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Manto Mavrogenous (Greek: Μαντώ Μαυρογένους) (1796 - July 1848) was a Greek heroine of the Greek War of Independence. A rich woman, she spent all her fortune for the Hellenic cause. Under her encouragement, her European friends contributed money and guns to the revolution.

Bust of Manto Mavrogenous, Pedio tou Areos, Athens

Early life

Manto Mavrogenous was born in Trieste, then in the Austrian Empire, now part of Italy. She was daughter of the merchant and member of the Filiki Eteria, Nikolaos Mavrogenes, and Zacharati Chatzi Bati. One of her ancestors, the great-uncle of her father, Nicholas Mavrogenes, was dragoman of the Ottoman Empire's fleet and Prince of Wallachia.

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.

Manto Mavrogenous

War of Independence
Bust of Manto Mavrogenous in Athens.

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. 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.
"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..."

The letter of Manto Mavrogenous to the women of Paris

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.

When the war ended Ioannis Kapodistrias awarded her the rank of the Lieutenant General and granted her a dwelling in Nafplio, where she moved. She owned a treasurable sword, with the inscription "Δίκασον Κύριε τους αδικούντας με, τους πολεμούντας με, βασίλευε των Βασιλευόντων", which is translated to 'Lord, judge those who wrong me, who battle me, rule over the Kings'. That sword is said to come from the times of Constantine the Great and Mavrogenous gave it to Kapodistrias.

Later years
Portrait of Manto Mavrogenous.

Mavrogenous moved to Paros in 1840, where some of her relatives resided, and lived on the island where her home still stands 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. She died on Paros in July 1848, in oblivion and poverty, having spent all her fortune for the War of Independence.


To pay homage to Mavrogenous, the people of Mykonos have named after her Chora's central square where her bust has been raised. Greece has honored this heroine by naming several streets after her. The Greek government has released several commemorative coins in her honor.[1] A film was also made about her life, titled Manto Mavrogenous (1971), in which she was portrayed by Tzeni Karezi.

Mavrogenous was depicted on the reverse of the Greek 2 drachmas coin of 1988-2001.[2]


Übersetzung de


^ "Greece 2 drachmas 1992". Fleur-de-Coin. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
^ Bank of Greece. Drachma Banknotes & Coins: 2 drachmas. – Retrieved on 27 March 2009.

on Lambros, in 1908, noted his straightforwardness and slight egotism, along with his holding firm to his own opinion (as quoted by Sphyroeras).[2] Kostis Palamas, in 1911, called his work "incomparable in its kind, a masterpiece of his illiterate, but strong and autonomous mind" (ibid).[2] It should be noted that Makriyannis had received only the most basic and fragmentary education, and, according to his own testimony, mastered writing shortly before he started writing his Memoirs, while he was stationed in Argos.[2]

Makriyannis, having been ignored by history, and hardly mentioned by chroniclers of the War of Independence, had renewed interest in the revolution by offering a significant personal testimony to historical research. Despite this, after the initial interest in the newly published Memoirs, they were hardly cited for almost 40 years. One could say that Makriyannis was forgotten, not only as a fighter, but also as the author of a text written in Demotic Greek;[2] a text that, besides reproducing the heroic atmosphere of the War of Independence, is also a treasure-house of linguistic knowledge concerning the common Greek tongue of the time.

Makriyannis's reputation was revived during the German occupation of Greece. In 1941, Yorgos Theotokas published an article on the general, calling his Memoirs "a monument of Modern Greek literature" because they were written in pure Demotic Greek.[6] Two years later, in 1943, the Greek Nobel laureate Giorgos Seferis gave a lecture on him, saying:
“ In our times, ... when people seek to find in other people something clear and stable and compassionate, it is appropriate to speak of people such as Makriyannis. ”

— Giorgos Seferis, Dokimes (Essays)[7]

According to the National Book Centre of Greece, Seferis also stated that Makriyannis, along with Alexandros Papadiamantis, is one of the two greatest masters of modern Greek prose.[1]

Since then hundreds of essays have been written on the subject of his Memoirs, and it would be fair to say that the chronicler has overshadowed the fighter, and with good reason, according to Sphyroeras.[2] Spyros Asdrachas has noted that:
“ The fact that an illiterate man managed to use the Demotic speech ... to achieve an expressive density and dynamism entirely unusual of Greek prose made a terrific impression on people. ”

— Spyros Asdrachas, preface to Memoirs of General Makriyannis[8]

