Nicephorus Theotokis

theotokis

Theologist, Priest, Physicist, Teacher of the Greek Nation (1731 – 1800)

One of the most important Teachers of the Greek Nation during Greece’s subjugation to the Ottoman Empire was Nicephorus Theotokis, a theologist and priest with rich academic background, who struggled to enlighten the enslaved Greeks. His work was mainly educational and aimed at a spiritual awakening of the Greek Nation.

He descended from Corfu, which at the time was ruled by Venice. From 1749 to 1752 he studied mathematics, physics, astronomy and philosophy in the Universities of Padua and Bologna. Returning to Greece in 1752, Theotokis sought to depart the scientific knowledge he had acquired from the West in order to combat illiteracy, which was a widespread issue, and follow the progress of the rest of Europe. He founded the Common Phrontisterion, a school where he taught the people of his hometown without payment. Lessons included algebra, geometry, physics, philosophy and Greek language. One of his most notable students was Anthony Maria Kapodistrias, father of John Kapodistrias.

He served shortly as headmaster of the Academy of Iasi before heading to Vienna and then Leipzig, where he published his works on physics, theology and philosophy. These he used to create the curriculum of his school. He returned to Iasi only to serve as headmaster of the Academy again, laying down the foundations of the educational renaissance of all the Balkan areas. Moreover, he was forced to decline an offer of becoming Archbishop of Philadelphia by the Greek community of Venice.

Theotokis was a close friend of Evgenios Voulgaris, another eminent Teacher of the Greek Nation. Voulgaris invited him to Russia in 1776, where he became the Archbishop’s advisor in Poltava. He later succeeded Evgenios Voulgaris as Archbishop of Kherson and Slavonia. His actions were responsible for bringing many Raskols back to the Orthodox Church, as well as converting many Muslims and Tsars to Christianity. He retired from his obligations in 1792 to live as a monk in Moscow, writing perhaps his most important work Kyriakodromion of the Apostolic and Evangelical Readings, a book on the writings of the Apostoles and the Evangelion, targeted at illiterate people.

His work in education included the following: He funded the foundations of schools, wrote numerous textbooks on mathematics, physics and theology, approved the publication of books, funded them with his own money and delivered them to schools and libraries.

Theotokis gained significant recognition and followers as a preacher in favour of education, Christianity and the liberation of the Greek Nation. He believed very strongly in the “Greek plan”, according to which Russia would help fend off the Ottoman oppressor from all Christian Orthodox states. He stood out as one of the most prominent intellectuals, ideologists and patriots in the whole Balkans and Russia, who believed above all in the spiritual awakening of the Greeks, without of which there could not be liberation. His work paved the way for the Greek Enlightenment.

Bibliography:

  1. Χριστοδούλου, Αλέξανδρος. Νικηφόρος Θεοτόκης (1731 -1800). Πεμπτουσία. Pemptousia.gr. Web. December 13, 2016.
  2. Μουρούτη – Γκενάκου, Ζωή. Ο Νικηφόρος Θεοτόκης (1731 -1800) και η Συμβολή Αυτού εις την Παιδείαν του Γένους. Βιβλιοθήκη Σοφίας Ν. Σαριπόλου. Αθήναι, 1979. Thesis.ekt.gr. Web.
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Nicephorus Theotokis

Constantine Canaris

Konstantinos_Kanaris

Admiral, Statesman, Hero of the Greek War of Independence, Prime Minister of Greece (1793 – 1877)

Admiral of the Greek navy and ardent patriot, Constantine Canaris dominated the seas in the battles of the Greek War of Independence of 1821. His name became synonymous with the destruction of the Turkish flagships and the immense bravery he and his crew displayed. Following the Greek War of Independence, Canaris pursued a successful career in politics, serving as Greece’s Prime Minister 5 times.

Canaris came from the island of Psara. Prior to becoming the famed admiral feared by the Turks, he was a humble merchant, who travelled from Marseille to Odessa, building a wealthy fortune. With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, Canaris joined the navy to wholeheartedly fight for Greece’s freedom. Unlike most other heroes of the Greek War of Independence, Canaris most probably was never a member of the Philiki Hetaereia (Society of Friends).

His participation in the front lines of the Greek War of Independence proved to have had a decisive role in its outcome. In 1922, following the massacre of Chios, where 30.000 people were killed or held hostage by the Turks, Canaris was one of the ship owners who sailed to the island to rescue the remaining survivors. His widespread fame, however, that earned him the admiration of acclaimed European artists and writers such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Pierre de Beranger, was as a triumphant destroyer of the Turkish flagships.

