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Monday, December 14, 2009

The Slaughter of Chios

     Αργειε νάλθη εκείνη η μέρα
        και ήταν όλα σιωπηλά,
       γιατί τάσκιαζε η φοβέρα
     Και τα πλάκωνε η σκλαβιά.

The Slaughter of Chios, Eugene Delacroix
A secret Greek nationalist organisation called the Friendly Society (Filiki Eteria) was formed in Odessa in 1814 (Nicolaos Skoufas, Athanasios Tsakalof and Emmanouil Xanthos). With the support of wealthy Greek exile communities in Britain and the United States, the aid of sympathisers in western Europe and covert assistance from Russia, they planned a rebellion. They secured as the leader of the planned revolt Capodistria, who after leaving the Ionian Islands had become Russian Foreign Minister. On March 25 (now Greek Independence Day) 1821, the Orthodox Metropolitan Germanos of Patras proclaimed the national uprising. Simultaneous risings were planned across Greece, including in Macedonia, Crete and Cyprus. With the initial advantage of surprise, and aided by Ottoman inefficiency, the Greeks succeeded in liberating the Peloponnese and some other areas. The Ottomans soon recovered, and retaliated with great savagery, massacring the Greek population of Chios and other towns. This worked to their disadvantage by provoking further sympathy for the Greeks in western Europe, although the British and French governments suspected that the uprising was a Russian plot to seize Greece and possibly Constantinople from the Ottomans. The Greeks were unable to establish a coherent government in the areas they controlled, and soon fell to fighting among themselves. Inconclusive fighting between Greeks and Ottomans continued until 1825, when the Sultan sent a powerful fleet and army from Egypt to ravage the Aegean islands and the Peloponnese.

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