George I of Greece

George I of Greece

Discussion
Ask a question about 'George I of Greece'
Start a new discussion about 'George I of Greece'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
George I was King of Greece
Kingdom of Greece
The Kingdom of Greece was a state established in 1832 in the Convention of London by the Great Powers...

 from 1863 to 1913. Originally a Danish prince, George was only 17 years old when he was elected king by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the former king Otto
Otto of Greece
Otto, Prince of Bavaria, then Othon, King of Greece was made the first modern King of Greece in 1832 under the Convention of London, whereby Greece became a new independent kingdom under the protection of the Great Powers .The second son of the philhellene King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Otto ascended...

. His nomination was both suggested and supported by the Great Powers (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, the Second French Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

 and the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

). He became the first monarch of a new Greek dynasty.

George's reign of almost 50 years (the longest in modern Greek history
History of modern Greece
The history of modern Greece covers the history of Greece from the recognition of independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832 after the Greek War of Independence to the present day.- Background :In 1821, the Greeks rose up against the Ottoman Empire...

) was characterized by territorial gains as Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 established its place in pre-World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 Europe. During the First Balkan War
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

, he was assassinated
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

. In sharp contrast to his own reign, the reigns of his successors proved short and insecure.

Family and early life



George was born in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, and was the second son of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Christian IX of Denmark
Christian IX was King of Denmark from 16 November 1863 to 29 January 1906.Growing up as a prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, a junior branch of the House of Oldenburg which had ruled Denmark since 1448, Christian was originally not in the immediate line of succession to the Danish...

 and Louise of Hesse-Kassel
Louise of Hesse-Kassel
Louise of Hesse was a German Princess and the queen consort to King Christian IX of Denmark.-Early Life and Ancestry:...

 (or Hesse-Cassel). Although his full name was Prince Christian Wilhelm Ferdinand Adolf Georg of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (Greek: Χριστιανός Γουλιέλμος Φερδινάνδος Αδόλφος Γεώργιος), until his accession in Greece, he was known as Prince Vilhelm (William), the namesake of his paternal and maternal grandfathers, Frederick William, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Friedrich Wilhelm Paul Leopold was the first Duke of the Second Line of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and founder of a line that includes the Royal Houses of Denmark, Greece, Norway, and the United Kingdom...

, and Prince William of Hesse
Prince William of Hesse
Landgrave William of Hesse-Kassel , son of Landgrave Frederick of Hesse-Cassel and Princess Caroline of Nassau-Usingen....

.

In 1852, George's father was designated the heir-presumptive to the childless King of Denmark
Frederick VII of Denmark
Frederick VII was a King of Denmark. He reigned from 1848 until his death. He was the last Danish monarch of the older Royal branch of the House of Oldenburg and also the last king of Denmark to rule as an absolute monarch...

, and the family became Princes and Princesses of Denmark. George's siblings were Frederick
Frederick VIII of Denmark
Frederick VIII was King of Denmark from 1906 to 1912.-Early life:Frederick was born on 3 June 1843 in the Yellow Palace in Copenhagen as Prince Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, a junior male line of the House of Oldenburg descended from Christian III of Denmark and who had...

 (who succeeded their father as King of Denmark), Alexandra
Alexandra of Denmark
Alexandra of Denmark was the wife of Edward VII of the United Kingdom...

 (who became queen consort of Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 and the mother of King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

), Dagmar (who, as Empress Maria Feodorovna, was consort of Alexander III of Russia
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

 and the mother of Tsar Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

), Thyra
Princess Thyra of Denmark
Princess Thyra of Denmark was the youngest daughter of Christian IX of Denmark and Louise of Hesse-Kassel.-Early life:Thyra was the sister of Frederik VIII of Denmark, Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, George I of Greece and...

 (who married Prince Ernest Augustus, 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale) and Valdemar
Prince Valdemar of Denmark
Prince Valdemar of Denmark, GCTE was a member of the Danish Royal Family, the youngest son of Christian IX of Denmark and his wife Luise of Hesse-Kassel...

