LEMBESIDES AND MITROMARAS
During the First Russo-Turkish War (1768 – 1774) they were instigated in the Greek area under G. Catherine counter-distraction movements against the Turks (Orlovika, etc.). Great but ignored is the movement of the Mitromaras.
Mitromaras came from Mesogeia in Attica and had been introduced to the plans of the Russians. He took advantage of the descent of the Russian fleet under the Orlofs to organize a revolutionary movement. At the head of a body of Greek-speaking and Albanian-speaking warriors, he began to destroy the estates of the Turks in Attica and Megarida. In 1770 he defeated the Turkish army at Kakia Skala and then entered Megara and set them on fire, after first taking the women and children to Salamis, which since then became his base and stronghold.
His men took the name “Lebesides” which means disobedient, rebels, etc. Their maintenance was difficult and that is why Mitromaras became a pirate. So in 1770 he pursued a French ship as far as Syros, which at that time had only Catholic inhabitants. The Catholics resisted, and in the clashes Mitromaras was injured.
In 1771 the movement organized by the Orlofs died out but Mitromaras continued his activity. He raised the Russian flag at Salamis and organized a pirate flotilla. Many Athenian families, fearing Turkish reprisals, fled to Salamis. The “Lebesides” literally ravaged the coasts of Attica and the coasts between Attica and Evia.
Mitromaras developed into a formidable raider, as well as a warrior. When he was informed that the Pasha of Peloponnese was sending 100 Albanians to reinforce the Acropolis of Athens, he set up an ambush for them at Keratopyrgos and defeated them. Also in May 1771, he defeated another body of 100 Albanians who had been sent from Nafplio to reinforce the Acropolis at Agioi Asomatoi.
Finally, in Agistri, in a battle between the Greeks, led by Mitromaras, and the Turks, Mitromaras was wounded and died on February 15, 1772.
Many of his men, along with their wives, were captured and taken to Athens. Among the prisoners was Mitromara’s wife. The voivode of Athens killed the men, while the women were sold as slaves. Mitromara’s wife was bought by her relatives from Menidi. The other “Lebesides” scattered in various areas and thus the name Lebesis became generalized.
The Lebesides movement cost the people of Athens dearly, but it cultivated a strong antipathy between the Albanian-speaking Christians and the Turkalvans. The Arvanites of Attica with Mitromara took the baptism of fire against the Turks. This is how the tradition was created which was continued by Meletis Vassiliou and Athanasios Skourtaniotis.