Modern Greek History

About Greek Independence Day – March 25

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Greek Independence Day March 25Each year, Greeks all over the world celebrate Greek Independence Day on March 25, which is  a national holiday in Greece. On this day, Greeks all over the world remember their long struggle against the Ottoman Empire (Turks). Although each part of Greece experiencing occupation at varying times, the Turks were in Greece for roughly 400 years.

March 25th is a significant day because it marked the official beginning of the Greek War for Independence, as declared by the rebels and freedom fighters. In 1814, the secret society, the Filiki Eteria was formed with the goal of liberating Greece from Ottoman control. This group had planned the insurrection to take place on March 25th but in some parts of Greece, the fighting occurred sooner.

The end result of this war is that the Greeks did successfully gain their independence. Here’s some more information on the history of how Greece eventually won its freedom.

Tourkokratia – Ottoman Rule in Greece

For hundreds of years, much of Greece belonged to the Ottoman Empire until the 1820’s when much of the country eventually overcame Turkish rule. But, how did they come to Greece in the first place? There were several factors that contributed to occupation and each part of Greece succumbed to occupation at different times.

One of the major factors that led to Ottoman occupation is that the Byzantine Empire, which ruled for roughly 1100 years, was in a severe state of decline. Over the course of their decline, various parts of Greece began to fall to Turkish control. Eventually,  the Ottoman Empire’s push into Greece eventually began when they captured Constantinople in 1453. Once the capital of the Byzantine Empire was taken, it was only a matter of time before the rest of Greece succumbed.

Unrest Develops in Greece

The Ottoman Empire ruled for around four hundred years, and this wasn’t easy for the Greeks. The two cultures were vastly different, and the Greek people looked at this as a period of oppression. Those who were unable to flee Greece and establish new lives in Western Europe suffered. Turkish reign was oppressive for many reasons.

One problem was that they had an apparent disregard for Greece’s glorious past. At one point, they used the Parthenon to store munitions and didn’t treat it as the beautiful, historical landmark it really was. Another problem was that Orthodox Christians weren’t able to express their faith in public. Since most of Greece is Orthodox, this caused a feeling of unease amongst the Greek people.

Those are just two examples of problems that arose between the Turks and the Greeks. Generally, because the Greeks felt oppressed, this caused unrest throughout occupied Greece. There were several resistance movements that formed through the duration of Turkish rule. However, it wasn’t until March 25, 1821 that these movements posed any real threat to the Ottoman Empire.

So what was different about the act of resistance that would eventually lead to Greece’s freedom? Well, there were several factors at play. First, the Greek people were finally tired of Turkish rule, so they organized their resources and formed a resistance movement that was finally successful.

Greece also had help from other countries, particularly the British, with whom it was the fashion to embrace anything from Ancient Greece. They understood that without Greece’s influence, modern intellectual, artistic, and scientific knowledge might not be as advanced as it is today. In the Battle of Navarino, British, Russian, and French forces destroyed an Ottoman fleet. This battle was a major victory which eventually led to the signing of the Treaty of Erdine in 1829 which finally established an Independent Greek state.

Though what ensued was a period of uncertainty in Greece, the country was officially independent. Today, cities throughout the world hold parades and display the Greek flag with pride. How will you honor Greek Independence Day this year?

Sources:

Wikipedia – Greek War of Independence

Wikipedia – Ottoman Greece

Encyclopedia Brittanica – Greek Independence Day

Encyclopedia Brittanica – Treaty of Erdine

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This post was written by GreekBoston.com

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