“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.

 

SOURCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY:

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  • Beaton Roderick, From Ancient to Modern: Byron, Shelley, and the Idea of Greece, panoreon.gr.
  • Βeaton Roderick, Kittmer John, Βλαβιανός Χάρης, Ήταν “μνημονιακός” ο Μπάιρον; H πραγματική συμβολή του άγγλου ποιητή στον Αγώνα του 1821. Διάλεξη, Megaron Plus, 13/04/2016.
  • Brewer, David, H φλόγα της Ελευθερίας 1821-1833, Πατάκης, 2020.
  • Christiansen, Rupert, Romantic Affinities: Portraits from an Age, 1780–1830, 1989, Cardinal.
  • Dakin, Douglas, Η ενοποίηση της Ελλάδας 1770-1923, Μορφωτικό Ίδρυμα Εθνικής Τραπέζης, Αθήνα 2005.
  • Droulia, Loukia, The Revival of the Greek Ideal and Philhellenism. A Perambulation, Institute for Neohellenic Research/NHRF, in: Filhellenizm w Polce. Rekonesans, 2007.
  • Κανελλόπουλος, Παναγιώτης, Λόρδος Βύρων, Εκδόσεις Διον. Γιαλλέλης, Αθήνα 1983.
  • Καστρίτη, Νατάσα, Η Ελλάδα του 21 με τη ματιά των Φιλελλήνων. Γαλλική φιλελληνική παραγωγή από τις συλλογές του Εθνικού Ιστορικού Μουσείου, Αθήνα 2006.
  • Κεφαλληναίου, Ευγενία, Οι ανδριάντες του Βύρωνα, ένθετο 7 Ημέρες, εφημερίδα Καθημερινή, 2000.
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  • Κυριάκης, Θωμάς, Η πρόσληψη «εθνικών αξιών» στην περίπτωση του Ιγνατίου Ουγγροβλαχίας, cognoscoteam,30/06/2020.
  • Mac Carthy, Fiona, BΥΡΩΝ. Ο βίος και ο θρύλος, ποταμός, Αθήνα 2005.
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  • Τρούσας, Φώντας, Όταν ο Νίκος Σπάνιας μετέφραζε ένα ασύλληπτο ποίημα του Λόρδου Βύρωνα, εφημερίδα Lifo, 11.03.2016.

 

 

Andrea Dania (1775 – 1822), was an Italian soldier, Philhellene and one of the pioneers of the Regular Army in Greece, a heroic figure in the battle of Peta.

He was born in Ovada, Genoa. His parents were Francesco di Domenico Dania and Francesca Maria Beraldi, while his uncle was Angelo Vincenzo Dania, a cardinal and member of the Dominican Monastic Order[1].

The families of Dania’s parents belonged to the high society of Genoa and included clergy, intellectuals and military[2]. Inspired by the latter’s steps, he enlisted in the Militia of the Republic of Genoa in 1793[3].

The Republic of Genoa was overthrown on June 14, 1797 and then the French established the Republic of Liguria. Dania enlisted on November 26 of the same year, with the rank of second lieutenant, in the Battalion of Shooters and Engineers in the Ligurian Volunteer Legion, which formed the basis of the National Guard of the Republic of Liguria[4].

In the period 1798 – 1799 Dania fought under the orders of the French generals Joubert and Morau, against the Russian-Austrian troops, commanded by the important Russian General Alexander Suvorov[5]. For his bravery and his skills as a commander, he was promoted to lieutenant and placed in General Calori’s staff. Calori recruited the citizens of Genoa in April 1800 and organized them to resist a possible attack by the Austrian General, Baron Franz Anton von Elsnitz[6].

After contributing significantly to the success of General Calori’s work, Dania was seconded to the rank of lieutenant in the 12th Dragon Regiment of the French Army and took part in the victorious battle of Marengo for the French on June 14, 1800[7]. His action was appreciated and he was appointed aid de camp of the Military Command of Genoa, on July 13, 1801[8].

Because of his adventurous nature, Dania was appointed on February 1, 1805, in the Gendarmerie, with the rank of colonel, tasked with pursuing the robbery[9]. In June 1805, the Republic of Liguria, shortly before its annexation to France, honored him for his bravery and ability with the Order of Military Value[10].

With the annexation of the Republic of Liguria to France, the Gendarmerie of the Republic of Liguria was integrated as a cavalry unit in the French Army, renamed to 56th Dragon Regiment, placed under the command of the French Lieutenant Galliot and incorporated into the 12th French Regiment of Dragons[11]. Dania took command of its Artillery[12].

During his service in the 12th Dragon Regiment of the French Army, Dania took part in the battle of Talavera on July 27, 1809[13], which ended in a strategic victory for the French. He then served in occupied Madrid from 1810 to 1811[14], distinguished himself at the Battle of Salamanca on 22 July 1812[15], and fought at the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June 1813, which led to the withdrawal of the French from Spain[16]. For this action, he was honored in August 1813 with the Order of the Legion of Honor by the French Government[17].

With the departure of the French from Spain, Dania returned to Genoa, which now belonged to the Kingdom of Piedmont. Upon his recovery, he was appointed commander of the 12th Dragon Brigade of the Piedmontese Army, with the rank of cavalry major[18] and was subsequently demobilized[19].

Andrea Dania. 19nth century oxygraphy. Academy Urbense, Ovada.

Dania came from an environment of cultured people, with a classical education, love for Greek culture and philhellenic feelings. The liberation struggle of the Greeks moved him and with the beginning of the Greek Revolution of 1821, Dania is one of the first Philhellenes to go to Greece on June 7, 1821[20]. In fact, he traveled from Trieste to Hydra, on the same ship with Dimitrios Ypsilantis, Panagiotis Anagnostopoulos, the brave French Philhellene Joseph Baleste and the great Italian Philhellene, Lieutenant Colonel Pietro Tarella[21].

On July 2, 1821, he took part in the battle for the liberation of Tripolitsa. When the battle was over, Dania, Tarella, the British chief of staff of Ypsilantis and important Philhellene Thomas Gordon, most of the Philhellenes, and Ypsilantis himself, undertook other missions and did not attend the entrance of the Greeks in Tripolitsa on September 23, 1821[22].

After the capture of Tripolitsa, Dania participated in the first operation for the liberation of Nafplio, which took place in December 1821[23]. During this period the Greek administration was trying to establish a Regular Army[24]. For this purpose, the Parliament passed in Nafplio, on April 1, 1822, a Law “On the Organization of the Army”, which formed the basis of the subsequent military legislation[25].

Andrea Dania in Greece. Lithography of the 19nth century.

The Battalion of the Philhellenes was established in this context, and Dania took over its command. The duties of Commander-in-Chief of the Regular Army were assigned to the important German Philhellene, General, Count Karl Friedrich Leberecht von Normann-Ehrenfels. His direct collaborator was Pietro Tarella, who assumed the duties of commander of the 1st Infantry Regiment. The first mission of the Regular Army was the termination of the siege of Souli in north-western Greece, by the Ottoman forces. This operation would result in the resurgence of the Liberation Struggle in Epirus, the strengthening of the Greek Forces with experienced and combative officers, and the removal of the danger of the Ottomans descending to suppress the Revolution towards the south[26].

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[27].

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[28]. 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[29].

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[30]. 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[31]. In his letter, Normann stressed that the regular soldiers now numbered only 515[32]. 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[33].

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”[34].

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[35]. 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[36].

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[37].

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[38].

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[39]. 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)[40].

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[41]. 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[42]. 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[43]. 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[44].

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[45].

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“![46]. 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 the heroic Philhellene Andrea Dania and his brave comrades-in-arms, who fought to the end for the Independence of Greece and are eternally grateful for their sacrifice.

 

References

[1] Fassino, Pier Giorgio, ”Andrea Dania, ovadese: eroe dell’Indipendenza greca”, εκδ. περ.”URBS”, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006, σελ. 180.
[2] Βλ. στο ίδιο, σελ. 181.
[3] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[4] Barbagallo, C., ”Storia Universale -Dall’età Napoleonica alla fine della prima Guerra Mondiale (1799 – 1919)”, εκδ. UTET, Τορίνο, 1964.
[5] Gachot, Édouard, ”Les campagnes de 1799. Souvarow en Italie”, εκδ. Perrin et cie., Παρίσι, 1903.
[6] Furse, George Armand, ”Marengo and Hohenlinden”, εκδ. Worley Publications, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1993.
[7] Benoît, Jérémie, ”Marengo: Une victoire politique”, εκδ. Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Παρίσι, 2000.
[8] Calandra, E., “ La bufera”, εκδ. Mondadori, Μιλάνο, 1964, σελ. 205.
[9] Ruggiero, M., “ La Storia dei Briganti Piemontesi”, εκδ. Alzani Editore, Pinerolo, 1998.
[10] Fassino, Pier Giorgio, “Andrea Dania, ovadese: eroe dell’Indipendenza greca”, εκδ. περ.”URBS”, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006, σελ. 183.
[11] Βλ. στο ίδιο, σελ. 186.
[12] Barbagallo, C., “Storia Universale – Dall’età Napoleonica alla fine della prima Guerra Mondiale (1799 – 1919)”, εκδ. UTET, Τορίνο, 1964.
[13] Field, Andrew, “Talavera: Wellington’s First Victory in Spain”, εκδ. Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, 2006.
[14] Fassino, Pier Giorgio, “Andrea Dania, ovadese: eroe dell’Indipendenza greca”, εκδ. περ.”URBS”, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006, σελ. 186.
[15] Fletcher, Ian, “Salamanca 1812: Wellington Crushes Marmont”, εκδ. Osprey, Λονδίνο, 1997.
[16] Fletcher, Ian, “Vittoria 1813: Wellington Sweeps the French from Spain”, εκδ. Praeger Publishers, Νέα Υόρκη, 2005.
[17] Fassino, Pier Giorgio, “Andrea Dania, ovadese: eroe dell’Indipendenza greca”, εκδ. περ.”URBS”, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006, σελ. 186
[18] Φορνέζης, Ερρίκος, “Οι Φιλέλληνες”, εκδ. περ. ”Εβδομάς”, Αθήνα, 1884, σελ.27.
[19] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[20] Πρασσά, Αννίτα, “Ο Φιλελληνισμός και η Επανάσταση του 1821”, εκδ. Δημιουργία, Αθήνα, 1999.
[21] Ξάνθος, Εμμανουήλ, “Απομνημονεύματα περί της Φιλικής Εταιρείας”, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 1996, σελ. 168.
[22] Persat, Maurice, “Memoires du Commandant Persat. 1806 à 1844”, εκδ. Librairie Plon, Παρίσι, 1910, σελ. 87-88.
[23] Συλλογικό, “Italy on the Rimland. Storia Militare di una Penisola Eurasiatica”, εκδ. Società Italiana di Storia Militare, Ρώμη, 2019, 1ος τόμος, σελ. 143.
[24] “Τα Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας”, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1857, α’ τόμος, σελ. 272.
[25] Διεύθυνση Ιστορίας Στρατού, “Η ιστορία του Ελληνικού Στρατού”, εκδ. Γενικό Επιτελείο Στρατού, Αθήνα, 1997.
[26] “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου”, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 1, φακ. 197, σελ. 254.
[27] Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος, σελ. 177.
[28] 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.
[29] Συλλογικό, “Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους”, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 2000, 12ος τόμος, σ. 232.
[30] “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου”, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 2, φακ. 548, σελ. 135.
[31] Φωτιάδης, Δημήτρης, “Η Επανάσταση του ’21”, εκδ. Μέλισσα, Αθήνα, 1971, β’ τόμος, σελ. 211.
[32] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[33] Woodhouse, Christopher Montague, “The Philhellenes”, εκδ. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison 1971.
[34] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[35] Κολοκοτρώνης, Γενναίος, “Απομνημονεύματα”, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2006.
[36] Voutier, Olivier, “Απομνημονεύματα του συνταγματάρχη Olivier Voutier από τον πόλεμο των Ελλήνων”, μετ. Ειρήνη Τζουρά, επιμ. Παναγιώτα Παναρίτη, εκδ. Εθνικό Ιστορικό Μουσείο, Αθήνα, 2019.
[37] Περραιβός, Χριστόφορος, “Πολεμικά Απομνημονεύματα. Μάχες του Σουλίου και της Ανατολικής Ελλάδας 1820 -1829”, εκδ. Βεργίνα, Αθήνα, 2003, σελ. 160.
[38] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 277.
[39] Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος,σελ. 178.
[40] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Books, Λονδίνο, 2008.
[41] Gridley Howe, Samuel, “An Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution”, εκδ. White, Gallaher & White, Νέα Υόρκη, 1828, σελ.
[42] Fassino, Pier Giorgio, “Andrea Dania”, εκδ. περ.”Accademia Urbense”, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006, σελ. 188.
[43] Τράιμπερ, Ερρίκος, “Αναμνήσεις από την Ελλάδα 1822- 1828”, επιμ. δρ. Χρήστος Ν. Αποστολίδης, ιδ. εκδ., Αθήνα, 1960, σελ. 136.
[44] 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.
[45] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[46] Βλ. στο ίδιο.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Fassino, Pier Giorgio, “Andrea Dania, ovadese: eroe dell’Indipendenza greca”, εκδ. περ. “URBS”, Ovada, Σεπτέμβριος 2006.
  • Barbagallo, C., “Storia Universale -Dall’età Napoleonica alla fine della prima Guerra Mondiale (1799 – 1919)”, εκδ. UTET, Τορίνο, 1964.
  • Gachot, Édouard, “Les campagnes de 1799. Souvarow en Italie“, εκδ. Perrin et cie., Παρίσι, 1903.
  • Furse, George Armand, “Marengo and Hohenlinden“, εκδ. Worley Publications, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1993.
  • Benoît, Jérémie, “Marengo: Une victoire politique”, εκδ. Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Παρίσι, 2000.
  • Calandra, E., “La bufera“, εκδ. Mondadori, Μιλάνο, 1964.
  • Ruggiero, M., ”La Storia dei Briganti Piemontesi“, εκδ. Alzani Editore, Pinerolo, 1998.
  • Field, Andrew, “Talavera: Wellington’s First Victory in Spain”, εκδ. Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, 2006.
  • Fletcher, Ian, “Salamanca 1812: Wellington Crushes Marmont“, εκδ. Osprey, Λονδίνο, 1997.
  • Fletcher, Ian, “Vittoria 1813: Wellington Sweeps the French from Spain“, εκδ. Praeger Publishers, Νέα Υόρκη, 2005.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

 

Officer of the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.

 

Edward Blaquiere (1779-1832), was a British officer and pioneer Philhellene, a founding member of the Philhellenic Committee of London.

He was born in Dublin, Ireland, to a noble family of French descent who had taken refuge in Great Britain in 1685 due to the revocation of the Nantes Judgment[1]. His father was the retired lieutenant colonel James Blaquiere (1726 – 1803), former officer of the 13th Dragon Regiment[2].

Edward Blaquiere followed his father’s footsteps, and in January 1794 enlisted in the British Royal Navy[3]. On April 23, 1794, he took part in the victorious for the British Battle of Guernsey[4]. On June 23, 1795, he took part in the naval battle of Croix[5].

On October 7, 1795, he served in the frigate “Fortitude”, and fought in the naval battle of the Cape of St. Vincent in Portugal[6]. This naval battle was devastating for the British Royal Navy and Blaquiere escaped capture by chance.

On August 1, 1798, he took part in the victorious British naval battle of Aboukir in Egypt[7].During this period he served under the command of Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758 – 1805), as an officer on the liner “Vanguard”, which was the flagship of the British Mediterranean Fleet[8].

From September 1798 to September 1800, Blaquiere continued his service on the liner Vanguard. He even distinguished himself in the siege of Malta[9]. His bravery, as well as his dedication to duty, led to his promotion to second lieutenant on July 20, 1801[10]. A few days before, on July 12, 1801, he had taken part in the second naval battle of Algeciras[11], under his capacity of officer of “Caesar”, under the orders of Admiral James Saumarez (1757-1836)[12].

On October 21, 1805, he fought in the naval battle of Trafalgar[13], as an officer of the “Temeraire’’[14]. For his bravery, he was promoted to lieutenant[15]. At the end of the same year he took part in the defense of Sicily[16].

From 1810 to 1811, he served as a captain in the British Mediterranean Fleet. This position offered him the opportunity to get in touch with many residents of the wider area and to better observe the treatment of the enslaved population of the Ottoman Empire. During his tenure in the Mediterranean, he was seconded to Tripoli, Libya, and Tunis, Tunisia[17]. During this period of service in the British Navy, Blaquiere began to develop his first Philhellenic sentiments[18].

In mid-1812 he was stationed in the Naval Command of Valletta, Malta[19]. He served there until 1816[20]. His skills as a commander, as well as his previous action, led to his promotion to lieutenant in 1816[21].

At the same time he came in contact with the philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)[22], of whom he was an admirer since 1802. Blaquiere had admired the work “Traités de législation, civile et pénale”, which was extremely progressive for his era, as it promoted the need to rearrange the legal system. This contact proved to be particularly beneficial for Blaquiere, because these ideals forged his Philhellenism[23]. At the same time this contact was the cause for Blaquiere to meet his later close friend and collaborator in the Philhellenic Committee of London, politician, economist, diplomat, writer and translator, John Bowring. Bowring was also a student of Bentham[24] (and even his most preferred).

