Cavalry gendarmes and a Gendarmerie officer


François Graillard (Gralliardos), was one of the French Philhellenes who settled permanently in Greece.

He was born on August 23, 1792, to a French noble family in Dijon, France, and was the only son of a glorious colonel in the French Artillery. According to his personal military record in France, referred by Ch. Dimakopoulou in her study on Graillard and his work, Graillard studied at the Military School of Paris and enlisted as a volunteer in the French National Guard on May 15, 1812. In two months, he was promoted to caporal, and after three months, to sergeant. At the beginning of 1813 he was promoted to a non-commissioned officer and on 29 September 1813 to second lieutenant. He had received the specialty of Engineer in the National Guard.

During Napoleon’s campaign against the Netherlands in 1812, he was distinguished for his bravery and promoted to lieutenant on the battlefield. He served in the headquarters of the Great Army and took part in the campaign against Austria and Prussia in 1813. In the battle of Leipzig he was seriously wounded and taken prisoner, but then escaped captivity. He took part in the campaign against Russia, where he was also captured. He then returned to France in 1814, the year his father died, leaving him a significant fortune. He was later promoted to captain of the General Staff, and continued his military career, participating in the campaign of Napoleon the Great in France in 1815.

He was then placed in reserve, expelled and imprisoned repeatedly in France until 1820. Graillard was a follower of the French philosopher Saint-Simon, whose theory promoted new ideas for reorganizing society on the basis of an original form of socialist principles, and a supporter of the French Revolution.

Saint-Simon (1760 – 1825), philosopher and utopian precursor of “scientific socialism”, among the founders of French Sociology.

When the Greek Revolution broke out, excited about the noble cause of Greek freedom and committed to the ideas of the French Revolution, which he always deeply advocated, Graillard decided to give up his comfortable life and take part in the Greek Struggle.

According to the French Philhellene M. Raybaud, Graillard arrived in Argos on November 20, 1821, after first landing in Kalamata with other Frenchmen, the first philhellenes to arrive in Greece. He took part in the siege and raid on Nafplio and distinguished himself in the fall of Corinth. He served as a Captain of the Mavrokordatos Staff, and took part in the Battle of Peta, where he fought bravely, got wounded, and escaped captivity. From this experience, Graillard understood the particularly negative effects that the civil conflicts between the Greeks would have on Greece.

He then took part in a mission to Athens with Raybaud. Later he participated in the first siege of Messolonghi, in October 1822, as reported by Raybaud. During a clash with the Turks at the Acheloos river, he was injured seriously for the second time in a few months, risking losing his left leg.

He developed a friendship with Dimitrios Ypsilantis, whom he considered together with Kolokotronis, as the natural leaders of the Revolution. His bravery led Ypsilantis, who also appreciated the integrity of his character, to entrust him with confidential missions in Europe in favor of Greece.

Thus, in the autumn of 1823, Graillard left for France on the orders of Ypsilantis, accompanied by his compatriot Louis Stanislas Daniel. For this mission he had received an extended leave. In January 1824 he returned to Messolonghi, and a little later he left again for France, again together with Daniel, with new orders. Their mission was to mobilize the philhellenic circles of Paris for the benefit of the Greek cause, not only financially, but also diplomatically, as Spiliadis testifies.

Letter from D. Ypsilantis dated 10 March 1824 to the Minister of Justice of France. Ypsilantis recommends the French Philhellene Louis Stanislas Daniel bearing the letter, who had undertaken many secret missions in France on behalf of D. Ypsilantis, together with Graillard.

The French philhellene Graillard had played an important role in organizing the first Philhellenic committees in France, which later officially supported the Philhellenic movement, organized fundraisers and undertook to send supplies and weapons to Greece. This emerges from Graillard’s long correspondence, and is also confirmed by Ioannis Koniaris, mayor of Athens, his close friend and heir. Actually, Koniaris delivered the funeral speech at the funeral of Graillard, which was published in the newspaper Radamanthys.

