Modern Greek History

A Brief History of Modern Greece

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Greek flag with windmillEven though Greece has been a solid presence on the world stage since ancient times, Greece, as we know it today, is fairly young. Its modern history officially begins after the country won its independence from the Ottoman Empire after 400 years of occupation. The Ottomans took over in the 1400’s after the Byzantine Empire weakened to the point that it couldn’t hold off occupation any longer.

If you look back in history, Greece had a history of being invaded and occupied and there are very few areas in what is now the modern country of Greece that have never been occupied. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the country is in a strategic location, which is why countries like Russia, Great Britain, and France, were focused on helping Greece become more stable. Here’s an overview of that time period:

Greece Becomes a Nation

Officially, Modern Greek history begins in 1828, which is when the country eventually won its freedom from the Ottoman Empire as declared by the Great Powers (Russia, Great Britain, and France). Although Greeks celebrate their Independence Day to commemorate their freedom declaration on March 25, 1821, they didn’t officially receive that freedom until 1828. Although Greece had several attempts at revolt before then, including the Orlov Revolt, which took place in the 1700’s, no attempt to overthrow the Ottomans had been successful until 1828.

First Republic of Greece Was Unsuccessful

After the Greek War for Independence successfully resulted in Greece’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, they instated the Republic of Greece and had a democracy. However, this administration was controversial and Ioannis Kapodistrias, who at the time was elected the new president of Greece, was assassinated. Although his brother tried to take over, his attempts to govern the new country weren’t successful. As a result of this, the Great Powers stepped in and instituted the Kingdom of Greece.

Great Powers Form the Kingdom of Greece

When Ioannis Kapodistrias was assassinated, this showed that the politics inside of Greece were fairly unstable. In response, the Great Powers got together at the London Conference of 1832, also referred to as the London Convention. During this conference, they instituted the Kingdom of Greece, with Otto from Bavaria set to become the new king.

Later that year, the intention to establish the Kingdom was made official in the Treaty of Constantinople. It was also determined that there would be a line of succession that would involve Otto’s descendants. The representatives at the convention also established the geographical boundaries of the Kingdom, which included areas in the Peloponnese as well as some of the islands. Otto’s reign in Greece wasn’t easy, and the thirty years that he was Greece’s monarch were incredibly turbulent. In fact, he died in exile in Munich in 1862 after a coup.

As you can see, it was difficult for Greece to stabilize in the time period after the Greek War for Independence. Despite the great powers’ intervention, the instability continued into the 20th century. 


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