bouboulina | celebrating 250 years + fundraiser
Today marks 250 years since Laskarina Bouboulina’s birth on May 11, 1771. A magnificent war hero and revolutionary woman in every sense of the word, Bouboulina stepped into a position of power at a time when it was nearly impossible for women to do so.
Bouboulina was born in a Constantinople prison while her mother was visiting her father who was imprisoned for taking part in a failed Peloponnesian uprising against Ottoman rule. She grew up and existed among international sea trade and was likely exposed to Enlightenment ideals and forward-thinking world views from a young age. Thanks to the families of her father, stepfather, and two husbands, Bouboulina was part of a group of “New Bourgeois Greeks.” This upbringing likely helped to define Bouboulina’s forward-thinking ambitions of both Greece’s independence on the horizon and her own place within her contemporary society.
According to the laws of the time, women in merchant families directly inherited the estates of their families. Twice-widowed Bouboulina, therefore, legally came into command of her father and stepfather’s shipping companies as well as the estates and shipping companies of her two husbands.
Bouboulina is celebrated as a heroine for using her wealth as a revolutionary force for Greece’s independence and for her military prowess and acumen during the war, building the formidable war ship the “Agammemnon” and fearlessly entering battles with other famed Greek Captains and freedom fighters. Bouboulina’s contributions are truly great. Yet there is even more to her story once we take into account what it meant to be a woman in the early 19th century and the impressive social battles she had to fight to simply establish herself as an individual. Bouboulina’s acquisition of her family’s inheritance was aggressively and bitterly challenged and she found herself fighting fiercely for control of her own wealth, of her own life, alongside her fight for Greece’s own liberation.
Bouboulina was a proto-feminist – seeking to establish an autonomy for herself unfamiliar to women of her time – seeming to believe that this was an essential liberty. When we place Bouboulina within the context of her time, she emerges as an even greater hero. She was a strong, independent woman in an age where women held little to no power. By acknowledging this, we can more fully appreciate and applaud her magnificent struggles for personal freedom alongside her great contributions to Greece’s fight for independence.
There is much more to discover and understand about her story. With this in mind, I am excited to present a limited collection of our “Bouboulina” print beautifully and professionally framed with the vintage pre-euro draxmas that inspired the painting.
100% of the proceeds of these sales will support the Bouboulina Museum on Spetses that conserves Bouboulina's physical estate as well as items and documents associated with her great historical footprint.
Due the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum has been closed for much of the last year, resulting in financial hardships for the family-run museum and is collecting donations to help keep this important cultural site - and the amazing story of Bouboulina and her contributions to the Greek War of Independence - alive! The Museum is planning to re-open to the public this summer.
I hope you will join us in this unique opportunity to preserve and enhance Bouboulina’s legacy and to also own a piece of her history. By supporting the Bouboulina museum, you will assist researchers and scholars continue their research, as the mansion is a library of Bouboulina’s life, including letters that have yet to be translated. Bouboulina was extraordinary in many ways, and understanding her life will allow us to understand more about this great heroine herself as well as to gain insight into what it meant to be a woman in Greece during the time of the Revolution.
The last 15-20 years have seen a renewed interest in Bouboulina’s story. These recent scholars/institutions are actively contributing to furthering our understanding of Bouboulina’s life.
Olympia M. Koutsokalis is currently completing her thesis on Bouboulina through the University of North Carolina Charlotte. After receiving a grant to pursue research in Greece and working closely with the Bouboulina museum, Olympia is looking forward to sharing new insights into Bouboulina’s life through her work.
Pavlos Demertzis-Bouboulis, Director of the Bouboulina Museum, and a descendant of Bouboulina, has been working tirelessly to preserve her legacy. In this video presentation through the UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture, he presents the life and actions of his famous ancestor and takes us on an exclusive walk through her 350-year-old home.
April Kalogeropoulos Householder, Ph.D., is currently the Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships. Her work, The Brave Stepped Back: The Life and Times of Laskarina Bouboulina is an hour-long documentary film, produced independently as part of a multi-media dissertation at the University of Maryland, College Park. The film premiered at the Armata Festival in Spetses, Greece on September 8, 2005.
To contribute to the Bouboulina Museum's current fundraising effort, consider purchasing artwork from our limited collection or please visit: