Letter of 1824 (SHP collection, Philhellenism Museum)

Article by George Thomareis

 

The letter constitutes a precious part of Greek history. It is a letter written on 28 January 1824 in New York by some J.J.L. addressed to some Gracie in Baltimore.

In the draft letter a lot of information is included, mainly on the emblems (Constantne’s Cross, “ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ” etc.) the symbolisms and the flags of the Revolution. The information concerning the flag are coming from American compatriots who had seen it in Psara!

The most standing of all, however, is the page with the sketches of the flags and mottos, drawn with Chinese ink in 1824. Maybe world’s first of our flag on paper!

What did actually the contents of the letter mean?

The Philhellenic movement in America was great at that time. In various cities (New York, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati etc.) Philhellenic Committees were founded which gathered funds and clothing to be sent to Greece from various events such dances, concerts etc. for the relief of the hunger-striken population.

The result of this great mobilisation was the dispatch in 1827 of eight ships with food and clothing to Greece (On philhellenism in America see Stephen A. Larrabee, The American experience of Greece 1775-1865, New York 1957).

The New York Committee organised a dance on 8 January and it seems that a member of the Baltimore Committee was asking some information for the decoration of the ballroom for the dance they were preparing.

The dance of the Baltimore Committee had in fact taken place in February 1824 with great success. A nice description of the evening and the decoration of the ballrooms with Greek flags-evidently copying the ball of N. York- was published in the newspaper Ellinika Chronica [Hellenic Chronicles] published in 1824 in Missolonghi (The description was republished by M. Anninos in The Philhellenes of 1821, p. 63-65 and C. Lazos in America and her role in the 1821 Revolution, vol. I, Papazisis 1983, pp. 462-463).

 

The letter reads:

“In answer to your inquiries respecting the Greek Cross and Flag, I send you the following:

The Cross adopted by the Committee of decorations, as the most appropriate to be displayed at our Greek Ball on the 8th of January was the Cross of Constantine.

It is asserted by Historians that it was seen by that Emperor in the Heavens with the inscription ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ. By this conquer it occasioned his conversion to Christianity.

In a vision, which it is also said he had the same night, he was directed to adopt the Cross or Labarum as his standard and to inscribe the same on the shields of his soldiers. A further reason for exhibiting this cross was that Prince Ipsilanti fought under it as his banner in all his recent battles with the Turks. It is in the following form of the name of Christ in Greek representing the 2 first letters.

The proportions in this monogram, as taken from an ancient coin, should be:

the perpendicular piece to be of the same length with the transverse piece measuring from the lower part of the curve to the ground – as some authors say that when seen by Constantine, it resembled a flame, our object was to make it as near that color as possible, and after making numerous experiments, we covered it with a bright foil giving nearly a flame colour when a strong light was thrown upon it. Our inscriptions were in letters of gold in a white ground.

There is as yet no National Flag in Greece – each Island or State having its own.

There are three known to us:

– Cross Blue on a White Field.

– Stripes Blue & White alternately.

– Anchor Blue in a white field.

The first of these was only exhibited as harmonizing best with our own and as it is the only one yet seen by some of our countrymen at Ipsara.

I have no doubt it would have given the Committee pleasure to send on the Greek Flag made for us to Baltimore, but the size of the Theater required a flag of 80 Feet length and as economy was studied by us as much as possible, we sewed pieces of bunting together, which have since been taken apart and sold.

We are therefore denied the pleasure of giving this small proof of our wish to cooperate with our friends at that city”.

 

Note on the Philhellenism of the time

The philhellenic movement in America, around 1823-24, had erupted. In the churches there were sermons in favor of the Greek Revolution, in the theaters special performances were staged to support financially the Struggle, while from 1824 American companies sent to revolutionary Greece swords, rifles, pistols, small cannons and medical supplies!

Many Americans fought on the Greek side, such as George Wilson of Rhode Island, James Williams of Baltimore, Captain John M. Alen, a close friend of General Lafayette, William T. Washington from Washington, and others.

In various cities (New York, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, etc.) philhellenic committees were established which collected money and goods to be sent to Greece, through various events, such as dances, concerts, etc. to alleviate the grief of the starving population. The result of this great mobilization was the sending of eight ships in 1827 with food and clothing to Greece (Stephen A. Larrabee “Greece 1775-1865, How the Americans Saw It”).

 

 

 

By George Thomareis

When Ibrahim had landed in the Peloponnese in 1825 and the revolution was in danger, the Greek government sought in the person of French Colonel Charles Favier an experienced officer who could organize a regular army worthy of the, under Ibrahim, Egyptian one. On July 30, 1825, Fabvier was appointed organizer and commander of the regular Greek army.

Fabvier was recognized as one of the most honest and selfless Philhellenes. He gave many examples of a sense of justice, military conscientiousness, generosity and selflessness.

On November 4, 1826, Fabvier wrote to the Swiss banker Jean-Gabriel Eynard as a guarantor of the young Vasilios Anagnostis Papamanolis from Hydra, asking the well-known Philhellene Eynard, to help the young man in his studies in Europe, while referring in parallel with warm words on the patriotism of Hydriotes.

The letter was sent from Hydra to Geneva on November 4, 1826 and has been disinfected (stamp… SANITA), most likely in Semlin.

 

 

From Fabvier to Eynard

 

Charles Nicolas Fabvier (1783-1855) was a French Philhellene general and commander of the Greek regular army during the Greek Revolution. He is considered the most capable and beloved among all the Philhellene officers who fought on the side of the Greek revolutionaries from 1823 to 1828. He wore a fustanela and a sariki on his head, similar to those worn by Generals Nikitaras and Makrygiannis. He had adapted so much to the life of the fighters that no one could realize that he was not Greek.

John-Gabriel Eynard (1775-1863) was a Swiss banker, Philhellene, honored with the title of Benefactor of the Greek Nation. On November 30, 1826, Fabvier, with 530 men broke the siege of the Acropolis carrying ammunition and remained besieged there until May 24, 1827, when he capitulated. On the 100th anniversary of this battle and the occupation of the Acropolis of Athens by the Greek army, the Hellenic Republic honored General Fabvier by issuing a series of three stamps engraved with the words: “TO FAVIERO”.

 

Rare envelope of the 1st day of circulation (1 Aug. 1927) of the Fabvier series

Medal of 1926 in honor of Fabvier

 

 

by Alexis Papadopoulos

The two letters sent from Ioannis Capodistrias to his Swiss philhellene friend Jean-Gabriel Eynard presented here are of considerable interest not only due to the names themselves of the two correspondents but also due to their contents. Both letters are included in Correspondance du comte J. Capodistrias, président de la Grèce comprenant les lettres diplomatiques, administratives et particulières, écrites par lui depuis le 20 Avril 1827 jusqu’au 9 Octobre 1831, recueillies et mises en ordre par les soins de ses frères et publiées par E. A. Bétant, l’un de ses secrétaires, Abraham Cherbuliez et Cie, Libraires, Genève 1839, [Correspondance of count J. Κapodistrias, president of Greece, including diplomatic, administrative and private letters, written in the period from 20 April 1827 to 9 October 1831, collected and sorted out by his brothers, and published by E. A. Bétant, one of his secretaries, Abraham Cherbuliez & Cie, Geneva 1839].

In 1839, the brothers of John Capodistrias, after taking good care of the copies of the letters of the Governor’s archive, with the help of Α. Betant, one of Ioannis’ secretary, they published in Geneva a four-volume work which contained his correspondence from the day he accepted the responsibility of the government in 1827 right up to his assassination in 1831. This work was then translated in Greek by M. G. Schinas and published in Athens in 1841. The two letters are written in French by Capodistrias’ secretary, save for the short closing paragraphs and the signatures which are in the Governor’s handwriting. They are written in a most crucial period for the fate of the newly formed Greek state and this fact is reflected on their contents. The Greek translation shown here is the original Schinas’ text, except the parts translated into Greek by Alexandre Galinos as these parts were previously unpublished in both the 1839 and 1841 works. 1828 was a difficult and decisive year for the successful outcome of the Greek uprising. Capodistrias had already arrived in Greece in January 1828 as Governor and tried to organize a state on scorched earth. Apart from the severe financial difficulties, there was always the danger of the uprising being suppressed by Ibrahim’s presence in the Peloponnese. The French expeditionary mission in the Peloponnese in late August forced Ibrahim’s troops to retreat and leave Greece. Shortly after, at the Poros Conference (September-December) where the Ambassadors of the Great Powers met, Capodistrias tried to secure larger boundaries for the newly formed Greek state.

