The participation of Constantinopolitans in the Greek Revolution of 1821

By Vassilios Moutsoglou,  Ambassador a.h., IHA Member

The Modern Greek nation had already begun to form without a formal or legal frame essentially in the early 11th century, perhaps even earlier. The beginning was set by some historians a few centuries after the end of the ancient world. Medieval Hellenism is expressed by means of Byzantium. “There has been a Greek nation throughout the Middle Ages”, writes in 1853 Stefanos Koumanoudis, but “it surrendered to the despotic doctrines of the Roman Empire that had a foreign past that had never renounced”.   

The Byzantium, or Romanea as it was officially referred to, was at its outset a Roman state with regards to its terminology and administrative features. Although it maintained these attributes until the end of its existence, it gradually became a nation of Greek Christians, having as main characteristics the Greek-language and Christian Orthodoxy. Although Byzantium was a multinational state, it became monocultural by the osmosis of its Roman traits with the Hellenistic tradition and the Greek ecclesiastical language, crucial in Byzantium. Greek became the state’s official language after the reign of Heraclius (610-641 A.D.), while Byzantine populations inhabited Greek regions. Their language was Greek, the Alexandrian Common. Their faith, progressively after Constantine the Great, was the Christian Orthodoxy. As stated by Eleni Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, “Greek language and Orthodox faith are the signing elements of Byzantine civilization and life. Do I need to underline that these elements define (basically) the current Modern Greek identity?”. 

During the Fall of Constantinople, the Ottoman Muslims did not clash with the Roman Christians but with the Greeks. The Byzantines’ bravery displayed during the Ottomans’ siege contributed to the fact that this event became a milestone for the Greek nation during the years of slavery. Constantine Paleologos responded to the Ottoman calls for surrender, saying, “To surrender you the City it’s not upon me or any of its inhabitants – all of us have decided by our own free will to die and spare no our life”. This was the foundation for the Greek’s continuous revolutions that led to the Great Revolution.

During the Turkish occupation and before introducing the concept of nation, the terminology of “Rum genus genesis” (instead of ethnogenesis) were used. Later on, the Patriarchate’s Pan-Orthodox sovereign inclination changed (in part) into the sovereign initiative of the Greek nation. The conceptual distinction between the Greek nation and the genus has only symbolic and historical value. The Great Idea comes to reconcile the opposing tendencies of ecumenism and the nascent nationalism.

The national idea had been developing progressively since the Byzantine years. At the outset, Greeks abandoned their “Latin-Roman” identity not so much because of differences in languages (both populace and ruling class) but disparities in religious doctrines and especially relating to the ecclesiastical administration. The Fourth Crusade (1204) marked the eastern Roman Empire’s definitive end with its Roman character. The Byzantium of Palaeologus that followed the Greek Kingdom of Nikaia could be regarded as a Greek state. Still, its people did not fully realize its Hellenic nature. Confusion concerning the ethnicity ensued immediately after their enslavement by Ottomans, as the conqueror was not tolerant of the Greco – Byzantine ethnicity. Diversity within the Ottoman Empire was underscored primarily in the context of religion. The nation was referred to as genus, without regard to race but to religious and cultural features.

In line with other revolutionary movements in Europe and elsewhere, the demand for national liberation through a revolution began to take shape mainly by endogenous factors. Various social groups defined their attitudes and objectives they sought in light of their ethnicity, as it was understood at the time. The resolution of the nation’s uprising using its own powers and not depending on others was considered earnestly by the pioneering urban class that held a stature between the Phanariotes and the middle class. The relative urbanization, the Phanariot tradition, the occupation in commerce and the building of the necessary relations with Europe, and finally the education of the Greeks with their considerable performance in this domain, drove the nation to a spiritual rebirth, to the Neo-Greek Enlightenment, with the construction of a concrete Neo-Greek ethic identity, during the 18th century.

