Neophytos Metaxas

neophyte

Archbishop, Writer, Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1762 – 1861)

Neophytos Metaxas (real name Nikolaos), is one of the national heroes of the Greek War of Independence, serving as the first Archbishop of Athens during Greece’s inception as a free nation. Together with Athanasios Diakos and Isaiah of Salona, Neophytos was the main protagonist of the Greek War of Independence in Sterea Hellada (Central Greece) and responsible for its outbreak there.

He descended from the noble Metaxas family, the same from which another great leader of the Greek nation, Ioannis Metaxas descended. He studied in Athens and became a teacher before moving to Constantinople. In 1803 he returned to Athens and was appointed Bishop of Talantion.

On March 27, 1821, 2 days after the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, Neophtos Metaxas together with Athanasios Diakos and Isaiah of Salona declared the outbreak of the war in Central Greece and blessed the weapons of the Greeks. In spite of his old age, Neophytos was a heroic figure in the Greek War of Independence, partaking actively in multiple battles and offering great material and spiritual support. Together with Athanasios Diakos they mobilized the Greek forces, liberating Locris and Atalante. He inspired, wrote letters to and recruited numerous Greeks to the war, most notably the heroine Manto Mavrogenous. In addition, Neophytos served as president of the judicial department of Areios Pagos, the Supreme Court of Greece, took part in the Assembly of Salona, the first National Assembly of Epidaurus and the Assembly of Astros. He was a member of the Philomousos Society and the Philekpedeutic Society, concerned with the financial support of the war and education respectively.

Following the independence of Greece as a nation, Neophytos was appointed member of the educational committee for supervising the general function of the Church. A close friend of John Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece, he occupied several positions as Bishop and place-warden, namely Bishop of Attica, Metropolitan of Athens and eventually President of the Holy Synod and Archbishop of Athens.

As Archbishop for 28 years, Neophytos became the longest-serving Archbishop in Greek history. He is recognized as one of the most important and influential figures in the ecclesiastical history of Greece, having worked tirelessly and with the utmost dedication for the development of the Church, its proper function, its laws and its service to society. During Otto’s reign and the Bavarians’ involvement in the administration of the state, Neophytos was the one who defended the Church and its rights. He wrote numerous books and articles on theology and was honoured with the silver medal for his contributions to the Greek nation. He died in 1861 almost at the age of 100.

Bibliography:

    1. Αρχιεπίσκοπος Νεόφυτος. Metapedia. El.metapedia.org. Web.
    2. Η αντίσταση του ηρωικού Επισκόπου Ταλαντίου Νεόφυτου Μεταξά, στις αντιεκκλησιαστικές αξιώσεις της Τρόϊκας του Όθωνα. Η Θεοσκέπαστη Γή των Μετεώρων. Agiameteora.net. April 29, 2019. Web.

 

 

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Neophytos Metaxas

Isaiah of Salona

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Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1778 – 1821)

Isaiah (real name Elias) was the first protopriest to fall in battle during the Greek War of Independence in 1821. A flaming patriot overwhelmed by a sense of freedom, he sacrificed himself to spark patriotism to the Greeks as well as the Church to join the battle of the Greek War of Independence.

He was born in Desphina of Delphi. Wanting him to become a priest, his father sent him to the monastery of Prodromos to become a deacon and learn some letters. Elias continued his studies in Constantinople with the help of Ali Pasha, who upon meeting him in Ioannina saw great virtue in him. There, he came into contact with the Phanariotes and the Patriarcheion of Constantinople. Patriarch Gregory V became a close affiliate to Elias, whom he would strongly support covertly during the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence. On January 1821, the two would meet once again in Constantinople in order for the Patriarch to instruct him on the preparations of the War.

In 1818 Elias was appointed bishop of Salona and adopted the name Isaiah. He was initiated into the Society of Friends (Φιλικὴ Ἑταιρεία) and began gathering large sums of money as well as weapons and hiding them without the Turkish authorities’ suspicion. After a last trip in Constantinople and his return back to Salona, everything was arranged accordingly and on March 27, 1821, Isaiah of Salona hoisted the Greek flag signaling the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in the region of Viotia.

