A Greek offshoot of the Carbonari, the Philike Hetairia (“Brotherly Association” or “Friendly Society”) was founded by a group of exiled Greek patriots in Odessa, Russia, in 1814. While the exact organizational connections have proven hard to trace, it apparently rose out of Carbonari lodges (venditas, “shops”) founded by the political agitator Rhigas Velestinlis in Vienna, Belgrade, and Bucharest shortly before his execution by the Turks in 1798. The rituals of the Hetairia show many close similarities to those of the Carbonari, and its goal of national liberation was shared by the Carbonari and its sympathizers across Europe at the time. See Carbonari.
The Hetairia spread quickly through the large Greek merchant communities around the Mediterranean; by 1821 lodges existed from the Russian ports on the Black Sea to Gibraltar. These maritime links allowed weapons to be smuggled into Greece in large quantities, and veterans of the Napoleonic Wars and the failed revolutions in Italy and Spain in 1820 and 1821 supported the Hetairia in large numbers. The Russian government, seeing an opportunity to weaken its longtime Turkish enemy, provided covert backing. With this help, the Hetairia launched a rising against the Turks in 1821. After a difficult five-year struggle, the rebels succeeded in freeing Greece from Turkish rule and establishing the modern Greek nation.
The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006