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“Greeks, God has signed our Liberty and will not go back on his promise.” – Theodoros Kolokotronis

A “dark age” started for the Greeks with the arrival of the Ottomans and the collapse of the Byzantine empire. When the Ottomans arrived, two Greek migrations occurred.

The first migration mostly involved the Greek intellectuals who mostly migrated to Western Europe and influencing the advent of the Renaissance. Some of them also migrated to Russia and other eastern European countries The second migration involved Greeks leaving the plains of the Greek peninsula and resettling in the mountains so that they cannot be easily reached by the Ottomans (and hence live a relatively more free life).

When they Ottomans occupied the Greek mainland they introduced the millet system which contributed to the ethnic cohesion of Orthodox Greeks by segregating the various peoples within the Ottoman Empire based on religion.

Greek revolution of 1821
The Greek revolution of 1821

The Greeks revolted several times while their land was occupied by the Ottomans, but none of these revolts were succesful. All this changed with the creation of Filiki eteria in 1814 which expanded rapidly and was able to recruit members in all areas of the Greek world. This time the Greek revolution proved successful, not only because the timing chosen was right (with the Ottomans weakened and preoccupied with other revolts in their area of influence), but also because this time the Greek revolt aroused widespread sympathy throughout Europe because of the Greek origin of the West’s classical heritage. Many wealthy Western European aristocrats (mostly British and French), such as the renowned poet Lord Byron and later the physician Samuel Howe, helped finance, and in some cases also took up arms themsleves, to join the Greek revolutionaries.

Greece finally gained its independence and create the first Greek Republic initially in 1830, which later evolved into the Kingdom of Greece in 1832.

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Greek heroes, the war of independence of 1821

Theodoros KolokotronisGo!
Constantine KanarisGo!
Yannis MakriyannisGo!
Rigas FeraiosGo!
Athanasios DiakosGo!
Markos BotsarisGo!
Georgios KaraiskakisGo!
Laskarina BouboulinaGo!
Ioannis KapodistriasGo!
Chapter 1

General Makriyannis, Memoirs

I was born in a village named Avoriti, which is 3 hours from Lidoriki. My parents were very poor, and their poverty stemmed from the pillagings by the local Turks and Ali Pasha’s Albanians.

My parents had a large family and were poor, and when Ι was still in my mother’s belly, she went to the forest one day to gather wood. After loading the wood οn her shoulder and setting out laden οn the road in that isolated area, she was overcome by labor pains and gave birth to me. Αll by herself, the poor exhausted woman risked her life, hers and mine. Αll alone, she delivered herself and tidied up, stacked a few pieces of firewood together, put some grass οn top, placed me οn all this, and went back to the village.

Soon after, 3 people in our house were murdered, including my father, by Ali Pasha’s Turks, who wanted to take us as slaves. One night then our entire family and all the relatives got up and fled and headed for Livadia, with the hope of settling there. They had to cross a bridge in Lidoriki known as “The Narrow One,” since there was nο other way to cross the river. The Turks kept guard there and captured anyone who tried to cross. For 18 days all my people roamed about in the forest, eating wild acorns. My mother ate them too, and so did Ι – through her milk…

Excerpt from Chapter 1 -Translated by Rick Μ. Newton: The Charioteer 28/1986

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