Bourgeois class ideas existed, but their content differed from those developed in Europe. It was influenced by the social, economic, and political environment of a more ancient order. For Hellenism, the Bourgeois class consciousness did not develop parallel to that of the national conscience, as it was the case in Europe. Still, it was formed in the contrast of the conquered versus the conqueror and Christianity versus Islam. The call for freedom for the subdued Greeks was primarily of national context. Socio-political issues were raised only secondarily.

By the beginning of the 19th century, Hellenism had attained a robust stature, which soon manifested its force. This was a consequence of having succeeded in safeguarding its national status and building a Modern Greek cultural identity, shaped and mixed with elements of the Greek tradition of freedom and democracy, enriched with European liberal ideas along with some Ottoman traits – as in the art of war.  This process took place throughout Greece as well as in the Greek communities of Europe. Constantinople was not the main focus of shaping the national idea -at least the one with an armed revolutionary character. But indeed, as the national center of Hellenism, anything that took place there had a special significance. It came with publicity, as this was where the eyes of all Greeks were tuned in to.

Constantinople had become the actual capital of Rums. The Greeks reigned intellectually all Christian peoples who were subjugated to the Ottomans. They constituted the link between them and the European way of thinking. Thus, they acted as a catalyst for the rest of the Christian ethnic groups’ national awakening. Moreover, the Greeks, who were recruited at the Sublime Porte’s service, acquired great power. They were entrusted with the Ottoman government’s secrets and gradually became its real advisors about the Empire’s external relations. The senior clergy that depended on Ecumenical Patriarchate had Greek education and guided the entire flock of Orthodox Christians.

A few centuries after the Fall of Constantinople, one of the Greeks’ mainstream views was that it might be possible to Hellenize the Ottoman Empire to some degree. It was envisioned that this could be achieved through the Greek element’s cultural, social, and economic prevalence in the Ottoman territory. This will lead to the revival, in some alternate form, of the Byzantine Empire. On the other hand, the “Lament of Constantinople” that always played a significant role in the nation’s psyche was forming a consensus towards liberation by the force of arms.

Thus, until the period that preparations for the Greek Revolution commenced, the prevailing views in Constantinople saw the possibility of a peaceful co-existence of Greek and Turkish peoples. On the other hand, the liberation of Constantinople symbolized the freedom of the Greek genus, which they believed could only be realized around the capital of Hellenism, Constantinople, i.e. the national solution.

The salvation of the genus could only be perceived as a continuation of the Byzantine state. Ancient Greece’s memories were embedded too deep into the nation’s subconscious to guide it to a different path. The only outcome that seemed reasonable and feasible to the Greeks of Constantinople was its liberation and fall of the Ottoman Empire, either by its gradual Hellenization or by force. The employment of Greeks in high government positions and to no small extent in the diplomatic service of the Empire, together with the predominance of the Greeks in the economic life of the country, advocated the ecumenical – universal solution. On the other hand, the Ottomans’ behavior in general towards the Christian nationals of the Empire and reason indicated that the liberation of Hellenism could only take place by a national armed struggle.

The driving force of the Revolution was neither the base of Society nor its head. The urban middle class was the one that processed the idea most effectively. It molded a mixture of Riga’s ideals of spontaneous patriotism as inspired by the French Enlightenment, the yearning for freedom, the dynamism of Kleftes, the will of higher classes to take part in the developments, and the ever-present underlying Russian policy against the existence of the Ottoman Empire.

After the Vienna Congress of 1815, it was realized by the Greeks that they could not rely on the assistance of Christian Europe for their liberation. The idea that the Greeks should depend mainly on their own forces convinced more and more. With this perception, thoughts began to develop for a new organization that would aim precisely at this perspective and would prepare the ground.

The Friendly Society, founded in Odessa in 1814 by three Greeks belonging to the middle-class, Athanasios Tsakalov, Nikolaos Skoufas, and Emmanuel Xanthos, would have a decisive role in the preparation of the Revolution. The Society’s goal was to prepare a nationwide insurrection for the genus’ emancipation from the Ottoman yoke. Its idea emanating in this context, the Friendly Society used as a weapon the secrecy and exclusively personified communication. It succeeded in recruiting almost all active Greeks into the national idea, persuading them through its network, one by one.

