World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Eleftherios Venizelos

Article Id: WHEBN0000305256
Reproduction Date:

Title: Eleftherios Venizelos  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Alexandros Zaimis, Georgios Papandreou, Andreas Michalakopoulos, Stefanos Dragoumis, Constantine Mitsotakis
Collection: 1864 Births, 1936 Deaths, 20Th-Century Greek People, Burials in Greece, Chevaliers of the Légion D'Honneur, Cretan State, Eastern Orthodox Christians from Greece, Eleftherios Venizelos, Foreign Ministers of Greece, Grand Crosses of the Order of the Redeemer, Greek Exiles, Greek Lawyers, Greek Nationalists, Greek People of the Balkan Wars, Greek People of the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22), Greek People of World War I, Greek Revolutionaries, Leaders Who Took Power by Coup, Liberal Party (Greece) Politicians, Liberalism in Greece, Ministers of Military Affairs of Greece, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Alumni, People Excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church, People Sentenced to Death in Absentia, Politicians from Crete, Prime Ministers of Greece, Recipients of the Order of the White Eagle (Poland), Republicanism in Greece, Speakers of the Hellenic Parliament
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Eleftherios Venizelos

His Excellency
Elefthérios Venizélos
Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος
Prime Minister of Greece
In office
6 October 1910 – 25 February 1915
Monarch George I
Constantine I
Preceded by Stefanos Dragoumis
Succeeded by Dimitrios Gounaris
In office
10 August 1915 – 24 September 1915
Monarch Constantine I
Preceded by Dimitrios Gounaris
Succeeded by Alexandros Zaimis
In office
14 June 1917 – 4 November 1920
Monarch Alexander
Preceded by Alexandros Zaimis
Succeeded by Dimitrios Rallis
In office
24 January 1924 – 19 February 1924
Monarch George II
Preceded by Stylianos Gonatas
Succeeded by Georgios Kafantaris
In office
4 July 1928 – 26 May 1932
President Pavlos Kountouriotis
Alexandros Zaimis
Preceded by Alexandros Zaimis
Succeeded by Alexandros Papanastasiou
In office
5 June 1932 – 4 November 1932
President Alexandros Zaimis
Preceded by Alexandros Papanastasiou
Succeeded by Panagis Tsaldaris
In office
16 January 1933 – 6 March 1933
President Alexandros Zaimis
Preceded by Panagis Tsaldaris
Succeeded by Alexandros Othonaios
Prime Minister of the Cretan State
In office
2 May 1910 – 6 October 1910
Preceded by Alexandros Zaimis (as High Commissioner)
Minister of Justice and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Cretan State
In office
Minister of Justice of the Cretan State
In office
17 April 1899 – 18 March 1901
Personal details
Born (1864-08-23)23 August 1864
Mournies, Chania, Crete, Ottoman Empire
(now Eleftherios Venizelos, Crete, Greece)
Died 18 March 1936(1936-03-18) (aged 71)
Paris, France
Nationality Greek
Political party Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Maria Katelouzou (1891–1894)
Elena Skylitsi (1921–1936)
Relations Constantine Mitsotakis (nephew)
Children Kyriakos Venizelos
Sophoklis Venizelos
Alma mater National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Profession Politician
Religion Greek Orthodoxy
Website National Foundation Research "Eleftherios K. Venizelos"

Eleftherios Kyriakou Venizelos (full name Elefthérios Kyriákou Venizélos, Greek: Ελευθέριος Κυριάκου Βενιζέλος; pronounced ; 23 August 1864[1] – 18 March 1936) was an eminent Greek leader of the Greek national liberation movement and a charismatic statesman of the early 20th century remembered for his promotion of liberal-democratic policies.[2][3][4] As leader of the Liberal Party, he was elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece, serving from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1933. Venizelos had such profound influence on the internal and external affairs of Greece that he is credited with being "the maker of modern Greece",[5] and is still widely known as the "Ethnarch".

His first entry into the international scene was with his significant role in the autonomy of the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, Venizelos' catalytic role helped gain Greece entrance to the Balkan League, an alliance of the Balkan states against Ottoman Turkey. Through his diplomatic acumen, Greece doubled its area and population with the invasion of Macedonia, Epirus, and the rest of the Aegean islands.

In World War I (1914–1918), he brought Greece on the side of the Allies, further expanding the Greek borders. However, his pro-Allied foreign policy brought him in direct conflict with the monarchy, causing the National Schism. The Schism polarized the population between the royalists and Venizelists and the struggle for power between the two groups afflicted the political and social life of Greece for decades.[6] Following the Allied victory, Venizelos secured new territorial gains, especially in Anatolia, coming close to realizing the Megali Idea. Despite his achievements, Venizelos was defeated in the 1920 General Election, which contributed to the eventual Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22). Venizelos, in self-imposed exile, represented Greece in the negotiations that led to the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, and the agreement of a mutual exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey.

In his subsequent periods in office Venizelos succeeded in restoring normal relations with Greece's neighbors and expanded his constitutional and economical reforms. In 1935 Venizelos resurfaced from retirement to support a military coup. Its failure severely weakened the Second Hellenic Republic, the republic he had created.


  • Origins and early years 1
    • Ancestors 1.1
    • Family and education 1.2
    • Entry into politics 1.3
  • Political career in Crete 2
    • The Cretan uprising 2.1
      • Background 2.1.1
      • The events at Akrotiri 2.1.2
      • The war in Thessaly 2.1.3
      • Conclusion 2.1.4
    • Autonomous Cretan State 2.2
    • Revolution of Theriso 2.3
  • Political career in Greece 3
    • Goudi military revolution of 1909 3.1
    • The reforms in 1910–1914 3.2
    • The Balkan Wars 3.3
      • Background 3.3.1
      • Balkan League 3.3.2
      • First Balkan War – The first conflict with Prince Constantine 3.3.3
      • Second Balkan War 3.3.4
    • World War I and Greece 3.4
      • Dispute over Greece's role in World War I 3.4.1
      • The National Schism 3.4.2
      • The "Noemvriana" – Greece enters World War I 3.4.3
      • Conclusion of World War I 3.4.4
      • The Treaty of Sèvres and assassination attempt 3.4.5
    • 1920 electoral defeat, self-exile and the Great Disaster 3.5
    • Return to power (1928–32): Greek-Turkish alliance, second assassination attempt and subsequent exile 3.6
  • Death 4
  • Legacy 5
  • Personal life and family 6
  • See also 7
  • Gallery 8
  • Notes 9
  • Citations 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Origins and early years


The house of Venizelos in Mournies.

In the 18th century, the ancestors of Venizelos, named Cravvatas, lived in Mystras, in southern Peloponnese. During the Ottoman raids in the peninsula in 1770, a member of the Cravvatas family, Venizelos Cravvatas, the youngest of several brothers, managed to escape to Crete where he established himself. His sons discarded their patronymic and called themselves Venizelos. The family was of Laconic, Maniot, and Cretan origin.[7]

Family and education

Portrait of Kyriakos Venizelos, father of Eleftherios.