His first appearance in the war was on June 7th, 1821, when at night he and his crew risked their lives to set ablaze and destroy the Turkish flagship, in retaliation for the massacre of Chios. Numerous such successful attempts followed, which further stimulates the Greeks’ esteem. Furthermore, Canaris led the Greeks in a number of battles in the seas against the Ottoman fleet, such as in the Battle of Samos.

In 1826, Canaris was appointed representative of the Psara islands in the Third National Assembly of Troizena. With the coming of John Kapodistrias in Greece in 1827, Canaris was made captain of the navy. Together with admiral Andreas Miaoulis they were responsible for clearing the Aegean Sea of piracy. He was an ardent proponent of John Kapodistrias.

Canaris entered politics in 1843, as a member of the Russian party. He held the Ministry of Shipping under various different governments and served as Prime Minister of Greece himself a total of 5 times. He was bestowed the title of Vice Admiral and an honorary pension by the Greek state, the latter of which he refused.

Canaris died in 1877 while still in office as Prime Minister. He was made a national hero of Greece and his name surpassed the Greek borders to become one of the most respected heroes of the Greek War of Independence. Today, several ships of the Greek navy bear his name, in his honour.

Bibliography:

  1. Κανάρης Κωνσταντίνος. Αργολική Αρχειακή Βιβλιοθήκη Ιστορίας και Πολιτισμού. Argolikivivliothiki.gr. March 16, 2012. Web.
  2. Μιχαλακόπουλος, Ιωάννης. Ο Μπουρλοτιέρης και Πρωθυπουργός Κωνσταντίνος Κανάρης. Πεμπτουσία. Pemptousia.gr. September 22, 2017. Web.
Constantine Canaris

Athanasios Karpenisiotis

Agrafiotis

Hero of the Greek War of Independence (c.1780 – 1821)

Athanasios Karpenisiotis was a hero of the Greek War of Independence from Eurytania. He was a skilled colonel having served the Russian army in the Turkish-Russian War. He is remembered for leading the Greeks in the Battle of Galatsi and the Battle of Skouleni, where he sacrificed his life for freedom.

At the age of 12 he left for Constantinople, where he worked as a gun repairman. Later he settled in Iasi, Romania where he came into contact with the Greek community there. This was an important step to his awakening to fight for the nation. At some point he joined the Russian army and fought in the Turkish-Russian war. He received honours and was promoted to colonel. After the war, Karpenisiotis became captain of Michael Soutzos’ army.

In 1818 he was initiated in the Society of Friends (Philiki Hetaereia), a secret organization created by John Kapodistria and the Chakalov brothers for the independence of Greece. On May 1st, 1821, Karpenisiotis led Alexander Hypsilantis’ army of 600 warriors against the Ottoman forces, which numbers around 5000, in the Battle of Galatsi, Romania. It was the very first battle in Wallachia. Even though the outcome was not victorious, Karpenisiotis and his army managed to deliver significant damage to the Ottoman army and thus strengthen the Greeks’ spirit.

On June 17, 1821, Athanasios Karpenisiotis was elected captain of the Greek forces that would lead them to the Battle of Skouleni, in Wallachia. A few hundreds Greek soldiers faced an army of 6000 Ottoman warriors. Karpenisiotis and his men fought with immense courage and bravery, killing almost 1600 Turks. He continued fighting when he ran out of firearms and when his sword broke in half. In the end, Athanasios Karpenisiotis passed to immortality, fighting for his homeland and its freedom.

Karpenisiotis is often compared to fellow Freedom Fighter Athanasios Diakos, both of whom share the same name. Like him, Karpenisiotis died by fighting an unequal battle, choosing to stay and give his life rather than retreat and save himself and his forces. The Battle of Skouleni is for many equivalent to the Battle of Maniaki and the Battle of Alamana, where Papaflessas and Diakos fell heroically respectively.

