General, Prime Minister of Greece, Leader of the Greek War of Independence (1770 – 1843)
The polemic ethnarch of Greece, captain of the klepths and one of the purest figures of the Greek War of Independence. Theodoros Kolokotronis descended from the Kolokotronis family, 11 generations of which had fought against the Turkish yoke and more than 80 members of it had been killed by the Turks.
When he becomes 15 years old, Kolokotronis joins the Armatoles, a militia employed by the Turks to battle against the klephts, groups of Greek mercenaries that lived in the mountains. At the age of 16, Kolokotronis had already earned the title of Captain of the klephts as well as the nickname “Old Man of Moria”. In 1806 he moves to Zakynthos. His time there was to be an important part of his life; he becomes acquainted with the ideas of ancient Greek philosophers and writers by listening to them from important scholars since he himself was illiterate. In addition, he takes lessons on war and strategy by Richard Church which proved to be crucial in his career later on.
In 1818 he is initiated in the Society of Friends (Philiki Hetaireia) and in 1821, under the order of Alexander Hypsilantis he travels to Moria where he achieves two goals: First to reconcile the Maniates and second to light the fire of the revolution in all of the eparchies. In the beginning, Kolokotronis is alone, completely abandoned by his fellow men. He eventually gathers a significant number of warriors and leads them against the Turkish forces in the victorious battles of Valtetsi (April 1821) and the Battle of the Trenches (August 1821). Kolokotronis’ plan is to rid Peloponnesus of the Turkish forces, reclaim their castles and establish a free zone. He sees ahead, he sees wisely. With his hand he points directly to the enemy; he is not afraid of them. He takes over Tripolitsa, the main fortress of the Turks in Peloponnesus with an army of 10.000 men, having suffered only 100 casualties against an army of 10.000 Turks and proceeds in a massacre where all of the Turkish and Jewish population is decimated.
Kolokotronis’ next move is to stop Dramali Pasha’s procession to Peloponnesus. He holds his position in the castle of Argos and occupies all of the water supplies in the area. This strategy combined with the severe drought during that time of the year proved to be detrimental for Dramalis’ army. Nevertheless, with an army of 36.000 warriors Dramalis had taken his victory for granted and had notified the High Porte that he had defeated the Greeks in Dervenakia some days earlier. Kolokotronis gathers an army of 8000 men together with Demetrios Hypsilantis, Papaflessas, Plaputas and Nikitaras Stamatelopoulos and in July 1822 he exterminates Dramalis’ forces in the battle of Dervenakia. It was one of the most glorious battles in the chronicles of the Greek War of Independence and it was attributed to Kolokotronis’ military genius.
Following his protagonistic role in numerous victorious battles, Kolokotronis finds himself in the midst of a civil war incited by the British forces. He is imprisoned in Hydra until in 1825 when he is called to confront Ibrahim’s forces who roam the lands of Peloponnesus. Kolokotronis returns with a small number of klephts but this time he is unable to successfully fend off the Egyptian forces from the lands of Moria. For the first time, he is forced to betray his principles and sign a treaty by which the British forces would assist Greece in the war.
With the assassination of Kapodistrias and the coming of Otto as King of Greece, Kolokotronis is accused for treason and imprisoned for the second time until Otto reaches adulthood and takes control of the administration of Greece. From the first day of his adulthood, Otto frees Kolokotronis and appoints him as member of the Council of State.
Theodoros Kolokotronis was the brain of the war of Independence, the animating spirit of the Greek nation. Ioannis Kapodistrias had characterized him as “Odysseus of the race”. He was a deeply religious man, a virtuous leader who believed ardently in the freedom of the Greek nation, placing his ideas and principles above all. He taught the Greeks to love each other and to fight against the common enemy. He forgave all of his enemies who had done harm to him or his family because he wanted the Greeks to be united. He was illiterate for most of his life but he was a gifted strategist and an autodidact. Three words could characterize his spirit: prudence, providence and wisdom. His immense bravery and admirable dedication to the war of Independence has made his name a synonym to the heroic and virtuous leader in the Greek language. On October 8th 1838 Kolokotronis leaves his last spiritual consignment to the new generation. He delivers a powerful speech in Pnyka addressing the youths of the Gymnasium of Athens commemorating their forefathers and prompting the children to rebuild the world that they liberated with religion, solidarity and freedom. He begins his speech as: “My children…”
- Diogeneios Leschi. Διογένειος Λέσχη 17-4-2015 Κώστας Μπαρμπής. Youtube. 19 Apr. 2015. 28 Apr. 2015.
- “Kolokotronis, Theodoros”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens. 1946. Print.
Η αριστοτεχνική παγίδα του Θεόδωρου Κολοκοτρώνη στα Δερβενάκια και η τρομερή καταστροφή του Δράμαλη. H σημασία της μεγαλύτερης νίκης των επαναστατημένων Ελλήνων το 1821. Το νέο βιβλίο του ιστορικού Ν.Γιαννόπουλου. mixanitouxronou.gr. Web. Retreived on April 30, 2016.