The Chios Massacre: Learning from History

By | December 19, 2018

[December 19, 2018]  The teaching of history and its importance to understanding the human condition and as a way to improve our humanity has, unfortunately, been in decline for several decades.1  The lessons we can learn are beneficial and perhaps lost if we do not focus a renewed effort.  Today, I’ll highlight the Chios Massacre of 1822 as an example of what we can learn.

The Ottoman Empire was one of the strongest and most enduring dynasties in world history.  This Islamic-centric empire ruled large swaths of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and North Africa for more than 600 years.  Considered a major threat to Western European leaders, the empire was a source of great regional stability and important achievements in arts, science, religion, and culture.2

During the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, a number of Greek revolutionaries from Samos Island landed on Chios.  While Turks from the empire were attacked on occupied Chios, there was no major defeat of the Turks, nor was there any reason to bring reprisals upon the island’s inhabitants.

The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire heard about the conspiracy to revolt and was infuriated.  Sending a fleet, thousands of Turk soldiers were sent to destroy Chios and kill all the inhabitants.  The order was to kill, rape, and plunder the tiny island.  More than 90,000 were killed, 15,000 exiled, and 52,000 enslaved.  Only 2,000 remained on the island out of its original 120,000 population.  Greek Christians were also targeted for particularly harsh treatment by the Muslim Turks.

The massacre outraged and shocked Europe and spread many additional protests.  To this day, Turks are still considered low-class citizens in Western Europe; of lesser intellect, from a tarnished heritage, and associated with violence for the sake of violence.  Nearly 200 years after the massacre, the lingering sentiment is that Muslims generally and Turks, in particular, are not really Europeans but something to be tolerated.

Chios was also the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Empire.  While there are many reasons for the Ottoman Empire’s slow economic and political disintegration, the massacre on the island of Chios was a major event that both blinded the world to all the good done during the empire’s reign but also set in motion events that seriously retarded the empire’s further advancement.


  1. Liberal education in America has, over the past decade, taken a rain check its primary purpose. A recent article published yesterday in the National Review by Victor Davis Hanson gets right to the point on this issue:
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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “The Chios Massacre: Learning from History

  1. Willie Shrumburger

    Keep these articles coming our way, General Satterfield. We do appreciate them. Also, I see that many of regular readers have posted additional info about the Chios Massacre below. Well done!

  2. Lynn Pitts

    It is unfortunate that we humans have to so often wait to learn such valuable lessons from such horrible events.

  3. Martin Shiell

    The Danish consul on Chios helped people to escape but was later killed by the Turks who caught him. The English consul on the either hand asked to be paid so he could arrange a safe escape route. It was a big lie. Instead of helping, he betrayed people and handed them over to the Turks. We need to always publish things like this so the weakness and strength of people can be on display for all to witness.

  4. Drew Dill

    Some truly educational comments today. Thanks all. I would like to add that the Turkish Sultan recognized Greek independence only a few years later and was quick to recognize the mistake he made. Fortunately, that same Sultan oversaw the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Not long after the Chios massacre, the Turkish Sultan realized he had committed a mistake and lost valuable financial asset the island had provided him with.

  5. Jonnie the Bart

    Yes! I always wondered by so many from Europe considered those of Turkish descent to be lower-class citizens. What we do, does echo through time.

  6. Eddie Ray Anderson,

    Much is to be learned from this. In America, this was never part of our studies. Only thanks to folks like Gen. Satterfield can we learn from the Europeans and others the lessons that were part of their history and why they are who they are.

  7. Darryl Sitterly

    The most frightening event in the history of Chios occurred in 1822 when the Turkish Sultan Mahmud II (1785-1839) gave the order to kill all men over 12, all women over 40 and all children younger than 2 years. Thousands of Turkish soldiers brutally killed men, raped women, and slaughtered babies with their swords. Domestic animals were killed, houses set on fire and churches plundered. Inhabitants of the island of Chios paid the highest possible price for the Greeks’ rebellion against the Turks.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      Ironically Chios’ inhabitants never wanted to participate in the Greek rebellion. People of the island asked several times to left out outside the conflict. In fact they even preferred to obey the Turkish Sultan than risk living in insecurity. To the Greeks Chios showed cowardness.

    2. Mr. T.J. Asper

      In 1827, the Christian superpowers agreed on sending a fleet to Greece and surprise the Turks. At the Peloponnese, a large peninsula linked to the northern territory of Greece by the Isthmus of Corinth 50 out of 70 Turkish ship were destroyed. The Turkish fleet never recovered from this defeat.

  8. Len Jakosky

    Wow, spot on article today, Gen. Satterfield. Thanks.

  9. Max Foster

    “The Chios Massacre” is a time in infamy that many in the so-called modern world would like to conveniently forget. This was a clear attack of Muslims against Christians. Today, the sophisticated modern liberal mind would like to think nothing of the sort ever happened but that only in a degraded capitalist society can discrimination exist. Well, now we see why Muslims are generally hated and the Turks are dispised in Europe today.

    1. Mike Baker

      No doubt much is to be learned from this part of history and we should pay attention to all terrible incidents like this one to prevent them from happening in the future. Unfortunately, we have so many people with their heads in the sand that I’m afraid more will happen in the future and people will say, ‘why did this happen?’

    2. Eric Coda

      Being retired now for a few years, I too have been reading more about history and have become drawn to what it can teach me. Why the schools at the university level have been dropping this as a major just boggles my mind.

      1. Lady Hawk

        History has always been my favorite but one must have time to truly study it well.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      Yes, I read both articles and have now linked the Hillsdale College site so I can go back for more.

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