Greek Independence mvnt.

Greek Independence Movement

Many Cypriots supported the Greek independence effort that began in 1821, leading to severe reprisals by the Ottoman Empire. The Greek War of Independence of 1821  had its repercussions on the situation in Cyprus. With the Sultan’s consent, the Ottoman administration in the island under governor Küçük Mehmet, executed 486 Greek Cypriots on 9 July 1821, accusing them of conspiring with the rebellious Greeks. They included four Bishops, many clergymen and prominent citizens, who were beheaded in the central square of Nicosia, while Archbishop Kyprianos was hanged. The French consul M. Méchain reported on 15 September 1821 that the local pasha, Küçük Mehmet, carried out several days of massacres  in Cyprus since July 9 and continued on for 40 days, despite the Vizier’s command to end the plundering since 20 July 1821. On 15 October 1821, a massive Turkish Cypriot mob seized and hanged an Archbishop, five Bishops, thirty six ecclesiastics, and hanged most of the Greek Cypriots in Larnaca and the other towns. By September 1822, sixty two Greek Cypriot villages and hamlets had entirely disappeared. [1][2]  The property of the Church was plundered and the Greek Cypriots were forced to pull down the upper storeys of their houses, an order that remained in force until the British put the island under their control almost sixty years later. When Greece  became independent in 1829, many Cypriots sought the incorporation of Cyprus into Greece, but it remained part of the Ottoman Empire.


Between the years 1849 and 1878 Cyprus witnessed some slow change for the better in the administration section. District councils were set up and consisted of Greek and many Ottoman members. Many reforms, however, which were supposed to have been introduced were frustrated by unwilling administrators.

In 1878, three centuries of Ottoman occupation came to an end. During their long presence on the island, the architectural remains left by the Turks included the small fort of Paphos dating to the late 16th century and largely based on a Lusignan plan, the tomb that was built where Umm Haram, a relative of Muhammad, died in the mid-seventh century, which dates to the late 18th century and over which a tekke and a mosque were built 1816, and an aqueduct constructed by Abu Bekr Pasha in 1747 in order to bring fresh water to Larnaca. In Nicosia, the capital, there is a 16th century inn called a Khan, a 17th century Tekke of the Mevleri or the Dancing Dervishes and the Arab Ahmet Pasha mosque of the 18th century.

In 1869 the Suez Canal opened, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland showed increasing interest in the island, which is situated in what had suddenly become a very convenient location. When the Turks were defeated by the Russians in 1877 and the Berlin Congress took place the next year in order to revise the treaty of St Stefano which was signed by Russia and the Ottoman Empire according to terms dictated by the former, it was officially announced on 9 July 1878 that on the 4th of preceding June, the British and the Sultan had secretly countersigned the Convention of Istanbul by virtue of which the possession and administration of Cyprus was vested in Great Britain. As exchange for control of Cyprus, the UK agreed to support Turkey in the Russian-Turkish war. This agreement was formalised as the Cyprus Convention.

After the Greek revolution of 1821 and the establishment of the Greek state, the Greek Cypriots expressed practically the wish of ‘Union’ with Greece, as it happened with the Ionian Islands and later with Crete.

This feeling of the Greek Cypriots began to be formed since the era of the Turkish occupation and was expressed later at the time of the British occupation. These expectations for ‘Union’ were expressed by the ‘Ethnarchy’ (supreme ecclesiastical authority, which represented the Greek Cypriots in the political sector since the first moment of the British presence in Cyprus). The development of the ‘Union’ movement of the Greek Cypriots was a sequence of the close ties between Cyprus and Greece due to the common cultural and religious history. During Turkish occupation the manifestation of nationalism was clandestine and feeble due to oppression. On the contrary, during the British occupation, the freedom of expression allowed by the British gave the possibility to the Greek political and religious leaders to nurture the idea of ‘Enosis’ (Union). The demand for ‘Enosis’ was initially propounded by the Church and then by the politicians in the Legislative Council, and the various committees formed for the promotion of the national cause.

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