Pavlos Melas (Greek: Παύλος Μελάς, Pávlos Melás; 29 March 1870 – 13 October 1904) was a Greek revolutionary and artillery officer of the Hellenic Army. He participated in the Greco-Turkish War of 1897 and was amongst the first Greek officers to join the Macedonian Struggle.

Pavlos Melas
Παῦλος Μελᾶς
Pavlos Melas in uniform.
Nickname(s)Kapetan Mikis Zezas
Καπετάν Μίκης Ζέζας
Born29 March 1870
Marseille, Second French Empire
Died13 October 1904 (aged 34)
Statitsa, Ottoman Empire (now Melas, Greece)
Buried
Allegiance Kingdom of Greece
Service/branch Hellenic Army
Years of service1891–1904
RankSecond lieutenant
Battles/wars
Alma materHellenic Army Academy
Children2
RelationsMichail Melas (father)
Vasileios Melas (brother)
Anna Mela-Papadopoulou (sister)
Natalia Mela (granddaughter)
Ion Dragoumis (brother-in-law)
Other workMember of the Ethniki Etaireia
Member of the HMC

Early life and career

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Melas was born in Marseilles, France, the son of Michail Melas who was elected MP for Attica and mayor of Athens and brother of Vassileios Melas who was also an officer of the Hellenic Army. The Melas family was of Greek haute bourgeois descent.[1] Pavlos' father was a wealthy merchant from Epirus.[2] At an early age Pavlos moved to Athens to study, and later joined the Army, graduating from the Hellenic Army Academy as an artillery lieutenant in 1891. In 1892, he married Natalia Dragoumi, the daughter of Kastorian politician Stephanos Dragoumis and sister of Ion Dragoumis. In 1895, the couple had a son named Michael and a daughter, Zoe.

He became member 25 of the Ethniki Etaireia and participated in the Greco-Turkish War of 1897.

Armed action

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Melas, with the cooperation of his brother-in-law Ion Dragoumis, the consul of Greece in the then Ottoman occupied Monastir (now Bitola), Kottas Christou, and Germanos Karavangelis, metropolitan bishop of Kastoria, tried to raise money for the economic support of Greek efforts in Macedonia. After the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprising, he decided to enter Macedonia in June 1904, to assess the situation and to see if there is any possibility of establishing a military unit to fight the Bulgarian Komitadjis (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, IMRO) and the Ottoman Turks.

Death

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In July 1904 (under the alias "Captain Mikis Zezas", Καπετάν Μίκης Ζέζας), he reentered Macedonia with a small unit of men and fought against the VMRO until 13 October 1904 when he was killed after being surrounded by Ottoman forces in the village of Siatista. The village with coordinates 40° 42' N 021° 16' E has been renamed Melas in his honour, after joining Greece.

After his death, Greek efforts became more intense, resulting in the interception of Bulgarian Komitadji efforts, especially in West and Central Macedonia, which was annexed by Greece after the Balkan Wars.

Legacy

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He is considered to be a symbol of the Greek Struggle for Macedonia and many of his personal belongings can be seen in the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle in Thessaloniki and Pavlos Melas Museum in Kastoria.

His granddaughter Natalia Mela was a distinguished sculptor.

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References

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  1. ^ Keridis, Dimitris; Kiesling, John Brady (2020). Thessaloniki: A City in Transition, 1912–2012. Routledge. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-429-51366-4.
  2. ^ George C. Papavizas (2006). Claiming Macedonia: The Struggle for the Heritage, Territory and Name of the Historic Hellenic Land, 1862-2004. McFarland. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-4766-1019-1.
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