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The Navarino massacre[1] was one of a series of massacres that occurred following the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence, which resulted in the extermination of the Turkish civilian population previously inhabiting the region (now known as Pylos).

Siege of the city

Before Navarino capitulated, many Turkish families had been compelled by hunger to escape and throw themselves at the mercy of Greeks of the neighbourhood. However, they were massacred. The Turks, who were at the last extremity of starvation, offered to surrender. The Greeks proposed a convention whereby surrendering Turks would be granted secure passage to Egypt. When the capitulation was concluded, the Turks in the city gave up all the public property in the fortress, and all their money, plate, and jewels.[2] However the Greeks had neither the intention nor even the means of providing this promised secure passage.[3]

One of the Greek negotiators, Poniropoulos, boasted some years later to General Gordon that he destroyed the copy of capitulation given to Turks so that no proof would remain of any such transaction having been concluded.[4]

Massacre of Turks

When the gates opened on the 19 August 1821, the Greeks rushed in and the whole population numbering around 3000 were killed with the exception of 160 who managed to escape.[5]

Historian George Finlay noted that a Greek priest, named Phrantzes, was an eyewitness to the massacres. Based on the descriptions provided by Phrantzes, he wrote:

Women, wounded with musketballs and sabre-cuts, rushed to the sea, seeking to escape, and were deliberately shot. Mothers robbed of their clothes, with infants in their arms plunged into the sea to conceal themselves from shame, and they were them made a mark for inhuman riflemen. Greeks sized infants from their mother's breasts and dashed them against rocks. Children, three and four years old, were hurled living into the sea and left to drown. When the massacre was ended, the dead bodies washed ashore, or piled on the beach, threatened to cause a pestilence...[6]


  1. William St. Clair, That Greece Might Still Be Free The Philhellenes in the War of Independence, Oxford University Press, London, 1972 p.40 ISBN 0-19-215194-0
  2. George Finlay, History of the Greek Revolution, Volume 1. William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1861. Online copy p. 262
  3. St. Clair, p. 41
  4. Finlay, p. 262
  5. St. Clair, p. 43
  6. Finlay, p. 263

See also

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