Domna Visvizis was from Aimos, a maritime city in Eastern Thrace. Coming from a wealthy family, she married the wealthy ship owner and brave energetic visionary Antonios Visvizis who was one of the first members of the “Filiki Eteria”. Domna herself later was initiated into the secret association.
At the outbreak of the revolution, the Turks attacked and ravaged Eastern Thrace (it being close to Constantinople). Without a second thought, Antonios and Domna loaded their best ship, “Kalomoira”, with women, children, icons, money, jewelry, and everything else that could be carried, armed it for war, and sailed to the Aegean. Domna was the “Sympolemistria”, co-captain to her captain husband. She is known to have declared, “We do not regret spending money, since it will be used to build the golden palace of liberty”. Many victorious battles ensued aboard the Kalomoira, which the Visvizis with their 5 children called home.
On July 21, 1822, Captain Visvizis, led a fleet of 30 ships in a great battle in the Maliakos Gulf, during which and in front of Domna’s eyes, he was shot and killed. Domna immediately took command as captain of their ship. A gifted and capable naval fighter, Domna was well respected and trusted by her crew and allies. She was known as the chief captain and noblewoman of Thrace. Crossing the Greek seas and engaging in battles, the “Kalomoira” instilled terror and fear among the Turkish fleet. It was used to fire upon the Turkish positions but also to carry ammunition and food supplies to the Greeks. When Domna’s wealth became depleted and she could no longer provide for its maintenance, she gave it to the Greek government to be used as an artillery vessel. In this capacity, in 1824 the “Kalomoira” set fire on and sank the Turkish ship of Hazne Gemnisi.
Afterward, Domna went to live first in Nafplio and then in Ermoupoli. Very poor, she sought financial assistance from the Greek government to support her children. During the last years of her life, we find her in Piraeus where she died in 1850 at the age of 67, in a small hut next to her beloved sea. Not unjustifiably, Domna was later characterized as the “Bouboulina of Thrace”. Her statue adorns the lighthouse square of Alexandroupolis.
1) Θρακικη Εστια Καβαλας Δομνα Βισβιζη (The Domna Visvizi Thracian Center of Kavala)
Lyrics to the song:
|Little bird, where are you coming from, little bird, respond
Have you not seen or heard of Lady Domnitsa?
The beautiful, the powerful, the chief captain,
Who had the priceless ship, our first among the firsts,
The ship that goes speedily, the ship that is honored
The ship that fought in the strait of Imbros?
And the bird stopped and it saιd:
|Πουλάκι πόθεν έρχεσαι, πουλάκι για αποκρίσου
μην είδες και μην άκουσες για την κυρά Δομνίτσα,
την όμορφη τη δυνατή, την αρχικαπετάνα,
πούχει καράβι ατίμητο και πρώτο μες στα πρώτα,
καράβι γοργοτάξιδο, καράβι τιμημένο
καράβι που πολέμησε στης Ίμπρος το μπουγάζι;
Και το πουλάκι στάθηκε και το πουλάκι λέει:
|I saw her, I encountered her, on Mount Athos
For three days she fought with two thousand Mourtos.
Ships here, ships there, ships beyond
And this one, like the eagle, rushed at them and battered them;
Right, left, and backward and wherever it went on shooting.
And you could hear loud moans and great sighs
And you could hear bitter crying, curses upon curses
And the seas reddened like fezes of the Agas
|Την είδα, την απάντησα, σιμά στο Αγιονόρος
τρεις μέρες επολέμαγε με δυο χιλιάδες Μούρτους.
Καράβια εδώ, καράβια εκεί, καράβια παραπέρα
και τούτη σαν τον αητό ώρμαγε και κτυπούσε•
δεξά, ζερβά κι ανάστροφα κι όπου βολούσε ακόμα
Κι άκουγες βόγγους δυνατούς και στεναγμούς μεγάλους
Κι άκουγες κλάατα πικρά, κατάρα στην κατάρα
2) Το Τραγουδι της Κυρα Δομνας – Καριοφυλλης Δοϊτσιδης (The Song of Lady Domna – Kariophillis Doïtsidis)
3) Domna Visvizi’s story in Greek
4) Another video story of Domna Visvizi’s life