multidimensional event which did not have to do only with the two peoples directly involved
wars and how all these factors are interwoven.
main purpose was to contain the so far offensive policy of France. As a matter of fact we can
proportion of the Continent of Europe from the Military D minion of France. [...]. It was never
Affairs of other States” (quoted in J. Joll, 71). However, at the back-stages of all these official
That is how the European picture, more or less, looked like when the Greek struggle for
independence broke out in 1821 –in the beginning rather unsuccessfully– in the Danubian
Powers were at the Conference of Laibach with an agenda full of insurrections in Spain and
apprehend Metternich’s foreign policy “we have to penetrate deep to +. de Metternich’s
character”. Isambert also claims that Metternich was viewing the sultan as a means to make the
subjugation of nations a legitimate action. Furthermore, Metternich was very much afraid that the
Russians, under the pretext of protecting the Greek Christians, might interfere in the internal
affairs of the Ottoman Empire (Isambert, 65-66) and thus find a way out to the Mediterranean
As far as how the British viewed the Greek uprising, Finley says: “The British Cabinet was
the only way of preventing Greece from falling under the protection of Emperor Alexander, and
of hindering Russia from acquiring naval stations in the Mediterranean.” (Finley, 2). At that time
Castleragh was the head of the Foreign Office and it seems that more or less he was sharing the
same anxieties with Metternich. However, in letter that Castlereagh sent to Bagot, the British
ambassador in Russia, on 28 October 28 1822, he does not seem to be quite sure of how the
Greek question should be handled: “Ought the Turkish yoke to be forever riveted upon the necks
of their suffering and Christians subjects?” (quoted in Joll, 83 ). In this statement we discern
been rather inconsistent, especially during the first years of the Greek revolt. Castlereagh feared
that, even if the Turks could be removed from the Greek territories, the Greeks would not be
referring to was Russia. Castlereagh concludes his letter by saying that he could not put into
danger “the frame of long established relations, and to aid the insurrectionary efforts now in
progress in Greece” (quoted in Joll, 84). Accordingly, one can argue that, as far as the eastern
their common wish to maintain the peace in the East and that this can be considered as the
quintessence of the British and Austrian policy of that period.
Alexander I of Russia
At this point it is worthwhile mentioning Castlereagh’s reference to Russia as the possible
was supporting the Greeks. Russia, more than any other European state, had obvious reasons for
collapsed, the Russians would have access to the Mediterranean Sea. Furthermore, Russia was
in the eyes of the other states as a probable sponsor of the revolution since both nations
of Greece became even more intense by the Greeks themselves. In fact, Greeks had the false – as
it turned out to be later on – impression that Russia would come to their rescue. This impression
was justified by the fact that Tsar Alexander had vaguely given some faint hopes to the
dilemma. On the one hand, the Greeks, being in friction with the Turks, were affecting
Empire, the former were not allowed any more to pass through the Straits and consequently the
exporting power of Russia was curtailed. (Anderson, 60). On the other hand, it goes without
saying that the Tsar did not wish any alteration of the existent status quo in Europe. Monarchies
should be preserved, and therefore, Tsar Alexander’s objective would, naturally, be to preserve
his monarchical rule.
In Laibach the Powers were taken aback. Metternich and Castlereagh on the one side were
a two-blade knife. Both Castlereagh and Metternich put all their efforts on influencing the Tsar
against the Greeks. That is how the Tsar decided to keep a rather neutral stance.
Though the Greek Revolution took place in 1821, it was not officially discussed before the
Conference of Verona (October-November 1822). However, during the period between the two
conferences the Great Powers were feverishly trying to influence one another on their conduct
regarding the Greek issue. This atmosphere is successfully described by Finley who says that
Europe was threatened by a “war of opinion”. (Finley, 3).
