- THEOFILOS KAIRIS (1784 - 1853)
Theophilos Kairis (19 October 1784 – 13 January 1853) was a Greek priest, philosopher and revolutionary.
He was born in Andros, Cyclades, Ottoman Greece, as a son of a distinguished family.
Starting from 1811 he led Greek language high schools in Asia Minor. Eventually, he took an active part (1819–1826) in the Greek War of Independence and is now considered as an important figure in the History of Modern Greece.
On May 10, 1821, Theophilos Kairis, one of the leading intellectuals of the Greek Revolution, declared the War of Independence by raising the Greek flag at the picturesque cliffside church of St George on the island of Andros: at this time, a famous heartfelt speech, or "rhetoras", inspired shipowners and merchants to contribute funds and contribute ships to build a Greek Navy to combat the Ottoman Empire.
There are many factors that influence the beginning of the Greek War of Independence. Furthermore, philosophy and science from Western Europe began to penetrate the culture of Greece at the same time of the establishment of the Philiki Etairia, which was composed of intellectuals and merchants.
The views of the Age of Enlightenment in European countries are in general well researched, while the attempts to introduce the Enlightenment to countries in the periphery of Europe, such as Greece, is not documented to the same degree.
Many unanswered questions remain from this historical period, and surround the philosophic work of Theophilos Kairis. How did the scientific revolution migrate to the Greek-speaking regions occupied by the Ottoman Empire? How did the Greeks accept the truly revolutionary ideas of the French Revolution and liberalism? What were the reactions of the conservative Greek Orthodox Church and who sacrificed their lives in the cause of their ideas?
Many of the orphans from the Greek War of Independence, especially from the massacre from the island of Psara would form the body of the Orphanotropheio, in which Kairis taught many of the ideas learned from Philhellenes from all over Europe. Hence, this was the first true European university of Greece.
Though he was an ordained priest, Kairis fought in the War of Independence and was severely wounded in one battle. Towards the end of the war, he was selected to draft the verbiage for Greece's Constitution. But when the European Great powers of the time installed Otto von Wittelsbach as a kind of Viceroy of the Powers he was not ready to integrate himself into the new system.
King Otto offered him the position of Director of the University of Athens and awarded him the Gold Cross (equivalent to the Medal of Honor) for his contribution to the war, but Kairis turned both of these down. Instead, he continued to teach radical ideas of the Enlightenment which brought him into conflict with the King and with the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Kairis became a victim of the Eastern Orthodox Church's equivalent of the Holy Inquisition. Kairis suffered a tragic end reserved by fate for those who, being pioneers, tried to introduce to Greece the liberal ideas of Western Europe and the Enlightenment. The philosopher priest, Theophilos Kairis, following his conviction by the Holy Synod in 1839, was confined to the monastery in political exile on the island of Skiathos. He had been located to Syros for trial and execution but died in 1853, 10 days before his judicial hearing, of natural causes.