Petrobey Mavromichalis: Hero of the Greek War of Independence

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Petrobey Mavromichalis was a leading figure of Mani and the Peloponnese during the last twenty years of Ottoman rule and is one of the protagonists in the Greek War of Independence.

On this day in 1773, Mavromichalis was born. To mark the momentous occasion, we take a look back at his life and some of his achievements.

Early Life:

A descendant of the historical family of Mani, Petrobey Mavromichalis was born on August 6, 1773 in Limeni, port of Tsimova (today’s Areopolis). He was the first of the seven children of Elias Mavromichalis and Aikaterini Koutsogrigoraki, daughter of a prominent family of Mani.

At a young age, he married Anna Benaki, daughter of the prefect of Kalamata, Panagiotis Benaki, with whom he had six children.

Portrait of Petrobei Mavromichalis, work of Adam de Friedel.

Following the death of his father in 1800, Mavromichalis became leader of the Maniotes and in 1816 he established himself as a powerful ruler of the subjugated lands of Mani. At that time, he had to face against corruption, civil conflicts within Mani and piracy.

Greek War of Independence:

In 1818, Mavromichalis was initiated into the Philikí Etaireía or Friendly Society. He dedicated most of his fortune to the secret society and avidly recruited many Maniotes in order to prepare the ground for the Greek War of Independence.

Two days prior to the outbreak of the war, Mavromichalis, together with Papaflessas, Theodoros Kolokotronis and Niketaras, liberated Kalamata.

With the outbreak of the war on March 25th, 1821, Mavromichalis assembled the Messenian Assembly of Elders and was elected first president and field marshal of the Greek forces.

Petrobey Mavromichalis with the rebellious Greeks of Messinia, work of Peter von Es.

He addressed Europe for help in the war in favour of Greece. With the help of Adamantios Korais, the declaration was translated into English and was sent to the United States.

Mavromichalis played a decisive role in numerous battles such as in the siege of Tripolitsa, the battle of the Lerna Mills together with his brother Constantine Mavromichalis, Demetrios Hypsilantis, John Makriyannis and the philhellenes, and the fall of Argos.

In addition, he fought in the 1st siege of Messolonghi, where together with Zaimis and 500 men they managed to halt the Turkish and the Egyptian forces.

After the loss of his brother and his two sons, Mavromichalis gathered his remaining strength and organised the defences of Mani against the Turks. He did not participate in the civil war but instead he attempted to reconcile the Greeks.

With the arrival of Ioannis Kapodistrias as first governor of Greece, Mavromichalis was appointed member of the Assembly of Elders and later member of the Senate during the reign of King Otto. 

In 1823, he became Prime Minister of Greece.

Death:

Mavromichalis died on January 17, 1848 in Athens and was buried with the honors of a serving lieutenant general.

He was lamented as one of the purest and most virtuous heroes of the Greek War of Independence, especially by King Otto, whom he wholeheartedly admired.

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