 

fig. 1: The first letter

 

First letter (fig. 1)

To Chevalier Eynard, in Geneva Aegina, 15/27 August 1828

A few days ago I wrote to you my dear friend, and today as opportunity offers I am writing again to let you know that I drew a check on Messieurs Odier & Co for the amount of 51,000 francs for which you have credited me. As soon as Mr. Marinoglou acknowledges that he received the aforementioned sum, I shall credit the honorable lender (Schinas’ note: the King of Bavaria) and Mr Carnot. The bank should release the moneys at the agreed time, which is at the end of the year. The same will apply with yours as well. The contributions offered by the generous Kings of France and Russia still do not allow us to be financially content, so we cannot turn down offers of any additional help. I hope that it will not be long that we will be better off financially.

For the moment, I give to Mr. Odier the sum of 20,000 francs as stated in your letter of 21 July, a sum donated by the benefactors for the education of poor children. You can assure them that their wishes will be fulfilled with the greatest precision. It is impossible for me to tell you all about the things that have been happening at this most important period for the regeneration of Greece. I only have time just to tell you that we are working hard every day. The things that we do, if we want them to be of substance and to have a permanent effect, should not be improvised. At the time that I am writing to you, I am receiving three very important pieces of news. You know all about the French expeditionary mission in Greece. You should be pleased to know that on the 9th of August, Mehmet-Ali signed a treaty with admiral Codrington in which he promises to free all the Greek prisoners of war in Alexandria and to order his son to leave the Messinia fortresses.

Finally, the plenipotentiary ambassadors of the allied royal courts are on their way to the Aegean archipelago to prepare their efforts for the peace settlement entrusted to them. I will be expecting them in Poros in eight or ten days time. For this reason, please put on hold until further notice any action in regard with the mercenaries’ contracts (Schinas’ note: capitulations), for which I wrote to you on 12/24 June via Paris. [transl. in Greek by A. Galinos – start] I am telling you to refrain from any such action because I would like first to be better informed and to gather all the necessary information before taking my final decision. I hope that in a few days things will clear-up and I will tell you: carry on with the negotiations and get them finalized. Two days ago I wrote directly to our friend in Paris so that he warns you. I hereby enclose two numbers of the Government Gazette and a printed circular. Young men bearing your letters of recommendation arrive daily. You should stop here. As I had already the honor to inform you, whoever does not speak Greek is absolutely not eligible to become a public servant. In a few cases and just for those that have some abilities, they can only be enlisted in the army. [transl. in Greek by A. Galinos – end] [by Capodistrias’ handwriting] I shake your hand and I beg you to remind me to your ladies, and to give my best to Madame Eynard.

I am all Yours, I. Capodistrias [signature]

 

fig. 2: The second letter

 

Second letter (fig. 2)

To Chevalier Eynard, in Geneva Poros, 7/19 September 1828

My dear Eynard,

I have just returned from the bay of Messinia, where I had gone to regulate the future relations between the chief general Marquis Maison and the locals of the place that he will set free from the Turks. Ibrahim Pacha embarks and sets sail for Alexandria. The three plenipotentiary ambassadors of the allied powers are here. Therefore, do not get at me if I keep this letter short. I received your letters of 15 and 28 July. I directly reply to count Hoogendrop thanking him for the 15,000 francs that I received through you. Your observations on the possible ways to reduce Greek debt and what to do next are excellent indeed, but it is not the proper time to implement them. Perhaps, in a few days I would be able to write to you more on this matter. Please be assured that I wish to act in the way you suggest, but for now I cannot do anything more.

In my last letter I wrote to you to put on hold the big issue of recruiting German and Swiss mercenaries, but also to keep the negotiations open, so as to when we have the desired outcome I will immediately notify you to finalize the issue. I received the note regarding the various tools that are needed for the agriculture and education, I very much thank you for this; Mr. Bazin has already dealt with them. The regular soldiers, the ones already drafted and those coming in will now enjoy their military music, the farmers will have their farming tools, and not least the orphans will have blackboards for their education. [transl. in Greek by A. Galinos – start] I read count de Bourg’s letter and have put it in the archives. It is impossible for me to reply to the entire world. [transl. in Greek by A. Galinos – end] [by Capodistrias’ handwriting illegible closing paragraph mentioning Mme Eynard]

I. Capodistrias (signature)

 

Postal history

At the time these two letters were written there was no postal services in the new Greek state, let alone postal treaties signed with other states. The postal communication relied on the good services offered by merchants, sailors, travelers etc.

The first letter, written in Aegina on 15/27 August 1828, was privately carried probably aboard a British merchant vessel, which made a stop at Malta where disinfection took place (red wax seal reading QUARANTINE OFFICE MALTA with the coat of arms of King George IV of Great Britain). When the ship called in Genoa, the letter was handed over to Nicolaos Petrokokkinos forwarding agency, and this is where the letter was posted (red straight-line GENOVA) on 6 October, according to the handwritten date on the reverse of the folded letter. Eynard was not a Geneva resident, his mansion was in the nearby town of Rolle in Lake Geneva, where the letter was readdressed. The handwritten charges of 12 and 16/ 20 most probably mean that the letter was charged 4 centesimi for the Italian part of the trip, 12 decimes by the French postal service for the French transit (a total of 16 currency units), 2 kreuzers were charged by the Fischer Post (which provided all mail service for the Canton of Geneva in 1828) and 2 kreuzers by the Canton of Vaud (where Rolle belonged), making a grand total of 20 currency units.

The second letter written in Poros on 7/19 September 1828 was privately carried all the way to Geneva, where it was posted and then readdressed to Rolle. The ship on which this letter traveled, called at some point in Ancona where it was treated for disinfection and received the rectangular boxed Lazzaretto Ancona / Netto Dentro E Fuori cachet. The handwritten postal charges of 2/4 means that 4 kreuzers were paid in total, half of it credited to the Fischer post, the other half to the Canton of Vaud.

My sincere thanks to Harlan Stone of the American Helvetia Philatelic Society for his help in “deciphering” the postal rates, and to my good friend Alexandre Galinos for translating from French to Greek the previously unpublished parts of the two letters.

 

 

The Memorial to the English Sailors

 

John Kittmer, former British Ambassador to Greece
24 March 2021

The small boat, with its group of twenty or so British tourists and schoolkids, was leaning into the wind across choppy waters. Gerald, our teacher and guide, was telling us two stories at once and they were becoming occasionally confused. As we left the jetty of the pretty town, the geography opened up in all directions. Behind the town, itself set out on the edge of the bay, a conical mountain was rising. The island to which we were heading now seemed much larger; its sides precipitous and covered in forest. ‘The surrender of the Spartan garrison on Sphacteria was the first time that Spartans had ever capitulated,’ Gerald shouted, above the noise of the engine. ‘It was an exciting moment for the Athenians: a moment that carried them into uncharted waters – waters that were unfortunately stalked by Hubris and Nemesis…’

The waters through which we were being cοnveyed seemed themselves to be increasingly stalked, by danger. We were apparently now heading out into the open sea through the southern channel between Sphacteria island and the mainland, and the waves were getting bigger. ‘We will soon see the monument to the French sailors who died at Navarino,’ said Gerald, optimistically. The boat bounced on the turbulent waves, as we approached the stairs cut into the cliff of the islet of Tsichli-Baba. ‘It’s too choppy to land today – according to the captain, but we’ll sail round the islet and then return to find the English monument.’

