REVOLUTION OF 1821
Read the information at the bottom of the page and place the stamps in the correct place
Rigas Feraios or Velestinlis was born in 1757 in Velestino, Thessaly, which in ancient times was called Feres.
Rigas Velestinlis published the famous “Map of Greece” and wrote Thourios, a fiery revolutionary hymn that became a symbol of the struggle for freedom.
Rigas Velestinlis envisioned the cooperation of the enslaved Balkan peoples for their liberation from the Ottoman yoke and the creation of a well-governed democratic state, where the Greek language and education would dominate. The Austrians, however, arrested Rigas Velestinlis in December 1797 and handed him over to the Turks, who killed him and threw him into the Danube.
The Filiki Eteria or Society of Friends was founded in Odessa and its founders proceeded to recruit members from the Greek communities abroad and from the Transdanubian Hegemonies. These were encouraged by the revolutionary spirit of Rigas Velestinlis, the struggles of Lambros Katsonis and the people of Souli, as well as the turmoil caused in the Ottoman Empire by unruly pashas.
The members used cryptographic code to communicate with each other and signed using pseudonyms. Their initiation into the organisation took the form of a rite, sealed by an oath before a priest.
In 1818, however, their head office was moved to the heart of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople. As a result, the recruitment of members expanded everywhere, including present day Greece.
According to the plans of the Filiki Eteria, the Revolution was to start simultaneously in Moldavia and the Peloponnese, in order to split the Ottoman army, which was already at war with Ali Pasha in Ioannina.
Finally, it was decided to start the Revolution from the Transdanubian Hegemonies (present day Moldavia and Romania), where a lot of Greeks resided, there was no Ottoman army and their rulers were Greek Phanariotes.
Counting on Russian help, Alexander Ypsilantis crossed the Pruth River in February 1821 and entered Moldavia. The Revolution began and Alexander Ypsilantis, with an army of approximately 2,000 men he had gathered, turned towards Bucharest. On February 24th, Alexander Ypsilantis issued a proclamation titled “Fight for Faith and Country” and called the Greeks of the region to arms.
The rebellion in Moldavia was condemned by the Great Powers, who gave Ottoman troops permission to invade.
Alexander Ypsilantis, with a few thousand infantry and few cavalry, faced the numerous Ottoman army in several battles, but the most decisive battle fought in June 1821 in the village of Dragatsani, ended in the defeat of the Greeks.
While being pursued, Alexander Ypsilantis crossed into Austria where he was imprisoned.
In order to suppress the revolutionary activity, Hurshid Pasha sent out from Ioannina the pashas Kiose Mehmet and Omer Vrioni. The numerous Ottoman army was awaited in Heraklia and at the bridges of Gorgopotamos and Alamana by the chieftains Panourgias, Ioannis Diovouniotis and Athanasios Diakos. On April 23rd 1821, the Turks drove out the defenders of the first two positions, seriously wounding Panourgias and killing his fellow warrior Isaias, bishop of Salona (Amfissa). They then turned on the defenders of Alamana.
After a fierce battle, the Greek forces retreated. Although Athanasios Diakos was told to leave his post, he continued to fight. He was wounded, however, and taken prisoner. Omer Vrioni offered to spare his life in exchange for joining his army. Athanasios Diakos refused and was horribly executed.
Theodoros Kolokotronis opted to besiege Tripolitsa, which was the central administrative, commercial and military seat of the Turks in the Peloponnese. The Greeks would succeed in weakening the rest of the castles in the area. Thus, led by Theodoros Kolokotronis, they moved towards Tripolitsa. After the victory in Valtetsi, the Greek fighters were able to besiege Tripolitsa more intensely.
Dramalis, pasha of Larissa and leader of the campaign in the Peloponnese, gathered 18,000 soldiers and in the spring of 1822 headed south.
Then, Theodoros Kolokotronis, together with other fighters, assumed control of crossings and passages. Other chieftains, such as Nikitaras, Papaflessas and his brother Nikitas Flessas, came to help.
On July 26th 1822, a deadly battle took place at Dervenakia, where the Ottoman army was destroyed and many spoils fell into the hands of the Greeks. Theodoros Kolokotronis was declared Commander-in-Chief.
When the Revolution began, Constantinos Canaris left the merchant navy, where he was a captain, and took part in raids against the Turks. In June 1822, he blew up the flagship of the Turkish fleet in the harbor of the massacred island of Chios with his fire ship. Admiral Kara Ali and about 2,000 Ottoman sailors and soldiers were killed.
In October of the same year, Constantinos Canaris set fire to the vice-flagship of the new Turkish admiral in Tenedos, as a result of which the Ottoman fleet was sheltered in its command centre in the Dardanelles. In 1824, Constantinos Canaris destroyed two more Turkish warships at Samos and Lesvos, while in 1826 he was wounded in an attack on a Turkish frigate and risked capture.
After the fall of Messolonghi, chieftain Georgios Karaiskakis was appointed by the revolutionary Government as Commander-in-Chief in Central Greece and was sent to confront Kioutachis. Georgios Karaiskakis, a former Klepht and a subsequent Armatolos in this area, had a lot of military experience.