.

George began his career in the Royal Danish Navy
Royal Danish Navy
The Royal Danish Navy is the sea-based branch of the Danish Defence force. The RDN is mainly responsible for maritime defence and maintaining the sovereignty of Danish, Greenlandic and Faroese territorial waters...

, but when only 17 he was elected King of the Hellenes on following the deposition of King Otto
Otto of Greece
Otto, Prince of Bavaria, then Othon, King of Greece was made the first modern King of Greece in 1832 under the Convention of London, whereby Greece became a new independent kingdom under the protection of the Great Powers .The second son of the philhellene King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Otto ascended...

. Paradoxically, he ascended a royal throne before his father, who became King of Denmark on 15 November the same year.

Another candidate for the Crown


George was not the first choice of the Greek people. Upon the overthrow of Otto, the Greek people had rejected Otto's brother Leopold
Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria
Luitpold, Prince Regent of Bavaria , was the de facto ruler of Bavaria from 1886 to 1912, due to the incapacity of his nephews, King Ludwig II and King Otto.-Early life:...

, the heir presumptive
Heir Presumptive
An heir presumptive or heiress presumptive is the person provisionally scheduled to inherit a throne, peerage, or other hereditary honour, but whose position can be displaced by the birth of an heir or heiress apparent or of a new heir presumptive with a better claim to the position in question...

, although they still favored a monarchy rather than a republic. Many Greeks, seeking closer ties to the pre-eminent world power, Great Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, rallied around Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the third Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and reigned from 1893 to 1900. He was also a member of the British Royal Family, the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha...

, second son of Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

 and Prince Albert. British Foreign Minister Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston
Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, KG, GCB, PC , known popularly as Lord Palmerston, was a British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century...

, believed that the Greeks were "panting for increase in territory", hoping for a gift of the Ionian Islands
Ionian Islands
The Ionian Islands are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese, i.e...

, which were then a British protectorate. The London Conference of 1832
London Conference of 1832
The London Conference of 1832 was an international conference convened to establish a stable government in Greece. Negotiations between the three Great Powers resulted in the establishment of the Kingdom of Greece under a Bavarian Prince. The decisions were ratified in the Treaty of Constantinople...

, however, prohibited any of the Great Powers' ruling families from accepting the crown, and in any event, Queen Victoria was adamantly opposed to the idea. The Greeks nevertheless insisted on holding a plebiscite
Greek head of state referendum, 1862
The Greek head of state referendum, 1862, was held in December 1862 on the issue of the form and identity of the Greek head of state. The results were announced in February the following year. Of the 240,000 votes reported, the vast majority were in favour of appointing Prince Alfred of the United...

 in which Prince Alfred received over 95% of the 240,000 votes cast. There were 93 votes for a Republic and 6 for a Greek. King Otto received one vote.

Eventually, the Greeks and Great Powers winnowed their choice to Prince William of Denmark. There were two significant differences from the elevation of his predecessor, Otto: he was elected unanimously by the Greek Assembly, rather than imposed on the people by foreign powers, and he was proclaimed "King of the Hellenes" instead of "King of Greece".

At his enthronement in Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, attended by a delegation of Greeks led by First Admiral and Prime Minister Constantine Kanaris
Constantine Kanaris
Constantine Kanaris or Canaris was a Greek Prime Minister, admiral and politician who in his youth was also a freedom fighter, pirate, privateer and merchantman.-Early life:...

, it was announced that the British government would cede the Ionian Islands to Greece in honor of the new monarch.

Early reign (1863–1870)


The new 17-year-old king arrived in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 on . He was determined not to make the mistakes of his predecessor, so he quickly learned Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

. The new king was seen frequently and informally in the streets of Athens, where his predecessor had only appeared in pomp. King George found the palace in a state of disarray, after the hasty departure of King Otto, and took to putting it right and updating the 40-year-old building. He also sought to ensure that he was not seen as too influenced by his Danish advisers, ultimately sending his uncle, Prince Julius
Prince Julius of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Prince Julius of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg was the eighth of the ten children of Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg and Princess Louise Caroline of Hesse-Kassel.-Biography:In 1863, Prince Julius was sent to Greece with his...