Eleftherios was born in Mournies, near Chania (also known as Canea) in then-Ottoman Crete to Kyriakos Venizelos, a Cretan merchant and revolutionary, and Styliani Ploumidaki.[8] When the Cretan revolution of 1866 broke out, Venizelos' family fled to the island of Syros, due to the participation of his father in the revolution.[7] They were not allowed to return to Crete, and stayed in Syros until 1872, when Abdülaziz granted an amnesty.

He spent his final year of secondary education at a school in Ermoupolis in Syros from which he received his Certificate in 1880. In 1881 he enrolled at the University of Athens Law School and got his degree in Law with excellent grades. He returned to Crete in 1886 and worked as a lawyer in Chania. Throughout his life he maintained a passion for reading and was constantly improving his skills in English, Italian, German, and French.[7]

Entry into politics

The situation in Crete during Venizelos' early years was fluid. The Ottoman empire was undermining the reforms, which were made under international pressure, while the Cretans desired to see the Sultan, Abdul Hamid II, abandon "the ungrateful infidels".[9] Under these unstable conditions Venizelos entered into politics in the elections of 2 April 1889 as a member of the island's liberal party.[8] As a deputy he was distinguished for his eloquence and his radical opinions.[10]

Political career in Crete

The Cretan uprising


The numerous revolutions in Crete, during and after the William James Stillman. In summary the Pact was granting a large degree of self-government to Greeks in Crete as a means of limiting their desire to rise up against their Ottoman overlords.[13] However the Muslims of Crete, who identified with Ottoman Turkey, were not satisfied with these reforms, as in their view the administration of the island was delivered to the hands of the Christian Greek population. In practice, the Ottoman Empire failed to enforce the provisions of the Pact, thus fueling the existing tensions between the two communities; instead, the Ottoman authorities attempted to maintain order by the dispatching of substantial military reinforcements during 1880–1896. Throughout that period, the Cretan Question was a major issue of friction in the relations of independent Greece with the Ottoman Empire.

In January 1897 violence and disorder were escalating on the island, thus polarizing the population. Massacres against the Christian population took place in King of the Hellenes" and that he was announcing the union of Crete with Greece.[23] This led to an uprising that spread immediately throughout the island. The Great Powers decided to blockade Crete with their fleets and land their troops, thus stopping the Greek army from approaching Chania.[24]

The events at Akrotiri

Venizelos at Akrotiri, 1897.

Venizelos, at that time, was in an electoral tour of the island. Once, he "saw Canea in flames",[25] he hurried to Malaxa, near Chania, where a group of about 2,000 rebels had assembled, and established himself as their header. He proposed an attack, along with other rebels, on the Turkish forces at Akrotiri in order to displace them from the plains (Malaxa is in a higher altitude). Venizelos' subsequent actions at Akrotiri form a central set-piece in his myth. People composed poems on Akrotiri and his role there; editorials and articles spoke about his bravery, his visions and his diplomatic genius as inevitable accompaniment of later greatness.[14] Venizelos spent the night in Akrotiri and a Greek flag was raised. The Ottoman forces requested help from the foreign admirals and attacked the rebels, with the ships of the Great Powers bombarding the rebel positions at Akrotiri. A shell threw down the flag, which was raised up again immediately. The mythologizing became more pronounced when we come to his actions in that February, as the following quotes display:

In the same evening of the bombardment, Venizelos wrote a protest to the foreign admirals, which was signed by all the chieftains present at Akrotiri. He wrote that the rebels would keep their positions until everyone is killed from the shells of European warships, in order not to let the Turks remain in Crete.[30] The letter was deliberately leaked to international newspapers, evoking emotional reactions in Greece and in Europe, where the idea of Christians, who wanted their freedom, being bombarded by Christian vessels, caused popular indignation. Throughout western Europe much popular sympathy for the cause of the Christians in Crete was manifested, and much popular applause was bestowed on the Greeks.[24]

The war in Thessaly

Ethnic composition of the Balkans according to the Atlas Général Vidal-Lablache, Librairie Armand Colin, Paris, 1898.
Ethnic composition map of the Balkans by the Greek diplomat Ioannis Gennadius,[31] published by the English cartographer E. Stanford in 1877.

The Great Powers sent a verbal note on 2 March to the governments of Greece and the Ottoman Empire, presenting a possible solution to the "Cretan Question", under which Crete to become an autonomous state under the suzerainty of the Sultan.[9] The Porte replied on 5 March, accepting the proposals in principle, but on 8 March the Greek government rejected the proposal as a non-satisfactory solution and instead insisted on the union of Crete with Greece as the only solution.

Venizelos, as a representative of the Cretan rebels, met the admirals of the Great Powers on a Russian warship on 7 March 1897. Even though no progress was made at the meeting, he persuaded the admirals to send him on a tour of the island, under their protection, in order to explore the people's opinions on the question of autonomy versus union.[32] At the time, the majority of the Cretan population initially supported the union, but the subsequent events in Thessaly turned the public opinion towards autonomy as an intermediate step.

In reaction to the rebellion of Crete and the assistance sent by Greece, the Ottomans had relocated a significant part of their army in the Balkans to the north of Thessaly, close to the borders with Greece.[33] Greece in reply reinforced its borders in Thessaly. However, irregular Greek forces, who were members of the Ethniki Etairia (followers of the Megali Idea) acted without orders and raided Turkish outposts,[34] leading the Ottoman Empire to declare war on Greece on 17 April. The war was a disaster for Greece. The Turkish army was better prepared, in large part due to the recent reforms carried out by a German mission under Baron von der Goltz, and the Greek army was in retreat within weeks. The Great Powers again intervened and an armistice was signed in May 1897.[35]


The defeat of Greece in the Greco-Turkish war, costing small territorial losses at the border line in northern Thessaly and an indemnity of £4,000,000,[35] turned into a diplomatic victory. The Great Powers (Britain, France, Russia, and Italy), following the massacre in Heraklion on 25 August,[17][36][37] imposed a final solution on the "Cretan Question"; Crete was proclaimed an autonomous state under Ottoman suzerainty.

