Count Paul von Normann-Ehrenfels, with Mayor of N. Skoufa, Ms. Rozina Vavetsi, during his speech at “Philellinia 2022” in Peta, in the presence of an honorary order of enactors Philhellenes.


On November 9, 2023, Count Paul von Normann-Ehrenfels, a descendant of the great Philhellene general Norman, commander of the Philhellenic Battalion and Greek Regular Army, a big part of which was sacrificed in the unfortunate Battle of Peta in July 1822, passed away peacefully and full of days. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Peta, the president of the SHP, Mr. Konstantinos Velentzas, and the vice-president of the SHP, professor Konstantinos Papailiou, awarded last year to Count Paul von Normann-Ehrenfels the Lord Byron medal and an honorary diploma.

At the funeral service that took place on December 2, 2024 in Tübingen, a eulogy was delivered by the vice-president of the SHP, Mr. Konstantinos Papailiou, who on November 28, 2024, spoke about General Norman at the Museum Hegel-Haus philosophical salon in Stuttgart, the general’s birthplace, and dedicated his lecture, by way of memorial, to his friend Count Paul von Normann-Ehrenfels.

He will remain eternally in our memory.

To this day, the personality of the Venezuelan Don Francisco de Miranda, general and initiator of Latin American independence, has been historically linked to that of Rigas Feraios. Both were associated with the independence struggles of their homelands, as the famous Chilean Hellenist Professor Miguel Casillo Didier has written in his book “Two Precursors: Miranda and Rigas, America and Greece”. This essay suggests that Prince Alexander Ypsilantis, the first leader of Greek independence, perhaps better than Rigas, could be a historical Greek figure closer to Miranda since both started revolutions in their countries in the early 19th century.

The principles of Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives” are the chosen method to organize, analyze, synthesize, and complete the topic of this paper. Applying this method, an attempt will be made to highlight the special characters of Miranda and Ypsilantis. For this purpose, Miranda’s proclamation “To the inhabitants of Colombian America” will be compared with Ypsilantis’ proclamations “Fight for Faith and Motherland” and “Greek Men, those sojourning in Moldavia and Wallachia!” The analysis discovers similarities and differences between the writings of the two leaders to substantiate the hypothesis of this work about parallel lives.

Now begins the comparison of the multidimensional personalities of the two heroes. Both were members of the social and economic elite of their countries: Don Francisco de Miranda was born in Caracas in 1750. His father was a wealthy merchant from the Canary Islands who earned the title of Captain of the Order of the Militia of the White Men of Caracas. Prince Ypsilantis was born in Constantinople in 1792, to an important and wealthy Phanariot family. His father was the ruler of the principalities of Moldavia and later Wallachia, and his grandfather was the Grand Dragoman of the Sublime Porte.

Miranda and Ypsilantis were well-educated: Miranda studied Philosophy, Law, History, Mathematics, and Geography, and Ypsilantis received a broad education after the Russo-Turkish War of 1806 when his family fled to Russia. They were also multilingual. Miranda, in addition to Spanish, spoke English, French, Latin, and Ancient Greek, and Prince Alexander, in addition to Greek, also spoke Russian, French, German, and Romanian. Their education included military training. In 1771, Miranda went to Madrid, where he received military training to obtain the rank of Captain in the Royal Army. In 1810, Ypsilantis entered the school of the Corps of Imperial Attachés of Czarist Russia.

Proclamation of Francisco de Miranda

Before the outbreak of the wars of independence in their respective countries, both gained extensive military experience in foreign armies, serving in high positions, even as generals. The Venezuelan participated in the United States’ War of Independence and the French Revolution. He served briefly as a general in the French army. The Greek distinguished himself in the wars against Napoleon as a lieutenant colonel in the Russian army when he lost his right arm, at the age of 21, at the battle of Dresden. Four years later, the Tsar promoted him to General.

Their ultimate goals were to gain political and diplomatic allies to carry out their plans to liberate their homelands. Both belonged to Masonic communities of their time and through this, they were assisted in gaining contacts with high European society to reach alliances for their patriotic cause. To this end, Miranda traveled to Europe, meeting, among others, Catherine II and Prince Potemkin of Russia, Gustavus III of Sweden, George Washington, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Thomas Paine of the United States, Danton, Charles Dumouriez, and Napoleon Bonaparte of France, William Pitt and Duke Wellington of the United Kingdom, and Simón Bolívar, Andrés Bello, and Bernardo O’Higgins of Latin America.

Ypsilantis served as one of the Czar’s aides-de-camp at the Congress of Vienna in 1814 and met Count Kapodistrias, the Foreign Minister of Russia, and the founders of the Society of Friends, among others. Their intense desire and the fire of their souls for the independence of their country soon brought them to the position of the leader of their revolutionary movements. General Miranda led the patriotic army in the Latin American War of Independence, becoming the Governor of the First Republic of Venezuela. Meanwhile, Prince Ypsilantis took over the leadership of the Society of Friends, creating the “Sacred Band” of 500 university students and thus initiating the War of Independence of Greece.

When Miranda and Ypsilantis arrived at Coro and Iasi, respectively, they published their proclamations. Between them, there are important similarities. In conflicts, a clear distinction is required between the identities of the warriors. Although the translation and publication, by Miranda, of the Jesuit Juan Pablo-Viscardo y Guzman’s “Letter addressed to the Spanish Americans”, which declared that “the New World is our homeland, its history is ours”, was an important step in Latin American emancipation, the use of the term “Spanish Americans” did not allow for a distinction between the Creoles and the inhabitants of Spain.

Proclamation of Alexandros Ypsilantis

In Ypsilantis’ case, there was no such problem because there were clear differences between the Ottoman side and his own, due to different ethnic origins, language, customs, and religion. Therefore, words like “Hellenes”, “Greeks”, and “Orthodox” could distinguish his side from that of the enemy. Taking advantage of the common religion, Ypsilantis included other like-minded groups such as Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians, etc., in his call. On the other hand, in Miranda’s case, the religion and language of the inhabitants of the Americas were the same as those of the inhabitants of Spain. The Creoles were of Spanish origin, and the ethnic origin of the Indians and Blacks was unrelated to that of either the Spaniards or the Creoles. Therefore, the generic Mirandine term “Colombian American” could provide a distinct identity for all the inhabitants of the New World (Creoles, Indians, Blacks, etc.), separating them from the inhabitants of Spain.

Miranda, like Ypsilantis, asked all citizens to participate without any distinction of class or ethnicity. Indicative of his idea of the relationship between a place and its citizens is that at the beginning of the volumes of his archive, “Colombeia”, Miranda placed an ode attributed to Alcaeus, translated by himself: “Cities are not stone or timber or the work of carpenters, but both walls and cities are to be found wherever there are men who know how to defend themselves”.

One difference between the two proclamations is the reward for those who participate in the revolution and the punishment for those who disobey. Miranda promised rewards both material and moral and threatened legal punishment, while the reward and punishment, according to Ypsilantis, would be exclusively moral. Although the revolutionary and liberation movements of that era were influenced by secular currents such as the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, Miranda and Ypsilantis could not forget that Christianity played a crucial role in shaping the identity of their peoples and that they were addressing devout Christians. Because of this, they included references to Christianity, not only to form a common identity but also to prove that their initiatives were compatible with the Christian faith. This was a risk they had to take, but it turned against them. The Church, acting as an institution of the oppressive apparatus, in order to persecute them, exploited a phrase of St. Paul, who held that all powers are ordained by God and those who resist the powers, resist the ordinance of God. Santiago Hernández Milanés, Bishop of Mérida, and Gregory V, Patriarch of Constantinople, excommunicated Miranda and Ypsilantis respectively, slandering them as traitors and enemies of the fatherland, seeds of Satan, apostates, vain, etc.

On the other hand, the proclamations demonstrated the tragic and miserable condition of the people, full of barbarity and tyranny. Interestingly, Miranda appended to his proclamation the impassioned letter of the Jesuit Viscardo y Guzmán, which described all that the New World had suffered for three consecutive centuries. Moreover, they promised a just and democratic society in which the people could choose their representatives and leaders. Another obvious similarity between the proclamations is the assessment that the timing of the revolutions was right. They stated that the struggle for independence would be easy and that the people could gain their freedom with little effort. Probably, the underestimation of the enemy’s power was deliberate, in order to raise the morale of the people.

Proclamation of Alexandros Ypsilantis

The leaders based their optimism on the promise of the support of Divine Providence and foreign troops: Miranda promised the intervention of the British fleet, and Ypsilantis implied Russia was “a Mighty power”. They also pointed to contemporary paradigms of other countries that won their independence, asking their peoples to imitate them. Miranda’s proclamation contains references to the War of the Oranges, possibly the Eighty Years’ War, the American War of Independence, and the Act of Mediation. Interestingly, Ypsilantis also uses the paradigm of the Spanish constitutional period of 1820-1823, known as the “Liberal Triennium”. His reference to the military achievements of Ancient Greece can be interpreted as a reference to the national heritage of his countrymen. Although there is no such reference in the proclamation of the Venezuelan hero, Miranda was inspired in his youth by Greek literature and traveled to Greece in 1786. Among other places, General Miranda visited Marathon and Salamis to feel, reflect, and experience firsthand the feelings, plans, and military positions of the Ancient Greeks against the despotism of the Persians.

