordinated manner, and above all, to hold their ground, without allowing a rift in their ranks. The 1st Infantry Regiment and the battalion of the Philhellenes were an impenetrable wall, as Baleste’s training paid off[34].

Unfortunately, suddenly a fatal thing happened. Chieftain Bacolas and his men treacherously left their positions, opening the path for the Turkish forces to attack the rear of the 1st Infantry Regiment and the battalion of the Philhellenes[35]. Tarella was trying to encourage the men of his Regiment. He was surrounded by the attacking Turks and had a tragic death (he was beheaded)[36].

General Normann, the emblematic Philhellene, took himself the command of the 1st Infantry Regiment and led it back to battle, shooting: “For the salvation of the Philhellenes! Victory or death!”. In the ensuing raid, he received a bullet in the chest and was transported to the rear to treat his serious injury[37]. Gradually the Regiment began to recede and was now an easy target for the Turkish cavalry. The Philhellenes had been abandoned by all the forces of the irregulars. The forces of the Philhellenes and the Greeks from the Ionian islands experienced a sad and unjust disaster. They were surrounded by the enemy at an exposed point and were exterminated.

Amazing scenes of incredible heroism followed. Dania, who was cheering the soldiers of the battalion of the Philhellenes until the end, was surrounded by Turks, who beheaded him as they did with Tarella[38]. Fifteen brave Poles, led by the Polish officer Mierzewski, gathered at the St George’s Church in central Peta and fought with incredible heroism, even fighting on the roof of the church. They were all killed heroically[39]. In fact, the Turks set fire to the roof of the church to burn them alive beig unable to defeat them. A French officer, Mignac (who had clashed with German Philhellenes during the campaign), also fought with a heroism of Homeric proportions. The Turks tried to capture him alive because he was wearing an impressive uniform and they thought that he was General Normann, the leader of the Regular Army. Mignac refused to surrender and fought valiantly. In the end, being severely injured in the leg, because he could not stand, he leaned on the trunk of an olive tree to stay upright and by fighting in all directions, he neutralized fourteen more Turks. His body was full of wounds, and when he broke his sword, he committed suicide by cutting his throat[40].

Among the volunteers of the Regular Army, 160 Greeks from the Ionian islands and Philhellenes (one third of the forces) were killed. Many were taken prisoners to Arta and were killed there, after being tortured and humiliated in a horrible way. Many Philhellenes were forced to walk naked for hours, holding in their hands the heads of their comrades[41].

The few survivors gathered in Lagada; among them the tragic figure of the day, the noble and brave General Normann. As after the battle of Kompoti, so this time he arrived at the camp last on his dying horse and presented himself to Mavrokordatos, to whom he stated the following: “We lost everything your highness, except our honor![42]. The 1st Infantry Regiment, the Battalion of the Philhellenes, and hundreds of enthusiastic European Philhellenes, and Greeks from the Ionian islands, no longer existed.

 

Monument in Peta, in memory of the fallen Philhellenes in the battle of Peta

 

Greece and SHP pay tribute to Pietro Tarella and his brave comrades, who fought to the end for the Freedom of Greece and are eternally grateful for their sacrifice.

 

References

[1] Συλλογικό, “Tarella, Pietro”, εκδ. Α Spese Degli Editori, Φλωρεντία, 1853.
[2] Miller, E.J., “The Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy”, εκδ. περ. “The British Museum Quarterly“, Λονδίνο, 1967, τεύχος 31.
[3] Gregory, Desmond, “Napoleon’s Italy“, εκδ. Associated University Presses, Plainsboro, 2001.
[4] Elting, John R., “Swords Around A Throne: Napoleon’s Grand Armee“, εκδ. Free Press, Νέα Υόρκη, 1988.
[5] Horward, Donald D., “Napoleonic military history:a bibliography“, εκδ. Garland Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 1986, σελ. 639.
[6] Gates, David, “The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War“, εκδ. Pimlico, Λονδίνο, 2002.
[7] Smith, Digby, “The Napoleonic Wars Data Book “, εκδ. Greenhill, Λονδίνο, 1998.
[8] Φορνέζης, Ερρίκος, “Οι Φιλέλληνες”, εκδ. περ. “Εβδομάς”, Αθήνα, 1884, σελ. 125.
[9] Chandler, David G., “The Campaigns of Napoleon. The mind and method of history’s greatest soldier“, εκδ. Simon and Schuster, Νέα Υόρκη, 2009, σελ. 1120.
[10] Φορνέζης, Ερρίκος, “Οι Φιλέλληνες”, εκδ. περ. “Εβδομάς”, Αθήνα, 1884, σελ. 125.
[11] Uffindell, Andrew, “Great Generals of the Napoleonic Wars“, εκδ. Spellmount Ltd., Stroud, 2003.
[12] Stites, Richard, “The Four Horsemen: Riding to Liberty in Post-Napoleonic Europe“, εκδ. Oxford University Press, Λονδίνο, 2014.
[13] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[14] Φορνέζης, Ερρίκος, “Οι Φιλέλληνες”, εκδ. περ. “Εβδομάς”, Αθήνα, 1884, σελ. 125.
[15] Πρασσά, Αννίτα, “Ο Φιλελληνισμός και η Επανάσταση του 1821”, εκδ. Δημιουργία, Αθήνα, 1999.
[16] Ξάνθος, Εμμανουήλ, “Απομνημονεύματα περί της Φιλικής Εταιρείας”, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 1996, σελ. 168.
[17] Persat, Maurice, “Memoires du Commandant Persat, 1806 à 1844”, εκδ. Librairie Plon, Παρίσι, 1910, σελ. 87-88.
[18] Nada, Narciso, “La Partecipazione degli Italiani alla Guerra di Indipendenza Ellenica. Risorgimento Greco e Filellenismo Italiano: Lotte, cultura, arte”, εκδ. Edizioni del Sole, Ρώμη, 1986, σελ. 89.
[19] Συλλογικό, “Italy on the Rimland. Storia Militare di una Penisola Eurasiatica“, εκδ. Società Italiana di Storia Militare, Ρώμη, 2019, 1ος τόμος, σελ. 143.
[20] “Τα Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας”, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1857, α’ τόμος, σελ. 272.
[21] Διεύθυνση Ιστορίας Στρατού, “Η ιστορία του Ελληνικού Στρατού”, εκδ. Γενικό Επιτελείο Στρατού, Αθήνα, 1997.
[22] “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου”, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 1, φακ. 197, σελ. 254.
[23] Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος, σελ. 177.
[24] Βυζάντιος Χρήστος, “Ιστορία των κατά την Ελληνικήν Επανάστασιν εκστρατειών και μαχών και των μετά ταύτα συμβάντων, ων συμμετέσχεν ο Τακτικός Στρατός, από του 1821 μέχρι του 1833”, εκδ. Κ. Αντωνιάδου, Αθήνα, 1874, σελ. 203.
[25] Συλλογικό, “Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους”, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 2000, 12ος τόμος, σ. 232.
[26] “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου”, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 2, φακ. 548, σελ. 135.
[27] Φωτιάδης, Δημήτρης, “Η Επανάσταση του ’21”, εκδ. Μέλισσα, Αθήνα, 1971, β’ τόμος, σελ. 211.
[28] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[29] Woodhouse, Christopher Montague, “The Philhellenes”, εκδ. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison 1971.
[30] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[31] Κολοκοτρώνης, Γενναίος, “Απομνημονεύματα”, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2006.
[32] Voutier, Olivier, “Απομνημονεύματα του συνταγματάρχη Olivier Voutier από τον πόλεμο των Ελλήνων”, μετ. Ειρήνη Τζουρά, επιμ. Παναγιώτα Παναρίτη, εκδ. Εθνικό Ιστορικό Μουσείο, Αθήνα, 2019.
[33] Περραιβός, Χριστόφορος, “Πολεμικά Απομνημονεύματα. Μάχες του Σουλίου και της Ανατολικής Ελλάδας 1820 -1829”, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2003, σελ. 160.
[34] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 277.
[35] Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος,σελ. 178.
[36] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008.
[37] Gridley Howe, Samuel, “An Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution”, εκδ. White, Gallaher & White, Νέα Υόρκη, 1828, σελ.
[38] Fassino, Pier Giorgio, “Andrea Dania”, εκδ. περ.”Accademia Urbense”, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006, σελ. 188.
[39] Τράιμπερ, Ερρίκος, “Αναμνήσεις από την Ελλάδα 1822- 1828”, επιμ. δρ. Χρήστος Ν. Αποστολίδης, ιδ. εκδ., Αθήνα, 1960, σελ. 136.
[40] Raybaud Maxime, “Mémoires sur la Grèce pour servir à l’histoire de la guerre de l’Indépendance, accompagnés de plans topographiques, avec une introduction historique par Alph. Rabbe”, εκδ. Tournachon-Molin Libraire, Παρίσι, 1824, τόμος 1.
[41] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[42] Βλ. στο ίδιο.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Συλλογικό,  “Tarella, Pietro“, εκδ. Α Spese Degli Editori, Φλωρεντία, 1853
  • Miller, E.J., “The Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy“, εκδ. περ. “The British Museum Quarterly “, Λονδίνο, 1967, τεύχος 31.
  • Gregory, Desmond, “Napoleon’s Italy“, εκδ. Associated University Presses, Plainsboro, 2001.
  • Elting, John R., “Swords Around A Throne: Napoleon’s Grand Armee“, εκδ. Free Press, Νέα Υόρκη, 1988.
  • Horward, Donald D., “Napoleonic military history: a bibliography“, εκδ. Garland Publishing, Νέα Υόρκη, 1986.
  • Gates, David, “The Spanish Ulcer: A History of the Peninsular War“, εκδ. Pimlico, Λονδίνο, 2002.
  • Smith, Digby,  “The Napoleonic Wars Data Book“, εκδ. Greenhill, Λονδίνο, 1998.
  • Φορνέζης, Ερρίκος,  “Οι Φιλέλληνες“, εκδ. περ. “Εβδομάς“, Αθήνα, 1884.
  • Chandler, David G., “The Campaigns of Napoleon. The mind and method of history’s greatest soldier“, εκδ. Simon and Schuster, Νέα Υόρκη, 2009.
  • Uffindell, Andrew, “Great Generals of the Napoleonic Wars“, εκδ. Spellmount Ltd., Stroud, 2003.
  • Stites, Richard, “The Four Horsemen: Riding to Liberty in Post-Napoleonic Europe“, εκδ. Oxford University Press, Λονδίνο, 2014.
  • Πρασσά, Αννίτα, “Ο Φιλελληνισμός και η Επανάσταση του 1821“, εκδ. Δημιουργία, Αθήνα, 1999.
  • Ξάνθος, Εμμανουήλ, “Απομνημονεύματα περί της Φιλικής Εταιρείας“, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 1996.
  • Persat, Maurice, “Memoires du Commandant Persat. 1806 à 1844“, εκδ. Librairie Plon, Παρίσι, 1910.
  • Nada, Narciso, “La Partecipazione degli Italiani alla Guerra di Indipendenza Ellenica. Risorgimento Greco e Filellenismo Italiano: Lotte, cultura, arte“, εκδ. Edizioni del Sole, Ρώμη, 1986.
  • Συλλογικό, “Italy on the Rimland. Storia Militare di una Penisola Eurasiatica“, εκδ. Società Italiana di Storia Militare, Ρώμη, 2019, 1ος τόμος.
  • “Τα Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας“, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1857, α’ τόμος.
  • Διεύθυνση Ιστορίας Στρατού, “Η ιστορία του Ελληνικού Στρατού“, εκδ. Γενικό Επιτελείο Στρατού, Αθήνα, 1997.
  •  “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου“, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 1.
  • St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence“, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008.
  • Voutier, Olivier, “Απομνημονεύματα του συνταγματάρχη Olivier Voutier από τον πόλεμο των Ελλήνων“, μετ. Ειρήνη Τζουρά, επιμ. Παναγιώτα Παναρίτη, εκδ. Εθνικό Ιστορικό Μουσείο, Αθήνα, 2019.
  • Κολοκοτρώνης, Γενναίος, “Απομνημονεύματα“, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2006.
  • Περραιβός, Χριστόφορος, “Πολεμικά Απομνημονεύματα. Μάχες του Σουλίου και της Ανατολικής Ελλάδας 1820 -1829“, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2003.
  • Συλλογικό, “Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους“, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 2000, 12ος τόμος.
  • Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως“, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος.
  • Fassino, Pier Giorgio, “Andrea Dania“, εκδ. περ. “Accademia Urbense“, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006.
  • Gridley Howe, Samuel, “An Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution“, εκδ. White, Gallaher & White, Νέα Υόρκη, 1828.
  • Raybaud Maxime, “Mémoires sur la Grèce pour servir à l’histoire de la guerre de l’Indépendance, accompagnés de plans topographiques, avec une introduction historique par Alph. Rabbe“, εκδ. Tournachon-Molin Libraire, Παρίσι, 1824, τόμος 1.
  • “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου“, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 2.
  • Βυζάντιος 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. Αντωνιάδου, Αθήνα, 1874.
  • Φωτιάδης, Δημήτρης, “Η Επανάσταση του ’21“, εκδ. Μέλισσα, Αθήνα, 1971, β’ τόμος.
  • Woodhouse, Christopher Montague, “The Philhellenes“, εκδ. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison 1971.
  • Τράιμπερ, Ερρίκος, “Αναμνήσεις από την Ελλάδα 1822- 1828“, επιμ. δρ. Χρήστος Ν. Αποστολίδης, ιδ. εκδ., Αθήνα, 1960.

