Mark Mazower’s Revolutionary Reckonings
For the bicentennial of the Greek war of independence, Mark Mazower has written an essay published in the Times Literary Supplement.
“The uprising in Ottoman Europe which culminated in the independence of Greece was launched exactly 200 years ago. In a matter of months, a Christian peasant insurgency ousted the Ottomans from most of the Peloponnese in a conflict of immense ferocity, while Greek ships challenged the Sultan’s hold over the eastern Mediterranean. The contest could scarcely have been more uneven; Europe’s Great Powers could not have been less supportive. Yet the Greeks persisted, plunging the Ottoman Empire into crisis, mobilizing the sympathies of the European public and eventually forcing the Powers to intervene to bring the fighting to an end by backing the establishment of an independent Greek state. Covid is unlikely to stop the exhibitions, lectures, conferences and festivities that have been planned; online you can already buy bicentennial backpacks, mugs, pens and commemorative coins. Nor does the anniversary merit less: the Greek war of independence was perhaps the earliest triumph of nationalism – famously defined by Lord Acton as the idea that ‘nations would not be governed by foreigners’. It was in this sense a forerunner of the political struggles that transformed the map of Europe and created the world we inhabit today.”