Nikitas Stamatelopoulos was one of the Greek leaders of the Greek Revolution of 1821 against Turks, known as “Nikitaras the Turkophagus (the “eater” of thw Turks)”. He was born in Messinia in 1781. His mother was sister of Kolokotronis. He was tall, brunette, first in jump and fast in running. He had been fighting with his father since he was 11 years old.
The Revolution of 1821
When the revolution started, he and his uncle Theodore Kolokotronis and other chieftains entered Kalamata on March 23, 1821.
On May 12-13 a team of 800 men took part in the victorious battle in Valteci.
On May 18, 1821, while heading towards Nafplio with only 200 men, he encountered the powerful Turkish force of 6,000 men under the Kechayabee, supported by cannons in the Dalian.
He managed to cause them a huge disaster and almost decimated them. Fearful, the Turks scattered around the ravines to escape, leaving their animals and cannons in the hands of the Greeks.
In the battle at Dervenakia his bravery and rage were so great that he broke four swords with his hands (the fourth was stuck in his hand and his ankle fell)! In this battle, he was nicknamed as “the Turkophagus (=the eater of thw Turks)” because, as his comrades saw him in the blood, he looked like a sarcophagus animal.
An honest and loyal revolutioner
After the battle, when asked what the spoils he wanted, Nikitaras replied: “I don’t want anything. The only i want is to see my country free!”
Despite refusing to take any spoils, he eventually got a saddle, a wood carving and a sword after the persistence of his comrades.
The saddle was immediately given to a colleague and friend. Tobacco, he sent it to his wife Angelina with the note: “I send it to you I love after Homeland. Get it to remember me.“
The sword sent him to Hydra for the needs of the battles. But the island’s proponents returned it saying that “this sword is only worth in Nikitara’s hand.”
After his release he was arrested twice and in 1839 he was imprisoned by order of the Bavarian King Othon. The torture he went through in prison was horrible. On September 18, 1841, Nikitaras returned to his home in Piraeus. His poor psychological condition and poverty further aggravated his health. Slowly he began to lose his eyesight.
His poverty and blindness eventually led him to beg. By order of the authority designating begging posts in Piraeus, they were assigned a place near the current Evangelistria church and allowed him to stand there every Friday.
Nikitaras died blind and poor on September 25, 1849. His last wish was to bury him next to his uncle Theodore Kolokotronis at the First Cemetery of Athens. Today his tomb is unfortunately ignored ….