This is how the diplomatic arena had shaped when the Great Powers met at the Conference of
Verona in 1822. Castlereagh died before the Conference took place and was succeeded by
George Canning. + mentioned this takeover of the Foreign Office by G. Canning since historians
identify him as the main cause for the shift of the British policy towards the Greek cause and for
the reevaluation of the relations of England with the other European Powers. However,
Castlereagh had started differentiating his position from the alliance some months before he
died; the reason was not disagreements concerning Greece but the insistence of Alexander + on
applying to Spain the principles of the Protocol of Troppau, something that Gastlereagh did not
want. (Bridge & Bullen, 40). It is also clear that “Alexander, unlike Gastlereagh, had evolved
28). Actually, it appears that “Lord Gastlereagh as the representative of this country, demurred
to pledge which his sovereign could not undertake independently of Parliament”, showing how
Castlereagh felt to the proposal of Alexander to come to the “assistance in case of domestic as
well as of international difficulty.” (L. Courtrney, 372).
Canning, did not attend the conference of Verona but he sent the Duke of Wellington, who was
given instructions to maintain strict, neutral stance (D. Dakin, 148-149). Furthermore,
“Wellington had been instructed, if necessary, to break the unity of the Congress.” (Temperley,
which in turn could have helped the Greeks. The Spanish question had always been the apple of
discord between the Great Powers, and had the revolution of Spain divided the Powers into
different groups, the Greeks could have taken advantage of this. The strong European states,
though, were flexible enough to form the appropriate groups and agreements according to the
subject in question. (Isambert, 142). Surprisingly but logically enough the Great Powers had not
included in the Conference of Verona the Greek Revolution. Had they done so they would have
officially accepted that indeed there were problems in the East and the Greek Revolution would
the Greeks to increase their hostilities against the Turks.
In regard to the Conference f Verona and especially to how the British conducted their policy,
+ should give a general account of how Stratfort Canning (G. Canning’s cousin), +.+. Courtney,
Isambert and +. G. Stapleton Canning’s private secretary), viewed Canning himself and his
policy. Stratfort Canning, cousin of the new Foreign Minister of England, claims that his
that these poems would serve “as for the indications they afford of the source where our young
29). Further down, Str. Canning gives a general idea of Canning’s foreign policy: “To our
foreign relations he gave a tone which had the effect of maintaining our national dignity without
compromising the country’s peace, although he had often to deal with powers either hostile to
Greek independence, he limited the action of despotic influence abroad;” (Str. Canning, 41).
Courtney, on the other hand, believes that “Mr. Canning soon came to recognize the impropriety
for our joining in the attempts to prevent internal changes in several European countries, and
was thus led to maintain the policy and duty of non-interference.” and that Canning also
considered it vain to prevent any manifestations of national content. However, Courtney adds
that Canning did not adopt right from the beginning a concrete stance to the Greek issue as he did
with Spain (Courtney, 1897, 373). Similarly, Isambert says that “Nothing at the Congress of
Vienna announced openly that there was a change of policy in England” (Isambert, 1900, 149)
and he gives quotation of Stapleton’s: “England has not the right to intervene in the Orient. She
like others to respect Hers. The above statement, it is true, shows no signs that Canning was
apparent truths. Namely, Canning was aware that any attempt of his to help the Greeks either
directly or indirectly would provoke his allies, which he wanted to avoid at all costs. In this
respect he had somehow to appease the suspicions of the Great Powers and try to exercise a
But what happened and how did this Congress end? Actually Isambert argues that this Congress
to the Porte in November, 1822. According to the terms of this memorandum, Turkey had, first
to guarantee amnesty to the Greeks, second to evacuate the Principalities and third to raise the
restrictions concerning trade and passage through the Straits. This memorandum was basically
aiming at the reestablishment of the diplomatic relations between Russia and Turkey (something
that both Austria and England wanted and worked for). Furthermore, it was vital for the
commercial activities of Russia and also it could probably appease the Greeks and slow dawn
hostilities in the area (Isambert, 142).
