Constantine Kanaris


Constantine Kanaris : biography

1795 – September 14, 1877

The Turkish fleet captured Psara on June 21, 1824. A part of the population managed to flee the island, but those who didn’t were either sold into slavery or slaughtered. The island was deserted and surviving islanders were scattered through what is now Southern Greece (see Destruction of Psara).

After the destruction of his home island, Constantine continued to lead his men into attacks against the Turks, until the Battle of Navarino of October 20, 1827. Then the Turkish-Egyptian fleet was destroyed by the combined naval forces of Britain, France and Russia.

Following the end of the war and the independence of Greece, Constantine became an officer of the new Greek Navy, reaching the rank of Admiral, and later became a prominent politician.

Political career

Constantine Kanaris (c.1793-1877); Photographic Archive of Hellenic Literary and Historical Museum, Athens.

Constantine Kanaris was one of the few with the personal confidence of Ioannis Kapodistrias the first Head of State of independent Greece.Woodhouse, p. 152. Kanaris served as Minister in various governments and then as Prime Minister, in the provisional government, from March 11-April 11, 1844. He served a second term (October 27, 1848December 24, 1849), and as Navy Minister in Mavrokordatos’ 1854 cabinet.

In 1862, he was one of the few War of Independence veterans that helped in the bloodless revolution that deposed King Otto of Greece and put Prince William of Denmark on the Greek throne as King George I of Greece. Under George I, he served as a prime minister for a third term (March 17April 28, 1864), fourth term (August 7, 1864February 9, 1865) and fifth and last term (June 7September 14, 1877).

Kanaris died on 2 September 1877 whilst still serving in office as Prime Minister. Following his death his government remained in power until September 14, 1877 without agreeing on a replacement at its head. He was buried in the First Cemetery of Athens, where most Greek prime ministers and celebrated figures are also buried. After his death he was honored as a national hero.

To honour Kanaris, three ships of the Hellenic Navy have been named after him;

  • ; a Hunt-class Type III destroyer, formerly HMS Hatherleigh, transferred from the Royal Navy on 18 December 1941.
  • ; a , formerly USS Stickell (DD-888), transferred from the U.S. Navy on 1 July 1972.
  • ; an , formerly the HNLMS Jan van Brakel (F825), bought from The Netherlands on 29 November 2002.

Early life

He was born and grew up on the island of Psara, close to the island of Chios, in the Aegean. His exact year of birth is unknown. The official records of the Hellenic Navy indicate 1795 but modern Greek historians believe that 1793 is more probable.

Constantine was left an orphan at a young age. Having to support himself, he chose to became a seaman like most members of his family since the beginning of the 18th century. He was hired as a boy on the brig of his uncle Dimitris Bourekas.


Category:1795 births Category:1877 deaths Category:People from Chios (regional unit) Category:18th-century Greek people Category:19th-century Greek people Category:Greek Navy admirals Category:Greek revolutionaries Category:Russian Party (Greece) politicians Category:People of the Greek War of Independence Category:Prime Ministers of Greece Category:Order of the Redeemer Category:Burials in Athens