The Revolution of 1821

History is the study of sources. What matters is what the protagonists of 1821 wrote and what they believed and not what various researchers write today influenced by modern ideological prejudices. For the national and religious character of the Greek Revolution of false witness is the following conversation of Theodoros Kolokotronis with the English Admiral Hamilton:

“Our revolution does not look like any of what is happening in Europe today. Europe’s revolutions against their administration are civil war. Our own war was the most just, the nation with another nation, it was with a people where it never wanted to be recognized as such, nor to swear only what violence did. Nor did the Sultan want to regard the Greek people as a people, but as slaves. Once, when we came to Nafplion, Amilton came to see me. He told me that the Greeks should ask for a compromise, and England should broker. I responded to him that this never happens, freedom or death. We, Captain Amilton, never compromised with the Turks. Others cut, others enslaved with the sword, and others, as we lived free from birth to birth. Our king was killed, no treaty was made. His garrison had an eternal war with the Turks and two fortresses were always insubordinate. He told me, who is his royal guard, what are the forts. He didn’t talk to me anymore.’ (Theodorou Kolokotronis, Narrative of Events of the Greek Tribe from 1770 to 1836. Athens 1846, p. 190).

Th. Kolokotronis, therefore, one of the pioneers of the Greek Revolution, clarifies that 1821 bears no ideological resemblance to social movements, such as the French Revolution of 1789. The Greeks, says the Elder of Moria, fought against an alien enemy, while the French rebelled against French power for social reasons. Moreover, Kolokotronis’ words underline the importance of the Great Idea as the spiritual and political orientation of the Greeks. Konstantinos Paleologos is still regarded (370 years after his sacrifice) as the king of the Greeks, the thieves and the armadlees continue his unsymallable attitude. The Nation is conscious of continuity, the liberation of Constantinople and the territories of Romania/Byzantine Empire is the ideal that upsets the Greeks. These remarks of Kolokotronis show that, yes, some Greek scholars were influenced by the European Enlightenment, but the main driving force of 1821 and the previous uprisings was the Greek Orthodox Great Idea: “To rebuild the Roman State”.

In the Great Greek Revolution took part rich and poor, pre-judges (cojabasis) and farmers, masters and sailors, clergy and laymen. Brothers Alexandros and Dimitrios Ypsilantis were rich and gave everything for the Freedom of the Nation. Manto Mavrogenous from Mykonos spent all her fortune in favor of the Revolution. The wealthy merchant Emmanuel Pappas from Serres left his successful businesses in Vienna and descended on rebel Greece with his sons. He raised Halkidiki and Mount Athos and died of natural death when he saw that the Revolution was being stifled in Macedonia. So it was not an uprising of the poor against the rich, but a pan-Hellenic and popular Revolution with a Greek Orthodox character. It was a national religious uprising for the expulsion of the alienated conquerors and the creation of a free Greek state.

The national and religious character of the Revolution of 1821 is also demonstrated by the first Declarations of the struggling Greeks:

The First National Assembly of Epidaurus declared on 1.1.1822 that: “The People of Greece received the weapons and did not ask through arms despite the glory and brilliance of the Christ Church, which after this holy clergy was persecuted and despised”

The Third National Assembly, which worked mainly in Troisina in 1826-1827, thundered to the free peoples: “Oh, Christians, neither was it nor is it possible to be disciplined by the religious Muslims, who have seized and descended the holy image, demolished the holy temples, descended the Priesthood, hybridized the divine name of Jesus… Our war is not aggressive, it is defensive, it is a war of justice against injustice…”.

It is also characteristic of the Greek Orthodox ideals of the fighters that all the Constitutions of the National Assemblies state that the laws of the Greek state will be the Laws of “our Christian Emperors” i.e. the Byzantines. The Greeks of 1821 firmly believed in the timeless continuity of Hellenism and felt continuators of Ancient Greece and Byzantium (Romania). In a newspaper of Trieste, the proclamation of Salon Isaiah and Athanasios Diakos was published in 1821, which made it clear that they were fighting “for Christ and for Leonidas”. Orthodoxy and Hellenism together. During the Revolution, phenomena of localism or selfish ambitions may have occurred, but these events had nothing to do with class claims.