Rhigas of Velestino (1757-1798) is one of the great national heroes of modern Greece, for it was he who some thirty years before the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in 1821 first conceived the possibility of a full-scale national revolution to free Greece from the domination of its Ottoman overlords. His aim was not simply an armed rebellion but a regeneration of his people, through education, literature, propaganda, and social and political awareness. He wrote patriotic stories, poems, scientific lectures; he published detailed maps, translations from French and Italian, and drafted a constitution based οn the ideology of the French Revolution. He was the first Greek to insist that the popular language, or demotic Greek, should become the official language οf independent Greece.
Born in Greece under Turkish rule, Rhigas emigrated successively to Constantinople, Bucharest and Vienna. He recruited his supporters and laid his plans among the expatriate Greek communities, and he also had many contacts, through his successful activities as a businessman, in the Greek mainland and islands. But he himself was not to witness the realisation of his vision. Οn his way to Greece, where he intended first to stir up the Mani and then move north to Epiros and Macedonia, he was betrayed, arrested by the Austrian police, extradited to the Turkish authorities, and executed, with seven colleagues, at Belgrade.
This book is the first comprehensive study of Rhigas 's life and ideas in English.
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