, back to Denmark with the words, "I will not allow any interference with the conduct of my government".

Politically, the new king took steps to conclude the protracted constitutional deliberations of the Assembly. On 19 October 1864, he sent the Assembly a demand, countersigned by Constantine Kanaris
Constantine Kanaris
Constantine Kanaris or Canaris was a Greek Prime Minister, admiral and politician who in his youth was also a freedom fighter, pirate, privateer and merchantman.-Early life:...

, explaining that he had accepted the crown on the understanding that a new constitution would be finalized, and that if it was not he would feel himself at "perfect liberty to adopt such measures as the disappointment of my hopes may suggest". It was unclear from the wording whether he meant to return to Denmark or impose a constitution, but as either event was undesirable the Assembly soon came to an agreement.

On 28 November 1864, he took the oath to defend the new Constitution
Greek Constitution of 1864
The Second National Assembly of the Hellenes took place in Athens and dealt both with the election of a new sovereign as well as with the drafting of a new Constitution, thereby implementing the transition from constitutional monarchy to a Crowned Democracy.Following the refusal of Prince Alfred...

, which created a unicameral Assembly (Vouli) with representatives elected by direct, secret, universal male suffrage, a first in modern Europe. A constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 was set up with George deferring to the legitimate authority of the elected officials, although he was aware of the corruption present in elections and the difficulty of ruling a mostly illiterate population. Between 1864 and 1910, there were 21 general elections and 70 different governments.

Internationally, George maintained a strong relationship with his brother-in-law, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

 (eventually King Edward VII of the United Kingdom), and sought his help in defusing the recurring issue of Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, an overwhelmingly Greek island which remained under Ottoman Turk
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 control. Since the reign of Otto, the Greek desire to unite Greek lands in one nation had been a sore spot with the United Kingdom and France, which had embarrassed Otto by occupying the main port Piraeus
Piraeus
Piraeus is a city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens Urban Area, 12 km southwest from its city center , and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf....

 to dissuade Greek irredentism
Irredentism
Irredentism is any position advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged. Some of these movements are also called pan-nationalist movements. It is a feature of identity politics and cultural...

 during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

. When the Cretans rose in rebellion
Cretan Revolt (1866–1869)
The Cretan Revolt of 1866–1869 or Great Cretan Revolution was a three year uprising against Ottoman rule, the third and largest in a series of Cretan revolts between the end of the Greek War of Independence in 1830 and the establishment of the independent Cretan State in 1898.-Background:The...

 in 1866, the Prince of Wales sought the support of Foreign Secretary Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby
Edward Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby
Edward Henry Stanley, 15th Earl of Derby KG, PC, FRS , known as Lord Stanley from 1844 to 1869, was a British statesman...

, to intervene in Crete on behalf of Greece. Ultimately, the Great Powers did not intervene and the Ottomans put down the rebellion.

Establishing a dynasty



During a trip to the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 to meet with his sister Dagmar, who had married into the Russian imperial family, he met Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia. Olga was just 16 when she married George on 27 October 1867 (Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

), in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

. They had eight children:
  • Constantine
    Constantine I of Greece
    Constantine I was King of Greece from 1913 to 1917 and from 1920 to 1922. He was commander-in-chief of the Hellenic Army during the unsuccessful Greco-Turkish War of 1897 and led the Greek forces during the successful Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, in which Greece won Thessaloniki and doubled in...

     (1868–1923), who married Princess Sophia of Prussia
    Sophia of Prussia
    Princess Sophie of Prussia was Queen of the Hellenes as the wife of King Constantine I.-Princess of Prussia:...

    ;
  • George
    Prince George of Greece and Denmark
    align=right| Prince George of Greece and Denmark was the second son of King George I of the Hellenes and Grand Duchess Olga, and is remembered chiefly for having saved the life of a future Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II...