 

 

George Finlay (1799-1875), was a British Philhellene who fought in Greece during the Greek Revolution, an important historian and lawyer.

He was born in Faversham, Kent, to Scottish parents. George Finlay’s father, John Finlay was an officer in the British Army with the rank of Captain in the Corps of Engineers. Among other things, he was an inspector of the local state gunpowder factory[1].

Finlay had a difficult childhood, as in 1802, at the age of just 3, he became fatherless[2]. So he moved to Glasgow with his mother, where they came under the protection of his uncle, Kirkman Finlay (1773-1842), a businessman and politician[3].

Finlay’s love of history, especially of antiquity, began in childhood and under the influence of his mother[4]. It is perhaps there, that the foundations of his later Philhellenism were laid, which professed with his participation in the Greek Revolution of 1821 and with his permanent settlement in Athens, after the liberation of Greece.

Between 1815 and 1819, Finlay studied law at the University of Glasgow, where he received his academic degree[5]. Then in 1821, he enrolled in Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen, Saxony for postgraduate studies in Roman law. It is during his stay there that learned about the Greek Revolution, embracing immediately its messages, since in addition to his adoration of history, he had already been influenced by the poetry and work of Lord Byron[6].

As a result, on January 1823 he decided to abandon his studies in Göttingen and he returned to Great Britain[7]. Although he did not become a member of the Philhellenic Committee of London, which was founded on 28 February 1823, he was closely associated with Lord Byron, who was one of its founding members[8].

His personal friendship with Byron, his love for history and the constitutive Philhellenism that Finlay possessed, led him in October 1823, to his decision to go to Greece. Thus, in November 1823, he arrived at Cephalonia, which was under British rule. There he was greeted by Lord Byron, who was hosted at the house of Count Deladetsimas, a friend of Alexander Mavrokordatos and sponsor of the Messolonghi guard[9].

Then, in December 1823, Finlay settled in the Tower of Ilia, where he was taking notes on the events of the Greek war of independence, while in parallel he was learning the Greek language and studying history and antiquities[10].However, due to the humid climate of the area, in October 1824 he ailed of ague. In order to recover, he went to Rome in November 1824, and remained there until February 1825[11].

From February to May 1825, he resided in Naples and Sicily, where he fully recovered[12]. In June 1825, he returned to Great Britain and settled in Toward Castle in Argyllshire, which belonged to the family of his uncle, Kirkman Finlay[13]. There, he devoted himself to study, with the aim of completing his postgraduate studies at the University of Edinburgh[14].

Finally, in the winter of 1825, he received his master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh[15]. Hereupon, he took part in philhellenic actions. Among other things, he wrote pamphlets informing the British public about the situation in Greece[16].

During the second period of his Philhellenic activity, Finlay was closely associated from April 1826, with the emblematic Philhellenic and National Benefactor of Greece, Captain Frank Abney Hastings. During this period, Hastings had bought in his name, on behalf of the Greek government, the steamship ship “Karteria”. The first steam-powered warship of the Greek Fleet, which was built and equipped at the “Greenland Dock” shipyards in London. The ship was purchased in the name of Hastings for diplomatic reasons. Indeed, it was not possible at this time for a Revolutionary (and therefore technically illegal) government to officially buy a warship that would be used against a recognized country. In fact, Hastings allocated a large part of his personal fortune to equip ‘’Karteria’’ with weaponry that he had designed[17]. Finlay followed these initiatives with Hastings.

At the same time, through Hastings, Finlay came in contact with Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, later commander of the Greek Navy. Cochrane was a legend at the time because of his military and political action during the Napoleonic Wars, as well as his contribution to the liberation of South American countries from Spanish and Portuguese rule in the period 1818-1824, and the prospect of his involvement in the Greek Revolution opened new perspectives for the struggle of the Greeks[18].

Finlay’s friendship with Hastings, his proven philhellenism, but also his experience of Greek life, contributed to his appointment as Hastings’ secretary. From this position, he took part in the majority of naval operations and battles of the period 1826 – 1827.

In July 1826, when “Karteria” had sailed to Cagliari, Sardinia, and encountered mechanical problems, Finlay (on Hastings’ orders) hurried back to London to recruit engineers and buy spare parts[19].

This important mission was successfully completed, the mechanical damage was repaired, and the “Karteria” arrived in Nafplio, at the beginning of September 1826. There this emblematic ship was enthusiastically received by the Greeks, and Hastings handed it over officially to the Greek Administration officially[20].

A few days later, the Greek flag was raised at “Karteria”, and the second period of Finlay’s action in Greece began, who was now serving as a member of the crew of the emblematic boat.

On February 5, 1827, he participated in the operations to support the landing in Piraeus of the Greek Forces under the important British Philhellene general Thomas Gordon, as well as in the bombing of St. Spyridon. With this operation, 3 of the 5 large caliber cannons, which had been installed there by the Turks, causing losses to the Greek forces, were destroyed[21].

In March 1827, Finlay took part in the siege of Eretria and in the operations in Oropos, led by the important Bavarian Philhellene, General Karl Wilhelm von Heideck, later a member of King Otto’s Regency[22]. This operation aimed at destroying the supply lines of the Turkish troops besieging the Acropolis of Athens. The strategic goal was the expulsion of the Turks from Attica and the end of the siege of the Acropolis[23].

In this operation, the “Karteria” captured two rival cargo ships, which had arrived from Evia, in order to assist the Turks. He then anchored 200 meters from the shore and with continuous fire, he neutralized the Turkish fort and blew up its gunpowder depot[24]. After that, he sailed to Aegina, as enemy reinforcements had arrived in the area[25].