Venizelos played an important role towards this solution, not only as the leader of the Cretan rebels but also as a skilled diplomat with his frequent communication with the admirals of the Great Powers.[37] The four Great Powers assumed the administration of Crete; and

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Eleftherios Venizelos at Wikiquote

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Stephanos Dragoumis
Prime Minister of Greece
18 October 1910 – 10 March 1915
Succeeded by
Dimitrios Gounaris
Preceded by
Dimitrios Gounaris
Prime Minister of Greece
23 August 1915 – 7 October 1915
Succeeded by
Alexandros Zaimis
Preceded by
Dimitrios Gounaris
Minister of Foreign Affairs
23 August 1915 – 7 October 1915
Succeeded by
Alexandros Zaimis
Preceded by
Alexandros Zaimis
Prime Minister of Greece
27 June 1917 – 18 November 1920
Succeeded by
Dimitrios Rallis
Preceded by
Anastasios Charalambis
Minister for Military Affairs
27 June 1917 – 18 November 1920
Succeeded by
Dimitrios Gounaris
Preceded by
Stylianos Gonatas
Prime Minister of Greece
24 January 1924 – 19 February 1924
Succeeded by
Georgios Kaphantaris
Preceded by
Alexandros Zaimis
Prime Minister of Greece
4 July 1928 – 26 May 1932
Succeeded by
Alexandros Papanastasiou
Preceded by
Alexandros Papanastasiou
Prime Minister of Greece
5 June 1932 – 3 November 1932
Succeeded by
Panagis Tsaldaris
Preceded by
Panagis Tsaldaris
Prime Minister of Greece
16 January 1933 – 6 March 1933
Succeeded by
Alexandros Othonaios
Party political offices
Preceded by
Komma Fileleftheron (Liberal Party)
Succeeded by
Themistoklis Sophoulis
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
John Hessin Clarke
Cover of Time Magazine
18 February 1924
Succeeded by
Bernard M. Baruch


  1. ^ Note: Greece officially adopted the Gregorian calendar on 16 February 1923 (which became 1 March). All dates prior to that, unless specifically denoted, are Old Style.
  2. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 178
  3. ^ a b c 'Liberty Still Rules', Time, Feb. 18, 1924
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ Duffield J. W., The New York Times, October 30, 1921, Sunday link
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c Chester, 1921, p. 4
  8. ^ a b c d
  9. ^ a b Ion, 1910, p. 277
  10. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 45, 47
  11. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 16
  12. ^ Clogg, 2002, p. 65
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b Kitromilides, 2006, p. 58
  15. ^ Lowell Sun (newspaper), 6/2/1897, p. 1
  16. ^ Holland, 2006, p. 87
  17. ^ a b c
  18. ^ Holland, 2006, p. 91
  19. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 35
  20. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 34
  21. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 30
  22. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 62
  23. ^ Kerofilias, 1915, p. 14
  24. ^ a b Dunning, Jun. 1987, p. 367
  25. ^ Chester, 1921, pp. 35–36
  26. ^ Gibbons, p. 24
  27. ^ Kerofilias, 1915, pp. 13–14
  28. ^ Leeper, 1916, pp. 183–184
  29. ^ Anne O'Hare, McCormark, Venizelos the new Ulysses of Hellas, The New York Times Magazine, 2 September, p. 14
  30. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, pp. 63–64
  31. ^ Understanding life in the borderlands: boundaries in depth and in motion, I. William Zartman, 2010, p.169
  32. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 65
  33. ^ Rose, 1897, pp. 2–3
  34. ^ Dunning, June 1897, p. 368
  35. ^ a b Dunning Dec. 1897, p. 744
  36. ^ Ion, 1910, p. 278
  37. ^ a b Kitromilides, 2006, p. 68
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h
  39. ^ a b Kerofilias, 1915, pp. 30–31
  40. ^ Kerofilias, 1915, p. 33
  41. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 82
  42. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 95
  43. ^
  44. ^ Gibbons pp. 35–7
  45. ^ Alastos p. 38
  46. ^ a b Mazower, 1992, p. 886
  47. ^
  48. ^ Chester, 1921, pp. 129–133
  49. ^ a b c
  50. ^ Kyriakou, 2002, pp. 491–492
  51. ^ Hall, 2000, pp. 1–9
  52. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 141
  53. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 150
  54. ^ a b Kitromilides, 2006, p. 145
  55. ^ Hall, 2000, p. 13
  56. ^ a b Chester, 1921, pp. 159–160
  57. ^ Hall, 2000, pp. 61–62
  58. ^ Chester, 1921, pp. 161–164
  59. ^ Hall, 2000, p. 17
  60. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 169
  61. ^
  62. ^ The Times (London) 19 March 1913 p. 6
  63. ^ Tucker, 1999, p. 107
  64. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 154
  65. ^ Seligman, 1920, p. 31
  66. ^
  67. ^ a b c d e f
  68. ^ The Minor Powers During World War One – Greece
  69. ^
  70. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 271
  71. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 122
  72. ^ Leon, 1974, pp. 356–7
  73. ^ Leon, 1974, p. 381
  74. ^ a b Kitromilides, 2008, p. 124
  75. ^ Clogg, 2002, p. 87
  76. ^ Leon, 1974, p. 422
  77. ^ Leon, 1974, p. 428
  78. ^ a b Leon, 1974, p. 434
  79. ^ a b c Leon, 1974, p. 435
  80. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 293
  81. ^ Seligman, 1920, p. 139
  82. ^ Ion, 1918, pp. 796–812
  83. ^ Burg, 1998, pp. 145–6
  84. ^ Vatikotes, 1998 p. 98
  85. ^ Burg, 1998, p.145
  86. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 367
  87. ^ Hickey, 2004, p. 87
  88. ^ Clogg, 2002, p. 89
  89. ^ Gibbons, 1920, p. 299
  90. ^ Chester, 1921, pp. 295–304
  91. ^ Land of Invasion, TIME, 4 Nov 1940
  92. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 311
  93. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica, 1922, p. 308
  94. ^ Chester, 1921, pp. 312–3
  95. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 6
  96. ^ a b Kitromilides, 2006, p. 165
  97. ^ Chester, 1921, p. 320
  98. ^
  99. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 129
  100. ^ a b c Clogg, 2002, p. 95
  101. ^ Kitromilides, 2006, p. 131
  102. ^ a b
  103. ^ a b Clogg, 2002, p. 96
  104. ^ Karamanlis, 1995, p. 55, 70
  105. ^ Karamanlis, 1995, pp. 144–146
  106. ^ Karamanlis, 1995, pp. 158–160
  107. ^ Nobel Foundation. The Nomination Database for the Nobel Prize in Peace, 1901–
  108. ^ Clogg, 2002, p. 107
  109. ^ Karamanlis, 1995, pp. 95–97
  110. ^ Black, 1948, p. 94
  111. ^ Clogg, 2002, p. 103
  112. ^ Black, 1948, pp. 93–96
  113. ^ Manolikakis, 1985, pp. 18–22; Hélène Veniselos, A l'ombre de Veniselos (Paris, 1955)
  114. ^ Koliopoulos, 2002, p. 53-54
  115. ^ Legg, p. 188-189
  116. ^ Contogeorgis, 1996, p. 379-404
  117. ^ Koliopoulos, 2002, p. 104
  118. ^ Leon, 1974, pp. 315–6


^ i: The most pronounced violation was when the Allies occupied the island of Corfu and used it as a base to gather the remains of the Serbian army. The Allies informed Athens of their intention a few hours before the first ships reaching the island.[118]
^ ii: Rhodes became a part of Greece in 1949.



