One of the great empires of history is the Ottoman Empire. At the height of its power it controlled the entire Middle East and North Africa as well as parts of Eastern Europe. Greece has a long tradition of independence from the time of Alexander the Great. Even earlier the city states of Greece were fiercely independent and even withstood the assault of the Persian King Xersis.
Greeks Lose their Independence
After that classical age the Greeks lost their independence, as first the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire occupied Greece. The advent of the Ottoman Turks changed the history of Greece once again. The Byzantine Empire collapsed in 1453 and Greece came under the rule of the Ottoman Turks. This rule continued for almost 380 years. The Greeks were Christians and the Ottoman Turks Muslims, thus there was very little compatibility between the rulers and the ruled. The Ottoman Empire ruled Greece from 1453 to 1831.
Throughout the occupation of Greece by the Muslim Ottoman Turks, there were sporadic revolts against the Ottoman Empire. All these revolts were brutally crushed by the Turks. The European powers during this occupation of Greece did nothing.
Revolt against Turkish Rule
In 1821 a revolt against Turkish rule started in Greece. Before this in 1814, a secret organization called the Filiki Eteria was founded with the aim of liberating Greece. This organization planned to launch revolts against the Turks in Peloponnese, the Danubian Principalities, and Constantinople.
The Danubian principalities were the first to take up arms. They started their war against the Turks on 6 March 1821. It was crushed by the Ottoman army. Taking heart from the fight by the Danubians, Peloponnese followed by the Maniots declared war on the Turks on 17 March 1821. The Peloponnese revolt started in October 1821 under the leadership of Theodoros Kolokotronis. This resulted in the capture of Tripolitsa.
This was the signal and Crete, Macedonia, and Central Greece also revolted against Turkish rule. Unfortunately they were not successful and the Ottoman army suppressed these revolts. On the sea it was a different story and the Turks had a harrowing time as the makeshift Greek navy thwarted the Ottoman Turks from sending reinforcements through the Aegean Sea.
Entry of Mehmet Ali
The Greek factions were not united and started two consecutive civil wars. Despite this the Ottoman Sultan sensing his weakness made a deal with Mehmet Ali of Egypt. Mehmet Ali agreed to send his son Ibrahim Pasha to Greece to suppress the revolt.
Ibrahim landed in the Peloponnese in February 1825 and was initially quite successful. He brought most of the Peloponnese under Egyptian control. The Turks were also able to capture the city of Missolonghi after a long siege in April 1826. Though Ibrahim suffered a defeat at the battle of Mani, he was successful in suppressing the revolt in the Peloponnese and Athens was retaken.
The Entry of the Great Powers and Destruction of Muslim Fleet
The Greek uprising gained international sympathy and the three great powers of that period Russia, the United Kingdom and France intervened. The great powers received news that an Ottoman–Egyptian fleet was going to attack the Greek island of Hydra. The Allied fleet met the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet at Navarino. A fierce battle ensued which led to the destruction of the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet
Greeks attain Independence
. A French expeditionary force now landed to help the Greeks and by 1828 the Turks were driven out of the Peloponnese and Central Greece freed of Turkish domination. The Turks were driven out and the European powers were able to prevail on the Turks to recognize the independence of Greece. Greece was finally recognized as an independent nation in May 1832. The war against the Turks lasted a decade and freed Greece after almost 400 years of Turkish rule. The establishment of the Greek state led to further expansion and in later years, parts of Macedonia, Crete, Epirus, many Aegean Islands and other Greek-speaking territories reunited with the new Greek state.
The independence of Greece is very important as for the first time, a Christian subject people had overthrown Ottoman rule and established an independent state. This was also a signal that the Ottoman Empire had passed its zenith and was on a down slide. This was completed after the First World War when the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist.
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