Danish Philhellenism. The economic support of the Greek Fight for Independence.

Manto Maurogenous

The support Danes expressed towards the Greek people while the latter were fighting for their independence took a variety of forms. Except for the moral support, prominent figures supported with economic means.

Christian Frederik, the era’s crown prince, offered economic support under anonymity. Inspired by the european philhellenic circles, it was a common secret that the crown prince was on the side of the Greek revolutionaries. Chamberlain Frederik Adolph Holstein was a firm supporter of fundraising activities along with chamberlain Ludvig Reventlov who offered 150 francs. Fundraising activities as a support to the fighting Greeks were considered illegal but often countered by Danish people who were pointing to the ethical dimension of raising funds for a good and just purpose, in accordance to the Christian morals and values that were compliant to the Danish legislation. F. A Holstein, in 1827, published the Grækernes Sag i Danmark. En frimodig Bemærkning in support of the Greek Fight for Independence, with references to the Gospel and the French Revolution values. The profits were offered to the Greek cause. Holstein’s act was of significant importance due to his aristocratic origins.

Figure 1: The heroine Manto Maurogenous, a distinguished personality of the Greek Struggle

Figures of the Danish Church also played their role in standing with the Orthodox Christian Greeks. In 1828, bishop Frederik Plum (1760-1834) published the Valgte Stykker af den Græske Anthologie, a collection of selected Greek literary works. The profits were offered for scholarships to young people in Greece. Similarly, priest Peter Ditlev Faber offered also his aid through the profits from novel Elvpige. The novel was published in two editions, in 1827 and 1829, by Grækervennen newspaper. In 1822, the priest Hans Bastholm (1774-1856) collected funds through the Vestsjællandske Avis, despite the official restrictions. Bastholm’s call for support of the fighting Christians raised discontent among the Danish conservatives circles. Nevertheless, more Danish clergymen such Hempel and Blicher and Elmenhoff continued the fundraising initiatives through newspapers such as the Fyns Stiftstidende.

Worth mentioning is also the effort by Christian Thaarup, a student at the University of Copenhagen and close friend of Johan Henril Krøyer who eventually travelled to Greece to fight with the locals. Thaarup’s fundraising efforts among the university’s students were eventually offered to finance Krøyer’s travel to Greece.

In about 1827-1828, the Kommiteen til Understøttelse for Lidende i Grækenland was established. The committee, founded on the same principles as other similar philhellenic committees in the european soil, contributed ethically and materially to the fight for independence and the establishment of the independent Greek state. The Danish committee was connected with French-Swiss banker Jean Gabriel Eynard, a distinguished philhellene. Eynard with this prestigious personality facilitated the collection of funds Europe-wide, which in turn were delivered to Ioannis Kapodistrias, the diplomat who later became the first head of state in independent Greece. The cause of the Dansih committee was soon embraced by the Danish society, both noble and ordinary people alike.

  1. Aristea’s Papanicolaou-Christensen «Το Φιλελληνικό Κίνημα στην Δανία», ISBN: 9789606812088
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