The last and most tragic similarity between the lives of Miranda and Ypsilantis was their abandonment by their allies after a military defeat, their surrender into the hands of the enemy, and their imprisonment far from their homelands. After the fall of Puerto Cabello to Domingo Monteverde’s royalist army, the President of the First Republic of Venezuela, Miranda, signed the Capitulation of San Mateo, an action considered submissive by Miranda’s former allies. After a series of unfortunate events, Miranda was arrested and eventually transferred to the Cuatro Torres prison where he died in 1816. Ypsilantis’ fate was similar: Ypsilantis did not receive any Russian support, as he had expected. After the defeat of his Sacred Band at the Battle of Dragashani and being abandoned by his local allies, he fled to Austria where he was arrested. Although he was not extradited to the Ottoman Empire, he was imprisoned in the castle of Munkács under inhumane conditions and died very young in 1828. His last wish was to have his heart transferred to Greece. Cenotaphs of both heroes have been erected in their homeland as the recognition of their remains is not possible. But for such heroes, this was not important as they knew the famous phrase of Pericles’ epitaph which Miranda himself translated: “For to famous men all the earth is a sepulcher”.

While the forerunners Viscardo y Guzmán and Rigas Feraios contributed to the emancipatory process with passionate writings, the first leaders Miranda and Ypsilantis were also the generals who launched the independence revolution of their homelands and became Martyrs of the Struggle. For this reason, it can easily be observed that the lives of Francisco de Miranda and Alexander Ypsilantis were parallel. The sacrifice of the two leaders, fortunately, was not in vain. Others continued what they started, and their homelands were eventually liberated. The Greek historian Philemon wrote of Ypsilantis, something that could also be said of Miranda: “Thus the Leader was directly abandoned, but the revolution was indirectly protected; the person was destroyed, so that the Fatherland could be saved”.

Antonia Kyriakoulakou,

Doctoral candidate of the UNIR International University of Rioja, Spain

The SHP and the Museum of Philhellenism both pay tribute to the great French Philhellene Juliette Récamier.

French-born Jeanne Françoise Julie Adélade Récamier (1777-1849) hosted one of Paris’s most influential philosophical salons, attracting politicians, intellectuals, writers, and artists. She was the wife of banker Jack Récamier and a graduate of a Lyon convent school.

At 19, Récamier had already established an extensive social network among the elite of Paris, and her charm and unique personality helped to spark a revolution in early 19th-century fashion. It was one of the earliest to adopt the “Greek style,” which took inspiration from classical antiquity and mirrored the imperial style popular during the First Empire.

In 1819, he was associated with the French writer, politician, and great Philhellenic Chateaubriand. Récamier was a prominent member of the Paris Philhellenic Committee and one of the most influential women in French Philhellenism. Madame Recamier corresponded with the Philhellene French soldier Olivier Voutier (1796-1877) while he was in Greece. She later published Voutier’s lengthy letters, titled “Letters on Greece,”in which he describes Greek culture, landmarks, and battles. The Philhellenic Committee benefited from the sales of the book that swayed the French to support the Greek Revolution.

Récamier was a key figure in the philhellenic movement. Her relationship with the romantic writer, politician, and Philhellene François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) sparked and sustained a lifelong affection for Greece and the Greek people that lasted through the Greek War for Independence. Recamier donated substantial amounts of money to the Greek Revolution out of her own coffers and through fund-raising efforts.

At the age of 72, on May 11, 1849, in Paris, Juliette Récamier succumbed to the cholera epidemic. Her life was full of intensity; she inspired the passions and cultivated friendships with many notable figures of the time, including Victor Cousin, Lamartine, Balzac, François Gérard, Canova, and many others.

SHP and the Philhellenism Museum honor the great American Philhellene Julia Ward Howe, Julia Ward (1819-1910).

Famous pacifist, feminist, abolitionist, human rights activist, and poet. She wrote the poem Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Wife of the American Philhellene Samuel Gridley Howe.

She supported the struggle of the Greeks during the revolution in Crete (1866-1869) with the establishment of the “Greek Relief Committee” in Boston, raising money, food and clothes. She even dedicated a poem to Greece. To support the Cretan revolutionaries, she organized an important event in Boston with the participation of prominent musicians. Only from this event, she raised 2,000 thalers, and sent them to Greece.

Later Julia Ward came with her family to Greece and helped the Cretan refugees with money and clothes. (S99)

by Georgios Argyrakos

European philhellenism, as a historical phenomenon, has a “persistent” character, because it appears since Roman times and continues in various forms in Byzantium, in Medieval Europe, in the Orthodox Slavic world, and again in the context of Humanism and Enlightenment, etc. This accumulation of many centuries of philhellenic capital, activated a variety of incentives for philhellenic action during the Greek Revolution. One of these incentives that derives from the foundation of the European civilization, was the interest for the human being who fights for freedom. This was the view of thousands of anonymous and known Philhellenes who perceived the Revolution through this particular angle, one of which is concerned by this article.

The Swiss doctor Louis-André Gosse (1791-1873), was a typical example of a selfless Philhellene who offered a lot to Greece, purely for ideological reasons. He sacrificed his personal comfort and almost his life, just in order for him to help people who were fighting and suffering for their freedom and their rights. He did not fight with the sword and the rifle, but with a box of surgical tools (one of the few that existed in Greece at that time), and with his knowledge and organizational abilities.

Gosse [1] was a well-known doctor in Geneva, with liberal beliefs. He was the son of the pharmacist Henri Albert Gosse, one of the founders of the Swiss Society of Natural Sciences. He studied medicine in Paris, from where he graduated in 1816. Since then, he toured Europe (Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, England and Ireland) and in 1820 he returned to Geneva, where he practiced medicine. He was politically active in the Liberal Party, through which he proposed the abolition of the public shaming of criminals and the withdrawal of various anti-Semitic measures. He was a co-founder and columnist of the «Journal de Genève», which was published on January 1826, onwards.

This journal published often news from the Greek Revolution and his letters from Greece. For the liberal circles of Europe, Greece was the last bastion in the fight for civil liberties after the suppression of the revolutions in Naples, Piedmont and Spain by the Holy Alliance. At the same time Greece was the battlefield between two worlds: A Christian European nation against a Muslim empire.

Since 1825, when Egyptian troops landed in the Peloponnese, the situation of the revolutionaries deteriorated, not to mention the disputes between them. The attempted genocide committed by the Egyptians in collaboration with the Turks, and the occupation of Messolonghi (April 22, 1826) revived the philhellenic interest in Europe, after a period of recession.

Previously, the first moves for the diplomatic recognition of the provisional Greek government had been made, while negotiations had begun between the Great Powers for military intervention in Greece. On April 4, 1826, Great Britain and Russia concluded the Anglo-Russian Protocol of St. Petersburg, which even provided for military intervention. This treaty accelerated the developments.

This was followed by the Treaty of London on July 6, 1827, which assigned a joint naval force of Great Britain, France and Russia to the Peloponnese. The treaty imposed a cessation of hostilities and provided for the use of military force in the event of non-compliance by both parties.

From the moment the Porte refused to accept the Treaty, the conflict was inevitable. It was the world’s first great intervention for humanitarian reasons, and more precisely, a demonstration of the European entity, on the basis of the same values ​​on which the European construction is still based.

While this was happening and the Revolution was in a state of disarray, Gosse decided to abandon his brilliant career and his comfortable life in Geneva in order for him to come in Greece. His decision was supported by the great Swiss Philhellene Jean Gabriel Eynard. He was a great leader of the philhellenic movement, not only in Switzerland but also of the whole Europe. In this endeavour, he had Capodistrias and the Archbishop of Hungary, Ignatius, as valuable collaborators. Eynard was collecting significant aid for Greece, and needed some trustworthy people to manage it on the field.

Gosse writes that his eagerness to come to Greece ignited one day in 1826 when Eynard showed him a moving letter from the widow of Markos Botsaris (Bouvier-Bron, p. 345). The Swiss banker soon decided that Gosse was capable of undertaking thetransport and management of a generous financial and military aid in Greece which was that raised in favor of the Greek fleet. Other trustees who had been assigned a similar role by philhellenic committees, were Dr. Bailly for the Paris Committee and Colonel Heideck for Bavaria.

Gosse would become the right hand man of Lord Cochrane who had been appointed Commander of the Greek fleet by the National Assembly of Τroizina (March – May 1827). Eynard took over all the expenses of Gosse’s mission.

Prior to his departure, Gosse met with Cochrane, who was passing through Geneva, and with Kapodistrias.

From the latter, he received information about the dire situation in which Greece was. He departed from France on December 20, 1827, he crossed the Mont-Cenis Alpine crossing at night, by sleigh, and went to Italy.

On December 31 he left Ancona and after a difficult trip, he arrived in Zakynthos on January 16, 1828, exhausted by the turbulence of the sea and the fumes from the fermentation of the flour carried by the ship.

On February 2, he went to Nafplio, which was the base of the revolutionary government and at the same time a source of intra-Greek friction. There, he met the French doctor Bailly.

His main purpose was to distribute the aid he carried, in money, weapons and food. It is often argued that the Egyptians prevailed over the Greek revolutionaries, because they were more organized as a regular army with French trainers.

According to certain sources, however, it seems that the problem of the Greeks was primarily the lack of food and ammunition. After six years of continuous war, domestic agricultural production had been wiped out due to a reduction of human resources and the destruction of crops and infrastructure.

At the same time, land transports were blocked. On February 27, 1827, the president of the Third National Assembly in Ermioni, G. Sisinis, wrote to Gosse about the terrible lack of food in the military campuses in Attica, which were in danger of being dismantled because of the famine.

He asks him to send to Karaiskakis to Elefsina 40-50 thousand ounces of flour from the one donated by the philhellenic committees of Europe. Gosse, who had immediately started working on the aid management committee, agrees and in 4 days, he sends 80 thousand ounces of corn by boat from Hydra.

On April 4, Karaiskakis wrote from Keratsini to the government that it was high time that the enemy should be stroked because at that moment, he was weaker than ever. But the army needs 7 thousand ounces of flour per day, as more Souliotes and Peloponnesians come to help. Αlso, 50-100 thousand bullet packs were needed (Vakalopoulos, pp. 114-116, See Archive of National Rebirth, Vol. 3, pp. 352. 388).

