Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Greek merchant fleet as a national navy during the war of independence 1800-1830

Economou, Emmanouel/Marios/Lazaros and Kyriazis, Nicholas and Prassa, Annita (2016): The Greek merchant fleet as a national navy during the war of independence 1800-1830.

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We analyse the emergence of the Greek merchant navy in the wider European context after the Treaty of Vienna, in particular that of the maritime islands - Hydra, Spetsai and Psara - during the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 19th century, when Greece was still a part of the Ottoman Empire. We examine the structure of the merchant fleet and the impetus it received after they could raise mainly the Russian flag as a flag of opportunity. We trace its history as blockade runners for France during the Napoleonic wars and the necessity to be armed in order to face the challenge of the Barbary corsairs (from Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli). These armed merchantmen and their crews, who had gained valuable experience during the Napoleonic Wars and by fighting against the Barbary corsairs, formed the nucleus of Greece’s navy during the War of Independence of 1821-1830. Combining superior naval skill and “terror weapons” as, for example, fireships, the Greek armed merchantmen achieved a number of astonishing victories against the Ottoman navy which was superior in numbers and tonnage (including dedicated ships of the line), thus contributing crucially to Greece’s independence.

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