George Gordon Byron (1788 –1824), commonly known as Lord Byron, was a British poet and one of the most important figures in Romanticism. He is considered one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read even today. In Greece he is revered as a national hero, because he led the fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence and died fromfever contracted while in Messolonghi in Greece.
Byron, was born in Dover, and raised by his mother, Catherine Gordon, in Aberdeen. When Byron was a child his father died, leaving them in debt, despite the difficulties he was able to work his way through school and acquire a solid education. He later inherited his uncle's title of "Lord Byron" and the Newstead Abbey manor.At the age of eleven, Byron entered the school of William Glennie. There Byron wrote his first love poem in honor of his cousin, Margaret Parker, who he greatly admired and loved. It is said that Byron had malformation of the feet that made it hard for him to participate the usual physical activities that schoolboys engage in. On 1801, by decision of his mother Byron was sent to the Harrow public school. His experience at Harrow was disappointing because of his lame foot, his lack of money, and his previously ignored education. Byron instead found great interest in reading books, primarily on history, followed by biography, poetry, and philosophy.
Four years later he was accepted at Trinity College, Cambridge. As an alternative to Cambridge, Byron wanted to go to Christ Church, Oxford but there were no vacancies. He chose Cambridge on his headmaster’s from Harrow advice. It hardly had an impact on him since college life in general did not suit his personality. Byron’s Political career officially started when he first took his seat in the House of Lords on March 1809. He however left London on 11 Jun 1809 for the Continent. He was a strong supporter of social reform and he received r praise as one of the small number of Parliamentary defenders of the Luddites, who destroyed textile machines that were putting them out of work.
From 1809 to 1811, Byron embarked on a Grand Tour, then customary for a nobleman of the time. Because of Napoleons wars he chose to travel to the Mediterranean see. He travelled to Portugal, Spain, Greece and Albania where he spent time at the court of Ali Pasha of Ioannina. For most of the trip, he had a travelling companion in his friend John Cam Hobhouse. Byron finally reached Smyrna where he and Hobhhouse rode to Constantinople on HMS Salsette. Whilst the ship was anchored awaiting Ottoman permission to dock at the city, Byron and Lieutenant Ekenhead swam the Hellespont. During that time Byron wrote part of his famous poem “Don Juan”.
Byron lived in Genoa until 1823, when he lost interest with his life and joined the movement of independence against the Ottoman Empire. On July the 16th, Byron left Genoa, arriving at Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands on August. He invested a notable amount of his property to help refit the Greek navy and then sailed for Messolonghi in western Greece, arriving on December to join Alexandros Mavrokordatos, a Greek politician and militant. Byron also pursued his Greek contact, Lukas Chalandritsanos, but to no end. The famous Danish sculptor Thorvaldsen voluntarily re-sculpted his earlier bust of Byron in Greek marble upon hearing his heroic stance. Byron also wrote a poem called, "The Curse of Minerva", to criticize Elgin's actions when he removed the Parthenon marbles from Greece, and reacted with rage when Elgin's representative gave him a tour of the Parthenon, during which he saw the missing friezes and metopes.
At the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth, Mavrokordatos and Byron intended to attack the Turkish stronghold of Lepanto. Despite his lack of military knowledge Byron employed a fire-master to set up arms and took part of the rebel armed forces under his own command.
Unfortunately before the mission could sail, he fell seriously ill and the usual medication of bloodletting weakened him further. He partially recovered his health, but in April of 1824 he caught an infection which therapeutic bleeding, prescribed by his doctors further aggravated. It has been hypothesized that the treatment was carried out with unsterilized medical instrumentation. This may have caused him to develop sepsis. Byron finally developed a violent fever, and died on 19 April 1825. In respect, Dionysios Solomos, the national poet of Greece, wrote a poem about Byron’s unanticipated loss, named To the Death of Lord Byron. Even today a suburb of Athens is called Vyronas in his honour.