The islands of DODEKANISOS, in the sights of the Turkish coast, are among the first to fall in the face of Ottoman attacks.
In 1522, the KNIGHTS OF THE SAINT-JEAN ORDER had to abandon their positions in the region. In 1669, with the capture of Crete, GREECE
was fully occupied by the Turks. Now masters of the country for nearly four centuries, the Turks impose daunting taxes and practice a policy of forcibly enlisting children to make them formidable soldiers, the janissaries. However, they show a high tolerance towards ORTHODOX RELIGION, which may explain why Greek national identity may have survived during such a long occupation. In the 18th century, the churches organized the first “secret schools”, while in the mountains bandits, the kleftes, played the Robin Hood against the Turks.
In 1814,Greek traders in Odessa founded filiki Etairia, a secret society for the liberation of the country.
On March 25, 1821, at the monastery of Aghia Lavra, Kalavrita, Patriarch Germanos raised the revolutionary flag, signalling the beginning of the struggles for independence. The clashes are bloody and the fate of several tragic heroes, such as that of Athanassios Diakos who dies skewered after fighting the Turkish army with only forty men. These exploits have succeeded in reaching European public opinion, severalpersonalities declare their support for the Greek cause: the English poet Lord Byron goes there, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, Hugo, the Duchess of Placentia publicly take sides for independent Greece. Having become Prime Minister in London, Lord Canning persuaded France and Russia to intervene with England to end the war.
In June 1827, the three powers signed a treaty recognizing Greece’s autonomy. After two more years of war, in 1829, the Russians, victorious with the Ottomans, forced the sultan to sign the Treaty of Andrinople, which guaranteed Greek independence. The Dodecanese islands, which fought for independence, are not included in the new Greek state and remain under Ottoman rule.
From the Ottoman yoke to the idea of the Greek revolution, 400 years have passed. How did Greece survive, whose motto was freedom or death?
The privileges granted to the Greeks.During these four centuries when the domination of the Ottoman Turks prevailed, the Greeks survived, despite even the great exiles imposed and in general, the draconian measures taken by the Muslim conqueror. The tolerance of the latter appeared in some areas (under the name of“pronomia”,in French, privileges) in order to govern better (for example, better collecting heavy taxes). These advantages were also used by the Greeks to better sit politically speaking, not to forget the Greek language, in order to travel and to be done in a sustainable organization.
With the help of the Church and the small number of spiritual compatriots, the“secret schools”(table below) were created and the Greeks gradually began to re-learn their history and re-discover all that their ancestors had historically achieved. The goal was not to lose Greek identity. To this end, the Greeks were encouraged and helped by other compatriots who made their fortune abroad with trade. In this subject Greece, books came from Europe printed by Greek publishers. These works contributed to the spiritual rebirth, in other words to the Neohelenic Renaissance.
The idea of the Greek revolution. The Greeks subdued the Ottoman Turks never stopped revolting against the invader. For this purpose irregular military corps formed. They were called Armatoles and Klephtes (table below left). The people sang their prowess and exploits in many popular songs going from generation to generation. In this revolutionary effort, the Greeks were, of all European powers, only supported by Russia. It was with this great Orthodox Christian country that the Greeks hoped to one day become free.
1821, the year of the revolution. The Greeks thought they were ready to stand up against the immense Ottoman power at that time. They were influenced in this great decision by the ideas of the French Revolution that supported the right of every people to become a free nation. A clandestine revolutionary organization was set up in 1814 for this sacred purpose. Her name was“Philiki Etairia”(“Friendly Society”)
The beginning of the Greek revolution took place in February 1821 with the leader of the “Philiki Etairia”, Alexander Ypsilantis, a man from a well-known family of Constantinople and a great officer of Tsar Alexander I. It had its place in the principalities of Moldova and Valachia (now Romania) since it was there that many merchants and noble Greeks lived. Unfortunately, the help of the latter did not bring victory in this revolutionary attempt led by Alexandre Ypsilantis (table above right)
March 25, 1821. A month later, another revolution was set up in the Peloponnese by the politicians, clergy and army chiefs of Greece subjected to the Ottomans. This revolutionary current passed throughout mainland Greece and the Greek islands. This is how it was able to last. The Greek revolution had become the first national movement that was beginning to be successful, notably with Theodore Kolokotronis (table below left) even though the European powers during that time were hostile. Indeed, the latter had much to gain by sympading with the Sultan via the Holy Covenant. Over time, however, they began to change sides, seeing that Turkeyin decline could not stop the Revolution and that the Greeks were experiencing a series of victorious feats.
Philhelleism. Many groups of Western countries, under the initiative of important personalities, participate in various ways in the hard unequal struggle of the Greeks in revolt. The events that have affected European public opinion the most are the Catastrophe of Chios (1822), the Catastrophe of Psara (in 1824) and the Exit of Messolonghi (in 1826).
The revolution in danger. When the Greeks liberated most of their homeland, they organized themselves also politically, voting for a liberal and democratic constitution. However, their Revolutionary Government was not recognized by the Great Powers (England, France, Russia, Austria and Prussia). The Revolution was also in danger by a kind of disunity of the Greeks as well as by the Sultan’s alliance with the Egyptian viceroy Mehemet Ali in 1825 (table above right). The latter’s nephew, Ibrahim Pasha, was on the verge of completely extinguishing the Greek revolution when the armed intervention of the Great Powers intervened to save the Revolution.
The Battle of Navarin(table above) In October 1827, the United Fleet of The English, Russians and French defeated the Turkish-Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Navarin (at Pylos in the Peloponnese) and forced Mehemet Ali to stop the war in the Peloponnese.
Free and independent Greek state. After the Battle of Navarin, the European powers and especially England, having weighed their own interests, understood that it was preferable to have a free and independent Greek state in the south of the Balkan peninsula, in the lands previously belonged to the Ottoman Empire. The decision on the creation of the new Greek state was taken with the Treaty of London on 3 February 1830. This is the beginning of contemporary Greek history.
Ottoman rule lasted long enough to leave traces, but ultimately in a relatively subtle way. Mosques are still found in the old cities of KOS or RODOS or on the island of KASTELORIZO,but these places of Muslim worship remain very minority. Also, in the local architecture, there are elements of Ottoman architecture such as the wooden structures of Sokratous Street in Rodos for example.