In any case, it would be naive to accept that this diplomatic step of Russia was taken to relieve
the Greeks per se. Additionally, it is needless to say that what the Tsar did was appreciated by
Great Britain and Austria who thought that a Russo-Turkish war had been avoided, at least for
However, after the Congress of Verona, on 14 February 1823, Canning sent a letter to Stradford,
the British ambassador in Constantinople, ordering him to inform the Porte that England would
toward her Christian subjects. In March 1823 he also formally recognized the Greek blockades
against the Turks. Of course it is plausible that this recognition was aiming at the protection of
the British vessels from the Greek pirates and Anderson further claims that “it meant no
weakening of Britain’s neutral attitude in the struggle.” (Andersan, 58). Nevertheless, no matter
what was the real reason behind Canning’s recognition of the blockades of the Greeks, it still
was important for the Greeks since the outcome was the same. Canning took further actions: he
replaced +. Maitland, the British High Commissioner in the Ionian Islands who was against the
new policy of Canning, with Fr. Adam. These we could say are the very first actions denoting
the shift of the British policy concerning the Greek cause.
Nevertheless, before I refer to Canning’s policy as this was shaped in the year 1824, I shall try
to figure out what events or thoughts triggered Canning to alter it. Because even if we accept as
true that Canning’s sympathy for the plight of the Greeks was genuine, it is not a reason, strong
enough, for statesman to base his policy on. Accordingly, some of us would ask: what were
those facts that brought Canning’s philhellenism on the surface? First, it is true that even before
G. Canning held his post at Foreign Office, there was a rather strong philhellenic tendency
among the British people and some were actively involved in the Greek War of Independence:
felt for the Greeks could not let Canning unaffected. Actually, Finley writes: “the British
government consequently opposed to the revolution; but it had not, like that of Russia, the power
to coerce the sympathies of the Britons.” (Finley, 2).
Yet, the growing British philhellenism could not had been enough to make Canning change his
policy toward the Greeks. For, Great Britain, before the Greek Revolution which changed
dramatically the picture in the East, had serious economic reasons to long for a strong and
unified Ottoman Empire. The first reason was that the Russians had at all costs to be kept away
from the Mediterranean Sea. The second reason was that the Ottoman Empire provided the
British with safe passage to India. A third point was that England wanted to maintain the
position she had at the Ionian Islands. But if she was to accept the slow disintegration of the
Ottoman Empire and an independent Greek state, she would not be able to justify her position in
However, speaking from a military point of view, the years 1821-1823 had been quite
successful for the Greeks and Canning probably realized that “the Sultan, harassed by the calls
of a disorganized and decaying Empire would be unable, effectually to withstand the armies of
the Tsar” (Courtney, 376). + bit later, when by the end of 1823 Greeks’ attention is directed to a
civil war and yet the Sultan fails to crush them, Canning became even more resolute and fervent
concerning the Greek issue. In this manner, Isambert claims that the fact that Canning becomes
gradually more attached to the side of the Greeks is not linked to his sympathy towards the
suppressed nation but rather to his conviction that the British could benefit from such a policy.
(lsambert, 148). Therefore, we could say that what Canning tried to do was to adjust his policy
and interests to the new circumstances. Yet, Lord Strangford, the British ambassador at
Constantinople, did not share the same thoughts as his Minister and he was afraid that the new
policy would endanger the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, what Strangford
was to interpret the instructions of Canning in a somewhat favorable way for the Porte.
Nevertheless, Lord Strangford’s conduct could not escape the attention of G. Canning who in
1824 replaced him with his cousin, Stratford Canning.
Reading the preceding paragraphs dealing with Canning’s policy, we come up with a question
mark: what were the reactions of the other Powers to the British Foreign Secretary’s attitude?
No wonder, it shook both Russia and Austria. Isambert writes about Metternich: “The new
element was to appear in the policy of Metternich in 1823; it is his hatred for Canning and the
cooling of the Austro-English alliance that marked the proceeding years. Meternich and Canning
have a profound dislike for one another: the stubbornness of the former is at the opposite side of
the progressive activity of the latter.” Furthermore, Isambert states that what Metternich did was
to follow simultaneously two diplomatic paths: the official one using it as a front-window and
de Gentz. (Isambert, 161-162).
