The Greek war of independence lasted for eleven years from 1821 to 1832. It begun in March 1821 and partially ended in 1829 when the Greeks were granted semi independence, though it finally drew to a close in 1832 when the Greeks were granted full independence from the Ottoman rule. It was organized and led by Alexander Hypsilanti and a secret society known as the Hitaria Philike (the Society of Friends).

The rebellion started in the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia that were neighboring Russia. In March 1821, Prince Alexander Hypsilanti moved across River Pruth into Moldavia with a band of Greek officers who had been serving in the Russian army. He called up on the Moldavians to revolt. However, his rebellion was poorly organized and it led to the massacre many Muslims. Turkey quickly defeated the rebels and Alexander Hypsilanti himself fled to Austria where he was imprisoned by Metternich for seven years.

Immediately after the failure of Alexander Hypsilanti’s movement, another uprising broke out in the Southern part of Greece known as Morea. Here the agents of the Hitaria Philike had been extremely active and the revolt was more generally spread over the population than in the case of Moldavia. In Morea, the Greeks killed thousands of Muslims. In retaliation, the government of the Sultan noted it was a religious war and therefore it murdered the Greeks including the Patriarch (the Head of the Greek Orthodox Church) at Constantinople who, on the Easter Day of 1822, was hanged outside his Cathedral in Constantinople and a few days later thrown into the Bosphorus River.

The massacres alarmed the Great powers especially Russia and because of the brutality of the Muslims, Russia and Britain joined the war on the side of the Greeks against Turkey on humanitarian grounds as they argued that they wanted to save the Greeks from the poor administration of the Turks. At once, Tsar Alexander I concentrated thousands of troops on the borders of Moldavia ready to invade Moldavia and defeat the Turks. Metternich and the British government persuaded Tsar Alexander I to hold back but the policy of non-intervention was strongly denounced by many citizens of the European powers.

In 1826, the war was at its climax and the Sultan of Turkey unable to contain the situation, called for assistance from Mehemet Ali of Egypt his vassal state. In this very year, the Egyptian army got involved in the Greek war under the command of Ibrahim Pasha the son of Mehemet Ali. Mehemeti Ali sent his son Ibrahim Pasha who captured the island of Crete and successfully landed his forces in Morea where he begun to wipe out the Greek population. This new massacre of the Greeks brought in the intervention of the Great Powers. At that time, Tsar Alexander I was already dead and had been succeeded by Tsar Nicholas I (1825-1855) who was determined to assert Russia’s position as the protector of the Christian population in the Turkish Empire and the continuous massacre of the Greeks justified his demand for intervention.

In Britain, public opinion was in favour of supporting the Greeks and the British Foreign Secretary George Canning responding to this public demand and also fearing that Russia would act alone decided to reach an agreement with Russia in 1826. They concluded that Greece should be independent from Turkey but continue to pay annual tribute to Turkey. However, the Sultan rejected the proposals. The intervention of Russia into the war attracted the attention of other European powers especially Britain and France, which joined Russia and sent a joint naval force that destroyed the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Navarino Bay in October 1827. This was done due to Turkey’s refusal to accept the independence of the Greeks and after the signing of the Treaty of London of 1827 in which Britain, France and Russia agreed to assist the Greeks so as to get their full independence.

At the Battle of Navarino Bay of 1827, the Egyptian fleet was sunk and unable to contain the situation, Egypt withdrew her forces from Morea. However, Russia single handedly invaded Moldavia and Wallachia drove out the Turks. After her defeat, Turkey was forced to sign the Treaty of Adrianople of 1829. By this treaty, the Turks recognized the Greek semi-independence, but the Greeks were to continue paying annual tribute to Turkey. However, the Treaty of Adrianople of 1829 was not welcomed by other powers for in case of any trouble arising over the payment of tribute to Turkey by Greece, Russia would have an excuse of intervening alone without other powers. The Great Powers now excluding Russia then demanded for the complete independence of Greece from Turkey. The sultan of Turkey finally accepted these demands. Consequently, in 1832 the major powers met in London and signed the London Treaty of 1832 that formally declared Greece as an independent state and the Greeks attained full independence by 1832.


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