Chios massacre

Coordinates: 38°21′50″N 26°03′47″E / 38.3640°N 26.0630°E / 38.3640; 26.0630
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Chios massacre
Part of Massacres during the Greek War of Independence
LocationChios, Ottoman Empire
Coordinates38°21′50″N 26°03′47″E / 38.3640°N 26.0630°E / 38.3640; 26.0630
DateApril–August 1822
TargetGreeks on the island of Chios
VictimsUp to 100,000 killed or enslaved. At least:
  • 25,000–50,000 killed
  • 45,000–50,000 enslaved
10,000–20,000 fled
Perpetrators Ottoman Empire
No. of participants

The Chios massacre (in Greek: Η σφαγή της Χίου, Greek pronunciation: [i sfaˈʝi tis ˈçi.u]) was a catastrophe that resulted in the death, enslavement, and flight of about four-fifths of the total population of Greeks on the island of Chios by Ottoman troops, during the Greek War of Independence in 1822.[1][2][3] It is estimated that up to 100,000 people were killed or enslaved during the massacre, while up to 20,000 escaped as refugees.[4] Greeks from neighboring islands had arrived on Chios and encouraged the Chiotes (the native inhabitants of the island) to join their revolt. In response, Ottoman troops landed on the island and killed thousands. The massacre of Christians provoked international outrage across the Western world, and led to increasing support for the Greek cause worldwide.


For over 2,000 years, merchants and shipowners from Chios had been prominent in trade and diplomacy throughout the Black Sea, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean. The Ottoman Empire allowed Chios almost complete control over its own affairs as Chioten trade and the very highly valued mastic plant, harvested only on Chios, were of great value to the Ottomans. The cosmopolitan Chiotes were also very prominent in Constantinople. Following the massacre, however, the island never regained its commercial prominence.[citation needed]

The island's ruling classes were reluctant to join the Greek revolt, fearing the loss of their security and prosperity.[5] Furthermore, they were aware that they were situated far too close to the Turkish heartland in Anatolia to be safe.[5] At some points, Chios is only 6.7 kilometres (4.2 mi) from the Anatolian mainland.


In March 1822, as the Greek revolt gathered strength on the mainland, several hundred armed Greeks from the neighbouring island of Samos landed in Chios. They attacked the Turks, who retreated to the citadel. Many islanders also decided to join the revolution.[5] However, the vast majority of the population had by all accounts done nothing to provoke the reprisals, and had not joined other Greeks in their revolt against the Ottoman Empire.[6]

Reinforcements in the form of a Turkish fleet under the Kapudan Pasha Nasuhzade Ali Pasha arrived on the island on 22 March.[which calendar?] They quickly pillaged and looted the town. On 12 April [O.S. 31 March], orders were given to burn down the town, and over the next four months, an estimated 30,000 Turkish troops arrived.[7] In addition to setting fires, the troops were ordered to kill all infants under three years old, all males 12 years and older, and all females 40 and older, except those willing to convert to Islam.[8] The British warship HMS Seringapatam was on duty in the Mediterranean under the command of Captain Samuel Warren. On 7 May she passed the island of Chios (then called Scio in English), saw it in flames, and received signals from Greek ships asking for help, but being under orders to observe strict neutrality in the Greek War of Independence the ship gave no assistance and proceeded on her way.[9] Approximately four-fifths of the total population of 100,000 to 120,000 prior of the catastrophe, were killed, enslaved, or had to take refuge outside of Chios; it is estimated that up to 100,000 were killed or enslaved.[4] At least 25,000 were killed, 45,000 enslaved, and 10,000 to 20,000 fled.[2][3][4][10] Estimates of the number of those slaughtered ran upward of 50,000, with an equal number enslaved.[4][11] Tens of thousands of survivors dispersed throughout Europe and became part of the Chian diaspora. Some young Greeks enslaved during the massacre were adopted by wealthy Ottomans and converted to Islam. Some rose to levels of prominence in the Ottoman Empire, such as Georgios Stravelakis (later renamed Mustapha Khaznadar) and Ibrahim Edhem Pasha.[12]

Reaction and commemoration[edit]

There was outrage when the events were reported in Europe[13] and French painter Eugène Delacroix created a painting depicting the events that occurred; his painting was named Scenes from the Massacres of Chios. Thomas Barker of Bath painted a fresco of the massacre on the walls of Doric House, Bath, Somerset.[14]

A draft of this painting, created under the supervision of Delacroix in his lab by one of his students, is in display in the Athens War Museum. In 2009, a copy of the painting was displayed in the local Byzantine museum on Chios. It was withdrawn from the museum in November 2009 in a "good faith initiative" for the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations. However, the Greek press protested its removal.[citation needed] The copy is now back on display in the museum.

