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See also: Armatole


An 1825 portrait of an armatole by Richard Parkes Bonington, collection of the Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece


Borrowed from Greek αρματολός (armatolós), alternative form of αρματόλογος (armatólogos, a person concerned or involved with arms or weapons), from άρματα (ármata) (plural of άρμα (árma, weapon), from Byzantine Greek ἄρμα (árma), from Latin arma (armour, defensive arms, shields, weapons of war), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂(e)rmos (fitting), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂er- (to join)) + λόγος (lógos, subject matter) (from Ancient Greek λόγος (lógos), from λέγω (légō, I say), from Proto-Indo-European *leǵ-).

The plural form armatoloi and possibly armatoli are from the Greek plural form αρματολοί (armatoloí).



armatole (plural armatoles or armatoli or armatoloi)

  1. (historical) A Greek armed mercenary who enforced Ottoman rule in Greece from the 15th century onwards; during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1832), many armatoloi became pro-independence guerrilla fighters opposed to Ottoman rule.
    • 1824 July, “Art. VII. Histoire de la Régénération de la Grèce, par F[rançois] C[harles] H[ugues] L[aurent] Pouqueville. 4 tomes. Paris, 1824. [et al.]”, in The Westminster Review, volume II, number III, London: Printed for the proprietors, and published by Robert Heward, at the office of the Westminster Review, 2, Wellington Street, Strand, OCLC 702586934, pages 159–160:
      [page 159] These [the Klephtai] are either Greeks whose ancestors taking refuge in the mountains when the Turks first conquered the country, have transmitted to them hereditary persecution and liberty; or Armatoloi (a sort of Grecian militia, originally established in Thessaly, armed for their own protection, and recognized, though always suspected, by the Turkish authorities) who have been driven by oppression to join their brethren on the mountains, and become, like them, guerrillas. Every thing relating to the Klephtai and Armatoloi ought to be now doubly interesting, since their institutions preserved, through the long darkness of Grecian suffering, the vestal flame of liberty, and their hardy bands have principally contributed to swell the Greek armies. [] [page 160] Call me a priest—to whom I may confess / All my past errors—would the list were less— / A Klephtes long! an Armatolos longer, / Terror of Turks—but now the foe is stronger— / 'Tis Death! []
    • 1825, Charles Brinsley Sheridan, transl., “Preface”, in The Songs of Greece, from the Romaic Text, Edited by M. C[laude] Fauriel, with Additions. Translated into English Verse, London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, Paternoster-Row, OCLC 1745614, page xxii:
      The rank of captain was hereditary; and the profession of an Armatòle probably descendible. The members composing each band were called Pallikàrs: a term for which we have no English equivalent, but which nearly answers to the French expression "des braves." Of these, the first, or Protopalikar, acted as lieutenant and secretary to the captain, and bore, as a badge of office, a silver writing-case affixed to his sash; besides the silver plates bound over the knees, and the ornamental buttons which studded the breast of every Armatòle: []
    • 1830, Thomas Keightley, chapter 1, in History of the War of Independence in Greece. [...] In Two Volumes (Constable's Miscellany of Original and Selected Publications in the Various Departments of Literature, Science, & the Arts; LX), volume I, Edinburgh: Printed for Constable and Co. and Hurst, Chance, and Co. London, OCLC 8524963, page 7:
      From a very early period of the Turkish dominion over Greece, a system was adopted of having a local police, composed of native Greeks, for the preservation of the peace of each district, and for repressing the incursions of the independent tribes of the mountains. The appellation of this police was Armatoles (Ὰρματολοὶ); [] The armatoles were bound to obey the directions of the pasha or his deputy, and the Greek primates. The arms of the armatoles were the same as those of the Albanians, namely, a long gun, a sword, and a dagger.
    • 1861, George Finlay, “The Condition of the Modern Greeks”, in History of the Greek Revolution [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, OCLC 3549144, page 24:
      The armatoli were a Christian local militia, which had existed in the Byzantine empire, and which had in some degree protected the Greek population against the Franks, the Servians, and the Albanians, during the anarchy that reigned in Greece and Macedonia, while the worthless race of the Paleologoi ruled at Constantinople. The Greeks in the mountain districts, fearing anarchy more than despotism, generally submitted to the sultans on the condition of being allowed to retain their local privileges. The institution of the armatoli was thus adopted into the scheme of the sultan's administration.

Alternative forms[edit]





  • IPA(key): [ˈarmatolɛ]
  • Rhymes: -ole
  • Hyphenation: ar‧ma‧to‧le



  1. vocative singular of armatol



armatole m (plural armatoles)

  1. Armatole.