Modern Greek History

Greece – Early Years of a Young Nation

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By the time the Greek War for Independence began in 1821, Greece was far away from its golden ancient past. After having endured Turkish occupation for around four hundred years, the Greek people were willing to do what it took to become an independent nation. It is the start of the war where Modern Greek history has its official beginning.

Greek War for Independence

Every year on March 25, Greece celebrates Greek Independence day. March 25, 1821 is when the War for Independence officially began. Though resistance movements had been forming throughout the long years of occupation, this war was eventually successful. Several factors contributed to this success including Greece’s allies – France, the United Kingdom, and Russia. The Treaty of Constantinople, which granted the Greek people their freedom, was signed in 1832.

Monarchy in Greece

After Greece won its independence, they had a monarchy until 1913. From 1833 to 1863, King Otto from Bavaria ruled in Greece. His reign was fairly rocky for several reasons. First, the Bavarian culture and the Greek culture were very different and Otto’s regimented ways were at odds with the overall population. Secondly, Otto and his wife were Catholic and were unwilling to change to Orthodox Christianity. Finally, he was unable to produce an heir.

The reign of King George, which lasted from 1864 to 1913, went much differently. For the most part, his rule was an important one. Under his leadership, the new country adopted a constitution that marked the beginning of their parliamentary system. Also, even though much of the country was liberated from Ottoman rule in 1832, some areas, such as the island of Crete, were still occupied. Under George’s reign, these regions were finally liberated.

Balkan Wars

The Balkan Wars lasted from 1912 to 1913 and in many ways, helped propel Greece into World War I. Though it only lasted for about a year, the conclusion of the war was unsatisfying. In it, the Christian countries in the Balkans, which included Greece, formed the Balkan League, which decided to go to war against the Ottoman Empire.

Constantine I

At the conclusion of the Balkan Wars, King George was assassinated which gave his son, Constantine I, the throne. Constantine was the first king born on Greek soil and he was also a Greek Orthodox Christian. Prior to becoming king, he was a national hero. He led the Hellenic Army during the Greco-Turkish wars in 1897 and he also led Greek forces during the Balkan Wars. He was exiled during World War I when Metaxas came into power. His exile inflamed loyalists and divided Greece.

An Unstable Nation

The hundred years or so that followed Greece’s Independence from the Ottoman Empire was far from easy. The War for Independence ravaged the country. The economic instability that followed left Greece vulnerable. Several wars broke out over the course of these hundred years, included the Balkan Wars and World War I. However, there was some good that came out of it, such as an early version of their constitution and Parliamentary system.

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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