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Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’
Home|Special Collections Exhibitions|Byron & politics: ‘born for opposition’|Greece: Hellenism & heroism|48. Part of a letter or memorandum from Mavrokordatos to Byron, in French, 21 or 22 March 1824 

48. Part of a letter or memorandum from Mavrokordatos to Byron, in French, 21 or 22 March 1824

NLS Ms.43530

On 22 March 1824 Byron wrote to his banker in Zante, Samuel Barff:

M[avrocordato] is almost recalled by the new Govt. to the Morea [Peloponnese] – (to take the lead I rather think) and they have written to propose to me to go either to the Morea with him – or to take the general direction of affairs in this quarter … I am willing to serve them in any capacity they please – either commanding or commanded – it is much the same to me – as long as I can be of any presumed use to them.

The Greek government, temporarily housed in the small village of Kranidi in the north-eastern Peloponnese, was at this time taking the field against Greek rebels in the interior. Mavrokordatos and Byron seem to have preferred to keep their distance from the centre of power while these hostilities lasted, and to wait, instead, for the arrival of the promised loan of £800,000 that had been raised in London, to resolve the internal dissensions of the Greeks by peaceful means.

The letter or memorandum shown here is the only surviving document that testifies to this offer made by the Greek government to Byron. It also shows that the offer was not made directly, but only through Mavrokordatos. Other than honorary Greek citizenship (which he received on 5 April), no rank or position seems ever to have been conferred on Byron by the authority of the provisional government of Greece. All such documents as survive (see number 46 in this exhibition) are signed by or on behalf of Mavrokordatos at Missolonghi. The present document is unsigned and may not be complete. It is written in French, in Mavrokordatos’ handwriting, and is evidently addressed to

The president of the Executive power, on the point of returning to Kranidi himself, writes to me in short that, for affairs of the highest importance, he believes my presence at Kranidi very necessary; that he will make known his opinion to the Legislative Body immediately upon his arrival at Kranidi; that he would wish to know at the same time whether Mylord, were he to be invited to attend the Government, would decide to go there; or whether he would accept the general direction of the affairs of mainland Greece, with General Londos and one other to advise him; that he awaits my response and the frank exercise of my opinion, with impatience.

Had Byron and Mavrokordatos set out for the drier and healthier climate of the Peloponnese immediately, the story of Byron’s life, and perhaps also of the Greek Revolution, might have been very different.

In this exhibition


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