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06/02/2008

Nikitaras - Nikitas Stamatelopoulos (1782 - 1849)

University of Peloponnisos


The Portrait of Nikitaras

One of the most heroic and unselfish fighters of the revolution of 1821. He was born in 1782 in Megali Anastasitsa of Messinia but he descended from the village of Tourkoleka in Falaisia and was a nephew of Theodoros Kolokotronis. From a very early age he followed his father in the mountains and joined the group of the famous captain Zacharias Barbitsiotis. From 1800 to 1808 the Turks launched a firm persecution against the revolution captains of Moreas (Peloponnese) and Nikitaras followed his uncle Kolokotronis to Zakynthos, where he served initially in the Russian and later in the French army.

On March 23rd , 1821 together with Kolokotronis and Papaflessas they freed Kalamata. Always loyal to his uncle, he was among the first who supported the plan for the siege of Tripolis. He made a decisive contribution to the victorious battle in Valtetsi in 1822 as the head of 800 men. A few days later in Doliana, and while he was marching along with 200 men towards Nafplio, he fell upon the Turkish artillery of Kechagiampei which consisted of 6000 men. The valor of Nikitaras and his strategic capacity landed a big blow to the Turkish army which fled the battle, leaving behind 600 dead and almost all their heavy guns.

Very important was his participation in the decisive battle at Dervenakia against Dramali on July 26 in 1822, while a few days later he gave the final blow to the army of the Ottoman General in the ravine of Agios Sostis and in Agionori. In these three battles, Dramalis lost five of the six thousand men that he had under his command and later he himself committed suicide. Moreover,, he fought against Kioutachi in Messolongi, at the victorious battle in Arachova by the side of G. Karaiskakis (November 1826) and at the defeat in Faliro (April 24, 1827). Furthermore, he fought many important battles by the side of Kolokotronis against the army of the Egyptian General Ibrahim.

In the two civil wars, Nikitaras sided with Kolokotronis, but diligent and unselfish as he was, he never participated in the armed conflicts that took place and many times his interventions prevented bloodshed. After the liberation he enlisted in the Russian party but in any case he stayed away from politics. Like his uncle, Nikitaras was a supporter and partner of Kapodistrias and was appointed military commander of Peloponnese. In 1829 he took part in the 4th National Assembly held in Argos as a plenipotentiary of Leontari.

With the arrival of King Otto he fell in disgrace. In 1839 he was arrested and imprisoned in Palamidi (Nafplio) with the slanderous accusation that he prepared a coup against King Otto. In the trial held in 1840 he was acquitted, something that angered the government and once again as in the case of Kolokotronis, court justice was put aside by a royal decree and Nikitaras was jailed in Aegina. Finally, under the threats of General Makrigiannis, Otto had to pardon him (September 18, 1841). After the revolution of 1843 he was given the rank of Major General and in 1847 he was elected senator. He died at his home in Piraeus on September 25th, 1849, two days after celebrating the anniversary of the fall of Tripolis, and was buried in the 1st Cemetery of Athens next to his uncle T. Kolokotronis.


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