Ioannis Kolettis

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His Excellency
Ioannis Kolettis
Ιωάννης Κωλέττης
Ioannis Kolettis.JPG
Prime Minister of Greece
In office
June 12, 1834 – June 1, 1835
Monarch Otto
Preceded by Alexandros Mavrokordatos
Succeeded by Graf von Armansperg
In office
August 18, 1844 – September 17, 1847
Monarch Otto
Preceded by Alexandros Mavrokordatos
Succeeded by Kitsos Tzavelas
Personal details
Born 1773
Syrrako, Epirus, Ottoman empire
Died (1847-09-17)September 17, 1847 (aged 73–74)
Athens, Greece
Political party French Party
Occupation Physician
Religion Greek Orthodox

Ioannis Kolettis (Greek: Ιωάννης Κωλέττης) (1773[citation needed] - 1847) was a Greek politician who played a significant role in Greek affairs from the Greek War of Independence through the early years of the Greek Kingdom, including as Minister to France and serving twice as Prime Minister.

Early life[edit]

Kolettis was born in Syrrako, Epirus and played a leading role in the political life of the Greek state in the 1830s and 1840s. Kolettis studied medicine in Pisa, Italy and was influenced by the Carbonari movement and started planning his return to Epirus in order to participate in Greece's independence struggles.

In 1813, he settled at Ioannina, where he served as a doctor and after gaining standing he was recruited as the personal doctor of Ali Pasa's son, Muqtar Pasa. He remained in Ioannina till March 1821, when he entered Filiki Eteria and left for Syrrako, together with chieftain Raggos, in order to spread the revolution into Central Greece (Rumeli), but his efforts quickly failed because of the rapid reaction of the Ottoman army. Kolettis was the leader of the pro-French party and based his power on his relations with the leaders of Central Greece but also on his ability to eliminate his adversaries by acting behind the scenes.

Greek War of Independence[edit]

Ioannis Kolettis by Dominique Papety.

In the First Greek National Assembly, at Epidavros, he participated as the representative of Epirus and in January, 1822 he became Minister of Internal Affairs. After the Second Greek National Assembly, at Astros in May, 1823 he was appointed sub-prefect of Euboea and managed to remove Turkish troops off the island. At the same time, he continued his political activities, resulting in his election as member of the Legislative Body (Νομοθετικόν), a position that he held till 1826.

At the end of 1824, during the civil war between the rebel factions, he was in charge of the Roumeliot (Central Greece) party and defeated the Moreot or Peloponnesian party, which opposed the Kountouriotis government. Nonetheless, in the Third Greek National Assembly, he supported the Peloponnesian party and with its support was assigned to train troops from Thessaly and Macedonia, with the aim of destroying Ottoman resource depots at Atalanti. However, the whole operation failed because of his inexperience in military affairs, which ruined his reputation.

Political career after 1821[edit]

When John Capodistria landed at Nafplio in January 1828 as Governor, he was appointed as governor of Samos and later, on July, 1829 as Minister of Defense. In October 1831, Capodistria was assassinated; in the ensuing civil war, which lasted until 1832, Kolettis was once again leader of the Roumeliot Party. He tried, along with Theodoros Kolokotronis and Augustinos Kapodistrias to form a government but due to severe disagreements the coalition was dissolved. To assume leadership after 1821, he is considered responsible for the death of a great Greek Independence Hero, Odysseus Androutsos, and also responsible for the separation ("divide and conquer") of a legendary couple of the Greek Independence: Prince Dimitrius Ypsilantis and Manto Mavrogenous.

Political career during Otto's reign[edit]

Until Otto of Greece reached adulthood, Kolettis was Minister of the Navy and Minister of Defense. In 1835, he was sent to France as the ambassador where he created connections with French politicians and intellectuals. He returned to Greece after the coup that broke out in Athens in September 1843, which forced King Otto to grant a constitution and Kolettis took part in the subsequent Constitutional Assembly. To contest the elections in 1844, he formed a party, the French Party (Γαλλικό Κόμμα) and together with Andreas Metaxas, leader of the Russian Party formed a government. When Metaxas resigned, he became Prime Minister and served as such until his death in 1847. He is credited with conceiving the Megali Idea or "Great Idea" which became the core of Greek foreign policy until the early 20th century.

Political offices
Preceded by
Alexandros Mavrokordatos
Prime Minister of Greece
June 12, 1834 - June 1, 1835
Succeeded by
Graf von Armansperg
Preceded by
Alexandros Mavrokordatos
Prime Minister of Greece
August 18, 1844 - September 17, 1847
Succeeded by
Kitsos Tzavelas