On the other side there was the Tsar, who understood that what Canning was doing would
inevitably increase the influence of the British in Greece. So, the Tsar decided to take up action
to cut down Canning’s diplomacy. After all “Russia naturally wished to preserve her position as
protector of the Greeks, and to retain the honor of being the first Christian government that
covered her co-religionaries with her orthodox aegis.” (Finley, 31). Accordingly, Tsar
Alexander +, in January 1824, made a proposal to the Powers. This proposal entailed the
establishment of three, autonomous Greek Principalities similar to those Principalities of
+ ldavia and Wallachia. However, this was a rather clumsy step because it blew away the hopes
of the Greeks that the Tsar would help them to create an independent state, and similarly the
project did not satisfy the Sultan either. Furthermore, the Tsar, instead of intimidating Canning
and cease his influence in Greece, enforced it. “+ll historians studying the Greek Revolution
agree that Foreign Office changed its policy towards the agitated Greece from the moment
Russia (9 January 1824) proposed the division of Greece into semi-independent principalities.”
(Kordatos, 1977, 31). Consequently, the Tsar not only failed to strengthen his position, but he
reached the apposite result.
Naturally, Canning did not waste any time: he saw to the publication of the Russian proposal
on the 3lst of May. When the Greeks were informed of the plans that the Tsar had for them, much
to his discontent, started orienting their attention to Great Britain.
However, so far I have referred only to what the Foreign Powers did and, to a lesser extent, to
the reactions of the Turks. What about the Greeks, who, after all, were directly interested? Well,
the Greeks were not only directly interested, but also directly influenced by the Conferences,
decisions and objectives of the Great Powers. Already, at the beginning of this paper +
mentioned the hopes of the Greeks which were directed towards Russia. However, gradually
these hopes faded away especially after the Tsar’s project of 1824. The truth is that every Greek
politically involved had each one’s own ideas about where they should ask for help. Kolettis
was said to be pro-French, Mavrokordatos pro-British, Kolokotronis sometimes (at the
beginning) pro-Russian and sometimes pro-British.
Nevertheless, + noticed that these foreign parties prevailed one over the other according to what
each Power represented by these parties, was doing at a given time. + could not say if it is a
mere coincidence the fact that after the Congress of Verona and especially after the Tsar’s
memorandum the British party in Greece takes the upper hand and the Greeks are addressing for
help to Canning, who, after all, had already given them some positive signs. On the other hand,
Dakin claims that “at every turn the Greeks tended to form factions and to put forward rival
compete for the assistance or would set going a rival intrigue with another power. ” (Dakin,
the Great Powers stimulated the formation of different groups in Greece, and in this respect the
divided Greeks indirectly offered the Powers an open field to benefit for their own purposes.
In the meantime, Alexander + was trying to drag Austria and England to another Conference in
St. Petersburg but “Canning`s aim was to hold it off as long as possible, and only to consent to it
as a last resource.” Furthermore, Canning had given instructions to Bagot, the British
ambassador in Russia to take part in no meeting of the Holly Alliance. These orders Bagot
disregarded “and committed England to the conference scheme.” (Temperley, 332)
While a Conference was probably to be held in Russia, Canning received a letter from the
Greeks on 4th November, expressing their indignation about the Memorandum of Russia -what
else did this letter suggest other than which foreign party in Greece was at that point
strengthened? Canning’s reply was friendly, however, somewhat ambiguous. Virtually, “England
(Temperley, 333). + would interpret the stance of Canning at this time, as that of letting Austria
and Russia consume themselves into reaching an agreement which on the one hand would be
worked out without England’s approval and on the other hand, would be unlikely to satisfy
neither the Greeks nor the Turks. And last but not least, Canning managed to separate his policy
from that of the Holly Alliance’s without provoking its members.
Apart from these diplomatic implications which have an indisputable importance and influence
on the Greek struggle, there is another fact of immense significance, which has been interpreted
in many different ways. It has to do with the loans that the Greeks managed to raise from British
banks; another sign of which of the Great Powers had the greatest influence on the Greeks’
formation of the Greek Government, loan, which was actually granted at the beginning of 1824,
denoted practically the conviction that the British nation had for the success of the Greek
Revolution,” (Paparrigopoulos, 167). Markezinis seems to agree “The subscription of these two
loans, known as the loans of Independence, was a success, an overall recognition, with
important political effects. It constitutes the recognition of the Greek state,” (Markezinis, 29).
