Hundreds of years of Ottoman rule gave them a reason to fight.
MARCOS BOTSARIS GAVE THEM A LEADER.
The Greek son of a Suliote leader. Reluctant to follow in his father’s footsteps, finds himself faced with the responsibility to lead a nation, and take his place as one of the most revered heroes in modern Greek history.
Ali Pasha assumed the position as the ruler of Ioannina, the most powerful region of Greece, against the wishes of the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan, and was known as the Napoleon of the East for his inhumane ways and dictatorial rule.
Notes on the actual events surrounding 1821…
Mani Peninsula was never occupied by the Ottoman Empire. It was the real land of the free and this contributed to be chosen as a starting ground for the beginning of the Revolution. The resistance needed a place safe to gather resources and forces to declare war upon the strong Ottoman Empire. This place was meant to be Mani, the place that knows only two kings: Sun and Stone. Below there are some information I gathered about the area and the people who made the foundations of the famous 1821 Revolution. Few men, free men stood against an Empire against all odds. Also, they helped all other regions in Greece to claim their freedom.
In 1460, after the fall of Constantinople,
the Despotate fell to the Ottomans.
Mani was not subdued and retained its internal self-government in exchange for an annual tribute, although this was only paid once.
Local chieftains or beys governed Mani.
‘The first of these rulers, Liberakis Yerakaris, reigned in the middle of the seventeenth century. By the age of twenty he had served several years as an oarsman in the Venetian galleys and made himself the foremost pirate of the Mani. Captured by the Turks and condemned to death, he was reprieved by the Grand Vizier—the great Albanian Ahmet Küprülü—on condition that he accepted the hegemony of the Mani. He undertook the office in order to avenge himself on the strong Maniot family of the Stephanopoli with which he was in feud. He at once besieged them in the fort of Vitylo and captured thirty-five of them whom he executed on the spot. For the next twenty years he used his power and influence with the Sublime Porte to campaign all over Greece at the head of formidable armies, siding now with the Turks, now with the Venetians, marrying the beautiful princess Anastasia, niece of a Voivode of Wallachia (a member of the Duca family), ending his life, after adventures comparable to anything in the annals of the Italian condottiere, as Turkish Prince of the Mani and Venetian Lord of the Roumeli and Knight of St. Mark. The Turks did not repeat the experiment for a hundred years. [Later,] during the forty-five years from 1776 to 1821, when the War of Independence broke out, the Mani was ruled by eight successive Beys, all except one of whom played the dangerous game of maintaining the interests of the Mani and of eventual Greek freedom while trying to remain on the right side of the Turks. [These were:] Zanetos Koutipharis (3 years), Michaelbey Troupakis (3 years), Zanetbey Kapetanakis Grigorakis (14 years), Panayoti Koumoundouros (5 years), Antonbey Grigorakis (7 years), Zervobey (2 years), Thodorbey Zanetakis (5 years) and Petrobey Mavromichalis (6 years).’
As Ottoman power declined, the mountains of the Mani became a stronghold of the klephts, bandits who also fought against the Ottomans.
There is also evidence of a sizeable Maniot emigration to Corsica sometime during the Ottoman years. Petros Mavromichalis, the last bey of Mani, was among the leaders of the Greek War of Independence. He proclaimed the revolution at Areopoli on March 17, 1821. The Maniots contributed greatly to the struggle, but once Greek independence was won, they wanted to retain local autonomy. During the reign of Ioannis Kapodistrias, they violently resisted outside interference, to the extent of Mavromichalis killing Kapodistrias.
In 1878 the national government reduced the local autonomy of the Mani, and the area gradually became a backwater; inhabitants abandoned the land through emigration, with many going to major Greek cities, as well as to western Europe and the United States. It was not until the 1970s, when the construction of new roads supported the growth of the tourist industry, that the Mani began to regain population and become prosperous.
An old saying of the area :
“As a passerby you need three days to see Mani, as a visitor you need three months, but to see her soul you need three lifetimes. One for her sea, one for her mountains and one for her people”