The initial lack of success in Friendly Society’s aspirations in Russia, along with the dangers its Authority members were facing, led them to consider the transfer of its headquarters outside Russia. Xanthos settled first in Constantinople, in Mega Revma on the west coast of Bosporus. He worked in a commercial establishment in the City. Tsakalov and Skoufas went from Moscow to Odessa in July 1817. From there, they decided to go to Constantinople, where Xanthos already had settled. In December 1817, Tsakalov came to Constantinople and left shortly afterward for Pelion to assess the Society’s headquarters’ shift. With the plan falling through, Tsakalov departed in April 1817 for Smyrna, having as final destination Constantinople. Skoufas, Anagnostopoulos, and others also arrived in Constantinople in the same month.

Their main concern was the decision on the Authority’s seat. After considering several options, Constantinople was finally chosen as its base. They were led to this decision because of the large number of Greeks there and their true patriotism. They also reckoned the Ottoman police’s inability to act effectively in the cosmopolitan environment of Constantinople. Moreover, although Constantinople was the Ottoman state’s capital, it constituted historically and, in practice, Hellenism’s actual capital. From there, the Society could supervise the political situation effectively, stay on top of the Ottoman and Greek issues, and quickly face any problems that might spring up at any moment. The idea proved correct, and the decision turned out to be a success.

The Society’s intention was not to move immediately in a drastic way but to first observe the Ottoman state’s situation to find out how Greeks felt about the idea of freedom and if indeed their assessments regarding a revolt were correct. To make decisions on the Society’s further actions, Tsakalov was asked to come from Smyrna to Constantinople, but he delayed his departure. By the end of May 1818, several Peloponnesian chieftains arrived in Constantinople. A joint meeting took place, and some decisions were taken about the grand operation’s starting phase. Tsakalov finally arrived in Constantinople only six days before Skoufas died on July 31st, 1818, at 40, of a heart disease. Skoufas was buried in Bosporus by the Church of Taxiarches in Mega Revma. Thus, the Society was deprived of its visionary, who seemed to have been the principal founder and practically perhaps its leader. Despite this severe setback, the Society continued its work. Chieftain Anagnostaras was sent to Hydra, Spetses, and Peloponnese to indoctrinate those deemed “suitable”. The Society sent off a member to Zakynthos to recruit Theodoros Kolokotronis; simultaneously, it sent others to Mani to enlist its ruler, Petrobey Mavromichalis. The latter, as it was reported, enthusiastically accepted to contribute to the struggle. Archimandrite Gregory Dikaios (Papaflessas) was sent to Moldovlachia before he was sent to Peloponnese.

However, the Society’s financial situation was in dire straits. Xanthos, Tsakalov, and Anagnostopoulos, who in the meantime had joined the Society’s Authority, were at a standstill. The grand plan to send envoys aiming at the general indoctrination to the Society seemed impossible. The leaders’ efforts then turned to the wealthy and powerful Constantinopolitan Greeks, who indeed pulled the organization out of its challenging financial troubles. The very favorable reception by the Greeks of Constantinople had revitalized the Society both economically and morally. The outpouring response shown by the progressive middle class of the Greeks of Constantinople, which was basically represented by merchants and their employees, their willingness to contribute to the Society’s objectives, and their bravery was more significant than expected. The solidarity of the Constantinopolitans strengthened the Society even more. Greek merchants, especially those who had the center of their operations in Europe, felt obliged to assist the Society seeing that even those who lived in the home base of the “tyrant” dared to engage in revolutionary acts.

As the time for the Revolution approached, it became imperative to appoint the highest Authority. At the beginning of January 1820, Xanthos went from Moscow to St. Petersburg, where he visited Count John Kapodistrias, revealing him the Society’s system and asking him to lead the nation’s movement. Kapodistrias rejected the offer citing as an excuse for being Czar’s Minister and underlining that he considered the move as hasty. Kapodistrias belonged to those who believed that the time was not ripe for the Revolution and that the conditions for the liberation of Greeks had not yet matured. In despair, Xanthos turned his interest to another personage, equally brilliant and more capable than the Count in the military sector, Prince Alexander Ypsilantis, who indeed proved to be an excellent choice.