The general's objectivity, however, has often been questioned. Vlahogiannis, in his preface to the Memoirs, praises his honesty and contrasts it to his lack of objectivity and impartiality.[9] While always straightforward, Makriyannis clearly holds a grudge against people he had come into conflict with. He often uses disparaging language against people like Kolokotronis, while staying silent about the more questionable deeds of people he had a favourable opinion of. According to Sphyroeras, however, his judgements do not stem from selfishness, but rather from his severity against those he considered were defaming the cause of Greece.[2]

A few months after completing his Memoirs, on New Year's Eve in 1851, Makriyannis started to write another "history", as he called it, which he interrupted rather abruptly in late March 1852, when he was under house arrest. This text was acquired in 1936 or 1937 by Vlahogiannis, and was finally published in 1983 by Angelos Papakostas, aptly titled Visions and Wonders. It has, according to Papakostas, far less historical significance than the Memoirs.[10] The events described therein are given briefly, and are used only as an excuse for his meditations and the interpretation of his Visions, on which he particularly insists. Vlahogiannis, according to Sphyroeras, considered the manuscript to be a religiously overzealous work of a deranged mind, and that is the reason he did not publish it.[2] The work, however, is also the product of a physically and mentally tormented soul, who, being isolated at the age of 54, instead converses with God, the Panagia, and the saints. It also shows Makriyannis's deep religious feeling; he turns away from guns, instead seeking the nation's salvation through divine intervention. Furthermore, as Sphyroeras points out, the work is unique in Modern Greek literature in its subject matter, and is, as the Memoirs, a significant source of linguistic and cultural information.[2]


Απομνημονεύματα (Memoirs) first published: Athens: 1907

Οράματα και Θάματα (Visions and Wonders) first published: Athens: 1983


^ a b c d e f National Book Centre of Greece's biography of Makriyannis (affiliated with Ministry of Culture). (in Greek)
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab General Makriyannis, Απομνημονευματα (Memoirs), Athens: Papyros, 1996 (work first published 1907) (preface by V. Sphyroeras). (in Greek)
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Général Macriyannis, Mémoires, (preface by Pierre Vidal-Naquet), Albin Michel. (in French)
^ a b c d e Encyclopaedic Dictionary The Helios. (in Greek)
^ Bank of Greece. Drachma Banknotes & Coins: 50 drachmas. – Retrieved on 27 March 2009.
^ Yorgos Theotokas, General Makriyannis, Nea Estia, 1941 (in Greek)
^ Georgios Seferis, Dokimes (Essays) 3 vols. (vols 1-2, 3rd ed. (ed. G.P. Savidis) 1974, vol 3 (ed. Dimitri Daskalopoulos) 1992) (work first published 1944) (in Greek)
^ General Makriyannis, Απομνημονευματα (Memoirs), Athens: 1957 (work first published 1907) (preface by Spyros Asdrachas). (in Greek)
^ Strategus Makriyannis, Απομνημονευματα (Memoirs), Athens: 1907 (preface by Yannis Vlahogiannis). (in Greek)
^ General Makriyannis, Οραματα και Θαματα (Visions and Wonders) (ed. Angelos Papakostas), Athens: 1983. (in Greek)


Encyclopaedic Dictionary The Helios (in Greek).
Général Macriyannis, Mémoires, (preface by Pierre Vidal-Naquet), Albin Michel (in French).
George Seferis, Dokimes (Essays) in 3 vols. (vols 1-2, 3rd ed. (ed. G.P. Savidis) 1974; vol 3 (ed. Dimitri Daskalopoulos) 1992) (work first published 1944) (in Greek).
National Book Centre of Greece's biography of Makriyannis (affiliated with Ministry of Culture; in Greek).
General Makriyannis, Απομνημονευματα (Memoirs), Athens: 1907 (preface by Yannis Vlahogiannis). (in Greek)
General Makriyannis, Απομνημονευματα (Memoirs), Athens: 1957 (first published 1907; preface by Spyros Asdrachas; in Greek).
General Makriyannis, Απομνημονευματα (Memoirs), Athens: Papyros, 1996 (first published 1907; preface by V. Sphyroeras; in Greek).
General Makriyannis, Makriyannis: The Memoirs of General Makriyannis 1797-1864 (ed. & trans. H.A. Lidderdale), Oxford: OUP, 1966 (in English).
General Makriyannis, Ὁράματα καὶ Θάματα (Visions and Wonders; ed. Angelos Papakostas), Athens: 1983 (in Greek).
Yorgos Theotokas, General Makriyannis, Nea Estia 1941 (in Greek).

External links

Significant parts of the "Memoirs" (in Greek) and a painting of the general.
The text of the "Memoirs" on the Greek Wikisource in monotonic.
The Ἀπομνημονεύματα in polytonic.
An image of the 50 drachma coin featuring General Makriyannis.


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