 

The Battle of Navarino

 

It was the middle of April in 1984. I was sixteen. We were in the first week of a three-week tour of Greece and were travelling around the Peloponnese. It was Orthodox Lent and we were due to spend Holy Week on Aegina and Easter week on Sifnos. I had never been to Greece before, but had been learning the ancient language for three years. Earlier in the day, we had excitedly toured the Mycenean remains of Nestor’s Palace at Ano Engliano. Now we were learning about events in the Peloponnesian War in 425BC (the capture of Sphacteria by the Athenians) and the Battle of Navarino on 20 October 1827AD. As we re-entered the bay, Gerald told us about the disposition of the Ottoman fleet (arranged in a horseshoe) and the tactics and skill of the allied sailors, as Codrington, provoked by Ibrahim’s fleet, launched a devastating and decisive counterattack. From the English memorial on Chelonaki islet, we could see, at the northern end of the bay, the flat lands of the lagoon and the thirteenth-century Frankish castle at Old Navarino. In this small corner of Greece, every age of European history seemed to have left its mark. Homeric mythology, ancient and mediaeval history, legendary figures from the age of European empire and Greek revolution, the ghosts and footfalls of the past – all crowded into this compact environment, this landscape of astonishing natural beauty.

 

Yialova Lagoon, Navarino

 

First impressions matter. My first impressions of Greece changed the course of my life. I am not alone in that. Rather more importantly for the course of Greek history, Byron too fell in love on his first trip to Greece in 1809. He fell in love multiply. Famously, of course, with Teresa Makri, the ‘Maid of Athens’, but even more lastingly with Greece itself, its landscapes, its mythical past, its people and their customs – and above all, he fell in love with the idea of Greece: a Greece of radical liberty, freed from Ottoman shackles. He was entranced by Greece (I have placed below a favourite stanza from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage), but for many years, he does not seem to have thought that the Greeks would actually rise up and claim their freedom. It was his friend, the poet Percy Shelley, who taught him a more dynamic form of pro-Greek political activism. Shelley’s radicalism and idealism galvanised Byron and inspired him to his last great venture, in 1823: the adventure that ended with Byron’s death at Mesolongi on 19 April 1824 and the release of a great wave of philhellenic sentiment across Europe and the United States.

 

Byron in Greece, by Vryzakis

 

Byron was a liberal and his contribution to the Greek struggle was motivated by liberal ideals. But at heart Philhellenism is not a political ideology, though it has a political dimension. The history of British engagement with Greece in the past two centuries shows that passionate British Philhellenes have included liberals, conservatives, socialists and the apolitical. It would also be wrong to think that Philhellenism, though it has important historical associations and deep historical roots, belongs exclusively to the past. I think that the youthful Byron shows us what Philhellenism is. It is quite simply a transformative love affair. The millions of my compatriots who go to Greece every year are as susceptible to falling in love with Greece as Byron was in 1809. Whether or not that first spark of love develops into something more lasting and significant depends on many factors, not least personal investment of time, willingness to learn the language, to acquire a knowledge of and a share in the culture. For those of us who come to Greece and truly fall in love with her, this love affair shapes our lives: it guides our present and moulds the future and soon becomes a treasured, indispensable part of our personal past.

So on this day, which marks the 200th anniversary of the launch of the struggle for Greek freedom, I am thinking not only of the heroes of the struggle – Makrygiannis, Kolokotronis, Karaiskakis, Bouboulina, Miaoulis, Mavrocordatos, Capodistrias, Byron, Hastings, Church – and of the ordinary Greeks who fought and endured, but also of today’s Greeks: my many Greek friends and acquaintances, the Greeks I meet in London, those greater numbers of Greeks I have yet to meet in their homeland: Athens, Thessaloniki, and elsewhere. I say to all of you: This day is your day; it goes without saying that after 200 years of sustaining liberty, what your ancestors achieved is now your achievement. However heavy the burden of the past sometimes seems to be, you are worthy of it and you carry it well. Those of us who love Greece share in your joy and rejoice in your glorious freedom. I send you my warmest congratulations and my love.

Long live Greece! Long live Greek freedom!
John
Feast of the Annunciation, 2021

 

Lord Byron, Childe Harolds Pilgrimage, Canto II.88

Where’er we tread ‘tis haunted, holy ground;
No earth of thine is lost in vulgar mould,
But one vast realm of wonder spreads around,
And all the Muse’s tales seem truly old,
Till the sense aches with gazing to behold
The scenes our earliest dreams have dwelt upon:
Each hill and dale, each deepening glen and wold
Defies the power which crush’d thy temples gone:
Age shakes Athena’s tower, but spares gray Marathon.

 

Nestor’s Palace, Summer 2016

 

 

The royal family of Bavaria admires the painting of Von Hess on the arrival of Othon in Nafplio

 

Dr. Eleni Leontidou and SHP’s Scientific Committee

 

The international circumstances at the time of the outbreak of the Greek revolution were less than favorable for the Greeks: after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the leaders of the European powers met in Vienna, where they agreed on adopting a common policy for maintaining the European status quo. This stance came as a reaction to prior wars and catastrophes: the French Revolution had led to a regime of terror, and eventually brought Napoleon to power. Napoleon’s rise provoked a series of wars with great costs for Europe. Because of their obsession with maintaining order and balance of power, in order to avoid new conflicts, the great European powers, and in particular Prussia, Russia and Austria, founding members of the ‘Holy Alliance’, were particularly hostile towards any threat of revolution or republicanism.

The Greek revolutionaries, however, had considerable support from the public. Members of the European elite saw themselves as the spiritual heirs of classical Greece and tended to view the Ottomans as barbarous tyrants.

This often applied for the royal families of Europe as well. Many royals had strong philhellenic feelings even preceding the outbreak of the revolution. An example is Caroline von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1768 – 1821), the wife of the then Prince of Wales King George IV of Great Britain. The queen had a great love and admiration for classical Greece and the Greeks. In 1816, during a tour of the East, she visited Athens where she carried out archaeological excavations and expressed her support for the Philomuse Society, a society founded with the help of the English with the aim of educating young people and cultivating a national consciousness.[1]

 

Caroline von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1768-1821)

 

The philhellenic feelings of the members of the royal families were manifested through generous contributions to various fundraisers, organized by the philhellenic committees of Europe, to provide financial support for the Greek revolutionaries. There was also one member of a royal European family who played an instrumental role in the establishment and financing of a philhellenic committee. She was the sister of the Swedish king, Princess Sophia Albertina of Sweden, who had transformed the palace into a center of philhellenism and founded, after the outbreak of the Greek Revolution, a philhellenic women’s committee.[2]

 

Sophia Albertina of Sweden (1753 – 1829)

 

The heir to the Danish throne, Prince Christian Frederick, who later became King Christian VIII, was another supporter of the Greek Revolution. In 1814 he responded anonymously to a fundraiser organized by the Danish priest Hans Bastholm, contributing the sum of 500 talers.

 

Christian VIII, King of Denmark (1786 – 1848)

 

In August 1821 he sent C. L. J. Von Wedekind, a Lieutenant of the Danish Army, to Greece.  At the beginning of 1822 Wedekind, went to Paris, in order to get in touch with the Philhellenic Committee there. Afterwards he returned to his homeland but later went back to Greece. For his support of the Greek cause, Christian Frederick made him his personal guard. Christian was also a subscriber to the Danish philhellenic newspaper “Graekervennen” (The Philhellene).[3] He even offered to personally pay for the debts of  the Danish philhellenes, after they returned to their country.[4]

 

Charles X (Charles Philippe), King of France (1757 – 1836)

 

France, then ruled by King Charles X, was a member of the Holy Alliance but also home to a great number of Philhellenes who traveled to Greece to fight against the Turks. The strong philhellenic current that followed the massacres of Chios, and particularly, the Exodus of Messolonghi, further strengthened French sympathies for the Greek cause. After the victory of the European allied forces in the Battle of Navarino, Charles X provided financial support to the Greeks and in 1828 he sent a military mission of 14000 men led by General Maison to Greece with the mission of putting an end to Ibrahim’s operations in the Peloponnese.  Maison brought with him archaeologists and scientists who mapped the area, prepared urban plans of most of the cities, made records of the ancient monuments and shared their expertise on different issues with the local population.[5]

The house of Orleans also sided with the Greeks. The Duke of Orleans, who later became King of the French, Louis-Philippe, donated significant sums of money for Philhellenic fundraisers. In a single fundraiser, the Princess of Orleans offered 3000 Francs in favor of the Greek cause.[6]

 

Louis Philippe I, King of the French (1773 – 1850)

Louise Marie Thérèse Charlotte Isabelle d’Orléans (1812-1850)

 

Philhellenism was also very widespread in the royal houses of the German states. For example, William I, the second king of Württemberg (1816-1864) was a staunch philhellene[7].