On April 8, 1827, Finlay took part in the bombing of Volos, which was the most important supply center in Thessaly. The shipments of men and ammunition from Constantinople and Thessaloniki ended there, before they penetrated to Central Greece [26]. “Karteria” fired 300 shells, in an operation that lasted 4 hours and resulted in the destruction of the Ottoman gunpowder depots and fortifications, as well as the sinking of most Turkish ships[27]. On the way back, Karteria captured 4 cargo ships, which were sent to support the Turks[28].

 

George Finlay (1840s). He bears the Silver Cross of the Order of the Knights of the Redeemer and the Bronze Award of the Greek War of Independence. Lithography of the British School in Athens. It bears the signature of Finlay.

 

From May to September 1827, Finlay took part (always as a member of the crew of Karteria) in all the naval operations that contributed to the success of the Greek Revolution, in conjunction with the Treaty of London signed on July 6, 1827. In particular, he distinguished himself in the Battle of Itea, on September 30, 1827, where the “Karteria” sank the Turkish flagship and destroyed 9 of the 11 Turkish ships stationed there. Also, after the naval battle, three large carriers and their cargos were confiscated[29]. In this naval battle, the Greek side introduced many innovations in the field of naval operations, with the use of a steam-powered warship and new artillery techniques, which were the subject of international research[30].

The Battle of Itea, finally convinced the Greeks to abandon the tactic of building a fleet by leasing private ships and to create an entirely government owned navy that would be under state supervision. Those who have rented their ships to the state up to that time, received certificates for their offer[31].

After the Battle of Itea, Finlay retired to Poros for health reasons and was replaced by the Georgios Economides, who was officially appointed interim secretary of Hastings by Ioannis Kapodistrias, as soon as he took office as Governor of Greece on the 18th of January 1828, in order to facilitate Hastings in his work to create the National Fleet[32].

During this time, Finlay continues to correspond with Hastings. This great British Philhellene died on June 1, 1828, further to his fatal injury during the attempt to land to Aetoliko, with the aim of liberating Missolonghi. When this became known, Kapodistrias informed Finlay, and Hastings close Greek friend Nikolaos Kallergis, with the following letter: “Captain Hastings is no more. The fatal wound he received, while giving new examples of his devotion to Greece under the walls of Aetoliko, took him away from us on June 1st”.

After praising Hastings’ services, he underlines the duty of the Greeks in memory of the “brave defender of our independence who suffered that fatal wound for us, he was a good man, a soldier and a brave sailor. A military and naval funeral belongs to him par excellence”.

At Hastings’ funeral, which took place in Aegina on June 13, 1828, Finlay, the Secretary of the Navy, Alexandros Mavrokordatos, and Nikolaos Kallergis, had the general command. Recalling Hastings’s funeral years later, Finlay wrote: “Never have foreigners perhaps lamented a more sincere and profound manly stranger for his untimely demise. When the numerous Greek sailors who served from time to time learned of his death at his command, they immediately raised a large sum of money and executed a memorial service in the Diocese of Aegina through the Greek clergy after every procession and line-up there during these turbulent times[33]. He concludes, as follows: “what the Greek fleet could become if Captain Hastings lived only those who knew him and saw what measures he took to recruit naval officers can imagine”[34].

After Hastings’s funeral, Finlay settled permanently in Athens. There, he bought and renovated in 1835, an old building which was built during the Turkish occupation, on Kekropos Street in Plaka. At the same time, he bought the Liosati estate in Afidnes, in order to apply the new European cultivation methods. However, this vision failed and he was forced to sell this land to General and later Minister Scarlatos Soutzos, a descendant of a significant Phanariote family of the Greek Revolution[35].

When his attempt to renew the cultivation systems failed, Finlay turned to writing essays on the social, political and economic situation of Greece. Thus in 1836 he wrote the essays “The Hellenic Kingdom and the Greek Nation” and “Essai sur les principes de banque appliques a l’état actuel de la Grèce“, which show his insight and sharpness. In fact, in his works he connects the economy with society, which was a new method at that time for scientific research[36].

In 1838 he was named a member of the American Archaeological Society, while in 1839, he was honored by King Othon with the Silver Cross of the Order of the Redeemer and the Bronze Award of the Greek War of Independence, in recognition of his services during the Greek Revolution[37].

From 1844, he dedicated himself to his important historical work, in which he was a pioneer, as he was the first historian in Greece, who understood the dynamics of the society for the conduct and evolution of history. The first fruit of this work is his book “Greece under the Romans: a historical view of the condition of the Greek Nation“, which was published in Edinburgh in 1844[38]. Then, from 1846 to 1847, he traveled to the Holy Land, for the purpose of field research, which would bring greater objectivity to his work. This trip resulted in the writing of the book “On the Site of the Holy Sepulcher“, which explained in detail the situation prevailing in the Near East and contained a topographic plan of Jerusalem[39]. Also, after this trip, he published “The History of the Byzantine and Greek Empires from 716-1453“, in 1854[40].

 

Autograph letter sent from Athens on 7 October 1853, signed written from Greece by George Finlay to a ‘dear Cousin’ [of the Haldane family] in Scotland, including descriptions of ‘repeated shocks of earthquakes’ and of an agitation for war against the Turks.
He concludes by describing tension between the Greeks and their Turkish neighbours: ‘We are all here full of war and wild rumours and people could not be more mad than they are. As usual those who would do least in the way of fighting are the loudest to incite others to begin’.

Finlay, in recognition of his work and contribution to the Hellenic Movement, was honored in 1854 with the title of Honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Edinburgh. In the period 1856 – 1861, despite the fact that his health was shaken by the adventures of the National Uprising, he completed his scientific work with the books “History of Greece under the Ottoman and Venetian Domination“, “History of Greece From its Conquest by the Crusaders to its Conquest by the Turks” and “History of the Greek Revolution”[41].

The last book, which is the epitome of Finlay’s work, is particularly important, on the one hand because it was written by an internationally renowned historian, and on the other hand, because it combines primary experience with continuous, on-site research and study[42]. In fact, until the end of his life, he revised it many times, seeking the utmost objectivity.

His book was translated into Greek by Alexandros Papadiamantis in 1908 and was published only in 2008 by the Greek Parliament[43].

Finlay’s last intervention in Greek and European public life was as a correspondent for the ‘’Times’’ of London from 1864 to 1870, when he retired spending the rest of his life in private[44].

George Finlay passed away in Athens on January 26, 1875. His tomb is in the First Cemetery of Athens.

The Greeks and SHP express their gratitude to the great Philhellene George Finlay, who fought for the Greek rights and who, through innovative methods in historical research, opened new paths in historical science and through it in culture.

 

