The Unification of Samos with Greek country

The Unification of Samos with Greek country

On November 11, in front of a crowd of people in the courtyard of Agios Spyridon church, Th. Sofoulis, in an emotional speech, proclaimed the union of Samos with Greece …

“The Treaty of London” which recognized the new Greek country. Wall painting in the Greek Parliament

After the successful end of the Greek revolution of 1821 against the Ottomans and the establishment of the new Greek state in 1830, Samos, although it had overthrown the Ottoman yoke, was not included to the new state. This development had disappointed the Samians, who protested towards the great powers, declaring that their fight will continue.

In order to bring peace and balance to the Aegean Sea, the great powers began intensive negotiations with the Sublime Porte (Sultan) on the fate of Samos, which never had a permanent Muslim population (read more). Ultimately, the outcome of the negotiations was the Organic Order of the 10thof December 1832, which formed a peculiar semi-autonomous hegemonic status (Principality) for the island of Samos.

The flag, of hegemonic Samos

The Organic Order of 1832, as well as the subsequent Detailed Maps of 1850 and 1862, stipulated that the ruler of Samos would be appointed by the Sublime Porte (the Ottoman Sultan) and should be of the same religion (Orthodox Christian) as its population. The administration of the island would be exercised by a Hegemon (ruler – Prince) and the Samian Parliament, which would consist of four deputies, one from each administrative districts of the island, elected by the General Assembly of the representatives of each district. The internal administration would be governed by the Ruler and the House, with full autonomy, but they could not pursue foreign policy. It would have its own flag, but could not have its own currency and would pay an annual submission tax to the Sublime Porte of 400,000 piaster.

Postcard depicting which Vathi of Samos and the map of Samos with the hegemonic flag.

The hegemonic regime (Principality) was not accepted by the Samian people, but it was finally enforced upon them in July 1834, when the Turkish fleet anchored off the island and forced the decisions of the great powers and the Ottomans. The hegemonic (Principality) regime lasted for 78 years (1834-1912) and the island was ruled over the years by 20 different rulers (princes). Most were highly educated, and well-trained, and had a lot to offer on the island’s progress and development. But all of them represented the Ottomans, in the eyes of the Samians.

For the most part of the hegemonic (Principality) regime, no socio-political movement or liberation movement from the Ottoman domination was openly expressed, despite the political processes of rearrangements in relations with the Sublime Porte , but also of the social inequalities that existed on the island. The trigger came in 1895 with the onset of the Cretan revolution and the idea of a Union with Greece began to intensify, with the onset of the Greek-Turkish war in 1897. The idea of a Union with Greece had now come to light.

Themistokles Sofoulis s in his office in Mitilinii village of Samos

The decisive factor in the development of the situation was the appearance of Themistokles Sofoulis (1860-1949) on the political scene of Samos. After the abrupt end of his academic career, when in 1899 he resigned as an Archeology lecturer because the University of Athens did not appoint him a regular Professor of Archeology. So Th.Sofoulis returned to his hometown of Samos, where he took over the leadership of the Progressive party, a radical political group with national and progressive positions aimed at expanding the island’s civil liberties, which the rulers were trampling.

Soon afterwards, Sophouli’s abilities were recognized and he became very influential, resulting in his election as a representative (member) of a Samian district in 1900, and in 1902 he became president of the Samian National Assembly. Th.Sofoulis was now systematically cultivating the idea of unification, and began to have direct contacts with the Greek state, as he was accused of by the rival conservative, pro-Hegemony “Chatzigianni” party.

Andreas Kopasis, ruler of Samos the period 1908-1912

The Chatzigianni-Progressive conflict was growing in size, and the Sublime Porte, in its attempt to control the prevailing revolutionary climate, appointed more authoritarian rulers. Thus in 1908 the Sultan appointed the Pro- Ottoman, authoritarian and tyrannical ruler Andreas Kopasis, who tried in every way to impose order and the Ottoman rule on Samos, violating the island’s autonomy privileges one of which stipulated that no Ottoman army was to be stationed on the island.

In May 1908, at the request of An.Kopasis, the Ottomans sent a fleet and an infantry regiment to the island, leading to an armed uprising on May 12, 1908. Conflicts followed in the capital, which resulted to the deaths of 30 Samians. Th.Sofoulis and his close associates were found guilty of the uprising and sentenced to death in absentia by the Samos Criminal Court. In order to avoid arrest he escaped with his associates to Greece, where he tried to organize a movement to overthrow the Hegemon (Prince).

Stavros Kazantzis (Baretis) (1885 – 1912), the executor of the ruler Andreas Kopasis

On March 9, 1912, the Hegemon (Prince) Andreas Kopasis was assassinated by Stavros Baretis, who was also killed by And.Kopasis‘ guards during the event. The assassination was organized by Macedonian fighters Stavros Baretis and Athanasios Stavroudis of the “Macedonian Commissariat of Athens”. Gregory Vegleris was appointed as the new Hegemon (Prince), who in his short term continues a pro-Turkish policy and allows the Turkish army to be reinforced and artillery units were deployed at Bayraktari area in Paleokastro village.

On September 7, 1912, Themistocles Sofoulis, with a small group of armed Samians, Cretans, and Icarians, landed at Marathokampos Ormos, declaring a revolution against the local ruler and the subjugation to the Ottoman yoke. Hundreds of armed volunteers are hurrying to the the village of Mitilinii, where Th.Sofoulis had his headquarters, which was later relocated to Zervou area to make it easier for him to oversee the operations against the Turks. Developments are now booming, Turks are burning houses and crops of the Samian people and fierce clashes begun. One of the fiercest battles it was in the Bayraktari area of Paleokastro village, where the Turkish artillery was located. It lasted for a whole day, with many dead and wounded on both sides. But after the intervention of the English Consul in Samos, Louis Mark, a five-day truce took place from September 13 to September 18. On September 19, Th.Sofoulis proclaimed that “the only sovereign and valid power in the island is the revolution”. Negotiations followed where the Turks capitulated and agreed to leave Samos after receiving guarantees for the safe transfer of their army to the Asia Minor coast. Thus, on September 23, 1912 the Turkish army left Samos.

After contacts with prime minister Venizelos in Athens, Th.Sofoulis returns to Samos where a National Assembly is convened and on November 11, in front of a crowd of people in the courtyard of Agios Spyridon church, Th.Sofoulis, in an emotional speech, proclaimed the union of Samos with Greece, sending the National Assembly resolution to Venizelos. The response was positive but cautious, Greece fearing diplomatic complications. In Samos a provisional government was formed, headed by Th.Sofoulis, until March 2, 1913 when the Greek Government sends to Samos, the battleship “Spetses”, and the cargo ship “Thessaly”, which landed two Greek army companies which were enthusiastically welcomed by the Samians. The integration of Samos with Greece was now a reality.

Laiou Sofia: Samos during the Ottoman period.
Laiou Sofia: Constitutional Texts of the Samian Hegemony.
Landros Christos: Samian Papers 1832 – 1915.
Areli Vaso: Publication, “The Rule of Samos and the Union with Greece

More about Samos history