The overwhelming majority of Greeks believe the 1821 War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire (Revolution of 1821) was national in nature, while Theodoros Kolokotronis, the most prominent general in the uprising, was the central hero of the struggle, according to a survey conducted by polling company MARC on behalf the Center for Liberal Studies-Markos Dragoumis (KEFiM).
The findings of the survey were particularly interesting given the fact that a number of issues have been contentious in Greek society as a whole, and pundits and laymen alike interested in historical interpretation. Russia is seen by the respondents as having the greatest contribution to the liberation struggle of the Greeks, while the action of the Friendly Society (Filiki Eteria) also played a pivotal role.
The results of the survey were presented by KEFiM in an online press conference at noon on Wednesday, July 8 under the title “How do Greeks see the Revolution of 1821?”
On the questions of what kind of Revolution the 1821 Independence War was, 90.4% of the respondents answered that the uprising of ’21 was of a national nature. For 54.6% the Revolution was social, 52.9% said it was liberal in nature- a close percentage (51.3%) said it was religious, while those who associated it with a a “democratic” uprising were 40.8% of respondents.
A general rule of thumb, when examining the issue of what type of revolt it was, is that those identifying as more to the right of the political spectrum or more conservative tend to believe it was primarily a national revolution, while the more left-leaning citizens would see the uprising as being largely rooted in social issues.
However, this interpretation did not seem to bear out in the survey, as when the results on the specific question were broken down on party lines, the findings revealed that by and large both those who voted for New Democracy and those who preferred SYRIZA in the 2019 elections, believed that the Revolution of ’21 was of a national nature (91.5% ND, 88.8% SYRIZA).
On the question “Can you remember the names of the most important figures of the Revolution of 1821?”, the top 5 heroes highlighted were the following: Kolokotronis (92.7%), Karaiskakis (63.1%), Bouboulina (32.4%), Papaflessas (32.2%), Athanasios Diakos (23.7%).
As for the contribution of the foreign powers of the day to the success of the Revolution, an issue that definitely demands deeper knowledge and insight into Greek history, the prevalent answer was that Russia (42.5%) helped the most, followed by France with 18.3%, Great Britain with 17.1% and Austria with 6.2%, a response that could be dubbed somewhat problematic.
As far as the social groups or institutions which played a pivotal role in the outbreak of the Revolution of 1821, the Friendly Society (Filiki Eteria) was the most prominent with 94.2%, followed by the Philhellenes (87.1%), the Greek island shipowners (85 , 2%), the military, ie the former mountain and highway bandits (Armatoloi and Kleftes) with 81.2%, the church (72.1%) and finally the Phanariot scholars with 68.6%.