 

William I, King of Württemberg (1781 – 1864)

 

The most important Philhellene monarch, however, was King Ludwig I of Bavaria.

 

Ludwig I, King of Bavaria (1786 – 1868)

 

Τhe European king to openly take a position in favor of Greek independence from the early stages of the struggle. Louis, father of Otto, the future king of Greece, was a Hellenist and a friend of the arts, and envisioned his capital, Munich, as the center of neoclassical philhellenic humanism. From his position of power, he facilitated the creation of the Philhellenic Association of Munich, wrote pamphlets and published fiery articles in favor of the Revolution. He also wrote 32 philhellenic poems and published collections of poetry. The proceeds of the sales of his collections went to the aid of the Greek revolutionaries.[8] After the Exodus of Messolonghi he contributed 2 million francs for the purposes of the Revolution.[9]

The king of Bavaria himself sent a corps of Philhellenes under the command of Karl Heideck to fight in Greece.[10] . At around the same period, he also sent the famous landscape painter Carl Rottmann (1797-1850), to Athens. There Rottmann painted Greek historical landscapes made in order to adorn at Munich’s Hofgarten.[11] The famous philhellenic paintings by Peter von Hess (the so-called 39 scenes from the Greek Revolution) were commissioned by him.[12]

In some cases, the princes’ own views were at odds with the political interests of the state. While two of the princes of the Kingdom of the Netherlands were philhellenes, strategic interests in the Ottoman Empire prevented the royal family from openly supporting the Greek cause. In addition, the Dutch king did not want to strengthen separatist movements within his own kingdom, particularly in Belgium, which finally gained its independence in 1830.[13] Nevertheless, the philhellenic movement developed in the Netherlands as well and contributed greatly to the struggle of the Greeks.

The prince of Prussia was also sympathetic towards the Greek revolutionaries, even though the Prussian government was originally one of the most hostile ones towards the struggle of the Greeks. Philhellenic fundraisers and conscription in armies were prohibited in Prussia until 1826.[14] At that time, Frederick Wilhelm, King of Prussia, lifted the ban on fundraisers, and apparently also offered anonymously 1,200 gold coins for the Greek struggle.[15]

 

Frederick William III, King of Prussia (1770 – 1840)

 

Whereas Western European philhellenism, stemmed from love and admiration for ancient Greek culture, for Russian philhellenism the common Orthodox faith played a major role. The Russians had been interested in Greece for a long time, since the Greek issue was part of the ‘Eastern question’: as the weakening of the Ottoman Empire from18th century onward paved the way for the division of its territories into spheres of influence for the Western powers. In the end of the 18th century, Empress Catherine the Great had devised an ambitious plan to create an orthodox empire: after the division and distribution of the lands of the Ottoman Empire there would be a restoration of the Byzantine Empire under Russian protection and rule.

After the Napoleonic Wars, however, the balance of power changed: the Russian government initially viewed the Greek revolution negatively, since Russia was one of the powers that wished to maintain the status quo in Europe. Thus, Tsar Alexander I kept a neutral stance. However, in July 1821 he approved a programme for collecting aid for the Greeks who had fled to Odessa and Bessarabia, to which his wife Tsarina Elizabeth had contributed. Both the Tsar and the Tsarina offered significant sums to the Philomuse Society of Vienna, which was a philological society similar in actions and ideology to that of Athens, but which operated under Russian influence. Specifically, the Tsar offered 200 Dutch ducats and the Tsarina 100, while most of the Danubian rulers contributed with donations as well.[16]

As we have seen, many kings and princes of Europe were supporters and exponents of the philhellenism since the start of the Greek Revolution. In the beginning, their philhellenic feelings were not enough in most cases, to influence the political stance of their countries towards the Greeks. However, their contribution was significant, especially because they encouraged the development of philhellenic committees.

Ludwig of Bavaria was the first king to offer his full moral, economic, humanitarian, diplomatic and military support to the Greek revolution. The works of art he commissioned spread the romantic iconography of the revolution throughout Europe and inspired and captivated many.

In 1826, conditions started changing in favour of Greece. Great Britain and Russia signed the Protocol of St. Petersburg (aimed at providing support for Greece). A year later the two powers were joined by France and signed the Treaty of London which paved the way for the naval battle of Navarino and eventually for the liberation of Greece. But even after the battle of Navarino, the French king’s philhellenic feelings, led to the offer of substantial military support, which helped in finally removingthe Turks from the Peloponnese.

One after the other, almost all of Europe’s royal houses identified with the philhellenic movement and became exponents of ideas that transcended political expediencies of the time. And that is mostly why it is worth remembering and honouring them.

 

References

[1] Α. Μηλιαράκης, «Η Φιλόμουσος εταιρεία εν Αθήναις και η πριγγιπέσσα της Ουαλλίας (1816)», Εστία
683 (29.1.1889).
[2] William St Clair, That Greece may still be free, p. 271.
[3] Βλ. Αριστέα Παπανικολάου-Κρίστενσεν, Το Φιλελληνικό κίνημα στην Δανία.
[4] St Clair, Greece, p. 112.
[5] Ξένη Μπαλωτή, Μαιζών, ένας μεγάλος φιλέλληνας. Η εκστρατεία του στην Πελοπόννησο (Αθήνα 1993). Νίκος Τζανάκος, Η Γαλλική Εκστρατεία στον Μοριά και ο Στρατάρχης Μαιζών (Πάτρα, 2017).
[6] Στέφανος Παπαδόπουλος, «Το Μεσολόγγι και ο Φιλελληνισμός, ομιλία στο πανεπιστήμιο Ιωαννίνων για τον εορτασμό της 150ετηρίδος της Εθνικής Παλιγγενεσίας (27.11.1971)», Ιωάννινα 1971.
[7] Παύλος Καρολίδης, Ο γερμανικός φιλελληνισμός (Αθήνα, 1917).
[8] Λουδοβίκος Α’ (βασιλιάς της Βαυαρίας), Ποιήματα περί Ελλάδος, μτφρ. Σοφοκλής Καρύδης, (Αθήνα, 1868).
[9] Σεβαστή Κεφαλίδου, «Πώς βλέπουν οι Ευρωπαίοι Φιλέλληνες Περιηγητές και τεχνοκράτες τους υπόδουλους Έλληνες και την ελληνική πραγματικότητα (κοινωνία-πολιτική- παιδεία)», Μεταπτυχιακή εργασία. Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης (2005), σελ. 36, 82-3. Στέφανος Παπαδόπουλος, «Το Μεσολόγγι και ο Φιλελληνισμός», σ. 15, 32-4.
[10] Gahlen, Gundula: The Deployment of Bavarian Officers to Greece in the 19th Century, (2015), URL: http://www.mwme.eu/essays/index.html. Reinhard Heydenreuter, Die erträumte Nation. Griechenlands Staatswerdung zwischen Philhellenismus und Militärintervention, in: Reinhard Heydenreuter (ed.), Die erträumte Nation. Griechenlands Wiedergeburt im 19. Jahrhundert. Begleitband zur Ausstellung (München 1993), pp. 47-78.
[11] Markella-Elpida Tsichla, «The Semiotics of the Imagery of the Greek War of Independence. From Delacroix to the Frieze in Otto’s Palace, The Current Hellenic Parliament», cf. Kalligas, Μ. (1977) Images of Greek space after the Liberation. Watercolors and drawings by C. Rottmann and L. Lange. (Athens, 1977).
[12] Μιλτιάδης Παπανικολάου, «Εικόνες από την Ελληνική Επανάσταση: τα 39 πρωτότυπα σχέδια του Peter Von Hess»,  ΕΕΣΑΠΘ, ΙΖ’ (1978), σελ.  335-344.
[13] Β. J. Slot, «Σχέσεις μεταξύ Ολλανδίας και Ελλάδος από τον ΙΖ’ αιώνα μέχρι τον Καποδίστρια, «Παρνασσός, τ. 19.2 (1977), σελ. 281-282.
[14] St Clair, Greece, σ. 64.
[15] Παπαδόπουλος, «Το Μεσολόγγι και ο Φιλελληνισμός», σ. 17
[16] Theophilus C. Prousis, «Russian Philorthodox Relief During The Greek War Of Independence», University of North Florida, History Faculty Publications, (1985) http://digitalcommons.unf.edu/ahis_facpub/17, σελ. 41-42.

