Battle of Navarino

Accommodation Search

History on 20th October


First Edition of Sunday Times

Big Ben Winched into Place

Battle of Navarino

The 20th of October 1827 AD

Navarino, the last great sea-battle fought solely under sail, was an unlikely clash. Not only were we not at war with the Ottoman Empire whose fleet was destroyed in the encounter; but our sailors fought alongside the French and Russians, none of these allies truly sharing aims.
The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars pushed most of Europe into a reactionary period. Europe’s monarchies sought to guarantee their survival and borders. The fly in this status quo ointment was the Greek question: Christian Greece was fighting for independence from the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Orthodox Russia was drawn to help, with potential Near East gains an added incentive; the British wanted no change; the French were attracted to Greek freedom, opposed Britain on principle, and feared Russian ambitions.
Ottoman massacres in Greece, liberal support for their cause ( Byron famously dying for it), and a new Tsar changed the game. The three Powers decided to impose an armistice in Greece and make it autonomous under Ottoman suzerainty. The Greeks agreed; but Egyptian commander Ibrahim Pasha’s atrocities continued, and his naval forces manoeuvred contrary to allied wishes.
Vice-Admiral Codrington, a Trafalgar veteran commanding the allied fleet, decided to block the Ottoman ships in Navarino Bay on the west coast of the Peleponnese; he forever protested peaceful intentions, but undoubtedly had pro-Greek sympathies. It appears British sailors sent to stop Ottoman preparations on a fire-ship were fired on, and in a chain reaction this became a full exchange of broadsides. Though Codrington only commanded 28 ships they were bigger, better armed, and manned by experienced warriors; the Ottomans overall had more guns on their 70 vessels, but many were manned by inexperienced pressed-men.
Firing continued from early afternoon until evening. The allies lost no ships; only eight enemy vessels remained serviceable. Codrington suffered fewer than 200 dead; the Ottomans perhaps 2000.
Codrington returned a national hero but resented by the government: sent to negotiate peace he had fought a set-piece battle.

More famous dates here

3641 views since 20th January 2011

Brit Quote:
The most important of my discoveries have been suggested to me by my failures - Humphry Davy
More Quotes

On this day:
Paradise Lost Published - 1667, First Benny Hill TV Show - 1951, Marchioness Disaster - 1989
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages