January 17, 1848: Greek Independence War Hero Petros Mavromichalis passes away

Petros Mavromichalis

From Areopoli in the Mani Peninsula, descendant of a long line of fighters, Petros Mavromichalis (1765 - January 17, 1848) was the leader of the Maniots during the early 19th century and during the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Ottoman Empire.

After assuming control of Mani following his father’s death, he united the various warring factions, reorganising them under his command and as a result, controlled large areas of the southern Peloponnese.

Due to Mani’s semi-autonomous status under Ottoman occupation, it became a stronghold for the klephts and other fighters.

At the outbreak of the Greek Revolution in 1821, he raised his war flag at Areopoli, effectively signalling the start of the Greek War of Independence.

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It was his troops that marched into Kalamata, liberating the city on March 23, 1821.

He also led 500 Maniots into battle at the First Siege of Messolonghi in 1822.

From 1822 onwards, Petros mostly withdrew from active battle, but continued in his role as a mediator, leaving the leadership of his troops to his sons and brothers – two of whom died in battle Ioannis and Ilias – as did a brother, Kyriakoulis.

By 1829, he was elected to the Greek Senate, it was here where he had his fatal clash with Ioannis Kapodistrias.

Petros Mavromichalis by Peter von Hess
Petros Mavromichalis by Peter von Hess.

After first endorsing Kapodistrias’ election as Greece’s first modern Head of State in 1828, Petros and the rest of the Mavromichalis family soon clashed with him.

Kapodistrias preferred Greece to be ruled as a united and centralised state, rejecting the clan mentality and regional ruling factions.

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The animosity between the Mavromichails family and Kapodistrias, led to conflict and resulted in the arrest of Petros and another brother Ioannis.

Things further escalated when Petros’ son Georgios and another brother Konstantinos, carried out an assassination of Ioannis Kapodistrias in 1831, on the steps of the Church of Saint Spyridon in Nafplio, changing the course of Greek history.

Both would later be executed.

Sketch of Petros Mavromichalis by Pierre Peytier (1828)
Sketch of Petros Mavromichalis by Pierre Peytier (1828)

The act itself was condemned by Petros, who was released from prison in 1832 on orders of Augoustinos Kapdositrias, who had temporarily taken over as Head of State from his brother.

Petros Mavromichalis dies in 1848 and was buried with the honours of a serving Lieutenant General of the Greek Army.

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