Xanthos initially addressed Constantinopolitan Ioannis Manou, a member of the Friendly Society, to act as intermediate to meet the Prince to propose to him the leadership of the Friendly Society. Alexander Ypsilantis accepted with willingness and enthusiasm to be devoted to the Greeks’ service. He declared ready to sacrifice himself for the great cause.

Alexander Ypsilantis (Constantinople December 12th, 1792 – Vienna January 31st, 1828) was the son of the Ruler of Moldovlachia and the offspring of a wealthy and powerful Phanariot family of Konstantinos Ypsilantis and Elizabeth Vakarescu. The origin of the family is from the Ypsila of Trapezous. Its existence dates back to the date the Komnini family fled there. In 1655 Antiochus Ypsilantis settled in Constantinople. Alexandros Ypsilantis was ranked in 1810 lieutenant in the corps of bodyguards of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. He participated in the Battle of Dresden (1813), where he lost his right hand.

Eventually, the Friendly Society decided to sacrifice its secrecy for the benefit of its broader promotion. Following the nomination of Ypsilantis as General Commissioner and Curator of the Authority on June 15th, 1820, the Constantinopolitans’ enthusiasm for the nation’s anticipated liberation reached its peak. The Friendly Society’s secret became known to all Greeks of Constantinople, including women, something unusual for the times. The houses of Xanthos and Dikaios (Papaflessas), like those of other Greeks, were transformed into venues of assemblies of the Friendly Society. The most important councils of the Society members were held at Stavrodromio of Pera, under the pretext of organizing dances.

The more enthusiastic among Greeks believed the rumors that Russia intended to help militarily the revolt of Greeks. Despite the resistance of the wiser, the Friendly Society’s local board asked Ypsilanti to send to Constantinople, an experienced army leader, along with military supplies for launching the Revolution. The proposed reckless plans foresaw the elimination of the Sultan and his court; arson of buildings of the City; burning of the fleet, of navy quarters, of the armory and the ammunition depot, and seizing the vault! Another plan contemplated, with the secret arrangement of members of the Society, Greek sailors boarding Ottoman warships and cargo ships that would carry ammunition to the naval squadron of the Aegean, with the ultimate objective to apprehend or destroy them! These strategies aimed at “conquering” the state (rather than the secession of territories) in the “ecumenical solution” framework.  

The various schemes for a move in Constantinople were eventually rejected, and no action took place. Although Constantinopolitans were ardent supporters of the national idea, and some starred in the war, they were ultimately not fortunate to see their City liberated. The Revolution began not from there, as they wished, but from the other regions, Moldovlachia and the Peloponnese. Later, it became clear that any revolutionary movement in the Empire’s capital would have absolutely no chance of success. The general slaughter of the Greeks of the City should be considered inevitable.

On February 21, 1821, Ypsilantis departed from Bessarabia, passed Prut river, and entering Iasi (Moldova) two days later on February 24, raised the flag of Revolution. There, he issued a revolutionary proclamation titled “Fight for Faith and the Fatherland. Subsequently, on March 17th, Ypsilantis raised the flag of Freedom in Bucharest, initially facing the army of the region’s pashas. The Hellenic Army was divided into two bodies under Constantinopolitan Georgios Ypsilantis and Nikolaos Ypsilantis. Among the other governors appointed by Alexandros Ypsilantis were the Constantinopolitans, Alexandros Rizos and George Manou (Constantinople 1792 – Naples 1868), brother of John, who also participated in the Battle of Dragatsani (June 7, 1821).