References

[1] Chisholm, Hugh, “Finlay, George”, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1911, εγκ. “Encyclopædia Britannica”, 10ος τόμος.
[2] Cousin, John William, “A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature”, εκδ. J. M. Dent & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1910.
[3] Συλλογικό, “Dictionary of National Biography”, εκδ. Smith, Elder & Co, Λονδίνο, 1889, τόμος 19.
[4] Cousin, John William, “A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature”, εκδ. J. M. Dent & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1910.
[5] Συλλογικό, “Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Δομή”, εκδ. Δομή, Αθήνα, 2005, τόμος 30, σελ. 81.
[6] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 176.
[7] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[8] Moore, Thomas, “Letters and Journals of Lord Byron with Notices of His Life”, εκδ. J. & J. Harper, Νέα Υόρκη, 1831, β’ τόμος.
[9] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[10] Συλλογικό, “Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Δομή”, εκδ. Δομή, Αθήνα, 2005, τόμος 30, σελ. 81.
[11] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[12] Woodhouse, Christopher Montague, ”The Philhellenes”, εκδ. Hodder and Stoughton, Λονδίνο, 1969.
[13] Συλλογικό, “ Dictionary of National Biography”, εκδ. Smith, Elder & Co, Λονδίνο, 1889, τόμος 19.
[14] Chisholm, Hugh, “Finlay, George”, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1911, εγκ. “Encyclopædia Britannica”, 10ος τόμος.
[15] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[16] “Αρχείο George Finlay” (ανέκδοτο), φακ. εγγρ. 1826, Βρετανική Σχολή Αθηνών.
[17] Woodhouse, Christopher Montague, ”The Philhellenes”, εκδ. Hodder and Stoughton, Λονδίνο, 1969.
[18] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[19] Abney-Hastings, Maurice, “Commander of the Karteria. Honored in Greece. Unknown at home”, εκδ. Authorhouse, Bloomington, 2011.
[20] Ράδος, Κωνσταντίνος, “Ο Άστιγξ και το έργον του εν Ελλάδι”, εκδ. περ. “Ναυτική Επιθεώρησις”, Αθήνα, 1928.
[21] Gordon, Thomas, “Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. ΜΙΕΤ , Αθήνα, 2015, β’ τόμος.
[22] Seewald, Berthold, “Karl Wilhelm Von Heideck: Ein Bayerischer General Im Befreiten Griechenland (1826-1835)”, εκδ. De Gruyter, Ολδεμβούργο, 1994.
[23] Roberts, Elisabeth, “Freedom, Faction, Fame and Blood: British Soldiers of Conscience in Greece, Spain and Finland”, εκδ. Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, 2010.
[24] Τράϊμπερ, Ερρίκος, “Αναμνήσεις από την Ελλάδα 1822-1828”, μτφρ.-επιμ. Δρ. Χρήστος Ν. Αποστολίδης, ιδ. εκδ., Αθήνα, 1960.
[25] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[26] Παπασωτηρίου, Χαράλαμπος, ”Ο αγώνας για την ελληνική ανεξαρτησία. Πολιτική και στρατηγική των Ελλήνων και της οθωμανικής αυτοκρατορίας 1821-1832”, εκδ. Ι. Σιδέρης, Αθήνα, 1996.
[27] Κόκκινος, Διονύσιος, “Η Ελληνική Επανάστασις”, εκδ. Μέλισσα, Αθήνα, 1974, 6ος τόμος.
[28] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[29] Ρούσκας, Ιωάννης, “Ο Άστιγξ και η Καρτερία”, εκδ. περ. “Ιστορικά Θέματα”, Αθήνα, Φεβρουάριος 2007, τεύχος 59.
[30] Brewer, David, ”The Greek War of Independence. The Struggle for Freedom from Ottoman Oppression and the Birth of the Modern Greek Nation”, εκδ. The Overlook Press, Νέα Υόρκη, 2001.
[31] Οικονόμου, Μιχαήλ , “Ιστορικά της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας ή ο ιερός των Ελλήνων αγών” εκδ. Θ. Παπαλεξανδρή, Αθήνα, 1873.
[32] Finlay, George, “Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, μτφρ. Παπαδιαμάντης, Αλέξανδρος, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2008, α’ τόμος, σελ. 218.
[33] Finlay, George, “Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, μτφρ. Παπαδιαμάντης, Αλέξανδρος, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2008, β’ τόμος.
[34] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[35] Σούτζος, Δημήτρης Σκαρλάτου, “Έλληνες Ενωμένοι και Διχασμένοι”, εκδ. Νέα Θέσις, Αθήνα, 1992.
[36] Chisholm, Hugh, “Finlay, George”, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1911, εγκ. “Encyclopædia Britannica”, 10ος τόμος.
[37] Μαρκεζίνης, Σπύρος, «Πολιτική Ιστορία της Νεωτέρας Ελλάδος 1828-1964», εκδ. Πάπυρος, Αθήνα, 1966, α’ τόμος.
[38] Finlay, George,” Greece under the Romans: a historical view of the condition of the Greek Nation”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Εδιμβούργο, 1850.
[39] Finlay, George, “On the Site of the Holy Sepulchre”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Εδιμβούργο, 1848.
[40] Finlay, George, “The History of the Byzantine and Greek Empires from 716-1453”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Εδιμβούργο, 1856.
[41] Cousin, John William, “A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature”, εκδ. J. M. Dent & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1910.
[42] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[43] Finlay, George, “Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, μτφρ. Παπαδιαμάντης, Αλέξανδρος, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2008, α’ τόμος.
[44] Μαρκεζίνης, Σπύρος, «Πολιτική Ιστορία της Νεωτέρας Ελλάδος 1828-1964», εκδ. Πάπυρος, Αθήνα, 1966, α’ τόμος.
 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Cousin, John William, “A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature”, εκδ. J. M. Dent & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1910.
  • Μαρκεζίνης, Σπύρος, «Πολιτική Ιστορία της Νεωτέρας Ελλάδος 1828-1964», εκδ. Πάπυρος, Αθήνα, 1966, α’ τόμος.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, “Finlay, George”, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1911, εγκ. “Encyclopædia Britannica”, 10ος τόμος.
  • Σούτζος, Δημήτρης Σκαρλάτου, “Έλληνες Ενωμένοι και Διχασμένοι”, εκδ. Νέα Θέσις, Αθήνα, 1992.
  • Finlay, George, “Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, μτφρ. Παπαδιαμάντης, Αλέξανδρος , εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2008, α’ τόμος.
  • Finlay, George, “Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, μτφρ. Παπαδιαμάντης, Αλέξανδρος , εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2008, β’ τόμος.
  • Καποδίστριας, Ιωάννης, ”Αρχείον Ιωάννου Καποδίστρια”, εκδ. Εταιρείας Κερκυραϊκών Σπουδών, Κέρκυρα, 1985, 6ος τόμος.
  • Οικονόμου, Μιχαήλ, “Ιστορικά της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας ή ο ιερός των Ελλήνων αγών” εκδ. Θ. Παπαλεξανδρή, Αθήνα, 1873.
  • Brewer, David, ”The Greek War of Independence. The Struggle for Freedom from Ottoman Oppression and the Birth of the Modern Greek Nation”, εκδ. The Overlook Press, Νέα Υόρκη, 2001.
  • Παπασωτηρίου, Χαράλαμπος, ”Ο αγώνας για την ελληνική ανεξαρτησία. Πολιτική και στρατηγική των Ελλήνων και της οθωμανικής αυτοκρατορίας 1821-1832”, εκδ. Ι. Σιδέρης, Αθήνα, 1996.
  • Seewald, Berthold, “Karl Wilhelm Von Heideck: Ein Bayerischer General Im Befreiten Griechenland (1826-1835)”, εκδ. De Gruyter, Ολδεμβούργο, 1994.
  • Ράδος, Κωνσταντίνος, «Ο Άστιγξ και το έργον του εν Ελλάδι», εκδ. περ. “Ναυτική Επιθεώρησις”, Αθήνα, 1928.
  • Abney-Hastings, Maurice, “Commander of the Karteria. Honored in Greece. Unknown at home”, εκδ. Authorhouse, Bloomington, 2011.
  • Woodhouse, Christopher Montague, ”The Philhellenes”, εκδ. Hodder and Stoughton, Λονδίνο, 1969.
  • Συλλογικό, “Dictionary of National Biography”, εκδ. Smith, Elder & Co, Λονδίνο, 1889, τόμος
  • Συλλογικό, “Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Δομή”, εκδ. Δομή, Αθήνα, 2005, τόμος 30.
  • St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008.
  • Moore, Thomas, “Letters and Journals of Lord Byron with Notices of His Life”, εκδ. & J. Harper, Νέα Υόρκη, 1831, β’ τόμος.
  • Κόκκινος, Διονύσιος, “Η Ελληνική Επανάστασις”, εκδ. Μέλισσα, Αθήνα, 1974, 6ος τόμος.
  • Finlay, George,” Greece under the Romans: a historical view of the condition of the Greek Nation”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Εδιμβούργο, 1850.
  • Finlay, George, “The History of the Byzantine and Greek Empires from 716-1453”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Εδιμβούργο, 1856.
  • Finlay, George, “On the Site of the Holy Sepulchre”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Εδιμβούργο, 1848.
  • Ρούσκας, Ιωάννης, “Ο Άστιγξ και η Καρτερία”, εκδ. περ. “Ιστορικά Θέματα”, Αθήνα, Φεβρουάριος 2007, τεύχος 59.
  • Τράϊμπερ, Ερρίκος, “Αναμνήσεις από την Ελλάδα 1822-1828”, μτφρ.-επιμ. Δρ. Χρήστος Ν. Αποστολίδης, ιδ. εκδ., Αθήνα, 1960.
  • Roberts, Elisabeth, “Freedom, Faction, Fame and Blood: British Soldiers of Conscience in Greece, Spain and Finland”, εκδ. Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, 2010.
  • “Αρχείο George Finlay” (ανέκδοτο), φακ. εγγρ. 1826, Βρετανική Σχολή Αθηνών.
  • Gordon, Thomas, “Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. ΜΙΕΤ , Αθήνα, 2015, β’ τόμος.

 

 

“Oh sadness! Oh sadness! The miracle of Europe,
the pride of Great Britain,
the idol of his friends, the savior of Greece –
Lord Byron no longer exists ”
(Byron‘s death announcement in the newspaper Telegrafo Greco from Messolonghi)

George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord Byron (London 1788 – Messolonghi 1824). His name is synonymous with Philhellenism. His death in Messolonghi, on April 19, 1824, caused an international shock, led “the whole universe to darken”, paraphrasing the words of the then fifteen-year-old poet Alfred Tennyson. Ironically, the “heroic failure” of his death, resulted in his greatest contribution to the Greek Struggle, which he supported mentally, materially, politically, diplomatically and artistically. The tragic loss of the “pop star” Byron (an object of worship and envy in Great Britain), of the adored “Milord” in Messolonghi,  spotlighted the Greek Struggle yet again, revived the philhellenic movement internationally and set a series of actions in motion, which resulted in the founding of the modern Greek state. In this way, Byron became a national hero of another country, not of his own. “I gave [Greece] my time, my health, my property, and now I give my life. What could I do more?”, he wondered, sensing his end approaching.

“Angel or demon”, according to the French poet, Alphonse de Lamartine, a personality that united contradicting tendencies: he was a romantic revolutionary and a political realist, an idealist and an adventurist, a “victimizer”  in love and a victim of love, a brave man who was born with a physical disability, but gained the status of an athlete. Numerous publications and biographies of Byron have so far failed to completely decipher this enigmatic figure, who continues to attract heterogeneous crowds around him, even almost two hundred years after his passing. His legendary life made him a role model for the greatest names of art and intellect in his time: every soul that felt suffocated in the traditional establishment wanted to look like him. His 39-year-old elder, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), considered him to be his spiritual descendant. “What words should I trust to the one with the stormy soul, to the one who knows how to face the blows of Fate? […] And as I imagined him, let him be in fact!”: Goethe farewelled Byron with these tender words for his transition to Greece, the “noble struggle he has undertaken”, although they never met.  When the poet lost his life for this fight, the whole city of Messolonghi cried for him: from the youngest child, to the toughest warrior.

He was the most famous Briton, not only of the 19th century, but of all time. In 1823, he was also the most famous man on earth. According to Spyridon Trikoupis, he was the man who gave his name to the 19th century. “I woke up one day and I was famous“, it is said that he expressed with some kind of casualness, one day after the rapid success of the publication of his most famous work, Childe Harold´s Pilgrimage (1812). Did this destiny surprise him or had he already felt its voice echoing inside him? Maybe the poet wished to be at the forefront of action or celebrity, in some way. After all, he had showed his tendencies, from a young age, towards scandal, sin, or rebellion. Not without any cost, of course. He was a Calvinist, yet he angrily strived to “penetrate the wall of the ultimate destination“. Was the expectation of (self) punishment pending for everything that he so indecently dared? And in that way he became, as he indirectly confesses in one of his verses from the poem Epistle to Augusta (1816), “the careful navigator of my (his) own misery“?