Due to the unrest that prevailed in the Peloponnese, Gosse preferred to settle in Hydra initially, and to offload the abovementioned aid in warehouses there. It seems that captains like Miaoulis disagreed with this decision, who preferred to store the aid in Poros. In March 1827, Cochrane arrived in Greece and Gosse was appointed head of the logistics   of the fleet. Τhe warehouses where the aid was stored, were finally transferred to Poros, where a small port was established. Poros is described by Gosse as an oasis of calm in the belligerent Greece. The supplies are managed by a committee, which, apart from Gosse and Bailly, it also includes Heideck, Koering, and the Milanese exiled, Porro.

The money of the aid is used to buy grain, coming from Russia and Poland via Odessa. Money is also sent for the repair of the steamer frigate “Karteria” and other ships of the Greek fleet.

At the same time, Goose offers his medical services to the fighting Greeks who were trying to recapture Athens and other parts of Attica. He was one of the doctors who tried in vain to save the life of Karaiskakis after the battle of Faliro (April 22-23, 1827). He then took care of other wounded soldiers and, with the help of a young English surgeon, he proceeded to two mutilations in the admiral’s camp. He writes that while he was effecting these mutilations (it was a horrible procedure, only with the use of a saw and without anesthesia), some people went to him asking for food. Since he did not have ink and a pen available, he signed food coupons using the blood of the wounded patients for ink and matches for a pen. A few months later he tried in vain to save the 18-year-old Paul Marie Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon, who accidentally, but seriously injured himself with a pistol, while he was  cleaning it in the flagship frigate “Hellas” in Nafplio (Bouvier-Bron, 346).

After the failure to retake Athens and the defeat of the Greeks at Faliro, supplies and money were exhausted. On May 31, 1827, Heideck wrote to Eynard that the committee’s money were spent. Under the circumstances, the government decided to impose taxes to the islands but also to borrow from wealthy merchants, in order to support the operation of the fleet, since there was no officially independent Greek state, yet. Cochrane appointed Gosse in charge of tax collection from the islands. Because tax revenues were meager, he is assigned to ask for a loan from the merchants of Syros.

And this proves difficult, as the repayment of the loan is as uncertain as the future of the Revolution and the merchants are protected by the consulates of various European powers.

After complex negotiations with the various agents of the islands, Gosse managed to raise an amount.[2] Goose handed over part of this amount to Cochrane, and with the remainder, he organized a flotilla of two schooners and two gunboats, to fight piracy and raids by isolated Turkish, but also Greek ships. Thus Gosse, from being a doctor in the country of the Alps, he turned to a naval commander in the Aegean, further to a decision of the “Secretariat of the Navy” in June 1827. He was quite successful in this task, because Kapodistrias, in a letter dated back to March 20, 1828, recognized Gosse as an expert in naval matters and recommended Gosse to Hastings, the Philhellene captain, who was looking for officers for small ships.

In the meantime, the Swiss philhellenes continued to send weapons, money and other supplies. Gosse keeps records of the revenues and the expenses, such as expenses for salaries, purchase of food and animal feed, purchase of gunpowder, etc. At the same time, Goσse accepts requests to help Greek refugees from various areas occupied by the Turks (Vakalopoulos, 142, 143). Gosse himself describes the various occupations he had in Greece:

«I have become a real harlequin by being a conciliator, counselor, coordinator, general commissioner, treasurer, merchant, secretary, doctor. My heart has not changed, I assure you, and it will not change at all, despite the force of events, despite the contradictions …».

With external help, a small 35-ton boat is built in Poros, others are repaired, fortifications are built, and a  workshop to produce rusks (dry bread) is established (which was then a major supply for the army and navy). Other financial resources were used for the purchase of surgical tools and medicines, for helping philhellenes, etc.

In the midst of his career as a «Supply and Transportation» officer, Gosse found time to serve as a doctor at «Karteria», and participated on the battlefield which destroyed several Turkish ships in the Gulf of Itea (September 17, 1827). From Gosse’s service in «Karteria» a catalogue with the names of 94 crew members, mainly Greeks, English and Swedish is available (Vakalopoulos, pp. 155, 156).

The following month, the famous naval battle of Navarino took place, offering a new potential for an independent Greek state. The Treaty of London provided that the state borders would be defined later. Thus, in areas such as the Aegean islands, the Western Greece and Crete, the revolutionary spirit was rekindled, because people understood that they were in danger of remaining within the Ottoman Empire during the forthcoming processes.

Inhabitants of Chios who had taken refuge in Syros and other islands, with the help of French military under the command of Fabvier and Cochrane, organized a campaign to retake Chios in October 1827. Gosse helped their attempt as well, and in fact, he participated in the landing in the Turkish-occupied Chios. There, he risked his life due to the negligence of some of Fabvier’s officers. The two Frenchmen who accompanied him on a reconnaissance mission on land, left him alone in an area that was within the vicinity of the Turkish artillery of the castle of Chios. There, a shot took his hat away and forced him to leave in fear. Finally the campaign in Chios failed, mainly due to the inability of the Greek forces (regular and non-regular), and the locals to coordinate and adopt a joint plan. Fabvier was then ordered by the French Admiral de Rigny (Derigny) to leave, as the Greek Provisional Government could not support the campaign. Thus, Chios was not included in the new Greek state.

Louis-André Gosse, at an older age. Lithograph. SHP Collection / Philhellenism Museum

The plague epidemic

Gosse risked his life for the second (at least) time during the plague epidemic which appeared in the Argolic Gulf and in the villages of Achaia. The epidemic started from the expeditionary force of the Ottoman Egyptians in Methoni. A large number of European doctors (mainly French and Italian) served under Ibrahim Pasha, but they were late in diagnosing the disease. Because of the exchange of prisoners and other movements of the population, the plague epidemic first appeared in the summer of 1828, in Aegina, and then in Hydra, in Megara, in Nafplio, in other surrounding areas and in some villages of Achaia.

There was probably a simultaneous outbreak of another disease, referred in the sources of the time as «malignant fever», from which Gosse was also infected. The population was in general weakened from hunger and hardships, and was vulnerable to all kinds of diseases that were almost endemic, such as malaria, typhus, etc.

Gosse’s most important contribution to Greece was that he helped to limit the effect of the epidemic. Kapodistrias’ perspicacity and personal interest also contributed to this, as he hastened to give the Swiss doctor the necessary power, which in practice corresponded to the function of a «minister of health». The governor of Greece had himself a medical background from his studies in Padua (1794-1797).

Other doctors, as well as non-specialist citizens contributed to this battle; they manned the police and the quarantine services, the burial of the dead (the so-called «mortis»), the management of medicines, etc. Those who had studied in Italy or had medical experience from the Ionian Islands, knew and applied the quarantine measures that had been developed in the past by the Venetians, who had also founded the various «lazarettes» in the Balkans and Italy (Tsoucalas, 2021). After the outbreak of the epidemic, someone sent from Corfu to Aegina a “Sanitary Order” containing older but relevant instructions in Venetian, French, Tuscan and papal language. This formed the basis for drafting a Greek public health order for the occasion. Gosse states that «fortunately this health provision came too late», as he considered it useless and outdated (Gosse, pp. 168, 169).

It is doubtful whether foreign doctors from Northern Europe and America had ever seen victims of the plague closely. At least, Gosse mentions that in Hydra it was the first time he saw such a patient when the government called him there on this occasion and he was welcomed by Mavrokordatos himself. The latter (having also studied medicine), had already made the diagnosis: (To Gosse) “I warn you that it is a plague and I advise you to lubricate your hands”. The use of oil was a common practice for protection against the plague. Although Gosse considers it controversial, he believes that it is not completely useless (Gosse, pp. 122, 148). He describes that he approached the patient “like a soldier on the attack”, but was unable to save him.

Microbiology had not yet been developed before the 1860s and the factors that caused infectious diseases were not known (in the case of plague, it was a bacterium with intermediate hosts, rodents and fleas). However, it was known that socializing and sharing objects contributed to the spread of epidemic diseases, and isolation was a common treatment. Various medicines of the time may have helped to treat symptoms, such as fever, but not the basic cause of the epidemics.

One of the prevailing theories about epidemics was that they were caused by a «miasma» (miasma in the European medical terminology of the time) which was transmitted by air or through objects or by physical contact.

This theory had its roots in Hippocrates’ theories and was widespread in Europe throughout the Middle Ages and until the late 19th century. Gosse believed in this theory, which he confirmed from his observations in the field, and so he applied urgent isolation measures, including the construction of quarantine facilities. He produced a detailed record of his observations on the epidemic, and developed some new ideas for treatment. Apart from his book «Relation de la peste qui a régné en Grèce en 1827 et 1828», he recorded relevant details in reports and letters he sent to Kapodistrias, while collecting reports from other doctors. Among the officials of the interim government, Ioannis Kolettis, who was also a doctor, had an active role in the implementation of the public health measures. Other doctors, Greek and from abroad who were in Hydra, Poros, Spetses, Nafplio, Argos, Aegina, joined the fight against the invisible miasma. In the race against the invisible enemy, Gosse also collaborated with other European doctors who served in Ibrahim’s army, listing his names in a catalogue, as usual. The American Philhellene doctor Samuel Howe was in Greece at the same time and offered his services to the navy.

The Greek camp under Dimitrios Ypsilantis in Megarida, was affected, as were many civilians who had found refuge on the small peninsula in Vourkari, which was protected by the Wall. [3] Gosse went there to inspect the situation, assisted by the «smart and active» Pavlos Diamantidis. They also brought with them some basic medicines of the time, which Gosse mentions in a list along with the dosage: Emetics, which were tartaric acids for adults and ipecacuan syrup for children, caustic soda for cauterizing ulcers (fr. charbons) and inguinal lymph nodes, quinine for antipyretic, ammonia, sulfuric acid, herbs, including chamomile, mustard powder for «mustard-blister», honey, vinegar, lemons and oranges, syringes, scalpels, suction cups for bleeding, etc. (Bouvier, pp. 350). Gosse used a lot the sage that grew abundantly in the area as a medicine. Ιn rational terms, this did not have any pharmacological effect on plague (similarly with others), but it may had brought some relief to some patients, and at the same time, due to its previous boiling , it acted as a source of healthy water free of parasites, something hard to find under those conditions.