See also

The married couple settled down in Paris in a flat at 22 rue Beaujon. He lived there until 1927 when he returned to Chania.[8]

After his defeat in the November elections of 1920 he left for Basil Zaharoff in subsequent visits to the house.

In December 1891 Venizelos married Maria Katelouzou, daughter of Eleftherios Katelouzos. The newlyweds lived in the upper floor of the Chalepa house, while Venizelos' mother and his brother and sisters lived on the ground floor. There, they enjoyed the happy moments of their marriage and also had the birth of their two children, Kyriakos in 1892 and Sofoklis in 1894. Their married life was short and marked by misfortune. Maria died of post-puerperal fever in November 1894 after the birth of their second child. Her death deeply affected Venizelos and as sign of mourning he grew his characteristic beard and mustache, which he retained for the rest of his life.[8]

Personal life and family

Panhellenic Socialist Movement of Andreas Papandreou.[117]

Its main ideas, adapted from its creator, were: opposition to the monarchy; the defence of the Megali Idea; formation of alliances with western democratic countries, in particular the United Kingdom and France against Germany during the First and Second World Wars, and later with the United States against the Soviet Union during the Cold War; and finally a protectionist economic policy.[116]

One of the main contributions of Venizelos to Greek political life was the creation, in 1910, of the Liberal Party, which contrasted with the Greek parties of that period. Until the early twentieth century, the Greek parties were inspired by the protecting powers (French or English Party for example) or clustered around a political personality, such as Charilaos Trikoupis. The Liberal Party was based around the ideas of Venizelos (and the military coup of Goudi), but it survived its creator. In addition, the birth of a leading party would coincide with the birth of an opposing party. The opposing party was reflected around the personality of the king, but that survived the various abolitions of the monarchy.[114] Venizelism, from its inception, is essentially a liberal Republican movement, which opposes anti-venizelist monarchist and conservative ideologies. These two competed for power throughout the inter-war period.[115]

A statue in Theriso, Crete.
Venizelos' gravestone in Akrotiri, near Chania, Crete.


His body was taken by the destroyer Pavlos Kountouriotis to Chania, avoiding Athens in order not to cause unrest. A great ceremony with wide public attendance accompanied his burial at Akrotiri, Crete.

Venizelos left for Paris and on 12 March 1936 wrote his last letter to Alexandros Zannas. He suffered a stroke on the morning of the 13th and died five days later in his flat at 22 rue Beaujon.[113] A crowd of supporters from the local Greek community in Paris accompanied his body to the railway station prior to its departure for Greece.


His domestic position was weakened, however, by the effects of the referendum in November.[112]

In 1929, the Venizelos government, in an effort to avoid reactions from the lower-classes whose conditions had worsened due to wave of immigration, introduced the so-called Idionymon (#4229), a law that restricted civil liberties and initiated the repression against unionism, left-wing supporters and communists.

Venizelos' greatest achievement in foreign policy during this period was the reconciliation with Turkey. Venizelos had expressed his will to improve the bilateral Greek–Turkish relations even before his electoral victory, in a speech in Thessaloniki (July 23, 1928). Eleven days after the formation of his government, he sent letters to both the prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs of Turkey (İsmet İnönü and Tevfik Rüştü respectively), declaring that Greece had no territorial aspirations to the detriment of their country. İnönü's response was positive and Italy was eager to help the two countries reach an agreement. Negotiations however stalled because of the complicated issue of the properties of the exchanged populations. Finally, the two sides reached an agreement on April 30, 1930; on October 25, Venizelos visited Turkey and signed a treaty of friendship. Venizelos even forwarded Atatürk's name for the 1934 Nobel Peace Prize,[107] highlighting the mutual respect between the two leaders.[108] The German Chancellor Hermann Müller described the Greek-Turkish rapprochement as the "greatest achievement seen in Europe since the end of the Great War". Nevertheless, Venizelos' initiative was criticized domestically not only by the opposition but also by members of his own party that represented the Greek refugees from Turkey. Venizelos was accused of making too many concessions on the issues of naval armaments and of the properties of the Greeks who were expelled from Turkey according to the Treaty of Lausanne.[109]

Venizelos, wearing his typical side cap, sitting at his desk (1930).
Venizelos with Kemal Ataturk in Ankara; October 27, 1930.
Venizelos in the 1920s.

In the elections held on 5 July 1928, Venizelos' party regained power and forced the government to hold new elections on 19 August of the same year; this time his party won 228 out of 250 places in Parliament. During this period Venizelos attempted to end Greece's diplomatic isolation by restoring normal relations with the country's neighbors. His efforts proved to be successful in the cases of the newly founded Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Italy. Firstly Venizelos signed an agreement on 23 September 1928 with Benito Mussolini in Rome, and then he started negotiations with Yugoslavia which resulted in a Treaty of Friendship signed on 27 March 1929. An additional protocol settled the status of the Yugoslav free trade zone of Thessaloniki in a way favorable to Greek interests.[104] Nevertheless, despite the co-ordinated British efforts under Arthur Henderson in 1930–1931, full reconciliation with Bulgaria was never achieved during his premiership.[105] Venizelos was also cautious towards Albania, and although bilateral relations remained at a good level, no initiative was taken by either side aiming at the final settlement of the unresolved issues (mainly related with the status of the Greek minority of South Albania).[106]

Return to power (1928–32): Greek-Turkish alliance, second assassination attempt and subsequent exile

During these absences from power, he translated Thucydides into modern Greek, although the translation and incomplete commentary were only published in 1940, after his death.

Following the six royalist leaders were executed.[4] Venizelos assumed the leadership of the Greek delegation that negotiated peace terms with the Turks. He signed the Treaty of Lausanne with Turkey on 24 July 1923. The effect of this was that more than a million Greeks (Christians) were expelled from Turkey, in exchange for the more than 500,000 Turks (Muslims) expelled from Greece, and Greece was forced to give up claims to eastern Thrace, Imbros and Tenedos to Turkey. This catastrophe marked the end of the Megali Idea. After a failed pro-royalist insurrection led by General Ioannis Metaxas forced King George II into exile, Venizelos returned to Greece and became prime minister once again. However, he left again in 1924 after quarreling with anti-monarchists.