     (1869–1957), High Commissioner of Crete, who married Princess Marie Bonaparte
    Princess Marie Bonaparte
    Princess Marie Bonaparte was a French author and psychoanalyst, closely linked with Sigmund Freud. Her wealth contributed to the popularity of psychoanalysis, and enabled Freud's escape from Nazi Germany....

    ;
  • Alexandra (1870–1891), who married Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia
    Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia
    Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich of Russia was the eighth child of Tsar Alexander II of Russia by his first wife Empress Maria Alexandrovna. His birth was commemorated by the naming of the city of Pavlodar in Kazakhstan...

     and was the mother of Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov;
  • Nicholas
    Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark
    Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark , of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, was the fourth child and third son of George I, King of the Hellenes, and of Queen Olga. He was known as "Greek Nicky" in the family to distinguish him from his cousin Czar Nicholas II of Russia...

     (1872–1938), who married Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia
    Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia
    Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia 17 January 1882 – 13 March 1957, sometimes known as Helen, Helena, Helene, Ellen, Yelena, Hélène, or Eleni, was a Russian grand duchess as the daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia and Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin...

     and was the father of Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent;
  • Marie (1876–1940), who married firstly Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia and secondly Admiral Perikles Ioannidis
    Perikles Ioannidis
    Periklis Ioannidis was a Greek admiral who became the second husband of Princess Maria of Greece and Denmark.They were married in Wiesbaden, Germany on December 16, 1922....

    ;
  • Olga (1881), who died aged three months;
  • Andrew
    Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark
    Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, was the seventh child and fourth son of King George I of Greece and Olga Constantinovna of Russia. He was a grandson of Christian IX of Denmark.He began military training at an early age, and was...

     (1882–1944), who married Princess Alice of Battenberg
    Princess Alice of Battenberg
    Princess Alice of Battenberg, later Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and mother-in-law of Elizabeth II....

     and was the father of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
    Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
    Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is the husband of Elizabeth II. He is the United Kingdom's longest-serving consort and the oldest serving spouse of a reigning British monarch....

    ; and
  • Christopher
    Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark
    Prince Christopher of Greece and Denmark was a member of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg Royal House.-Family background:...

     (1888–1940), who married firstly American widow None May "Nancy" Stewart Worthington Leeds and secondly Princess Françoise of Orléans
    Princess Françoise of Orléans (1902–1953)
    Princess Françoise of Orléans was born a Princess of Orléans and was a Princess of Greece and Denmark by marriage. She was thus a member of the Greek royal family...

    , the mother of Prince Michael of Greece.


When alone with his wife, George usually conversed in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

. Their children were taught English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 by their nannies, and when talking with his children he therefore spoke mainly English. Intent on not letting his subjects know that he missed Denmark, he discreetly maintained a dairy at his palace at Tatoi
Tatoi
Tatoi, located 5 km north of Athens's suburbs, and 27 km from the Athenian Acropolis was the summer palace and 10,000 acre estate of the former Greek Royal Family, and the site of George II of the Hellenes's birth...

, which was managed by native Danes and served as a bucolic reminder of his homeland. Queen Olga was far less careful in hiding her nostalgia for her native Russia, often visiting Russian ships at Piraeus
Piraeus
Piraeus is a city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens Urban Area, 12 km southwest from its city center , and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf....

 two or three times before they weighed anchor.

The king was related by marriage to the rulers of Great Britain, Russia and Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

, maintaining a particularly strong attachment to the Prince and Princess of Wales, who visited Athens in 1869. Their visit occurred despite continued lawlessness which culminated in the murder of a party of British and Italian tourists, which comprised British diplomat E. H. C. Herbert (the first cousin of Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon
Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon
Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon, PC, DL, FSA, FRS , known as Lord Porchester from 1833 to 1849, was a British politician and a leading member of the Conservative Party...

), Frederick Vyner (the brother-in-law of George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon
George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon
George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon KG, GCSI, CIE, PC , known as Viscount Goderich from 1833 to 1859 and as the Earl de Grey and Ripon from 1859 to 1871, was a British politician who served in every Liberal cabinet from 1861 until his death forty-eight years later.-Background...

