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Markos Botsaris
Place of birth Souli (Epirus), Ottoman Empire
Place of death Karpenisi (Eurytania), Ottoman Empire
Allegiance  Greece
Years of service 1821-1823
Battles/wars Greek War of Independence

Markos Botsaris (Greek: Μάρκος Μπότσαρης, c. 1788 – 21 August 1823) was a Souliot captain[1] and a hero of the War of Greek Independence. Markos Botsaris and other Souliot captains, including Kitsos Tzavelas, Notis Botsaris, Lampros Veikos, and Giotis Danglis only enlisted fellow Souliot kin in to their bands.[2]


Early life

Botsaris was born into one of the leading clans of the Souliotes, in Epirus[3]. He was the second son of captain Kitsos Botsaris, who was murdered in Arta in 1809 by order of Ali Pasha. The Botsaris clan came from the village of Dragani (today Ambelia), near Paramythia.

Greek War of Independence

In 1803, after the capture of Souli by Ali Pasha, Botsaris with the remnants of the Souliotes, crossed over to the Ionian Islands, where he ultimately took service in a French regiment. In 1814, he joined the Greek patriotic society known as the Filiki Eteria, and in 1820, with other Souliots, made common cause with the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire. On the outbreak of the Greek revolt, he distinguished himself by his courage, tenacity and skill as a partisan leader in the fighting in western Greece, and was conspicuous in the defence of Missolonghi during the first siege (1822-1823). On the night of 21 August 1823 he led the celebrated attack at Karpenisi of 350 Souliots on around 1000 Ottomans who formed the vanguard of the army with which Mustai Pasha was advancing to reinforce the besiegers. Botsaris managed to take Mustai Pasha as a prisoner during the raid but he was shot in the head - most probably by Lleshi i Zi, a Catholic Mirdite mercenary - while leaving the encampment.

Evangelis Zappas, the renowned benefactor and founder of the modern Olympic Games, was the aide-de-camp and close friend of Markos Botsaris.[4]

Markos's brother Kostas (Constantine) Botsaris, who fought at Karpenisi and completed the victory, lived to become a respected Greek general and parliamentarian in the Greek kingdom. He died at Athens on the 13 November 1853. Markos's son, Dimitrios Botsaris, born in 1813, was three times minister of war during the reigns of Otto of Greece and George I of Greece. He died at Athens on 17 August 1870. His daughter, Katerina "Rosa" Botsaris, was in the service of Queen Amalia of Greece.


Many Philhellenes visiting Greece admired Botsaris' courage and numerous poets wrote poems about him. American poet Fitz-Greene Halleck wrote a poem entitled Marco Bozzaris,[5] Juste Olivier also wrote an award-winning poem for him, in 1825. His memory is still celebrated in popular ballads in Greece. Botsaris is also the author of a Greek-Albanian lexikon written in Corfu in 1809, at the instance of François Pouqueville, the French consul in Ioannina. The dictionary is of importance for our knowledge of the Suliot dialect.[6]

Botsaris was depicted on the reverse of the Greek 50 lepta coin of 1976-2001.[7] He often adorns posters in Greek classrooms as a member of the Greek pantheon of national heroes. His family became key figures of the Greek political establishment.



  1. ^ Brigands with a Cause, Brigandage and Irredentism in Modern Greece 1821-1912, by John S. Koliopoulos, Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1987. p. 53. ISBN 0198228635
  2. ^ Brigands with a Cause, Brigandage and Irredentism in Modern Greece 1821-1912, by John S. Koliopoulos, Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1987. p. 53. ISBN 0198228635
  3. ^ Katherine Elizabeth Fleming. The Muslim Bonaparte: diplomacy and orientalism in Ali Pasha's Greece. Princeton University Press, 1999. ISBN 9780691001944, p. 99"The Souliotes, a Greek-speaking tribe of Albanian origin... Ali had tried off and over..."
  4. ^ The Modern Olympics, A Struggle for Revival, by David C. Young. p. 13. 1996 The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801853745
  5. ^ Poetry Archive - Marco Bozzaris
  6. ^ JOCHALAS, Titos, To ellino-alvanikon lexikon tou Markou Botzari, Athens 1980.
  7. ^ Bank of Greece. Drachma Banknotes & Coins: 50 lepta. – Retrieved on 27 March 2009.




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