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“Bicentenary of the liberal revolution” podcast, episode 14: Aristides Hatzis with Nikos Theotokas



“Bicentenary of the liberal revolution” podcast, episode 14: Aristides Hatzis with Nikos Theotokas


8 June 2022


In the 14th podcast in the Centre for Liberal Studies (KEFiM) series “Bicentenary of the Liberal Revolution”, Aristides Hatzis hosts Nikos Theotokas, professor of historical and theoretical sociology at Panteion University

(Edited and translated description from organiser’s website)

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The discussion begins with the aim of answering the following question: why did the Greek Revolution take place in 1821? The speakers locate the causes in the international environment (the Napoleonic wars and the return of the Great Powers, such as France, Britain and Austria to the Mediterranean) and in the internal conditions of the Ottoman Empire (Ali Pasha's conflict with the Sultan), but also in the activities of the Philiki Etaireia, which created a large revolutionary network, which created a climate of radicalism, that was irreversible according to the guest speaker. In addition, the economic reasons that led to the explosion of the revolution were discussed, such as the increase in taxation and debts (eg in the Peloponnese). Also, Nikos Theotokas emphasizes the context of the Ottoman Empire during the 18th century, a period that was decisive for internal reforms which led to rapid changes – mainly economic – that led to the creation of debt as well as to borrowing wealth by officials (both Muslims and Christians). It then discusses the trade networks controlled by Greeks and the role merchants played in changing the way the people of the time experienced the world. E.g. a decisive role was played by the presence of the French in the Ionian Islands, but also by the tendency of the traditional elites to send their children to study in the West. Thus, education is slowly shaping the concept of ‘Greekness’, especially in the ranks of the elites. Even during the revolution, the already existing imperial networks are ‘nationalized’. Then the event of the civil war of the revolution is mentioned, which had some class characteristics, but with a dominant local, traditional character of the elites of the Peloponnese who could not follow the modernizations of the revolution. The attempt to join the church members' network in the revolutionary networks of the Philiki is also mentioned, as well as the role of the Church in the revolution – some high-ranking members of the clergy participated in the revolutionary network of the Philiki Etaireia – while the Patriarchate did not have full supervision of the situation. Later on, the issue of the Russian network of the Philiki, such as Ioannis Kapodistrias and Alexandros Ypsilantis, is touched upon; the expectations for Russia's involvement in the revolution are mentioned as well. Another topic of discussion is the issue of the ‘men of arms’, the armatoles, who fought in the traditional way of war at a time when not only the meaning of war but also the way it was conducted was changing. All this is reflected in the civil conflicts of the revolution. A typical example of this transformation is the case of Karaiskakis. Finally, the case of Makrygiannis and his memoirs is mentioned; the case of Missolonghi as a ‘laboratory’ of modernity through the press of the revolution and the trials, that contributed to the transformation of the traditional subject into a modern one.

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