Blaquiere resigned from the British Royal Navy in 1820 with the rank of captain, to pursue unhindered his personal interests[25] and later the promotion of Philhellenism.

After resigning from the British Royal, Blaquiere was funded by Bentham to visit Spain in June 1820, with the aim of strengthening the constitutional movement[26]. There he met with the military leader of the constitutionalists, General Rafael del Riego y Flórez, and became close friends with the political leaders Agustín Argüelles and José Joaquín de Mora, founder of the newspaper “El Constitucional“[27]. He also contributed greatly to the drafting of speeches of Antonio Puigblanch at the Spanish National Assembly[28].

Along with his contacts and activities, Blaquiere travels around Spain and keeps notes, not only on the political situation, but also on the manners, customs and intellectual movement[29].

In October 1822, Blaquiere was forced to return to England, as the Spanish constitutional movement was condemned by the Congress of Verona. French forces were already crossing the border to join the army loyal to King Ferdinand in order to suppress the constitutional movement[30].

Upon his return to England, Blaquiere contacted Bentham and Bowring again, this time working systematically to promote Philhellenism. The results of their actions soon led to the establishment of the Philhellenic Committee of London.

Indeed, on February 28, 1823, the Philhellenic Committee of London was founded[31]. . Blaquiere, Lord Byron, Jeremy Bentham, Lieutenant Colonel Leicester Stanhope, 5th Earl of Harrington, and John Bowring were its founding members[32].

In March 1823, Edward Blaquiere traveled to Greece for the first time as a representative of the Philhellenic Committee of London. On this trip he accompanied Andreas Louriotis, a representative of the first Greek Government, which needed foreign borrowing to continue the Independence Struggle[33]. The first stop was Genoa, Italy. Louriotis had received a letter of recommendation from John Cam Hobhouse, a Philhellene, member of the Philhellenic Committee of London and personal friend of Lord Byron. Using this letter and the help of Blaquiere, they met Lord Byron[34]. This meeting aimed to encourage Lord Byron to take active action in Greece.

When he arrived in Greece, Blaquiere studied the situation and tried to diagnose the main weaknesses and priorities of the Greek revolutionaries. One of the first things he noticed was the need to establish a Regular Regular Army, as the first Regular Army was destroyed at the Battle of Peta on July 4, 1822[35]. Blaquiere informed the Philhellenic Committee of London of this need[36] in a series of letters. In fact, these letters are inspired by the same spirit as that of Lord Byron, who believed that the battlefields are the first school of freedom, and that freedom is first conquered by military means. This school considered that the sword precedes the pen, unlike that of Stanhope, who (although he was also a military man), considered (and even emphatically) that the most powerful weapon is the “pen” (i.e. the promotion of education and the press)[37]. This, however, in no way negates the fact that all these wonderful people and conscious Philhellenes, tried to help Greece, with Lord Byron offering his own life in Messolonghi on April 7, 1824[38].

In May 1823 Blaquiere returned to London and submitted to the Philhellenic Committee his report on the situation in Greece[39]. From August to November 1823 he toured Great Britain and came in contact with many important people, in order to raise public awareness about the struggle of the Greeks and to find new funds to support the Greek Revolution[40]. At the same time, Blaquiere systematically corresponds with Lord Byron and Stanhope[41].

After this tour and correspondence, Blaquiere arrives in early December 1823 in British-ruled Kefalonia[42]. There he meets Lord Byron and Stanhope, and joins their staff. On December 24, 1823 he arrived in Messolonghi[43].

Edward Blaquiere collaborated with Lord Byron and Stanhope until Byron’s death on April 7, 1824. During this time he visited with Stanhope the leaders of the warring factions in Central Greece (during the civil strife), and contributed to their reconciliation[44].

What characterized Blaquiere as a personality, was his cultural cultivation, his experience as a commander and especially his vision for a permanent unity of the Greeks. Moreover, the element that differentiated him from Stanhope and other more pragmatic British Philhellenes, was that his Philhellenism was romantic and that he supported the need for help of the Greeks unconditionally. Stanhope and his colleagues, on the other hand, believed that aid should be combined with a concrete plan and a strategy.

Blaquiere was a real Philhellene, who loved Greece to the end. He constantly wrote and sent articles and many letters to important people abroad. In all cases, he called on his British compatriots to fight for the Greek cause, either by coming to Greece or by strengthening the liberation struggle financially.

This action made him especially beloved among the Greeks, who saw that they had an extremely important and stable ally on the international scene.

The death of Lord Byron on April 7, 1824, as well as Stanhope’s clash with Kountouriotis and Mavrokordatos, forced Blaquiere to leave Greece in May 1824 with Stanhope[45]. In fact, they both returned with the same ship that carried the body of Lord Byron.

However, Blaquiere’s interest in Greece remained alive and strong. He continues to maintain dense correspondence with important Greeks, such as Costas Botsaris[46]. In the period 1825 – 1828, he wrote and published three books: “Narrative of a Second Visit to Greece”, “Greece and her Claims” and “Letters from Greece”, through which he informs and sensitizes the British public opinion about the events in Greece.

 

BLAQUIÈRE Edward. “Narrative of a second visit to Greece, including facts connected with the last days of Lord Byron”. London, Geo. B. Whittaker, 1825. First edition. It contains a lithograpgh of Athens by J.D. Harding, and a letter of the Greek Society of Friends of Music (SHP collection).

 

After the end of the Greek Revolution, Blaquiere continued his work in favor of movements for independence and civil rights in Europe and Latin America. In early 1832 he undertook a mission in the Azores, in an attempt to contribute to the creation of a constitutional monarchy in Portugal, under Peter I of Portugal, who was also the former emperor of Brazil and had abdicated the throne of Brazil in his favor of his son[47]. Unfortunately, the ship on which he had boarded sank and this active freedom fighter lost his life.

Edward Blaquiere was (along with Bowring), the main guiding force of the Philhellenic Committee of London, and he greatly benefited with his work the struggle for the liberation of the Greeks. SHP and Greece honor the memory of Edward Blaquiere, a heroic, modest and noble Philhellene, who fought in every way for the Greek causes and for unity among the Greeks.

 

References

[1] Carlton, J.H. Hayes, “A political and social history of modern Europe’’, εκδ. MacMillan, Νέα Υόρκη, 1916, α’ τόμος.
[2] Cannon, Richard, “Historical Record of the Thirteenth Regiment of Light Dragoons containing an account of the formation of the regiment in 1715 and of its subsequent services to 1842 “, εκδ. John W. Parker, Λονδίνο, 1842.
[3] Syrett, D., Di Nardo, R. L., “The commissioned sea officers of the Royal Navy, 1660–1815’’, εκδ. Occasional Publications of the Navy, Λονδίνο, 1994.
[4] Parkinson, C. Northcote, “The Life of Edward Pellew, Viscount Exmouth”, εκδ. Methuen & Co., Λονδίνο, 1934.
[5] Woodman, Richard, “The Sea Warriors’’, εκδ. Constable Publishers, Εδιμβούργο, 2001.
[6] Winfield, Rif, “British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates’’, εκδ. Seaforth, Barnsley, 2008.
[7] Bradford, Ernle, “Nelson: The Essential Hero “, εκδ. Wordsworth Military Library, Λονδίνο, 1997.
[8] Colledge, J. J., Warlow, Ben, “Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy “, εκδ. Chatham Publishing, Λονδίνο, 2006.
[9] Gardiner, Robert, “Nelson Against Napoleon“, εκδ. Caxton Editions, Λονδίνο, 2002.
[10] Syrett, D., Di Nardo, R. L., “The commissioned sea officers of the Royal Navy, 1660–1815’’, εκδ. Occasional Publications of the Navy, Λονδίνο, 1994.
[11] Harvey, Robert, “Cochrane: The Life and Exploits of a Fighting Captain’’, εκδ. Constable Publishers, Εδιμβούργο, 2000.
[12] Ross, John, “Memoirs of Admiral Lord de Saumarez“, εκδ. Richard Bentley, Λονδίνο, 1838, β’ τόμος.
[13] Corbett, Julian Stafford, “The campaign of Trafalgar“, εκδ. Longmans, Green, and company, Λονδίνο, 1919, β’ τόμος.
[14] Adkins, Roy, “Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle“, εκδ. Abacus, Λονδίνο, 2005.
[15] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[16] Blaquière, Edward, “Letters from the Mediterranean; containing a civil and political account of Sicily, Tripoly, Tunis, and Malta: with biographical sketches, anecdotes and observations, illustrative of the present state of those countries, and their relative situation with respect to the British empire“, εκδ. Colburn, Λονδίνο, 1813, α’ τόμος.
[17] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[18] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[19] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[20] Syrett, D., Di Nardo, R. L., “The commissioned sea officers of the Royal Navy, 1660–1815’’, εκδ. Occasional Publications of the Navy, Λονδίνο, 1994.
[21] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[22] De Beer, Esmond Samuel, Seton, Walter Warren,”Byroniana: The Archives of the London Greek Committee“, εκδ. King’s College, Λονδίνο, 1926.
[23] Rosen, Frederick, “Bentham, Byron, and Greece: constitutionalism, nationalism, and early liberal political thought“, εκδ. Clarendon Press, Λονδίνο, 1992.
[24] Youings, Joyce Alice, “Sir John Bowring, 1792-1872: aspects of his life and career”, εκδ. Devonshire Association, Plymouth, 1993.
[25] Rosen, Frederick, “London Greek Committee (act. 1823–1826)“, εκδ. Oxford University Press, Λονδίνο, 2007.
[26] Ramos Oliver, Francisco, “La trayectoria militar de Rafael del Riego’’, εκδ. περ. Revista de historia militar, Μαδρίτη, 2012, τεύχος 112.
[27] Blaquiere, Edward, “An Historical Review of the Spanish Revolution Including Some Account of Religion, Manners and Literature in Spain“, εκδ. εκδ. G. & W. B. Whittacker, Λονδίνο, 1822.
[28] Jardi, Enric, “Antoni Puigblanch. Els precedents de la Renaixença’’, εκδ. Aedos, Βαρκελώνη, 1960.
[29] Blaquiere, Edward, “An Historical Review of the Spanish Revolution Including Some Account of Religion, Manners and Literature in Spain“, εκδ. εκδ. G. & W. B. Whittacker, Λονδίνο, 1822.
[30] Nichols Jr, Irby C., ’’The Congress of Verona, 1822: A Reappraisal’’, εκδ. περ. Southwestern Social Science Quarterly, Georgetown, 1966.
[31] Dimaras, Alexis, “The other British Philhellenes’’, εκδ. Oxford University Press, Λονδίνο, αχρονολόγητο.
[32] Youings, Joyce Alice, “Sir John Bowring, 1792-1872: aspects of his life and career”, εκδ. Devonshire Association, Plymouth, 1993.
[33] Blaquière, Edward, “Report on the Present State of the Greek Confederation, and on Its Claims to the Support of the Christian World: Read to the Greek Committee on Saturday, September 13, 1823’’, εκδ. Φιλελληνικής Επιτροπής, Λονδίνο, 1823.
[34] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008.
[35] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[36] Blaquière, Edward, “The Greek Revolution, Its Origin and Progress: Together with Some Remarks on the Religion, National Character, &c. in Greece“, εκδ. G. B. Whittacker, Λονδίνο, 1824.
[37] Moore, Thomas, “Letters and Journals of Lord Byron with Notices of his Life’’, εκδ. H. L. Broenner, Φρανκφούρτη, 1830. Επίσης, βλ. Αθάνας, Γ., “Ιστορικά Μελετήματα’’, εκδ. Ίδρυμα Γ & Μ. Αθανασιάδη – Νόβα, Ναύπακτος, 1998, σελ. 194.
[38] Moore, Thomas, “Letters and Journals of Lord Byron with Notices of his Life’’, εκδ. H. L. Broenner, Φρανκφούρτη, 1830.
[39] Blaquière, Edward, “Report on the Present State of the Greek Confederation, and on Its Claims to the Support of the Christian World: Read to the Greek Committee on Saturday, September 13, 1823’’, εκδ. Φιλελληνικής Επιτροπής, Λονδίνο, 1823.
[40] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 155.
[41] Blaquière, Edward, “Letters from Greece: With Remarks on the Treaty of Intervention’’, εκδ. J. Ilbery, Λονδίνο, 1828.
[42] Blaquière, Edward, “Narrative of a Second Visit to Greece: Including Facts Connected with the Last Days of Lord Byron “, εκδ. G. B. Whittacker, Λονδίνο, 1825, α’ τόμος.
[43] Stanhope, Leicester, 5ος κόμης του Harrington, “Greece, in 1823 and 1824: Being a Series of Letters, and Other Documents”, εκδ. Sherwood, Gilbert & Piper, Λονδίνο, 1825, σελ. 543.
[44] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008.
[45] “Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας’’, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1977, 10ος τόμος, σελ. 299.
[46] “Αρχείο στρατηγού Κώστα Μπότσαρη’’, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, φάκελος 25.
[47] Manchester, Alan K., “The Paradoxical Pedro, First Emperor of Brazil’’, εκδ. περ. “The Hispanic American Historical Review’’, Durham, 1932, σελ. 192.

 

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  • Youings, Joyce Alice, “Sir John Bowring, 1792-1872: aspects of his life and career” , εκδ. Devonshire Association, Plymouth, 1993.
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Admiral Sir Edward Codrington. Painting by Hugh Patterson.

Edward Codrington (1770 – 1851), was a British Admiral and politician, commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet, commander of the Allied fleet in the naval battle of Navarino and an important Philhellene.

He was born in Dodington and was the youngest of four children in his family. His father was the landowner Edward Codrington the Elder (1736 – 1775), and his grandfather was William Codrington, 1st Baronet of Dodington (+1738)[1]. His mother was Rebecca Lestourgeon (1736 – 1770), who died during childbirth[2].

The Codrington family owned vast land areas. At the same time, however, it had an important military, political, but also cultural tradition. The patriarch of the family, John Codrington, distinguished himself in 1415 in the victorious battle for the English in Agincourt, as the standard-bearer of the English King Henry V[3]. His descendant Christopher Codrington (1668 – 1710), uncle of Admiral Edward Codrington, was a General, governor of Guadeloupe and the Barbados in 1703 – 1710, and a politician. He was also a benefactor of the Oxford University, where he founded the Codrington Library at All Souls College, which is administratively affiliated with the Oxford University[4]. Also, Christopher Bethell Codrington, the eldest brother of Admiral Codrington, was a member of the British Parliament[5].

ΟEdward Codrington never met his mother and was orphaned as a child. Thus, the responsibility for raising him and his brothers, was entrusted to their paternal uncle Christopher Bethell, thanks to whom they received the best possible education. With his older brothers Christopher Bethell Codrington and William John Codrington, Edward Codrington attended Harrow College[6]. A little later, however, he decided not to continue his education. In 1783, at the age of just 13, he enlisted in the British Royal Navy as a cadet officer, first stationed on the frigate “HMS Augusta’’[7].

As a young cadet officer, Codrington served in the East Coast Patrol Squadron around the United States, in the British Mediterranean Fleet and on ships of the British Metropolitan Fleet. In 1788 he received the rank of midshipman[8].

On May 28, 1793, he was promoted to lieutenant and placed as a signal officer in the frigate “HMS Queen Charlotte”, flagship of the English Channel Fleet, with Admiral Richard Howe, 1st Earl of Howe (1726-1799) as commander [9]. From this position, on June 1, 1794, he took part in the victorious for the British 4th battle of Ushant against the French[10]. Codrington’s action in this naval battle was appreciated and led on October 7, 1794, to his promotion to lieutenant commander, to follow on April 6, 1795, his promotion to commander[11].

Commander Codrington was appointed captain of the ‘’HMS Babet’’ and fought in the victorious British naval battle of Groix on June 23, 1795[12]. There he was again distinguished for his bravery and commander’s skills, and was rewarded with his appointment as captain of the frigate “HMS Druid” in July 1796[13].

As captain of the frigate ‘’HMS Druid’’, Codrington undertook patrol missions in the English Channel and the Portuguese coast until January 1797[14]. On one of these missions, on January 7, 1797, in collaboration with the frigates “HMS Doris” and “HMS Unicorn”, he captured the French frigate “Ville de l’Orient” in the English Channel, carrying 400 hussars who were assigned the mission to join the Irish revolutionaries[15].

After the successful completion of this mission, he was transferred to land positions of the British Royal Navy, and remained there until May 1802. During this period he sought his transfer to the British Merchant Navy, but to no avail[16].

Meanwhile, as early as the end of 1797, Codrington and his siblings William John Codrington and Caroline Codrington, inherited the estate of their uncle Christopher Bethell. This estate included a plantation in Antigua[17].

After the Peace of Amiens on May 27, 1802, Codrington was appointed captain of the ship of the line ‘‘HMS Orion’’[18]. In December 1802 he married Jane Hall, daughter of a British family in Kingston, Jamaica, with whom he had 3 sons. General William John Codrington (1804 – 1884), Naval Cadet Edward Codrington (1805-1822) and Admiral Henry John Codrington (1808 – 1877)[19].

In the spring of 1805, the ship of the line “HMS Orion” joined the British Fleet tasked with blocking the port of Cadiz[20]. The commander of the fleet was the great and emblematic Admiral Horatio Nelson and Codrington was his most direct collaborator[21].

