2021 is a year of celebration in Greece. Two hundred years ago, the revolution that brought the country to independence began. Outside the Ottoman Empire, mainly in France and in the United Kingdom, people already thought about a kingdom for the Greek people, a trusty ally to destabilize the east side of the Mediterranean Sea.
In these circumstances, we can introduce Manto Mavrogenous, the most famous heroine who took part in the revolution, supporting her compatriots. She was born in Trieste in 1796, under the Ausburg Monarchy, the daughter of Nikolaos Mavrogenous, a merchant from Mykonos, and Zacharati Bati.
She grew up in a wealthy and aristocratic family, having the chance to study Illuminism, a philosophical movement that profoundly influenced her way of thinking. Such a stimulant environment and the well-mannered societies she attended induced her also to learn French, Italian, and Turkish. “The beauty Greek” that was her nickname wasn’t just because she was a clever girl, but beautiful and charming too. Her way of thinking was more similar to the European girls of her age than her Greek peers.
Her father was a relevant member of the Φιλικής Εταιρείας (Filiki Eteria – the friendship organization), the most pertinent among the secret groups born in preparation of the 1821 revolution; supporting its activities, Manto talked about this organization every time she attended a social event.
The rise of the revolution in Mykonos
In 1821 Manto went to Mykonos, helping the locals to fight against the Ottoman troops. She spent her wealth selling gold and jewels to train soldiers, buy weapons, and equip the warships; she even fought several battles.
So, on the 22nd of October 1822, the Mykoniates succeeded in casting out the long-time invaders from their coasts. Immediately after, Manto showed relevant command skills, sending fifty well-trained soldiers and a six ships fleet to defend Tripolis in the Peloponnese region that greek revolters already set free.
A stretched love
The revolution got to the heart, so Manto decided to move to Nafplio in 1823 to join the main actions. It happened when Manto’s mother cut every bond with her, not accepting a revolutionary behavior from a woman of her lineage. In Nafplio, the future capital of the Kingdom of Greece, she met one of the heads of the revolt, Dimitrios Ypsilantis; she fell in love with him, but they never married, causing in Manto deep suffering.
Moreover, various Greek politicians didn’t respect their relationship because they were part of relevant, Russian-friendly families: a treaty that both the French and the English factions couldn’t stand. When Dimitrios Ypsilantis died in 1832, Manto returned to Mykonos, full of pain; she spent time writing her memories.
Last years and death
The revolution and the independence war came to an end, giving the greek people freedom. Ioannis Antonios Kapodistrias, the first Greek prime minister, named her honorary Lieutenant and gave her a house in Nafplio.
She died in Paros in 1848, where she resided since 1840, poor, after spending all her money during the Revolution.
The first movie called “Manto Mavrogenous” was filmed in 1971. During these months in Mykonos, a new film is under production to celebrate such a relevant anniversary. You can meet Manto in the main squares of Mykonos. A marble half-bust is there, with our heroine wearing war clothes.