 

Bibliography – Sources

  • Λουδοβίκος Α’ (βασιλιάς της Βαυαρίας), ‘’Ποιήματα περί Ελλάδος’’, μτφρ. Σοφοκλής Καρύδης (Αθήνα, 1868).
  • Gahlen, Gundula. The Deployment of Bavarian Officers to Greece in the 19th Century, (2015), URL: http://www.mwme.eu/essays/index.html.
  • Heydenreuter, Reinhard. «Die erträumte Nation. Griechenlands Staatswerdung zwischen Philhellenismus und Militärintervention» in Reinhard Heydenreuter (ed.), Die erträumte Nation. Griechenlands Wiedergeburt im 19. Jahrhundert. Begleitband zur Ausstellung, (München, 1993), σελ. 47-78.
  • Kalligas, Μ. Images of Greek space after the Liberation. Watercolors and drawings by C. Rottmann and L. Lange (Athens, 1977).
  • Prousis Theophilus C., «Russian Philorthodox Relief During The Greek War Of Independence», University of North Florida, History Faculty Publications, σελ. 31-62. (1985) http://digitalcommons.unf.edu/ahis_facpub/17.
  • Slot Β. J., «Σχέσεις μεταξύ Ολλανδίας και Ελλάδος από τον ΙΖ’ αιώνα μέχρι τον Καποδίστρια», Παρνασσός, τ. 19.2 (1977), σελ. 263-284.
  • St Clair, William. That Greece Might Still Be Free: The Philhellenes in the War of Independence (Cambridge, 2008).
  • Tsichla, Markella-Elpida. «The Semiotics of the Imagery of the Greek War of Independence. From Delacroix to the Frieze in Otto’s Palace, The Current Hellenic Parliament». American Research Journal of Humanities & Social Science 3.1, σελ. 36-41 (2020).
  • Καρολίδης, Παύλος Ο γερμανικός φιλελληνισμός (Αθήνα, 1917).
  • Εταιρεία για τον Ελληνισμό και Φιλελληνισμό, «Ελληνίδες και φιλελληνίδες: η συμβολή τους στην Ελληνική Ανεξαρτησία», https://www.eefshp.org/ellinides-kai-filellinides-i-symvoli-toys-stin-elliniki-anexartisia/
  • Κεφαλίδου, Σεβαστή. «Πώς βλέπουν οι Ευρωπαίοι Φιλέλληνες Περιηγητές και τεχνοκράτες τους υπόδουλους Έλληνες και την ελληνική πραγματικότητα (κοινωνία-πολιτική- παιδεία)» Μεταπτυχιακή εργασία. Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης, 2005.
  • Μηλιαράκης, Α. «Η Φιλόμουσος Εταιρεία εν Αθήναις και η πριγγιπέσσα της Ουαλλίας (1816)», Εστία 683 (29.1.1889).
  • Μπαλωτή, Ξένη. Μαιζών, ένας μεγάλος φιλέλληνας. Η εκστρατεία του στην Πελοπόννησο (Αθήνα 1993).
  • Παπαδόπουλος, Στέφανος Ι. Το Μεσολόγγι και ο Φιλελληνισμός, Ομιλία στο πανεπιστήμιο Ιωαννίνων για τον εορτασμό της 150ετηρίδος της Εθνικής Παλιγγενεσίας (27.11.1971), (Ιωάννινα, 1971).
  • Παπανικολάου-Κρίστενσεν. Αριστέα. Το Φιλελληνικό κίνημα στην Δανία (Αθήνα, 2010).
  • Παπανικολάου, Μιλτιάδης. «Εικόνες από την Ελληνική Επανάσταση: τα 39 πρωτότυπα σχέδια του Peter Von Hess»,  ΕΕΣΑΠΘ, ΙΖ’ (1978), σελ.  335-344.
  • Τζανάκος, Νίκος. Η Γαλλική Εκστρατεία στον Μοριά και ο Στρατάρχης Μαιζών (Πάτρα, 2017).

 

The mythical hero Theseus fights the Minotaur. Work of Antoine-Louis BARYE (1795-1875) (SHP collection).

 

For the Greek Revolution to prevail, it had to gain the trust and admiration of the international political scene and public opinion. A number of important personalities from Greece played a crucial role in this direction.

There are four Greek fighters of the Greek Revolution, whose lives and actions allowed the public to identify them with heroic figures of the Greek mythology and Homeric epics.

It is recalled that the western world had progressively adopted a Hellenocentric culture since the end of the 18th century. This culture had progressively passed into the educational system of every western society.

A key element of this education was the Homeric hero, who excited young people at the time. It is worth noting that in European mythology, the central figure was usually the wizard. We are all familiar with the wizard Merlin in England or even today Harry Potter.

 

Video with the trailer of a recent movie about Merlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er_LjKgkO08

Video with the trailer of the first movie on Harry Potter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyHV0BRtdxo

 

The Homeric hero falls into a different category. He is brave, selfless, a fighter with high ideals, and he takes his fate into his own hands. He fights for his values ​​and for his community.

This form of hero shocks young people in Europe, especially when combined with the cultural wealth of ancient Greece and classical Athens. During the second decade of the 19th century, these values ​​were promoted in the work of the great Romantic poet and Philhellene, Lord Byron.

So when the Greek Revolution began, public opinion was looking to identify in Greece, this very type of Homeric hero. And it found it mainly in the faces of two men and two women.

The two men are the heroes of the Greek Revolution, Markos Botsaris and Konstantinos Canaris. They are both brave and selfless. They fight for their ideals without seeking personal gain, while they refused to engage in civil conflicts.

In the same manner, the public opinion identified similar elements of a heroine in the faces of two Greek women. These were Bouboulina and Manto Mavrogenous. The first one stood out for her combativeness and militancy. The second for her education, selflessness and generosity. Both offered everything they had to the struggle of the Greeks.

The stories of these four Greek heroes became the subject of literary, theatrical and musical works, while their figures and scenes from their lives, were captured in many forms of philhellenic art.

Markos Botsaris and his heroic death, as well as the life and action of Konstantinos Kanaris, have been imprinted in paintings, literary works, poems, works of art, musical works, etc.

 

The death of Markos Botsaris (19th century). Based on a work by Jean-Charles Langlois (1789-1870) (SHP collection).

The oath of Lord Byron at the tomb of M. Botsaris. Variation of the work of Ludovico Lipparini (1800-1856) (SHP collection).

Letter from the American General and Senator William Rosecrans (1819-1898), explaining in 1891 that he identified in his life with the Greek hero Markos Botsaris, who was praised with an emblematic poem by the American poet Halleck (SHP collection).

Canaris and Botsaris. French porcelain dishes. Second quarter of the 19th century (SHP collection).

Victor Hugo, “Les Orientales”, 1829 (SHP collection).

 

Of particular interest is the poetic collection “Les Orientales”, of Victor Hugo, which refers exclusively to the Greek Revolution and is published in Paris in the context of his solidarity with the suffering Greek people, promoting the philhellenic spirit in Europe. It coincides with the views of Lord Byron and publishes the revolutionary actions of the Greeks for freedom from the Turkish yoke, choosing to highlight events that will move more, such as the siege of Messolonghi, the achievements of Kanaris and Botsaris, etc.

“To Greece, forward, oh friends! Revenge and freedom! “

Victor Hugo calls Greece the mother of western civilization:

“(…) Greece of Lord Byron, Greece of Homer
You sweet sister, you our mother “.

