King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
‘A brighter Hellas’: rediscovering Greece in the 19th century

The siege of Athens

Illustration showing the siege of Athens at the AcropolisThe siege of Athens in 1827In August 1826 Athens fell to the Turks, although the Greeks retained control of the Acropolis. This image depicts the siege of Athensin 1827, showing the Greeks and philhellenes at the Acropolis under heavy bombardment from the Turks. Makriyannis is depicted a number of times in the scene.

In October 1826, while serving with the garrison, he was badly wounded (shown at the entrance to the fortress). Following his recovery, he was selected by his comrades to break through enemy lines in order to report to the government about the precarious situation inside the fortress and their need for ammunition; he is shown leaving with five horsemen at the bottom of the scene.

In response, the government asked Colonel Fabvier to run gunpowder to the Acropolis and on the night of 12 December 1826 his troop of regulars, accompanied by philhellenes, arrived. The colonel’s intent was to drop off the ammunition and retreat, but he became trapped at the Acropolis against his wishes.

The Greek government did all in its power to help the besieged fortress, but in June 1827 an agreement was made to surrender the Acropolis to the Turks, and the Greeks and philhellenes were escorted to safety. The Greeks last hope for independence now lay in the Great Powers of Britain, Russia and France,whose combined intervention was agreed by the Treaty of London the following month.

Makriyannis is chiefly remembered for his memoirs, which he began writing in 1829. Documenting his childhood up to his involvement in the war of independence, he continued writing his manuscripts after independence was attained. Throughout his life he kept his writings safely hidden; they remained in his family after his death in 1864 and were first published in 1907. As well as giving an eye-witness account of significant events in Greece’s modern history, Makriyannis’ memoirs are of importance for the language in which they were written, the ordinary speech of his people.

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