After it was revealed that Ali Pasha’s Albanians attempted to assassinate Ismail Pasobeis, the leader of the Sultan’s army, the Sultan ordered Ali Pasha’s removal from Ioannina. To win back the Sultan’s favor, the latter revealed to him the existence of the Friendly Society and the plans of the Greeks to revolt, but even so, he failed to annul the Sultan’s order. Ali Pasha refused to obey the order and abandon his pashalik, so the Sublime Porte began to gather an army force against him. Ali Pasha’s mutiny gave the Souliotes the right to return to their villages, from which they had been exiled, since the Sultan gave this option to those who had been expelled or wronged by the Pasha in an effort to undermine his influence on Epirus. The Souliotes were even encouraged by Pasobeis to liberate their villages from Ali. However, the Turk-Albanians of the Sultan’s guard, who took part in the occupation of the villages of the Souliotes, planned their annihilation and allied themselves with Ali Pasha and his faithful Turk-Albanians (January 1821). Finally, in January 1822, Ali was defeated and killed on the island of the Lake of Ioannina.
Alexandros Ypsilantis, as leader of the Friendly Society, set off from Russia, crossed the River Prut (the Russian border with the hegemony of Moldova, at the time) and arrived in Moldova, where he was welcomed by Michael Soutzos, ruler of Moldova and an initiate of the Friendly Society. The two men, along with some 2,000 fighters, arrived in Iasi (the capital of Moldova) on February 22, 1821. Two days later, Ypsilantis handed out the revolutionary proclamation “Fight for faith and country”, in which he asked the Greeks to revolt. Therefore, these acts marked the official inauguration of the Revolution in the Hegemonies (Dominions) around the Danube.
Athanasios Diakos (real name: Athanasios Grammatikos) was the central figure in the detonation and development of the Revolution in Eastern Central Greece, accomplishing many successful attacks against the Ottomans in the region. Specifically, he had managed to seize Livadia, Thebes, and Atalanti. At the Battle of Alamana (April 23, 1821), Diakos and a few men tried to resist Kiose Mehmet and Omer Vryonis, who were instructed to suppress the Revolution in Roumeli, and then move to the Peloponnese. After fighting a heroic battle, Diakos was wounded and got arrested. On the next day, he was transferred to Lamia, where he refused to collaborate with the Ottomans. So, the Ottomans decided an exemplary punishment for him, death by impalement.
At the beginning of July of 1822, the Struggle was in great danger, due to the advancement into the Peloponnese of strong Turkish forces, under the command of Mahmoud Pasha, better known as Dramalis. He intended to occupy Tripolitsa and suppress the Revolution. The Greeks panicked. However, Theodoros Kolokotronis quickly reacted with drastic measures and managed to contain the enemy troops in Argolida, blocking their way to Tripolitsa. Dramalis found himself in a challenging situation due to the lack of food and wanted to retreat to Corinth. But Kolokotronis swiftly occupied the narrow crossings leading from Argos to Corinth. Thus, on July 26, 1822, the Turks suffered a devastating defeat, losing over 3,000 men. It was one of the most pivotal battles of the Revolution, one which allowed the tactical genius of Theodoros Kolokotronis to shine. Along with him, Ypsilantis, Papaflessas and Nikitas Stamatelopoulos also dominated in the battle.
After the fall of Tripolitsa, the Revolution became established. Dimitrios Ypsilantis called a National Assembly, which met in Piada, near Ancient Epidaurus, on December 20, 1821, in frenzied excitement. It was then that the Revolution was organized within a legal framework, i.e., the de facto status became a state. On January 1, 1822, the National Assembly voted for a Constitution which adopted the representative system and the separation of powers, and took the title “The Provisional Regime of Greece”. This Constitution was partially implemented in the vortex of the Revolution, but it set the political and ideological identity of Rebirth (Paliggenesia.)
The ruling classes of Chios, which excelled in trade, were very privileged, and therefore, very hesitant to participate in the uprising. On March 10, however, revolutionary forces landed on the island of Chios under Antonios Bournias and Lykourgos Logothetis, who managed to rouse the locals (mainly the inhabitants of the countryside). The Sultan was outraged by the “ungratefulness” of the people of Chios, to whom he had granted many privileges. On March 30, 1822, the Turkish fleet led by Kara Ali arrived to Chios. After a ruthless bombardment, 7,000 men landed on the island. The ill-conceived Greek uprising was quickly suppressed, as Logothetis and the Samians left the island. The whole island was torched, and a terrible massacre followed. Tens of thousands of Christians were captured and slaughtered. The incident horrified Europe.