The choice of Moldova for the Revolution, among others, was made because the Ruler of Moldova, Michael Soutsos, and the surveyor in Vlachia Konstantinos Negris were Greeks from Constantinople. Both supported Ypsilantis and were later deposed by the Sultan. Immediately after the outbreak of the Revolution in Moldovlachia, the situation in Constantinople was toughened. Turks became aware of the Friendly Society’s strength as a secret organization whose objective was the breaking down the Empire. In fact, when the Ottomans found that some Friendly Society members, notified in advance, had fled the City, they decided to take harsh measures, placing the Greek community of Constantinople at hostage status.

All the stately Phanariot families inhabiting the European coast of Bosphorus were ordered to move immediately to Phanari to prevent their escape. Turks began massacring Greeks who had relatives in Moldovlachia. All Greeks who were not residents of Constantinople were ordered to depart. The resentment of the Turkish mob in Constantinople was escalating with each passing day. Rampage against the Greeks that had begun with the first news of the Revolution in Moldovlachia had reached to the point of mobs murdering in cold blood Constantinopolitans on the streets. Attacks on homes and shops, insults, beating, stabbing, and raping were on the daily agenda.

The realization of the Friendly Society’s activities and the revelation of the plans for action in Constantinople had created among the Turks and the Sultan Mahmud II feelings of rage – but also of horror. Considering that he was surrounded by overt and secret enemies, the Sultan saw no other solution but the general massacre of the Raya, “culprits” or not. For the carrying out of his decision on the all-around slaughter of Greeks, Sultan Mahmud II called the mob and Janissaries from Anatolia to come to Constantinople to implement his decision.

Patriarch Gregory V had not stayed idle all this time. As soon as the news of the impending massacre became known, he visited the Muslim supreme religious leader at his residence together with the Patriarch of Jerusalem who at the time was visiting Constantinople. Patriarch gave assurances about the non-involvement of his flock in the Revolution and appealed for the life of the Greeks in Constantinople.

Eventually, the Greeks of Constantinople’s general slaughter was not carried out, most likely not only because of internal reactions but also for fear of provoking Russia’s intervention. The fetva issued allowed the slaughter of transgressors and surely accomplices and “outright suspects”. Sadrazam Salih, while handing the decree to Patriarch, relayed an order of the high command to unequivocally issue an ex-communication against Alexander Ypsilantis, M. Soutsos, and the rebels across the Danube. As the Sadrazam inferred, only this aphorism could shed some hope of postponing “the sword of the Sultan that was hanging over the heads of Greeks”. Under this plight of extortion, the Ecumenical Patriarch convened an extraordinary, comprehensive clergy-laity meeting with the Patriarch of Jerusalem, twenty-one senior priests, and many dignitaries.

The delegates faced the dilemma of succumbing to the blackmail or rejecting the Sultan’s will and thus endangering Hellenism to imminent comprehensive slaughter, a threat that seemed feasible and very likely, considering what was happening on the streets. After a lengthy debate, it was decided that the clergy would compose the act of aphorism. In this text, an effort was made to include as few as possible of the common aphoristic expressions. On next Sunday, apparently after the Sublime Porte’s demand, a new document was signed using stronger censuring language, which was addressed only to the Metropolitan of Moldovlachia. With this, the Greeks of the Empire’s general slaughter and especially of those in Constantinople was temporarily averted.

Gregory V was harshly criticized by many Greek historians, mainly of the leftwing -leaning, for the aphorism act and the consequences it could have had -although it did not- in the outcome of the Revolution. Generally Greeks did not believe the authenticity of the aphorism under the current circumstances. Suppose the facts are looked upon, not with the cold-hearted hindsight but bearing in mind that the protagonists were enduring a climate of terror. In that case, it becomes crystal clear that the Patriarch and the entire leadership of Hellenism in Constantinople were facing dreadful extortion. The lives of hundreds of thousands of civilian Greeks were in imminent danger. The act of aphorism should be judged in this context.