Ten years later, having gathered all his observations from the epidemic, he wrote that most of the treatments applied by him or other doctors, such as tartar cream (crème de tarter), bandages, acidic drinks, leeches, etc., did not bring any significant reduction in mortality, except the reduction of the cauterization of ulcers and inguinal lymph nodes with caustic potassium (sur les charbons et les bubons) which immediately stopped mortality (Gosse, pp. 142, 145). He also mentions the case of a «charlatan» in Chios who was giving patients a concoction that also contained a small amount of dried tissue from patients’ wounds. He found out that this homeopathic treatment did not work either. It was another time when academic medicine was not much more successful than empirical medicine.

In the small peninsula of the Wall, a miserable situation was prevailing as healthy people were living closely together with the sick and dying, without clean water under the terrible heat of «33 degrees Réaumur», ie 40 Celsius. He visited more than 60 patients, he cauterized the ulcers and administered emetics and quinine in several of them. He ordered the construction of temporary shelters made from branches, to protect the patients from the sun, which he placed at a distance of about 2 meters from each other, so that one could move between them without touching them. Similar quarantine facilities, but better planned, were erected in Aegina, designed by the Austrian consul, archaeologist and Philhellene Georg Christian Gropius (1776-1850). Incidentally, it should be noted that the latter’s great contribution to Greece was the rescue of many antiquities. [4] Gosse left Diamantidis at the Wall and returned to Poros, where the epidemic was adequately controlled by quarantine measures.

From his frequent contact with patients he also fell ill (not from plague) having fever and reaching on the verge of death many times. He went to the hospital to receive medical care, which was founded by the American Philhellenes Samuel Howe and John D. Russ, thanks to donations from American philhellenes in the USA. There, in a crisis of fever late at night, he decided to apply an original treatment to himself: to go boating. Dr. Russ believed that Gosse went crazy and tried to stop him. Following the patient’s insistence, Russ himself took him to a boat, gave him something refreshing, and they took a trip in the cool sea air. They went ashore near a monastery which disposed of a spring of cold water with which Gosse quenched his thirst and inflammation and managed to fall asleep after days of insomnia. He considered the spring water to be healing and sprinkled it in his room. He then moved to Syros and Naxos where he recovered.

Gosse returned to Poros where he worked to settle various issues, but, periodically, he was suffering from fever. As he writes, the inhabitants of Poros offered him great care, sending him supplies and letters of support: «Respected clergymen, ignoring the fact that I am a Protestant, they made public supplications for my recovery. … later, my socializing in Moria made me wholeheartedly appreciate the honesty of the vast majority of these people...» (Gosse, pp. xij). Of course, he does not fail to mention the intrigues and the moral collapse that prevailed among a few powerful people. His morale was then undermined and he began to think about returning to Switzerland. His mother, to whom he had a lavish affection, encouraged his thought of returning to Switzerland through her letters.

Prior to this return, he undertook a new inspection mission in another center of the epidemic, Achaia, where he was interested in investigating the course of the disease in a cold mountain climate. Gosse left Aegina on Christmas Day 1828, crossing the Isthmus of Corinth and continued to Patras by sea. After meeting with French officers of General Maison, he headed to the mountains of Kalavrita. Through snowy landscapes on January 4, he arrived to the village of Visoka, after being in danger of the cold and his fever in the mountains. He examined a number of patients and gave instructions for the application of health measures, but the disease disappeared on its own at the end of the winter.

Summing up the description of the epidemic, Gosse notes that out of the 1113 patients he identified, 783 died and 330 survived. In some areas the mortality was 100%, such as in the Megara camp and in Liguria, Argolis, while in others it was lower. For example, it was 50% in the city of Argos, and even lower in the Wall (Vakalopoulos, catalogue, pp. 205). The disease subsided in the spring of 1829, in his opinion thanks to the climate of Greece and the sparse population.

«Mission completed»

Towards the end of 1828 Gosse’s financial resources were exhausted and Goose was helped by the Epirote merchant of Syra, Apostolos Doumas, as well as by Count Frangopoulos of Naxos. For being treated so well, he wrote “I reaped the fruits of my devotion [to Greeks] and recognized that the reputation that Greeks are ungrateful is unfounded” (Gosse, p. Xj).

Gosse was even in need of borrowing 2,000 piastra from Viaros Kapodistrias. Ioannis Kapodistrias managed to extend Gosse’s stay in Greece because he was in great need of such qualified executive officers. He even wrote to his mother in order for her to give her approval to extend her son’s stay in Greece. Gosse, exhausted by his illness and financial problems, having done his duty as a doctor and administrator of the philhellenic aid, he decided to return to his homeland and rest. He left Greece in the summer of 1829. Kapodistrias expressed his gratitude in writing for the services he had offered. He was declared an honorary citizen of Kalavrita, Poros and Athens (which has not yet managed to give his name to a street). From Switzerland, he continued to correspond with friends in Greece and to be interested in Greek affairs. He continued his cooperation with Eynard who continued to send financial aid to Greece, although by the middle of 1829 the philhellenic alacrity of the Europeans was fading. After all, Greece had secured its independence, while the heroic battles and sacrifices of the Greeks, which were feeding the philhellenism of the West in the past, were diminished.

However, philhellenism continued in a different form. It aimed mainly at the acquisition and liberation of Greek slaves from the slave markets of the Mediterranean (Eynard and Ludwig I also played an important role at this time, too).

In 1838 Gosse visited Greece with his wife and King Othon honored him with the medal of the Struggle and the silver Cross of the Redeemer. The same year he published his observations from the plague epidemic in Greece. There, he summarized the findings of the already existing literature on the treatment of the plague, the treatments and the quarantine measures applied in various plague areas of Greece, statistics, etc.

It is an interesting text that concerns the history of medicine in modern Greece.


The case of Andre Louis Gosse shows one of the many aspects of philhellenism of 1821. He was neither an admirer of ancient Greece, nor a «romantic», he was not an Enlightenment intellectual, nor was he an Orthodox with a Byzantine education. He was a liberal man who enthusiastically viewed the national movements of the post-Napoleonic era, and at the same time, being himself a physician, he was sympathetic towards the daily needs of the people who were the subject of these movements. The Greek reality did not disappoint him and he did not lose his enthusiasm like other former philhellenes did. He was observing and noting the intra-Greek rivalries and the shortcomings of the local leaders, but he was dealing with them with compassion. He attributes these phenomena to the previous slavery and oppression by the Turks, and he was generally refers in a very positive way to the Greeks. Undoubtedly, he knew that similar or even worse things had happened in the recent French Revolution and its aftermath, while the worst of all was the Napoleonic Wars, which was in fact a civil war between Europeans.

Among the two main areas in which he worked, his most important contribution was perhaps in the field of the philhellenic aid management and the administration of certain government mechanisms. The big issue at that time (and maybe, an eternal one) in Greece, was morally sound people to be present in order for them to manage the existing financial capital without it being wasted by corruption.

His medical work was also very important, but it is questionable whether he was irreplaceable in this discipline, or not. Probably other Philhellenes and Greek doctors could have offered equally the same with what he offered, given that they (especially the Greeks) had more experience in epidemics in similar conditions in Greece. Possibly, however, the glamor of the «doctor from Switzerland» offered Gosse a prestige that Greek doctors did not have.

Vakalopoulos nicely summarizes Gosse’s contribution in the final paragraph of his dissertation on Swiss philhellenism:

Gosse, like Eynard, are two striking examples of Europeans who, despite their strong philhellenic consciousness, they face the local problems with concreteness and restrained optimism. Their attitude towards Greeks is the attitude of friends towards their beloved ones, who find it difficult to find their way, an attitude full of deep understanding of their miserable past, of mild strictness for some of their deflections and of sincere intention to help them in their great aim, which is the liberation of their homeland.”

Photo of the title of the Journal de Geneve, and news about the fundraise by Eynard, in favour of the Greeks, 23/3/1826.


[1] Louis-André Gosse should not be confused with the painter Nicolas Louis François Gosse (1787-1878) who also painted some paintings related to the Greek Revolution. The first is mentioned in ancient Greek sources as “Gos(s)is”.

[2] For a detailed description of taxation and lending efforts see Vakalopoulos, p. 121 et seq.

[3] Wall of Megarida. In his work Gosse refers to it as Tychos. Vakalopoulos has rendered it as “Τycho”, but I could not confirm that this is a historically correct name.

[4] Georg Christian Gropius must have been the ancestor of the architects, among which the most famous is Walter Gropius (1883 – 1969), father of the Bauhaus school. See «Gropius (family)», (Familie) with relevant bibliography. For G.C. Gropius there is the study of Emm. Protopsaltis «George Christian Gropius and his action in Greece», Athens, 1947.

Sources – Bibliography:

Bouvier-Bron, Michelle, “La mission médicale de Louis-André Gosse pendant son séjour en Grèce (1827-1829)”, Gesnerus: Swiss Journal of the history of medicine and sciences, 48 (1991), No. 3-4, pp 343- 357.

Gosse Louis-André, Relation de la peste qui a régné en Grèce en 1827 et 1828: contenant des vues nouvelles sur la marche et la traitement de cette maladie. Ab. Cherbuliez et Cie, Paris, 1838.

Tsoucalas Gregory et al., “The Greek physician and politician Ioannis Kapodistrias (1776-1831) and the plague of 1828 in Greece”, Le Infezioni in Medicina, 2021, 29(1):157-159.