Isaiah fought alongside Athanasios Diakos and Panourgias, whom he considered Isaiah as his right-hand man. He had joined as a mere soldier in Panourgias’ army and was member of the Administrative Commission of the War of Sterea Hellada. On the 23rd of April, Isaiah had a protagonistic role in the Battle of Alamana, where he led into battle the few-numbered Greeks against the army of Omer Vryoni. During the battle, Panourgias’ force was disbanded, he himself was injured while Isaiah fell heroically, after ordering his soldiers to leave him wounded and save themselves. The next day, Athanasios Diakos was impaled alive by the Turks and alongside him were impaled numerous other heads of fallen Greeks. Among them was that of Isaiah of Salona.

Isaiah was the first and at the time the only man of a religious title to not only grab arms and fight in the Greek War of Independence, but to sacrifice himself in the name of freedom. Even though the Battle of Alamana concluded with a defeat of the Greeks, it is remembered today principally for the death of Isaiah, which shook the Greeks, increased their esteem and inspired them to imitate his example and join the war. To this day, he is regarded as a symbol of the Greek War of Independence.

Bibliography:

  1. “Isaias Salonon”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
  2. Ησαΐας Σαλώνων. Σαν Σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. January 19, 2019. Web.
  3. Κραββαρτόγιαννος, Δρόσος. Ο Επίσκοπος Σαλώνων Ησαΐας. Ελευθερία ή Θάνατος. Anthoulaki.blogspot.com. August 29, 2010. Web. January 19, 2019.
Isaiah of Salona

Aristotelis Valaoritis

valaoritis

Poet, Statesman (1824 – 1879)

A poet and statesman, Aristotelis Valaoritis was one of the chief representatives of the Heptanese School with profound influence on the modern Greek literature. His works are themed after the heroic struggles of the Greek War of Independence, hence the title “Poet of the Klephts”. He is regarded as one of the most significant poets of the post-Greek War of Independence era, together with Dionysios Solomos and Andreas Kalvos. Aristotelis Valaoritis is the great-grandfather of internationally acclaimed writer Nanos Valaoritis.

He descended from a wealthy family from Leucas, which allowed him to study to the most prestigious universities in Europe, including Geneva, Pisa and Paris. He was imbued by the liberal movements of Europe, which further boosted his patriot esteem. He pursued a career in politics, being elected member of the Parliament of the Ionian Islands as well as member of the Parliament of Athens. He declined the position of president of the Ethnosyneleusis and Minister of Exterior since his statesmanship was there to serve the people and not his ego.

Valaoritis was a patriot-poet, whose works clearly commemorate the acts of valor of the Greeks. As the bard of the harmatoles, he glorified and immortalized all the heroes of the Greek War of Independence with his poems, as did Homer with Achilles, Agamemnon and all of the heroes of the Iliad. Valaoritis’ lines are an ode to Greece’s struggle for freedom. He expressed a strong opposition against any foreign or domestic form of imposition to Greece, from the Ottomans to the Bavarians and lamented the state Greece was in at the time, which was very similar to today’s. He became the strongest voice against Greece’s xenomania. Through his poems and his public speeches, Valaoritis called for a renaissance of the democratic values of freedom.

Aristotelis Valaoritis was an ideologist both in literature and in politics, in theory and in practice. He stood out as the poet who stimulated the nation’s pride and raised its esteem. Together with other important representatives of patriotic poetry, Valaoritis nourished what would later become a national patriotic uprising. He was a very strong proponent of the unification of the Heptanese with Greece, something which he struggled for as a statesman, earning him the title Bridge maker.

Bibliography:

  1. Σαν σήμερα «φεύγει» ο Μεγαλοϊδεάτης, Αριστοτέλης Βαλαωρίτης. Εθνικισμός.net. ethnikismos.net. July 2018. Web.
  2. Γιώτη, Αγγέλα. Αριστοτέλης Βαλαωρίτης. Ψηφίδες. Greek-language.gr. Web.
Aristotelis Valaoritis

Mitropetrovas

Mitropetrovas

Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1745 – 1838)

Mitros Pertovas was a captain of the klephts during the Greek War of Independence. As the most noteworthy member of the Petrovas family, he fought in numerous battles on the side of Constantine Kolokotronis, Theodore Kolokotronis’ father, proving his decisive role in the struggle for freedom. He was praised for his sophrosyne and wisdom.

