In this tribute we make to Manto Mavrogenous, we honor a woman of the most honest, militant, and radical forms of her time even in the field of her personal life.
Brief historical introduction about Manto and her family.
The Mavrogenides were a large,
wealthy, Cycladic family that had promoted many high-ranking officials during the Ottoman Empire.
Their houses stretched from Agia Kyriaki to Xenos the cafe (they are adjacent to the house of Mathios Apostolos). The house of Kampanis, a relative of Mantos, where the Municipal Library is housed, belonged to Dimitrakis Mavrogenis, Voevoda of Mykonos in 1753. He had 16 children from two marriages.
Manto's house was the Apollo Hotel together with the house of Eleni Kritsidimena (her niece after Barbara Veli) which remains unchanged, as well as the hero of the Second World War Petros Drakopoulos. This house was restored by the current owner of the captain - Giannis Petrou Drakopoulos.
Manto's father, Nikolaos, married in Mykonos in 1780 the Mykonian noblewoman Zacharati, daughter of Hatzi Antonios Batis, originally from Sparta. From this marriage they had 3 sons and 2 daughters.
In 1788 Manto's father was appointed to the service of Nikolaos Petros Mavrogenis, who was the ruler of Moldavia, Megas Spatharis, who generally means commander of the troops and director of the suburban police. He was one of the nobles.
After the beheading of his uncle and the confiscation of all his property by the High Gate, her father was forced to leave Bucharest. He returned to Mykonos and after receiving his family, he took refuge in Trieste in 1790 with his brother Nicholas, where he opened a commercial and banking office.
He acquired a huge fortune at that time, trading houses in Chios, Smyrna, Tinos, Paros and Andros, estates in St. Petersburg, Trieste and many estates and properties in Mykonos.
Manto's father died in 1818. According to a testimony and as Zacharatis's wife firmly believed, he was poisoned at a meal in Paros.
The financial and real estate he left to his family was enormous.
We wondered when we read that in one year he had made 17 purchases on estates and real estate. However, we found out that the money of one year of this Mykoniatis was less than the salary of one month of Nikolaos Mavrogenis.
Manto and Revolution
Manolis Tassoulas in his book about Manto, describes the arrival of two representatives of the Revolution, Nikolaos Kasomoulis, chief and Grigorios Sala, a supporter of Dimitrios Ypsilantis.
Their purpose was to raise money for the preparation of a campaign in Northern Greece. Before coming to Mykonos, they had gone to Tinos, but left unscathed.
Manto hosted them in her mansion and together with other people from Mykonos they prepared a celebration for them. Both, after the hardships of the revolution they left behind, were dazzled in front of the wealth and grandeur of the mansion, the dress of the people and the abundant and rich delicacies of dinner. An image completely unknown in the poor and deprived Sterea and Peloponnese that there was no chair left to sit on.
Manto gave them 3,000 groschen for chartering ships. Of course from what he had inherited.
Manto was the fifth child of Nikolaos Mavrogenis and Zacharati Batis. She was born in Trieste in 1796 or 1797.
La Bella Grecia, the beautiful Greek girl, was said by the people of Trieste when they saw her pass. Her baptismal name was Mandelousa, meaning Magdalene. He received a thorough education and knew Italian, French and Turkish. Shortly before the Revolution, she was in Tinos near her priest and teacher uncle Nikolaos Mavros, to whom her father, according to Blancar, had entrusted her further education.
According to the historian Zinovier, Papa Mavros instilled in her the ideals of freedom and patriotism.
As soon as the Revolution was proclaimed in Mykonos, she arrived with her uncle Papa Mavros and they immediately convened a meeting of the island's elites and upset the inhabitants. Surviving verses show the enthusiasm that inspired the lads:
For the honor of the homeland and the grace of Mantos, every worthy lad flutters his wings in the war.