Victor Hugo's collection of poems Les Orientales, published in 1829, include the poem "L'Enfant" ("The Child") devoted to the massacre of Chios. The American poet William Cullen Bryant published the poem "The Massacre at Scio" in 1824.

During a session of the Permanent Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece in Athens on July 14–15, 2021, at the proposal of Metropolitan Markos of Chios, Psara and Oinousses, the Holy Synod glorified Metropolitan Plato of Chios, and 43 others, who were martyred by Ottoman troops in the Chios Massacre on Holy Friday in 1822.[15][16] The list included priests, deacons, hieromonks and monks, to be commemorated on the Sunday of the Paralytic each year.[17]

Greek response[edit]

After the Chios massacre, the Greek revolutionary government managed to gather a significant amount of money in order to outfit its ships and attack the Ottoman fleet.[18]

At the end of May, the Greek captains from Psara and Hydra decided to burn the Ottoman flagship, the 84-gun ship of the line Mansur al-liwa, by using fire ships. The operation took place on the night of 18 June [O.S. 6 June] 1822 and was conducted by Konstantinos Kanaris and Andreas Pipinos.[19] About two thousand Ottoman sailors were killed or drowned, including admiral Nasuhzade Ali Pasha, who had led the Chios massacre two months earlier.[20][21]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. (1999). Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. p. 153. ISBN 1-56000-389-8.
  2. ^ a b Brewer 2011, p. 165: "The final toll on the suffering island could now be assessed. Before the catastrophe there were between 100,000 and 120,000 Greeks living on Chios, and by the end their numbers were reduced to some 20,000. Gordon's even more shocking figure of only 1,800 survivors on the island is almost certainly wrong, perhaps a mistake for 18,000, though he may be right to say that 'the most populous villages had only twelve indwellers'. The number of Greeks killed was put at 25,000 and of those enslaved at 45,000; that is, the catastrophe left about a quarter of the population dead and nearly half taken into slavery. Probably between 10,000 and 20,000 escaped, some to return, some to settle on other Aegean islands, some to continue the great family names of Chios – Ralli, Rodocanachi, Argenti, Vlasto – as they found fortune or fame abroad."
  3. ^ a b Shirinian 2021, p. 175: "The Turkish response came in April 1822 with the plunder, massacre and enslavement of the Greek inhabitants of the island of Chios. Whereas there had been approximately 100,000 to 120,000 Greeks living on Chios before the massacre, there were only approximately 20,000 after – about 25,000 had been killed, 45,000 enslaved, and 10,000 to 20,000 had escaped. At the same time, the Aegean coastal town of Kydonies (Ayvalık), north of Chios, was also destroyed, with many of the inhabitants fleeing to Greece, along with the refugees from Chios."
  4. ^ a b c d Cartledge, Y. (2020). "The Chios Massacre (1822) and early British Christian-humanitarianism". Historical Research. 93 (259): 52–72. doi:10.1093/hisres/htz004. ISSN 0950-3471. As many as 100,000 inhabitants were either killed or enslaved, while 20,000 escaped as refugees. ... The exact number of Chiots enslaved or massacred remains generally unknown, with different estimations given. Argenti stated that "before the massacre the total resident population of Chios was 120,000, after the massacre it was but 30,000." Long cited 41,000 Chiots being exported as slaves, which can be seen from the customs authority records, as well as 15,000 escapees from the island prior to the Kapudan Pasha's arrival. The historians St Clair and Brewer relatively echoed Long's number of slaves being brought to Anatolia, as did the Philhellene Thomas Gordon, who estimated 45,000. Brandt suggested "those slaughtered ran upward of 50,000, with an equal number enslaved." Rodogno reasoned that "Before the massacre between 100,000 and 120,000 Greeks had been living on Chios; by the end of it there were 20,000; many had perished, others fled or became slaves."The Times asked rhetorically: "Who can, without shuddering, read of the total ruin, the universal desolation of our famed and once happy isle (Scio); the destruction of all its inhabitants, nearly one hundred thousand"?