During the Battle of Trafalgar, which took place on October 21, 1805 and ended victoriously for the British, Codrington captured the French ship “Swiftsure”[22].He then tried to capture the Spanish flagship “Principe de Asturias”, without success[23]. Shortly afterwards, he managed to force the French ship “Intrepide”, the only ship of the Northern Squadron of the Franco-Spanish Fleet that had escaped intact, to surrender, further to continuous shelling[24].

Following the Battle of Trafalgar, the British insurance company Lloyd’s offered as a gift, a commemorative sword to the captains of the ships that took part in it, as well as 10 GB pounds to the junior officers[25]. Codrington refused to accept the sword, arguing that in addition to officers, ordinary sailors, who fought valiantly, should also receive money[26].

In 1808, Codrington collaborated with the Spaniards against the French in the Mediterranean. During this period he commanded a squadron, which destroyed French ships and carried out raids on the French coast[27]. Then, from July to December 1809, he took part in Walcheren’s operation in the Netherlands, which aimed to open another front against the French and to relieve the Austrians fighting against the French army on land[28]. This operation failed and the British, including Codrington, returned home with significant losses[29].

From May to June 1811, Codrington took command of a squadron of the British Mediterranean Fleet. During this time he was in charge of reinforcing Tarragona, which was besieged by the army of French General Louis-Gabriel Suchet[30]. Codrington was convinced that the Marquis of Campo Verde (and military commander of Tarragona), was incapable of defending the area. After studying the situation, Codrington helped British officer Charles William Doyle to plan the support of the besieged[31].

According to Codrington’s plan and actions, Tarragona was reinforced with 6,300 Spanish infantry and 291 gunners. At the same time, his squadron supported the besieged by carrying troops and ammunition, but also by carrying out night bombardments against French positions[32].

With the occupation of Tarragona by the French on June 29, 1811, despite heavy enemy fire, Codrington helped save more than 600 people, while he personally took care of the reunification of families who had been separated during the evacuation of the city[33].

After leaving Tarragona, Codrington undertook a series of political initiatives to prevent the disbandment of the Catalan Militia which was planned by Spanish General Luis Roberto de Lacy[34].

Admiral Sir Edward Codrington. Colored lithograph by Thomas Lawrence.

From 1814 to 1815, Codrington, who had meanwhile been promoted to commodore, served in the North American and West Indian Squadron of the British Royal Navy as captain of the HMS Tonnant, under the command of Admiral Alexander Inglis Cochrane[35] (uncle of the Philhellene and later commander of the Greek fleet in 1827, Thomas Cochrane). From there, starting in Bermuda[36], he participated in the American-British War of 1812, and took part in operations against Washington, Baltimore and New Orleans[37]. His skills as a commander and commendable services, contributed to his promotion to rear admiral on June 4, 1814. Then, in 1815, the British Government honored him with the Medal of the Knight Brigadier General of the Bath[38].

On July 10, 1821, in recognition of his long tenure and service, the British Government promoted Codrington to Vice Admiral and honored him with the Golden Military Cross[39], while in February 1822, the Royal Society honored him with the title of Partner[40].

This period was extremely critical for Codrington. The beginning of the Greek Revolution in 1821 coincided approximately with the tragic loss of Edward Codrington, his son and cadet officer of the frigate “HMS Cambrian”. Young Codrington drowned when his ship encountered bad weather near Hydra in November 1822. Already from this period Codrington develops a strong interest on the evolutions n Greece and progressively, Philhellenic feelings[41].

From 1822 to 1826 he served in staff services in Great Britain. During this period he was among the subscribers of the Philhellenic Committee of London, founded in 1823, and was one of the contributors of the fundraisers carried out by the Philhellenic Committee of London.Moreover, as of the summer of 1826, he had correspondence with the commander of the Greek Army, General Richard Church, the commander of the Greek Navy, Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald and Captain Frank Abney Hastings, commander of the “Karteria” first steam-powered warship in Greece[42]. This correspondence was crucial for the cultivation of the great Admiral Codrington’s Philhellenism. At the same time, however, he had the opportunity to study and understand what was happening in Greece, the dynamics of developments, the balances of power, the geostrategic parameters of the region, the role of the Turks and the Egyptians and the psychology of the protagonists of the Revolution. This knowledge proved to be particularly useful, both for him as a soldier and for the future of the Greek war for independence

After April 1826, the Exodus of Missolonghi decisively shocked Europe and sparked the most critical and intensive phase of the international Philhellenic movement. Public opinion and the press saw that the Greek Revolution was extinguished and demanded a dynamic intervention in favour of the Greeks.

Under this pressure and a number of other factors, the Great Powers of the time (Great Britain, France and Russia) decided to intervene. This move served Russia, which sought to weaken the Ottoman Empire and reduce its territories, while at the same time establishing an independent Orthodox Christian state in which it could exert influence. The British and the French were under increasing pressure from the pro-Greek movements to help fellow Europeans and liberate the cradle of Western civilization. At the same time, the violence of the Turks, the massacres of the Greek population in Chios, Kassos, Psara, Missolonghi, etc., and finally the policy of “scorched earth”, violent Islamization and mass transfer of the Greek population to Africa, implemented by Ibrahim, could not be ignored by the civilized West. When George Canning, the great Philhellene, became Prime Minister of Great Britain, he led the three Great Powers on his own initiative to the signing of the Treaty of London on July 6, 1827.

It is recalled that Great Britain had already signed the St. Petersburg Protocol in 1826 with Russia, and that it was now involving the French with the aim of controlling Russia to some extent[43]. The Treaty demanded an immediate armistice from the Gate and the creation of an autonomous Greece, subject to the Sultan.

At the same time, the three powers agreed to send their fleets to Greece, with a mandate to enforce the Treaty of London.

Admiral Codrington had been appointed commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet since December 1826 and sailed to Malta on 1 February 1827, aboard the flagship “HMS Asia”[44]. As commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet, his preliminary mission was to follow the policy of his predecessor, Admiral Harry Burrard-Neale, to protect British nationals and the Ionian Islands, which were part of the British Empire[45].At the same time, he continued to correspond with Church, Cochrane, Hastings, and other Greek dignitaries, acting in some way as a liaison between the Greeks and the British government[46].

Admiral Sir Edward Codrington. Painting by Hugh Patterson (1805 / 1806–1871)

On June 19, 1827, following a memorandum and request from Stratford Canning, British Ambassador to Constantinople and a relative of George Canning, the British Mediterranean Fleet sailed from Malta and arrived in Greece in early July on a mission to enforce the Treaty of London[47].

This treaty provided for the conclusion of a peace agreement between Greeks and Turks, with the basic condition of the immediate end of hostilities. However, there was also a secret, extremely important, article, according to which, if the Turkish side did not respond or reject mediation, the Great Powers would recognize Greek Independence and take all necessary measures to end the conflict, ideally without taking military action[48]. Of course, given that the Ottoman Empire was clearly and categorically contrary to the terms of the Treaty, while it was implementing methodically a plan for the systematic extermination of the Greek population, this term essentially provided for the use of military means. That is why the three fleets were concentrated in the area.

More precisely, the secret protocol of the Treaty consisted of three articles, according to which the High Gate was offered a deadline of one month to accept the intervention of the three Powers. After the deadline, the three fleets were authorized to take any action they deemed necessary to enforce peace. According to the press, these actions were aimed to be part of a broad framework of “friendly relations” with the Ottoman Empire. In practice, however, from the moment the intransigence of the Turks and Ibrahim became known, they prescribed a large-scale military intervention.

Actually, the Treaty also instructed France to impose peace on land, essentially providing for the expulsion of Ibrahim’s forces. According to the Treaty of London, the new country that would emerge would be the “classical Greece”, which would include the Peloponnese, the Cyclades, Attica and part of Central Greece and Evia.

The content of the Treaty, including the secret article, were published in the Times of London on July 12, 1827[49]. The entire Treaty was published in the “Independent Gazette of Greece” on August 6, 1827.

The great British politician and Prime Minister George Canning, to whom Greece owes its independence, had already made his decisions, and had given clear instructions to the great Admiral Codrington.

When George Canning, the main protagonist of the three countries’ reconciliation, passed away on August 8, 1827, Metternich and his allies in Europe celebrated, taking the dissolution of the alliance for granted. The Treaty, however, was firmly established[50].

At the same time, Ibrahim Pasha in the Peloponnese and the Turks in Central Greece, insisted that the Revolution had been suppressed. They terrorized the inhabitants, destroyed villages and crops, forced the Greeks to submit to the Sultan, while thousands of citizens were arrested and methodically led as slaves to Egypt.

In the circles of the European Philhellenes, and in the European public opinion, it was now clear that the Turks intended to desert the Peloponnese from the Greeks and settle Egyptian Muslims there. At the same time, Sultan Mahmut II and the governor of Egypt, Mehmet Ali, the father of Ibrahim Pasha, planned a final attack against Hydra, which they considered to be the main feeder of the revolted Greeks[51] and the last stronghold of the struggle. With these data, the descent of the allied fleet in Greece and the conflict with the Turks and the Egyptians, was inevitable.

The naval battle in Navarino. Painting from the circle of the British painter Thomas Whitcombe (SHP collection).

Thus, on August 5, 1827, the British fleet, led by Codrington, and the French, led by De Rigny, arrived in Nafplio. There, they officially announced the Treaty of London to the Greek government. At the same time, they asked for the transfer of the state capital to Aegina, which was done[52].

Admiral Codrington arrived in Navarino on September 12, 1827. There he met with Ibrahim Pasha, and explained to him the positions of the Great Powers. He then transferred his fleet to Zakynthos. A frigate remained in Navarino with a mission to patrol and monitor the movements of the Turkish-Egyptians.

The imposing Turkish-Egyptian fleet was deployed in the Gulf of Navarino, consisting of 88 ships with 2,180 cannons. In total there were 3 battleships, 17 frigates, 30 corvettes, 28 brigs, 5 schooners and 5 fireships,and in addition, 41 bulk carriers[53]. The leader of the Turks was Tahir Bey and the ones of the Egyptians, Mustafa Bey and Moharrem Bey. Ibrahim saw that the Turkish-Egyptian fleet was superior in firepower, and considered that he could set a trap for the allies in Navarino. The Turkish-Egyptian fleet was numerically superior in cannons and at the same time it was supported by coast artillery[54]. ΤThe fire of their gunners, however, proved in the course of the action, to miss to a large extend the target. On the contrary, the shots of the allies were very well targeted.

The facts, however, prove both the philhellenic sentiments of the great Admiral Codrington, as well as the nature of the mission which was assigned to him by the other great Philhellene George Canning. In theory, Codrington’s mission was to enforce a cease of hostilities, and a ceasefire on both sides. However, Codrington agreed to allow the British admiral and nephew of his former commander, Thomas Cochrane, to continue crucial military operations in the Gulf of Corinth. Thus the great Philhellene Hastings succeeded undisturbed to disband the entire Turkish fleet in the Gulf of Corinth. This victory was necessary for the progress of the operations for the liberation of mainland Greece. Codrington likewise allowed the Greek military to set up revolutionary strongholds in Epirus, and General Church to send an army against Turkish positions in Patras and in western mainland Greece.

Thus, it is clear that the Greeks owe to Admiral Codrington the integration of the territories of mainland Greece into the newly formed Greek state.

At the end of September 1827 the fleets of Great Britain and France, as well as the Russian fleet, which had just arrived, anchored outside Sfaktiria[55].

When, on October 1 and 4, Ibrahim himself attempted to move with his fleet towards the besieged Patras, Codrington forced him to return to Navarino. The confrontation was now a matter of days.

It is worth noting that Ibrahim ignored the envoys of the Allied fleet, and their request to comply with the Treaty of London and to keep his promises of a cease of hostilities. In fact, Ibrahim was not convinced for the determination of the allies, and so when he was informed that Greek ships were attacking the Turkish coastal forts on the Corinthian Sea, he sent 49 warships to reinforce Patras and pursue the Greek fleet of Hastings.

According to the instructions from Cochrane, Hastings was operating in the area in collaboration with Church on land to liberate areas of mainland Greece. Codrington was outraged because Ibrahim had given his word of honour that he would not move any of his ships from Neokastro until he received instructions.

Then the great British admiral acted decisively and moved against the Turkish-Egyptian fleet. Just 4 British ships with a total of 170 cannons encountered ten times as many enemy ships in Araxos with 1,200 cannons. Codrington’s audacity was incredible. The flagship “Asia” launched a heavy artillery shelling against Ibrahim’s ships. Immediately the 49 enemy ships changed direction and returned to their base.

The 3 admirals held a meeting on October 6. Everyone wanted the action to be hastened, as they did not want the winter to find them in Navarino. During this period they also received a letter from Kolokotronis, informing them that Ibrahim’s men were committing genocide in Messinia of Peloponnese. On this occasion, they sent Colonel Peter Cradock to deliver an ultimatum to Ibrahim, so that to accept a ceasefire and the withdrawal of his troops. Ibrahim avoided meeting Cradock, so the admirals decided to enter the Gulf of Navarino in order to drive out the Turkish-Egyptian fleet that was there[56]. Ibrahim knew that he could not face the Allied fleet on the high seas, and he had set a trap, aiming arrogantly at a great victory against the Allies. He had ordered his ships to form a semicircle inside the narrow gulf of Navarino, with the aim of establishing a significant firepower, in concert with the important coastal artillery.

In early October, Russian and French ships joined the British, and an allied fleet was formed, under the command of Admiral Codrington. But again the single fleet was lagging behind that of the enemy. The united allied fleet had 27 ships with 1,258 cannons (10 battleships, 10 frigates, 4 brigs and 3 schooners), with which it had to face the cannons of the enemy ships, but also those of the forts firing from the shore. The Allied Force consisted of 12 British ships, namely: “Asia” (flagship), “Genoa”, “Albion”, “Darmouth”, “Cabrian”, “Glasgow”, “Talbot”, “Rose”, “Mosquito”, “Brisk”, “Philomel” and “Hind”, 8 Russian, the: “Azov” (flagship), “Ezekiel”, “Cangut”, “Aleksandr”, “Provornoy”, “Elena”, “Konstantin” and “Kastor” and 7 French:“Sirene” (flagship), “Scipion”, “Trident”, “Breslaw”, “Armide”, “Daphne” and “Alkyone”[57]. The commander of the allied forces was Codrington, who held the rank of Admiral, while De Rigny and Heyden were lieutenant admirals.

Painting by John Christian Schetky (British 1778-1874), 19th century. Presents the naval battle in Navarino. The centre of the painting depicts one of the ships that participated in the British fleet. The H.M.S. Talbot, whose governor was Hon. F. Spencer. It is worth noting that a few years later, Henry Codrington, the son of Admiral Codrington, who had fought with his father in Navarino and was seriously wounded, took command of this ship.

On October 8, Codrington ordered the fleet to enter Navarino bay and the ships to anchor in specific positions in front of the enemy. The situation was very tense. The ships of the British squadron were stationed in the centre. The French and Russian ships followed. Ibrahim sent an envoy to Codrington and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the allied fleet, recalling that he had not given permission to enter Navarino. The proud and brave Codrington replied that he “came to give orders and not to receive” and made it clear that any aggressive action by the Turkish-Egyptians would immediately lead to a confrontation and the destruction of their fleet.

Ibrahim expected this conflict and considered that he had set a trap in the allied fleet.

On the other hand, Codrington had studied the situation and was very optimistic, despite the overwhelming numerical strength of the opponent. The Allied fleet disposed of “higher” boats, equipped with faster range artillery and highly trained and experienced staff. In addition, due to its position it enjoyed manoeuvrability in contrast to the stacked and anchored Ottoman ships.

When the Allied fleet entered the bay, Codrington sent envoys to Ibrahim to ask for the Ottoman fleets to return to their bases. The Turks in the Dardanelles and the Egyptians in Alexandria. The Greek navigator Petros Mikelis who participated in the delegation, was killed by Turkish sailors[58].

Moreover, the British captain of the frigate “Dartmouth”, who had entered the bay first with a messenger, raising a white flag, spotted a Turkish fireship that was moving towards him[59].  He immediately sent a detachment to demand his removal, which received enemy fire, killing Lieutenant Fitzroy[60], , and to injure some sailors, while the Turks set fire on the fireship. Acting quickly, Captain Fellows, commander of Darmouth, sent immediately another ship, which sank the enemy fireship[61].

The frigates “Sirene” and “Dartmouth” responded to these provocations with shots. Then the Turkish-Egyptian ships began to shell the “Sirene”, while the “Asia” came under fire from the Turkish flagship and the naval battle of Navarino began. This was the last naval battle in history between sail-ships.

Detailed descriptions of the battle report that the ships were so close to each other that theirs masts entangled, while the sailors were fighting even using their pistols.

Another Turkish fireship attacked the French battleship “Skipion” and almost managed to set it on fire. It was rescued at the last minute after the intervention of the French battleship “Trident”. The “Sirene” sank the Egyptian frigate “Isania” and neutralized the cannons on the left side of the port entrance. The British ship “Albion” and the Russian “Azov” were in danger. The French battleship “Breslaw” then intervened and sank the battleship “Geu Revan”, which was the flagship of Admiral Tahir Pasha, who commanded the fleet, in the place of Ibrahim. “Breslaw” sank four more enemy frigates.

Codrington’s flagship “Asia” neutralized the battleship “Fakhti Bari” and the frigate “Gerrier”, with the help of the Russian “Azov”, which in turn destroyed three enemy frigates and a corvette. In less than two hours, the three battleships and almost all the Ottoman frigates had sunk or been destroyed.

