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The New Greek State

 

 

 

The Greek revolutionary war ended, and the first few years found the young nation in a state of flux and uncertainty, and with a never-ending barrage of political infighting and controversies.  The Greeks for sure had won their freedom and independence, but were still learning how to build and maintain a coherent state. The placement of Kapodistrias as Governor was not well-received by everyone.  The very first capital of the new nation was Aegina, where Kapodistrias visited.  Soon after, the capital relocated to the city of Nafplion.  Greece then introduced its first-ever currency, the Phoenix.       


The borders between Greece and her neighbors were set by the Protocol of London in 1828.  All three Great Powers signed off on the agreement.  In accordance with the London Protocol, the northern boundary would be called the demarcation line of Amvrakikos-Pagasitikos.  The new state was granted the Sporadic islands, the Cyclades, the island of Samos and Crete, the last of which created much controversy.  In addition to the border being finalized, the first constitution was adopted, with a monarchical government.  Also under the agreement, Greece was required to pay taxes in the amount of one and a half million piastres per year.      
The unstable and unpredictable events of the new state’s first few months culminated with the assassination of Governor Kapodistrias in Nafplion, on the 27th of September, 1831. The spotlight shone directly on his political rivals.  This tragic event marked the beginning of Greece’s monarchy.  Expectedly, the Great Powers influenced who became the first king of Greece; a young prince from Bavaria named Otto.  On February 6th of 1833 Otto was crowned King of Greece with the “will of God”.  His powers as king, however, did not take effect until 1835, when he came of age.  Until then, the governance of the country was run by a three-member regency.  The absolute monarchy under Otto was established and would last a decade.             


September 3rd 1843: the Greek population was dissatisfied with the governance of King Otto and his unchallenged dominance.  This dissatisfaction boiled over into yet another revolutionary movement (smaller in scale) in 1843, with the participation of military and civil leaders, such as Kallergios, Makrigiannis and Lontos.  This organized uprising led to a publicly-approved constitution in 1844, and the governance of the nation would now operate under a Constitutional Monarchy.       


Despite this newly-adopted policy, King Otto was expelled from Greece in 1862, mainly due to his lack of compliance.  A second National Assembly was called, and a new king was announced; George I.  The arrival of the new king in 1863 also brought with it a vote (passed) on a new Constitution, which established the Crowned Democracy.      


July 13th, 1863: another treaty was signed in London, again by the Great Powers and including Denmark, which is King George’s mother country.  This declaration firmly recognized Greece as a free and independent constitutional monarchy.   Greece’s new charter took effect in 1864, and was based on popular sovereignty that was defined by the separation of powers.  Under these new laws, the Senate was abolished, which was formed by Kapodistrias.  The subsequent establishment and emergence of a parliamentary legislative body gave credence to Greece as a democratic monarchy.     


March 17th – 29th, 1864: The government’s administration began implementing major overhauls and changes.  Among them included programs to expand the national boundaries and extend their sovereignty over other lands.  With the 1863 treaty signed by the Great Powers and Greece, the Ionian islands fell under the auspices of the new nation on May 21st and later that year were officially annexed.  This union marked their first land acquisition.        


During this same time, the Cretan question came to a head, whereas the large Mediterranean island was still under Ottoman control.  The years 1866-1869 found the Cretans revolting, but the Ottomans still managed to stave off a complete defeat.  The most significant moment during Crete’s freedom fight was the famous blowing up of Arkadi Monastery (or the “holocaust” as it was referred to).  This was a joint effort to ensure that the holy Christian site wouldn’t fall into their conquerors hands.  After repeated military actions for autonomy, the strong-willed island finally wriggled itself free from the Ottoman death grip and won her independence, and subsequent effort to annex with Greece.  In 1905, Eleftherios Venizelos spearheaded a major riot in Theriso, Chania (Crete) supporting union with Greece; but the Great Powers of Russia, Great Britain and France rejected such a request.   

 
While the constitution of 1864 possessed adequate elements of a democratic government, the king dragged his feet in implementing some of these and a political crisis ensued.  An important principle won (by Charilaos Trikoupis) was the article of “The Ptaiei” which was the beginning of a new declaration; one in which defined the prerequisite of a majority government in parliament.  King George I, in 1875, felt compelled to accept these new parameters.  This victory towards self-governance opened the pathway towards free and fair elections, and two years later all males twenty-one years and older had the right to run for public office.   

           
June 20, 1881:  Under the border expansion plans of the Greek state, the Convention of Constantinople was signed and agreed to by both Greece and the Ottoman Empire.  In the agreement, the Ottomans agree to cede the regions of Thessaly and Arta to their arch rivals.  


1896: The Olympic Games are revived in Greece, marking the beginning of the modern era of this international athletic competition.      

 

 

 

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