Klephts


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Related to Klephts: klephtic

Klephts

 

Greek peasant partisans who fought against Turkish domination. For the most part they attacked the local Turkish feudal lords and representatives of the Turkish administration, as well as the Greek landowners (kotsabasai), who gave them their nickname, which means “bandits.” In the 17th and 18th centuries their guerrilla movement, despite the punitive measures of the Turkish authorities, became widespread, a development that forced the Turkish government at the end of the 17th century to legalize some of their detachments, the Armatoles, and assign them the functions of an internal guard. In the Greek National Liberation Revolution of 1821–29, the klephts and Armateles constituted the backbone of the insurgent forces. Numerous folk songs about the exploits of the klephts have been preserved.

References in periodicals archive ?
Pointedly employing familiar images from the already over-inscribed figure of the romanticized noble savage, Fuller tells her readers that the characteristics that mark the Klepht include "the flashing eye, the body hardened to pain and famine, the light hold on life, the eagle gaze at death, [and] .
Klepht originally meant Robber; but since it has been applied to the heroes of the Greek mountains, the word has gained a new and noble meaning.
Thus they received the name of Klepht, given at first by their foes as a term of abuse, but which they willingly adopted and used with pride, to distinguish themselves from the peaceful Rajas of the plain, the slaves of the Turk.
Instead, she appealed to her readers' sympathies by constructing the Klepht cause as a "war" admirable "for the traits of individual heroism that signalized it, and the indomitable love of freedom that made it glorious" (154).
In Fuller's translation, where she states that the Turks "offered them peace on such conditions as most of the Klepht were willing to accept" ("Romaic" 157), she reminded readers of the treaty terms in Florida, where the majority of Seminole had finally (if reluctantly) agreed to removal to Oklahoma.
At this point, with the sympathies of her Dial audience assured and her analogy played out to its completion, Fuller made explicit what she hoped her readers had all along understood: "The Klepht, on his guard all the time against his treacherous and powerful foe, with no friends, but his sword, his mountains, and his courage, was trained to utmost hardihood, agility, presence of mind, and brilliant invention.
In translating a ballad in which the outnumbered Klepht fight heroically against "a thousand and five hundred" Turkish soldiers, for example, Fuller tells us that when the battle was over, among the Klepht "but three braves were absent.
In other words, Fuller wants Indian song and lore to be preserved in the same manner that the Klepht ballads have been preserved: "Had we but as complete a collection as this
The collection of Klepht ballads thus stood as a just monument to "the atmosphere which a high civilization, though mostly forgotten, does not fail to leave behind" ("Romaic" 138).
Within this overall framework of a unity born essentially of oppression, Villemain does, however, bring out the specific contributions to the struggle for national survival and revival made by different social groupings, notably the fanariots, the klephts and the ship-owning bourgeoisie of the islands.
The most active agents in this movement were universally acknowledged to be the klephts.
Apart from heroizing the klephts and usually criticizing the fanariots, most contemporary accounts of the Greek revolution by liberal observers saw a tri-partite division in Greek society.