Unfortunately the Ottomans had not forgotten, or forgiven her second husband for siding with the Russians and in 1816 attempted to seize Bouboulina’s property. Sailing to Constantinople she met with the Russian Ambassador Strogonoff in a bid to win Russian protection for the help her husband had given them. Strogonoff agreed and gave her a safe haven in the Crimea.
During that time it is said she met with Valide-Sultana, mother of the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud ll and persuaded her to request her son not seize her property. Whatever the truth, Bouboulina returned to Spetses three months later with her fortune still intact, yet with a burning sense of patriotism.
The Filiki Etaireia
She was believed to be a member of the Filiki Etaireia, a secret underground organisation dedicated to freeing the Hellenic people from Turkish rule. She may have been one of the few or only female participants in a male dominated organisation.
Building a navy
She financed the buying of weapons and ammunition which she transported in her ships to be hidden on Spetses waiting for the revolution against the Turks. In 1820 she also finished the building of her own warship, the Agamemnon, which was one of the largest warships in the rebel force. With corruption rife among Turkish marine officials she had managed to bribe them into ignoring the size of the ship.
As well as financing the building, manning and running of ships for the Hellenic cause Bouboulina also recruited and financed her own private army of Spetsiots for the impending war. She now had a powerful naval force and a small but dedicated army at her command that she was not afraid to use.
Raising the flag against the Ottomans
Under her command, her flagship Agamemnon raised a Greek flag on 13th March 1821, giving a cannon fire salute. The flag design showed and eagle with and anchor at one of its claws, representing the navy, while at the other was a phoenix rising from flames, symbolic of the rebirth of the Greek nation. This was a similar design to that used by the Emperor Comnenos of Byzantine.