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Economic orientations and strategies of ship-owning families of Hydra during the Greek Revolution: The case of the Boudouris family



Economic orientations and strategies of ship-owning families of Hydra during the Greek Revolution: The case of the Boudouris family


2 October 2021


Before the Greek Revolution, the Boudouris family was one of the strongest families in Hydra. The source of the family’s power was, without a doubt, participation in the maritime trade and ship owning; the heads of the family, brothers Stamatios and Vassilios, were shareholders in 10 large vessels. At the same time, they had developed a range of economic activities, complementary and supportive to the maritime trade: land ownership, lending, income management, networks of cooperation with merchants of Izmir, Livorno, Peloponnese and other areas. Their economic power was confirmed by their gradual promotion to the island’s governing body, the “Koinon” (commons) of Hydra. When the revolution broke out, the Boudouris brothers were called on to determine their position in the “state” under formation. In these circumstances, the issues of adjusting their economic strategies and seeking a new economic role in the conditions of “rupture” with the Ottoman state, in which they developed their business activities and became part of the Ottoman regional power, were crucial.

This presentation, based on documents from the family archive, which belongs to the Hellenic Literary and Historical Archive Society argues that the Boudouris brothers can serve as a typical example of a ship-owning family which – relatively successfully – rearranged its financial orientations in territory of its participation in the revolution. In particular, it tries to show that the Boudouris brothers, and the Hydra shipowners in general, used the revolution (and) as a field of economic activity in order to compensate for the “losses” from the cessation of maritime trade and the involvement of their ships in the war. The economic and investment orientations of the Boudouris family were formed in connection with the involvement of its members in the revolutionary administrative bodies, as well as with the internal developments on the island of Hydra, especially after the “change” of the administrative system of the island at the end of 1826; which was a field of redistribution among the members of the commons of Hydra. The formation of the Greek state in 1830 posed new dilemmas and contradictions to the Boudouris brothers, as happened to other shipowners in Hydra: return to ship ownership and maritime trade or an attempt to acquire a new, multifaceted, economic role through the purchase and exploitation of farming lands (tsifliki) in Evia? From this point of view, this presentation tries to formulate a series of general reflections on the possibilities and limits of integration of the pre-revolutionary ship-owning families of Hydra in the new state, as well as on how they saw their economic role in the context of “national” economy but also the changing economic landscape of the eastern Mediterranean.

(Edited and translated abstract from conference programme)

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