The Allied fleet continued to shell the smaller enemy ships for another two hours. 90% of the huge Turkish-Egyptian fleet was sunk by Allied fire, while many of the surviving ships were destroyed by the Ottomans themselves so that they would not be captured by the Allies.

By 5 o’clock in the afternoon most of the Turkish-Egyptian ships had been destroyed or surrendered.

At least 4,000 Ottomans were killed and more than 2,000 wounded, while the Allies had 181 dead and 480 wounded (272 British, 184 French and 198 Russians killed or wounded). The Allies had suffered heavy damage, but no ships in their fleet had sunk.

Admiral De Rigny said that “there has never been a greater fleet destruction in history“. During the battle, the flagship “Asia” had received more than 170 shots and it was damaged in many places.

A particularly important element for the naval battle in Navarino is presented here. This is the personal handwritten diary of British Admiral Henry Gage Morris, who was transferred as a new officer to HMS Glasgow in 1826, and participated in the naval battle of Navarino, under Governor James Ashley Maude (178 pages). It contains 3 maps, one of which is completed with watercolour, folio size, covers the period 1826-28 (SHP collection).

The victory was now final and decisive, and Admiral Codrington was the great winner and hero of Navarino.

Codrington completed his mission ten months later, when he forced through intense negotiations the Egyptians to agree to leave Greece. A departure which materialised when an army of 14,000 French arrived in the Peloponnese to oversee it, a year after the naval battle. The Sultan declared a “holy war”, thus offering the Czar an excuse to declare war and force him to accept Greek autonomy with the Treaty of Edirne.

The Greeks took advantage of the Russo-Turkish war and the withdrawal of the Egyptians, to prevail in mainland Greece and achieve their full independence with the establishment of the first Greek state.

The next day of the naval battle, the allies demanded that Ibrahim, who had managed to take refuge in the mountains of Messinia, order a ceasefire, under the threat of a general war. The Ottomans accepted and a cease of hostilities was signed at Codrington’s flagship. The great British Admiral sent a detailed report to the British Admiralty, where he explained in detail the need for a naval battle, both for the protection of the Greek population suffering from the Turkish-Egyptians and for the terms of the Treaty of London to be enforced. In addition, he attached reports of his subordinates, such as Rear Admiral Rowan Hamilton, who confirmed the actions of Ibrahim[62].

Following the signing of the armistice with the Turkish-Egyptians and the submission of the report to the British Admiralty, Codrington and the British Mediterranean Fleet sailed to Malta to undertake new assignments. They remained there until May 1828, when they returned to the Peloponnese and reunited with the French and Russians, with the aim to ensure the peaceful departure of Ibrahim Pasha, who was constantly obstructing all plans[63] effectively refusing to leave. Thus, on July 25, 1828, in Alexandria, Codrington came to an agreement after negotiating the treaty of August 6, 1828, according to which Ibrahim’s troops would evacuate the Peloponnese[64].

In Britain (and throughout the West) the Allied victory was greeted with enthusiasm.

Partition of a musical work entitled: “L’Echo de Navarin” (news from Navarino), by G. Kuhn. Lyrics by Alphonse Jarry (SHP Collection).

In January 1828 the Government changed in London, and power passed to the Duke of Wellington (Napoleon’s victor at Waterloo). The fear of Russia eventually descending into the Mediterranean, changed the attitude of Great Britain, for the forms. Wellington described the naval battle in Navarino as “unexpected” and “unfortunate”. This move was politically necessary in order to maintain diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire.

But the goal had been achieved. Greece would now be a free country.

It is worth mentioning some incidents from the critical hours of the great naval battle in Navarino. The great Admiral Codrington was always standing tall on the deck of the flagship “Asia”, despite being an easy target for enemy snipers, because he was very tall and imposing. The Turk Tahir Pasha had ordered selected snipers, offering huge rewards, to kill him. They only managed to hit his hat, sleeve and watch. The British Admiral did not stop for a moment to lead and fight. Even when his son, cadet officer Henry Codrington, who also served in “Asia”, was seriously injured, the Admiral left his post for a few minutes to see him. Shortly afterwards he returned to his place, where he remained until the end. It is also recalled that for his bravery, his son was honoured with the French medal of the Legion of Honour[65].

Painting and photography of Henry John Codrington. He became a rear-admiral in 1857 and was afterwards Admiral Superintendent at Malta 1858-63, and Commander-in-Chief, in Plymouth from 1869-72.

The great British Admiral and his son are also heroic figures of the Greek war of Independence.

In Constantinople, the ambassadors of the three allies asked the Sultan to accept the Treaty of London, otherwise they would leave. Eventually the 3 ambassadors left Constantinople on December 8, 1827, as they had not received a clear answer from the Ottomans.

Upon his return to Great Britain in September 1828, Codrington was placed in reserve. The reason was that he neglected to carry out full checks on the ships of the Turkish-Egyptian fleet that were rescued in Navarino, as a result of which the Ottomans succeeded to transport Greek slaves from the Peloponnese to Alexandria using ships of Ibrahim’s fleet that were leaving. There was a commotion in Parliament and public opinion when in the first months of 1828 the information arrived that 5,500 Greeks from the Peloponnese, mostly women and children, were being sold in the slave markets of Alexandria, which put the British government in a difficult position. Admiral Codrington explained that the conditions prevailing after the naval battle did not allow all ships to be inspected[66].

This was followed by the Russo-Turkish War of 1828 – 1829, and Britain, fearing a Russian invasion of the Mediterranean, now faced victory in Navarino with the necessary caution, given that the Ottomans were a bulwark against Russia[67].

In essence, however, the naval battle at Navarino was a well-thought-out plan and strategic choice by George Canning, successfully executed by the great Admiral Edward Codrington. The instruction was to chase Ibrahim out of Greece using the diplomatic language, and if that is not enough with the force of arms.

In 1831 Codrington was appointed commander of the British Royal Navy Training Squadron. In 1832 he was elected member of the Parliament for the liberals in Devonport, and was honoured by the British King William IV with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. At the same time he was invited by the Russian Emperor Nicholas I to St. Petersburg, where he was honoured with the Cross of St. George 2nd Class for his action[68]. He was accompanied at the same time by his son, Lieutenant Henry Codrington, who was also honoured with the Order of St. Vladimir for his bravery in Navarino[69].

In 1834, a motion of censure was lodged with the British Parliament against Codrington over Navarino. This move was clearly ostensible. Codrington proved his innocence and even managed to impose a decision to provide 60,000 GB pounds in compensation to the officers and sailors who took part in the naval battle of Navarino[70].

In 1839, Codrington was promoted to Admiral, honoured with the Naval Medal of General Service, and appointed commander of the British Royal Navy, based in Portsmouth[71]. The king of Greece Othon honoured him with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Knights of the Redeemer, acknowledging his contribution in favour of Greece[72]. At the same time, his son, commander Henry Codrington, was again honoured[73].

The British Navy Medal. This specific medal was awarded to James Collier who had served as a Quarter-Master on the ship H.M.S. Psyche in Java and the ship H.M.S. Genoa in Navarino (SHP collection).

In 1847 the British government introduced a medal which was awarded to all sailors who participated in naval battles in 1793 – 1840. The General Naval Service Medal was established to be awarded to survivors of the Napoleonic Wars and to those who participated in naval battles until 1840.

The medal is round, with 36 mm in diameter, made of silver. The front side depicts the head of Queen Victoria and the inscription “VICTORIA REGINA 1848”. It does not bear the head of the king who was in power when the naval battles for which the medal was given took place. The obverse side depicts Britain as a woman holding a trident and sitting on a seahorse. The ribbon of the medal is blue and white, hanging over a horizontal metal bar. It is the work of the British engraver William Wyon. The ribbon bears metal inscriptions bearing the names or dates of naval battles, smaller-scale battles, naval operations or ships served by the honouree. It is noted that 1.142 medals were awarded to the survivors (in 1848) of the Battle of Navarino.

Admiral Edward Codrington died in London in 1851 at the age of 81. He was originally buried in St. Peter’s Basilica in Eaton Square, but in 1954 his bones were reburied in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. A memorial plaque was placed at St Paul’s Cathedral in London and an obelisk in Pylos (Navarino) in the Peloponnese in his honour.

Monument in Pylos (Navarino) dedicated to Admiral Codrington and Admirals De Rigny and Hayden.

At the same time, many streets bear his name in many Greek cities.

Codrington Street in Athens, at the intersection with September 3rd street.

Admiral Codrington, was honoured in 1927 by the Hellenic Post, with the issuance of a stamp, which his portrait.

Stamp of 1927, issued by the Hellenic Post, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Navarino. It pictures the Chief in command of the Allied Fleet, Admiral Edward Codrington.

In 2009 a plaque was placed also at the residence of the great Admiral, following the actions of the Greek government, the city of Brighton and British philhellenes.

The Codrington and Hampton Mansion. A blue plaque to honour the great Admiral was unveiled on 29 September 2009, on 140 Western Road, Hampton Lodge, Brighton, by the Greek Ambassador in the UK, in the presence of the Mayor of Brighton & Hove and a huge number of other local and international dignitaries.

Greece and SHP honour the brave Philhellene Admiral Edward Codrington, whose contribution, with that of the United Kingdom, was a catalyst for the independence of Greece and the domination of the values ​​and culture that it stands for.

 

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  • Clayton, Tim, Craig, Phil, ”Trafalgar: The Men, The Battle, The Storm”, εκδ. Hodder and Stoughton, Λονδίνο, 2004.
  • Burke, John, ”A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire”, εκδ. H. Colburn and R. Bentley, Λονδίνο, 1832, α’ τόμος.
  • Winfield, Rif,” British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates”, εκδ. Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley, 2008.
  • Heathcote, Thomas H., ”Nelson’s Trafalgar captains and their battles. A biographical and historical dictionary”, εκδ. Pen & Sword Maritime, Barnsley, 2005.
  • White, Collin, ”The Trafalgar captains. Their lives and memorials”, εκδ. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 2005.
  • Williams, M. J., Fisher, David R., Thorne, R., ”The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820”, εκδ. Boydell and Brewer, Suffolk, 1986.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ”Codrington, Christopher”, εγκ.”Encyclopædia Britannica”, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1911, 6ος τόμος.

 

Portrait of General Sir Richard Church. Painter Spyridon Prosalentis (1830-1895). 19th century (SHP collection)

 

Richard Church (1784-1873), was a British officer, an important Philhellene, as well as one of the first organizers of the regular Greek Army.

He was the second son of Matthew Church, a merchant from Cork, Ireland, and Anne Dearman[1].

On July 3, 1800, at the age of 16, he enlisted in the British Army as a non-commissioned officer, placed in the 13th Somerset Infantry Regiment[2]. He fought against the French at the Battle of Ferrol in northern Spain in 1800 and during the campaign in Egypt under General Sir Ralph Abercromby in 1801[3]. After the withdrawal of the French army from Egypt, he returned to Great Britain, and in 1802 he was placed in the 37th Infantry Regiment with the rank of lieutenant[4].

During the Napoleonic Wars, in 1805 Church’s unit was sent to defend Sicily, while on January 7, 1806, Church himself, holding the rank of captain, was placed in the Royal Corsican Hunters Regiment. There he was for the first time in charge of commanding foreign troops, recruited among the local population. In October 1808 he became Assistant Quartermaster General in Sicily. In 1809 he was promoted to Quartermaster General and placed officer in the mission which occupied the Ionian Islands under General Sir John Oswald[5]. . On September 9, 1809, he was promoted to major in the Greek Light Infantry of the British Army, while on November 19, 1812 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the 1st Greek Light Infantry Regiment of the Duke of York[6].

Richard Church as an officer in the Greek Light Infantry of the Duke of York in the Ionian Islands in a painting of 1813.

Church was already particularly experienced in commanding foreign troops and he used his experience to effectively command troops recruited among the Greeks. In fact, this experience contributed to the creation of the 2nd Greek Light Infantry Regiment of the Duke of York, which was used in 1813 to occupy the Paxos island[7]. In the ranks of these units commanded by the Church, participated soldiers and officers, who came from fugitives from mainland Greece, such as Theodoros Kolokotronis. Church had developed a friendly relationship with the future military leader of the Greek Revolution, and maintained regular correspondence with him, which contributed to him remaining constantly up-to-date on the evolutions and to the cultivation of his Philhellenism[8].

After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, following complaints from the Ottoman administration, the Greek troops organized by the Church with the cooperation of other British officers were disbanded. However, their members had already gained valuable experience from the operation, organization and training of a regular army. This experience was used by Kolokotronis, but also by other fighters who took part later in the Greek Revolution of 1821.

During this period, before and after the Revolution of 1821, Church served in Malta, Naples, Sicily, Calabria. He was present at the battle of Maida, in the defense of Capri, where he was wounded in the head, in the occupation of Ischia, in the mission to the Ionian Islands, in the occupation of Zakynthos and Kefalonia. In the battle of Agia Mavra he was seriously injured in his left hand, which was hit by a bullet[9].

After his service in the Ionian Islands, Church was placed on a British government mission in the allied armies of Austria and Prussia and then he served as a liaison between the British and Austrian Armed Forces, which used Italy as their base, in 1814 -1815[10]. At the same time, he took part as a military expert in the Congress of Vienna, where he supported the stay of the Ionian Islands under British rule, but also of Parga and other former Venetian cities, which were then occupied by Ali Pasha[11]. For his work in the Ionian Islands, Italy and Vienna, he received in 1815 from the British government the title of the Knight of the Order of the Bath[12].

Church returned to Italy in 1817, at the suggestion of the government of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. With the permission of the British government, he took over in Italy the position of major General in the Sicilian Army, as well as the position of inspector of foreign troops, in the service of King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. He served in Puglia, based in Lecce, where he managed to stop the attacks of local bandits who had been operating uncontrollably until then. His successful service also earned him the titles of Knight of the Order of St. Ferdinand of Naples and the Grand Cross of the Noblest Military Battalion of St. George of the Two Sicilies[13].

The end of Church’s career in Italy was dictated by the political turbulences that broke out there. After his successful tenure in Puglia, Church was offered the command of the 9th Battalion in Sicily, based in Palermo, in early July 1820. When Church went to Palermo, he was not allowed to take with him the army of foreigners, despite his desire, as he trusted them for being faithful to him. So when the revolution started locally, the Carbonari revolutionaries wanted to capture him. Church escaped arrest and returned to Naples on July 23, 1820, where he was arrested by the rebels, who had seized power there as well. He was imprisoned for some time and was released after a trial in which he was found not guilty. So in 1821 he returned to Great Britain, where he was honored with the title of Knight Commander of the Royal Hanoverian Guelphic Order[14].

Church married Marie-Anne Wilmot, daughter of Robert Wilmot, 2nd Baronet of Osmaston [15] , on August 17, 1826 in Worthing. At the same time he published his memoirs from the revolution in Palermo[16].

In parallel, all this time he maintained correspondence with Kolokotronis, with whom he had a relationship based on mutual respect. In fact, during the preparatory work of the Third National Assembly, which began in Epidaurus on April 6, 1826, Kolokotronis proposed Church to take over as commander-in-chief of the Greek Army. The continuation of the preparatory work of the National Assembly, which was scheduled for August 1826, was delayed due to the unfavorable situation of the country. The final date for the official opening of the Third National Assembly was decided after consultations of Church with Kolokotronis (whom he met in Kastri, Kynouria[17]), the British Admiral Thomas Cochrane (who took over as commander of the Greek Navy[18]) and the British admiral Rowan Hamilton. Finally, the Third National Assembly was formally convened in Troizina, on March 19, 1827[19], and took place there, from March to April 1827[20].

Kolokotronis’ proposal in favor of Church was voted during the Third National Assembly. It is worth noting that this proposal was supported by the other great military leader of the Greek Revolution, G. Karaiskakis. This is confirmed by a letter bearing his signature (“Karaiskakis”), sent to the Third National Assembly from Keratsini, on April 2, 1827. G. Karaiskakis proposes in his letter to the Third National Assembly, to assign the general command to Richard Church: «… For this I put in view of the Respectful Assembly, the person of the most eminent general Rikardou Zorzi (Richard Church), for whom we have valid information that he is indeed worth of such an assignment, and knowing the attitude of the army, I have all the certainty that he wants to direct the troops, he wants to unite them, and he wants to gather them to counter the common enemy, and therefore he wants to cause the liberation of the Athenians and the whole homeland … ».

A handwritten letter from G. Karaiskakis, in which he also supports the assignment to Church of the General Command of the Greek Army. (SHP collection).

The first mission of Cochrane and Church, was the reinforcement of Karaiskakis who was fighting in Faliro and Keratsini, to end the siege of the Acropolis. At this stage, the Turkish forces had superior armament, while they were also favored by the morphology of the ground which had the form of an open battlefield. Thus, this mission was particularly difficult, resulting in the Greek forces [21] suffering significant losses.After the death of Karaiskakis and the disbandment of the Greek army, Church showed courage and utmost prudence. He managed to save the men who were scattered on the shores, he took care of their boarding ships and their concentration in Faliro and Piraeus, and then he organized their transfer to the island of Salamis, where after a while most of the troops were gathered[22].

The Anti-Government Committee then entrusted Church with the administration of the military in Nafplio. After a few months, Church was placed in the fortress of Corinth. From there he was transferred to Diakopto in Vostitsa (today Aigio) and then to Eastern Greece mainland, where he remained until the arrival of Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias in Greece[23].