Bibliography:

  1. Ευρυτανικά Νέα. Αθανάσιος Καρπενησιώτης, ο Ευρυτάνας Ήρωας της Ελληνικής Επανάστασης. Σκοτώθηκε στις 17 Ιουνίου 1821 στην Ρουμανία, πολεμώντας για την πατρίδα. Evrytanika.gr. August 8, 2016. Web.
  2. Παπαδημητρίου, Κώστας Δ. Αθανάσιος Καρπενησιώτης (θυσιάσθηκε 17 Ιουνίου 1821). Ορθόδοξη Πορεία. Orp.gr. June 17, 2013. Web.
Athanasios Karpenisiotis

Rhegas Pherraeos

Ρήγας-Βελεστινλής

Teacher of the Greek Nation (1757 – 1798)

Rhegas Pherraeos is the prime representative of the Greek Enlightenment. His actions, characterized by his flaming patriotism and thirst for freedom, resulted in the awakening of the Greek Nation and led to the events of the Greek War of Independence in 1821 and ultimately the freedom of the Greeks.

His real name was Antonios Kyriazis. He would frequently sign with the name Rhegas Velestinlis; the name Pherraeos was never used by him. Rhegas studied in the School of Zagora of Pelos, where he first came into contact with the Ancient Greek writers. He then began working as a teacher. After being involved in the murder of a Turkish officer, he retreated to Mt. Olympus where he joined his uncle’s militia of harmatoles. Shortly after staying in Mt. Athos, Rhegas settled in Constantinople where he befriended the Hypsilantis family.

His patriotic activities started when he was appointed to a governing position of Wallachia its hegemon, Prince Nicholas Mavrogenous. Rhegas’ goal was not just the liberation of Greece but the creation of the Balkan Federation, where all the peoples of the Balkan would live free from Turkish rule as brothers. Greece would hold its old dominating position in education.

In the years that followed, Rhegas Pherraeos dedicated his life to educating and awakening the subjugated Greeks. His efforts centered on restoring their morale in order to prepare them spiritually for the war against the oppressor. Further boosting his determination were the French Revolution and the successive victories of Napoleon. He became the first and most powerful preacher of Freedom and its values. He spoke publicly against all forms of oppression or slavery. For Rhegas, all slaves, regardless of their race or religion, are brothers and must be free.

Rhegas did not only preach his words, he wrote and gave out patriotic pamphlets with revolutionary notions. He envisioned the liberation not just of Greece, but all of the Balkans and the creation of a democratic federation where all the peoples of the Balkans could live together in harmony. This dream became the Map of Great Greece (Χάρτα τοῦ Ῥήγα), which included all the Balkans and Asia Minor. The Map contained the Rights of Man as well as a Constitution, which he himself had written. Rhegas also devised the military operations that were necessary to start the revolution and thus translated military works from French to Greek and organized secret meetings with official French assemblies including Napoleon himself. Having foreseen the outcome of the revolution he was devising, he wrote a democratic statute for the full function of the Balkan Federation. Finally, he wrote the Thourios, the quintessence of a patriotic hymn to rouse the Greeks.

Vienna was the city of his operations, mostly because it was the center of a Greek community of merchants and literary figures, influenced by the Enlightenment of the West. It was there that he founded a press and printed his books, translations, hymns and his map, alongside his colleagues. These were disseminated in all of the Balkans in secrecy. However, when he was about to depart to Trieste, boxes with his material were confiscated by the Austrian Police Force. Rhegas and his colleagues were apprehended and charged for preparing a revolution against their ally, the Ottoman Empire. Alongside seven of his companions, Rhegas was transported to Belgrade and sentenced to death.

Rhegas’ extraordinary efforts were mainly targeted in awakening the Greeks because he considered them the leading nation of the Balkans and thus the rightful wielders of the reins of education, learning and governance. Today, he is hailed as a revolutionary, a political thinker, a hero and most importantly a visionary who gave his life for the ultimate cause of Freedom. His last prophetic words were “I have sown a rich seed; the hour is coming when my country will reap its glorious fruits”.

Bibliography

  1. “Rigas Feraios”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. ΡΗΓΑΣ ΦΕΡΡΑΙΟΣ ΒΕΛΕΣΤΙΝΛΗΣ: Ο ΒΙΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΤΟ ΕΡΓΟ ΤΟΥ-Ο ΦΡΙΚΤΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΘΑΝΑΤΟΣ- Ο ΘΟΥΡΙΟΣ. Αντέχουμε. Antexoume.wordpress.com. Web. June 12, 2014.
Rhegas Pherraeos

Georgakis Olympios

ολυμπιοσ

Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1772 – 1821)

Α passionate patriot and one of the most highly acclaimed heroes of the Greek War of Independence, Georgakis Olympios was Alexander Hypsilantis’ right-hand man during the war operations prior to the start of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. A true lover of freedom, whose sacrifice during the first phases of the war made him a symbol of eternal glory and patriotism in Greek history.