The following excerpt presents Canaris saying:

“My brothers, if I return alive, Messolonghi will be spared,
I promise to build a new church of Jesus Christ.
If I die and fall in the dark night of Death
From which no one can return
And if all my blood is spilled, what is left of it
You will bury in free soils my ashes
Under the sun’s light, the clear sky, you dig my tomb”.

 

Mantle clock with Canaris in his fireship. Second quarter of the 19th century (SHP collection).

Canaris in his fireship. French porcelain platter. Second quarter of the 19th century (SHP collection).

Canaris with Pipinos in their fireship. Composition in bronze. Work of Benedetto Civiletti (1846-1899) (SHP collection).

The work of Alexandre Dumas, entitled “CANARIS”, with the inscription “Canaris dithyrambe par Alexandre Dumas. Au profit des Grecs” (Dithyrambic. Sold in favor of the Greeks), France 1826. This copy is sent by Dumas with a handwritten dedication to the Duke of Orleans, King Louis-Philippe of France (SHP collection).

 

Manto Mavrogenous was described as the “Greek Jean d’Arc”, she had constant communication and correspondence with many Philhellene women, whom she regularly informed about the course of the struggle and the needs of the Greeks. In France and elsewhere, all women’s fashion was influenced by these two heroines. The women wore in their honour clothes inspired by ancient or even modern Greece. While they even combed their hair in a Greek way (bobeline). Even liqueurs were marketed under their own name.

 

Bouboulina – Manto Mavrogenous. French porcelain dishes. Second quarter of the 19th century (SHP collection).

Crême de Bobelina [Lyon, 1820s], lithograph label of a liqueur bottle. Under Bouboulina’s ship the inscription: “Bobelina faisant jurer à ses enfans de venger la mort de leur Père” [Bouboulina makes her children swear that they will take revenge for their father’s death]. Right and left of the title, the naval battle of Tenedos and the siege of Nafplio respectively. Below are the details of the distillery: Fab (ri) que de Liqueurs / de Roche Meunier & Mejasson / de Lyon (SHP collection).

Bouboulina. Container in the shape of a woman’s head, coloured porcelain. Work based on a lithography by Adam Friedel, The Greeks (SHP collection).

 

The action, especially of these four heroes, monopolized the interest of the European press and inspired the philhellenic movement during the Greek Revolution, but also for the entire duration of the 19th century.

If one examines the number of literary and artistic works, which concern from 1821 until almost the end of the 19th century, these four figures, and the impact they had, one will understand to what extent Greece owes its freedom to them.

At the same time, it must be emphasized that all societies, in all ages, are looking for models which affirm classical values ​​and principles.

 

 

As it has already been pointed out, the development of the philhellenic movement begins from the end of the 18th century, when Europe discovers, thanks to Winckelman, Barthelemy and other scholars and historians of the time, ancient Greece, which progressively passes into the educational system of the western world.

During the second decade of the 19th century, the philhellenic movement entered a mature phase and synchronized with the demand for the liberation of Greece.

In this phase, there are three factors that shape philhellenism, and they are:

– the sense of debt to the ancient Greek culture,

– the liberal sentiments against tyranny and

– the common faith of the Christian nations.

In this article we present through a series of items from the collection of SHP, objects that highlight the importance and contribution of the common Christian faith in the development of the philhellenic movement. We selected objects and documents from France, England, Italy and Germany, in order to make it clear that this reception was prevalent throughout Europe.

The first object is an important document for the birth of philhellenism, long before the proclamation of the Revolution of 1821.

This is a motion submitted in 1815 by François de Chateaubriand, Member of the French Parliament (Chambre des Pairs de France). This proposal was debated at the meeting of 9 April 1816 and approved by a vote. The document was printed in 1816 by the publisher P. Didot.

 

The draft resolution submitted in 1815 by François de Chateaubriand, Member of the French Parliament (SHP collection).

 

This proposal, submitted by Chateaubriand to the King, refers to the “barbaric forces” (Ottoman Empire) and the slavery status of Christians. The paper describes the problems faced by Greek slaves. This text is the first official political initiative in Europe in favor of the Greeks, and is based on the common Christian faith of the peoples of Europe with the Greeks.

The text reads: “It is about claiming human rights and erasing […] of the shame of Europe”.

According to the draft resolution: “His Majesty is humbly asked to order his Foreign Minister to write to all the royal courts in Europe, in order to enter into general negotiations with the Barbaric Powers, to ask these forces to respect the flags of European nations and to put an end to the slavery of Christians”.

This proposal was accepted by the House of Peers and was recorded as the first political intervention of a great power in Europe in favor of the Greeks who were at that time under Ottoman control.

It is worth noting that the dominant element for the political world to be interested in Greece was the common Christian faith and the sufferings of Christian slaves in the Ottoman Empire.

In 1821 the Greek Revolution broke out. Again the first stimuli that attract public interest have to do with the common Christian faith and the sufferings of Christians. The press and art record the massacres, looting and suffering of Christians. One of the first events that shocks the public opinion, and essentially inaugurates the philhellenic movement, is the martyrdom of Patriarch Gregory V.

 

19th century painting, probably from England, on the subject of the martyrdom of Patriarch Gregory V (SHP collection).

Friedrich Campe (publisher, 1825-35), Turkish savagery in Chios (a church is on fire in the background, in the right a priest is murdered). Hand-coloured copper engraving (SHP collection).

 

From the beginning of the Greek Revolution, and throughout the 1820s, the European and American press constantly highlighted the sufferings of Christians and presented the struggle for the liberation of the Greeks as a struggle for the liberation of Christians enslaved by the Turkish Muslims. Very indicatively, we present articles from three newspapers, from the archive of more than 1000 newspapers of this period, which form part of the SHP collection.

 

ALLGEMEINE PREUSSISCHE STAATS ZEITUNG, dated June 30, 1821. Among other things, it states: “An order for the execution of Christian clergy and the destruction of churches is being carried out in many cities. The assassination of the Patriarch turns the clergy and the people of Thessaly against Omer Pasha. The archbishop himself loses his life in the battles” (SHP collection).

Journal des Debats, August 24, 1821. It reports: “The Russian ambassador to Constantinople called on the Ottoman authorities to stop the killing of innocent Greeks, the disarmament of Muslims, to rebuild the vandalized churches and to respect the Christian religion. In the last battle in Moldova, the besieged Greeks fought to the last in a monastery”. Here, too, the persecution of Christians and their self-sacrifice is projected as a central emotional element (SHP collection).

SCHWAEBISCHER MERKUR newspaper, February 19, 1824. Among other things, it refers to the siege of Messolonghi where 20,000 Turks could not defeat 500 Greeks, and it highlights a characteristic strange coincidence. “An old big spring appeared in Messolonghi with plenty of fresh water when the first bullet of the besiegers fell on the church of the archangel. A fact worthy of attention”. The description clearly implies that the God of Christians has taken a position in favor of the struggle of the Greeks (SHP collection).

 

From the moment the Greek Revolution broke out, another important issue that makes its appearance, is the blessing that Greek fighters receive from priests and bishops. These scenes constitute one of the most popular subjects of philhellenic art during the Revolution. Here are two examples from France and Italy, of issues that circulated significantly in Europe.

 

Philhellenic plate from France, made of porcelain, of the early 19th century, from the factory “P. & H./Choisy”, on the blessing of the Greek fighters (SHP collection).

Lithograph based on the painting by the Italian painter Ludovico Lipparini (1800-1856). “The German Archbishop supported the flag of the cross on the ruins of Kalavrita on March 25, 1821. To His Majesty the King of Greece Othon I, in a presumption of deepest respect, Ed. Joseph Antonellis D. H. A. A. (Venice, Giuseppe Antonelli, d. 1838)”. The painting was destroyed in a bombing raid on Milan on February 14, 1943 (SHP collection).

 

Another relevant issue that dominates the philhellenic art, has to do with the oath of the Greek fighter. This oath always takes place in front of a cross. The Greek fighter swears, in the presence of his family or in the presence of his fiancée. These scenes always remind us that the Greeks are fighting as Christians in order to free themselves from the Muslim Turkish tyrant. This was the central message that moved the public in Europe.