, Lord President of the Council
Lord President of the Council
The Lord President of the Council is the fourth of the Great Officers of State of the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord High Treasurer and above the Lord Privy Seal. The Lord President usually attends each meeting of the Privy Council, presenting business for the monarch's approval...

), Italian diplomat Count de Boyl, and Mr. Lloyd (an engineer). George's relationships with other ruling houses assisted the king and his small country but also often put them at the center of national political struggles in Europe.

Territorial expansion (1871–1881)


From 1864 to 1874, Greece had 21 governments, the longest of which lasted a year and a half. In July 1874, Charilaos Trikoupis
Charilaos Trikoupis
Charilaos Trikoupis was a Greek politician who served as a Prime Minister of Greece seven times from 1875 until 1895....

 wrote an anonymous article in the newspaper Kairoi blaming King George and his advisors for the continuing political crisis caused by the lack of stable governments. In the article, he accused the King of acting like an absolute monarch
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 by imposing minority government
Minority government
A minority government or a minority cabinet is a cabinet of a parliamentary system formed when a political party or coalition of parties does not have a majority of overall seats in the parliament but is sworn into government to break a Hung Parliament election result. It is also known as a...

s on the people. If the King insisted, he argued, that only a politician commanding a majority in the Vouli could be appointed Prime Minister, then politicians would be forced to work together more harmoniously in order to construct a coalition government. Such a plan, he wrote, would end the political instability and reduce the large number of smaller parties. Trikoupis admitted to writing the article after the supposed author was arrested, whereupon he himself was taken into custody. After a public outcry, he was released and subsequently acquitted of the charge of "undermining the constitutional order". The following year, the King asked Trikoupis to form a government (without a majority) and then read a speech from the throne declaring that in future the leader of the majority party in parliament would be appointed Prime Minister.

Throughout the 1870s, Greece kept pressure on the Ottoman Empire, seeking territorial expansion into Epirus
Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

 and Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 provided the first potential alliance for the Greek kingdom. George's sister Dagmar was the daughter-in-law of Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

, and she sought to have Greece join the war. The French and British refused to countenance such an act, and Greece remained neutral. At the Congress of Berlin
Congress of Berlin
The Congress of Berlin was a meeting of the European Great Powers' and the Ottoman Empire's leading statesmen in Berlin in 1878. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, the meeting's aim was to reorganize the countries of the Balkans...

 convened in 1878 to determine peace terms for the Russo-Turkish War, Greece staked a claim to Crete, Epirus and Thessaly.

The borders were still not finalized in June 1880 when a proposal very favorable to Greece which included Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, about 100 kilometres away from Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks. The highest peak Mytikas, meaning "nose", rises to 2,917 metres...

 and Ioannina
Ioannina
Ioannina , often called Jannena within Greece, is the largest city of Epirus, north-western Greece, with a population of 70,203 . It lies at an elevation of approximately 500 meters above sea level, on the western shore of lake Pamvotis . It is located within the Ioannina municipality, and is the...

 was offered by the British and French. When the Ottoman Turks strenuously objected, Prime Minister Trikoupis made the mistake of threatening a mobilization of the Hellenic Army
Hellenic Army
The Hellenic Army , formed in 1828, is the land force of Greece.The motto of the Hellenic Army is , "Freedom Stems from Valor", from Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War...

. A coincident change of government in France, the resignation of Charles de Freycinet
Charles de Freycinet
Charles Louis de Saulces de Freycinet was a French statesman and Prime Minister during the Third Republic; he belonged to the Opportunist Republicans faction. He was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences, and in 1890, the fourteen member to occupy seat the Académie française.-Early years:He...

 and his replacement with Jules Ferry
Jules Ferry
Jules François Camille Ferry was a French statesman and republican. He was a promoter of laicism and colonial expansion.- Early life :Born in Saint-Dié, in the Vosges département, France, he studied law, and was called to the bar at Paris in 1854, but soon went into politics, contributing to...