He was born to a family of harmatoles. At the age of 25, Olypmios led a group of harmatoles to Serbia where he joined forces with Karageorgis of Serbia and fought against the Ottomans. In 1803, he met with hegemon of Bucharest Constantine Hypsilantis where he organized a small army of Greeks. Later on, he enlisted in the Russian army. With his numerous successes against the Ottomans, Olympios earned the rank of colonel.

After several failed attempts to defeat the Ottomans in Serbia, Olympios returned to Bucharest and was initiated to the Society of Friends (Philiki Hetaereia) by Alexander Hypsilantis. He swore to fight to the death for the holy war in the name of freedom. In 1820, the Society of Friends planned the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in Pruth. Alexander Hypsilantis promoted Olympios to commander-in-chief of the armies of the para-Danubian hegemonies. On February 1821, Hypsilantis and Olympios crossed the river Pruth and declared the start of the Greek War of Independence. Olympios led the para-Danubian armies in the Battle of Dragashani against the Ottomans but the outcome of the battle was fatal.

Following the tragic Battle of Dragashani, Olympios joined forces with Pharmakis and organized an army of 800 horsemen, in order to descend to Greece through Moldova and Wallachia. He continued fighting relentlessly until September 1821, when he was hunted down by the Ottomans in the mountains of Bessarabia, during the Battle of Moni Sekkou. Olympios and his 11 remaining men, having fought continuously for 12, closed themselves in the Monastery of Sekkos and prepared for their final stand. When food, water and ammos ran out, Olympios and his men chose to die an honourable death than to fall victims to the Ottomans. He lighted the gunpowder barrels that had remained and blew themselves up, killing multiple Turks in the process.

Georgakis Olympios was Alexander Hypsilantis’ most trusted co-fighter, a glorious and honourable man, in the words of Spyridon Trikoupis. Had he survived the Battle of Moni Sekkou he would have become one of the most capable and honest leaders of the Greek War of Independence. His admirable efforts and struggle to awaken the peoples of the Danubian territories convinced Theodore Vladimirescu, general of Wallachia, to rouse all the Balkan peoples and fight as one for their freedom.

Bibliography

  1. “Olympios, Georgakis”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. ΓΕΩΡΓΑΚΗΣ ΟΛΥΜΠΙΟΣ ΕΝΑΣ ΑΦΑΝΗΣ ΗΡΩΑΣ ΤΟΥ 1821.eoellas.org. Web. January 28, 2014.
Georgakis Olympios

Germanos III of Old Patras

Palaion_Patron_Germanos

Priest, Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1771 – 1826)

Orthodox Metropolitan of Patras, member of the Philiki Hetaireia and the figure most closely associated with beginning the Greek War of Independence on March 25th, 1821.

He was born in Dimitsana as Georgios Kontzias or Gozias to a poor family of goldsmiths and farmers. He studied among the most renowned and respected teachers of his time in Dimitsana and then in the city of Argos. While in Argos, he was named deacon Germanos and stayed there as a monk for seven years. He later moved to Smyrna and then in Constantinople, serving as arch-deacon. In 1806 he was appointed Metropolitan of Old Patras, the highest rank of priesthood. With this rank he became a protector of the citizens and an advisor of the Turkish leaders of the local areas.

His significant diplomatic and nationalist work for the Greek War of Independence began in 1818 when he joined the Philiki Hetaireia, a secret society formed for the War. He went on to recruit many chieftains and metropolitans from Central Greece and raise the necessary money for the funding of the War. Despite his active involvement in the society, he believed that Greece was not yet ready for a revolution. He changed his mind when he realized that the Turks were surrounding the Peloponnese.

In March 1821, he traveled to Patras, Peloponnese to unite all priests of the Orthodox Chruch against the Turkish army. With the city under siege, Germanos united the priests and the chieftains, sent a letter to the Great Powers (Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Austria) informing them that they will fight for freedom or die and blessed the Greek flag and armaments. Thanks to Germanos, the revolution had already started in the Peloponnese and on March 25th, 1821, he officially declared the Greek War of Independence in the monastery of Hagia Lavra.