The various allegations that the Patriarch did not long for the Revolution and therefore reacted in a conceding way remain unproven. Even though it is very likely that Gregory was advocating a different approach to it. Notably, several indicators point out to the assessment that the Patriarch, as well as Kapodistrias, believed that the timing for the attempted movement was not conducive and that he explored for an evolutionary and not revolutionary approach towards the desired goal. That notion would be akin to the Ecumenical (global) national idea laid out by the Phanariotes. The Patriarch feared that a rushed revolution could have harmed the Greek National Idea. Besides, if he participated in the Revolution, what would be the fate of his flock that would remain under the Ottomans?

Following the events in Moldovlachia, the aphorisms and the manifestation of the Constantinopolitans’ entire subjugation had temporarily saved them from the danger of general slaughter, but when the news of the uprising in Peloponnese arrived, the Sultan proceeded to additional horrid measures. The first led to the gallows was the Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory V. The execution was committed on April 10th, 1821, on Easter Sunday, in front of Patriarchate’s main gate by irregular Janissaries. Still, the text posted as justification proved that he was executed on Sultan’s order. The execution of senior priests who had been arrested as hostages followed.

According to news arriving from Greek territories, real or fabricated, a state of terror reigned in Constantinople over the Greeks. The reckoning of Greeks casualties was in the ten thousand. It was almost a general massacre.

Constantinopolitans who left Constantinople timely managed to participate in the National Revolution either as ordinary soldiers or in leadership positions. They also offered their share of blood at the altar of Liberty, along with the other Greeks.

The Revolution in Morea broke out with the captains’ gathering on March 17th, 1821, in Chimova (Areopolis) in Mani, the capital of Mavromichalis, where they “agreed to take up arms against the Turks”. The need for political representation for the legalization of revolutionary actions was expressed immediately, with the Messinian Senate’s establishment under Petrobey. Constantinopolitan Dimitrios Byzantios was appointed Secretary of the Senate. His real name was Dimitrios Konstantinos Hatzi-Aslanis, (Constantinople 1790 – Patras 1853), and he was a playwright and a hagiographer. His most famous play is “Babylonia”.

Dimitrios Ypsilantis (Constantinople 1793 – Nafplio August 5th, 1832) came to Greece as his brother Alexander’s proxy. The fatherhood of the successful idea, dated between 9 and 19 March 1821, is claimed by Xanthos and Anagnostopoulos. Dimitrios Ypsilantis made a short trip to Odessa to raise money from the Greeks of the community there. He borrowed some more and stocked all the family jewels he had to procure weapons. His descent to Greece was adventurous due to his persecution by various European forces. The journey started at Krasnovo. First, he went to Trieste. From there, he left in early June, supposedly for Odessa but eventually for Hydra. Ypsilantis had with him two passports, one Russian and one German. The Austrian authorities allowed Ypsilantis to leave for Greece because they felt that this would provide the best proof that Russia was involved in the Ottoman Empire’s riots.

Dimitrios Ypsilantis came to Greece with the Friendly Society flag with the palm tree and the words “Freedom or Death”. He carried his brother’s letter about his appointment as “Proxy of the Commissioner-General of the Authority” and enough money and arms for the fight. On June 12th, he issued the first proclamation to recruit fighters and supplies for the war’s needs.

On June 19th, D. Ypsilantis landed at Astros. From there, he directly went to Vervaina to meet with the dignitaries there. Initially, there were hesitations because Ypsilantis favored Friendly Society’s members Papaflessas, Kolokotronis, and Anagnostaras. Nevertheless, on June 20th, 1821, he was recognized as the Commanding in Chief of the Revolutionaries. Together with Kolokotronis, they tried to organize a regular army. Throughout the Revolution, D. Ypsilantis fought valiantly from leadership positions that the democratic revolutionary governments granted him. Among numerous battles, the victory in Myllous (13.6.1825) is mentioned, where Greek Forces under the leadership of Dimitrios Ypsilantis successfully faced Ibrahim’s army.

