Makriyiannis was one of the most famous figures of the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman Empire. He was born in 1797 in Avoriti, Dorida and his real surname was Triandafillou. During the Revolution people called him “Makriyiannis” (Greek for “tall John”) because he was tall and this nickname stuck with him throughout history.
In 1811 he came to Arta in order to work for one of the local officials. A few years later he takes up commerce and thanks to his diligence and zeal he becomes a wealthy merchant. His commercial activity in Arta lasted till 1820. That is when the army of the Sultan arrested him on the grounds of being Ali Pasha’s man.
He managed to escape though and followed the general Gogos Bakolas. In 1820 he joins the brotherhood “Filiki Eteria”, gathers his first body of soldiers and goes to Athens where he won the Ottomans in numerous battles.
Disappointed though by the government and the dissensions among the Greeks, Makriyiannis leaves behind his military and political life. When Kapodistrias becomes Governor, Makriyiannis is named chief of the Executive Authority at Moria, a position that was taken away when he used his power to force Constitutional Regime upon the Governor. He was so set on his conviction about attaining real freedom by all means that he was accused of conspiracy against King Otto, got arrested, trialed and sentenced to death. His sentence was reduced gradually and finally he was set free in 1854.
Beyond his military and political achievements, Makriyiannis also left an undying monument of morality, attitude, speech and content – his “Memorabilia”. He began writing them in 1829 in an attempt to teach things to the following generations and he continued till 1851 – that’s when the episodes in his life forced him to stop.
His writings did not arise much interest at first. Except for Palamas almost nobody understood its importance. Years passed until writers and critics discovered him and brought him to our attention.