1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kanaris, Constantine

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KANARIS (or Canaris), CONSTANTINE (1790–1877), Greek patriot, belonged to the class of coasting sailors who produced if not the most honest, at least the bravest, and the most successful of the combatants in the cause of Greek independence. He belonged by birth to the little island of Psara, to the north-west of Chio. He first became prominent as the effective leader of the signal vengeance taken by the Greeks for the massacre at Chio in April 1822 by the Turkish Capitan Pasha. The commander of the force of fifty small vessels and eight fireships sent to assail the Turkish fleet was the navarch Miaoulis, but it was Kanaris who executed the attack with the fireships on the flagship of the Capitan Pasha on the night of the 18th of June 1822. The Turks were celebrating the feast of Bahram at the end of the Ramadān fast. Kanaris had two small brigs fitted as fireships, and thirty-six men. He was allowed to come close to the Turkish flagship, and succeeded in attaching his fireships to her, setting them on fire, and escaping with his party. The fire reached the powder and the flagship blew up, sending the Capitan Pasha and 2000 Turks into the air. Kanaris was undoubtedly aided by the almost incredible sloth and folly of his opponents, but he chose his time well, and the service of the fireships was always considered peculiarly dangerous. That Kanaris could carry out the venture with a volunteer party not belonging to a regularly disciplined service, not only proved him to be a clever partisan fighter, but showed that he was a leader of men. He repeated the feat at Tenedos in November of 1822, and was then considered to have disposed of nearly 4000 Turks in the two ventures. When his native island, Psara, was occupied by the Turks he continued to serve under the command of Miaoulis. He was no less distinguished in other attacks with fireships at Samos and Mytilene in 1824, which finally established an utter panic in the Turkish navy. His efforts to destroy the ships of Mehemet Ali at Alexandria in 1825 were defeated by contrary winds. When the Greeks tried to organize a regular navy he was appointed captain of the frigate “Hellas” in 1826. In politics he was a follower of Capo d’Istria. He helped to upset the government of King Otho and to establish his successor, was prime minister in 1864–1865, came back from retirement to preside over the ministry formed during the crisis of the Russo-Turkish war, and died in office on the 15th of September 1877. Kanaris is described as of small stature, simple in appearance, somewhat shy and melancholy. He is justly remembered as the most blameless of the popular heroes of the War of Independence. He was almost the only one among them whom Dundonald, with whom he served in a successful attack on an Egyptian war-ship near Alexandria, exempts from the sweeping charges of cowardice he brings against the Greeks.  (D. H.)