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Russia and Greece in the age of revolution



Russia and Greece in the age of revolution


13 March 2021


By 1821, Greeks reached northward into the tsarist empire in myriad ways: through bands of sailors and Black Sea corsairs; through educational institutions scattered across New Russia and beyond; through commercial networks with their hub in Odessa (named after Odysseus in 1794); and more ethereally in the Russian political imagination inspired, like the city itself, by Catherine II’s “Greek Project”. In 1821, Russians turned southward to play a correspondingly kaleidoscopic role in the Greek Revolution: some joined Alexandros Ypsilantis’ army of liberation on its march through Moldavia and Wallachia; others coordinated humanitarian relief for Greek refugees; still more sought to realise philhellenic dreams. But it was in the three decades after 1821 that the relationship between Greece and Russia was at its most complex and most significant. Alarmed by revolutionary challenges to Restoration monarchy, exemplified in Russia by the Decembrist movement (a less successful parallel to the Philiki Etaireia), the Russian autocracy nevertheless played a pivotal role in securing the international stability of the emergent Greek state and in settling its internal ecclesiastical establishment. Both these moves were made under the umbrella of a mutual commitment to ecumenical Orthodoxy. However, to translate that commitment into readily compatible institutional terms proved to be a challenge beyond the diplomatic and intellectual resources of both governments, and of both national churches.

(Edited abstract from organiser’s website)

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