It immediately equips two ships at its own expense and together with two others who had equipped Mykonos with a fundraiser, they join Tombazis' fleet in Tinos and since then he participates in many military operations together with other chiefs on land and at sea.
On October 22, 1822, with the help of many Mykonians, he repulsed an attack by 200 Algerians at Stapodia. He did not stop helping the fight with large sums of money for equipment and payments of soldiers.
Manto had a special fondness for Philhellenic European soldiers because she considered that they had left their civilized and comfortable life to fight on the side of their brothers who were suffering from the barbarians.
Manto spent all her family fortune for the freedom of her homeland. He even helped many elderly people who were unhappy. He adopted young girls, endowed them and married them and despite all his misery he never stopped caring for and caring for those in need. He also offered a lot during a terrible epidemic that was raging in Nafplio at that time.
In 1823 she went to Nafplio with her uncle and brother trying to secure accommodation. He was already facing financial problems and debts. It is there that she meets Dimitrios Ypsilantis.
As far as this romance is concerned, the line that separates what really happened is very thin, with what we, the people of Mykonos, want to believe. It is certain that many envied this relationship and feared that they would become the future rulers of the independent state, because they both came from prominent families and were qualified.
In the same year, her house with all her dowry that she had brought from Mykonos to Nafplio burned down. The men of her police stole them with looting without being punished despite all her actions and protests. After four years, they returned only her sword, which her father had received from Catherine of Russia and she later offered it as a gift to Kapodistrias. This silver sword was a heirloom of the family believed to have come from King Constantine Paleologos. According to Zacharati's mother, English travelers offered her 7,000 groschen to buy it. The sword was held by Konstantinos Kontovrakis from Kranidi, he took it back in her hands after four years, in 1827.
Over the years, her relationship with Dimitrios Ypsilantis began to go through a crisis. In his absence, Kolettis found the opportunity to forcibly remove Manto (tied and gagged her) from Nafplio and send her to Mykonos, threatening her with death if she returned.
Manto believed that Ypsilantis also took part in this brutal act because she wanted to avoid the marriage he had promised her. She never forgave him for it and her love for him turned into hatred.
Manto after the murder of Kapodistrias and the death of Dimitrios Ypsilantis reaches complete financial and mental misery. In 1840 she contracted typhoid fever in Paros and died at the age of just 44, with the only satisfaction being the rank of Lieutenant General given to her by Kapodistrias, appreciating her contribution to the struggle.
Adam Friedel's lithography is the first Manto she posed for. The following colored lithographs were based on it and were made, such as e.g. of Bouvier and others. Everyone put their own colors as they imagined them or as the color of the train.
The Dane Adam Friedel Von Friedestsburg was a friend of Ypsilantis, who was in Greece from the beginning of the Revolution 1821 to 1824. Returning he settled in London where he published a series of lithographs, with portraits of Greek Fighters. Among them was the portrait of Manto.
These lithographs were about 24, helped a lot in the liberation struggle by awakening the consciences of Europeans and created a philhellene movement.
Manto - Ypsilantis:
March 1823, their first meeting in Nafplio. There he gave her a certificate for her fights. The certificate was the beginning of a closer acquaintance of Prince Ypsilantis with Manto, who for two years sent them soldiers to participate in the campaigns of the Peloponnese. A little later, their acquaintance ended in an engagement.
Manto's clothing has strong elements of European fashion of the early 19th century and with oriental influences.
The Cultural Folklore Association of Women of Mykonos donated a costume of Manto to the Folklore Museum of Mykonos in 2011. This newest costume was curated on a non-profit basis by Giannis Metzikov with the help of Marlena Georgiadi. It is temporarily hosted in Grypario.
In 1979 the Association had performed for the first time the costume of Manto with the help of experienced seamstresses.
Manto as an image exists in Zonaras oil painting on wood.
There is also in Mykonos a bust of Manto by Konstantinos Dimitriadis (1932).
In Paros there is a bust of Kouvaras (1936).
Article by: Mykonos Voice