Friday, April 10, 2015

Between two Flags

A bust of Demetrios Ypsilanti 
stands between American and Greek flags 
at the base of the landmark Ypsilanti Water Tower.

The city of Ypsilanti

    The city of Ypsilanti, Michigan in the United States, founded in 1825 during the Greek struggle for independence. Is named after Demetrius Ypsilanti, a hero in the Greek War of Independence.

Demetrios Ypsilantis

Dimitrios Ypsilantis, the selfless Greek warrior and politician, was born in 1793 in Constantinople. 

He studied at military academies in France and served in the Czar's Royal Guard in Petroupolis. Following a decision by the Society of Friends (Philiki Eteria), he went to the Peloponnese as his brother Alexander's* deputy, smuggling weapons and provisions.

He took part in Tripolis' siege, also in military operations in Nafplion, Argos, Korinthos, Dervenakia. The last victorious battle of the Revolution was waged by Dimitrios Ypsilantis at Petra, 1829. 

   When Kapodistrias came to Greece, Ypsilantis was made Field Marshall (the first in modern Greece) and put in charge of organizing the regular national army. 

   Dimitrios Ypsilantis was one of the most important figures of 1821: he sacrificed his personal fortune and future in order to help free his nation, fought for the restoration of Greek culture and cleared Greek territory of the Turkish Guard. 

   His health was unstable and died in Nafplion on August 1832.

   He was known for an affair with Manto Mavrogenous who was a Greek heroine of the Greek War of Independence.   

   Manto was a rich woman, that spent all her fortune for the Hellenic cause. Under her encouragement, her European friends contributed money and guns to the revolution.  

   She moved to Nafplio in 1823, in order to be in the core of the struggle, leaving her family as she was despised even by her mother because of her choices. 

   It is the time that Mavrogenous met Demetrius Ypsilanti, with whom she was engaged. Soon, she become famous around Europe for her beauty and bravery. 

   But in May of the same year, her home was totally burnt and her fortune was stolen, and as a result she went to Tripoli to live with Ypsilanti, while Papaflessas provided her with food.

   When Ypsilanti broke up with Mavrogenous, she went back to Nafplio, where she almost lived, deeply depressed, as a hobo and was not paid the debts of the money she had given for various battles. 

   After Ypsilanti's death and her political conflicts with Ioannis Kolettis, she was exiled from Nafplio and returned to Mykonos, where she occupied with the writing of her memoirs. While spending her fortune for the sake of the Greek war, she used to live in great poverty.

          Manto Mavrogenous

   A beautiful woman of aristocratic lineage, she grew up in an educated family, influenced by the Age of Enlightenment. 

She studied ancient Greek Philosophy and history at a college in Trieste, and spoke French, Italian  and Turkish fluently.

In 1809, she moved to Paros with her family, where she learned from her father that the Filiki Eteria was preparing what would become known as the Greek Revolution and later, in 1818, after her father's death, she left for Tinos. 

   When the struggle began, she went to Mykonos, the island of her origin, and invited the leaders of Mykonos to join the revolution.

   She equipped, manned and "privateered" at her own expense, two ships with which she pursued the pirates who attacked Mykonos and other islands of Cyclades. 

   On 22 October 1822, the Mykonians repulsed the Ottoman Turks, who had debarked on the island, under her leadership. She also equipped 150 men to campaign in the Peloponnese and sent forces and financial support to Samos, when the island was threatened by the Turks. 

   Later, Mavrogenous sent another corps of fifty men to Peloponnese, who took part in the Siege of Tripolitsa and the fall of the town to the Greek rebels. 

   Together, she spent money for the relief of the soldiers and their families, the preparation of a campaign to Northern Greece and the support of several philhellenes.

   She later put together a fleet of six ships and an infantry consisting of sixteen companies, with fifty men each, and took part in the battle in Karystos in 1822, and funded a campaign to Chios, but she did not prevent it from the massacre. Another group of fifty men was sent to reinforce Nikitaras in the Battle of Dervenakia. 

   When the Ottoman fleet appeared in Cyclades, she returned to Tinos and sold her jewelry to finance the equipment of 200 men who fought the enemy and cherish two thousand people who had survived from the first siege of Missolonghi. Her men participated in several other battles like those of Pelion, Phthiotis and Livadeia.

   Mavrogenous led enlightenment expeditions in Europe and addressed an appeal to the women of Paris, to side up with the Greeks.  In her letter to the women of Paris Manto Mavrogenous writes:

"The Greeks, born to be liberal, will owe their independence only to themselves. So I don't ask your intervention to force your compatriots to help us. But only to change the idea of sending help to our enemies.The war spreads the horrible death..

Constantine the Great and 
his sword with the inscription 
"Lord, judge those who wrong me,
who battle me, rule over the Kings". 

The Sword of Constantine the Great

When the war ended Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first head of state of independent Greece (1827–33),  awarded her the rank of the Lieutenant General and granted her a dwelling in Nafplio, where she moved.  
Manto gave to Kapodistrias a treasurable sword  that she owned.  That sword is said to come from the times of Constantine the Great, with the inscription:  

"Lord, judge those who wrong me, who battle me, rule over the Kings". 

She died on Paros in July 1848, in oblivion and poverty, having spent all her fortune for the War of Independence.
Greece has honored this heroine by naming several streets after her. The Greek government has released several commemorative coins in her honor. 
A film was also made about her life, titled Manto Mavrogenous(1971)
Her home still stands in the island of Paros as a historical monument, located close to the Panagia Ekatontapyliani (the Church of the Virgin Mary) which, tradition says, was founded by Saint Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.

* Alexander Ypsilantis (1792–1828), brother of Dimitrios Ypsilantis, was a member of a prominent Phanariot Greek family, was a prince of the Danubian Principalities, a senior officer of the Omperial Russian cavalry during the Mapoleonic Wars, and a leader of the Filiki Eteria, a secret organization that coordinated the beginning of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. 

 ________________________________     No 10

ELEGHOS... at history 

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