Once the anti-Venizelists came to power it became apparent that they intended to continue the campaign in Asia Minor. However, dismissal of the war experienced pro-Venizelist military officers for petty political reasons[100] and underestimating the capabilities of the Turkish army,[102] influenced the subsequent course of the war. Italy and France also found a useful pretext in the royal restoration for making peace with Mustafa Kemal (leader of the Turks). By April 1921 all Great Powers had declared their neutrality; Greece was alone in continuing the war.[103] Kemal launched a massive attack on 26 August 1922 and the Greek forces were routed to Smyrna, which soon fell to the Turks on 8 September 1922 (see Great Fire of Smyrna).[103]

King Alexander died of blood poisoning caused by a monkey bite, two months after the signing of the treaty, on 25 October 1920. His death revived the constitutional question of whether Greece should be a monarchy or a republic and transformed the November elections into a contest between Venizelos and the return of the exiled king Constantine, Alexander's father. In the elections anti-Venizelists, most of them supporters of Constantine, secured 246 out of 370 seats.[100] The defeat came as a surprise to most people and Venizelos failed even to get elected as an MP.[67] Venizelos himself attributed this to the war-weariness of the Greek people that had been under arms with almost no intermission since 1912. Venizelists believed that the promise of demobilization and withdrawal from Asia Minor was the most potent weapon of opposition. Abuse of power by Venizelists in the period of 1917–1920 and prosecution of their adversaries were also a further cause for people to vote in favor of the opposition.[101] Thus, on 6 December 1920, King Constantine was recalled by a plebiscite.[67] This caused great dissatisfaction not only to the newly liberated populations in Asia Minor but also to the Great Powers who opposed the return of Constantine.[100] As a result of his defeat Venizelos left for Paris and withdrew from politics.[102]

Eleftherios Venizelos on the cover of Time magazine, 18 February 1924.
Caricature related to the 1920 parliamentary election, depicting Venizelos and his main political opponent Dimitrios Gounaris.

1920 electoral defeat, self-exile and the Great Disaster

In spite of all this, fanaticism continued to create a deep rift between the opposing political parties and to impel them towards unacceptable actions. On his journey home on 12 August 1920, Venizelos survived an assassination attack by two royalist soldiers at the Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris.[98] This event provoked unrest in Greece, with Venizelist supporters engaging in acts of violence against known anti-Venizelists, and provided further fuel for the national division. The persecution of Venizelos' opponents reached a climax with the assassination of the idiosyncratic anti-Venizelist Ion Dragoumis[67] by paramilitary Venizelists on 13 August.[99] After his recovery Venizelos returned to Greece, where he was welcomed as a hero, because he had liberated areas with Greek populations and had created a state stretching over "five seas and two continents".[67]

In July 1919, Venizelos reached an agreement with the Italians on the cession of the Dodecanese, and secured an extension of the Greek area in the periphery of Smyrna. The Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria on 27 November 1919, and the Treaty of Sèvres with the Ottoman Empire on 10 August 1920, were triumphs both for Venizelos and for Greece.[3][96][97] As the result of these treaties, Greece acquired Western Thrace, Eastern Thrace, Smyrna, the Aegean islands Imvros, Tenedos and the Dodecanese except Rhodes.[96]ii[›]

Following the conclusion of World War I, Venizelos took part in the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 as Greece's chief representative. During his absence from Greece for almost two years, he acquired a reputation as an international statesman of considerable stature.[3][4] President Woodrow Wilson was said to have placed Venizelos first in point of personal ability among all delegates gathered in Paris to settle the terms of Peace.[95]

The assassination attempt by Greek royalists at the Gare de Lyon.
Map of Greater Greece after the Treaty of Sèvres, when the Megali Idea seemed close to fulfillment, featuring Eleftherios Venizelos.
Photo of the members of the commission of the League of Nations created by the Plenary Session of the Preliminary Peace Conference, Paris, France 1919. Venizelos is on the right.

The Treaty of Sèvres and assassination attempt

By the fall of 1918, the Greek army numbering 300,000 soldiers, was the largest single national component of the Allied army in the Macedonian front.[92] The presence of the entire Greek army gave the critical mass that altered the balance between the opponents in the Macedonian front. Under the command of French General Franchet d'Esperey, a combined Greek, Serbian, French and British force launched a major offensive against the Bulgarian and German army, starting on 14 September 1918. After the first heavy fighting (see Battle of Skra) the Bulgarians gave up their defensive positions and began retreating back towards their country. On 24 September the Bulgarian government asked for an armistice, which was signed five days later.[93] The Allied army then pushed north and defeated the remaining German and Austrian forces that tried to halt the Allied offensive. By October 1918 the Allied armies had recaptured all of Serbia and were preparing to invade Hungary. The offensive was halted because the Hungarian leadership offered to surrender in November 1918 marking the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The breaking of the Macedonian front was one of the important breakthroughs of the military stalemate and helped to bring an end to the War. Greece was granted a seat at the Paris Peace Conference under Venizelos.[94]

Painting depicting Greek military units in the WWI Victory Parade in Arc de Triomphe, Paris. July 1919.

Conclusion of World War I

The course of events paved the way for Venizelos to return in Athens on 29 May 1917 and Greece, now unified, officially entered the war on the side of the Allies. Subsequently the entire Greek army was mobilized (though tensions remained inside the army between supporters of the monarchy and supporters of Venizelos) and began to participate in military operations against the Central Powers army on the Macedonian front.

, to exile in France and Italy. Ioannis Metaxas His departure was followed by the deportation of many prominent royalists, especially army officers such as [91][90] After the armed confrontation in Athens, on 2 December [

The Allies landed a small contingent in Athens on 1 December [National Schism.

The Allies' pressure on the government of Athens continued. On the next day, 24 November, du Fournet presented a new ultimatum ending on 1 December to the government of Athens demanding the immediate surrender of at least ten mountain batteries.[78] The admiral made a last effort to persuade the king to accept France's demands. He advised the king that according to his orders he would land an Allied contingent, with aim to occupy certain positions in Athens until his demands were satisfied.[78] In reply, the Kind indicated that he was pressed by the army and the people not to submit to disarmament, and refused to make any commitment. However, he promised that the Greek forces would receive orders not to fire against the Allied contingent.[79] Despite the gravity of the situation both the royalist government and the Allies let the events take their own course. The royalist government decided to reject the admiral's demands on 29 November and armed resistance was organised. By 30 November military units and royalist militia (the epistratoi, "reservists") from surrounding areas have been recalled and gathered in and around Athens (in total over 20,000 men[80][81][82]) and occupied strategic positions, with orders not to fire unless fired upon.[79] On the other hand, the Allied authorities failed in their assessment of the prevailing temper. A diplomat characteristically insisted that the Greeks were bluffing, and in the face of force they would "bring the cannons on a plater"; a viewpoint that Du Fournet also shared.[79]

The Franco-British violations of Greece's territorial integrityi[›] throughout 1916 had offended the Greek national honour and therefore increased the Constantine's popularity, and caused much excitement and several anti-Allied demonstrations took place in Athens.[74] Moreover, a growing movement had been developed in the army among lower officers, led by military officers Ioannis Metaxas and Sofoklis Dousmanis, determined to oppose disarmament and the surrender of any war materials to the Allies.[77]