, led to disputes amongst the Great Powers and, despite British support for a more pro-Greek settlement, the Turks subsequently granted Greece all of Thessaly but only the part of Epirus around Arta
Arta, Greece
Arta is a city with a rich history in northwestern Greece, capital of the peripheral unit of Arta, which is part of Epirus region. The city was known in ancient times as Ambracia . Arta is famous for its old bridge located over the Arachthos River, situated west of downtown...

. When the government of Trikoupis fell, the new Prime Minister, Alexandros Koumoundouros
Alexandros Koumoundouros
Alexandros Koumoundouros was a Greek politician. Born in Kampos Avias located in the Messenian side of the Mani Peninsula, he was the son of Spirìdonas-Galànis Koumoundoùros who was the Bey of the area during the last period of the administration of the region by the Ottoman Empire.He was a...

, reluctantly accepted the new boundaries.

National progress (1882–1900)



While Trikoupis followed a policy of retrenchment within the established borders of the Greek state, having learned a valuable lesson about the vicissitudes of the Great Powers, his main opponents, the Nationalist Party
Nationalist Party (Greece)
The Nationalist Party of Greece was the conservative and expansionist political party from 1865-1909. It was opposed primarily by the New Party of Charilaos Trikoupis....

 led by Theodoros Deligiannis
Theodoros Deligiannis
Theodoros Deligiannis, also spelled Delijannis and Deliyannis, , was a Greek statesman.-Life:He was born at Lagkadia, Arcadia. He studied law in Athens, and in 1843 entered the Ministry of the Interior, of which department he became permanent secretary in 1859. In 1862, on the deposition of King...

, sought to inflame the anti-Turkish feelings of the Greeks at every opportunity. The next opportunity arose in 1885 when Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

ns rose in revolt in Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia or Eastern Roumelia was an administratively autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire and Principality of Bulgaria from 1878 to 1908. It was under full Bulgarian control from 1885 on, when it willingly united with the tributary Principality of Bulgaria after a bloodless revolution...

 and united the province with Bulgaria. Deligiannis rode to victory over Trikoupis in elections that year saying that if the Bulgarians could defy the Treaty of Berlin, so should the Greeks.

Deligiannis mobilized the Hellenic Army
Hellenic Army
The Hellenic Army , formed in 1828, is the land force of Greece.The motto of the Hellenic Army is , "Freedom Stems from Valor", from Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War...

, and the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 blockaded Greece. The Admiral in charge of the blockade was Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was the third Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and reigned from 1893 to 1900. He was also a member of the British Royal Family, the second son and fourth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha...

, who had been the first choice of the Greeks to be their king in 1863, and the First Lord of the Admiralty at the time was George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon
George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon
George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon KG, GCSI, CIE, PC , known as Viscount Goderich from 1833 to 1859 and as the Earl de Grey and Ripon from 1859 to 1871, was a British politician who served in every Liberal cabinet from 1861 until his death forty-eight years later.-Background...

, whose brother-in-law had been murdered in Greece 16 years before. This was not the last time that King George discovered that his family ties were not always to his advantage. Deligiannis was forced to demobilize and Trikoupis regained the premiership. Between 1882 and 1897, Trikoupis and Deligiannis alternated the premiership as their fortunes rose and fell.

Greece in the last decades of the 19th century was increasingly prosperous and was developing a sense of its role on the European stage. In 1893, the Corinth Canal
Corinth Canal
The Corinth Canal is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland, thus effectively making the former an island. The builders dug the canal through...

 was built by a French company cutting the sea journey from the Adriatic to Piraeus
Piraeus
Piraeus is a city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens Urban Area, 12 km southwest from its city center , and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf....

 by 150 miles (241 km). In 1896, the Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 were revived in Athens, and the Opening Ceremony of the 1896 Summer Olympics
1896 Summer Olympics
The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event celebrated in Athens, Greece, from April 6 to April 15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the Modern era...

 was presided over by the King. When Spiridon Louis
Spiridon Louis
Spyridon Louis was a Greek water-carrier who won the first modern-day Olympic marathon at the 1896 Summer Olympics, thereby becoming a national hero....

