‘From my ashes I am reborn’: the revolt for ‘to Romaiko’ examining the role of a ‘Byzantine’ identity in the 1821 ‘Hellenic Revolution’

Blyth, Christopher J.A. (2022) ‘From my ashes I am reborn’: the revolt for ‘to Romaiko’ examining the role of a ‘Byzantine’ identity in the 1821 ‘Hellenic Revolution’. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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On Tuesday May 29, 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. With it, ‘Rome’, as an entity, fell into the annals of history. Or did it? In 1821 swathes of the Orthodox population of the Balkans -many of whom still self-identifying as ‘Romans’- revolted against Ottoman rule. The rebellion was eventually successful, and an independent Greek state was born.

Often this revolution has been portrayed as an attempt by neo-Hellenes to bring about a modern and liberal regenerated Hellas: a nation state worthy of the rightful heirs to a classical legacy. The Roman’s ideals and identity, meanwhile, are often portrayed as being solely religious phenomena which cannot be defined as a national consciousness. While the depiction of the -largely westernised Greek- neo-Hellenes certainly seems to be accurate, my research has found that the representation of the average illiterate and insulated Greeks (the people who were still identifying as Romans in 1821) has been mishandled by the scholarship. Here I lay out an evidenced argument that their Roman ideals and identity (what I call Byzantinism) constitutes a national consciousness and that the rebellion was, at its outset, perceived by the majority of its’ participants as an attempt to bring about ‘to Romaiko’: the divinely mandated resurrection of God’s earthly Kingdom.

Yet today Greece is known as ‘Hellas’, her people ‘Hellenes’. Greece’s 19th Century westernised and educated minority, I argue here, are responsible for the new Greek state’s Hellenic façade: a rendering which was more in line with their own specific version of Greek nationhood. Consequently, a valuable piece of the historical record has been diminished, misrepresented, and almost lost. This thesis is an attempt to bring that fragment of the picture back into the historiography of the movements for Greek independence. In so doing this analysis serves as a case study for the examination of nation-building in other parts of the world. Perhaps Greece is not the only nation to have emerged onto the world stage only to appear as unrecognisable to the very people whose efforts facilitated that emergence in the first place.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DF Greece
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Rapport, Dr. Michael and Vos, Dr. Jelmer
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-83176
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2022 08:48
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2022 08:51
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83176
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/83176

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