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Friday, January 20, 2017

It's All Greek to Me

Guest Blogger Jennifer Moore

The Greek War of Independence is a topic I was unfamiliar with, but now I can’t get enough of it.

To set the stage, in 1824 the Ottoman Empire ruled Greece—and a good chunk of the Mesopotamian and Balkan world. During this time, Greeks weren’t allowed to ride horses, carry weapons, or own property, unless they forsook their religion and joined Islam. Many did. But the majority refused. The Turks demanded high taxes, and even worse, they practiced devshirme—or child taking. Children who seemed strong enough were taken from their families to serve in the Sultan’s Janissary Corps. And sometimes pretty girls were taken for the Sultan’s harem. Parents or other family members who resisted were killed immediately.

Some of the most famous players in the war were:

Lord Byron, a little eccentric, as we all know, but he helped organize and fund the revolution,

Laskarina Bouboulina, a naval commander, (Yeah, a woman! How cool is that?)

Theodoros Kolkotronis, a freedom fighter or klepht.  (More about those guys later)

and my personal favorite: Petros Mavromichalis (Petrobey), the leader (or bey) of the Maniots.

The Maniots live in a rural area of the Greek Peloponnese, a spot place difficult to get to overland, especially for a Turkish army. And the Maniots controlled the little harbors and hidden coves of their coast. They were fiercely independent warriors descending from Sparta, and still have a reputation of being unpredictable. With few natural resources, their main source of income was piracy.

Here’s a picture of Petrobey’s hometown, Limeni Village, located on a small cove used to hide ships.

The different Maniot clans would declare blood feuds, fighting against enemy families until every male in the family was dead. They lived (and still do) in tower houses where they could hole up and wait out a blood feud.

It turns out these tower houses were great for holding off armies of Turks as well.

But in 1824, the most important thing about the Maniots is they were free from Turkish rule. The Turks simply couldn’t afford the manpower necessary to invade the area, and probably hoped the Maniots would just fight among themselves and leave the rest of the empire alone. They were wrong.

A secret society, the Filiki Eteria sent an emissary to Petrobey, telling him of a planned Greek revolt. The man (whose name we don’t know) was enlisting all the regions of Greece to fight as one.

Petrobey, as leader of the Mani managed to unite his people, and they raised a flag of freedom from Tsímova—later renamed Areopolis (after Ares, the god of war). Then marched across the country, eventually defeating the Turks.

Here’s an image of the flag. Nike e thanatos—victory or death. Tan e epi tas—that’s from the ancient Spartan motto: on your shield or carrying it.

They were helped by the klephts, bandits who lived and trained as soldiers in secret mountain camps.

Here’s a picture of a group of kelphts. They look funny to us, but  kilts and puff balls on their shoes were worn with pride. And Greece’s modern army uniforms are variations of these uniforms.

With all this rich history, it was difficult to know where to set my book, but in the end, the Maniots won out.

A Place for Miss Snow
Miss Diana Snow is everything a British chaperone should be—she finds satisfaction in order and depends wholly upon the rules of decorum as she negotiates the isle of Greece with her young charge. But Miss Snow's prim and proper exterior masks a disquieting past: orphaned and alone in the world, she has only her stiff upper lip to rely on. When a brief encounter with a handsome stranger challenges her rules of propriety, Diana is unwittingly drawn into an adventure that will turn her ordered world upside down.

Alexandros Metaxas is a Greek spy working to recruit individuals to the cause of revolution. His mission seems to be going perfectly until he encounters Diana Snow, a captivating—if slightly cold—beauty. When their paths cross again, the ill-fated reunion threatens all Alex has been fighting for. But more importantly, it places Diana's life in jeopardy. There is only one way to save her: they must put themselves at the mercy of the most powerful pirate family in the Mediterranean. Soon, Diana is plunged into a fantastic world of gypsy curses, blood feuds, and unexpected romance. But when a bitter vendetta places her in mortal danger, will she have the courage to fight for life and love?

Jennifer Moore is a passionate reader and writer of all things romance due to the need to balance the rest of her world that includes a perpetually traveling husband and four active sons, who create heaps of laundry that are anything but romantic. She suffers from an acute addiction to 18th and 19th century military history and literature. Jennifer has a B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Utah and is a Guitar Hero champion. She lives in northern Utah with her family, but most of the time wishes she was on board a frigate during the Age of Sail.


Donna Hatch said...

Fascinating post! I knew nothing about any of these people (except Lord Byron, of course :-) Thanks for the informative and entertaining post!

Katherine Bone said...

Holy cannonballz! Ye had me at pirates! I particularly like that she-devil, Laskarina Bouboulina. In all of my research on pirates, I have yet to hear of her. Off I go!

Thank you for this great post, Lady Jennifer! ;)

Jenna said...

Wonderful history of Greece that I knew nothing about! I want to go to Greece, but reading about it will be the next best thing! Best of luck with the book!

Barbara Bettis said...

What a fascinating post. I took classes in ancient Greek history, myth and literature, but know next to nothing about the period you highlight here. Glad to learn more about it. Thanks!

Jane Thunderburker said...

Laskarina Bouboulina rocks! Great information, thank you for sharing it! I'm dreaming of the day I can get residence permit in Greece (looks like it's not very difficult and can sail the seas, eat awesome food and enjoy myself