However, were the loans actually floated as an indirect acceptance of the recently formed Greek
government? “We should emphasize that during that period (1823) the stock-market of London
was going through an enormous crisis. There was in circulation a great amount of money with
1ow interest. For this reason London stock-market was giving loans to weak countries (Chile,
More specifically, the Greek government was discredited to such an extent that the first loan
(1824) was floated at 59% and the second one (1825) at 51,5%, and even worse, for the same
reason, they had to mortgage the National Lands. The first loan was agreed to 800,000 pounds
sterling and the second to 2.000,000 pounds sterling but because of the high rate the Greeks got
into their hands for the first one only 300,000 pounds and for the second one only 600,000. Is it
because ‘”by the end of that year there were distinct signs that philhellene feeling was on the
wane”? (Anderson, 57). I cannot answer; maybe there was not any philhellene feeling after all,
or maybe there appeared to be one so that foreigners offer their help and then ask in return
double as much. Makriyannis, a Greek fighter, wrote: “The creditors ask for their money; we do
not give them a penny -they intervene in our affairs.” (Makriyannis, 497). These, however, are
nothing more than mere assumptions, that do not prohibit the probability that there were true
philhellenes. At any rate, if we take into account that “the small part (of the loans) that finally
29) we shall see that even the Greeks themselves tried to get the best, each one for his own, out
of the whole situation and had the tendency to forget their real objectives.
That is how we move to the year 1825. In Greece, at that time there was civil war. Ibrahim
Pasha –employed by the Sultan as extra help– set foot onto the Peloponnese and was directing
to Nafplion and yet Mavrokordatos had imprisoned Kolokotronis, a prominent Greek general.
Luckily for the Greeks he was later freed (31 May 1825) after Koundouriotis’, a prominent
politician, persistence. Greeks were in a dreadful plight and under such precarious
circumstances human beings sometimes in their efforts to escape, fail to see some pitfalls.
Similarly, the members of the Greek government facing the danger of being swallowed by the
Sultan, signed the “Act of Submission” (July 22nd, 1825) that was addressed to England. The
Greek delegation reached London in September 1825 and met with Canning on the 29th of the
same month. The delegation asked from Canning to choose a monarch for Greece expressing at
the same time their preference for Leopold, Duke of Saxe-Comburg. Much to the disappointment
their proposal claiming that he could not abandon the neutral policy he had adopted till then, for
he would put into danger the British interests. After all, what was Canning doing: two steps
forward one step backward? Was he doing the Greeks a good turn and when they ate the bait he
was to cool their heels to have grounds to ask something in return or was he just cautious not to
attract the attention of the European powers and of Turkey putting at stake his country’s interests,
as he was claiming? Bearing these questions in mind, should we accept, that those Greeks who
had signed this particular Act of Submission — actually at that time there were two more Acts of
Submission, one addressed to Russia and another one to France — were traitors, as more or less
definitely agree that by this Act the Greeks opened a path for Canning for more intervention but
did they have any alternative? And furthermore, as Isambert observes, had not been Canning
(exercising an unquestionably sophisticated diplomacy) who in his letter on 1 December 1824,
was encouraging the Greeks to a future British intervention? (Isambert, 185).
After the Act of Submission Canning “was ready to negotiate between Turkey and Greece
single-handed and at once. Also, he was prepared to consider cooperation with Alexander of
Russia” (Temperley, 342). Similarly, Anderson writes “By September Canning was willing to
mediate between the Porte and its Greek subjects, and to cooperate in this way with Alexander”
(Anderson, 64). But why only now and not earlier, was Canning willing to negotiate? Probably
because “he thought a conference might be inevitable, but insisted that it could not be held until
diplomatic relations between Russia and Turkey were reestablished” (Temperley, 333).
Furthermore, I think it is self-evident that while he was turning down all proposals for official
settlement, he was breaking fresh ground concerning his relations with Greece and weakening
the position of the other Powers. However, now that Canning is ready to sit at the table of
international cooperation.” (Anderson, 63). However, Canning sent the Duke of Wellington to
congratulate the new Tsar, giving him instructions to avoid the possibility of war.