When Kapodistrias arrived, Church was sent to Western Greece mainland. His mission was to liberate the largest possible part of the wider region, in order to facilitate Kapodistrias’ efforts during the negotiation of the borders of the free Greek state. In the period 1828 – 1829, Church coordinated many operations of the troops of Western Greece in collaboration and with the help of the Greek fleet, in which the great Philhellene Hastings participated with the steam-powered “Karteria” and five other boats[24]. With these moves, the blockade of the Amvrakikos Gulf was achieved, and finally, Vonitsa, Aetoliko and Messolonghi were conquered. These operations were the last acts of the war for the liberation of Greece, which defined the borders of the newly formed Greek state in the mainland of Greece.

With the arrival of King Othon in Greece, the government of Spyridon Trikoupis offered to Church the position of ambassador to Russia, something that was not accepted by the Russian Czar[25].

Greece honored Church in 1833 with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Knights of the Redeemer[26]. Church was then appointed Councilor of the State and in 1836, he was appointed Inspector General of the Greek Army. In February 1843, he was in charge of the honorary procession at the funeral of Theodoros Kolokotronis[27].

In the Revolution of September 3, 1843, Church was chosen from among the Councilors of the State who were revolutionaries, as a mediator between them and Othon. In fact, the next day he co-signed the proclamation of the Council of State thanking the people and the guard of Athens for their behavior, and declaring September 3 as a national holiday. He was the fourth signatory after Mavromichalis, Koundouriotis and Notaras[28].

One month later, in October 1843, he was elected plenipotentiary of Zygos, Aetolia to the National Assembly of the Greeks on September 3, representing an area of Western Greece that he liberated in 1828-1829 and was elected a member of the Senate[29].

A meeting of the 1844 National Assembly, attended by Church, marked his history and the one of the Parliament. This meeting was marked by the conflict between the indigenous residents of the new Greek state and the Greeks who came from other parts of the Ottoman empire, which were still occupied. The former claimed that only those who came from the liberated areas of Greece could be appointed as civil servants. Supporters of the Greeks from abroad demanded that the rights apply to all Greeks. Church sided with the non-natives, being consistent with the spirit of philhellenism and not that of expediency. His speech on the issue remains legendary, as it contained only one word: “Gaiduria!” (“donkeys!”), expressing his indignation for the attitude of the deputies in favour of the indigenous – natives.

Church retired from military service in 1844 at the age of 60. However, he remained a senator until the abolition of the Senate in 1864[30].

In 1854, he was promoted to honorary general of the Greek Army, in order to be honored for his services during the Struggle and in the first years of the existence of the new Greek state.

General Richard Church enjoyed the appreciation of the Greek and British societies of his time and he was regularly visited by King George I during the last years of his life[32]. Church died of an illness on Thursday, March 8, 1873, and was buried in the First Cemetery of Athens at public expense on March 15, 1873[33]. The funeral was delayed in anticipation of his nephew, who was expected from England. The funeral procession took place in the Protestant church on Filellinon Street in the presence of the king and a crowd of officials. The tomb monument, opposite to the sanctuary of St. Lazarus, bears an English inscription on the front and the corresponding Greek one on the back: “Richard Church, General, who having given himself and all he had, to rescue a Christian race from oppression, and to make Greece a nation, lived for her service, and died among her people, rests here in peace and faith “. An epitaph speech was delivered on March 15, 1873, by the Minister of Justice Panagiotis Chalkiopoulos[34] and then in English, the later National Benefactor and then diplomat, Ioannis Gennadios[35].

SHP and Greece honor the memory of General Richard Church, a remarkable and noble British Philhellene, who fought for the Greek rights and who was honored for this action with high positions of responsibility in the new Greek state, while enjoying the appreciation and respect of the Greek society.

First Cemetery of Athens. The tomb of General Richard Church.

 

References

[1] Jewers, Arthur John, “Wells Cathedral: its monumental inscriptions and heraldry: together with the heraldry of the palace, deanery, and vicar’s close: with annotations from wills, registers, etc., and illustrations of arms”, εκδ.  Nichel and Hughes, Λονδίνο, 1892.
[2] Philipart, John, “The Royal Military Calendar”, εκδ. A.J. Valpy, Λονδίνο, 1820, δ’ τόμος, σελ. 436 -437.
[3]  Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[4] Jewers, Arthur John, “Wells Cathedral: its monumental inscriptions and heraldry: together with the heraldry of the palace, deanery, and vicar’s close: with annotations from wills, registers, etc., and illustrations of arms”, εκδ.  Nichel and Hughes, Λονδίνο, 1892.
[5] Dakin, Douglas, “The Greek struggle for independence, 1821-1833”, εκδ. University of California Press, Berkley, 1973, σελ. 33.
[6]  Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[7]  Chartrand, Rene, Courcelle, Patrice, “Émigré & Foreign Troops in British Service 1803 – 1815”, εκδ. Osprey, Λονδίνο, 2000, σελ. 20.
[8] “Εγκυκλοπαιδικό Λεξικό Ελευθερουδάκη”, εκδ. Ελευθερουδάκη, Αθήνα,  1931, 12ος τόμος.
[9] Philipart, John, ‘’The Royal Military Calendar’’, εκδ. A.J. Valpy, Λονδίνο, 1820, δ’ τόμος, σελ. 436 -437.
[10] Church, R. W., “Occasional Papers selected from the ‘’Guardian’’, the ‘’Times’’ and the ‘’Saturday Review’’ 1846-1890”, εκδ. Macmillan, Λονδίνο, 1897.
[11] Church, E.M., “Chapters in an Adventurous Life: Sir Richard Church in Italy and Greece”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1895.
[12] Εγκυκλοπαίδεια ’Brittanica’, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1911, 6ος τόμος, σελ. 325.
[13] Jewers, Arthur John, “Wells Cathedral: its monumental inscriptions and heraldry: together with the heraldry of the palace, deanery, and vicar’s close: with annotations from wills, registers, etc., and illustrations of arms”, εκδ.  Nichel and Hughes, Λονδίνο, 1892.
[14]
[15] Περ. ‘’The Gentleman’s Magazine’’, φύλλο Αυγούστου 1826, Λονδίνο, 1826.
[16] Church, Richard, “Lieutenant General Sir Richard Church’s personal narrative of the revolution at Palermo, in the year 1820”, εκδ. περ. ‘’Monthly Magazine’’, Λονδίνο, 1826.
[17] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 326.
[18] ‘’Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας’’, εκδ. Βιβλιοθήκη της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1971, γ’ τόμος, σελ. 421.
[19] Μάμουκας, Ανδρέας, “Τα κατά την αναγέννησιν της Ελλάδος. Ήτοι, συλλογή των περί την αναγεννώμενην Ελλάδα συνταχθέντων πολιτευμάτων, νόμων και άλλων επισήμων πράξεων από του 1821 μέχρι του 1832”, εκδ. Τυπογραφίας Ηλίου Χριστοφίδου ‘’Η αγαθή τύχη’’, Πειραιάς, 1839, τόμος 7ος.
[20] ‘’Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας’’, εκδ. Βιβλιοθήκη της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1971, γ’ τόμος, σελ. 410.
[21] Κουτσονίκας, Λάμπρος, “Γενική ιστορία της ελληνικής επαναστάσεως”, εκδ. Δ. Καρακατζάνη, Αθήνα, 1863, δ’ τόμος, σελ. 331.
[22] 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.
[23] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[24]  Αλληλογραφία Church – Υψηλάντη, Συλλογή Βλαχογιάννη, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, Φάκελος 290.
[25] Church, E.M., ‘’Chapters in an Adventurous Life: Sir Richard Church in Italy and Greece’’, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1895.
[26] Κλάδης, Α. Ι., ‘’Επετηρίς του Βασιλείου της Ελλάδος’’, εκδ. Βασιλική Τυπογραφία & Λιθογραφία, Αθήνα, 1837.
[27]  Εφ. ‘’Η Ταχύπτερος Φήμη’’, φύλλο 3ης Φεβρουαρίου 1843, Αθήνα, 1843.
[28] Church, E.M., ‘’Chapters in an Adventurous Life: Sir Richard Church in Italy and Greece’’, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1895.
[29]  Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[30]  Γράψας, Κ.Μ. , ‘’Ελληνική Πολιτική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια’’, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1948, β’ τόμος, σελ. 12.
[31] ‘’Εφημερίς της Κυβερνήσεως του Βασιλείου της Ελλάδος’’ , ΦΕΚ 10ης Φεβρουαρίου 1854, Αθήνα, 1854 , Β.Δ. 6/1854.
[32] Εφ. ‘’Αιών’’, φύλλο 5ης Μαρτίου 1873, Αθήνα, 1873.
[33] Εφ. ‘’Αλήθεια’’, φύλλο 9ης Μαρτίου 1873, Αθήνα, 1873.
[34] Εφ. ‘’Αιών’’, φύλλο 21ης  Μαρτίου 1873, Αθήνα, 1873.
[35] Εφ. ‘’Εφημερίς των Συζητήσεων ‘’, φύλλο 15ης Μαρτίου 1873, Αθήνα, 1873.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Jewers, Arthur John, “Wells Cathedral: its monumental inscriptions and heraldry: together with the heraldry of the palace, deanery, and vicar’s close: with annotations from wills, registers, etc., and illustrations of arms”, εκδ. Nichel and Hughes, Λονδίνο, 1892.
  • Philipart, John, “The Royal Military Calendar”, εκδ. J. Valpy, Λονδίνο, 1820, δ’ τόμος.
  • Dakin, Douglas, “The Greek struggle for independence, 1821-1833”, εκδ. University of California Press, Berkley, 1973.
  • Chartrand, Rene, Courcelle, Patrice, “Émigré & Foreign Troops in British Service 1803 – 1815”, εκδ. Osprey, Λονδίνο, 2000.
  • “Εγκυκλοπαιδικό Λεξικό Ελευθερουδάκη”, εκδ. Ελευθερουδάκη, Αθήνα, 1931, 12ος τόμος.
  • Church, R. W., “Occasional Papers selected from the ’Guardian’, the ’Times’ and the ’Saturday Review’ 1846-1890”, εκδ. Macmillan, Λονδίνο, 1897.
  • Church, E.M., “Chapters in an Adventurous Life: Sir Richard Church in Italy and Greece”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1895.
  • Εγκυκλοπαίδεια ‘’Brittanica’’, εκδ. Cambridge University Press, Λονδίνο, 1911, 6ος τόμος.
  • Περ. “The Gentleman’s Magazine”, φύλλο Αυγούστου 1826, Λονδίνο, 1826.
  • Church, Richard, “Lieutenant General Sir Richard Church’s personal narrative of the revolution at Palermo, in the year 1820”, εκδ. περ. “Monthly Magazine”, Λονδίνο, 1826.
  • “Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας”, εκδ. Βιβλιοθήκη της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1971, γ’ τόμος.
  • St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008.
  • Μάμουκας, Ανδρέας, “Τα κατά την αναγέννησιν της Ελλάδος. Ήτοι, συλλογή των περί την αναγεννώμενην Ελλάδα συνταχθέντων πολιτευμάτων, νόμων και άλλων επισήμων πράξεων από του 1821 μέχρι του 1832”, εκδ. Τυπογραφίας Ηλίου Χριστοφίδου “Η αγαθή τύχη”, Πειραιάς, 1839, τόμος 7ος.
  • 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.
  • Αλληλογραφία Church – Υψηλάντη, Συλλογή Βλαχογιάννη, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, Φάκελος 290.
  • Κλάδης, Α. Ι., “Επετηρίς του Βασιλείου της Ελλάδος”, εκδ. Βασιλική Τυπογραφία & Λιθογραφία, Αθήνα, 1837.
  • Εφ. “Η Ταχύπτερος Φήμη”, φύλλο 3ης Φεβρουαρίου 1843, Αθήνα, 1843.
  • Γράψας, Κ.Μ., “Ελληνική Πολιτική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια”, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1948, β’ τόμος.
  • “Εφημερίς της Κυβερνήσεως του Βασιλείου της Ελλάδος”, ΦΕΚ 10ης Φεβρουαρίου 1854, Αθήνα, 1854 , Β.Δ. 6/1854.
  • Εφ. “Αιών”, φύλλο 5ης Μαρτίου 1873, Αθήνα, 1873.
  • Εφ. “Αλήθεια”, φύλλο 9ης Μαρτίου 1873, Αθήνα, 1873.
  • Εφ. Αιών”, φύλλο 21ης Μαρτίου 1873, Αθήνα, 1873.
  • Εφ. “Εφημερίς των Συζητήσεων”, φύλλο 15ης Μαρτίου 1873, Αθήνα, 1873.

 

Portrait of Winckelmann, by Angelika Kauffmann (1764)

 

“In Gegenden, wo die Künste geblüht haben, sind auch die schönsten Menschen gezeugt worden” (“In areas where the arts flourished, the most beautiful people were created”).

Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717 – 1768) was the first German archaeologist, in the contemporary sense of the word, and an important teacher of art. His major work, “History of Ancient Art” (Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, 1764) is the cornerstone of the science of archaeology and contemporary art history. By equipping archaeology with the scientific method it lacked up to that point, he released it from the status of an amateur occupation for “noble gentlemen“. He put in evidence the superiority of Greek, classical antiquity, over Hellenistic and Roman, and founded German classicism on Greek archaeology in a revolutionary manner for his time. He was murdered under unknown circumstances at the age of just fifty in Trieste. The day he died, he was carrying in his luggage his beloved books, which determined his whole thought and course: those of Homer.

Winckelmann was born about 70 years before the French Revolution and 100 years before the Greek Revolution. He was the most famous son of the city of Stendal (from Altmark, Sachsen-Anhalt) in former Prussia. He has been a genuinely liberal and pioneering spirit that influenced the greatest men of Germany (Lessing, Goethe, Herder, Schiller), Lord Byron, even the admirers of the French Revolution and later Napoleon. Goethe himself described the 18th century as “Winckelmann‘s century”, thus defining the measure of his importance, which is admirable, considering that Johann Joachim Winckelmann was born in a poor, impoverished Prussian city due to the Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648), and was the only son of a shoemaker. Nevertheless, the education of the only son of the family was at the centre of attention for his parents, who sent him to the primary Latin school in their city (städtische Lateinschule). Thanks to his participation in a choir for poor students, he manages to acquire his books as well as free access to seminars. As a student he meets Esaias Wilhelm Tappert, the almost blind school principal, to whom he becomes a trusted assistant and a book reader. This experience, as well as the role of a supervisor for the school library, offer him his first acquaintance with important writings of English and French authors, which will gradually ignite in him the idea of political freedom. Early on in his life, he formed the perception that Prussia was an oppressing state, where he has felt “what it means to be a slave“, as he will later comment.

WINCKELMANN, Johann Joachim, lithography (SHP collection)

Encouraged by Tappert, the eighteen-year-old Winckelmann visited the Cöllnisches Gymnasium zu Berlin in March 1735, where he remained until the autumn of 1736. He studied constitutional theory, natural sciences and expanded his knowledge of the Greek language and literature. It is quite possible that the starting point for the evolution of his philhellenic spirit is rooted in this period of his life. During this time he meets Christian Tobias Damm, the High School‘s vice-president who specializes in Mythology. Damm transmits his love for Homer to Winckelmann, which fuels his passion for the antiquity, its art and philosophy. Homer will remain his favorite author until his death. In November 1736 he returned to his hometown and continued his studies at the Salzwedeler Gymnasium, while teaching Greek at the same time. The rector of Bake School describes him as a “restless and unstable person” (homo vagus et inconstans).

In April 1738 he enrolled as a student of Theology in Halle, where he attended with great interest the lectures of Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714–1762), founder of Aesthetics in Germany. He also attended the seminar of the physician and philologist Johann Heinrich Schulze (1687–1744) on the Greek and Roman antiquities according to ancient numismatics. The study of numismatics probably equipped him with a detail-oriented describing ability, which he used later for the description of artworks, such as the famous Laocoon-complex in “The History of Ancient Art” (Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, 1764). His obsession with the exhaustive recording of human body parts as a basis for an artistic analysis of ancient Greek statues i.e. for Apollo Belvedere, is related to his brief, unaccomplished studies in Medicine at the University of Jena (May 1741). One could assume that his homosexuality, which was confirmed by many persons who studied his life, was a second reason for his obsession with the beauty of the human body, especially the male one.

In the following years he worked as a private teacher of Greek and Latin for families, in order to earn a living. At the same time, he carried out literary, philosophical and historical studies, which are now housed in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (in Paris). He considered this period of his life as rather burdensome. He worked as a teacher and vice-rector at the Lateinschule Seehausen (1742). It is reported that he worked there exhaustingly, to the point of physical collapse. However, the fervor with which he taught Greek remained without a response by the Prussian youth. The limited mental horizons of the Prussian province made Winckelmann feel soon oppressed and uninspired.

The way out of Seehausen’s boredom will be offered by Count Heinrich von Bünau’s proposal to move to Schloss Nöthnitz near Dresden and take on the role of librarian in a very important, publicly accessible private library of the time. Winckelmann’s life was often marked by the appearance of important people with prestige, who opened him paths for personal development. Winckelmann was probably a pleasant, refined character, flexible in his social interactions. He soon impressed the Pope’s ambassador, Alberico Archinto, when he visited the library. Archinto invited him to Rome to take on the role of librarian at the city of Vatican. This position was very important for Winckelmann, as the Vatican library was the center of knowledge of the world. A condition for Winckelmann‘s acceptance into the Vatican, was his conversion from Lutheranism to Catholicism, which he gladly accepted, in order to expand his mental horizons. Being a visual person (“Augenmensch“), he will devote himself to an unhampered study of artworks in Rome.