 

The oath on the cross of the young fighter. Attributed to Michel-Philibert Genod (1796-1862). Early 19th century (SHP collection).

The oath on the cross of the young fighter. The theme is imprinted in France on a box, plate and soup bowl. Early 19th century (SHP collection).

 

This issue of the common Christian faith is projected in the public opinion on all the occasions during all the emblematic events. For example, at the great art exhibition in the Paris Salon in 1822, a painting by the French painter Charles-Edouard Le Prince, known as Crespy-Le Prince (1784-1851), is presented to the public. The painting is entitled “Inspiration d’un prêtre grec pendant l’orage” (Inspiration of a Greek priest during the storm). The Greek priest holds in his hand the 103rd psalm of David which refers to the greatness of God. This painting is typical of the messages that the public asked to receive in order to side with the Greeks.

 

Painting by the French painter Charles-Edouard Le Prince, known as Crespy-Le Prince (1784-1851). The painting has the theme “Inspiration d’un prêtre grec pendant l’orage” (Greek priest’s inspiration during the storm) (SHP collection).

 

Another interesting theme that was widely projected during the Revolution, and was reflected in the philhellenic art, has to do with the history of the Greek Deacon. This story is the subject of a poem by the French poet Casimir Delavigne. The figure was imprinted in a work by Antoine (Tony) Johannot (1803-1852), on which various art objects were based, such as the mantel clock that follows.

 

Bronze mantle clock of the early 19th century, with the theme of the Greek Deacon (SHP collection).

Victor Hugo, “Les Orientales”, 1829 (SHP collection).

 

Of particular interest is the poetic collection “Les Orientales”, of Victor Hugo, which refers exclusively to the Greek Revolution and is published in Paris in the context of his solidarity with the suffering Greek people, promoting the philhellenic spirit in Europe. It publishes the revolutionary actions of the Greeks for freedom from the Turkish yoke, choosing to highlight events that will move more, such as ancient Greece, the Christian faith, the siege of Messolonghi, the achievements of Canaris and Botsaris, etc.

“To Greece, forward, oh friends! Revenge and freedom!”

Victor Hugo calls Greece the mother of western civilization:

“(…) Greece of Lord Byron, Greece of Homer
You sweet sister, you our mother”.

The following excerpt presents Canaris saying:

“My brothers, if I return alive, Messolonghi will be spared,
I promise to build a new church of Jesus Christ.
If I die and fall in the dark night of Death
From which no one can return
And if all my blood is spilled, what is left of it
You will bury in free soils my ashes
Under the sun’s light, the clear sky, you dig my tomb”

Finally, the magnificent painting that follows, by the great German painter Paul Emil Jacobs (1802-1866), summarizes in one image the central messages of the philhellenic art. The Turk has killed the father, looted and burned the church from which he has stolen the sacred utensils and kidnapped the mother as a slave. The son has his gun with a single bullet, and therefore the hope to neutralize his tyrant. The scene has as its background ancient columns and the burning temple, and it marries the ancient Greek with the Christian element. This was the central message of philhellenic propaganda during the Greek Revolution, but also for almost the entire 19th century.

 

Painting by the great German painter Paul Emil Jacobs (1802-1866) (SHP collection).

 

In most churches of all denominations in Europe and the USA, sermons and fundraisers in favor of the Greeks took place. Many priests were members of Philhellenic committees with significant activity, and many missionaries arrived in Greece and supported the Greeks and the development of national education.

Very indicatively, we present below some examples.

Bastholm, Hans (1774-1856), Danish priest who supported the struggling Greeks by organizing (banned) fundraisers through the newspaper Vestsjællandske Avis.

Holstein, Frederik Adolph, count, Dane Philhellene, he publicly argued that the philhellenic fundraisers, such as those organized by the priest Hans Bastholm, should not be illegal. In 1827 he published a 24-page publication entitled “The case of the Greeks in Denmark. A bold observation”. The proceeds of the sale were intended for the support of the Greeks.

Christian VIII or Christian Frederick (1786-1848), King of Denmark (1839-1848) and King of Norway in 1814, responded anonymously to a fundraiser by the Danish priest Hans Bastholm, contributing 500 thalers. He was also a subscriber of the philhellenic newspaper «Graekervennen» (the Philhellene).

Bendell, Gregory, American Philhellene, pastor at St. Andrew Church in Philadelphia with philhellenic activity.

Beskow B. von, Swede Philhellene, he composed the cantata “Sweden to the children of Greece” which was played in a concert organized by Swedish Philhellenes in a church in the Ladugord area (17.06.1826).

Crussel, Swedish Philhellene, composer of the “Hymn to the Liberation of Greece”, which was included in a concert at the church in the Ladugord area organized by Swedish Philhellenes. (17.06.1826).

Edwards Dwight, Sereno (1786-1850), pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, he delivered an address, entitled “The Greek Revolution” on April 1, 1824 in favor of the Greek Struggle.

Gender, a German Philhellene, priest from Augsburg; he kept in touch with the English Philhellene Warren, who was informing him on the course of the Greek Revolution.

Hildebrandt, Johann Andreas Christoph (1763-1846), a priest in Halberstadt, preacher in Welferlingen and author of novels. He wrote the philhellenic work “Die Sklavin in Anatolis Wüste” (The Slave in the Desert of the East, 1822), which refers to the Turkish atrocities and the desire of the Greeks for an uprising.

Keun, Bernard (1733-1801), Dutch pastor of the Lutheran Church in Smyrna, who influenced the Greek Enlightener Adamantios Korais, whose studies he financed. Keun taught Korais Latin and encouraged him in the study of ancient classics.

Münter, Friedrich Christian Carl Heinrich (1761-1830), Danish Lutheran bishop, member of the Ionian Academy, he corresponded with Orthodox priests to give them courage during the Greek Revolution.

Parkes Cadman, Dr. S., president of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, in his speeches he referred to the moral obligation of America to help the struggling Greeks.

White, William, bishop, president of the Philhellenic Committee in Philadelphia.

 

Friedrich Campe (publisher, 1825-35) warm welcome of Philhellenes in Greece. Hand-coloured copper engraving (SHP collection).

 

A thorough study of the basic expressions of philhellenic art and movement before and during the Greek Revolution, confirms that the common Christian faith was one of the cornerstones of the philhellenic movement and the important help that the Greeks received during their struggle.

 

 

 

Prior to the start date of Turkey’s accession negotiations (3.10.2005), there had been much discussion as to whether Turkey should or could have a place in the EU.

The main exponent of the view that Turkey cannot have a place in the EU, was the former President of France Valery Giscard d’Estaing. Costas Simitis contradicted D’Estaing’s view with an article in the prominent French newspaper Le Monde. It was the time of the last prime ministerial term of Costas Simitis, during which a loud Greek support of the “European course of Turkey” was inaugurated. This policy continued with the next governments to reach the beginning of Turkey’s accession negotiations with the consent of Greece without any substantial consideration. Thus, the infamous casus belli, i.e. the Turkish threat of war in the event of the expansion of our maritime space from six to twelve miles, persists. A right that derives from the law of the sea and which we have not yet dared to use.

Here are the key points of Simitis’ article in the newspaper Le Monde: “Turkey has been a great European power since the 16th century and the Ottoman Empire played a role in the creation of Europe that exists today (…). Francis I made an alliance with Suleiman, there was a Franco-Ottoman axis against the Hapsburgs. Mr. Giscard d’Estaing therefore forgot that it was France that introduced Turkey to Europe. In any case, Turkey can be a member of the EU.” (To Vima 19.1.2003 translated by Th. Pangalos).

The question that arises is how the Ottoman Empire played a role “in the creation of Europe that exists today”, as Costas Simitis states. Simply in the tried and tested way of invading, slaughtering and enslaving peoples.

