The Greek Revolution of 1821 that led to an eight-year war for independence was a movement with complex origins and causes.
The Christian populations that revolted against the Ottoman regime were neither homogeneous nor of uniform interests and attitudes.
A combination of factors contributed to the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in the spring of 1821.
Origins of the Greek War of Independence
· Deterioration of the Ottoman imperial structure that led to corruption and increased taxation and rise of the local Muslim notables that challenged the central government.
· Changes in the land holding system and consequent hardship of the peasant populations.
· Greek economic revival of the 18th century brought about by the British-French wars, the provisions of the Russo-Turkish treaties of 1774 and 1792, the French Revolution and the French-British wars that followed.
· Extraordinary increase of the Greek merchant marine, remarkable prosperity of Greek merchants and a rapid expansion of Greek handicraft industries.
· Rise of new middle class both within the Ottoman Empire and in merchant communities abroad.
· Nationalist propaganda of small, literate elite.
These factors unleashed new political forces and brought about a new intellectual climate.
Outbreak of the Greek Revolution
The outbreak of the Greek Revolution of 1821 was not a highly coordinated event that saw the unanimous uprising of the subject Christian or Greek populations.
It was a product of the deep changes referred to above as it was the result of circumstances of the moment.
Taking advantage of the Ottoman campaign to crush Ali Pasha, a powerful disobedient provincial governor, two Greek uprisings took place in 1821.
Ø The first and less successful one was led by leader of the Filiki Etairia, Alexander Ypsilantis and took place in the Danubian lands but was ruthlessly crushed by the Ottoman army.
Ø The second occurred in March 1821 in the south Peloponnese. The Peloponnesian uprising by mostly Greek-speaking peasantry sparked the start of the Greek Revolution.
These developments meant that:
· the wealthy Greek merchants and ship owners and Greek local government officials who had a lot to lose from the collapse of the Ottoman regime were forced to throw their weight behind the Greek War of Independence;
· the illiterate Christian Orthodox peasantry, who cared little about the teachings of Greek nationalist intellectuals but were weighed down by taxation and deprivation, came to form the army of insurgents.
The Peloponnesian uprising was followed by a number of uncoordinated campaigns, many successful and some followed by large-scale massacres. However, the deep cleavages within Greek society meant that the significant early successes of the insurgents were withered away. Regional, ideological and class differences between the different sections of the Greek or Christian Orthodox populations meant that the Greek Revolution was a movement seriously weakened by internal conflict.
Ø By 1826, the Greek War of Independence seemed to have come to an end with the Ottoman forces winning on all fronts. Had not Europe come to the rescue the Greek Revolution of 1821 would have come to nothing.
- In 1832, The Treaty of Constantinople recognized Greece as an independent nation.