Rome was instrumental in the emergence of the art historian and archaeologist Winckelmann. There he met the early classicist painter Anton Raphael Mengs, in whose house he lived, with whom he shared the same love for Greek art. He also met the young German artist Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807), who created, on behalf of the Swiss painter Johann Kaspar Füßli (1706–1782), Winckelmann´s portrait in 1764.

Kauffmann, Angelika, lithography (SHP collection)

As Archinto´s protégé, he acquires connections with Italian scholars and has the opportunity to visit their libraries. After Archinto’s death, Winckelmann became a protégé of Cardinal Alessandro Albani, who contributed to his appointment as a commissioner of the roman antiquities (1763), a position of the highest influence and prestige. Winckelmann guided high-ranking officials through the ancient city of Rome and made archaeological trips as a researcher. Between 1758 -1767 he completed four trips to the destroyed cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stavia. Winckelmann developed a first standard scheme for the scientific description of excavations using references to the aforementioned archaeological sites. In Paestum he sees Greek temples for the first time, a fact that fascinates him. He describes his experiences in the work “Anmerkungen über die Baukunst der Alten” (“Remarks on the Architecture of the Ancients”, 1761).

The main work of Winckelmann appears at the beginning of 1764, “The History of the Art of Antiquity” (“Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums”). In this work he presents the evolution of art based on the sequence of style periods, using Greek art as the main example. He defines the following eras in of ancient Greek art and literature: (a) the era of the “archaic style”, which is the one with the longest duration of all (7th-6th century BC), (b) the era of the “high style”, which expresses the artistic culmination of the classical era of the 5th century. Its representatives are Pheidias, Praxitelis, Lysippos and Apellis, (c) the era of Praxitelis’ “beautiful style”, and, finally (d) the era of decline of the ancient art and literature. The value of his work lies in the accurate description of the characteristics of each artistic period. In this way he created a methodological tool for classifying works, not exclusively for the science of classical archeology. At the core of his work are the impressive and detailed descriptions of the artistic masterpieces.

Following Winckelmann´s order to this day, we refer to the two main eras of Greek art (5th and 4th century BC), as classical. This arrangement derives from ancient classicism: Winckelmann was influenced by the author Pliny and his thesis that Greek art began to decline after Alexander the Great. Winckelmann’s liberal spirit linked the negative evolution of the decline of the arts with the emergence of monarchies after Alexander’s death. The decline of art is related to the loss of the democratic public and the emergence of an art for private use. In other words, he believes that art leads to a dead end when its aim is to be displayed in private, while political freedom is the necessary precondition for the existence of high art.

WINCKELMANN, Johann Joachim, lithography (SHP collection)

 

Winckelmann’s Philhellenism derived from his need for political freedom

For Winckelmann, ancient Greek statues present the highest ideal of art. This axiom is expressed for the first time in his work “Thoughts on the imitation of Greek works in painting and sculpture” (“Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerey und Bildhauerkunst”, 1756). Greek works are characterized by “gentle simplicity and quiet grandeur” (“edle Einfalt und stille Größe”). He encourages artists to imitate the works of antiquity, in the creative manner of the Aristotelian μιμείσθαι: not mechanically, but creatively, in a manner that leads them to knowledge.

In our time, the idea for the artistic supremacy of classical antiquity seems self-evident. However, this was not the case at all in Winckelmann’s time. It was his own courage that highlighted classical Greek antiquity over Hellenistic and Roman antiquity. Born in a country that he considered to be oppressive, the young Winckelmann traces the model of political freedom back to the Athenian democracy. He defines Greek democracy as the opposite of Roman authoritarianism, and defines the era of Pericles as the first flourishing period for Greek art. This was a groundbreaking concept for his time, as the French culture of the period also widespread in German courtyards, traced its origins to Roman antiquity. The enlightened Winckelmann brings Greek democracy and art in contrast with Roman despotism, heavy baroque art, as well as the superficial and a-political art of rococo. This does not only concern aesthetic preferences, but also political ones, as the aesthetic and philosophical superiority of ancient Greek art is inextricably linked to the democracy of Pericles.

It is also important to note that before Winckelmann restored ancient art to the level at which it needs to be placed, Christianity ridiculed ancient art for its decline and disappearance.

With his positions in favor of ancient Greek art, he inaugurates for his time a controversy between the devotees of Roman and the proponents of ancient Greek art. The latter were the “modernists” of the period. Winckelmann defined the foundation of German classicism on Greek antiquity, and in this way he differentiated it from French and Italian classicism that focused on Roman antiquity. This conversion was equivalent to a spiritual revolution.

WINCKELMANN, Johann Joachim, lithography (SHP collection)

For Winckelmann, the moral influence of ancient Greek art is important, both for the artist as well as for its recipient. The artist is led through imitation to knowledge: “he must feel the power of the spirit, which he engraved on the marble“. While the one who sees the statues, finds in them examples for a specific way of life. The “calm grandeur” of Laocoon, has, for example, a moral influence on his observer, as Laocoon does not raise “any terrible voice, as Virgil proclaims” about the hero. “The opening of the mouth does not allow such a thing, it shows more a restless sigh (…) his misery reaches his soul, but we wish, just like this great man, that we too can endure the misery“. Respectively, the observer learns to endure his sufferings in a modest way.

The “calm grandeur” of Laocoon

Winckelmann believes that for Greeks, art and philosophy are identical concepts. His favorite role model is Socrates, who besides being a philosopher was also a sculptor. The combination of art and philosophy is what makes Greek works worthy of imitation. A demanding objective to achieve, indeed:

“The highest standard of art for the thinking man is the human, at least his external appearance, and this is just as difficult to examine for the artist, as it is for the philosopher to explore their inner, and the most difficult is, what does not appear, it is beauty, because in reality, it this does not fall into number and measure”.

(Erinnerung über die Betrachtung der Werke der Kunst, 1759)

Winckelmann admires the uniqueness of the Greeks, their “gentle and flexible kindness, which accompanies a living and happy existence“. And he recalls that: “in areas where the arts flourished, the most beautiful people were also created.”

«In Gegenden, wo die Künste geblüht haben, sind auch die schönsten Menschen gezeugt worden».

( Schriften über die Nachahmung der alten Kunstwerke, 1756)

Winckelmann continued to work on art history throughout his life. In 1767 he published the “Notes on the History of Ancient Art” (Anmerkungen über die Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, Dresden 1767).

Winckelmann J., “Histoire de l’art chez les anciens”, Saillant, Paris, 1766. This is the first edition of Winckelmann’s work in French (SHP collection).

His first work represented a preliminary stage for the revised second edition of Art History. The book appeared after his death in Vienna in 1776.

“Winckelmann JJ, Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums” (History of Ancient Art), Vienna, 1776. The work that established Art History as a separate scientific discipline. Winckelmann defines here classical ancient art as an ideal model, worthy of imitation by contemporary artists (SHP collection).

Ηis great work, “Monumenti antichi inediti, spiegati ed illustrati” (1776) includes unpublished ancient monuments. It was positively accepted by the public. In this work he made detailed descriptions of unpublished monuments and interpreted their representations in their mythological context, defining new paths in archaeological interpretation.

In 1763 he presented part of his work to Pope Clemens XII. This seems to have been the peak of his career. He was already an official member of numerous Academies, including the Accademia di Cortona, the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, the Society of Antiquities in London and the Academy of Göttingen.

His unexpected and tragic death shocked many in Europe, as Winckelmann was a man of general and sincere acceptance. An incidental acquaintance he made at the port of Trieste with a man of the underworld named Arcangeli, was fatal for the then fifty-year-old Winckelmann.

Winckelmann wanted to return home and visit a number of prominent friends and institutions in Germany. Thus, he left Rome on April 10, 1768 and crossed the Alps with his friend sculptor, Bartolomeo Cavaceppi. During the trip he suddenly became ill and decided to return to Rome. His friends took him to Regensburg, and then to Vienna, where he was received by Empress Maria Theresia. Then he traveled to Trieste to take a ferry to Ancona and then go to Rome. Due to the delay of the ship, he was forced to stay in a hotel in Trieste. On June 8, 1768, he was murdered in the room where he was staying, by Francesco Arcangeli, who had previously been convicted of theft. In his apology, Arcangeli said that he found some books written in a strange language in the victim’s luggage: they were the Homeric epics. His assassin was executed on July 20, 1768.

His unjust murder did not allow the great Philhellene Winckelmann to travel to Greece. The first archaeologist in history never managed to visit the Parthenon, nor to tour Olympia, the excavation of which he eagerly desired. The intellectual world of Europe was shocked by his unexpected loss. An overwhelmed Goethe refers in his memoirs to the news of Winckelmann’s death, which fell “like a thunderbolt in the clear sky.” While the German writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, who contradicted Winckelmann’s positions in his work “Laokoon oder Über die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie” (Laokoon or on the limits of painting and poetry, 1767) wrote that he would gladly offer Winckelmann years of his own life.

In 1822, Antonio Bosa designed and built a burial monument in his honor in the San Giusto Cemetery in Trieste.

The cenotaph of Antonio Bosa in memory of Winckelmann

Numerous posthumous portraits of this great man were also created. Between 1777 and 1782, the sculptor Friedrich Wilhelm Eugen Döll from Gotha, with the support of Winckelmann’s friends Anton Raphael Mengs, Johann Friedrich Reiffenstein and Anton von Maron, created three versions of a bust of him. During the 19th century, Winckelmann was honoured with busts and statues throughout Europe.

Bust of Winckelmann by sculptor Friedrich Wilhelm Doell

The founder of classical archeology is honoured to this day. His birthday (December 9) is celebrated in all German archaeological institutes around the world. Classical archaeologists conduct a series of lectures published in the “Winckelmann programs” (“Winckelmannprogramme”). The Department of Classical Archaeology at Humboldt University in Berlin carries his name: “Winckelmann Institute”. Since 1929 the German Archaeological Institute awards the Winckelmann Medal, a tradition which was also adopted as of 1960 by his hometown, Stendal. In Stendal, the Winckelmann-Gesellschaft was founded in 1940, with the aim of disseminating the work of their most important compatriot. The Winckelmann-Gesellschaft is responsible for the museum in his honour from 2000 onwards.

Winckelmann statue, Winckelmannplatz, Stendal, Germany

Although he never visited Athens, Greeks honour his memory. They offered it to a small street southeast of Athens’ first cemetery, Winkelman Street (“οδός Βίνκελμαν“).

Winkelman Street in Athens

This great scientist, a man of spirit and intellect, identified ancient Greece and the system of art, culture, democracy and the values that it represents, as the cradle of civilization of the western world. Thus he laid the touchstone for a series of extreme developments in Europe. Neoclassicism, the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and finally, Philhellenism, relied heavily on the work and ideas of this noble man.

More particularly as far as Greece is concerned, Winckelmann’s work was the spark that ignited a series of processes that eventually led to the liberation struggle of the Greeks.

SHP and the Greeks honour Johann Joachim Winckelmann to whom both they and the entire western world owe the freedom of Greece.

 

Sources and Bibliography:

  • Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerey und Bildhauerkunst.Zweyte vermehrte Auflage. Walther, Dresden/Leipzig 1756.
  • Erika Simon, Der Philhellenismus des Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Würzburg, http://www.europa-zentrum-wuerzburg.de/, Griechisch-Deutsche Initiative.
  • Martin Disselkamp/ Fausto Testa (Hg.), Winckelmann- Handbuch. Leben- Werk- Wirkung. J.B.Metzler Verlag, Stuttgart, 2017.
  • Wolfgang von Wangenheim, Der verworfene Stein, Verlag Matthes-Seitz, Berlin 2005.
  • www.winckelmann-gesellschaft.com.
  • Spiros Moskovou, 300 χρόνια γερμανική ελληνολατρεία, Deutsche Welle (ηχητικό απόσπασμα).
  • Δημήτρης Καλαντζής, Ο γιός του τσαγκάρη που έκανε την Ευρώπη να λατρέψει την Αρχαία Ελλάδα.
  • Mιχάλης Α. Τιβέριος, Ιωάννης-Ιωακείμ Βίνκελμαν (Johann Joachim Winckelmann), ο θεμελιωτής της Αρχαιολογίας, 24 γράμματα.
  • Αλέξανδρος Κεσίσογλου, Ο Winckelmann και η εποχή μας, ΤΟ ΒΗΜΑ, 24 Νοεμβρίου 2008.

 

General Thomas Gordon. Lithograph by the German officer and Philhellene Krazeisen (SHP collection).

 

Thomas Gordon (1788 – 1841), was a British officer, a significant Philhellene and one of the first commanders of the Greek Army.

He was born in Cairness House, in Lonmay of county Aberdeenshire, in Scotland. He was the son of landowner Charles Gordon, lord of Buthlaw and Cairness, and Christian Forbes, lady of Ballogie[1]. He attended Eton College and the University of Oxford[2].

After graduating from Oxford University in 1808, he enlisted in the Royal Scots Greys Cavalry Regiment, from which he resigned in May 1810 with the rank of cavalry captain[3].

On August 26, 1810, he was hosted by Ali Pasha in Ioannina, while between 1810 and 1812, he travelled to Constantinople, Thessaloniki, Asia Minor, Persia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya[4].

In 1813 he first served as a captain in the Russian General Staff and then he was transferred to the Russian Army, which was stationed in Mecklenburg. This Army was commanded (further to an agreement of the Russian and Austrian governments), by the Austrian general, Count Ludwig Georg Thedel von Wallmoden-Gimborn (1769-1862)[5].

In early 1814, Gordon returned to his homeland, and in 1815 he travelled again to Constantinople. There he met Barbara Cana, a Greek young lady, whom he later married. Thus his wife acquired the title of baroness [6].

This wedding, in combination with his previous trips, brought him closer to Greece. In fact, Gordon had met Alexandros and his brother Dimitrios Ypsilantis in Bucharest. Thus Gordon gradually developed a strong interest for Greece and Philhellenic sentiments[7].

In early 1821, in honour of his diverse work, Thomas Gordon was awarded the title of Partner of the Royal Society of Great Britain. During this period, he lived with his family in Paris, where he was informed of the start of the Greek Revolution. Then, proving his genuine Philhellenism, Gordon took on his own important initiatives, before a coordinated action of the Philhellenes was organized in Great Britain. He connected with Philhellenes French officers with whom he decided to go to Greece. For this purpose he bought weapons and ammunition, and chartered at his own expense a ship in Marseilles, with which the equipment and the Philhellenes arrived in Greece in August 1821[8].

Newspaper SCHWAEBISCHER MERKUR, Nr. 290, December 5, 1821. The newspaper reports that Gordon arrived in Morea, with British and French officers and a shipment of weapons and ammunition. Followed by 1500 Greeks trained according to European standards (SHP collection).

Upon his arrival in Greece, Gordon was appointed Chief of the staff of Dimitrios Ypsilantis. From this position he took part in many military operations, which aimed at the liberation of Tripolitsa. When the occupation of Tripolitsa was imminent, Gordon, most of the Philhellenes, and Ypsilantis himself, undertook other missions and did not attend the entrance of the Greeks in the city, on September 23, 1821[9].

Gordon was dissatisfied with the violence that followed the occupation of Tripolitsa. For this reason mainly, he returned with the permission of Ypsilantis, in November 1821, through Zakynthos, to his country[10].

In November 1822 the Provisional Greek Government of Hermione sent a letter asking him to return to Greece[11]. Gordon refused because he was not ready yet. However, when the Philhellenic Committee of London was established on 28 February 1823, Gordon was one of its founding members. From this position he contributed to sending military equipment and aid to Greece[12]. Actually, during that time, after a mature assessment of the situation and the prospects of the Greek liberation struggle, Gordon developed the view that Philhellenism should take the form of a single, decisive and continuous strategy at all levels and that it should not be in an opportunistically and occasionally, the case of only a few people[13].

Gordon also played an important role in relation to the mission of Lord Byron and lieutenant Colonel FitzGerald Charles Stanhope, 5th Earl of Harrington, to Greece[14]. It is reminded that these two Philhellenes had been appointed (along with Lazaros Koundouriotis), members of the Management Committee of the first loan that the revolted Greeks expected to receive during this period[15].

Further to the conclusion of the first loan, the Greek delegation asked again Gordon to return[16] to Greece. Gordon refused again, mainly because he was saddened by the civil war that had broken out in Greece. In 1826 the Greek representatives in London persuaded him to go to Greece, with the aim of promoting the unity of the Greeks and of imposing discipline on the military forces. He arrived in Nafplio on May 11, 1826, where he was welcomed warmly by the Greeks. While in Greece, Gordon intended to assist the important French Philhellene Charles Fabvier in reorganizing the Regular Army. At the same time, he wanted to prepare the ground for the arrival in Greece of the emblematic Admiral Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, who was appointed commander of the Greek Navy[17].

Another aspect of Gordon’s mission was to accompany the one of the last instalments of the second loan from England to Greece, which amounted to 14,000 GBP. In fact, he maintained complete control over the management of this amount, and contributed to its rational distribution. In fact, he made sure that this money reached people who were refugees from various parts of Greece, such as the Souliotes[18].