Mitropetrovas participated in the Orlov Revolt in 1770 and was one of the first to be initiated to the Society of Friends (Φιλικὴ Ἑταιρεία). His family’s long lasting affiliation with the Kolokotronis family meant Mitropetrovas’ devotion to Theodore Kolokotronis, whom he took under his custody following his father’s death. He thus served as his first teacher in the art of war as well as his most trusted mentor.

With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, Mitropetrovas, in spite of being 76 years old, partook actively in the liberation of Kalamata alongside fellow general Petrobey Mavromichalis. With Theodore Kolokotronis he fought heroically in the Battle of Valtetsi and proved his valour in the Siege of Tripolitsa.

During the civil war, Mitropetrovas took the side of Theodore Kolokotronis. He was imprisoned, only to be released so that to fight against Ibrahim’s forces that marched against Peloponnesus. Promoted to the rank of general, Mitropetrovas alongside other Greeks managed to fend off Ibrahim and his army from Peloponnesus and ensure its safety.

Following Greece’s independence and transformation into a free nation state, Mitropetrovas became an avid supporter of John Kapodistrias. When the Bavarians occupied the government after Kapodistrias’ assassination, Mitropetrovas mobilized the whole Messenia as a means of protest for the imprisonment of Kolokotronis and Plapoutas. He was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of prison, but was pardoned because of his old age.

Though not as well-known as others from the pantheon of heroes of the Greek War of Independence, Mitropetrovas’ role as the mentor of Theodore Kolokotronis was unique. He was deeply devoted to the man he served, willing to sacrifice his own life at any given moment to protect him. In respect, Kolokotronis would always supervise him on every critical matter and would refer to him as “Barba” (old wise man). Despite his advanced age, he had the spirit of a young man, who fought with unprecedented energy and insuperable courage. Perhaps one could say the two alluded to the heroes of Homer’s Iliad. If Theodore Kolokotronis was Achilles, Mitropetrovas was Nestor the Wise.

Bibliography:

  1. “Mitros Petrovas”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print.
Mitropetrovas

Dimitrios Plapoutas

Dimitrios_Plapoutas

Hero of the Greek War of Independence (1786 – 1864)

Dimitrios Plapoutas was a general of the Greek army who fought in the Greek War of Independence of 1821. One of the greatest and most heroic figures of the war, Plapoutas’ deeds and bravery are often overshadowed by those of Theodoros Kolokotronis, with whom they fought side by side in almost every battle. He played a decisive role in numerous battles, most notably in the Battle of Valtetsi as well as during the civil war against Ibrahim.

Plapoutas was from a family of heroes with a military background. He was employed by the Ottoman army as a kapos (commander) in Karytena. He had also served the English army in Zakynthos prior to the start of the Greek War of Independence.

A flaming patriot, he was initiated in the Society of Friends (Philiki Hetaereia). Together with his father and brothers in 1821, Plapoutas hoisted the Greek flag of independence in Gortynia and gathered an army of 800 warriors. From that point onward, Plapoutas never stopped fighting, partaking actively in numerous major battles of the Greek War of Independence.

Plapoutas fought in the victorious Battle of Valtetsi in 1821, together with Theodoros Kolokotronis, Nikitaras, Mitropetrovas and Anagnostaras. The same year he fought in the Battle of St. Vlasios of Tripolitsa and the Battle of Tripolitsa, in which the Ottoman forces were decimated. He participated in almost every battle of Peloponnesus together with Kolokotronis’ son Ioannis Kolokotronis. He was the first to face Dramali outside of Argos in 1822 with his army, during the latter’s expedition in Peloponnesus. Of course, Plapoutas could not have been absent from the most important battle of the Greek War of Independence, the Battle of Dervenakia, where together with all the major generals of the war he granted one more victory to the Greeks and halted Dramali’s descent to southern Greece.