In the meantime, Str. Canning met Mavrokordatos in January 1826 and the latter expressed the
Greeks’ preference of a solution provided by the powers in concert” and not a solution coming
from the Russian side alone. (Dakin, 178). Actually, at the third National Assembly of the
Greeks one of the main issues of the agenda was to vote and give official permission to Canning
to interfere. Here I give in translation an extract from the letter addressed to Str. Canning, in
regard to the British intervention: “Your Excellency, the legal plenipotentiaries of the Greek
Nation request you to employ for it (the Nation) your favorable cooperation [...]. They give you
the power to negotiate and carry out a peace in accordance to the honor and the interests of the
Greek Nation.” (Mamoukas, 132-133). Canning having the ‘green light’ instructed Wellington to
inform the Tsar about the proposal the Greek government made in 1825 (Act of Submission).
However, Nicholas sent an ultimatum to the Porte in an effort to settle his differences with the
Turks himself, directly. He also told the stunned Duke of Wellington that he would not sent an
ambassador to Constantinople unless England would back up the Russian ultimatum. (Dakin,
179). Anyhow, in this gloomy atmosphere the protocol of 4th April 1826 was signed in St.
Petersburg. According to this protocol Greece was declared an autonomous but tributary state,
and the `Greek territory’ had to be evacuated by the Turks. However, it failed to define what
was to be included in the ‘Greek territory’ (Temperley, 355). To the same respect Isambert
writes that when Nicholas asked whether France should participate in the entente, Wellington
was negative saying that France was opposed as much as Austria to the employment of `moyens
coercifs’ in the East. (Isambert, 259-260). In this attitude we can more clearly perhaps discern
Canning`s purpose of detaching Russia from Austrian and French influence. However, though
Canning reached more or less his goal, the acceptance of the Russian ultimatum –concerning
Russia’s affairs with Turkey — was a precondition for the protocol to be signed. It gave
Nicholas the advantage of commencing a war without necessarily violating the protocol. Last
but not least, even though a tributary, Greece was acknowledged as a state, which was of
immense importance for the Greeks. Nevertheless the British were not utterly satisfied by the
terms of the protocol and were planning in a more “elaborate arrangement”. (Dakin, 180).
Finally the Sultan at a separate meeting with the Russians accepted the Protocol of St.
Petersburg (in Akkerman, in October 1826), for he did not wish to be engaged in a war with
Soon after the Conference at St. Petersburg was over, new negotiations emerged, for, the
Protocol just signed was not specific about how the Powers were to achieve their influence in
the Porte. In this series of negotiations France was participating as well. The result of these
meetings was the Treaty of London (6th July 1827). France was assigned to draw up the project
of the Treaty. This project included the following terms: it omitted reverences to the Protocol of
St. Petersburg and it was to be signed by the Allied Powers; it provided Turkey with mediation
of all the Powers and in case of mediation total independence to the Greeks was not to be
recognized; the Greek state was to be paying tribute to Turkey, and, with regard to the borders
of the Greek state, the Powers and Turkey were to set them by a future conference. However, the
entitled to prevent any friction if the Turks did not accept their mediation. It was this article that
later on in 1827 enabled Russia, England and France to open fire against the Turks in Navarino.
If we were to evaluate the treaty of London what could we say? Courtney states very clearly the
accomplishments of Canning: “He had succeeded in his policy so far that he had prevented war,
that he kept back Russia from obtaining a preponderant authority in South-Eastern Europe and
that he saved Turkey from being beaten and humiliated, whilst he had favored and promoted the
aspirations of the Greeks.”(Courtney, 379)
notice that the allies did not include any borderlines which turned out to create problems and
disputes in the future and perpetuate the whole issue. Additionally, concerning the negotiations
over the Greek borders only the Powers and the Turks were to participate. The Greeks were
once more left out of the game. Bearing in mind the above are we to assert that, out of this
Treaty the Greek nation found itself worse off than before? For the Greeks it had been a success
the fact that were recognized as a state in a so perplexed context of international interests that
were pursued by politicians and diplomats who employed all their skills. What the Greeks had
achieved at that time was a miracle.
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