Αρχεία της Εθνικής Παλιγγενεσίας, ψηφιοποιημένα στο

Βακαλόπουλος Α. Κωνσταντίνος, «Σχέσεις Ελλήνων και Ελβετών φιλελλήνων κατά την Ελληνική Επανάσταση του 1821», Διδακτορική Διατριβή, Ίδρυμα Μελετών Χερσονήσου του Αίμου, 163, Θεσσαλονίκη, 1975.



William Townsend Washington (1802-1827) was an American Philhellene from the State of Virginia in the United States of America. He was a Lieutenant in the US Army (4th Artillery Regiment). After attending the West Point Military Academy, he spent some time in France, where he befriended General Lafayette (Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, 1757-1834). Upon his return to the United States, Secretary of Defense John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) assigned him a military teaching position.

Excited by the Greek issue, Washington resigned from the US Amy in order to go to Greece. He was aware of the importance his surname carried due to his relationship with the first President of the United States, George Washington. Washington used his name to promote his plans for Greece.

William Townsend Washington arrived in Greece in June 1825 as an envoy of the Philhellenic Committee in Boston. Edward Everett (1794-1865), founder of the Committee, recommended Washington to Alexandros Mavrokordatos, as he strongly believed in this young man’s devotion to the Greek Cause. Washington arrived in Greece wearing an impressive Hussar officer uniform.

This is probably the sixth American Philhellene who came to Greece as an envoy of the committees, based on all records we have up to this date. Some American Philhellenes had already visited Greece before Washington: George Jarvis in 1822; Officer Jonathan Peckham Miller, Navy Officer John M. Allen and Richard W. Ruddock arrived in 1824. The prominent American Philhellene, physician Samuel Gridley Howe, arrived in Greece in early January 1825.

During the period that Washington was active in Greece, the American Philhellene Merrett Bolles arrived from Ohio. He was a captain of the American Navy, who served in the Regular Army in Greece (1825 – July 1826) under the French Philhellene General Charles Fabvier.

Washington arrives in Greece at a very critical point of the Greek Struggle. In the winter of 1824-1825, Ibrahim landed in the Peloponnese. The Greek forces are in disarray, with many chiefs in prison. Papaflessas decides to defend the Greek positions in Maniaki, Messinia, thus preventing Ibrahim’s forces from spreading to the Peloponnese. He falls heroically in the Battle of Maniaki in May 1825. The government appoints Theodoros Kolokotronis chief commander of the army. However, the Greek forces are unable to confront the regular army of Ibrahim.

The French Philhellene Fabvier undertakes to organize a regular army (from July 1825 onwards).

In order to confront Ibrahim, the Greek government asked already in May 1825 the London Philhellenic Committee to reinforce the Greek revolutionary forces with another 4,000 men.

Already in October of the previous year, the Philhellenic Committees in the USA proposed to the London Philhellenic Committee to form and send to Greece a Legion of Philhellenes volunteers, which they would finance. The London Committee requested approval by the Greek government. This proposal was not implemented, probably because the Greek military believed that certain Greek politicians would use this Legion to strengthen their powers. The fighters in the irregular army worried that the existence of a regular army corps would mean that they themselves had to be subject to rules of discipline.

The necessity of a foreign Legion of regular army is recognized by Andreas Louriotis and Ioannis Orlandos, who also negotiated the first national loan to Greece. They suggested Charles James Napier (1782-1853), a British officer and a representative of the British authorities in Cephalonia, to lead this corps. Several Philhellenes agreed that a foreign military corps would assist the Greeks significantly in their Struggle. French Philhellene, General Roche, tried to convince general Georgios Karaiskakis about the positive influence that such a corps would have on the Greek Cause.

Washington arrives in Greece in June 1825, and raises the issue of founding a “Foreign Legion” to further strengthen the Greek Struggle. He does not imagine a corps, which would be staffed exclusively by American volunteers. Washington dreams of an international Legion, composed by Americans, French, Italians, Germans and Irish officers. He accepted that the Greek government would define the percentage of participation for each nation. The soldiers would be recruited in Ireland; in case the British government rejected this option, the soldiers would be found in Switzerland and the USA. It is understandable, that the transfer of volunteers from Ireland and Switzerland was incomparably easier than the one of American volunteers.

Washington had specific plans regarding the formation of this Legion, which he aspired to lead, as he bore a name with historical significance.

In Hydra he met the Kountouriotis family, then went on to Nafplio to meet Alexandros Mavrokordatos. In July 1825 he announces his full plan to Mavrokordatos, citing a detailed calculation of the expenses for the maintenance and transportation of the new army corps. He requests that the volunteers fighting in Greece would have the rights of a Greek citizen after the Liberation. Then Washington formally requests the Greek Administration’s approval for his plan, in order to visit the European capitals (London, Paris and Dublin) and gather his officers. After this he would lead the Legion to Greece.

For the reasons stated above, Washington’s Plan was finally abandoned.

When the Greek politicians submitted an “Act of Subordination” to Great Britain, Washington, along with other Philhellenes, strongly reacted against the possibility of Greece being put under English protection (as was the case for the Ionian Islands), after its liberation from the Ottomans. The American Philhellenes, in consultation with the French General Roche, submitted a written protest to the Greek government asking them not to proceed in such a direction.

In fact, Washington adopted a tough stance against Great Britain, and promoted (along with General Roche) the assignment of the Greek throne to a member of the French royal family. Both of them tried to impose this political line on the Philhellenic Committees in the USA and France. This attitude, however, was renounced by both countries.

This evolution in Greece disappointed Washington, who decided to leave the country in 1825. In fact, he started his journey from Smyrna. While he was in Smyrne, he was wearing a Greek attire, provoking the hateful gaze of the Ottomans. During his trip, he was informed that England would not undertake the protection of Greece. So he asked to go to Messolonghi (October 1825). There he fell ill and was transported to Nafplio.


August 27, 1825: William Townshend Washington, letter from Smyrne


His country’s attitude on the subject hurt him so much that he wrote a harsh letter criticizing strongly his own homeland.

In May 1827 he went to Zakynthos, which was under British administration. There, it is said that he fell in love with Markos Botsaris’ daughter, Vasiliki, whom he asked to marry. Markos’s brother, Costas Botsaris, refused to agree to this marriage.


The daughter of Markos Botsaris (SHP collection / Philhellenism Museum)


After Zakynthos he went to Nafplio, and joined the forces of Chief Photomaras. In fact, it is reported that he fought bravely. At the same time he worked to reconcile the warring factions of the Greeks.


Souliotis chief Nasos Fotomaras (- 1841)


During a clash between Greek factions on July 16, 1827, Washington was eventually killed by a shot fired from Palamidi towards the city of Nafplio. He was taken to the British ship Asia, where he breathed his last. He lost his life at the age of just 25, passionately serving the ideals he believed in and of course Greece, which he dearly loved.

The tomb of the American Philhellene, William Townsend Washington, is located in Hydra, the place where he was hosted when he arrived in Greece.


US Ambassador G. Pyatt at the tomb of William Townsend Washington in Hydra


One thing is certain about the American Philhellene, William Townsend Washington. He fought bravely for Greece, which he loved with an incredible passion.


Sources – Bibliography:

  • Barth, Wilhelm-Kehrig-Korn, Max, Die Philhellenenzeit. Von der Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts bis zur Ermordung Kapodistrias‘ am 9. Oktober 1831, Max Hueber Verlag, Μόναχο, 1960
  • Βαγενάς, Θάνος, Δημητρακοπούλου, Ευρυδίκη, Αμερικανοί Φιλέλληνες Εθελοντές στο Εικοσιένα, Μάτι, Αθήνα, 2017
  • Μαζαράκης-Αινιάν, K. Iωάννης, Αμερικανικός Φιλελληνισμός 1821-1831, Iστορική και Εθνολογική Εταιρεία Ελλάδος, χ.ημ.
  • Αρχείο ΕΕΦ



Gramsi Michele (1786-1873). Italian Philhellene form Naples. Artillery captain of the Army of the Kingdom of Naples. He reached Kalamata on May 1, 1821 and joined the first regular military unit, under the command of French officer Philhellene, Joseph Baleste. From May 15 to June 16, 1821 he took part in the siege of Navarino. On December 4, 1821, he was wounded during the siege of Nafplio. In April 1822 he was responsible for the military recruitment ordered by the Revolutionary Government in the Aegean islands, and contributed to the mobilization of 282 men. He fought in the battle of Dervenakia on July 26, 1822, holding the rank of major. On September 5, 1822 he served in Nafplio. The Second National Assembly of Astros awarded him the rank of colonel in March 1823. For his action, in December 1823, he was honored with an honorable mention by the Executive Corps. In December 1825 he took part in the second siege of Tripolitsa. From February 1826 to May 1827, he took part in the siege of the Acropolis of Athens, as commander of the Artillery of the Regular Army, under the orders of the French Philhellene Charles Fabvier.

He received two medals for his participation in the Greek War for independence.

At the end of the Greek Uprising, he continued to serve in the Greek Army as an officer. He died in 1873 in Athens.

SHP pays tribute to this great Philhellene and his contribution for the liberation of Greece.


Sources – Bibliography:

  • Fornèsy, Henri, «Οι Φιλέλληνες», περ. Εβδομάς, Αθήνα, 1884, Έτος Α΄, αριθ. Φ. 1, κ.ε.
  • Κασιμάτης, Μανόλο, Italiani filelleni 1821-1897. Ιταλοί Φιλέλληνες-εθελοντές 1821-1897, ιδ. εκδ., Αθήνα, 2011.



Franciszek Mierzewski or Mierzejewski (1786 – 1822), was a Polish officer from Warsaw, who served in the French Army.

In 1807, after the Treaty of Tilsit, which led to the liberation of Poland from the Russians and the establishment of the Duchy of Warsaw by the French[1], Mierzewski enlisted in the French Cavalry and was promoted to second lieutenant[2].