In the following months after the creation of provisional government in Thessaloniki in late August, negotiations between the Allies and king intensified. The Allies wanted further demobilisation of the Greek army as a counterbalance of the unconditional surrender of Fort Rupel by the royalist government and military evacuation of Thessaly to insure the safety of their troops in Macedonia. On the other hand, the king wanted assurances that the Allies would not officially recognise Venizelos' provisional government or further support it, guarantees that Greece's integrity and neutrality would be respected, and a promise that any war material surrendered to the Allies would be returned after the war.[76]

Greek lithograph depicting Venizelos along with the principal Allied leaders of World War I, David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau, Ferdinand Foch and Woodrow Wilson.
Venizelos reviews a section of the Greek army on the Macedonian front during the First World War, 1918. He is accompanied by Admiral Pavlos Koundouriotis (left) and General Maurice Sarrail (right).
French troops in Athens, with the Acropolis in the background, after the Noemvriana.

The "Noemvriana" – Greece enters World War I

On 16 August 1916, during a rally in Athens, and with the support of the allied army that had landed in Thessaloniki under the command of General Provisional Government of National Defence". Venizelos along with Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis and General Panagiotis Danglis agreed to form a provisional government and on 9 October they moved to Thessaloniki and assumed command of the National Defence to oversee the Greek participation in the allied war effort. The triumvirate, as the three men became known, had formed this government in direct conflict with the Athens' political establishment.[74] There they founded a separate "provisional state" including Northern Greece, Crete and the Aegean Islands, with the support of the Entente.[75] Primarily, these areas comprised the "New Lands" won during the Balkan Wars, in which Venizelos enjoyed a broad support, while "Old Greece" was mostly pro-royalist. The National Defence government started assembling an army for the Macedonian front and soon participated in operations against the Central Powers forces.

On 26 May 1916 the Fort Rupel (a significant military fort in Macedonia) was unconditionally surrendered by the royalist government to Germano-Bulgarian forces.[72] This produced a deplorable impression. The Allies feared a possible secret alliance between the royalist government and Central Powers placing in grave danger of their armies in Macedonia. On the other hand, the surrender of Fort Rupel for Venizelos and his supporters meant the beginning of the destruction of Greek Macedonia. Despite German assurances that the integrity of the Kingdom of Greece would be respected they were unable to restrain to control the Bulgarian forces, which had started dislocating the Greek population and by 4 September Kavala was occupied.[73]

The dispute continued between the two men, and in December 1915 Constantine forced Venizelos to resign for a second time and dissolved the Liberal-dominated parliament, calling for new elections. Venizelos left Athens and moved back to Crete. Venizelos did not take part in the elections, as he considered the dissolution of Parliament unconstitutional.[70][71]

Even though Venizelos promised to remain neutral, after the elections of 1915, he said that Bulgaria's attack on Serbia, with which Greece had a treaty of alliance, obliged him to abandon that policy. The dispute between Venizelos and the King reached its height shortly after that and the King invoked a Greek constitutional provision that gave the monarch the right to dismiss a government unilaterally. Meanwhile, using the excuse of saving Serbia, in October 1915, the Entente disembarked an army in Thessaloniki.[69]

The 1st Battalion of the National Defence army marches before the White Tower on its way to the front.
The "Triumvirate of National Defence" in Thessaloniki. L-R: Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis, Venizelos, and General Panagiotis Danglis.

The National Schism

In 1915, Winston Churchill (then First Lord of the Admiralty) suggested to Greece to take action in Dardanelles on behalf of the allies.[68] Venizelos saw this as an opportunity to bring the country on the side of the Entente in the conflict. However the King disagreed and Venizelos submitted his resignation on 21 February 1915.[67] Venizelos' party won the elections and formed a new government.

On the other hand, Constantine favored the Central Powers and wanted Greece to remain neutral.[66] He was influenced both by his belief in the military superiority of Germany and also by his German wife, Queen Sophia, and his pro-German court. He therefore strove to secure a neutrality, which would be favorable to Germany and Austria.[67]

But Constantine's anti-Bulgarism made such a transaction impossible. Constantine refused to go to war under such conditions and the men parted. As a consequence Bulgaria joined the Central Powers and invaded Serbia, an event leading to Serbia's final collapse. Greece remained neutral. Venizelos supported an alliance with the Entente, not only believing that Britain and France would win, but also that it was the only choice for Greece, because the combination of the strong Anglo-French naval control over the Mediterranean and the geographical distribution of the Greek population, could have ill effects in the case of a naval blockade, as he characteristically remarked:

The situation changed when the Allies, in an attempt to help Serbia, offered Bulgaria the Monastir-Ochrid area of Serbia and the Greek Eastern Macedonia (the Serres-Kavalla-Drama areas) if she joined the Entente. Venizelos, having received assurances over Asia Minor if the Greeks participated in the alliance, agreed to cede the area to Bulgaria.[64]

With the outbreak of World War I and the Austro-Hungarian invasion in Serbia, a major issue started regarding the participation or not of Greece and Bulgaria in the war. Greece had an active treaty with Serbia which was the treaty activated in the 1913 Bulgarian attack that caused the Second Balkan War. That treaty was envisaged in a purely Balkan context, and was thus invalid against Austria-Hungary, something on which both Venizelos and Constantine agreed.

Bust of Eleftherios Venizelos in Belgrade, Serbia.

Dispute over Greece's role in World War I

World War I and Greece

The rupture between the allies, due to the Bulgarian claims, was inevitable, and Bulgaria found herself standing against Greece and Serbia. On 19 May 1913, a pact of alliance was signed in Thessaloniki between Greece and Serbia. On 19 June, the Second Balkan War began with a surprise Bulgarian assault against Serbian and Greek positions.[61] Constantine, now King after his father's assassination in March,[62] neutralized the Bulgarian forces in Thessaloniki and pushed the Bulgarian army further back with a series of hard-fought victories. Bulgaria was overwhelmed by the Greek and Serbian armies, while in the north the Romanian army was marching towards Sofia; the Bulgarians asked for truce. Venizelos went to Hadji-Beylik, where the Greek headquarters were, to confer with Constantine on the Greek territorial claims in the peace conference. Then he went to Bucharest, where a peace conference was assembled. On 28 June 1913 a peace treaty was signed with Greece, Montenegro, Serbia and Romania on one side and Bulgaria on the other. Thus, after two successful wars, Greece had doubled its territory by gaining most of Macedonia, Epirus, Crete and the rest of the Aegean islands,[63] although the status of the latter remained as yet undetermined and a cause of tension with the Ottomans.

