Battle of Navarino/ The Last Sail Navals

1.10.1827 / 20.10.1827


Battle of Navarino was the last sail naval battle and the decisive battle of Greek War of Independence which had been started in 1821 and would end in 1832. At the end of the battle Ottoman Empire signed the treaty of London (1827) which guaranteed the autonomy of Greeks and would led independent Greece in just 5 years.

Greek people had been living as an Ottoman subject for almost 400 years. They were the second major millet (Muslims, Orthodox-Christians, Georgian Armenian Christians, Jews) after muslims as Orthodox-Christians. Mercantile and clergy classes had been enjoying privileges. Beside them some Greek families had oligarchic powers and had been serving as foreign negotiator, minister and governers in Rumeli. (Phanariots were on of the most powerful Greek family) The only restless Greek people were klefts, bandits against Ottoman tax collectors and as usual hero in poor Greek people’s eyes. Surprisingly Ottoman fought with troops who were collected from Greek subjects named Armatoloi. This struggle and warfare experience later would help Greek insurgents and these klefts would be commanders. However, the only hope of the restless Greek people was not insurrection but divine intervention which would come from northern fair haired race (Orthodox Russian) or resurrection of marble king. (The last emperor of Byziantium Constantine who was believed turned into marble by angles).

However, mighty Turkish army was far from its legacy when we came 19th century. It was hard to won battle with Janissaries who sought privilege and did not want to fight. Moreover, Sultan II Mahmud killed all of them and tried to rebuild modern army. So, insurrections that could be easily crushed became serious. Serbian insurrection turned into revolution in 1804 and this gave some clues to another minorities in Balkans.

Although mercantile class had been enjoying the Ottoman Rule since almost whole naval trade was under control of them, somewhat three of them (Emmanouil Xanthos, Nikolaos Skouphas, Athanasios Tsakaloff) coordinate an organization called Philiki Etairia (Friendly Society) and surprisingly they found great support from people Greek people who saw themselves as Byzantine descendants and Ottoman subjects, started to change. Students studied in Europe, books and ideas was spreading by merchants and people rediscovered their mighty ancient history. (First Europeans found Antique Greece as a mother of Western World than taught it to Greeks.)

In 1822, Greeks achieved limited successes and announced their first constitution. However, it turned to civil war because of conflict of interests. Among merchants, klefts, westerners even traditionalist who sought only new oligarchic powers instead of Turks without any change in civil life.  

Sultan II. Mahmud demanded militaristic intervention from Mehmed Ali Pasha in return territorial gain. Mehmed Ali Pasha sent troops with Ibrahim Pasha Leadership in 1825. In 1 year, he surpassed the revolt and took Athens.

It was the time to intervene for great powers otherwise it would be too late and all of trade privilege would be lost. Russia, Britain and France sent navy to Greece to show their force during negotiations.

Navarino bay with 5 km coast, 3 km wide to isle and only 1 enter was the Ottoman navy’s operational base. Ottoman-Egypt navy and British – Franco – Russian navy came face to face in 1 October 1827. After a week-long standoff, a battle began which resulted in the destruction of the Ottoman–Egyptian fleet. (20 October 1827) The result was sharp and decisive, Ottomans lost their naval force so threat on Greece.

So, already surpassed revolt found second chance and A French expeditionary force was dispatched to supervise the evacuation of the Egyptian army from the Peloponnese, while the Greeks proceeded to the captured part of Central Greece by 1828. As a result of years of negotiation, the nascent Greek state was finally recognized under the London Protocol in 1830.