Greek independence

The Greeks’ bitter fight for freedom

Last year was the 200th anniversary of the outbreak of the war of Greek independence in March 1821. It has been celebrated by a flood of books and events, a particularly instructive exhibition at the Benaki Museum in Athens and this gruesome page-turner. Mark Mazower, professor of history at Columbia University and the author of many books on modern Greece, stresses the passion for freedom, exceptional stamina and heroism which helped Greeks establish an independent state between 1821 and 1830. Greeks had long felt oppressed as subjects of the Ottoman empire. One of them called it ‘a tyranny so frightful… neither equal nor comparable to any other and so unjust’.

Greece and Britain’s long history of fighting autocracy

As I write, it is mid-morning in Athens and fighter jets are roaring overhead. My windows rattle, the sky splinters, and out they burst, strafing the blue with lines of white. It is a celebratory deployment. Today, Greece marks 200 years since the start of the war of independence from Ottoman rule. In Syntagma (Constitution) Square, home to the Hellenic Parliament, assorted military and political bigwigs gather to celebrate. Medals gleam. The lack of crowds gives the scene an incongruous, surreal quality. Over here, the end of lockdown remains a long way off. On TV this morning, I watched Prince Charles, who is in Athens for the occasion, stumble through