In 1808 he was placed in the 1st Polish Light Cavalry Regiment of the French Imperial Guard and served under the orders of the Polish Count Wincenty Krasinski[3]. From this position, he was distinguished in the victorious for the French battle at Somosierra, Spain, on November 30, 1808[4].

In February 1809 he took part in the Portuguese campaign, under French General Jean Soult[5], and then he was assigned missions in Bavaria and Austria. There he was distinguished in the victorious for the French battles of Essling in Bavaria and Wagram in Austria, on May 22, 1809 and on July 5, 1809 respectively[6].

In January 1810, his unit left Bavaria and relocated to Chantilly, France[7]. He stayed there until February 1812 and was promoted to lieutenant[8].

At the end of February 1812 he was transferred to Torun, on the border of the Duchy of Warsaw with Russia[9], to the French Imperial Guard of the French General Louis-Nicholas Davout and his staff[10].

Mierzewski was particularly prominent during the Russian campaign from June to December 1812[11]. For his action in Russia, as well as for his bravery in the battle of Weissenfelds / Lützen on May 2, 1813, he was honored with the medal of the Knight of the Legion of Honor[12].

The Treaty of Fontainebleau on April 4, 1814, led to the first resignation of the French Emperor Napoleon I from the French throne and his exile to the island of Elbe in Italy[13], and the 1st Polish Light Cavalry Regiment of the French Imperial Guard was disbanded[14]. Only one of its units remained active, and followed the French emperor to his exile[15], with lieutenant Mierzewski[16].

Napoleon’s returned from his exile to the French throne on March 20, 1815[17], and this unit joined the Red Lancers Cavalry Division of the French Army under French General Colbert[18]. Mierzewski was an officer of this brigade and he took part in the battles of Ligny and Waterloo, on June 16, 1815 and June 18, 1815 respectively[19].

The Battle of Waterloo led to the final resignation of Napoleon from the French throne on June 22, 1815, the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty on July 8, 1815, and the exile of Napoleon to St. Helen’s Island on July 15, 1815[20], The gradual demobilization of foreign soldiers serving in the French Army followed. In this context, on October 1, 1815, the Polish military was demobilized from the French Army[21]. Mierzewski was demobilized with the rank of captain[22].

After 1815 Mierzejewski left Poland again. He travelled to South America, where he participated in the liberation of New Granada and Venezuela, Spanish colonies, under the command of Simon Bolívar. Then he returned to Europe, and participated in the revolutions triggered by the Italian Carbonari in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (07.1820) and Piedmonte (01-03.1821). After the suppression of the revolutions he left Italy via Naples to Greece.

He was a citizen of an occupied at that time country, for the freedom of which he fought as a French Army officer. When the Greek Revolution broke out, Mierzewski was one of the first to join the philhellenic movement. A little later he traveled to Greece in early 1822 to offer his services as a volunteer.

On April 1, 1822, the Greek Assembly voted a law “on the Organization of the Army” in Nauplio, which led to the establishment of the Regular Army. The leadership was assigned to the emblematic German-Philhellene General, Count Karl Friedrich Leberecht von Normann-Ehrenfels. This law formed the basis of subsequent military legislation[23].

In this context, the Battalion of the Philhellenes was established under the command of the Italian Philhellene, Lieutenant Colonel Andrea Dania. Mierzewski was appointed commander of the 2nd Company of the Batallion of the Philhellenes[24]. Along with the Battalion of the Philhellenes, the 1st Infantry Regiment was formed, under the command of the Italian Philhellene Lieutenant Colonel Pietro Tarella.

The first mission of the Regular Army was to end the siege of Souli by the Ottoman forces. The success of this mission would lead to the renewal of the independence war in Epirus, to the continuous strengthening of the Greek Forces with experienced and ready for combat officers, as well as to the elimination of the danger of the rapid advance of the Ottomans in southern Greece[25].

The first mistake made by the Greek command was that it did not allow the rapid advance of the Greeks and Philhellenes to Arta, which would prevent the gathering of Turkish troops. The troops were also affected by diseases, while they were suffering food shortages. Another important problem was the behavior of the irregular forces, especially those commanded by the chief Bacolas. In fact, many days before the march to Arta started, there were rumors suggesting that Bacolas was in contact with the Turks. Of course, it was impossible to believe that a Greek would betray the struggle and his own compatriots[26].

The Greek forces confronted first the Turks in Kompoti, on June 22, 1822. According to the war plan, “the Philhellenes, as regular soldiers, should not seek the tops of the mountains to defend themselves safely, but had to stay in the dangerous places of strategic importance and not miss the opportunity to confront the enemy”[27]. Based on this, the 1st Infantry Regiment under Tarella and the Battalion of the Philhellenes under Dania, were placed at vital points at the foot of the hills. The enemy attack was successfully repulsed and the Ottomans retreated to Arta with many losses[28].


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


The Philhellenes left Kompoti, weakened by fatigue, illnesses, hunger and thirst, and moved during the night to Peta, where the Turks were gathering their forces. Other Greek forces arrived there and preparations for the battle began.

Disagreements arose in the war council of the leaders as to whether the irregulars or the Regular Army would be at the forefront of the Greek Forces, as well as whether or not to use fortifications (drums). Finally it was decided to form a perimeter towards Peta. Normann was dissatisfied with this decision and, realizing the difficult position of the Greek side, expressed his concerns in a letter to Mavrokordatos[29]. Although he was the leader of the Greek forces, was absent from the battlefield. He had set up his headquarters in Lagada, which was 6 hours away from Peta[30].

In his letter, Normann stressed that the regular soldiers numbered only 515[31]. He also expressed his fear that Bacolas would abandon the Greeks and that the irregulars were unable to offer their support. Mavrokordatos did not take advantage of this experienced officer and insisted on his own plans. The Philhellenes accepted them out of respect[32].

Regarding the second part, the construction of the fortifications was finally imposed, which, as foreign sources confirm, were also used by the Philhellenes, despite Dania’s position, that “our tambourines are our chests”[33].

Another major problem was the lack of discipline and coordination of the troops. After the battle of Kompoti, Gennaios Kolokotronis returned to Peloponnese with his troops, by order of his father, an act for which he was criticized[34]. At the same time, 1.200 fighters left to the north to help the Souliotes. This unit comprised Markos Botsaris, Karatasos, Angelis Gatsos, Georgios Varnakiotis, Alexakis Vlachopoulos and Andreas Iskos. However, they failed to reach Souli and were stopped by the Turks in Plaka, on June 29, 1822. Those who survived returned to Peta. Gogos Bacolas had planned to drag Markos Botsaris to Souli, to trap him in Plaka by the Turks[35].

On the day of the battle of Peta, a unit of Maniates under Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis also arrived in Splantza to help the Greeks. But the unit did not arrive timely to integrate the Greek forces. The Souliote chiefs Lambros Veikos and Vassilios Zervas joined them and they confronted jointly the Ottomans who were sent to repel them. In this battle, Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis himself was killed fighting heroically[36].

All these moves lacked coordination and the Greek forces, that would face the main attack of the Turks, were not organized.

On the morning of July 4, 1822, 7.000 – 8.000 Ottomans who had arrived from Arta, attacked the Greek positions. Normann warmly encouraged the men of the Regular Army and inspected all positions on horseback.

Initially, the Philhellenes and the Regular Army successfully repulsed the enemy. The continuous and coordinated shots caused serious losses to the attackers. A factor of success of this war tactic, is the composure of the soldiers, the constant and fast reloading of their weapons, the incessant firing and the maintenance of the positions without breaking their ranks. The 1st Infantry Regiment and the Battalion of the Philhellenes were an impenetrable wall, as the training which was given previously to them by Baleste (the founder of the first Regular Army in Greece) bore fruit[37].


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


But suddenly a fatal thing happened. Bacolas and his men treacherously left their positions, allowing the Turks to break the lines of the 1st Infantry Regiment and the Battalion of the Philhellenes[38]. Tarella was trying to cheer the men of his Regiment. Finally he was surrounded by the Ottomans, who beheaded him[39]. Mierzewski fought bravely on the front line until the end.

General Normann, the glorious Philhellene, undertook the command of the 1st Infantry Regiment, and led it back into battle, encouraging them: “For the salvation of the Philhellenes! Victory or death”!  In the raid that followed, he was wounded in the chest and taken to the rear to treat his serious injury[40].

Gradually the Regiment began to recede and was now an easy target for the Turkish cavalry. The Philhellenes were abandoned by the irregulars. The Philhellenes and the Greeks for the Ionian islands suffered a disaster. They were surrounded by the enemy at an exposed point and decimated.

Scenes of exemplary heroism unfolded. Dania, was cheering the soldiers of the Battalion of the Philhellenes until the end. He was surrounded by the Ottomans who beheaded him[41].

Mierzewski, leading 15 Polish soldiers of the 2nd Company of the Battalion of Philhellenes, fortified in the church of St. George in the center of Peta and, fighting heroically, he tried to facilitate the retreat of the Greek Forces[42].In fact, the Polish soldiers fought even from the roof of the church. The Ottomans finally set it on fire, as it was impossible to vanquish them. They all fell heroically[43].

The French Captain of the French Army Jean Mignac, officer of the 1st Infantry Regiment, fought with unparalleled bravery. The Turks tried to capture him, taking him, because of his impressive uniform for General Normann. Refusing to surrender, he fought heroically. Wounded all over his body, he confronted the Ottomans leaning on the trunk of an olive tree. Surrounded by a multitude of enemies, he neutralized 14 of them[44]. When his sword broke, he committed suicide cutting his throat[45].

From the volunteers of the Regular Army, 160 Greeks form Ionian islands and Philhellenes fell heroically. Many were taken prisoners to Arta and killed after horrific tortures and brutal humiliation. Many Philhellenes were forced to walk naked for hours, holding in their hands the heads of their comrades[46].