After his return to Greece, Ypsilantis, appreciating his contribution, hired him as his aid de camp. Graillard then took part in the second siege of Messolonghi, and in the Battle of Myloi (the Mills) in June 1825, during which he was wounded and promoted to the rank of Colonel, after a proposal by Ypsilantis. According to Hariklia Dimakopoulou, it was rumored that Graillard led a movement in December 1826 aiming to establish a military government under Ypsilantis. During the Kapodistrian period, Ypsilantis was the commander-in-chief of the Army of Eastern Greece, and he hired Graillard as Chief of Staff. Graillard took part in the Battle of Thebes in May 1829, but also in the last battle of the Greek Struggle, that of Petra, in September of the same year.

Governor Kapodistrias had entrusted Ypsilantis with the command of the irregular troops, which were transformed later into chiliarchies, and Graillard sought to assist the Governor in his task of “regularizing” the irregular troops.

Graillard was a staunch supporter of the Regular Army, and he issued many Orders of the day, calling on the Chiliarchs to submit daily activity reports. As expected, these orders were not carried out and were quickly considered useless by the irregular warriors, who were not prepared to change their way of life. Graillard attempted to introduce into the army the rules of the Internal Organization of the French Army, remained a dead letter, as the Greeks were not familiar to these European-style structures.

According to Hariklia Dimakopoulou, during the period of Augustine Kapodistrias, Graillard undertook the secret mission of handing over to General Guéhéneuc (General Maison’s successor in the Peloponnese), a request from the pro-French circles of Nafplion for a French monarch to take over the crown of Greece. This mission was particularly important, as it took place at a time when, following the resignation of Duke Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg, there were ongoing meetings in London where two candidates were proposed for the Greek throne. The first one was Prince Paul of Wurttemberg and the second Prince Othon of Bavaria.

Following the departure of Augustine Kapodistrias, the Government Commission assigned the administration of the Regular Army to Graillard, following a proposal by D. Ypsilantis, according to Ch. Dimakopoulou. He was assisted in these tasks by Lieutenant Scarlatos Soutsos. Graillard submitted a memorandum on the general condition of the Regular Corps for the period from November 1831 to November 1832. The state of the Corps was deplorable. The lack of financial resources had affected all military units, the morale was low, the Model Battalion, which had been formed after an extraordinary effort, was disbanded. In this turbulent climate, the Light Battalions were transformed again into irregular troops, and all this, during a particularly difficult period for Greece.

The tragic character of the situation is evidenced by a series of letters written by Graillard in his capacity of head of the Regular Corps to the War Minister Ioannis Kolettis. In these letters he addressed a desperate appeal and asked him to settle, “in the name of God”, the economic problem of the Army, in order to avoid the desertion of the troops, which was about to take uncontrollable proportions. The government, in an effort to save the army, granted a transfer of the proceeds of the Nafplion Customs to the management of the Regular Corps. Unfortunately, the situation worsened, as the rioters threatened to invade the city of Nafplio, in a desperate attempt to receive their salaries. Under the threat of complete anarchy, Kolettis decided to seek help from the French army, part of which had remained in the Peloponnese under General Guéhéneuc’s orders. This operation led to bloody clashes and disastrous results.

During Othon’s reign, in February 1833, Graillard was appointed leader of Othon’s Military House, and later became head of the first National Gendarmerie which he organized, according to French standards, in June 1833. Graillard choose himself applying meritocratic and fair criteria the first officers of the Gendarmerie, both among the former irregular warriors and the well-known chieftains, as well as the Regular soldiers and the Philhellenes who had been distinguished for their bravery and behavior. He remained in this position until 1834. He was then put in reserve, most likely because of his saintsimonic ideas, which the government certainly did not approve. In fact, a royal decree was issued in this regard, denouncing saintsimonism as a sect.

Another serious reason that apparently brought him into conflict with the government was his constant request for an increase in the number of Gendarmerie officers and for the non-participation of the political power and the army, in its work. Already after the Battle of Peta, Graillard studied and analyzed in depth the structure of Greek society, and concluded that military affairs should be carried out only by the military, without the intervention of politicians (something he tried to ensure each time he took a position of responsibility).