With the Great Revolution outbreak, one of its protagonists, Alexandros Mavrokordatos, born in Constantinople in 1791, equipped a ship, sailed from Livorno to Marseille, took with him Greeks of Europe and philhellenes and left for Patras but ended up in Messolonghi. It was there that he immediately began to work for the establishment of a local political organization. He met Dimitrios Ypsilantis in August 1821. He was appointed as his proxy and took over Western Sterea Greece’s organization. In this context, he convened the “Assembly of Western Hersos Greece”, of which he was elected President. Mavrokordatos took part in many battles from leadership positions. Among them, the Greeks’ first victory in Epirus, in Koboti of Arta on June 10th, 1822, and the victory in the first siege of Messolonghi at Christmas 1822 are included. It should also be mentioned the battle in Sfaktiria of Pylos in 1825, where he had shown bravery and had just escaped death.

Mavrokordatos was a dominant figure in the ranks of modernizers, diplomats, and politicians who played an essential role in the country’s political life during the Revolution and the first decades after the Revolution. Mavrokordatos passed away in Aegina in 1865.

Theodoros Negris was born in Constantinople in 1790 but died early, in Nafplio, in 1824. He came from an old stately Fanariot family. He was the son of Georgios Negris, grandson of Theodoros Negris. Because of his good financial situation, he obtained an outstanding education. In 1818 he was introduced to the Friendly Society and became one of its most active members.

Negris, after consultation with D. Ypsilantis, initially took over the organization of Eastern Central Greece. On November 19th, 1821, Negris founded the Legal Order of Eastern Hersos Greece, the “Areios Pagos”.

At the end of 1821, Dimitrios Ypsilantis convened in Argos the 1st National Assembly in Piada, near Epidaurus. The Convention commissioned a committee chaired by Mavrokordatos to draw up a draft of the first constitution, published on 12.1.1822. Alexandros Mavrokordatos was elected President of the five-member Executive with Theodoros Negris as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Many patriots from Greece, the Greek islands, and Ionia were introduced to the Friendly Society in Constantinople. Ships with weapons and munitions departed from Constantinople to the areas that were about to revolt. In this way, Constantinopolitans also helped in the fight.

Constantinopolitans fought on several fronts. Michael or Miltiadis Hurmouzis whose real name was Hurmouzios Triantafyllou (Constantinople, 1804 – 1882) came to Greece in May 1821 and fought in Rumeli, Peloponnese, and Crete, where he stayed until 1833. He was a military man and politician and contributed to Greek letters as a playwright and journalist. Among his best-known plays is “Leprentis” (1835).

Marigo Zarafopoula was born in Tatavla, Constantinople. She cooperated with the Friendly Society and undertook various missions entrusted to her.  Among others, she is credited with the success of the escape of Petrobey Mavromihalis’ children, who were held in Istanbul as hostages. When the involvement of herself and her brother was revealed, she was persecuted while her brother was decapitated. Eventually, after great hardship, Zarafopoula managed to go to Hydra in rebel Greece, bringing with her a large amount of money which she allocated for the needs of the revolution.

In the Peloponnese, she was used by Kolokotronis and Ypsilantis as a spy within Tripolitsa. In the following years, she financed the campaign of Favieros in Karystos and of Hatdimichalis Dalianis in Crete. She died destitute after 1865, the year in which he applied for a pension. Zarafopoula’s contribution to the revolution was certified by several important chieftains such as Gennaios Kolokotronis, Hatzichristos, and Nikitaras.

Finally, in October 1828, Dimitris Ypsilantis, head of the army formed then, carried out victorious operations against the Turks in Boeotia and kept the area under Greek control. On September 12th, 1829, he led the last battle of the struggle in Petra, Boeotia. Dimitris Ipsilantis passed away in Nafplio on August 5, 1832.

All the Constantinopolitan military chiefs, without exception, remained loyal to the national Revolution and the democratic revolutionary governments from the beginning to the end. Still, Mavrokordatos, being also a politician, sometimes participated at mutinies during the era of Kapodistrias.  After the Revolution, those Constantinopolitan fighters who did not die at the war or of hardship, served equally faithfully the Greek state, both from political and diplomatic positions or were distinguished in Greek letters.

International Hellenic Association

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