Georgios Karaiskakis defeated the Ottoman forces at Distomo, as well as in a seven-day battle against them in mountainous Arachova, in November 1826. By early 1827, he had managed to drive the Ottoman troops out of most of Central Greece. He then rushed to help the besieged fighters in Athens.
However, on the eve of the attack, a small skirmish escalated into a battle. Georgios Karaiskakis, who was ill, rushed on horseback to the scene of the collision, but was wounded and died the next day. It was April 23rd 1827.
The unexpected death of Georgios Karaiskakis lowered the morale of the warriors and the conflict ended in a great destruction of the Greek army.
The Great Powers decided to mediate jointly for the solution of the Greek Issue. The Sublime Porte, however, encouraged by its military successes, reacted by rejecting the mediation.
Consequently, English, French and Russian warships sailed to Pylos, to implement the decisions of the Great Powers. In the Naval Battle of Navarino, in October 1827, the allied naval forces confronted the Turkish-Egyptian fleet, completely destroying it. The victory of the allied fleet in the South accelerated the developments, eventually leading to the liberation of Greece.
Ioannis Kapodistrias came from an aristocratic family of Corfu. He was the Foreign Minister of Russia until 1822, when he was removed from his post and settled in Switzerland. Five years later, in 1827, the Third National Assembly of Trizina elected him Governor of Greece.
Ioannis Kapodistrias’s centralized governance and his conflict with many local interests caused resentment and backlash. On September 27th 1831, Ioannis Kapodistrias was assassinated in Nafplio, resulting in anarchy in the country.
A few words about the stamps in the quiz
The stamps featuring the portraits of the heroes of the Revolution were first released on April 1st 1930, for the 100th anniversary from the declaration of the first independent Greek State after the Fall of Constantinople, although the initial attempt was to release them on March 25th.
The stamps were ordered from the English company Bradbury Wilkinson & Co Ltd, following an international competition, where three English companies, a Greek (the well-known Aspioti-ELKA), a Swiss and an American one had taken part.
The series included two separate stamps for the values of 50 cents, 1 drachma and 1.50 drachma.
Unfortunately for the philatelists of the time, the entire series was not released in all post offices, i.e. those stamps that had the same price but a different image were not available everywhere (e.g. there were two stamps with a value of 50 cents, one featuring Bouboulina and another with Alexandros Ypsilantis). This resulted in the philatelists’ protests to the then Ministry of Finance, which immediately responded to fill the shortage.
Because of the massive demand, especially for the large value stamps (5 drachmas), the bulk purchase of individual stamps was prohibited by the Ministry, except in the case of the purchase of entire series.
Despite the excellent artistic execution, there were substantive problems, such as the absence of those protagonists of the 1821 Revolution that came from Crete. What is more, as Pavlos Karolidis noted in a letter of protest, the portraits of Bouboulina and Athanasios Diakos, and partially that of Kolokotronis, were historically inaccurate.
There was also a very serious error in the depiction of the borders of the new state. Thus, on the 4-drachma stamp that depicted the borders of free Greece, the map did not include Evia and the Northern Sporades (Skiathos, Skopelos, etc.) with Skyros.
Despite the high quality and anniversary character, the fact that the series consisted of 18 stamps, with the aim of reaching the symbolic number of 21, attracted criticism and negative comments, as it might have being characterised as speculative and having its collector value relegated. In the end, only its high aesthetic value saved it from philatelic downgrade.
Finally, in order to cover the absence of Crete from the 1821 series, and to keep the collection value of the series, a stamp was released in November 1930 featuring the holocaust of the Arkadi monastery in Rethymnon, which however was related to the 1866 Revolution. The rush was so great that the series was circulated before the relevant decree was issued!
The series in question was the first to be withdrawn from circulation on a specified date, as withdrawn stamps were now being destroyed so that those remaining were of high collectible value.
The series received the place of honor at the 1st Philatelic Exhibition in Athens, which was organised in the same year (1930) and was visited by a number of officials.
“The Naval Battle of Navarino” stamp belongs to a 1927 series, which was originally issued for an anniversary at Pylos on October 20th, and the whole series (together with the said stamp) was issued on March 16th 1928.
The representation is derived from a lithograph from the National History Museum’s collections, which depicts the blowing up of the Egyptian flagship.
The stamp with the “Oath of a Filikos” comes from a painting by D. Tsokos (1849), also from the collections of the National Historical Museum.
This is a 1965 edition, a redesign of the painting by the great Greek engraver Tassos (Tassos Alevizos). However, it received severe criticism, as the figures are blurred and do not highlight either the well-known image or the great talent of the engraver. The only explanation could perhaps be that the painting was by its very nature unsuitable for rendering at such a small size.
The production was done by the Aspioti-ELKA company, which in the same year (1965) had been certified to take part in international and UN stamp printing competitions.
The small series (just two stamps and an envelope) was issued on the occasion of the anniversary of the founding of the Filiki Eteria or Society of Friends, in Odessa in 1814, by three unknown, everyday people (Nikolaos Skoufas, Emmanuel Xanthos and Athanasios Tsakalov) with the aim of liberating the enslaved genus.