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Laskarina Bouboulina (Greek: Λασκαρίνα Μπουμπουλίνα, pronounced [laskaˈrina bubuˈlina]), 11 May 1771 - 22 May 1825) was a Greek[1][2][3][4] naval commander, heroine of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, and posthumously, an Admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy.

Signature of Laskarina Bouboulina

Early life

Bouboulina was born in a prison in Constantinople; she originated from the Arvanite community of island of Hydra.[5][6][7][8] She was the daughter of Stavrianos Pinotsis, a captain from Hydra island and his wife Skevo. The Ottomans had imprisoned Pinotsis because he had taken part in the failed Orlof Revolution of 1769–1770 against the Ottoman rule. Her father died soon afterwards and the mother and the child returned to Hydra. Four years later, when her mother married Dimitrios Lazarou-Orlof, they moved to the island of Spetses. Bouboulina had eight half-siblings.

She married twice, first to Dimitrios Yiannouzas and later to Dimitrios Bouboulis, a wealthy shipowner and captain, taking his surname. Bouboulis was killed in a battle against Algerian pirates in 1811. Bouboulina took over his fortune and trading business and had four more ships built, including the large warship Agamemmnon, at her own expense.

In 1816, the Ottomans tried to confiscate Bouboulina's property because her second husband had fought for the Russians against the Turks in the Turko-Russian wars. Bouboulina sailed to Constantinople to meet Russian ambassador Count Pavel Strogonov to seek his protection. In recognition of Bouboulis's service to the Russians, Strogonov sent her to safety in Crimea. Bouboulina also met with the mother of Mahmud II, after which Mahmuud's mother reportedly convinced her son to leave Bouboulina's property alone. After three months of exile in the Crimea, Bouboulina returned to Spetses.
Support of the independence movement

Bouboulina allegedly joined the Filiki Etaireia, an underground organization that was preparing Greece for revolution against the Ottoman rule, as one of the few female members ; however, there is no mention of her in the historical members lists.[9] She bought arms and ammunitions at her own expense and brought them secretly to Spetses in her ships, to fight "for the sake of my nation." Construction of the ship Agamemnon was finished in 1820. It was later one of the largest warships in the hands of Greek rebels. Bouboulina bribed Turkish officials to ignore the ship's size. She also organized her own armed troops, composed of men from Spetses. She used most of her fortune to provide food and ammunition for the sailors and soldiers under her command.

Laskarina Bouboulina, Adam de Friedel painting, 1827

On 13 March 1821 Bouboulina raised her own Greek flag, based on the flag of the Comnenus dynasty of Byzantine emperors, on the mast of Agamemnon. On 3 April the people of Spetses revolted and later joined forces with a number of other ships from other Greek islands. Bouboulina sailed with eight ships to Nafplion and began a naval blockade. Later she took part in the naval blockade and capture of Monemvasia and Pylos . Bouboulina's son, Yiannis Yiannouzas, died in May 1821 in the battle at Argos, against superior numbers of Ottoman troops.

She arrived in time to witness the fall of Tripolis on 11 September 1821 and met general Theodoros Kolokotronis. Later their children Eleni Bouboulina and Panos Kolokotronis were married. During the ensuing defeat of the Ottoman garrison, Bouboulina saved most of the female members of the sultan's household.

Laskarina Bouboulina bust in Pedio tou Areos, Athens

After independence

When the opposing factions erupted into a civil war in 1824, the Greek government arrested Bouboulina because of her family connection to now-imprisoned Kolokotronis; the government also killed her son-in-law. She was eventually exiled back to Spetses. She had used all of her fortune for the war of independence.

Laskarina Bouboulina

Death in feud

Laskarina Bouboulina was killed in 1825 as the result of a family feud in Spetses. The daughter of a Koutsis family had eloped with Bouboulina's son, Georgios Yiannouzas. The father of the girl, Christodoulos Koutsis, and armed members of his family went to Bouboulina's house seeking her. Infuriated, Bouboulina showed up in the balcony of her house to confront them. After her argument with Christodoulos Koutsis, someone shot at her, the bullet striking her in the forehead. She died instantly. The killer was not identified.

Legacy

Bouboulina was posthumously awarded the rank of Admiral by the Russian Navy, a singularly rare achievement for a 19th century woman. Her descendants sold the ship Agamemnon to the Greek state. It was renamed Spetsai. It was burned along with the frigate Hellas and the corvette Hydra in the naval base of Poros by Andreas Miaoulis during the next Greek civil war in 1831.

On the island of Spetses there is the "Bouboulina Museum", housed in the 300 year-old mansion of Bouboulina's second husband, where her descendants still live. A statue of Bouboulina stands in the harbor in Spetses. Various streets all over Greece and Cyprus are named in her honor, notably Bouboulina Street near the National Technical University of Athens (the Polytechnion) and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, in central Athens, and also in Piraeus and in Nicosia.

Laskarina Bouboulina Museum

Bouboulina was depicted on the reverse of the Greek 1 drachma coin of 1988-2001.[10]

References

^ Jennifer S. Uglow,Maggy Hendry. The Northeastern dictionary of women's biography. UPNE, 1999 ISBN 9781555534219, p. 81: "Greek freedom fighter."
^ Kirstin Olsen. Chronology of women's history. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994 ISBN 9780313288036, p. 110.
^ David E. Jones. Women warriors: a history. Brassey's, 2000 ISBN 9781574882063, p. 131: "the Greek woman warrior tradition continued into the 18th century with Laskarina Bouboulina. Born in 1783, she developed into a Greek naval commander"
^ Bernard A. Cook. Women and war: a historical encyclopedia from antiquity to the present, Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO, 2006 ISBN 9781851097708, p. 225: "...of the 1,500 Greek combatants in the crucial battle 1,000 were women. Nevertheless, Laskarina Bouboulina and Manto Mavrogenous, the most famous women fighters of the Greek Revolution were not from mountain villages but islands."
^ Telos. By State University of New York at Buffalo. Graduate Philosophy Association. Published by Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, 1989. Item notes: nos. 78-81. Original from the University of California. Digitized Jul 13, 2007
^ Eurydice Street: a place in Athens. By Sofka Zinovieff. Edition: illustrated. Published by Granta Books, 2004. Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized Jun 24, 2008. 276 pages
^ Byzantine and modern Greek studies. By IngentaConnect (Online service). Published by B. Blackwell., 1985. Item notes: v. 9-11. Original from the University of Michigan. Digitized Jun 24, 2008
^ Zinovieff, Sofka (2004). Eurydice Street: a place in Athens. Granta Books. p. 190.
^ Helen Angelomatis-Tsougarakis, Women in the Greek War of Independence p 59, in Networks of power in modern Greece, Columbia University Press, 2008
^ Bank of Greece. Drachma Banknotes & Coins: 1 drachma. – Retrieved on 27 March 2009.

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