Germanos continued his struggle for the independence of Greece for the remainder of his life. He took place in the First and Third National Assembly and later went to Italy with Georgios Mavromichalis to persuade the Pope to support the revolution. Although he was prevented from doing so, he managed to meet and unite several Greeks living in Italy for the causes of the revolution. His continuous acts of diplomacy and conciliation in the Greek and European field provided important physical and mental support for the success of the revolution.

His contribution to Greek history is also significant due to his memoirs, which chronicle the events from the preparation for the revolution until 1823 and provide detailed insights to the Greek War of Independence. Greek historian Ioannis Philemon described Germanos as “pure in his priesthood, zealous in his struggles and righteous in his politics”.

Bigliography:

  1. “Germanos”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. “Palaion Patron Germanos”. Sansimera. Web. 14 Jul. 2017.

 

Germanos III of Old Patras

Michael Kokkinis

Engineer, Hero of the Greek War of Independence (c. 1785 – 1826)

One of the most obscure heroes of the Greek War of Independence, albeit one of the brilliant minds of modern engineering and important figures of war; he was responsible for the fortification of Missolonghi during the siege.

Kokkinis was born in the island of Chios. He studied engineering in France and then taught mathematics, geography and site planning in the Greek School of Bucharest. He was fluent in Greek, Italian, German, French and Romanian. It was during this time that Kokkinis was initiated into Philiki Hetaireia and fought in the revolution of Wallachia alongside Alexandros Hypsilantis. Following the defeat of the Greeks against the Ottomans in the battle of Dragashani, he went to offer his services in Missolonghi.

In Missolonghi, he was assigned by Alexandros Mavrokordatos to fortify the city for the siege of the Ottoman army. Despite the lack of funding and the difficult living conditions, Kokkinis took on the immense task along with fellow architect Stavros Koutzoukis.

The construction took 7 continuous months to complete. Kokkinis proved a surprisingly competent leader as he directed 400 workers day and night, including men and women. He had divided his workforce according to their profession and published a daily list of duties to be carried out by each unit. He gave inspirational speeches to motivate his workers, who often worked with very little payment. He was responsible for the work shifts and wages of the 400 workers as well as obtaining funding from philhellenes and external loans.

His influence was such that every citizen of Missolongi contributed to the fortification, even children and seniors. They called him “The Fence Engineer”. Later, Kokkinis even brought his wife and children from Wallachia to finish the construction.

The fortification consisted of 23 external bastions which covered a total distance of 2 km. Each bastion was named after an influential figure of the revolution as a tribute and token of respect. The wall was built out of stone and asbestos and was covered by wooden barriers between the gaps. It was 3,5 meters tall and 7-18 meters wide. Outside the wall, he dug two 2 meter ditches, a small road and a bank. Finally, the fortress was armed with 48 cannons, placed throughout the 2 km wall. It was completed in June 16, 1824 and was blessed by Joseph, Bishop of Rogon. It was named “Hellenic Heptagon No.1”. The people of Missolonghi declared him honorary citizen and the government appointed him the rank of tribune.

Moreover, Kokkinis fortified the nearby lakes surrounding Missolongi in order to block the Ottoman fleet from entering. He called the fortifications “Fortress Byron”, in honor of Lord Byron who funded them. Finally, he created bridges that would be used when the time came to evacuate the city.

The fortress posed impregnable for the Ottoman and Egyptian army. It sustained all of the attacks during the two sieges. Every night, the people of Missolonghi would re-build the fortress from the ruins of their demolished houses. Kokkinis would step outside the wall to oversee its construction. Tunnelers would pass under the fortress and blow up the Ottoman camps.

On April 11, 1826, the heroic Exodus of Missolonghi took place. Using the bridges he had constructed, the people of Missolonghi charged towards the enemy. Kokkinis died fighting during the Exodus, alongside the many unsung heroes of the Greek War of Independence.

Bibliography:

  1. “Kokkinis, Michael”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
  2. Philistor, Ioannis. “Ο μηχανικός Μιχαήλ Κοκκίνης και η οχύρωση του τείχους του Μεσολογγίου (1823-1824)”. Istorikathemata. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.
  3. Retsina, Dimitra. “Μιχαήλ Πέτρου Κοκκίνης – Μηχανικός Επιστήμων και Ήρωας Εξόδου Μεσολογγίου (1826)”. Freepen. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.
  4. Tasios, Theodosios. “Three Modern Greek Heralds of Engineering”. Archaeology and Arts. Jul. 2011: 97. Print.
Michael Kokkinis