Greek War of Independence of 1821–29

Greek War of Independence of 1821–29

 

(in Russian, Greek National Liberation Revolution of 1821–29), the revolution of the Greek people that overthrew the Ottoman yoke and gained independence for Greece. It began at a time of national and social oppression in Greece and with the rise of the national liberation struggle of the Greek people. The uprising was planned primarily by members of the secret revolutionary society, Philike Hetairia, which A. Ypsilantis, a general in the Russian service, headed beginning in 1820. On Feb. 24 (Mar. 8), 1821, Ypsilantis crossed the Russo-Turkish border. From Jassy he called the Greek people to insurrection. The uprising in Greece began in the second half of March 1821 (Greek Independence Day is celebrated March 25 [April 6]). In the course of three months, the insurrection gripped the entire Morea (Peloponnesus), part of continental Greece, and some of the islands in the Aegean Sea. A revolution had begun in Greece.

The driving force of the revolution was the peasantry, led by the bourgeoisie, which was then emerging. The National Assembly gathered in January 1822 in Piad (near Epidauros), proclaimed the independence of Greece, and adopted a democratic consitution (Epidaurian Organic Statute of 1822). The sultan’s government cruelly persecuted the Greeks. In the summer of 1822 a Turkish army of 30,000 men invaded the Peloponnesus but retreated with significant losses. The Greek troops, led by the talented generals M. Mrotsares, T. Kolokotronis, and G. Karaiskakis, steadfastly held their ground.

Contradictions among the various forces united under the banner of revolution led to two civil wars. In the first civil war (end of 1823-May 1824) military leaders led by Kolokotronis and closely associated with the peasantry fought against rich Peloponnesian landowners, who were allied with shipowners of the island of Hydra. In the second civil war (November 1824-early 1825) a conflict arose between the wealthy Peloponnesian landowners (now allied with Kolokotronis) and the shipowners. As a result of the civil wars, the political significance of the newly formed national bourgeoisie grew.

In February 1825, Sultan Mahmud II received aid from his Egyptian vassal—an army commanded by Ibrahim-Pasha. It devastated most of the Peloponnesus, and together with the Turkish army it took the city of Missolonghi on Apr. 10 (22), 1826. Foreign volunteers came to the aid of the Greek troops, and in several countries philhellenic committees arose. The pressure of public opinion and particularly the contradictions in the so-called Eastern question impelled the governments of European states to intervene in Greek affairs. The election of J. Kapodistrias (former Russian minister of foreign affairs) as president of Greece by the National Assembly in Iroezene (April 1827) was considered proof of the growth of Russian influence by Western European diplomatic circles. In order to weaken Russian influence and strengthen their own positions, Great Britain and France managed to conclude the London Convention of 1827 with Russia. This agreement bound the three powers to demand jointly from the Turkish government that Greece be granted autonomy, on the condition that Greece pay yearly tribute to the sultan. Turkey’s ignoring the London Convention resulted in the battle of Navarino on Oct. 8 (20), 1827, in which a squadron of British, French, and Russian ships destroyed the Turkish-Egyptian fleet. According to the Treaty of Adrianople of 1829, which was concluded after the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29, Turkey recognized the independence of Greece, on the condition that Greece would pay yearly tribute to the sultan. In 1830, Greece became an officially independent state.

REFERENCES

Paleolog, G., and M. Sivinis. Istoricheskii ocherk narodnoi voiny za nezavisimost’ Gretsii.... St. Petersburg, 1867.
Kordatos, G. Historia tes Neoteres Helladas, vol. 2. Athens, 1957.

G. L. ARSH

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