The Byronic hero of his poems, the “hypersensitive, cynical, lonely, honest, melancholic” type, with whom the poet identified, drew his origin from the experiences of his youth. As a child, he happily recollected the glory of his ancestors: the Burons (an older spelling of his name), a family descending from the Normans, were William the Conqueror’s companions (1027-1087, King of England from 1066). Byron’s immediate predecessor in the title of lord was the “evil lord”, his grandfather’s brother (the 5th lord Byron), who bequeathed the ownership of the tower of Newstead Abbey to the ten-year-old George Byron. Aside from the honor of services to the royal crown, this title carried the dishonor of some crimes. Byron, who had already experienced the guilt and loneliness of a “dissenter” – due to his congenital malformation in one of his legs- was fascinated by the figure of his predecessor. His mother’s criticism of his disability, and his parents’ poor marriage, were both factors that shaped Byron’s sense of non-belonging and his tendency to flee.

His mother, Catherine Gordon of Gight, descended from an old Scottish, noble family, with a well-known violent prehistory, and her father probably committed suicide. She married Captain John Byron in 1785, Mad Jack, as his fellow officers called him, whose sole purpose in life was to celebrate and have fun. He squandered Catherine’s fortune, as he had previously done with his ex-wife and mother of Byron’s half-sister, Augusta – Mary Byron. The pregnant Catherine abandoned him, gave birth to her son, George Gordon Byron in London (22 January 1788) and settled with him in Aberdeen. The father was absent, and made brief reappearances. He died, ironically, at the age of 36 in a foreign country (France), as it would happen to his son 23 years later in Greece.

Byron, however, defended his “rascal” father. Their common feature was the tendency to enter into dangerous or inappropriate relationships. Young Byron’s “greatest sin” was his relationship with his half-sister Augusta, a secret kept by his later friend, John Cam Hobhouse (1786 – 1869). Given the difficult relationship he had with his mother, Augusta had probably been the only female in his family who could offer him love and protection. Despite his mother’s insistence on referring to her glorious relatives, the boy grew up in unfavorable conditions. Did a nostalgia for some glorious past develop in him during those years? A nostalgia which would later make him sympathize with the enslaved descendants of ancient Greeks?

During his years at Trinity College, Cambridge University (1805-1807), he evolved from a “colorless” young man, to a poet of ever-increasing fame. He had now a thin figure, due to his physical training (boxing, swimming, etc.). He gradually formed a circle of loyal friends around him. Friendship for Byron has always been a priority over love, and he believed that the feelings of love and friendship cannot coincide for one person. Upon the loss of his mother, he remarkably exclaimed that he “lost the only friend he had”. Her death in 1811 crushed him, although in one of his letters to Augusta he refers to her as his “tormentor”. During his youth he developed various romantic relationships with boys. One of them was with John Edleston in Cambridge, whose loss he would mourn in 1811. This socially maladapted young man had already acquired the air of an “aristocratic guerrilla”, according to Bertrand Russell. He spent more money than he had, loved  a good life and felt a “secret connection” with Napoleon Bonaparte, his country’s enemy, the only man alive who bore the same initials as him (“NB”: Byron acquired the name Noel, when his mother-in-law, Lady Judith Noel Milbanke, died in 1822. In Messolonghi he was addressed as “Lord Noel Byron”).

He burned his first poems (“Fugitive Pieces”, late 1806 / early 1807) because they were described as “obscene”, and distributed his second collection of poems (“Poems on various occasions”) only to friends. He chose a rather “understating” title for his third collection of poems expressing real pain, “Hours of Idleness” (1807), but was not spared the arrows of Francis Jeffrey (1773 – 1850), publisher of the Edinburgh Review, a Whigs journal in Scotland. The frustration shocked him, but also inspired him to write a thousand satirical lyrics under the title English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.He became famous by publishing this satire anonymously, targeting not only Jeffrey, but his later friend and biographer, Thomas Moore, as well. Moore felt insulted by Byron’s satire. The misunderstanding was however resolved after Samuel Rogers’ intervention (1763 -1855), who acted as a catalyst for the birth of a long-standing friendship between Byron and Moore. Moore later tried to make up for the loss of Byron’s Memoirs, which the poet had entrusted to him in 1819, in order to publish them after his death. Byron’s inner circle had destroyed these writings in order to preserve his memory, and Moore decided to write a biography of his friend in order to fill the void left by the loss of the original memoirs.

 

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

The importance of Byron as a poet is somehow often overlooked, as more emphasis is being put on his turbulent life. It suffices to say, that his first literary success, Childe Harold´s Pilgrimage, was the first best seller in the USA, even in 1828. A remarkable fact, considering that Byron was an English writer, and it had not been a long time since the United States gained their independence. The second best seller of that year belonged to the American Philhellene Samuel Howe for his work An Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution.  Also remarkable is the fact that Byron had almost a new publishing success every year. His brilliance as a poet could be compared to that of William Shakespeare (1564-1616).

 

Painting by a 19th century English painter, with a theme from Childe Harold΄s Pilgrimage (SHP collection)

19th century mantle clock from France, with Lord Byron (SHP collection).

 

The unique movement called Byronism, interacted with Romanticism and Liberalism and revived the whole Philhellenic Movement. The Byronic hero in Literature defined European thought and creation. Top representatives of this movement are, among others, Alexander Pushkin (1799 – 1837) and Mikhail Lermontov (1814 – 1841).  It also defined Greek Literature, reaching its peak during the 1860s. As the national poet of Greece, Kostis Palamas (1859 – 1943), once put it, Greek poetry “had dived into Byronism for a period of over forty years”.

Although Lord Byron had already expressed his will to write poetry while studying at Cambridge, the romantic poet Byron emerged in Greece: “If I am a poet … the air of Greece has made me one“. His decision to travel to the Mediterranean in 1809, marked the beginning of his emerging as a poet, as well as the gradual alienation from his homeland England. He was accompanied by Hobhouse on this journey, his most precious friend, his ”Argos“ until the end. Both of them were politically radical. Byron, a member of the House of Lords, who in 1812 did not hesitate to publicly defend the Luddites, set out on a journey in search of exotic pleasures. Hobhouse followed him having his own historical, archaeological and scientific interests. He was later imprisoned for his political views (1819 – 1820) and eventually won a seat in the House of Commons (1820). The tour started in Plymuth on July 2, 1809, bound for Lisbon, then Seville, Cadiz, Gibraltar, Malta and Preveza. The different phases are described through Byron’s letters to his mother. During this Journey, Byron began to conceive himself as Childe Harold, the archetype of byronic figure, that inspired his later heroes.

In September 1809 they arrived at the French-occupied Ionian Islands. On September 26, they entered the Corinthian Gulf, in the direction of Patras, and moved towards Preveza, after seeing Messolonghi for the first time. They continued their route to Ithaca, Lefkada and landed in Preveza, three days later. On October 3, they set out for Ioannina, in order to meet, according to Byron, the “Muslim Bonaparte”, Ali Pasha. When the two young men faced a human arm along with a part of a body, hanging from a tree at the city’s entrance, they realized what Ali’s rule in Epirus really meant. They belonged to the guerrilla priest Efthimios Vlachavas. This spectacle caused them disgust. They finally met Ali in Tepeleni and received a warm welcome, as Englishmen. Byron seems to have developed mixed feelings for this man, guilty for the most heinous crimes. Byron will soon come in contact with Ali’s “constant headache”, the Souliotes, and he will express himself positively for them in the second Canto of Childe Harold.

In Ioannina he had begun to compose the first verses of his great poetic novel Childe Harold´s Pilgrimage. It was his own journey, which Byron named a pilgrimage from the beginning. In his literal and his literary pilgrimage, he studied his inner nature and landscape, other people’s mentality and history. In his second Canto, which was completed in Athens and Smyrna, he enriched English literature with the sites of Pindos, Souli, Zitsa and Ioannina.

The pilgrimage continued in the direction of Athens. On their way, they stopped in Delphi, where they performed their own revival of the Olympic Games. They observed the traces of English travelers as they approached the Attic land, and noticed the looting and disastrous traces left by their compatriots. Byron had already criticized Elgin in his work English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. By the time he arrived in Athens, in the autumn of 1809, and had met Lord Elgin’s agent, the Neapolitan painter Giovanni Battista Lusieri (1755-1821), he had already witnessed several operations of marble trading. The rage he felt for “those who commit this vile looting” led to a brutal attack on Elgin, with his poem “The Curse of Minerva”. He composed it in Athens in 1811, and published it a little later. The poem led to Lord Elgin’s public disgrace and his retirement to a quiet life.

He remained in Athens for ten weeks and visited Sounio, Marathon, and Eleusis. Thanks to his Greek-centered classical education, he valued antiquities. But he differed from his companion, Hobhouse, as his interest was not limited to a theoretical, or distanced approach to Greece and the Greeks. His sincere interest and sympathy for the enslaved Greeks of that time set him apart from most foreign travelers. He was a man of action, not of art or theory. He believed that if there is action, poetry is superfluous. He learned some modern Greek, in order to socialize with his contemporary Greeks, participating in their conversations and intervening with audacity. An incident mentions Byron’s wrath, when in a discussion about the murder of a Greek slave, nobody referred to the murderer as a Turk, but as a Lamia, a demonic creature in Greek mythology. Byron stood up shouting: “Does this Lamia swallow only Greeks? Will she not eat any Turks?” He had already begun to identify himself with the Greek struggles and anxieties.

