Laskarina Bouboulina

Laskarina Bouboulina

Laskarina "Bouboulina" Pinotsis (1771-1825), was a Hellenic revolutionary and naval commander. An Arvanite Greek born in a Constantinople (Istanbul) penitentiary, she was the daughter of ship captain Stavrianos Pinotsis from Hydra island.

When she was a child her father died after having been imprisoned for taking part in failed Peloponnesian "Orlof Revolution" of 1769–1770 against the Ottoman dominion. Afterward, she, her mother Skevo, and her extended family relocated to the decimated Island of Spetses. Laskarina wed twice, first to a wealthy shipowner, and later to a Captain Bouboulis, whose name she took. When the latter was murdered by Algerian pirates, Bouboulina took over his trading business and began to accumulate her own fleet, commissioning the construction of 4 new ships, including the large warship "Agamemnon".

In 1816, the Ottomans attempted to steal the rich widowed mother of 7 children's property as her husband had fought with the Russians against them during the Turko-Russian wars. She succeeded in thwarting these attempts with the help of Count Pavel Stroganoff, the Russian Ambassador in Constantinople and a known philhellene.  However, she was actively working against the Ottomans as a member of the Filiki Eteria, a secret organization plotting to overthrow Ottoman control over Greece. Bouboulina's main role was as a smuggler - bringing food, armaments, and ammunition into Spetses.

In early 1821, the Filiki Eteria and other revolutionaries instigated the Hellenic War of Independence with backing from Russia and other European authorities. 12 days before the fighting started, Bouboulina was the first to raise the revolutionary flag, flying a modified Greek flag from the mast of the Agamemnon. She aided the citizens of Spetses in their revolt before sailing with 8 ships to Nafplion to mount a naval blockade. She later took part in the blockade and capture of the coastal cities of Monemvasia and Pylos. She was also there when Tripoli fell in September 1821, and during the following attack on the Ottoman garrison, she protected the female members of the Sultan's household. In the aftermath of the battle, she bore witness to the creation of the new Greek State, the First Hellenic Republic.

During the progression of the war, she was considered an equal with other revolutionary commanders and was involved in planning their strategies. Bouboulina became great friends with General Theodoros Kolokotronis, and their children later married. She relocated to Nafplio, the new Greek capital, until 1824, when the Greek factions turned on each other in civil war.

Kolokotronis was jailed by his previous allies and Bouboulina was arrested twice due to her association with him. Afterward, she was exiled to Spetses, where she found her fortune depleted from fighting for Hellenic independence.

In 1825, Laskarina Bouboulina was killed as the result of a family feud in Spetses with the head of the Koutsis family, whose daughter Bouboulina's son had eloped with. Looking for her, the girl's father, Christodoulos, went to Bouboulina's house with armed members of his family. While confronting the family from her balcony she was shot through the head and died instantly.

Regrettably, the Agamemnon also had a tragic end. After Bouboulina’s death, it was bequeathed by her descendants to the Greek State. It was renamed "Spetses"  and became the flagship of the then newly assembled State Navy. The Agamemnon/Spetses was burned by the Greek Admiral Miaoulis in 1831 at the naval base of Poros during fighting in the civil war.

Following her death, the Emperor of Russia, Alexander I, bestowed upon Bouboulina the honorary rank of Admiral in the Russian Navy. At the time, she was the only woman in history to hold the title. To this day, she is commemorated as a Greek national hero, without whom the Greeks might never have gained their independence.

▶︎ Theodoros Kolokotronis
▶︎ Giorgios Karaiskakis
▶︎ Ernst Ziller
▶︎ Christian & Theophilus Hansen
▶︎ Laskarina Bouboulina
▶︎ King Otto


▶︎ More: Ancient Period of Athens, Figures of Ancient Period, Byzantine Period of Athens, Figures of Byzantine Period, Modern History of Athens, Figures of the 19th Century, Figures of the 20th Century, Greek Mythology, Historical Specials