  5. ^ a b c St. Clair, William (1972). That Greece Might Still Be Free, The Philhellenes in the War of Independence. London: Oxford University Press. p. 79. ISBN 0-19-215194-0.
  6. ^ Shupp, Paul F. (1933). "Review: Argenti, Philip P. The Massacre of Chios". Journal of Modern History. 5 (3): 414. doi:10.1086/236057. JSTOR 1875872.
  7. ^ Brewer 2011, p. 157: "The kapitan pasha, Kara Ali, was ordered to Chios with a powerful fleet and with orders to convey 15,000 men to Chios from Chesme, where 30,000 had now gathered. Many were volunteers, including it was said a whole infantry regiment of Muslim priests, and most were simply attracted by the riches of Chios. The British consul at Smyrna reported that 'we have got rid of all our ruffians, who have gone to take part in the plunder of Scio'. Strangford, Britain's ambassador in Constantinople, was worried about the control of such large numbers of unruly troops."
  8. ^ "Revolution – The massacre of the island of Chios". Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  9. ^ "Great-Britain", Galignani's Messenger (Paris), 26 July 1822, p. 1.
  10. ^ "The Chios Massacre Of 1822". Queens Gazette. Archived from the original on 2018-11-11. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  11. ^ Brandt, Anthony (2016). "Tears of Chios". World History Group. Retrieved 2023-10-26.
  12. ^ Littell, Eliakim (October 1888). The Living Age. Vol. 179. The Living Age Co. p. 614. OCLC 10173561.
  13. ^ Klose, Fabian (2016). The Emergence of Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas and Practice from the Nineteenth Century to the Present. Clays. p. 175. ISBN 9781107075511. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  14. ^ Cartledge, YJC (Feb 2020). "The Chios Massacre (1822) and early British Christian-humanitarianism". Historical Research. 93 (259): 52–72, at p.60. doi:10.1093/hisres/htz004.
  15. ^ (in Greek) Δελτία Τύπου της Ιεράς Συνόδου: Δεύτερη συνεδρία της Δ.Ι.Σ. για το μήνα Ιούλιο. Διαρκούς Ιεράς Συνόδου της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος (ECCLESIA.GR). Αθήνα, 15 Ιουλίου 2021.
  16. ^ GREEK CHURCH CANONIZES DOZENS OF MARTYRS, ECCLESIASTICAL TEACHERS. Orthodox Christianity. Athens, July 16, 2021. Retrieved: July 17, 2021.
  17. ^ (in Greek) Αγιοκατάταξη Ιερομάρτυρος Πλάτωνος και των συν αυτώ. ΡΟΜΦΑΙΑ (Ι.Μ. Χίου). 15/07, 15:17. Retrieved: July 17, 2021.
  18. ^ Sfyroeras 1975, pp. 246–247.
  19. ^ Sfyroeras 1975, pp. 247–248.
  20. ^ Sfyroeras 1975, pp. 248–249.
  21. ^ Anderson 1952, pp. 487–488.
  22. ^ Simon, Reeva S.; Mattar, Philip; Bulliet, Richard W. (1996). Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East. Macmillan Reference USA. p. 1018. ISBN 0-02-897062-4.
  23. ^ Morsy, Magali (1984). North Africa, 1800–1900: A Survey from the Nile Valley to the Atlantic. Longman. p. 185. ISBN 0-582-78377-1.


Further reading[edit]

  • Christopher A. Long – The Series of Events.
  • The Massacres of Chios Described in Contemporary Diplomatic Reports, edited and with an introduction by Philip P. Argenti (London: John Lane the Bodley Head Ltd., 1932).

External links[edit]

  • "The Sisters of Scio" is a poetic response to the massacre by Felicia Hemans, first published in The Literary Souvenir annual for 1830, with an engraving by Henry Rolls of a painting by A. Phalipon.