Regarding our new IEG open access publication “On site, in time” here is my article on the island of Chios, in which I focus on the massacre of Chios in 1822 and its impact on international interventionism.
Cross-posted from: http://en.ieg-differences.eu/on-site-in-time/fabian-klose-chios/
The Massacre of Chios in 1822 (constellations)
During the year 1822, European capitals were inundated with reports about a massacre of the Christian population of Chios. The island, a few kilometres from the mainland of Asia Minor in the eastern Aegean, and the supposed birthplace of the ancient poet Homer, had become the scene of one of the bloodiest episodes of the Greek War of Independence. At the time, Greece belonged to the Ottoman Empire. Starting in March 1821, an armed uprising against the rule of the Sultan emerged in different places in Greece. In the reconquest of Chios in April 1822, Ottoman troops operated with extreme brutality. They pillaged and plundered the Greek settlements, murdering in the process an estimated 25,000 residents and abducting more 45,000 to the slave markets of the Ottoman Empire. While the Greek independence movement itself relied on merciless warfare and likewise perpetrated a series of massacres of the Muslim population, the European reporting concentrated almost exclusively on the Ottoman atrocities against the Christian population.
Such messages inspired the French painter Eugène Delacroix to create the historical painting “The Massacre of Chios.” Presented to a wider public for the first time in 1824 during the Parisian salons, it also caused a great sensation beyond the borders of France. The emotionally charged depiction of the Greeks, who had been at the mercy of the Ottoman soldiery, drew on a humanitarian narrative that had already more or less developed in the course of the campaigns against the slave trade. With his visualization of suffering, Delacroix intended to arouse the concern and sympathy of the viewers for the fate of the Greeks and thereby to mobilize political support for the Greek struggle for independence.
Eugène Delacroix, Le Massacre de Scio, oil/canvas, 1824
Europe’s solidarity and the stigmatization of the Ottoman Empire (differences)
The events on Chios provoked (not least thanks to Delacroix’ painting) a sense of outrage throughout Europe and a feeling of solidarity with the Greek striving for freedom virtually throughout the entire continent. The Philhellenism, which originated in the late 18th century from a cultural enthusiasm for ancient Greece, now took on tremendous political relevance in the wake of the reporting on the massacre. Philhellenic committees – initially in German speaking countries, then in France and Great Britain as well as other European countries – began to form to recruit volunteers to fight in Greece, to collect funds for the insurgents, and, in general, to mobilize public Support. Continue reading