To avenge the massacre of Chios, 64 ships from Hydra, Psara, and Spetses gathered in Psara at the end of April and formed a fleet, which waited for an opportunity to attack. After some unsuccessful attempts, finally, on the night of the 6th to June 7, an opportunity arose: while Turkish officers had gathered on the flagship of the Turkish armada to celebrate the end of Ramadan, Psarian Konstantinos Kanaris managed to attach his fireship to the flagship, which became engulfed in flames. Some 2,000 men on board, including Kara Ali, the perpetrator of the Chios massacre, were killed.
On July 4, 1822, in the village of Peta, five kilometers east of Arta, some 2,000 Greek and Philhellene fighters were defeated by a force of about 8,000 Turks and Albanians. It was one of the most massive Greek defeats during the Struggle.
Since October of 1822, and after the devastating defeat at Peta (July 1822), Messolonghi had been blocked both from land (by Omer Vryonis and Kutahi, who commanded 11,000 men) and from the sea (by Yusuf Pasha). The besieged people of Messolonghi were in a grave situation because of the lack of necessary provisions. On the other hand, the Ottomans lost valuable time in lengthy negotiations toward a compromise, initiated by Alexandros Mavrokordatos and Markos Botsaris, who were defending the city. During this time, Andreas Miaoulis broke the naval blockade and supplied Messolonghi with provisions, ammunition, and 1,000 men. The Ottomans’ raid against the besieged city, which took place on the night of the 24th to December 25, had leaked to the Greek side, so the fighters were on full alert. The Ottomans were completely destroyed, and finally, on December 31, they lifted the siege.
At the beginning of the Greek Revolution, British politics were particularly hostile to it. In August of 1822, however, George Canning was appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs of England. This event signified a shift in English politics in favor of the Greek issue.
In March of 1823, the British government recognized the Greek people as a people fighting a war. It is was a de facto recognition of the Greek Revolution.
The Vouleftiko (Congressional) meets at Astros on March 29, 1823, and revises the Constitution of Epidaurus legislatively and fundamentally. The Constitution now includes increased power and broader protection of individual rights. The fact that it constitutes a revision of the Constitution of Epidaurus is responsible for its name, “Law of Epidaurus”.
The first civil war of the Revolution took place in the Peloponnese between the fall of 1823 and July 1824. On the one hand fought the “pro-Government,” i.e., the Hydreans and the elders of the northwest Peloponnese (Zaimis, Londos) and on the other fought the “Anti-Government”, i.e., notable elders and militants of the Peloponnese, under Kolokotronis. Each opposing group created its government, with headquarters in Kranidi and Tripolitsa, respectively. In February and March of 1824, there were fierce battles, at which the “pro-Government” dominated. After negotiations, they agreed to end hostilities on May 22, 1824. Theodoros Kolokotronis agreed to the government of G. Kountouriotis, which in July granted amnesty to its opponents.
On February 9, 1824, a Greek delegation by Ioannis Orlandos and Andreas Louriotis, agreed on a loan of 800,000 pounds with the House of Loughnan. The terms of the loan were particularly unfavorable for Greece. In particular, the amount granted was set at 59% of the nominal (472,000 pounds). The interest was 5% on the nominal value, the commission was 3%, the premiums were 1.5%, and the repayment period was set at 36 years. All public property and proceeds were signed as collateral to the lenders. At the end of all this, the amount received by the revolutionary administration was a mere £298,000. Although overburdened, the loan was considered a great political success for Greece. However, it was disappointingly misused. Most of it was spent on the civil war, rather than on the fight against the Ottomans.
In the second phase of the civil conflict (July 1824 – January 1825), the two opposing sides differed from those of the first phase. One side included the prominent elders and militants of the Peloponnese (Kolokotronis, Deligiannis, Zaimis, Londos). The other one the islanders (mainly Hydreans), who allied with the expert in warfare Roumeliotes in an attempt to prevail. The second group (Kountouriotis) used the British loan money to pay the chieftains of Roumeli (Karaiskakis, Gouras, Makryiannis, Souliotes), who overwhelmed the Peloponnesians, committing indescribable destruction and looting. Panos Kolokotronis was murdered, and his devastated father, Theodoros, retired to Vytina. Eventually, the “pro-Government” winners exhibited, once again, compassion toward the losers. Ibrahim’s landing forced them to grant a second amnesty and urge the return of Theodoros Kolokotronis as the General-in-Chief of the Greek army.
In March of 1824, the Sultan sought Mehmet Ali of Egypt’s help to suppress the Revolution
The English poet George Gordon Byron was one of the most passionate philhellenes. Since the beginning of the Greek Revolution, he wanted to contribute to its success. So, in 1823 he became a member of the “London Philhellenic Committee,” and, the same year, he arrived in Argostoli. Since then, he helped the Revolution significantly, giving the rebels not only supplies sent from London but also money from his personal fortune. In early 1824 he moved to Messolonghi, where he contributed his money to the army’s organization and the city’s fortification. In April 1824, however, Lord Byron fell ill, and on the 19th, he passed away at the age of 36. After the funeral in Messolonghi, his body was transported to London.
