Kountouriotis Festival Hydra - August Festivals

 

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Pavlos Kountouriotis (Greek: Παύλος Κουντουριώτης, 9 April 1855 – 22 August 1935) was a Greek admiral and naval hero during the Balkan Wars, regent, and the first and third President of the Second Hellenic Republic.

 

Celebrations in honour of Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis is a six day festival of talks, tours, films, exhibitions, book presentations and sporting events.

On the anniversary of his death, 22nd August, a doxology and a memorial service is held at the Cathedral Church of the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Wreaths are also laid at the war memorial and the tomb of the Admiral.

The events take place around August 22, with many visitors, officials, representatives of political parties and of course the Kountouriotis Frigate, in which a ranking naval officer is on board, in attendence.

 

 

Background Information

 

The Kountouriotis family was a prominent Arvanite family from the island of Hydra. The original family name was Zervas but was allegedly changed since one of their ancestors lived for a while in the village of Kountoura, in the Megarid. Many members of the family took part in the Greek War of Independence (1812), including his great-uncle, Lazarous Kountouriotis (mainly financial) and his grandfather, Georgios Kountouriotis, who also served as Prime Minister of Greece under King Otto.

 

Pávlos Kountouriotis was born in Hydra to Theodoros Kountouriotis, son of Geórgios, and Loukia Negreponte. He was the second of nine children, including Ioannis Kountouriotis. Little is known of Pávlos' childhood. In 1875, following his family's longstanding naval tradition, he joined the Royal Hellenic Navy, presumably in the rank of Ensign.

 

In 1886 he took part in the naval operations at Preveza as a Lieutenant. During the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, serving as Lt. Commander he commanded the ship Alfeios. His ship took part in at least two landings of Greek troops on the island of Crete. In 1901, commanding the training ship Miaoulis, he was sent to Boston. This was reported as the first transatlantic trip of a Greek war vessel. Kountouriotis served as an aide-de-camp to King Geórgios I from 1908 until 1911, receiving the rank of Captain in 1909. In June 1911, Kountouriotis was sent to Britain, to take control of the newly commissioned Averof, following the "blue cheese mutiny". As he was highly esteemed, he quickly reimposed discipline and set sail for Greece.

 

He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1912, on the outbreak of the First Balkan War. During the Balkan Wars, with his flagship, the Georgios Averof, he led the Greek Navy to major victories against the Turkish fleet in December 1912 (Battle of Elli) and in January 1913 (Battle of Limnos), liberating most of the Aegean islands. The signal sent by Admiral Kountouriotis from the cruiser Averof to the fleet, at the start of the Battle of Elli, translated it reads: "By the power of God and with the wishes of the King and in the name of justice, I sail with unstoppable force and with confidence about victory against the enemy of the nation."

 

His victories, due in large part to his daring but successful tactics, earned him the status of a national hero. He was promoted to Vice Admiral for "exceptional war service", the first Greek career officer since Constantine Kanaris to reach the rank (usually reserved for members of the Greek royal family).

 

In 1916, he became a minister in the Stephanos Skouloudis government, but, in disagreement with the pro-German feelings of King Konstantínos I of the Hellenes, he followed Eleftherios Venizelos to Thessaloniki where he was assigned the ministry of Naval Affairs in Venizelos' National Defence government. Konstantínos was deposed, and replaced on the throne by his second-eldest son, The Prince Aléxandros. Kountouriotis subsequently retired from the navy with the honorary rank of full Admiral. On the death of the young King Aléxandros of the Hellenes in 1920, he was elected Regent of Greece by the Greek Parliament on 28 October by a vote of 137 to 3. After the sitting government of Venizelos was defeated in the elections that took place in November 1920, Kountouriotis resigned as Regent on 17 November, to be replaced by Queen Olga, King Aléxandros's grandmother. The following month, King Konstantínos was restored.

 

In March 1924, after King Geórgios II of the Hellenes was deposed, he was elected as the first President of the Second Hellenic Republic, but resigned the post in March, 1926, in opposition to General Pangalos' dictatorship. He was reelected President in May 1929, but due to serious health complications he resigned in December of the same year.

 

Admiral Pávlos Kountouriotis died on 22nd August 1935. Α World War II Greek destroyer and a Standard-class frigate, the F 462 Kountouriotis, are named after him.

 

One of the two gold 100-Euro coins issued by Greece in 2012 to commemorate the centenary of the Balkan Wars featured Kountouriotis and the Averof.

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