His interest in Greek things pre-existed. When he met Andreas Londos (1784 – 1846) in Vostitsa, he already knew who Rigas Feraios was, for whom Londos so passionately talked. He was an excellent connoisseur of the intellectual activity of Greek scholars inside and outside Greece: Adamantios Korais (1748 – 1833), Panagiotis Kodrikas (1762 – 1827), Athanasios Psalidas (1767 – 1829), who sharply criticized civilized Europe for its attitude towards the Greeks. Byron reacted to his compatriots’ “sensitivity”, and gave the Greeks every right to revolt, literally and figuratively:

“Now, in the name of Nemesis! For what are they to be grateful? … They are to be grateful to the Turks for their fetters, and to the Franks for their broken promises and lying counsels. They are to be grateful to the artist who engraves their ruins, and to the antiquary who carries them away; to the traveler whose janissary flogs them, and to the scribbler whose journal abuses them. This is the amount of their obligations to foreigners”.
(From a note he wrote in January 1811 in Athens).

He was romantic, yet a realist, and noticed the neglect of the modern Greeks towards the ancient Greeks: “they have been abandoned to the Turkish tyranny of their masters, although it takes only a very small effort to remove their bonds… The Greeks never lost hope”.

The growing interest of the time for the East brought him to Izmir (October 1809 – April 1810) and Constantinople (May 1810), where he spent two months and witnessed horrific spectacles once again. He achieved Leander‘s task and swam the Hellespont from Sistos to Abydos, an accomplishment that meant more to him than any “political, poetic or rhetorical” glory. Less known is his climbing of the Symplegades or Clashing Rocks. This was his only visit to Turkey. He returned to Athens in July 1810. There he expressed his (imaginary) love for the three daughters of the Deputy Consul of England in Athens, Prokopis Makris (1764 – 1799), in whose house he was hosted during his first stay. He was mainly fascinated by his youngest daughter, the twelve-year-old Teresa, for whom he composed “Maid of Athens” (1810). After the poem was published in England in 1812, Makris’ House became a target of curiosity for the British visiting Athens.

 

Return to England

He returned to England after two years, on July 14, 1811. On the way to Newstead, the news of his mother’s death devastated him. In 1811 death left a mark on his personal life, taking three of his friends away: his former classmates, Charles Skinner Matthews, John Wingfield and John Edleston, for the loss of whom Byron composed melodic and painful elegies. On the other hand, it was the year that filled the void with new faces and prospects: Lord Byron’s fame took off just 15 days after the first issue of Childe Harold´s Pilgrimage, which ran out in three days. At the end of the year he acquired a permanent collaboration with the publisher of the first two Cantos, John Murray (1778 – 1843). He became famous and an object of desire for both women and men.

The spotlight was on him, not for his poetic work exclusively, but also for his public defense of the Luddite uprising in the House of Lords. He passionately defended the position that the human race must resist the domination of machines.

The conservative world of the time felt reserved about the poet’s agitation. But the Whigs’ parlors were wide open to welcome him. There, he met two influential women of the time, Lady Elizabeth Holland, and Lady Elizabeth Milbanke – Melbourne. He developed a very close bond with the sixty-two-year-old Melbourne, which could have been erotic, as he confessed. Melbourne stood by him even after hearing about his relationship with her son’s wife, Lady Caroline Lamb. Caroline’s husband was the twice Prime Minister of Great Britain (1834, 1835 – 1841), William Lamb. Lady Lamb referred to Byron as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.

In January 1815 Byron married Melbourne’s niece Anabella Milbanke, who gave birth to his daughter, Augusta Ada Byron (10/12/1815). A year before, Byron’s half-sister Augusta had given birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Medora Leigh (15/04/1814), and rumors started circulating about the paternity of her child. These rumors, combined with others’ envy for his success, financial hardship, and the mental alienation from Annabella (which made her abandon the marital home in London), were all factors that led Byron to self-exile in 1816.

The decade 1813 – 1823 was the most glorious period of Byron’s poetic production. Childe Harold, the character people identified him with – despite his objection – inspired numerous fictional heroes that followed. Byron was influenced by the “Mal du siècle”; he was referring to the deep pain, the “long labyrinth of sin”, his homeland that looked like a hermit cell. Harold relied on the poet’s personal experiences, while drawing on elements from earlier literary heroes: for example, Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Goethe’s Werther. René, Chateaubriand’s protagonist is his “twin brother”. The Byronic hero is a cynical and proud misanthrope, who despises the rules, but is capable of strong and deep affection. The love for man and the joy for his human actions are met in many of Byron’s works.

From mid-1812 to the beginning of 1816, Byron published six large tales with Orientalist themes:

The Giaour: A Fragment of a Turkish Tale (1813),
The Bride of Abydos: A Turkish Tale (1813),
The Corsair: A Tale (1814),
Lara (1814),
Parisina (1816),
The Siege of Corinth (1816).

In addition to their literary spread, Byronic heroes were depicted in works of art, as was the figure of Byron himself, which merged with that of Childe Harold. Paintings, ornate table clocks or French porcelain vases depicting figures of Byronic heroes, circulated throughout Europe. Gradually, Byron’s heroes became identified with emblematic figures of the Greek revolution, and the acquisition of such works, which promoted the Greek issue, became status symbols of the philhellenic salons. Thus, the Giaour, a subject that occupied the imagination of the French painters A. Scheffer, A.M. Colin, A.C.H. Vernet, E. Delacroix and T. Géricault, became identified as a Greek fighter. The victor, the “infidel” Giaour, who triumphantly steps on the slain Hassan, allegorically spoke of the victory of the Christian world over the Muslim.

19th century bronze composition, with the Giour (SHP collection).

19th century painting by the painter Rosine, on the subject of Giaour’s victory over Hassan (SHP collection).

 

The characters from the Bride of Abydos were identified with Souliotes refugees from Parga.

 

Painting of the 19th century by the great French painter Alexandre Marie COLIN (1798-1875), with a theme from the Bride of Abydos (SHP collection)

19th century mantle clock, from France, with a theme from the bride of Abydos, identified with the refugees from Parga (SHP collection).

 

Scenes from The Corsair gave inspiration for the farewell of the Greek fighter. Images from Don Juan, Byron’s last masterpiece from 1818, were identified with the theme of the wounded Greek fighter, as well as with Byron in a woman’s arms, who was Greece.

 

Painting by a 19th century English painter, with a theme from the work of Don Juan (SHP collection).

19th century mantle clock, from France, with a theme by Don Juan, identified with Byron in the hands of Greece (SHP collection).

Pair of porcelain vases with scenes from works by Lord Byron (SHP collection).

 

Byron‘s second journey: Switzerland, Italy, Greece

“They made me an Exile / not a slave of me”
(The Prophecy of Dante, 1919)

When Hobhouse farewelled Byron on the coasts of England on April 25th, 1816, neither of them suspected that they would never reunite in their homeland. The poet left, in self-exile, the “hermit cell”, to end his life gloriously on the ground, where he felt happy for the first time, as he said.

Accompanied by his chamberlain, W. Fletcher, and the twenty-year-old doctor Dr. John Polidori (1795-1821), he headed via Ostend to Brussels. He visited the Battlefield of Waterloo, which he compared to the plain of Marathon. The sight of the landmark inspired two verses for Childe Harold’s third Canto, which he began writing while leaving his homeland. He continued his journey to Switzerland. Inspired by the patriot of Geneva, Francois-de-Bonnivard (1496 – 1570), he composed the poem The Prisoner of Chillon in Lausanne in an attempt to speak about the highest ideal of Freedom. In June 1816, he had already settled down in Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva. A young woman, who had fallen in love with him, followed Byron on his tour. Her name was Claire Clairmont (1798 – 1879) and she happened to be half-sister to the author Mary Shelley, wife of Percy Shelley. Claire acted as an intermediate to bring the two English poets in contact. Hence a group of self-exiled, romantic intellectuals was formed in Geneva, which resulted in the creation of seminal works of literature. Byron was encouraged by Shelley to create Don Juan (that he wrote shortly afterwards in Pisa); Mary Shelley conceived Frankenstein on a night the group was enjoying themselves with “ghost stories”; Polidori based his Vampyre – the progenitor of the whole romantic vampire genre – on Byrons’ personality.

The Shelleys reluctantly returned to England, with Claire carrying Byron’s child. Byron and Hobhouse left Villa Diodati on October 5, 1816. The two of them wandered the Bernese Alpes, where Byron conceived Manfred. A Dramatic poem, which he completed in Venice in 1817. Manfred’s Promethean character (an “inverted Faust”) was considered to be autobiographical. Its central ideas are sadness, guilt, a feeling of deep loneliness and the remembrance of a sinful love of the past. Manfred’s Astarte is linked to Augusta. Byron then wandered to the cities of Venice (1816 – 1819), Ravenna (1819 – 1821), Pisa (1821 – 1822) and Genoa (1822 – 1823), where he entered his productive Italian period; he composed eight plays, the fourth and last Canto of Childe Harold, his historical-political poem The Age of Bronze, the satirical work Beppo, and the sixteen Songs of Don Juan.

After reuniting with the Shelleys in Venice, and meeting his daughter from Claire, Allegra, he moved to Ravenna. His love for the young Countess Teresa Guiccioli, daughter of the fiery Italian patriot Count Ruggero Gamba Ghiselli, led him to this new destination. The Gambas introduced him to carbonarism. Pietro Gamba, the count’s son, had a great admiration for Byron and accompanied him to Greece. After Byron had already passed, he joined Fabvier’s regular army in Greece. Teresa, who became romantically involved with Byron, divorced her (older by 37 years) , Count Alessandro Guiciolli. Nevertheless, Teresa’s paternal family developed a great sympathy for Byron due to his political views.