For all these reasons, he submitted his resignation on January 12, 1835, setting a proud example for his subordinates. This is because, according to I. Koniaris, Graillard was “a ruthless enemy of intrigue and faithful to duty”, “he walked the straight path; honor was his compass, and the duty the rule of his conduct. These were placed beyond any ambition”.

Graillard, however, did not end there his career and continued to offer his services in other areas, as he was later called up for action again. He successively served as Garrison Commander of Messolonghi, and then of Athens-Piraeus, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of the Army, Chairman of the Committee for the Revision of the rules of procedure of the Army, Commander of a Brigade, etc. On February 19, 1848, he was again appointed Chief of the Gendarmerie, and remained in that position until the abolition of the Corps Headquarters on June 24 of the same year. The Headquarters were reorganized on November 29, 1848 under the leadership of A. Vlachopoulos. On May 19, 1854, he was transferred to the army and was promoted to lieutenant general. Since then, he remained in reserve, for health reasons, and retired in Kifissia.

The most important contribution of Graillard in Greece is undoubtedly recorded in the field of the development of the Greek society, which he had studied in depth during his long stay in Greece. The fruit of his thoughts led to the production of a work entitled “Memorandum on the Law of the Development of Modern Greek Civilisation” (Mémoire sur la loi du développement de la civilisation hellénique moderne). He submitted this memorandum to king Othon in 1835, shortly before he took office as monarch, in order for him to take it into account for the governance of the new Greek state. However, his rather progressive proposals were not accepted.

At that time, a large portion of the political world, Othon himself being the first among them, gave priority to the vision of the Great Idea and the development of the army. Graillard’s proposal was for the government to focus on tackling the devastation caused by the war, in organizing production and the economy, in order to achieve the development and prosperity of the Greek people, so that the new state can play again an important role as the heir of ancient Greek civilisation. At this point he was collaborating with another Philhellene and sainsimonist, Gustave Séligmann d’Eichthal (1804 – 1886), who lived in Greece from 1832 to 1835. He was commissioned by Prime Minister I. Kolettis to organize the Office of Public Economy (which much later evolved to the Hellenic Statistical Service).

Gustave Séligmann d’Eichthal (1804 – 1886), designed the Office of Public Economy.

The efforts of the French sainsimonists, who had begun to come to Greece, were unsuccessful, and all of them were removed from public offices.

Graillard undertook later other administrative positions.

The original and spontaneous love for the Greek nation is remarkable for this Philhellene. Without ever renouncing his French origins, Graillard wanted and sought the development and rebirth of the Greek nation. He was an idealist and a lover of Greece. According to an article by General Napoleon Dokanaris of the Gendarmerie, he was the first Philhellene to reject the specific title of “Filellin”, and, consequently, the privileges that accompanied it, unlike many others. It is characteristic that in many documents, and especially in letters to his friends, he signed in Greek “Gralliardos”. He had acquired a well-deserved Greek citizenship.

In his funeral speech, Koniaris describes him as “a lively and very pleasant spirit, a high character, a soul that is at the same time stable and flexible, a mind adorned and cultivated with education”, and “with the lures of the spirit”, and underlines that he had “all the strong virtues which impose the respect, and the sweet virtues, which attract the love”.

He died in Kifissia on May 9, 1863, with the rank of Commander in Chief of the army. He was honored with the Order of the Officer of the Legion of Honor from France, with the Silver of Excellence of the Greek Independence and with the Golden Cross of the Order of the Redeemer.



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  • Εφημερίδα Ραδάμανθυς, Αθήνα, αρ. φ. 17, 16 Μαΐου 1863.
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  • Λαλούσης Χαράλαμπος, «O Ελληνικός Στρατός την περίοδο του πρώτου Κυβερνήτη της Ελλάδος Ιωάννη Καποδίστρια (1828-1831)», Στρατιωτική Επιθεώρηση, τ. 2 (2000), σσ. 31-41.
  • Ν. Κτενιάδης, «Φραγκίσκος Γκραγιάρ, 1792-1863, Ο πρώτος Αρχηγός της Ελληνικής Χωροφυλακής», Αστυνομική Ανασκόπηση, τόμος 9, 1978, σσ. 319-321.
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