Κυριακή 17 Μαρτίου 2024

The declaration of the revolution (March 17, 1821) and the first military operations

 
The representation of the flag of the Mani rebels

In the Areopolis of Laconia on March 17, 1821, outside the Holy Temple of the Brigades, the Maniatians raised their stature against the Turkish yoke, starting the Greek Revolution with the Maniatian Flag inscribed "Victory or Death" & "When or upon us"

From the written sources it is handed down that on the eve of the revolution the high priests and prefects of Achaia, who had also avoided their detention in Tripolitsa, asked Petrobeis to let Mani start the fight first. Thus, the gathering of all the Maniatian chieftains followed, following the invitation of Petrobeis, on March 17, 1821, in Tsimova, today's Areopolis, which was the capital of the Mavromichalians. There "they agreed to take up arms against the Turks", as Ioannis Kolokotronis testifies, and the present Theodoros Kolokotronis undertook to convey this decision to the chieftains of Messinia, Arcadia and Achaia. However, the testimony of I. Kolokotronis does not mention the place where the gathering of the Maniatas took place, nor if Petrobeis participated in it. Also noteworthy is the lack of any reference to the events of Areopolis by Theodoros Kolokotronis himself who, according to his memoirs, from January 6 to March 22, 1821 was in Kardamili. Ioannis Philemon is also mentioned in a gathering (meeting) of Maniatas, but with Petrobeis absent. And this report does not specify the place and time that this gathering took place. The same author mentions in another part of his book that Mani rebelled on March 22, 1821. A. Frantzis also agrees with this. Petrobeis himself, two days after the alleged raising of the revolutionary flag in Areopolis, in his letter to Hydraios, not only does not inform them of the declaration of the revolution, but appears to hold a cautious position towards it, citing a lack of the necessary supplies. In local tradition, the event survived as a legend, according to which all the chieftains gathered in the town square, in front of the temple of Taxiarches, and in the "Kotroni" position they raised the first revolutionary flag, roughly made of white cloth, with a blue cross In the center. On the upper side it was written "Victory or Death" (and not "Freedom", because Mani was considered free), and on the lower side "tan or epi tas". The flag was blessed by the priests and all the leaders, led by Katsakos Mavromichalis, swore kneeling down that they will fight unitedly for the freedom of the nation. This tradition had long since acquired the character of confirmed historical reality with the establishment of local folk holidays every March 17th. After that, the state declared March 17 as a day of national celebration in the Areopolis. Unfortunately, the family records of the Maniates were lost and others were destroyed, while none of the Maniates wrote memoirs, so that there are no written testimonies about the ceremony.

However, another version of the events is given by the Maniati historian B. Patriarcheas. According to her, the decision to start the rebellion in Mani was made in Kitries (Bey's seat) and not in Areopolis, a few days after March 17 (the day Petrobeis left Areopolis for Kitries) and indeed after several meetings which Petrobeis did with the other chieftains of Mani, in which Kolokotronis also participated.

In the days that followed, there were two Maniat expeditions. The first, from the leaders of Eastern Mani under the Grigorakis, to Monemvasia and Mystra, as evidenced by a letter from Protosygello Gerasimos to Panagiotis Kosonakos, where the start of the war is announced and the exhortation to spread the news is conveyed.

Ο όρκος των Μανιατών μπροστά στους Ταξιάρχες:

«Ορκίζομαι,
εις το όνομα του Παντοδύναμού μας Θεού,
εις το όνομα του Κυρίου μας Ιησού Χριστού
και της Αγίας Τριάδος,
να χύσω και την υστέραν ρανίδα του αίματός μου,
υπέρ πίστεως και Πατρίδος.
Ορκίζομαι,
να μη βλέψω εις τα όπισθεν
εάν δεν αποδιώξω τον εχθρόν της Πατρίδος
και της Θρησκείας μου.
Ορκίζομαι,
«Ταν ή επί Τας» και «Νίκη ή Θάνατος»
υπέρ Πίστεως και Πατρίδος.