Despite all this, the Bulgarians still wanted to become a hegemonic power in the Balkans and made excessive claims to this end, while Serbia asked for more territory than what was initially agreed with the Bulgarians. Serbia was asking for a revision of the original treaty, since it had already lost north Albania due to the Great Powers' decision to establish the state of Albania, in an area that had been recognized as a Serbian territory of expansion under the prewar Serbo-Bulgarian treaty. Bulgarians also laid claims on Thessaloniki and most of Macedonia. In the conference of London, Venizelos rebuffed these claims, citing the fact that it had been occupied by the Greek army,[60] and that Bulgaria had denied any definite settlement of territorial claims during the pre-war discussions, as it had done with Serbia.

Demonstration in Greece during the Balkan Wars with the words "Long Live Venizelos".

Second Balkan War

On 20 November, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria signed a truce treaty with Turkey. It followed a conference in London, in which Greece took part, although the Greek army still continued its operations in the Epirus front. The conference led to the Treaty of London between the Balkan countries and Turkey. Τhese two conferences gave the first indications of Venizelos' diplomatic efficiency and realism. During the negotiations and facing the dangers of Bulgarian maximalism, Venizelos succeeded in establishing close relations with the Serbs. A Serbian-Greek military protocol was signed on the 1 June 1913 ensuring mutual protection in case of a Bulgarian attack.

Once the campaign in Macedonia was completed, a large part of the Greek army under the Crown Prince was redeployed to Epirus, and in the Battle of Bizani the Ottoman positions were overcome and Ioannina taken on 22 February 1913. Meanwhile, the Greek navy rapidly occupied the Aegean islands still under Ottoman rule. After two victories, the Greek fleet established naval supremacy over the Aegean preventing the Turks from bringing reinforcements to the Balkans.[58][59]

and tried to keep frequent communication with the key figure, the King, in order to prevent the Prince from marching north.[56] Subsequently, although the Greek army won the Giannitsa battle situated 40 km west of Salonika, the Constantine's hesitation in capturing the city after a week had passed, led into an open confrontation with Venizelos. Venizelos, having accurate information from the Greek embassy in Sofia about the movement of the Bulgarian army towards the city, sent a telegram to Constantine in a strict tone, holding him responsible for the possible loss of Thessaloniki. The tone in Venizelos' telegram and that in the answer from Constantine that followed to announce the final agreement with the Turks, is widely considered as the start of the conflict between the two men that would lead Greece into the National Schism during World War I. Finally on 26 October 1912, the Greek army entered Thessaloniki, shortly ahead of the Bulgarians.[57] But soon a new reason of friction emerged due to Venizelos' concern about Constantine's acceptance of the Bulgarian request to enter the city. A small Bulgarian unit, which soon became a full division moved into the city and immediately started an attempt to establish a condominium in spite of initial assurances to the contrary, showing no intentions to leave. After Venizelos' protest Constantine asked him to take the responsibility (as a prime minister) by ordering him to force them out, but that was hardly an option since that would certainly lead to confrontation with the Bulgarians. To Venizelos' view, since Constantine allowed the Bulgarians to enter the city, he now passed the responsibility of a possible conflict with them to him, in an attempt to deny his initial fault. To Constantine, it was an attempt by Venizelos to get involved in clearly military issues. Most historians agree that Constantine failed to see the political dimensions of his decisions. As a consequence both incidents increased mutual misunderstanding, shortly before Constantine's accession to the throne.

Territorial changes as a result of the First Balkan war, as of April 1913.

In these conditions the army started a victorious march to Macedonia under the commands of Constantine. Soon the first disagreement between Venizelos and Constantine emerged, and it concerned the aims of the army's operations. The Crown Prince insisted on the clear military aims of the war: to defeat the opposed Ottoman army as a necessary condition for any occupation, wherever the opponent army was or was going; and the main part of the Ottoman army soon started retreating to the north towards Monastir. Venizelos was more realistic and insisted on the political aims of the war: to liberate as many geographical areas and cities as fast as possible, particularly Macedonia and Thessaloniki; thus heading east. The debate became evident after the victory of the Greek army at Sarantaporo, when the future direction of the armys' march was to be decided. Venizelos intervened and insisted that Thessaloniki, as a major city and strategic port in the surrounding area, should be taken at all costs and thus a turn to the east was necessary. In accordance to his views, Venizelos sent the following telegraph to the General Staff:

The outbreak of the First Balkan war caused Venizelos a great deal of trouble in his relations with Crown Prince Constantine. Part of the problems can be attributed to the complexity of the official relations between the two men. Although Constantine was a Prince and the future King, he also held the title of army commander, thus remaining under the direct order of the Ministry of Military Affairs, and subsequently under Venizelos. But his father, King George, in accordance to the constitutional conditions of the time had been the undisputed leader of the country. Thus in practical terms Venizelos' authority over his commander of the army was diminished due to the obvious relation between the Crown Prince and the King.

King Constantine I and Prime Minister Venizelos during the Balkan Wars, before the National Schism.

First Balkan War – The first conflict with Prince Constantine

Montenegro opened hostilities by declaring war on Turkey on 8 October 1912. On 17 October 1912, Greece along with her Balkan allies declared war on Turkey, thus joining the First Balkan War.[54] On 1 October, in a regular session of the Parliament Venizelos announced the declaration of war to Turkey and accepting the Cretan deputies, thus closing the Cretan Question, with the declaration of the union of Crete with Greece. The Greek population received these developments very enthusiastically.

Venizelos, seeing no improvements after his approach with the Turks on the Cretan Question and at the same time not wanting to see Greece remain inactive as in the Russo-Turkish War in 1877 (where Greece's neutrality left the country out of the peace talks), he decided that the only way to settle the disputes with Turkey, was to join the other Balkan countries, Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro, in an alliance known as the Balkan League. Crown Prince Constantine was sent to represent Greece to a royal feast in Sofia, and in 1911 Bulgarian students were invited to Athens.[53] These events had a positive impact and on 30 May 1912 Greece and Bulgaria signed a treaty that ensured mutual support in case of a Turkish attack on either country. Negotiations with Serbia, which Venizelos had initiated to achieve a similar agreement, were concluded in early 1913,[54] before that there were only oral agreements.[55]

Balkan League

) threatened that they would make a military walk to Athens, if the Greeks insisted on such claims. Greco-Turkish war in 1897 (feeling confident after the Young Turks. However, the Cretan Question In light of this, Venizelos proposed to Turkey to recognize the Cretans the right to send deputies to the Greek Parliament, as a solution for closing the [52] At the time there were diplomatic contacts with the

The boundaries of the Balkan states before the Balkan Wars.