In January 1827, following a proposal by Makrygiannis and a decision of the chairman of the Administrative Committee Andreas Zaimis, he took command of the expeditionary corps, which aimed to cooperate with the forces commanded by General Karaiskakis and General Church in Attica, in order to terminate the siege of the Acropolis[19].

ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG newspaper, together with Beilage Nr. 50, February 19, 1827. It published a whole letter sent by Gordon from Zakynthos, in which he mentions what he has done since his arrival in May 1826, the existing needs, the difficulties, the mission of Kolokotronis to Gastouni, the case of Fabvier supported by French philhellenes, the Greek navy. It refers to the arrival of Cochrane in Greece and to the philhellenic committees. It presents an account of the central committee of the Philanthropic Society of Paris to all the Greek clubs for the global aid it provided for the Greek cause in 1825 and 1826 (SHP collection).

On March 3 and 4, 1827, Gordon distinguished himself at the Battle of Kastela in Piraeus and contributed to the creation of the military camp of Kastela[20]. Also, on April 13, 1827, he had a significant contribution in the liberation of the Holy Monastery of Agios Spyridon in Piraeus, which resulted in facilitating communication between the Greek camps in Kastella and Keratsini[21].

This evolution led Church to appoint Gordon chief of his staff[22]. After the Battle of Analatos on 24 April 1827, Gordon was confined to logistics activities until July 1827, when he finally returned to Great Britain.

Meanwhile, Gordon had developed a keen interest in classical history and archaeology. So in January 1828 he was named member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland[23].

Gordon returned to Greece in the summer of 1828, and until February 1831 he led the excavations at the temple of Hera in Argos[24]. During this period he built his house at 14 Gordonos Street. This building was restored in 1982 and it is now owned by the French Archaeological School of Athens[25].

Gordon returned to his homeland in February 1831, devoting himself to writing his History of the Greek Revolution, which was completed in January 1833[26].

History of the Greek Revolution, and of the Wars and Campaigns Arising from the Struggles of the Greek Patriots in Emancipating Their Country From the Turkish Yoke. Vol I & II. Second Edition Gordon, Thomas, F.R.S. Published by William Blackwood and T. Cadell, Edinburgh and London, 1834 (SHP collection).

General Gordon’s “History” is characterized as one of the most authoritative and serious works on the Greek revolution. It offers important material and it provides a complete, moderate and objective picture, also because of his participation in the events. His book was received warmly by the public from the beginning and it influenced as a catalyst historians such as Spyridon Trikoupis and George Finley.

Gordon returned to Greece in January 1833, following the arrival of King Othon. During this period he was honoured with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer for his services during the Struggle[27] of the Greeks.

Lieutenant General Thomas Gordon

In 1834 he was appointed president of the Military Court of the Greek Army. At the same time, the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland named him honorary member[28].In 1837 Gordon was promoted to major general in the Greek Army, and he was declared member of the Hellenic Society of Natural History[29].

Because of his poor health, Thomas Gordon, was retired from the Greek Army in January 1839. After his retirement, he went to St. Petersburg, where he was honoured by the Russian Czar with the title of Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem[30]. From St. Petersburg he returned to Great Britain. In January 1840 he travelled for a while to Greece, where he was anointed member of the Athenian Archaeological Society, as well as of the Society for the Promotion of Education and Learning[31].

General Thomas Gordon died of kidney failure at Cairness House in Lonmay, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on 20 April 1841. In his will, he left his record and house to his son Charles Wilkinson Gordon, an officer of the British Army. The latter’s granddaughter, Marjorie Gordon, sold the Cairness House in 1938 and donated the Gordon family archive to the University of Aberdeen[32].

SHP and Greece honour the memory of General Thomas Gordon, a major and noble British Philhellene, who fought for the Greek cause. This important man was honoured with high positions of responsibility in the new Greek state, while enjoying the recognition, appreciation and respect of the Greek society, as well as of the academic community, both in Greece and in Great Britain.

 

References

[1] Δωροβίνης, Βασίλης, ‘’Το σπίτι του στρατηγού Thomas Gordon στο Άργος, Ι’’, εκδ. περ. ‘’Αρχαιολογία’’, Αθήνα, 1993,  τεύχος 47, σελ. 80.
[2] Δρούλια, Έλλη, ‘’Παγκόσμιο Βιογραφικό Λεξικό, Εκπαιδευτική Ελληνική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια’’, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 1990, γ’ τόμος, σελ. 134-135.
[3] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[4] ‘’Archive of the Gordon Family of Cairness and Buthlaw‘’, φάκελος υπ’αριθμ. 1160, Πανεπιστήμιο Aberdeen.
[5] Pallua-Gall, Julian, ‘’Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie‘’, εκδ. Duncker & Humblot, Λειψία, 1896, 40ος τόμος, σελ. 761-762.
[6] Goodwin, Gordon, ‘’Gordon, Thomas (1788-1841)’’, εκδ. Dictionary of National Biography, Λονδίνο, 1900, 22ος τόμος.
[7] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[8] St Clair, William, ‘’That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence’’, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 138.
[9] Persat, Maurice, ‘’Memoires du Commandant Persat. 1806 à 1844‘’, εκδ. Librairie Plon, Παρίσι, 1910, σελ. 87-88.
[10] Gordon, Thomas, ‘’Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως’’, εκδ. ΜΙΕΤ , Αθήνα, 2015, α’ τόμος.
[11] ‘’Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας’’, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1857, α’ τόμος, σελ. 132.
[12]  Dakin, Douglas, ‘’O αγώνας των Ελλήνων για την ανεξαρτησία 1821-1833’’, μτφρ. Ρένας Σταυρίδου-Πατρικίου, εκδ. ΜΙΕΤ, Αθήνα, 1989, σελ. 141.
[13] St Clair, William, ‘’That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence’’, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 138.
[14] Lovell, Ernest J., ‘’His Very Self and Voice, Collected Conversations of Lord Byron’’, εκδ. MacMillan, Νέα Υόρκη, 1954, σελ. 369.
[15] ‘’Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου’’, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 3.
[16] ‘’Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας’’, εκδ. Βιβλιοθήκη της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1971, γ’ τόμος, σελ. 161.
[17] Βλ. στο ίδιο, σελ. 421.
[18] Gordon, Thomas, ‘’Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως’’, εκδ. MΙΕΤ, Αθήνα, 2015.
[19] Τρικούπης, Σπυρίδων, ‘’Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως’’, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2007, δ’ τόμος, σελ. 118.
[20] Κασομούλης, Νικόλαος, ‘’ Ενθυμήματα στρατιωτικά της Επαναστάσεως των Ελλήνων 1821 -1833’’, εκδ. Α. Ι. Βάρσου, Αθήνα, 1941, β’ τόμος, σελ. 484.
[21] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[22] Church, E.M., “Chapters in an Adventurous Life: Sir Richard Church in Italy and Greece”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1895.
[23] Kasdagli, Α. Ε., “The papers of Thomas Gordon of Cairness (1788-1841)”, εκδ. περ. ‘’Northern Scotland’’, Εδιμβούργο, 1994, τεύχος 14, σελ. 109 -114.
[24] Κουμαδωράκης , Οδυσσέας, ‘’Άργος το πολυδίψιον‘’,  εκδ. Εκ Προοιμίου, Άργος, 2007.
[25] ‘’Εφημερίς της Κυβερνήσεως’’, Αθήνα, ΦΕΚ Δεκεμβρίου 1982.
[26] Δρούλια, Έλλη, ‘’Παγκόσμιο Βιογραφικό Λεξικό, Εκπαιδευτική Ελληνική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια’’, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 1990, γ’ τόμος, σελ. 134-135.
[27] “Archive of the Gordon Family of Cairness and Buthlaw”, φάκελος υπ’ αριθμ.2757, Πανεπιστήμιο Aberdeen.
[28] “Archive of the Gordon Family of Cairness and Buthlaw”, φάκελος υπ’ αριθμ. 3193, Πανεπιστήμιο Aberdeen.
[29] “Υπηρεσιακή αλληλογραφία υποστρατήγου Thomas Gordon”, φάκελος 107, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα.
[30] Kasdagli, Α. Ε., “Exploring the papers of the Scottish philhellene Thomas Gordon (1788-1841)”, εκδ. Kambos: Cambridge Papers in Modern Greek, Λονδίνο, 1995, σελ. 65.
[31] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[32] “Archive of the Gordon Family of Cairness and Buthlaw”, φάκελος υπ’ αριθμ. 3193, Πανεπιστήμιο Aberdeen.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Δωροβίνης, Βασίλης, ‘’Το σπίτι του στρατηγού Thomas Gordon στο Άργος, Ι’’, εκδ. περ. ‘’Αρχαιολογία’’, Αθήνα, 1993, τεύχος 47.
  • Δρούλια, Έλλη, ‘’Παγκόσμιο Βιογραφικό Λεξικό, Εκπαιδευτική Ελληνική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια’’, εκδ. Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα, 1990, γ’ τόμος.
  • ‘’Archive of the Gordon Family of Cairness and Buthlaw‘’, φάκελος υπ’ αριθμ. 1160, Πανεπιστήμιο Aberdeen.
  • Pallua-Gall, Julian, ‘’Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie ‘’, εκδ. Duncker & Humblot, Λειψία, 1896, 40ος τόμος.
  • Goodwin, Gordon, ‘’Gordon, Thomas (1788-1841)’’, εκδ. Dictionary of National Biography, Λονδίνο, 1900, 22ος τόμος.
  • St Clair, William, ‘’That Greece Might Still be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence’’, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008.
  • Persat, Maurice, ‘’Memoires du Commandant Persat. 1806 à 1844 ‘’, εκδ. Librairie Plon, Παρίσι, 1910.
  • Gordon, Thomas, ‘’Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως’’, εκδ. ΜΙΕΤ, Αθήνα, 2015, α’ τόμος.
  • ‘’Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας’’, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1857, α’ τόμος.
  • Dakin, Douglas, ‘’O αγώνας των Ελλήνων για την ανεξαρτησία 1821-1833’’, μτφρ. Ρένας Σταυρίδου-Πατρικίου, εκδ. ΜΙΕΤ, Αθήνα, 1989.
  • Lovell, Ernest J., ‘’His Very Self and Voice, Collected Conversations of Lord Byron’’, εκδ. MacMillan, Νέα Υόρκη, 1954.
  • ‘’Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου’’, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 3.
  • ‘’Αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας’’, εκδ. Βιβλιοθήκη της Βουλής των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1971, γ’ τόμος.
  • Τρικούπης, Σπυρίδων, ‘’Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως’’, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2007, δ’ τόμος.
  • Κασομούλης, Νικόλαος, ‘’Ενθυμήματα στρατιωτικά της Επαναστάσεως των Ελλήνων 1821 -1833’’, εκδ. Α. Ι. Βάρσου, Αθήνα, 1941, β’ τόμος.
  • Church, E.M., “Chapters in an Adventurous Life: Sir Richard Church in Italy and Greece”, εκδ. William Blackwood & Sons, Λονδίνο, 1895.
  • Kasdagli, Α. Ε., ‘’The papers of Thomas Gordon of Cairness (1788-1841)’’, εκδ. περ. ‘’Northern Scotland’’, Εδιμβούργο, 1994,  τεύχος 14.
  • Κουμαδωράκης , Οδυσσέας, ‘’Άργος το πολυδίψιον ‘’, εκδ. Εκ Προοιμίου, Άργος, 2007.
  • ‘’Εφημερίς της Κυβερνήσεως’’, Αθήνα, ΦΕΚ Δεκεμβρίου 1982.
  • ‘’Archive of the Gordon Family of Cairness and Buthlaw‘’, φάκελος υπ’ αριθμ. 2757, Πανεπιστήμιο Aberdeen.
  • ‘’Archive of the Gordon Family of Cairness and Buthlaw‘’, φάκελος υπ’ αριθμ. 3193, Πανεπιστήμιο
  • ‘’Υπηρεσιακή αλληλογραφία υποστρατήγου Thomas Gordon’’, φάκελος 107, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα.
  • Kasdagli, Α. Ε., ‘’Exploring the papers of the Scottish philhellene Thomas Gordon (1788-1841)’’, εκδ. Kambos: Cambridge Papers in Modern Greek, Λονδίνο, 1995.

 

Antonio Figueira d’Almeida. Portrait of an unknown painter. National History Museum, Athens.

 

Antonio Figueira d’Almeida (1784-1847), was a Portuguese officer and Philhellene, one of the organizers of the Greek Cavalry[1], of which he was also the leader.

He was born in the Portuguese city of Elvas. From 1807 to 1813, he served as an officer in the Portuguese Cavalry and later as an officer in the Lusitanian Legion and the Royal Volunteer Battalion of the Anglo-Portuguese Army under British General Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington[2]. During this period, he fought against the French, who had invaded Spain and Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars. In fact, he was particularly prominent in the battles of Bussaco[3] and Toulouse[4], which took place in September 1810 and April 1814.

In the late 1810s and early 1820s, Almeida began to develop his Philhellenic interests[5]. It is worth noting that there was no significant movement of Philhellenism organized in Portugal. This was in contrast to case of Great Britain, the German states, France and the Italian states. Almeida’s intense interest in the Greek Revolution led him to go to Greece in September 1825 and to enlist in the Regular Army. At that time, the command of the Regular Army was taken over by another important Philhellene, the French officer Charles Fabvier (1783-1855)[6].

Almeida was offered the rank of Colonel in Greece. On July 18, 1826, he took part in the victorious for the Greeks, battle of Gareas Mantineias. There he distinguished himself as commander of the Cavalry of the Regular Army. In fact, due to his action, he received the praise of Theodoros Kolokotronis, who suggested the use of the Cavalry in other services[7]. However, due to the difficult situation that prevailed in Greece at that time, the Cavalry eventually remained an integral part of the Regular Army[8].

In January 1827, Almeida also took part in the Battle of Distomo[9], in which the Greek forces again won. After this battle, he was transferred to Nafplio and then he took part in the campaign of Chios, always under the command of Fabvier, in January 1828[10].

After the failure of the campaign in Chios, and the arrival of Ioannis Kapodistrias in Greece, Almeida was appointed inspector of the Cavalry, in charge of the task of reorganizing it. Then, on January 22, 1830, he was appointed military commander of Nafplio[11].  From this position, he contributed in September 1831, to the arrest of Georgios Mavromichalis (one of the murderers of Kapodistrias), who had taken refuge in the house of the French ambassador Rouen, and to the maintenance of order in the population of Nafplio[12].

In 1832, due to his action during the Liberation Struggle, he was offered the title of Honorary Citizen of Nafplio and the 5th National assembly gave him the Greek citizenship[13]. When King Othon came to Greece in January 1833, Almeida was appointed military commander at Aegina[14].

In 1836, Almeida served with the rank of Colonel as military commander of Messolonghi. His important contribution during the Greek Revolution was recognized. Likewise his work in Messolonghi. In fact, in this context he helped to suppress the local uprising, which took place in early 1836. For these reasons, he was promoted to major general, and in 1839 he was appointed military commander of Nafplio[15].

In Nafplio he married the sister of Alexandros Mavrokordatos, Zoe Mavrokordatos, with whom he had 2 children[16]. Emmanuel Almeida and Dimitrios Almeida. The son of the latter, was Antonios Almeida the youngest, one of the founders of the Athens Tennis Club in 1895. Antonios Almeida fell heroically in the battle of Kilkis – Lahana on June 20, 1913[17], continuing the glorious history of his family and its contribution to Greece.

Antonio Figueira d’Almeida, died in 1847 in Batalia, Venice[18].

Almeida was an important Philhellene, with a useful and multifaceted contribution to Greece and the common values ​​on which Europe is based. Almeida became a Greek citizen and his family participated in all the liberation struggles in Greece. SHP and Greece honour this great Philhellene and his memory connects Greece with the friendly people of Portugal.