The few survivors gathered in Lagada, among them the tragic figure of the noble hero General Normann, who, as after the battle of Kompoti, arrived last in the camp and was presented to Mavrokordatos, to whom he stated: “We lost everything, Your Highness, except our honor”![47]. The 1st Infantry Regiment, the Battalion of the Philhellenes and a large number of enthusiastic European Philhellenes and Greeks for the Ionian islands no longer existed.


Monument in Peta in honor of the fallen Philhellenes on July 4, 1822.


Polish officer Franciszek Mierzewski, and his Polish comrades, were among the most heroic figures in the Battle of Peta.

Greece and SHP honor the glorious memory of Franciszek Mierzewski and his heroic comrades-in-arms, who fought to the end for the Freedom of the Greeks and are eternally grateful for their sacrifice.



[1] Grab, Alexander, “Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe”, εκδ. McMillan, Νέα Υόρκη, 2003, σελ. 180.
[2] Sinko, Thadeusz, “Udzial Polakow w bojach I pracach Hellady”, εκδ. περ. “Przeglad Wspolczesny”, Βαρσοβία, 1932, τεύχος 125, σελ. 285.
[3] Kwaśniewski, Włodzimierz, “Dzieje szabli w Polsce”, εκδ. Bellona, Βαρσοβία, 1999.
[4] Nieuważny, Andrzej, “Najpiękniejsza z szarż”, εκδ. περ. “Rzeczpospolita“, Βαρσοβία, 2006, τεύχος 123.
[5] Pawly, Ronald, “Napoleon’s Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard”, εκδ. Osprey Publishing, Λονδίνο, 2007.
[6] Chłapowski, Dezydery, “Memoirs of a Polish Lancer”, εκδ. Emperor’s Press, Chicago, 1992.
[7] Brandys, Marian, “Kozietulski i inni”, εκδ. Iskry, Βαρσοβία, 1982, σελ. 222.
[8] Βλ. στο ίδιο, σελ. 225.
[9] Chłapowski, Dezydery,”Memoirs of a Polish Lancer”, εκδ. Emperor’s Press, Chicago, 1992.
[10] Brandys, Marian, “Kozietulski i inni”, εκδ. Iskry, Βαρσοβία, 1982, σελ. 271.
[11] Kukiel, Marian, “Dzieje oręża polskiego w epoce napoleońskiej 1795-1815”, εκδ. Kurpisz, Poznań, 1912.
[12] Συλλογικό, “Greckie źródła do dziejów Rzeczypospolitej”, εκδ. Hellenopolonica, Αθήνα, 2014.
[13] Lieven, Dominic, “Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace”, εκδ. Penguin, Λονδίνο, 2010, σελ. 484.
[14] Pawly, Ronald, “Napoleon’s Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard”, εκδ. Osprey Publishing, Λονδίνο, 2007.
[15] Kukiel, Marian, “Dzieje oręża polskiego w epoce napoleońskiej 1795-1815”, εκδ. Kurpisz, Poznań, 1912, σελ. 468.
[16] Συλλογικό, “Greckie źródła do dziejów Rzeczypospolitej”, εκδ. Hellenopolonica, Αθήνα, 2014.
[17] Chandler, David, “Waterloo: The Hundred Days”, εκδ. Osprey Publishing, Λονδίνο, 1981.
[18] Kukiel, Marian, “Dzieje oręża polskiego w epoce napoleońskiej 1795-1815”, εκδ. Kurpisz, Poznań, 1912, σελ. 470.
[19] Βλ. στο ίδιο, σελ. 475.
[20] Alexander, Robert S., “Bonapartism and Revolutionary Tradition in France: The Federes of 1815”, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1991.
[21] Pawly, Ronald, “Napoleon’s Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard”, εκδ. Osprey Publishing, Λονδίνο, 2007.
[22] 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. 44.
[23] Διεύθυνση Ιστορίας Στρατού, “Η ιστορία του Ελληνικού Στρατού”, εκδ. Γενικό Επιτελείο Στρατού, Αθήνα, 1997.
[24] Elster, Daniel – Johann, “Το Τάγμα των Φιλελλήνων. Η ίδρυση, η εκστρατεία και η καταστροφή του”, εκδ. Ιστορική και Εθνολογική Εταιρεία της Ελλάδος, Αθήνα, 2010.
[25] “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου”, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 1, φακ. 197, σελ. 254.
[26] Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος, σελ. 177.
[27] 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.
[28] Συλλογικό, “Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους”, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 2000, 12ος τόμος, σελ. 232.
[29] “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου”, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 2, φακ. 548, σελ. 135.
[30] Φωτιάδης, Δημήτρης, “Η Επανάσταση του ’21”, εκδ. Μέλισσα, Αθήνα, 1971, β’ τόμος, σελ. 211.
[31] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[32] Woodhouse, Christopher Montague, “The Philhellenes”, εκδ. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison, 1971.
[33] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[34] Κολοκοτρώνης, Γενναίος, “Απομνημονεύματα”, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2006.
[35] Voutier, Olivier, “Απομνημονεύματα του συνταγματάρχη Olivier Voutier από τον πόλεμο των Ελλήνων”, μετ. Ειρήνη Τζουρά, επιμ. Παναγιώτα Παναρίτη, εκδ. Εθνικό Ιστορικό Μουσείο, Αθήνα, 2019.
[36] Περραιβός, Χριστόφορος, “Πολεμικά Απομνημονεύματα. Μάχες του Σουλίου και της Ανατολικής Ελλάδας 1820 -1829”, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2003, σελ. 160.
[37] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 277.
[38] Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος, σελ. 178.
[39] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008.
[40] Gridley Howe, Samuel, “An Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution”, εκδ. White, Gallaher & White, Νέα Υόρκη, 1828.
[41] Fassino, Pier Giorgio, “Andrea Dania”, εκδ. περ.”Accademia Urbense”, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006, σελ. 188.
[42] Συλλογικό, “Greckie źródła do dziejów Rzeczypospolitej”, εκδ. Hellenopolonica, Αθήνα, 2014.
[43] Treiber, Heinrich, “Αναμνήσεις από την Ελλάδα 1822-1828”, επιμ. δρ. Χρήστος Ν. Αποστολίδης, ιδ. εκδ., Αθήνα, 1960.
[44] Pouqueville. F.C.H.L., “Histoire de la régénération de la Grèce, 1740-1824”, επιμ. Albert Schott, J. P. von Hornthal, εκδ. Univ.- Bibl. Heidelberg, Χαϊδελβέργη, 1825.
[45] 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.
[46] Στο ίδιο.
[47] Στο ίδιο.


Bibliography – sources

  • Συλλογικό, “Greckie źródła do dziejów Rzeczypospolitej “, εκδ. Hellenopolonica, Αθήνα, 2014.
  • Grab, Alexander, “Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe“, εκδ. McMillan, Νέα Υόρκη, 2003.
  • Sinko, Thadeusz, “Udzial Polakow w bojach I pracach Hellady“, εκδ. περ. ‘’Przeglad Wspolczesny’’, Βαρσοβία, 1932, τεύχος 125.
  • Kwaśniewski, Włodzimierz, “Dzieje szabli w Polsce“, εκδ. Bellona, Βαρσοβία, 1999.
  • Nieuważny, Andrzej, “Najpiękniejsza z szarż“, εκδ. περ. “Rzeczpospolita“, Βαρσοβία, 2006, τεύχος 123.
  • Pawly, Ronald, “Napoleon’s Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard“, εκδ. Osprey Publishing, Λονδίνο, 2007.
  • Chłapowski, Dezydery, “Memoirs of a Polish Lancer“, εκδ. Emperor’s Press, Chicago, 1992.
  • Brandys, Marian, “Kozietulski i inni“, εκδ. Iskry, Βαρσοβία, 1982.
  • Kukiel, Marian, “Dzieje oręża polskiego w epoce napoleońskiej 1795-1815“, εκδ. Kurpisz, Poznań, 1912.
  • Lieven, Dominic, “Russia Against Napoleon: The True Story of the Campaigns of War and Peace“, εκδ. Penguin, Λονδίνο, 2010.
  • Chandler, David, “Waterloo: The Hundred Days“, εκδ. Osprey Publishing, Λονδίνο, 1981.
  • Alexander, Robert S., “Bonapartism and Revolutionary Tradition in France: The Federes of 1815“, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1991.
  • 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.
  • Διεύθυνση Ιστορίας Στρατού, “Η ιστορία του Ελληνικού Στρατού”, εκδ. Γενικό Επιτελείο Στρατού, Αθήνα, 1997.
  • Elster, Daniel – Johann, “Το Τάγμα των Φιλελλήνων. Η ίδρυση, η εκστρατεία και η καταστροφή του“, εκδ. Ιστορική και Εθνολογική Εταιρεία της Ελλάδος, Αθήνα, 2010.
  • “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου“, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 1, φακ. 197.
  • Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως“, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος.
  • 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.
  • Συλλογικό, “Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους“, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 2000, 12ος τόμος.
  • “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου“, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 2, φακ. 548.
  • Φωτιάδης, Δημήτρης, “Η Επανάσταση του ’21“, εκδ. Μέλισσα, Αθήνα, 1971, β’ τόμος.
  • Woodhouse, Christopher Montague, “The Philhellenes“, εκδ. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison, 1971.
  • Κολοκοτρώνης, Γενναίος, “Απομνημονεύματα“, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2006.
  • Voutier, Olivier, “Απομνημονεύματα του συνταγματάρχη Olivier Voutier από τον πόλεμο των Ελλήνων“, μετ. Ειρήνη Τζουρά, επιμ. Παναγιώτα Παναρίτη, εκδ. Εθνικό Ιστορικό Μουσείο, Αθήνα, 2019.
  • Περραιβός, Χριστόφορος, “Πολεμικά Απομνημονεύματα. Μάχες του Σουλίου και της Ανατολικής Ελλάδας 1820 -1829“, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2003
  • St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence“, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008.
  • Gridley Howe, Samuel, “An Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution“, εκδ. White, Gallaher & White, Νέα Υόρκη, 1828.
  • Fassino, Pier Giorgio, “Andrea Dania“, εκδ. περ.”Accademia Urbense”, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006.
  • Treiber, Heinrich, “Αναμνήσεις από την Ελλάδα 1822-1828“, επιμ. δρ. Χρήστος Ν. Αποστολίδης, ιδ. εκδ. , Αθήνα, 1960.
  • Pouqueville. F.C.H.L., “Histoire de la régénération de la Grèce, 1740-1824“, επιμ. Albert Schott, J. P. von Hornthal, εκδ. Univ.- Bibl. Heidelberg, Χαϊδελβέργη, 1825.
  • 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.


