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Greece: Struggle for independence on the islands (1821-1829)

Last modified: 2003-11-22 by
Keywords: samos | spetsai | hydra | psara |
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Spetsai

Spetsai is an island located off the west coast of Peloponnesus.

The flag has a white border, inside of which is a red border, around a white field; in the main field are placed a red crescent, a cross, and a spear; an upside-down red anchor around which a green snake is wrapped like a Caduceus; in the upper left corner, a blue-outlined gold bird.

The revolutionary motto:

ELEFTHERIA H THANATOS (freedom or death)

the main motto of this war and the current national motto of Greece, is horizontally written, in red

The symbolism of the flag is:

The combination probably represents the resurrection of the Greek nation: the cross overpowers the crescent moon. To bringabout a successful fight however power (the spear) was required, as well as stability and perseverance (anchor), knowledge and wisdom (snake), and God's help through faith and religion (bird).

Sources: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems [kok97] and Naval Museum of Hania (Crete)

Bruce Tindall & Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999

The struggle on Spetsai was led by Archontissa (Dame) Laskarina Bouboulina. She used her wealth to build a navy and became one of the most famous leading figures in the Greek War of Independence. After the success of the revolution in Peloponnesus and Sterea Ellada, the uprising spread to the islands. Spetsai was the first of the islands to join the revolution and this was mainly due to Bouboulina's leadership and courage. The example of Spetsai was followed by many other islands and therefore the freeing of Spetsai was one of the initial major steps towards victory for the Greeks. Thereafter Bouboulina's fleet took part in many naval battles and dominated the Aegean, creating problems to the, by far superior, Turkish fleet.

Source: Nostos website

Ivan Sache, 5 February 2003


Samos

The flag of the fleet from Samos was bluie with a red border. At bottom is a red crescent, pointing downward. Atop the crescent is a red cross in the middle, a red spear on the right. To the left of the cross is a yellow coiledsnake. In the upper left corner is a white boat anchor.

The symbolism of the flag is:

The combination probably represents the resurrection of the Greek nation: the cross overpowers the crescent moon. To bringabout a successful fight however power (the spear) was required, as well as stability and perseverance (anchor), knowledge and wisdom (snake).

Source: Naval Museum of Hania (Crete)

Bruce Tindall, 20 May 1995

The flag of the fleet from Samos knew several variants, still with the same elements, cross, crescent, etc... The bird is in fact an owl (but a very small one) who bites the tongue of the snake. The red border symbolised the blood of the Turks, the anchor the hope for the successful outcome of the cause, the cross stood for faith in justice and the owl for prudence. Of course various interpretations exist and have existed.

Source: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems [kok97]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999


Hydra

Hydra (Idhra) is an island near Spetsai.

The flag has a red border, blue field, red crescent/cross/spear with a flag, showing the head of Athena flying from the spear -- it's a red flag with a yellow man's head on it; white anchor and a gold owl biting a snake as above; and a quarter of a yellow sun, with a blue disc and the eye of God in white, in the upper left corner.

Sources: Naval Museum of Hania (Crete) & Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems [kok97]

Bruce Tindall & Pascal Vagnat, 20 May 1995

The sentence I tan I epi tas on the flag of Hydra is in ancient Dorian dialect (the Greek dialect spoken by ancient Spartans). It means "With it or on it". According to a legend, when a mother in ancient Sparti farewelled her young son who was leaving for war, she gave him his shield and told him the above sentence, which means "Come back bringing it back, or come back on it [dead]". It was a terrible disgrace for an ancient Greek warrior and its relatives to leave his shield on the battlefield, while warriors killed at battle were carried back to their relatives on their shields.Today this sentence is used on several flags of Greek military units.

Stelios Kutrakis, 4 May 1998


Psara

Psara is an island located near the island of Chios, off the west coast of Turkey.

The flag has a red border, white field, crescent/cross/spear, anchor, snake, and bird as above.
The snake is green, the anchor and the words Eleutheria i thanatos (Freedom or death) also, the owl is gold, the owl bites the tongue of the snake.

Source: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems [kok97]

Pascal Vagnat, 11 January 1999

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