During the Civil War, Plapoutas and Kolokotronis’ affiliations were temporarily compromised. Nevertheless, with Ibrahim’s arrival in Greece in 1825 on the side of the Ottoman Empire, Plapoutas and Kolokotronis rejoined forces and took out Ibrahim’s forces in many subsequent battles.

After Greece’s independence, Plapoutas served John Kapodistrias loyally and occupied several political positions. Following Kapodistrias’ assassination, Plapoutas, alongside Kolokotronis were charged with conspiring against King Otto, imprisoned and sentenced to death, only to be made innocent by two judges Georgios Tertsetis and Anastasios Polyzoidis. He later became general, member of the Parliament and aide-de-camp of King Otto.

Plapoutas is remembered today for his glorious victories, philopolemic attitude and insuperable courage. He was one of Kolokotronis’ most worthy warriors and his participation in the struggle for freedom was crucial and influential. He possessed a rare charisma in battle and an ethos rivaled only by a few.

Bibliography:

  1. Πλαπούτας Δημήτριος ή Κολιόπουλος (1786-1864). Αργολική Αρχειακή Βιβλιοθήκη Ιστορίας και Πολιτισμού. www.argolikivivliothiki.gr. March 12, 2009. Web.
  2. Δημήτρης (Δημητράκης) Πλαπούτας: Ο ακούραστος κλέφτης αγωνιστής.  Arcadiaportal.gr. December 20, 2014. Web.
Dimitrios Plapoutas

Kitsos Tzavelas

Kitsos_Tzavelas

Hero of the Greek War of Independence, Prime Minister of Greece (1801 – 1855)

Kitsos Tzavelas was a general and hero of the Greek War of Independence of 1821. He fought in many battles, on the side of numerous prominent heroes, distinguished himself as a skilled general and went on to serve as Prime Minister of Greece from 1847 to 1848.

Tzavelas was from Souli, home to notable fighters of the Greek War of Independence. At the age of 19 he acquired the rank of Captain. Before the start of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, Tzavelas was sent to Pisa, Italy to seek funding for the War.

With the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, Tzavelas participated in the 1st Siege of Messolonghi in 1922, fighting alongside fellow Souliote Markos Botsaris. The two fought together in the Battle of Cephalovrison, where Markos Botsaris was killed. In 1824, he joined forces with Georgios Karaiskakis and Panourgias in the Battle of Ampliani, which resulted in the victory of the Greeks against the Ottomans.

In 1825 he entered Messolonghi with his men to reinforce its defenses. One year later, he was one of the protagonists of the Third and final Siege of Messolonghi, together with Notis Botsaris, Nikolaos Kasomoulis, Nikolaos Stournaris, Demetrios Makris, Christos Kapsalis and Alexandros Mavrokordatos. In the heroic sortie, Tzavelas led 2500 men outside the gates of Messolonghi, of which only 1300 survived, including him. He continued struggling for freedom, fighting against the Ottomans in the Battles of Plaka, Karpenisi, Vrachori and Distomon. Following the death of Georgios Karaiskakis, Tzavelas succeeded him as general of Piraeus.

With the liberation of Greece and the arrival of John Kapodistrias, Tzavelas was tasked with clearing the lands of Sterea Hellada from Turks, Albanians and Egyptians. He served as hypaspist of King Otto, twice as Minister of Military Affairs in John Kolletis’ and Constantine Canaris’ cabinets and later succeeded the former as Prime Minister of Greece for a short and unsuccessful term.

After retiring from politics, he organized a movement for the liberation of the subjugated Greek lands. In 1854, during the Crimean War, Tzavelas and his Souliotes occupied the lands of Epirus in attempt to liberate them from Ottoman rule, a plan that eventually failed, forcing Tzavelas to return to Athens, where he died one year later.

Today he belongs to the Pantheon of the Heroes of ’21.

Bibliography:

  1. Κίτσος Τζαβέλας 1800 -1855. σαν σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web.
  2. Κίτσος Τζαβέλας (1800 ή 1801 – 1855). Αργολική Αρχειακή Βιβλιοθήκη Ιστορίας καὶ Πολιτισμού. www.argolikivivliothiki.gr. March 21, 2018. Web.
Kitsos Tzavelas

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.
Nicephorus Theotokis