 

References

[1] Βυζάντιος, Χρήστος Σ., “Ιστορία των κατά την Ελληνικήν Επανάστασιν εκστρατειών και μαχών και των μετά ταύτα συμβάντων, ων συμμέτεσχεν ο Τακτικός Στρατός από του 1821 μέχρι του 1833”, εκδ. Κ. Αντωνιάδη, Αθήνα, 1874.
[2] Chartrand, Rene, Younghusband, Bill, “The Portuguese Army of the Napoleonic Wars”, εκδ. Osprey, Λονδίνο, 2000.
[3] Muir, Rory, “Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon”, εκδ. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008.
[4] Fortescue, John William, “History of the British Army: 1814–1815”, εκδ. MacΜillan, Λονδίνο, 1920.
[5] “Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου”, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 3.
[6] Βυζάντιος, Χρήστος Σ., “Ιστορία των κατά την Ελληνικήν Επανάστασιν εκστρατειών και μαχών και των μετά ταύτα συμβάντων, ων συμμέτεσχεν ο Τακτικός Στρατός από του 1821 μέχρι του 1833”, εκδ. Κ. Αντωνιάδη, Αθήνα, 1874.
[7] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[8] Γενικό Επιτελείο Στρατού, “Ιστορία Ιππικού – Τεθωρακισμένων”, εκδ. Τυπογραφείο Ελληνικού Στρατού, Αθήνα, 1995.
[9] “Αρχείον στρατηγού Γεωργίου Καραϊσκάκη (1826-1827)”, εκδ. Δημιουργία, Αθήνα, 1996.
[10] Σπηλιάδης, Νικόλαος, “Απομνημονεύματα δια να χρησιμεύσωσι εις την νέαν ελληνικήν ιστορίαν 1821-1843”,  εκδ . Χ. Νικολαΐδου – Φιλαδελφέως, Αθήνα, 1857, γ’ τόμος.
[11] “Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Πάπυρος – Larousse –Britannica”, εκδ. Δομή, Αθήνα, 1999, 5ος τόμος.
[12]  Λούκος, Χρήστος, ‘’Ιωάννης Καποδίστριας’’, εκδ. εφ. ‘’Τα Νέα’’, Αθήνα, 2009, σελ. 109.
[13] “Τα αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας”, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1974, 5ος τόμος.
[14] “Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Πάπυρος – Larousse – Britannica”, εκδ. Δομή, Αθήνα, 1999, 5ος τόμος.
[15]  Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[16]  Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[17]  Σκιαδάς, Ελευθέριος, “100 χρόνια Όμιλος Αντισφαίρισης Αθηνών 1895-1995”, εκδ. Μικρός Ρωμηός, Αθήνα, 1995.
[18] “Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Πάπυρος – Larousse –Britannica”, εκδ. Δομή, Αθήνα, 1999, 5ος τόμος.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Βυζάντιος, Χρήστος Σ., ‘’Ιστορία των κατά την Ελληνικήν Επανάστασιν εκστρατειών και μαχών και των μετά ταύτα συμβάντων, ων συμμέτεσχεν ο Τακτικός Στρατός από του 1821 μέχρι του 1833’’, εκδ. Κ. Αντωνιάδη, Αθήνα, 1874.
  • Chartrand, Rene, Younghusband, Bill, ‘’The Portuguese Army of the Napoleonic Wars’’, εκδ. Osprey, Λονδίνο, 2000.
  • Muir, Rory, ‘’Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon’’, εκδ. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2008.
  • Fortescue, John William, ‘’History of the British Army: 1814–1815’’, εκδ. MacΜillan, Λονδίνο, 1920.
  • ‘’Ιστορικόν Αρχείον Αλεξάνδρου Μαυροκορδάτου’’, επιμ. Εμμ. Πρωτοψάλτης, Γενικά Αρχεία του Κράτους, Αθήνα, τόμος 3.
  • Σπηλιάδης, Νικόλαος, ‘’Απομνημονεύματα δια να χρησιμεύσωσι εις την νέαν ελληνικήν ιστορίαν 1821-1843’’, εκδ . Χ. Νικολαϊδου – Φιλαδελφέως, Αθήνα, 1857, γ’ τόμος.
  • ‘’Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Πάπυρος – Larousse – Britannica’’, εκδ. Δομή, Αθήνα, 1999, 5ος τόμος.
  • ‘’Τα αρχεία της Ελληνικής Παλιγγενεσίας’’, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 1974, 5ος τόμος.
  • Σκιαδάς, Ελευθέριος, ‘’100 χρόνια Όμιλος Αντισφαίρισης Αθηνών 1895-1995’’, εκδ. Μικρός Ρωμηός, Αθήνα, 1995.
  • Τρικούπης, Σπυρίδων, ‘’Ιστορία της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως’’, εκδ. Βουλή των Ελλήνων, Αθήνα, 2007, δ’ τόμος.
  • Γενικό Επιτελείο Στρατού, ‘’Ιστορία Ιππικού- Τεθωρακισμένων’’, εκδ. Τυπογραφείο Ελληνικού Στρατού, Αθήνα, 1995.
  • “Αρχείον στρατηγού Γεωργίου Καραϊσκάκη (1826-1827)”, εκδ. Δημιουργία, Αθήνα, 1996.
  • Λούκος, Χρήστος, ‘’Ιωάννης Καποδίστριας’’, εκδ. εφ. ‘’Τα Νέα’’, Αθήνα, 2009

 

The Swiss Philhellene Amadeus Emmanuel Hahn (SHP collection)

 

Amadeus Emmanuel Hahn (1801-1867), was a Swiss officer and one of the most distinguished Philhellenes, both during the Greek Revolution of 1821 and later during the first years of the existence of the new Greek state.

He served as an officer in the Swiss Army, from 1818 to 1823[1]. At the same time, he was one of the first to join the Philhellenic Committee of Bern[2]. A little later, this Committee instructed him in 1825 to go to Greece[3]. When he arrived, he enlisted in the Corps of Philhellenes and undertook soon action. Among other things, he undertook to inspire and support many young Philhellenes who were suffering, and distinguished himself for saving the lives of many of his comrades, who had even attempted suicide. One of the reasons was the malaria epidemic that had broken out in Corinth and which, due to the lack of medical means, was impossible to deal with[4].

Amadeus Emmanuel Hahn, took part in the 2nd battle of Tripolitsa and in the battle of Oropos in 1825[5]. A little later, he took part in the siege of the Acropolis in 1826. He was part of the Corps of 500 Greeks and Philhellenes who broke the lines of the Turkish besiegers, and entered the Acropolis under the French Philhellene General Charles Fabvier, bringing food and ammunition to the besieged Greeks.

He remained in the Acropolis for 6 months, period during which he experienced the complete impoverishment of the besieged Greeks, due to the lack of food and ammunition[6]. Then, he fought in the battle of Analatos on April 24, 1827 (from where he fled ill to Poros after the defeat of the Greeks, in order to recover[7]), and later in the battles of Oropos and Thebes, while finally, he took part in the campaign of Chios under the orders of the Philhellene General Charles Fabvier, in 1828[8].

At the same time he wrote the book “Brief des Philhellenen Em. Hahn aus Griechenland”, through which he informed the public opinion of his country about the situation prevailing in Greece[9].

After the foundation of the new Greek state in 1830, Hahn continued to offer his services in Greece. In fact, at the same time he reconnected with his old friend and later landowner in Evia, Edward Noel, nephew of Lord Byron[10].

In 1833 he served as a commander of the garrison in Patras[11].

In 1837 he was promoted to Captain of the Infantry[12] and was appointed commander of the 4th Battalion of the Greek Army[13].

In 1843 he served as a military commander of Pylos (then Navarino), while in 1844 the state promoted him to the grade of Colonel, to honour him for the services he had offered to the Struggle[14].

In 1845, for health reasons, he took sick leave and visited for a while his homeland, Switzerland[15].

At October 27th, 1845, he married in Athens the Prussian Baroness Maria Des Granges (1826-1849), who died in July of 1849, because of complexions in her pregnancy[16]. Her tomb is located in the 1st Cemetery of Athens.

In 1854, he chaired the committee of the Ministry of the Army, which was responsible for drafting the army’s regulations, while in 1855, he was promoted to the aid de camp of the Greek king Othon[17].

In 1857 he was promoted to major general, while in 1860 he was appointed Inspector of the Infantry[18].

Due to health problems, Amadeus Emmanuel Hahn, resigned from the Greek Army in 1865, holding the rank of lieutenant general. He returned to Bern, where he died on June 22, 1867[19].

SHP honours the memory of Amadeus Emmanuel Hahn, an important Philhellene, who fought for the Independence of Greece and the organization of the new Greek state, which he served with important positions of responsibility.

 

References

[1] ‘’Μεγάλη Στρατιωτική και Ναυτική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια’’, εκδ. Μεγάλης Στρατιωτικής και Ναυτικής Εγκυκλοπαίδειας, Αθήνα, 1930, 6ος τόμος, σελ.565.
[2] Hahn, Amadeus Emmanuel, ‘’Memoiren über seine Beteiligung am griechischen Freiheitskampf’’, εκδ. Berner Taschenbuch, Βέρνη, 1870.
[3] ‘’Μεγάλη Στρατιωτική και Ναυτική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια’’, εκδ. Μεγάλης Στρατιωτικής και Ναυτικής Εγκυκλοπαίδειας, Αθήνα, 1930, 6ος τόμος, σελ.565.
[4] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 161.
[5] ”Μεγάλη Στρατιωτική και Ναυτική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια”, εκδ. Μεγάλης Στρατιωτικής και Ναυτικής Εγκυκλοπαίδειας, Αθήνα, 1930, 6ος τόμος, σελ.565.
[6] Reber, Karl, “Emanuel Amenaeus Hahn- ein verkannter Schweizer Philhellene“, εκδ. περ. Hellas Freunde, Βέρνη, Ιανουάριος 2009, σελ.12.
[7] Hahn, Amadeus Emmanuel, ”Memoiren über seine Beteiligung am griechischen Freiheitskampf“, εκδ. Berner Taschenbuch, Βέρνη, 1870.
[8] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[9] St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008, σελ. 362.
[10] Reber, Karl, ‘’Emanuel Amenaeus Hahn- ein verkannter Schweizer Philhellene’’, εκδ. περ. Hellas Freunde, Βέρνη, Ιανουάριος 2009, σελ.12
[11] Reber, Karl, ‘’Emanuel Amenaeus Hahn- ein verkannter Schweizer Philhellene’’, εκδ. περ. Hellas Freunde, Βέρνη, Ιανουάριος 2009, σελ.13
[12] ‘’ Εφημερίς της Κυβερνήσεως του Βασιλείου της Ελλάδος’’, Αθήνα, 30 Μαΐου 1837, Φ.Ε.Κ. υπ’ αριθμ. 20, σελ.88.
[13] Reber, Karl, ‘’Emanuel Amenaeus Hahn- ein verkannter Schweizer Philhellene’’, εκδ. περ. Hellas Freunde, Βέρνη, Ιανουάριος 2009, σελ.13
[14] Βλ. στο ίδιο
[15] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[16] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[17] Βλ. στο ίδιο.
[18]”Μεγάλη Στρατιωτική και Ναυτική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια”, εκδ. Μεγάλης Στρατιωτικής και Ναυτικής Εγκυκλοπαίδειας, Αθήνα, 1930, 6ος τόμος, σελ.565.
[19] Βλ. στο ίδιο.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • ”Μεγάλη Στρατιωτική και Ναυτική Εγκυκλοπαίδεια”, εκδ. Μεγάλης Στρατιωτικής και Ναυτικής Εγκυκλοπαίδειας, Αθήνα, 1930, 6ος τόμος.
  • Hahn, Amadeus Emmanuel, “Memoiren über seine Beteiligung am griechischen Freiheitskampf“, εκδ. Berner Taschenbuch, Βέρνη, 1870.
  • St Clair, William, “That Greece Might Still Be Free. The Philhellenes in the War of Independence”, εκδ. Open Book Publishers, Λονδίνο, 2008.
  • “Εφημερίς της Κυβερνήσεως του Βασιλείου της Ελλάδος”, Αθήνα, 30 Μαΐου 1837, Φ.Ε.Κ. υπ’ αριθμ. 20.
  • Reber, Karl, “Emanuel Amenaeus Hahn- ein verkannter Schweizer Philhellene“, εκδ. περ. Ηellas Freunde, Βέρνη, Ιανουάριος 2009.

 

Military from Corsica of the period 1800 – 1817

 

Gambini Pasquale was a brave Philhellene who died heroically during a battle in the area of ​​Athens. He originated from the city of Corte in Corsica, from a large family of distinguished soldiers.

The Greek bibliography refers often to him as “Gampini Paskouale” in Greek letters. The “Great Greek Encyclopedia” states that he arrived in Greece with the Italian Philhellene Joseph Abbati and other compatriots at the beginning of the war of independence. However, this view does not seem to be correct, as his presence is mentioned in the sources much later.

Initially, William St Clair in his work “That Greece might still be free”, ranks Gambini among about a dozen Italian revolutionaries who were sentenced to death in their homeland, in absentia, for their participation in the revolutionary movements of 1821 and for their political beliefs. This list comprised Collegno, Rosarol, Santa Rosa, Palma, Romei, Barandier, and others.

In addition, sketching Gambini’s life before he appeared in Greece, Vergé – Franceschi Michel, calls Gambini “the Red”. That is, the revolutionary. The author mentions that Gambini was associated to the Corsican revolutionary-thief, Gallocchio, and that he then fled to Greece where he took part in the liberation struggle of the Greeks, fighting against the Turks.

More information about Gambini and Gallocchio is provided by Silvani Paul. According to the international bibliography, but mainly the “History of the island of Corsica”, it appears that “Pascal Gambini” (as mentioned), came to Greece with another of his compatriots and Philhellene, Gallocchio. It seems that the latter served as “captain in Morea”. It is reported that at some point he returned for personal and family reasons in Corsica, where he was murdered.

Peasants from Corsica in the early 19th century

Elie Papadacci refers to “the revolutionary-thieves Gallocchio and Pascal Gambini, who enlisted in the Greek forces“. It places their action in Greece only in the year 1826, a fact that has also not been verified. What is certain is that their presence is documented after 1824, as in 1823 Pascal Gambini appears to be the author and signatory of a revolutionary proclamation in Corsica. The proclamation is published by Valérie Sottocasa in a study.

From all the above sources, it appears that Gambini remained in Greece for a relatively short period, from 1824 or 1826 at the latest, until 1827.

In addition, the archives of Lord Gordon kept at the University of Aberdeen, comprise a letter from Gambini and other Philhellenes addressed to Gordon. The Philhellenes inform him that they were satisfying his wish and arrived in Ambelaki, a city in the Peloponnese, in the hope that they will be able to become useful to Colonel Fabvier, commander of the Greek Regular Army. The letter is dated March 12, 1827. One could therefore speculate that Gambini may have come to Greece at the urging and acquaintance of Lord Gordon. However, there is no further evidence to support this version.

In any case, the most reliable source about this Philhellene remains, as it is often the case, the biographer of the Philhellenes, Henri Fornèsy. According to his testimony, Gambini died after being first tortured by the Turks in Patissia, Athens, on May 6, 1827. Herni Fornèsy writes in his notes on Gambini exactly the following:

The most worthy, given his bravery, to carry with honor the flag of the Philhellenes in Faliro, where he was taken prisoner. He served in the Company of the Philhellenes, which the Greek warriors called “Paschalis’ Company”. His death was the death of a hero, and here are the key details. After the Turks took him prisoner, further to the catastrophic defeat at the Three Towers or Cape Kollia, and after he had tried with fearless courage to defend himself alone against numerous enemy cavalry, they led him before Reshit Pasha to Athens, in his camp. Due to his tall stature, the Turks took him for Lord Cochrane, a mistake that could have saved his life. But the brave Corsican warrior refused to consent to such a scam. A martyr’s, but glorious, death was in his soul more preferable than maintaining his existence by redeeming it based on a lie. Among the many prisoners who fell to the Turks that same day, was the young leader, Dimitrios Kallergis. Pasha brought Gambini before him in order to verify his identity and real name. Since there was no longer any doubt, after Kallergis’ assurance, he decided to execute Gambini, whose head would go to find those of so many of his other comrades-in-arms. Gambini, until the last moment of his life, became the object of admiration and heroism, cursing the tyrannical Turks and encouraging the Greeks who suffered the same fate as him, to endure their death with courage, and with the certainty that their “brothers” comrades-in-arms, would not delay to avenge their enemies for their loss“.

Similar information about Gambini and his heroic death is also reported by Michelle Averoff in her article on the Philhellenes, as well as in Babis Anninos relevant study in “Historical Notes”.

Much information about Gambini Pasquale is also provided by Thomas Douglas Whitcombe, in his “Campaign of the Falieri and Piraeus in the Year 1827”. Whitcombe calls Gambini by his first name “Pasqual”, and states that this warrior had the good reputation that he was very courageous and that he had bravely defended the flag of the Philhellenes. He describes with eloquence his brave participation in the battle of Faliro, and in addition, he confirms the circumstances of his death. Douglas Whitcombe makes special mention of the Turks’ attempt to capture Gambini alive, as they had the impression that he was Lord Cochrane, as Fornèsy notes. He refers to the courage he showed before his conviction, to his struggle with the Turks whom he did not fear and faced fearlessly even at the last moment of his life, as well as to his last wish and effort to give courage to his captive comrades. What is striking is that the author clarifies that Gambini, despite the momentum of his action, had polite manners and was especially dear to his comrades-in-arms.

The defeat at Faliro, where 1,500 Greeks and Philhellene warriors were killed, was one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the Greek war for Independence. This defeat was a result of the inability of the Regular Corps and the Philhellenes to cooperate with the other forces of irregular Greek fighters under a single command. In this battle, out of the 26 Philhellenes who fought, only 4 survived. In addition, the Greek literature identifies the number of prisoners at around 240 in total, while Douglas Whitcombe states that they amounted to around 300.

Gambini’s heroic death is finally also mentioned in Italian literature, as he was a Corsican. Specifically, he is referred in works dedicated to the Italian warriors who lost their lives fighting away from their homeland. One of them is the work of Atto Vannucci, of 1877, entitled “I martiri della libertà italiana dal 1794 al 1848” (volume 3). But also the book by Oreste Ferdinando Tencajoli, entitled “La Corsica: curiosità e notizie storiche, con numerose illustrazioni nel testo”.

The Gambini family was originally from Corte, Corsica. It seems it was a large family of distinguished soldiers, as in the French archives of the Legion of Honour, we find four well-known members: Gambini Jean Baptiste born in 1792, Gambini Dominique born in 1845, Gambini Epaminondas Dominique born in 1855, and Gambini Pierre François born in 1891.

The revolutionary – warrior Gambini Pasquale, fought in Greece on the side of the Greeks, and bravely sacrificed his life for the independence of Greece. Unfortunately, to this day few people know anything about this important and heroic Philhellene. SHP and the Greeks honour the contribution of this great hero.

 

Sources – Bibliography

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