Massacre at Dilesi

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The Massacre at Dilesi was the kidnapping and murder of a group of English tourists and an Italian diplomat that occurred in 1870 at Dilesi, Boeotia.


Post-independence Greece, despite the best efforts of the Bavarians and the subsequent Greek governments, had a problem with bandits who would use the mountains as their hideouts and would occasionally kidnap wealthy persons for ransom.

On March 30 (April 11 NS), 1870, a group of English tourists consisting of:

  • Lord and Lady Muncaster,
  • Frederick Vyner - a grandson of the Count de Grey,
  • diplomat Edward Herbert,
  • barrister Ned Lloyd with his wife and daughter

as well as an Italians:

  • diplomat count Alberto de Boyl and his secretary,

went on a tour of Marathon escorted by a Greek guide - Alexandros Anemoyiannis - and four policemen.

At Pikermi, they were met and attacked by the bandit gang of Takos and Christos Arvanitakis who killed two of the policemen and wounded the other two.

The bandits then demanded initially a ransom of £32,000 - which they later raised to £50,000 - and amnesty. As a gesture of good will, they released the women and the two injured soldiers.


The British government urged Greece to accept the Arvanitakis gang's demands. The Greek government hesitated and so, the bandits released hostage Lord Muncaster who promised to pay £25,000 of his own money towards the ransom and use his influence to convince the Greek government to accept.

Finally, Greek Minister for the Military, Skarlatos Soutsos, refused to accept the demands and, instead, sent the military after the bandits.


The Arvanitakis gang escaped from their Mt Penteli hideaway taking their hostages with them first to Oropos and then to the village of Dilesi with the soldiers in hot pursuit.

At Dilesi a battle ensued on April 9 (April 21 NS), 1870. The bandits killed 10 soldiers and hostages Herbert, Lloyd, Vyner and De Boyl. The soldiers killed seven bandits including Christos Arvanitakis. The rest escaped.


The murder of the foreign dignitaries caused a diplomatic rift between Britain and Greece. Minister of the Military, Skarlatos Soutsos resigned. Interior Minister Andreas Avgerinos was also forced to resign on July 9, 1870.

Finally, Greece was forced to compensate each victim's family with the sum of £22,000. PM Thrasivoulos Zaimis resigned shortly afterwards on July 22.