1820 is the year that the liberal patriotic movements in Italy erupted. Italy was the melting pot of English romantics, Italian conspirators, modern Greek Enlighteners and members of the Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends).  Ravenna’s enlightened aristocrats were Carbonari, and Byron found his place in the movement, as an honorary leader of its third branch, the Turba (“Mob”), made up mostly of workers. He chose this branch wishing to take action and not just to guide the movement. He offered weapons, protection and encouragement to the Italian fighters. In a letter he wrote: “the people will win in the end. I will not live to see it, but I predict it“. This wording does not sound in line with any particular ideology. Historian Roderick Beaton doubts that Byron fully embraced the revolutionary ideology of the Carbonari. It is probable that the poet was motivated by romance and enthusiasm for action, without being dedicated to a specific struggle or purpose at this point.

When the liberal movements in Italy finally failed, the Gambas were led into exile. Shelley, who had visited Ravenna to meet Allegra at the monastery her father had sent her, pulled Byron and Gamba to Pisa. It is his friend, Percy Shelley, and his wife, Mary, who will unhook him from the Italian issue and spark his philhellenic feelings. The first news of the events in Greece had begun to reach Italy as early as April 1821. Shelley composed his masterpiece poem Hellas in autumn 1821 and prophesied the triumph of the Greek Struggle for Independence, which was synonymous with the Struggle for Freedom and Justice. He dedicated this poem to his friend, Prince Alexandros Mavrokordatos, with whom the Shelleys were closely associated through the circle of Pisa.

The developments that took place in Pisa shaped the English poets’ Philhellenism.  The co-founder of the Philomuse Society, Archbishop Ignatius, could safely act here, away from Metternich’s police. He gathered a group of people around him who sought to play an active role in Greek affairs, including Alexandros Mavrokordatos and the ruler of Wallachia, Ioannis Karatzas. John Eduard Trelawny (1792 – 1881) and Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859) also arrived in the city in 1822. According to one version, the Shelleys introduced Mavrokordatos to Byron, while another version refers that the two men first met in Messolonghi. In any case, it seems that important mental and intellectual processes took place for Byron in Pisa, which led him to the decision to go to Greece. Before leaving this city, Byron witnessed the tragic drowning of his friend, Percy Shelley, whom he farewelled along with Hunt and Trelawny on the beach of Viareggio. He then moved with Teresa to Genoa in September 1822, having already mourned the loss of Polidori, Lady Milbanke (Anabella’s mother) and his five-year-old daughter, Allegra.

 

“I must stand by the Cause”

For two years after the outbreak of the Greek revolution of 1821, Byron remained uninvolved with this issue. His decision to dedicate himself to “The Cause”, as he called it, should be seen as “the culmination of a poetic and ideological development that had consistently sought to break through the limiting barrier of words, so as to change the course of things in the world of real politics and action”, according to R. Beaton. Greece as an ideal begun to gain ground in him after Shelley’s tragic loss.

In April 1823, he was ready to move from the world of ideas to that of action. He was visited in Genoa by two delegates of the London Philhellenic Committee: Andreas Louriotis, who negotiated the first two national loans to Greece in London, and British Captain Edward Blaquière. He was invited to go to Greece on behalf of the Philhellenic Committee, act as a referee between the Greeks, as well as to direct the aid sent there. He accepted the invitation, feeling “the urgent need to give a new direction to the course of his ideas”. The decision to fight for the liberation of Greece, was all of his own.

His first stop was Argostoli, Kefallinia (August 3, 1823), where he met with the English commander, Sir Charles James Napier (1782-1853). Together with Pietro Gamba he settled in the village of Metaxata until the end of the year, where a bust in front of the house he lived, reminds us of his presence today. He took good care of a group of Souliotes refugees he came across there, paying for their safe passage to Messolonghi. News were spread in Greece about Byron’s arrival.  The kind hero of the Greek Revolution, Markos Botsaris, addressed his last letter ever to Lord Byron, before dying in Karpenisi. In this moving letter, he expressed his joy and desire to meet him in Messolonghi.

When he arrived in Greece, Byron had a fairly realistic picture of the disputes between the Greeks. But he kept a diplomatic distance from the two warring factions, which were both trying to join him. He hesitated whether he should go to Messolonghi in the autumn of 1823, before receiving clear instructions from the government (“Ektelestiko”). In order not to provoke the Mavromichalis – Kolokotronis government, he rejected Mavrokordatos’ invitation to meet him in Hydra. His delay in going to Messolonghi was not due to indecision, but to his practical and political wisdom. The moment the lord set foot in Greece, he was indeed transformed from a poet into a realist politician. Byron understood that there were three possibilities for the Greeks; to regain their freedom, to become a vassal of the European rulers, or to become a Turkish province again. He knew that a civil war could only lead to the last two options, and urged the Greeks to decide immediately if they wanted to be free and independent or not, otherwise they might never have the same opportunity again.

Historian George Finley estimates that if Byron had lived, he would have had a great impact in preventing two civil wars. His purpose in Greece was to unite, not to divide.

He arrived in Messolonghi on January 5, 1824. Crowds of civilians, soldiers, women and their children, anxiously awaited the arrival of their saviour. The famous oil painting “Byron’s Oath at Missolonghi” by Lodovico Lipparini (1824), as well as “The reception of Lord Byron in Messolonghi” by Theodoros Vryzakis (1861), demonstrate the enthusiasm that prevailed upon Byron‘s arrival.

 

19th century painting on the work of Ludovico Lipparini (1800-1856) now housed in the Museo Civico of Treviso (SHP collection).

19th century porcelain plate, depicting the entrance of Lord Byron in Messolonghi (SHP collection).

 

He settled in the mansion of the Kapsalis family, which was blown up by Christos Kapsalis during the Heroic Exodus of Messolonghi, in April 1826. People in Messolonghi appreciated Byron for his conciliatory spirit, but also for his determination and bravery. The great poet was indeed ready for war. In fact, he considered that “the sword precedes the pen”, in contrast to the opinion of Colonel Leicester Stanhope (1784 – 1862), who had come to Greece believing that propaganda, through education and the press, was the main weapon in this Struggle.  The reversal of qualities between a poet with zero combat experience and an experienced military man is remarkable. Byron assumed the post of commander-in-chief, while preparing a major military operation against Nafpaktos, which did not take place at the end. Byron made fun of himself for this position due to his disability, claiming that his best trait as a General, is his inability to flee. The title of General was kind of indifferent to him, and he wanted to be remembered as the conciliator of the Greeks.

 

Lord Byron in the uniform of a Greek revolutionary, with his sword and also his classical education and his literary work as weapons. 19th century painting (SHP collection).

The belt of Lord Byron during his stay in Messolonghi (SHP collection).

The palaska of Lord Byron during his stay in Messolonghi (SHP collection).

The sword of Lord Byron during his stay in Messolonghi (SHP collection).

 

During this period it was made clear that borrowing from abroad was a necessary condition for the success of the Greek Struggle. A loan would enable the chartering of a fleet of modern warships, the purchase of munitions, the avoidance of a civil war, and the overall protection from external enemies. Byron himself was willing to offer money for the Cause. He personally financed a part of the British loan to the Greeks in advance. He even financed the trip of Ioannis Orlandos (1770 – 1852) and Andreas Louriotis (1789 – 1854) to London (30/11/1823), so that they negotiate the first loan to Greece. He was an altruist, yet a realist, and worried if his actions and motivations could be misunderstood. Another of his concerns was whether the foreign aid and the handling of the loan could be a source of dispute between Greeks. He therefore considered that the first step towards freedom was the establishment of order and argued for the formation of a strong central government, which would be responsible for managing the loan. He envisioned a centralized state with a constitutional government, a novelty for his time, and Greece as a leading power within Europe.

His many years of wandering in Europe had acquainted him with the reality of politics (Realpolitik) and the Great Powers’ disposition. He was a man who could equally easily move in the salons of the aristocracy, converse with artists and politicians, or address the Greek people and the chieftains. His position in the House of Lords had offered him valuable acquaintances, e.g. with George Canning (1770-1827), whose policy he praised in his poem The Age of Bronze (1823). Byron and Shelley had already written poems against Canning’s political rival, the powerful man of the time, Castlereagh (Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, 1769 – 1822). Canning’s liberal foreign policy, inspired by the work of Lord Byron, dealt a decisive blow to the Holy Alliance, while favoring South Americans and Greeks. In March 1823, Great Britain recognized the legitimacy of the naval blockade imposed by the Greeks. The fact is of great importance, as it is the first act of recognition of the Greeks at war.

This, of course, did not mean that Metternich’s spirit had completely disappeared in Europe. Byron was aware of that fact and knew that, in order to gain the sympathy of a wider spectrum of politicians in Europe for the Greek case, their demands should not appear in line with those of the Carbonari movement. He did not see the Greek and the French Revolution as directly linked to one another, nor to other revolutions in Europe, but understood that something much bigger was taking place in Greece.  Τhe Declaration of the first National Assembly in Epidaurus (15 / 27.01.1822) spoke of a national and sacred war, the restoration of freedom, property and honor, goods which are enjoyed by all the neighboring peoples of Europe, except the Greeks, who suffer under Ottoman rule. The historian Dionysios Zakythinos (1905 – 1993) argued that the Greek liberation movement ”consists of a constant state of resistance“ and saw 1821 as a station in this long historical process. This evidence demonstrates the complexity and uniqueness of the Greek Revolution, which Byron understood and wanted to defend. For Byron, the struggle of the Greeks should primarily be (self) projected as a struggle between civilizations: of Christianity fighting to liberate itself from Islam. Only in this way it would gain its legitimacy in the eyes of the Europeans.