Portrait of Belgian Philhellene De Lannoy Augustin (SHP collection)


De Lannoy, (Guillaume) Augustin (also written as Delannoy, Delannoi, Delanoi) was a volunteer from Brussels, Belgium. According to some sources (i.e. Fornezy) a certain “Delannoi” was reported to be part of the Battalion of the Philhellenes commanded by General Norman. Same sources argue that he fought in Peta in July 1822.

However, according to Belgian newspapers (e.g. Le Courrier de la Meuse of 5 June 1826), Augustin De Lannoy and N.J. Trumper left Belgium in 1824 for Greece.

De Lannoy participated in many fundraising concerts and commemoration services, to support the Greek cause, and his name appeared often in the European press.


Τhe program of June 3, 1826, of one of the many concerts that took place in favor of the Greeks in Europe. The aim of these events was to raise money for the financial support of the Greeks, and to promote the rights of Greece (SHP collection).


As of his arrival in Greece in 1824, he joined the Regular Army under General Fabvier and he was appointed Captain of the Light Infantry of the Third Greek battalion. In 1826 he moved with the army units which stationed in Troizina, with a mission to stop the forces of “Ibrahim-Pacha”. In this context, he participated in many operations until June 1826 and very likely also in the battle of Myloi, where 500 Greek fighters and Philhellenes defeated an army of 6600 Ottomans led by Ibrahim-Pascha himself.

A little later he died on the island of Andros of 6 July 1826.

His contribution was recognized and his name figures on the monument of Toure in the church of The Transfiguration of the Saviour in Nafplio.


The Catholic Church of Metamorphosis tou Sotiros (The Transfiguration of the Saviour) in Nafplion and the Touret Arch memorial of Philhellenes at its entrance.


SHP and the people of Greece pay tribute to this great Belgian Philhellene, and honor his memory, together with the one of all his Belgian comrades who offered their services, and even their lives, to the Greek war of independence, as volunteers in Greece or through their participation in the philhellenic movement in Belgium.



Carl Anton Joseph Rottmann was a famous German landscape painter and a beloved painter of the Bavarian king Ludwig I (1786 – 1868). He was famous for his mythical-heroic themes in his painting. Rottmann’s greatest artistic achievement was the creation of the “Greek Circle” (Griechenlandzyklus), a series of romantic landscape paintings of Greece, which he created after an assignment by Ludwig I. He was considered to be the “most important landscape painter of Munich”, and was one of the first German painters to accomplish realistic pictures of Greece (as noted by the German architect, Leo von Klenze, 1784-1864). The importance of his contribution was recognized in his time, and, after his death, a room of the New Gallery of Munich (Neue Pinakothek) was dedicated exclusively to the exhibition of the works of the “Greek Circle” (1853). He is the only artist to be awarded such an honor at the Neue Pinakothek.

He was born on 11 January 1797 in the Handschuhsheim district of Heidelberg and apprenticed with his father, Friedrich Rottmann, who taught painting at the city’s University. Carl’s younger brother, Leopold, also became a painter; without reaching an equal fame. Carl Rottmann´s mastery in using watercolor and the power of his compositions can be already seen in some of his first works. He was influenced by the Dutch landscape painters, the Frenchman Claude Lorrain (1600-1682), and the Englishman George Augustus Wallis (1761-1847), with whom he became associated during the latter’s stay in Heidelberg. Rottmann, along with his compatriots Philipp Fohr (1795-1818) and Ernst Fries (1801-1833), was one of Heidelberg’s leading Romantic painters, and influenced a number of younger landscape painters.

His moving to Munich in 1821 was a turning point in his rise as an artist. Through his wife, Friedericke Sckell, and her family circle, he came in contact with the Bavarian monarch, Ludwig I. Ludwig´s ideological and artistic program aimed to promote the Wittelsbach House in Munich, as well as to emphasize the common cultural heritage of the emerging new Greek state and Bavaria. The architectural buildings and the urban redesign of the “Athens on the Isar”, as well as the new artworks that were created, clearly supported this ideological program. As a patron of the arts, Ludwig Ι soon formed a circle of favored painters and architects around him. One of his favorite artists was Rottmann (from 1841 onwards the official “painter of the royal court” – Hofmaler), to whom he commissioned the illustration of the galleries of the garden of Munich (Hofgarten) with Italian landscapes. The accessible to the public gardens would offer a “free history lesson”. The Bavarian monarch chose to emphasize his homeland’s relationship with Italy through an artistic tour of the neighboring country. In order for Rottmann to enrich his repertoire of images with realism, Ludwig instructed him to visit Italy (1826-1827). Thus he created 28 idyllic topographies (frescoes) by 1828, which were originally intended to be exhibited at the Hofgarten.

The cycle of the “Italian works” paved the way for another important assignment of Ludwig I to Rottmann. The eldest son of the monarch, Othon, had already been crowned King of Greece in 1832, and the creation of some monumental works that would underline the alliance and friendship between the two countries were needed. Thus Ludwig financed Rottmann´s transition to the newly built Greek state (1834-1835) to collect material for the creation of “Greek works” in the northern wing of the Hofgarten galleries. These works would complete the program of idyllic – romantic landscape that was inaugurated with the Italian themes. The original plan was to create 38 scenes. Apart from Rottmann, Ludwig’s envoys to Greece were the painters Ferdinand Stademann (1791-1873), Ludwig Lange (1808-1868), Peter von Hess (1792-1871), the army officers / painters Karl Wilhelm Freiherr von Heideck (-1861) and Karl Krazeisen (1794-1878), as well as the architect Leo von Klenze (1784-1864). Peter von Hess was also commissioned by Ludwig I to create images from the Greek Revolution for the Hofgarten’s north portico.

Ludwig Lange was an important companion of Rottmann in Greece, who provided him with valuable advice on his architectural plans. Rottmann encountered difficulties during his one-year journey, as evidenced by a number of letters he wrote at the time. He toured both mainland Greece (Athens, Corinth, Nafplio, Tiryns, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Nemea, Sparta, Thebes) and the islands (Evia, Naxos, Delos), and created hundreds of sketches of the landscapes he visited, sometimes panoramic representations with pencil and watercolor.


Sunset in Epidaurus, Carl Rottmann, oil on canvas (SHP collection).


The image of the war-torn Greece that the painter came across during his twelve-month stay was far from the idealized “Arcadia” that Ludwig I wanted to promote. For the depictions of places of significant historical importance, e.g. “Schlachtfeld von Marathon” (the battlefield of Marathon), Rottmann avoided narrating events through the depiction of persons, assigning it more to the elements of nature, animals or weather phenomena, with which he “confesses” the historical events to his viewer. He also tried to combine the evidence of antiquity with the Greek modern presence, as in “Athen, vom Brunnen aus” (view of Athens from a fountain). These choices made him the proponent of a new “romantic, heroic landscape”. His works stand out for their skillful rendering of light and subtle shades of sky. The expression “Rottmannhimmel” (Rottmann sky) as a reference to a clear blue sky survives in Munich up to this day.

After returning to Munich in October 1834, he transferred his drafts to watercolors, in order to present them to Ludwig I and gain his approval for their transfer to the Hofgarten. For the “Greek Circle” he first used encaustic painting, which guaranteed longevity in the works, then experimented with the use of resin. By 1849, he had created 23 landscapes, thus reducing the number of works originally planned. The idea of their outdoor exhibition was abandoned. From 1853 the scenes were on display in a special room of the New Gallery in Munich that bore his name (Rottmann-Saal, Neue Pinakothek). This room, together with the New Gallery building, was closed with the outbreak of World War II. Due to their weight, the images could only be moved to the basement of the museum, where they suffered a significant damage. In 2003 a new Rottmann room was created in the new building of the New Gallery (1981), where 14 of his 19 restored paintings were exhibited.

Carl Rottmann died in Munich on July 7, 1850, just a few weeks after completing his last painting of the “Greek Circle”. His tomb is located in the Alter Südfriedhof in Munich.


Bust of Carl Rottmann, lithography, 19nth century.


SHP honors the great painter and Philhellene Carl Rottmann, who preserved for the younger generations the image of Greece that he confronted during the first years of the Greek state, through his atmospheric landscapes.


Sources – Bibliography

  • Fuhrmeister, Christian; Jooss, Birgit (Hrsg.), Isar/Athen Griechische Künstler in München – Deutsche Künstler in Griechenland, Μόναχο 2008.
  • Kepetzis, Ekaterini, „Imagination und Wirklichkeit. Griechenlandrezeption in der westeuropäischen Malerei“, στο: Κonstantinou, Evangelos (Hrsg.), Das Bild Griechenlands im Spiegel der Völker (17. bis 18. Jahrhundert), Philhellenische Studien Band 14, Peter Lang, Frankfurter am Main 2008.
  • Kepetzis, Ekaterini, Rezension von: Herbert W. Rott / Renate Poggendorf / Elisabeth Stürmer: Carl Rottmann. Die Landschaften Griechenlands, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz 2007, στο KUNSTFORM 9 (2008), Nr. 1,
  • Μιχαήλ, Γιάννης, «Δέκα τόνοι Ελλάδα», Το Βήμα, 25.11.2008.