The Ottoman Empire was indeed present in central Europe in the 16th century. The Ottomans had invaded Hungary with Suleiman in 1526, after exterminating the entire Hungarian infantry and cavalry at the Battle of Mahatsa. They remained a bitter conqueror in Hungary for 174 years, with the result that the country lost 50% of its population. “Millions of people were starved to death or sold in slave markets in North Africa“, says the famous Hungarian writer Steven Vizinsey. Does the current Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbron, know this, who is all sweet with Erdogan? Has he realized Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman dreams? Does he know that his friend envies Suleiman’s trophies? Orbron and Erdogan are linked by the fact that they both have similar authoritarian tendencies. The like always comes close to the like.

Three years later (1529) after the conquest of Hungary (1525), the Turks unsuccessfully besieged Vienna. Therefore, it is not “France that introduced Turkey to Europe” through Francis I, as Costas Simitis argues. Turkey was already present in Central Europe when Francis I did indeed form an alliance with Suleiman. Being in a multi-year war with the Hapsburgs, at some point he found himself so cramped that he would ally event with the devil. The Ottoman Empire invaded Europe continuing its well-known conquest tactics. This, of course, does not give it a European identity according to Simitis logic. By the same logic, Turkestan, from the steppes of which the Huns of Attila started in the 4th century and flooded Europe, should also claim Europeanism!

Costas Simitis, in order to support the Europeanism of Turkey, did not hesitate to clash with a tried and tested friend. It is well known how much Giscard d’Estaing supported our country before and throughout the accession negotiations. It was then that Costas Simitis had opposed membership, following the well-known anti-accession policy of PASOK. This is shown in his article in the prestigious magazine “Political Issues” entitled “Why we are against” (issue number 335 – 336, 2.9.1980).

The above referred article by Costas Simitis in the newspaper Le Monde concludes: “In any case, Turkey can be a member of the EU“. However, recent developments in Turkey with the persecution of all dissidents and the neo-Ottoman declarations of the Turkish leadership show that there is a geopolitical incompatibility of Turkey with Europe.

 

Angelos Zacharopoulos

Honorary Director of the European Commission

Former Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, member of the Central Negotiating Committee for the accession of Greece to the EEC (the last survivor).

 

 

We are saddened and troubled by the information that the State of Turkey intends to convert the museum-monument of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to a mosque.

Independently of any religious or other ethnic state-centered convictions and assumptions we wish to emphatically remind all concerned that Hagia Sophia, already since 1985, has been identified as a world cultural heritage monument designated to function as a museum since 1934, which it has been to this day.

All cultural monuments are bearers of the highest symbolic values and, thereby, the property of world civilization. They are imbued with the timeless values of humankind which ought not to be altered, destroyed or exploited in the service of propaganda.

We call on all art history colleagues and, more widely, humanities and cultural studies scholars as well as all international historians and caring individuals, to protest and take action towards the rescinding of the intention of the Turkish government. As far as we are concerned, we will broadcast our opposition to its actions in every direction in the hope that the status of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul will not be altered and lose its multicultural and artistic character.

Additionally, we call upon all official agencies, including UNESCO, to proceed towards severe sanctions in light of the Turkish State’s attempted action to affect the historical and cultural character of the monument.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul firmly belongs to the ecumenical civilization of all humanity.

Athens, July 17, 2020
The executive board of the Association of Greek Art Historians

 

 

April 25, 1871, Program for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Greek Revolution, with aν eulogy at the Cathedral of Athens, in the presence of the royal couple, the Council of Ministers and other members of the Holy Synod, as well as representatives of foreign powers (EEF Collection).

Xeni D. Baloti

 

– “No! Prior to the French Revolution was the English Revolution in 1688”, Prime Minister M.Thatcher complained when she was informed that the President of France wanted to connect the G7 Summit, 1989, with the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution!

– “It is astounding that some wish to be the first ones to be imputed the practice of decapitation” Fr.Mitterrand shrewdly responded to her smiling, albeit without obviously naming her, fairly enjoying the success of the internationalization of the festivities.

In 1989 43 million visitors arrived in France solely to attend the 200th anniversary celebrations while more than 300 events were held in 115 countries to honour 1789.

The endeavour of the internalization of the “200th anniversary” was not an easy one, yet it was not the most difficult as many aspects of the French Revolution arise heated debate even today. Hence, in 1986 when the arranging of the celebrations was launched it was decided, in order for the French people not tο be divided amongst the glorious and dark pages of its Revolution, to focus on the Storming of the Bastille and the adoption of “The Declaration of Man and of the Citizen” converting at the same time the events to tribute paid to the triptych “Freedom-Equality-Fraternity” so that it can continue to be a reference for the people who envisage a better future.

Via this right balance every French citizen felt that the “200th anniversary” is a matter of their concern, thus the most consented in principle!»

To maintain this agreement the “Committee for the 200th celebrations of the French Revolution and the Declaration of Man and of the Citizen” was appointed by the Prime Minister of France (hereafter referred to as “1789 Committee”) within which a second committee was operating, the Interministerial.

In this problematic prima facie composition of the “1789 Committee” is actually hidden the success of the celebrations.

The historian and politician Jean-Noël Jeanneney was designated Head of the “1789 Committee” though all members of the Interministerial committee came under the responsibility of the Minister of Culture, the renowned Jacques Lang. It goes without saying that no one liked this informal diarchy. However, the interest of France prevailed and as later J-N Jeanneney said “J.Lang attached his personal and political importance to the success of the Committee and our plans proceeded apace at government level. The Committee did not operate in a Cartesian manner but ultimately has not gone so badly”.

The next big challenge was the content of the celebrations. Would France navel-gaze between “ifs” and “buts” of the Revolution or allow the people of 1989 to celebrate the “mother of the revolution” and consider the consequences? At that point, the officialdom rather than taking a position chose to appoint members of the “1789 Committee” 46 eminent scientists, historians and rectors, who established that: the commemorations aimed at reminding young people the history of France during the Revolution, the basic principles featuring this historical period and correlate the 1789 legacy with the high stakes in their contemporary times.

The “1789 Committee “ also decided that: a) no official ceremonial was to be established, b) projects and suggestions were to approve to be filed by bodies and individuals for which so long as they were deemed robust for implementation, would be entitled to have the “1789 Committee” Symbol, i.e. 3 flying birds in the colour of the French flag, c) it would decentralise the ceremonies, allowing to each region of France celebrate 1789 relating to its local historical experiences, d) would stipulate a correspondents’ network in order to make an organizational contribution and e) with the edition of a “ Guide for the Revolution” would assist regional Self-Government to boost the  public active involvement and volunteerism.

The “1789 Committee”, in view of the outcome, has proven to be a fully functional machine. There was neither a Ministry Department that has been activated and bequeathed a deliverable work nor an Administrative District lagging in participation. At regional level 7500 ceremonies were carried out and 2500 cultural associations participated in those!

In particular with regard to the “1789 committee’s “own works, apart from the attendance of the completion of the “Major Projects” namely the Louvre Pyramid, Le Grande Arche de la Defense, the Opera Bastille etc. was responsible for the 14th July military parade organisation with the leading theme “the Army of the Nation”, the night artistic parade, devised by Jean-Paule Goude and the musical performance in Place de la Concorde with Jessye Norman. The night of 14th July 1989, 7500 people from all over the world had gathered along Champs Elysées while in the meantime all television networks broadcasted the celebrations to 112 countries.

Almost a year later, the “1789 Committee” completed its assignment submitting to the President of the Republic of France its financial and administrative statement and to the General State Archives all the archival material concerning its operation which is now available to every researcher.

The reader, who has reached that point so far, reasonably wonders whether there was also a research and historical work which has been carried out at the time. Certainly! In fact it has been so productive that 31 years later remains inexhaustible. Nonetheless, this aspect of celebrations belonged to another Committee chaired by M.Vovelle, comprised exclusively of historians, research and academic institutions ,whose overall contribution to the renewal of the historiography of the French Revolution, is worth mentioning in another article along with the “weapons” in its arsenal once the analysis of the particular aspects of 1789-1799  decade started!

If, at their starting point, we wish to compare the French “1789 Committee” to the “2021 Greek” one, we will find out many elements in common. Whether the “2021 Committee” sets a milestone for every commemorative celebration, as it happens with “1789 Committee” for France, is an issue at stake conditional on the goals we have set , the one given: to work solely for the Greek history.