Manto Mavrogenous | Greek War Heroine
Updated: Mar 30
Manto Mavrogenous is a Greek famous heroine of the Greek War of Independence who spent all of her family's big fortune for the Hellenic cause.
Photo title: Manto Mavrogenous Greek heroine of the Greek War of Independence picture taken from public site. Lithography of Manto Mavrogenous by Adam Friedel, 1827 | Photo by: in the public domain (according to Wikimedia Commons)
Mavrogenous's Early Life
Little Manto was born in Trieste in 1796. Her father was Nikolaos Mavrogenis, a merchant and a member of the Filiki Eteria, the secret organization that was founded seven years before 1821 (the year of independence), to fight the Ottoman rule of Greece, after 400 years of domination.
Manto Mavrogenous was a very beautiful woman, for the standards of the 18th-19th century, with aristocratic origins.
She was influenced (like her family) from the Age of Enlightenment, she had studied Greek philosophy, and she was speaking three foreign languages (French, Italian and Turkish).
In 1809, she moved with her family to Paros, where her father told her for the first time about Filiki Eteria. When Manto's father died in 1818, she went first to Tinos, and later, when the revolution began, she went to Mykonos where she started her struggle.
Mavrogenous & Revolution
The astonishing heroic achievements of Manto Mavrogenous in the Greek Revolution against the Turks, at her own expenses, are: 1) She equipped and manned two ships and pursued the pirates who attacked Mykonos and other islands of the Cyclades complex. 2) She leaded the repulsement of the Turks from Mykonos. 3) She equipped and sent numerous men to fight in Peloponnese, in Samosm, in Northern Greece, in South Euboea, in Chios, in Dervenakia, in Pelion, in Phthiotida and in Livadia. 4) She supported the relief of soldiers and their families. 5) She organized enlightenment expeditions in several European countries, especially France, collecting funds and guns for the revolution.
In 1823, being already famous in Europe for her bravery in the fight of the Greeks, moved to Nafplio (then capital city of Greece) where she met and engaged Dimitrios Ypsilantis. This engagement was considered as a threat for powerful politicians of that period, due to the pro-Russian affiliations of both families, who tried to break it. Her home was burnt, her fortune was stolen, and, when Ypsilantis died, she got exiled from Nafplio.
Mavrogenous's Last Years
After Nafplio, Manto Mavrogenous returned to Mykonos and started writing her memoirs. After the war's end, Ioannis Kapodistrias awarded her the rank of Lieutenant General and granted her a home in Nafplio where she moved back. In 1840 she moved to Paros and died alone and poor. Her house is still there, privately owned.
Later, the Greek State honored Manto Mavrogenous in several ways, and she always stays in the heart of Greeks as a great and genuine heroine. Her name has been given to the central squares of Mykonos capital and Parikia town (Paros) and to several streets around the country, she has been drawn in commemorative coins of the Greek State, and a film was made about her life in 1971.
Another great heroine of her era is Laskarina Bouboulina.