The presence of Byron in Greece was the driving force, and the guarantee, for the granting of the first loan from Great Britain in February 1824, amounting to 800,000 pounds. He was an appointed commissioner for the loan’s management, together with Lazaros Kountouriotis and Colonel Stanhope. During the last days of his life, he expressed his conviction to Pietro Gamba that, thanks to Canning’s policy, the Greeks would turn to England in a friendly way. In January 1825, when Byron had already lost his life in Messolonghi, a second loan was given to Greece in the form of a bond. The money was offered by ordinary citizens, who were touched by his death and revived the philhellenic movement from 1824 onwards.

“Heaven gives its favorites early death”
(Childe Harold´s Pilgrimage, Canto IV, C II.)

If thou regret’st thy Youth, why live? The land of honourable Death/Is here: — up to the Field, and give/Away thy breath!
Seek out — less often sought than found/A Soldier’s Grave, for thee the best;/Then look around, and choose thy Ground,/And take thy rest.
“On this day I complete my thirty – sixth year. Missolonghi, Jan. 22, 1824”

In the last days of March 1824, Byron often complained to Pietro Gamba about his health. He had already experienced an epileptic seizure in February. The incessant rains and the flooding of the city prevented him from taking his long walks, as usual. On April 10, he came out on horseback in the middle of a storm, which was fatal. Perhaps Byron had decided that Greece would be the last stop of his life. He used to say to Tita, his gondolier in Venice, who accompanied him to Greece: “I will never leave Greece again. The Turks, the Greeks or the climate, will not let me go“. Without a trace of remorse, he described the premonition of his inevitable end in the poem he wrote on his last birthday. “On this day I complete my thirty – sixth year. Missolonghi, Jan. 22, 1824”. On April 19, 1824, at dawn, in the midst of terrible weather, Byron, who was in his bed, unable to move, opened his eyes one last time, and immediately closed them again, forever.

The announcement of his death plunged Messolonghi into mourning. A 21-day general mourning was officially announced for the whole city. Thirty-seven cannonades were ordered to fall at sunrise of the following day, one every minute, for every year that he lived. His heart was placed in the church for the people to visit overnight. The people of Messolonghi demanded that the larynx and the lung of the one who “gave his voice and his breath for Greece” be kept in their city. A container with his lungs was eventually left in Messolonghi. His embalmed body was later transported to England. According to the testimony of his doctor, J.M. Millingen, Byron, who had accepted the fact that he is dying, demanded that no honorary ceremonies be held, and asked for his bones to remain in Greece. He was buried on April 10/22, near the tombs of Markos Botsaris and the great Philhellene, General Normann, in a wooden coffin covered with a black cloak, upon which a helmet, a sword and a laurel wreath were placed. Spyridon Trikoupis (1788 – 1873) delivered an excellent funeral speech for Lord Byron.

His death shocked the entire western world. The Times of London reported that the most remarkable Englishman of his time had passed away. The English public was shocked, “as if it was hit by an earthquake“, according to Hobhouse, who received his remains on May 2. A popular pilgrimage to the relics followed (May 9 – 11), with strong police forces guarding the crowd. The confusion was unprecedented, according to reports at the time. The officials who attended the ceremony were few (mostly from the pro-Greek opposition), the radical party, and the Whigs’ radical faction. The body was then taken to the village of Hucknall Torkard in Nottingham to be buried in the Byron family tomb. Uncontrollable acts of worship and despair took place during the second popular pilgrimage organized by Hobhouse.

The events of his untimely death were almost automatically identified with the support for the Greek Cause. The philhellenic movement was immediately revived after his death, with the British taking the lead from 1824 onwards. A year later, the Swiss banker Jean-Gabriel Eynard (1775 – 1863) pioneered the establishment of new philhellenic committees in Geneva, which aimed primarily at tackling malnutrition in Greece. The Paris Committee dealt with the deployment of the military and the education of Greek children in Paris. Later than their British counterparts, the French Romantics François-Auguste-René de Chateaubriand (1768 – 1848), Victor Hugo (1802 – 1855) and Alphonse de Lamartine (1790 – 1869) argued in favor of the Greek Struggle, after having revised their monarchist political views; a remarkable fact, considering romanticism‘s influence on the spread of philhellenism. In New York, in Philadelphia, in Boston, where a significant philhellenic movement was already manifesting from the end of 1823, the death and the idolization of Byron awakened a real “Greek fever”. American volunteers arrived in Greece to help win the revolution. The first to arrive was George Jarvis (1797 – 1828), who took over as an assisting officer of Lord Byron in Messolonghi and educator of the Souliotes. After Byron‘s death, the soldier Jonathan Peckham Miller (1797 – 1847) and the doctor Samuel Howe (1801 – 1876) arrived in Greece. These three brave men offered a lot to Greece, inspired by the work of Lord Byron. In fact, Dr. Samuel Howe returned to the United States in 1828 and organized tours and fundraisers in favor of the Greek Cause. The main items he used to attract the interest of the Americans were Lord Byron’s personal objects. The great Philhellene poet was still there to help the cause of Greece even after he was dead.

The adoration of Lord Byron became a way of life almost all over the western world. It had an impact on literature  (Heinrich Heine, Wilhelm Müller, A. Pushkin, M. Lermontov, Oscar Wilde, V. Hugo, A. Dumas, among others), music (F. Liszt, G Rossini, H. Berlioz, G. Verdi, etc.), fine arts (E. Delacroix, Colin, Vernet, Gericault, Liparirni, Philips, etc.), portraiture, and even 19th century clothing (the open shirt was named Byron’s collar). He became an object of worship, not only for intellectuals and artists, but also for ordinary people – a person who acquired an almost metaphysical dimension. There are some very touching stories about the level of popular adoration Byron reached; it is mentioned, that many people tried to get some alcohol from the container with his body, as an amulet; another moving story, is the one of the young girl from Messolonghi, who held his slippers for protection during the heroic Exodus from the besieged city.

When on April 10, 1826, the besieged civilians of Messolonghi made their heroic Exodus from the city, Greece was again in the international spotlight. Almost two years had passed since the poet’s death.  The Greek Cause was internationalized, as Byron himself wished, and resulted in the involvement of the three powers (Great Britain, France, Russia) in Navarino (October 8/20, 1827), which rescued the Greek Revolution. The connection of Byron’s name with Messolonghi, contributed decisively to these developments. The road to Greek independence was now open.

The national poets of Greece, Dionysios Solomos (1798 – 1857) and Andreas Kalvos (1792 – 1867) composed two great Odes in his honor. The Ode of D. Solomos under the title “Τo the death of Lord Byron” (Zakynthos, 1825) consists of 166 quatrains and is written in the same meter he used for the national anthem of Greece. It starts with the well-known turn:

Liberty, cease for a moment/ Striking hard with your sword/ Now approach here to lament/ By the body of this noble lord”.

The Ode closes by recalling Byron’s agony for national solidarity among the Greeks:

“Discord in Greece again reigns/ If the two of them you can sever/ BY THE WORLD THATALL CONTAINS/ Your name shall live forever!”

Kalvos wrote The British Muse, consisting of 24 quatrains, in 1826. He addresses Byron with the following words:

“Oh Byron, exquisite spirit,
Offspring of the Britannic
Muses and unfortunate
Friend of glorious
Greece!”.

An epigram for Byron was also written by Kostis Palamas, one hundred years after his death, summarizing the essence of his life and death in just one verse:
“Even if you lived as Dionysus, you died a Messiah.”

The Greek citizens showed their gratitude for Lord Byron as well. On October 21, 1881, a statue and monument in his honor was unveiled in the garden of the Heroes of Messolonghi. The initiative for the construction belonged to the Philological Association “Byron”. The design was assigned to a sculptor from Syros, Georgios Vitalis, who used Byron‘s statue by Bertel Thorvaldsen as a model. The funding was based on offers, for the collection of which Admiral Kanaris was appointed responsible by royal decree.

 

The statue of Lord Byron in the Garden of Heroes in Messolonghi.

 

In Athens, one of the most beautiful statues of the capital, also known as the statue of Byron, was erected at the junction of Vasilissis Amalias and Vasilissis Olgas streets, which bears the inscription “Greece (crowns) Byron“. In the form of a half-naked, seated woman, Greece crowns Byron with a palm branch, as a sign of gratitude. Behind the two figures of the sculptural complex, rests a kneeling, enslaved Greek, reminding us whom Byron really benefited. The work was completed after the death of its financier and president of the “Byron” Association, Dimitrios Stefanovik Skylitsis, as well as its first sculptor, Henri Michel Antoine Chapu (1833-1891). It was continued by the sculptor Jean Alexandre Joseph Falquiere (1831-1900) and completed by Lazaros Sochos (1857 or 1862 – 1911). The statue was ready in 1924, on the hundredth anniversary of the poet’s death. A well-known urban area of Athens was named Byron (Vyronas).

 

The statue of Lord Byron in Athens.

 

For contemporary Greeks, Lord Byron is the personification of a noble hero who loved Greece and sacrificed himself for their freedom. The life and contribution of this great man, is the embodiment of Philhellenism itself.

Lord Byron died as an outlaw for the High Porte (the Ottoman government), as a Benefactor for Messolonghi and its Honorary Citizen, Savior of Greece. These titles state briefly, but eloquently, the Cause that he served, and the side with which the poet fought in his life: that of Freedom and the values of Hellenism.

 

Commemorative Medal of 1824 by A.J. Stothard (SHP collection).

 

SHP, Greece and the Greeks will forever honor this great man.

 

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