Born in Messenia and raised in Arcadia, Theodoros Kolokotronis (1770-1843) is undoubtedly the symbol of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1830), the man who embodied totally the battle cry “Liberty or Death”. Αt the age of ten, Theodoros lost his father in a conflict with Ottoman soldiers an incident that marked his soul forever.
Kolokotronis acquired a high military experience by servicing as a warrior-bandit (klepht) against the Turks on the mountains of Morea (Peloponnese), and later as an officer in the British army of Zakynthos.
The Greek Revolution found Kolokotronis in Morea organizing the irregular Greek rebels in a more effective army. He was already 51 years old, an old man for the 19th c. standards, and among his comrades he was famous with the nickname “The Elder of Morea”.
Despite his age the Greek commander was unstoppable and in 1822 at the Battle of Dervenakia inflected great damage to the Ottoman army and prestige. The years followed the initial Greek successful attempts against their tyrants were stormy; civil war, political conflicts and restricted victories for the rebels almost led Kolokotronis to execution by his own compatriots.
Finally logic prevailed and Kolokotronis was appointed commander in chief for the Greek forces until the end of the victorious struggle against the Ottoman Empire.
After the liberation many ex-rebels found themselves in a high position or in the margin of the new society. “The Elder of Morea” died tranquil and acknowledged by his fellow countrymen in the age of 73.