Under Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian fleet, right after the suppression of the Revolution in Crete, headed to Kassos, which, in addition to its strategic position and dominance as a commercial and naval force, had assisted the struggle of Crete. On May 27, the Egyptians, under Hussein Bay, approached Kassos. On the night of 28th to May 29, they staged fake disembarkation on one of the coasts of the island, while at the same time, another 30 boats landed unnoticed in a remote location. The tenacious resistance of the Kassians was doomed, as the enemy forces were continuously reinforced. Eventually, about 2,000 Kassians were killed, while many more women and children were captured.
Psara was the third most powerful naval force in Greece, after Hydra and Spetses, and the birthplace of great fire starters, which severely damaged the Turkish fleet. The Ottoman fleet, under Hüsrev Mehmed Pasha, landed in Psara on June 20, 1824. The defense of the people of Psara was not well organized, so the island fell relatively quickly. Massive destruction and massacres followed. Out of the 30,000 inhabitants, 18,000 were killed or captured.
On January 26, 1825, Greece (with Ioannis Orlandos and Andreas Louriotis as the negotiators) took out a second loan. The loan’s nominal value was £2,000,000, but the amount released was set at 55% of the nominal value (£816,000), with £284,000 held as a two-year interest deposit, repayment, commission, and other costs. The management of the second loan was taken over by English bankers and the London Philhellenic Committee members. A huge percentage was allocated to the refinancing of the first loan, for the purchase of weapons and firearms, of which few arrived in Greece, for the order of 6 steam-powered ships, of which only three arrived in Greece and for the construction of two frigates in New York shipyards, of which only one arrived in Greece. This way, the amount of money from the loan that reached Greece at the end barely exceeded 232,000 pounds, i.e., about 1/9 of the original loan. Regardless, this amount, on the one hand, strengthened the Greek army, to a certain extent, especially the navy, and on the other hand managed to establish that the Greek interests were common with those of the English banks since a possible collapse of the Greek front would lead to the loss of their money.
Ibrahim rushed his landing in the Peloponnese when he became informed of the civil war raging in the area. In February of 1825, he landed in Methoni. By the end of April, he had captured the castles of Koroni and Pylos. In June of the same year, he captured and destroyed Tripolitsa. He continued toward Argos and Nafplio, but was stopped by Makrigiannis and Ypsilantis, with a significant victory in the Mills in Argolida. In November of 1825, Ibrahim moved his army to Messolonghi to assist to the siege of the city by Kütahı.
Three years after the failed attempt of Kütahı and Omer Vryonis to occupy Messolonghi (1822), the Ottomans returned with a new venture. The Sultan imposed the feat to Kütahı, this time in collaboration with Ibrahim’s expedition in the Peloponnese. Kütahı arrived in Messolonghi on April 15, 1825, leading a compelling body of 20,000 men and immediately established the city’s siege.
At the beginning of 1825, the Revolution was in great danger due to Ibrahim’s numerous successes in the Peloponnese and the imprisonment of leading figures of the Peloponnese, such as Theodoros Kolokotronis. Papaflessas, who was particularly concerned about the course of the struggle, in mid-May occupied the eastern side of Mount Mala, in Maniaki, Messinia. Ibrahim moved quickly against him with 6,000 infantry and cavalry. Papaflessas was able to line up just 1,300 men. On May 19, facing the Egyptian troops, several terrified Greeks refused to fight. In the end, the Greek side included barely 600 men. The battle began on the morning of May 20, 1825, and lasted about eight hours. Despite the few Greeks’ brave efforts to defend themselves, their resistance collapsed quickly because their opponents enormously outnumbered them. Almost all the Greeks were killed, among them Papaflessas himself. When reinforcements arrived, it was too late. Ibrahim finalized the occupation of Messinia, with Kalamata’s burning, and then attacked Tripolitsa, which he occupied on June 11, 1825.
Odysseas Androutsos, ever since the beginning of the Revolution, contributed immensely to it. However, being a particularly powerful and well-liked leader to the Greek people, he had generated many personal enemies. Based on various incidents, his enemies accused him of treason against the homeland. Eventually, Androutsos surrendered to Yiannis Gouras (who was once in his entourage). Gouras promised him that he would be sent to the Peloponnese to have a fair trial. But he did not keep his promise and imprisoned him in the Acropolis. He ordered Androutsos’ execution on June 5, 1825. At first, his death was presented as an accident during the prisoner’s alleged attempt to escape. But the truth soon surfaced. Androutsos was the last victim of the civil conflict.
