Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

Greece (Hellas)

Capital : Athens

Evvoia, Lasithi, Peloponnese (Pelopónnisos), Réthímnon, Thessalia (Thessaly)

Size: 51 000 sq m Popn: 10 300 000


See also Ancient Greece

After the Byzantine Empire gave way under the Turkish conquest during the C14th and 15th, many Greeks saw it as a merciful release from Latin rule and the country became part of the Ottoman Empire. The Peloponnese was occupied by Venice from 1686-1715 and despite signs of weakening in the C17th and Catherine the Great of Russia's war with Turkey in the C18th, the Ottoman Empire controlled Greece until the struggle for independence intensified. The Balkan territories were also trying to throw off Turkish rule and the pro-independence group, the Philiki Etairia, was involved in intrigues with them. The War of Independence broke out in 1821 and Mavrokordatos, the first President, proclaimed a Constitution at New Year, 1822. There were some successes in the war to win back territory and many foreign 'philhellenes', including the poet, Lord Byron, fought for Greek independence. Byron's death probably influenced the intervention in 1827 by the three powers in the Mediterranean, Russia under Heiden, Britain under Codrington and France under de Rigny. The Turkish governor, Ibrahim, was driven from the Peloponnese and the Turkish fleet destroyed at Navarino. The Russo-Turkish war of 1828-9 soon took the Ottomans' attention from Greece. The Cypriot, Capodistria, was elected President in 1827, with Greek independence was established in 1829, but rival factions within Greece led to his downfall and assassination in 1831 leaving civil war.

The powers decided on King Ludwig of Bavaria's seventeen-year-old son, Otto, as King in 1832 but his despotic rule led to a rebellion in 1843 and a parliamentary government was set up. He was deposed in 1862 and the Greeks wanted Queen Victoria's second son, Alfred, to succeed him but eighteen year old Prince William George, second son of the King of Denmark, was chosen. George I took his oath to the new democratic constitution in 1864 but this led to the creation of so many political parties that no government lasted very long, elections were frequent and bloodshed often determined their outcome.

Attempts to regain Macedonia, Crete and other territories with Greek populations from Turkey led to a disastrous war in 1897 and a further revolution by 1908. The Balkan League was formed under Venizelos' influence in 1912 and war was declared on Turkey. Greece was almost doubled in size by the gains from the Turks but parts of it were still controlled by Italy and Bulgaria and the establishment of Albania (some of which was Greek-speaking) was resented by the Greeks. King George I was killed by a madman in 1913 and succeeded by his son, Constantine, who became reconciled with Venizelos for a time. Although he was labelled 'pro-German' during WWI, Constantine was probably best described as 'pro-Greek'. He was forced to abdicate by the Allies, Venizelos was briefly exiled in 1917 but returned to power and the Greeks helped in the final Allied attack in 1918. Constantine, who had never officially abdicated, just left his second son, Alexander, in charge when George, the eldest, declined the succession, returned after Alexander died of a monkey bite in 1920 and the youngest brother, Prince Paul, refused the crown.

In 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne made a territorial settlement that has been little changed. An exchange of population with Turkey led to a greater homogeneity within Greece although some Greek areas remained outside it. The general election of 1923 was boycotted by the monarchist Populist Party and Venizelos won nearly two thirds of the seats but the Republicans had strong backing. The new young king, George II, agreed to leave the country while the constitution was resolved. From 1923-5, Republic was declared. Panagalos, the sole candidate, was elected President in April 1926 but Venizelos returned in 1928. Monarchy was restored under George II in 1935 with first Kondylis and then Demertzis as Prime Minister. After many deaths amongst the leading figures of the democracy, General Metaxas became Prime Minister and established a dictatorship in 1936. He introduced several necessary economic and military reforms and his tyrannical government remained in power, refusing to abandon the Greek policy of neutrality, until his death in 1941 after resisting Mussolini's invasion.

Greece was overwhelmed by the German invasion of 1941 and occupied the country until the British intervention of 1944. The king was forced to remain in London. During the war, the National Liberation Front, a communist-dominated resistance movement, armed and trained a guerrilla army. It wanted to create a socialist state after WWII but this was prevented by massive US-assistance to the royalist army. The royalists defeated the communists in the civil war of 1946-9 and the monarchy was restored under King Paul. After a period of crisis, the 1951 election brought Papagos to power. The long struggle for Cyprus ceased temporarily in 1961 and King Paul, who had a reasonably stable reign, died just after swearing in the new government in 1964, leaving the crown to his son, Constantine II. Various shortlived governments gave way to military rule in 1967 and Constantine fled to Rome. The new regime under Colonel George Papadopolous was virtually a military dictatorship which banned political activity and forced government opponents out of public life.

Greece declared itself a republic in 1973 and Papadopolous became president, appointing a civilian cabinet. A coup in 1974 made Lt-Gen Phaidon Ghizikis president and Adamantios Androutsopoulos as prime minister but the government fell after it failed to prevent the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. A former prime minister, Constantine Karamanlis, was recalled from exile to head the new Government of National Salvation. He ended martial law, press censorship and the ban on political parties and his New Democracy Party won a decisive majority in the general election of 1974. A referendum rejected the restoration of the monarchy and a new constitution for the Hellenic Republic was adopted with Constantine Tsatsos as president. The ND majority was reduced in the 1977 general election and in 1980, Karamanlis resigned as prime minister and was elected president. Greece became a member of the EEC in 1981, having been an associate since 1962. In the 1981 general election, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) won an absolute majority, making its leader, Andreas Papandreou, the first socialist prime minister of Greece. PASOK had been elected on a radical socialist platform which included withdrawal from the EEC, the removal of US military bases, and a domestic reform programme. Many social changes were made, but instead of leaving the EEC, Papandreou obtained a modification of the entry terms and instead of closing US bases, signed a five-year agreement on military and economic co-operation. In 1983, he signed a ten-year economic co-operation agreement with the USSR.

Rising inflation compelled PASOK to introduce austerity measures but it still won a comfortable majority in the 1985 elections. During 1989, criticism of Papandreou grew after a banking scandal implicating some of his close aides and he lost the general election that year. (He was cleared of all corruption charges in January 1992). Tzanis Tzannetakis, an ND back-bencher, formed the first Greek all-party government for 15 years but it soon broke up and a government of unity was formed by Xenophon Zolotas of PASOK. In April 1990, Constantine Mitsotakis of ND became prime minister and formed a new all-party government when the ND failed to gain an outright majority. Karamanlis was re-elected as president in June. An agreement on the siting of US bases in Greece was signed in 1990. In 1992, the other EC countries reluctantly agreed with Greece's refusal to recognize the independence of Macedonia when it broke away from Yugoslavia. In July that year the Greek parliament voted to implement the Maastricht Treaty on greater European Union by 286 votes to 14.

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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