The Balkan Wars

[49] Venizelos also took measures for the improvement of management, justice and security and for the settlement of the landless peasants of Thessaly.[50] On 20 May 1911, a revision of the Constitution was completed, which focused on strengthening individual freedoms, introducing measures to facilitate the legislative work of the Parliament, establishing of obligatory

Venizelos tried to advance his reform program in the realms of political and social ideologies, of education, and literature, by adopting practically viable compromises between often conflicting tendencies. In education, for example, the dynamic current in favor of the use of the popular spoken language, dimotiki, provoked conservative reactions, which led to the constitutionally embedded decision (Article 107) in favor of a formal "purified" language, katharevousa, which looked back to classical precedents.[49]

The reforms in 1910–1914

Venizelos went to Athens and after consulting with the Military League and with representatives of the political world, he proposed a new government and Stephanos Dragoumis (Venizelos' indication) to form a new government that would lead the country to elections once the League was disbanded.[48] In the elections of 8 August 1910, almost half the seats in the parliament were won by Independents, who were newcomers to the Greek political scene. Venizelos despite doubts as to the validity of his Greek citizenship and without having campaigned in person finished at the top at the electoral list in Attica. He was immediately recognized as the leader of the independents and thus he founded the political party, Komma Fileleftheron (Liberal Party). Soon after his election he decided to call for new elections in hope of winning an absolute majority. The old parties boycotted the new election in protest and on 28 November 1910, Venizelos' party won 300 seats out of 362, with most of the elected citizens being new in the political scene.[46] Venizelos formed a government and started to reorganize the economic, political, and national affairs of the country.

Popular lithograph celebrating the coup's success. Greece steps triumphantly over the dead monster of the old-party system, cheered by the army and the people.

In May 1909, a number of officers in the Greek army emulating the Military League. The League, in August 1909, camped in the Athenian suburb of Goudi with their supporters forcing the government of Dimitrios Rallis to resign and a new one was formed with Kiriakoulis Mavromichalis. An inaugurating period of direct military pressure upon the Chamber followed, but initial public support to the League quickly evaporated when it became apparent that the officers did not know how to implement their demands.[46] The political dead-end remained until the League invited Venizelos from Crete to undertake the leadership.[47]

"After I finished my studies in Athens I returned home and hung out my bandolier. I had not tried many cases in the court of my home island before it became necessary for me to take up arms against the Turkish government. Although my father was born in Greece, I was considered an Ottoman subject -therefore a rebel- because my mother was born under the Turkish flag. At the end of the revolution, I returned again to my hometown and resumed my practice. I did not have time, however, to go far with it, for I had to take up arms again and go to the mountains. I soon reached the point where I had to decide whether I ought to be a lawyer by profession and a revolutionary at intervals or a revolutionary by profession and a lawyer at intervals... I naturally became a revolutionary by profession."

Venizelos speaking at a banquet given in his honour by the foreign press at the Peace Conference in 1919.[44][45]

Goudi military revolution of 1909

Political career in Greece

An assembly was convened and declared the independence of Crete. The civil servants were sworn in the name of King George I of Greece, while a five-member Executive Committee was established, with the authority to control the island on behalf of the King and according to the laws of the Greek state. Chairman of the committee was Antonios Michelidakis and Venizelos became Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs. In April 1910 a new assembly was convened and Venizelos was elected chairman and then Prime Minister. All foreign troops departed from Crete and power was transferred entirely to Venizelos' government.[43]

Following the Young Turk Revolution, Bulgaria declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire on 5 October 1908, and one day later Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria announced the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Encouraged by these events, on the same day, the Cretans in turn rose up. Thousands of citizens in Chania and the surrounding regions on that day formed a rally, in which Venizelos declared the union of Crete with Greece. Having communicated with the government of Athens, Zaimis left for Athens before the rally.

[38] The revolutionary government asked that Crete be granted a regime similar to that of

The committee for the drafting of a new constitution for Crete in 1906–07.
A speech by Venizelos on 25 March 1905.

On 10 March 1905, the rebels gathered in Theriso and declared "the political union of Crete with Greece as a single free constitutional state";[42] the resolution was given to the Great Powers, where it was argued that the illegitimate provisional arrangement was preventing the island's economic growth and that the only logical solution to the "Cretan Question" was the unification with Greece. The High Commissioner, with the approval of the Great Powers, replied to the rebels that military force would be used against them.[38] However, more deputies joined with Venizelos in Theriso. The Great Powers' consuls met with Venizelos in Mournies in an attempt to achieve an agreement, but without any results.

Venizelos at the beginning of the 20th century.

Revolution of Theriso

On 6 March 1901, in a report, he exposed the reasons that compelled him to resign to the High Commissioner, which was however leaked to the press. On 20 March, Venizelos was dismissed, because "he, without any authorization, publicly supported opinions opposite of those of the Commissioner".[38][41] Henceforth, Venizelos assumed the leadership of the opposition to the Prince. For the next three years, he carried out a hard political conflict, until the administration was virtually paralyzed and tensions dominated the island. Inevitably, these events led in March 1905 to the Theriso Revolution, whose leader he was.

In a meeting of the Executive Committee, Venizelos expressed his opinion that the island was not in essence autonomous, since militarily forces of the Great Powers were still present, and that the Great Powers were governing through their representative, the Prince. Venizelos suggested that once the Prince's service expired, then the Great Powers should be invited to the Committee, which, according to article 39 of the constitution (which was suppressed in the conference of Rome) would elect a new sovereign, thereby removing the need for the presence of the Great Powers. Once the Great Powers' troops left the island along with their representatives, then the union with Greece would be easier to achieve. This proposal was exploited by Venizelos' opponents, who accused him that he wanted Crete as an autonomous hegemony. Venizelos replied to the accusations by submitting once again his resignation, with the reasoning that for him it would be impossible henceforth to collaborate with the Committee's members; he assured the Commissioner however that he did not intend to join the opposition.[38]

The disagreements continued on other topics; the Prince wanted to build a palace, but Venizelos strongly opposed it as that would mean perpetuation of the current arrangement of Governorship; Cretans accepted it only as temporary, until a final solution was found.[38] Relations between the two men became increasingly soured, and Venizelos repeatedly submitted his resignation.[40]

Prince George decided to travel to Europe and announced to the Cretan population that "When I am traveling in Europe I shall ask the Powers for annexation, and I hope to succeed on account of my family connections".[39] The statement reached the public without the knowledge or approval of the Committee. Venizelos said to the Prince that it would not be proper to give hope to the population for something that wasn't feasible at the given moment. As Venizelos had expected, during the Prince's journey, the Great Powers rejected his request.[38][39]

Prince George was appointed High Commissioner of the Cretan State for a three-year term.[38] On 13 December 1898, he arrived at Chania, where he received an unprecedented reception. On 27 April 1899, the High Commissioner created an Executive Committee composed of the Cretan leaders. Venizelos became minister of Justice and with the rest of the Committee, they began to organize the State. After Venizelos submitted the complete juridical legislation on 18 May 1900, disagreements between him and Prince George began to emerge.

The council of Crete in which Venizelos participated. He is the second from the left.

Autonomous Cretan State


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.