At the beginning of the summer of 1825, the Greeks were in despair due to Ibrahim’s repeated successes against the Greek troops. Towards the end of July, the fighter Christophoros Zachariadis went from Zakynthos to Lagadia, where he met the leaders of the Peloponnesians and provided them with a draft act, by which the Greeks allotted “the freedom, national independence and political existence” of the nation “in the absolute defense of Great Britain”. This plan had previously been discussed by the Peloponnesians but had not been confirmed. However, in the current circumstances, the leaders (Th. Kolokotronis, A. Miaoulis, A. Zaimis, etc.) considered an external aid as the only rescue, and they signed the document on July 24. The petition for protection was also approved and signed on July 24 by Members of Parliament and almost all executive board members. However, the British government refused the appeal, as it would cause a great deal of turmoil in the European political scene.
In July of 1825, Konstantinos Kanaris decided to burn the Egyptian fleet in retaliation for Ibrahim’s multiple successes in the Peloponnese. A Hydrean small fleet of three fire ships and two larger ships arrived at Alexandria’s port on July 29. The three firemen did not communicate properly, and Kanaris boldly attempted to act alone. However, the sea’s stillness made his efforts difficult, and the precious time that had been lost led to the Egyptians noticing him. His fire ship didn’t find its target, and, in the particularly dangerous escape operation, members of his crew were killed and wounded. The incident caused the admiration of Konstantinos Kanaris by the Europeans.
On December 28, 1825, the English ambassador to Istanbul Stratford Canning landed in Hydra, having previously passed through Geneva, where he visited Ioannis Kapodistrias. In Hydra, he met with Andreas Miaoulis, Alexandros Mavrokordatos, and Konstantinos Zografos. He discussed with them the informal mediation of England in the resolution of the Greek issue. Canning stressed that, given the Ottomans’ successes in collaboration with Mehmet Ali, a form of autonomy of Greece, such as that of the Hegemonies of the Danube Valley or Raguza, would be a solid basis for negotiation with the High Gate. But the Greek side decisively stated that it insists on Greece’s independence at all costs and suggested the River Axios in Macedonia as the country’s northern border.
Following the rise of Tsar Nicholas I to the Russian throne (December 1825) and after discussions with the English envoy Duke Wellington, the Protocol of Petersburg was signed on 23 March/4 April between the two countries. This is the first diplomatic document that acknowledges Greece’s political existence and assigns the two forces as mediators for the creation of a Greek state, autonomous and tax-subject to the Sultan.
The need to address the hostile threat and the acceptance of English mediation between the Greeks and the Turks led to organizing the Third National Assembly in Epidaurus. Its works began on April 6, but the fall of Messolonghi led to its postponement until September of 1826. The Assembly authorized England’s ambassador to Istanbul to negotiate with the High Gate the Greek issue. Simultaneously, some of the measures taken were the enactment of a loan for the needs of the fleet, the endorsement of the English loans, and the selling of public lands. Also, the Assembly removed the civil rights of Dimitrios Ypsilantis, who opposed the mediation of England.
After a year of siege and six particularly harsh months for the besieged, Messolonghi could no longer hold. Vasiladi, Aitoliko, and Dolmas had fallen, and the situation inside the city worsens. The Messolonghites refuse to surrender and wait until the last minute for the Greek fleet. But spiritual and physical exhaustion, lack of food, indescribable hunger, and the fleet delay bring the inhabitants to their limits. On April 10, they decided to attempt an exodus. The Messolonghites organize into three groups led by Makris, Notis Botsaris, Rajikotsikas, and Mitros Deligiorgis, while they have arranged with the camp of Dervekista to create a diversion to the Turks. But their plan was revealed, and the Turks were not taken by surprise. The exit was crushed, and few survived, while most women and children were arrested and sold as slaves. The exodus of Messolonghi is a vital moment in the history of the Revolution, not only because of the defeat of the Greeks and the losses they suffered. Above all, because it initiated the resurrection of Philhellenism and gave the Greeks a sense of moral justification.
The infantry of the Janissaries, one of the Ottoman Empire’s foremost institutions in the 19th century, had now fallen into decline and corruption. It developed into a corps of civil servants who did perform the job assigned to them, resulting in the Empire paying for a non-existent army and forced to hire mercenaries. As part of his plan of reforms and, also, taking advantage of the events of the Greek Revolution, Sultan Mahmoud II also made changes to the army, trying to modernize it and bringing in Europeans for its training. But these changes triggered the rebellion of the Janissaries, who had been fighting for years hard against Mahmoud. The Sultan took the opportunity to rid himself of them, crushing the rebellion and exterminating the rebels (early June), resulting in the purge of the internal political ground. The massacre of the Janissaries became known as the “Happy Event”