Kythniaka 1862

The events of 28th February -1st March 1862 on Kythnos Island

The events that took place between February-March 1862 on Kythnos Island are referred to as ‘Kythniaka’ in the pages of Greek History. Sometimes Kythniaka is referred to simply as a military stance against the official Greek State ruled by the appointed Bavarian King Otto, while some other voices which fortunately nowadays are more, talk about the great revolutionary act of a group of young Army Officers who were sacrificed whilst putting above all the interests of the Greek people and the homeland.

Kythniaka 1862 - Kythnos Island History

It would be better to stay with the facts. From 1861 accumulated resentment for the reign of King Otto had led to civil unrest and an assassination attempt on Queen Amalia. Although it initially seemed that King Otto would agree to some concessions of the Opposition demands which among other things asked mainly for the Constitution to be obeyed, for the Prime Minister to choose the Ministers, the creation of the Militia, to guarantee the freedom of the Press and free and fair elections to be held, he eventually took a tough stance. In January 1862 in Nafplio a revolution began, but also riots in various parts of Greece with the purpose of the eviction of King Otto. The revolution was stifled by military means.

The ringleaders by Otto's command were captured and exiled to Kythnos Island on 18th February. The young Lieutenant Nikolaos Leotsakos who was a Commander of a short stationary military department on Syros Island heard about the events that took place there and following his conscience and not military regulation or the commands of King Otto, decided to act. On 28th February he captured the Ship ‘Karteria’ that was in the port of Syros Island and as a leader to a small unit of 30 Soldiers along with Pericles Moraitinis, Lieutenant of the Engineer Troops who followed him, sailed to Kythnos Island aiming to release the Political exiles, then to go to Chalkida and from there after they had been militarily organized, to go to Athens to seek the eviction of King Otto.

The Prefect of Syros Island Alexandropoulos managed to alert Otto who immediately sent the Steamer Amalia with military forces loyal to him to Kythnos on 1st March. Although they fired against the Ship Karteria even before it reached the island, it managed to anchor in the Bay of Agia Irini and the rebels disembarked. But then as they were outnumbered by the Government forces that had the support of the Canons of the Ship Amalia, they were forced to quit the battle, shouting until the last moment: Long live the Nation! Long live the Constitution! 8 heroes were killed among them Nicholas Leotsakos, Pericles Moraitinis and Agamemnon Skarvelis who was a student, two Soldiers and three residents of Kythnos Island who helped them and sadly remain anonymous, while everyone else was arrested.

In Athens King Otto hardened his stance even more, but the Opposition thanks to the deeds of the brave men on Kythnos Island strengthened. Public opinion strongly advocated the noble act, while deeply appreciating their sacrifice. The result was of course that this heroic act was justified just a few months later, more organized efforts led to the eviction of King Otto and Queen Amalia from the throne and from Greece. After great demonstrations against King Otto on the night of 10th to 11th October 1862 the Opposition adopted the infamous Nation's Resolution for the abolition of the reign of King Otto. Otto and Amalia who were on a tour with the Warship Amalia, supposedly to restore their popularity, left for abroad on 12th October 1862 with the English Warship Scylla.