The Greek Revolution, for the most part, emerged within the Greek communities of the Diaspora, as was shown during the international scientific conference “Historical Communities of the Greeks Abroad and the Greek Revolution” which took place on June 25-27, 1821 in Venice and was organized by the Hellenic Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies.
Through the presentations of more than twenty participants from Greece and abroad, it analysed the networks of Greek communities abroad – from Pisa, Livorno, Venice and Trieste to Marseille, Vienna, Iasi, Chisinau and Odessa. Furthermore, their relationship with enslaved Hellenism was examined in detail, starting from established studies in scholarly literature and moving forward according to innovative interpretations of new archival material made by the historians.
The Greek communities abroad fostered discussions and sometimes contrasting views concerning the beginning of the Greek Revolution; The discussion did not question independence, but with the actual time and place from which the struggle of the national uprising was going to begin. The sessions of the conference explored the opinions of Greek and foreign historians and researchers and presented different motives for the beginning of the Revolution.
Merchants, scholars, students and clergymen were the part of the diaspora who influenced and supported the Greek revolutionaries the most. Naturally there were differences between the Greek communities of Europe and Russia. In the Russian Empire, many Greeks served as soldiers, officials and diplomats, often is entirely Greek army groupings; they believed that this fellow orthodox country would assist them in order achieve the goal of independence. The conference also explored the different degree of support and participation of various communities in the Diaspora, often due to economic reasons, as well as personalities, the orientation of their members, and the policies of the governments under which they operated.
The main point, however, is that the communities of the Greek Diaspora supported the struggle for independence in various ways: financially, politically, culturally, by sending supplies and volunteers; in every possible way. Wherever the Greeks created communities, they first built their church and school and then organized their religious and social life around them. Even the names of the saints to whom they dedicated their temples were significant. They also invited young Greeks from the Ottoman Empire to study. They cultivated education and invited reputable teachers to teach in community schools. They also published newspapers, books and made known the struggle of their compatriots, presenting it as a struggle of enslaved Christians against Muslim conquerors.
The presentations of the participants will be published soon in a special volume of the Proceedings by the Institute of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Studies of Venice.