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Ioannes Capodistrias

Ioannes Capodistrias was born in 1776 on the island of Kerkira (Corfu).  He belonged to an aristocratic family.  His formal education was carried out on the island of Kerkira and in Italy.  In Italy he studied philosophy and medicine, and then returned to Greece.

When the French took control of the Ionian Islands the young Capodistria fled and went to Russia.  In Russia he served as a diplomatic advisor to the Russian army.  As a result of his diplomatic ability the Russians made him head of foreign affairs for Russia.

When the Greeks began their uprising he attempted to use his powerful position in Russia to sway the tsar into supporting the Greek uprising.  The tsar would have none of this, and because of  his inability to sway the tsar Capodistria abandoned his position in Russia and went to Switzerland.  In Switzerland he did all he could for Greece to be free.

When he was asked to become prime minister of Greece he heartily welcomed the challenge.  He went to all the capitals of Europe and used the influence he gained from serving in Russia to garner support and protection for the newly created small nation.

The country he came upon to rule was completely devastated by eight years of war.  The destruction had been complete, the  landscape had been completely devastated, hardly any livestock remained, and few roads existed.  The people feared for their lives as the crime rate was unbelievably high.

Capodistrias however managed to turn the country around.  His accomplishments were unbelievable.  He managed to organize the Greek state.  He brought an end to the fear that had been created as a result of the crime rate by bringing security to the country.  He created the National bank of Greece, created the first currency, and brought the country's economy back into order.  He created the agriculture school to educate the farmers to produce more produce for the country.  He also created the Naval, Military, and Theological schools among others.  He managed to bring Greece into the modern world in a span of very few years.  A remarkable achievement for a nation that had been culturally and economically destroyed as a result of the 400 years of Turkish occupation.

However, many Greeks who did not believe in Capodistrias. The result of many years of war had brought them to think that freedom meant that you could do anything you wanted. Capodistrias strict sense of order was despised by many.  They felt that his accomplishments were done at their expense, and that he was a tyrant.

Sadly his achievements resulted in him being hated by a segment of the Greek population, and one of the greatest heroes of the modern Greek nation was assassinated on September 27th 1831.

 

Other Modern Greeks:

  • Rigas Feraios A national Greek hero and poet during the Ottoman occupation. He is considered the first martyr in the war for Greek independence!
  • Alexandros Ypsilantis A national Greek hero who died fighting for Greece's freedom far from Greece, but whose sacrifice helped to liberate it.
  • Paulos Melas A national Greek hero who fought for the preservation of Hellenism in Macedonia in the early 20th century.
  • Elefterios Venizelos Possibly the greatest Greek politician of the 20th century.  He was Prime Minister of Greece during the most trying of times.
  • Dimitrios Ypsilantis Hero of the war of Independence, he was the brother of Alexandros Ypsilantis and was chosen by him to lead the uprising in the Greek mainland against the Ottoman Empire.  
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