, a shepherd from just outside Athens, ran into the Panathinaiko Stadium
Panathinaiko Stadium
The Panathinaiko or Panathenaic Stadium , also known as the Kallimarmaro , is an athletic stadium in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896...

 to win the Marathon
Marathon
The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres , that is usually run as a road race...

 event, the Crown Prince ran down onto the field to run the last thousand yards beside the Greek gold medalist, while the King stood and applauded.


The popular desire to unite all Greeks within a single territory (Megali Idea
Megali Idea
The Megali Idea was an irredentist concept of Greek nationalism that expressed the goal of establishing a Greek state that would encompass all ethnic Greek-inhabited areas, since large Greek populations after the restoration of Greek independence in 1830 still lived under Ottoman rule.The term...

) was never far below the surface and another revolt against Turkish rule erupted in Crete. In February 1897, King George sent his son, Prince George, to take possession of the island. The Greeks refused an Ottoman offer of an autonomous administration, and Deligiannis mobilized for war. The Great Powers refused to allow the expansion of Greece, and on 25 February 1897 announced that Crete would be under an autonomous administration and ordered the Greek and Ottoman Turk militias to withdraw.

The Turks agreed, but Prime Minister Deligiannis refused and dispatched 1400 troops to Crete under the command of Colonel Timoleon Vassos
Timoleon Vassos
Timoleon Vassos or Vasos was a Greek Army officer and general. He was born in Athens in 1836, the younger son of the hero of the Greek Revolution Vasos Mavrovouniotis. He studied at the Hellenic Army Academy and continued his studies in France, before being appointed as aide de camp to King George I...

. While the Great Powers announced a blockade, Greek troops crossed the Macedonian
Macedonia (Greece)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

 border and Abdul Hamid II
Abdul Hamid II
His Imperial Majesty, The Sultan Abdülhamid II, Emperor of the Ottomans, Caliph of the Faithful was the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire...

 declared war
Greco-Turkish War (1897)
The Greco-Turkish War of 1897, also called the Thirty Days' War and known as the Black '97 in Greece, was a war fought between the Kingdom of Greece and Ottoman Empire. Its immediate cause was the question over the status of the Ottoman province of Crete, whose Greek majority long desired union...

. The announcement that Greece was finally at war with the Turks was greeted by delirious displays of patriotism and spontaneous parades in honor of the King in Athens. Volunteers by the thousands streamed north to join the forces under the command of Crown Prince Constantine
Constantine I of Greece
Constantine I was King of Greece from 1913 to 1917 and from 1920 to 1922. He was commander-in-chief of the Hellenic Army during the unsuccessful Greco-Turkish War of 1897 and led the Greek forces during the successful Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, in which Greece won Thessaloniki and doubled in...

.

The war went badly for the ill-prepared Greeks; the only saving grace was the swiftness with which the Hellenic Army was overrun. By the end of April 1897, the war was lost. The worst consequences of defeat for the Greeks were mitigated by the intervention of the King's relatives in Britain and Russia; nevertheless, the Greeks were forced to give up Crete to international administration, and agree to minor territorial concessions in favor of the Turks and an indemnity of 4,000,000 Turkish pounds.

The jubilation with which Greeks had hailed their king at the beginning of the war was reversed in defeat. For a time, he considered abdication. It was not until the King faced down an assassination attempt in February 1898 with great bravery that his subjects again held their monarch in high esteem.

Later that year, after continued unrest in Crete, which included the murder of the British vice-consul, Prince George of Greece was made the Governor-General of Crete under the suzerainty of the Sultan, after the proposal was put forward by the Great Powers. Greece was effectively in day-to-day control of Crete for the first time in modern history.

Later reign and assassination (1901–1913)


The death of Britain's Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

 on 22 January 1901 left King George as the second-longest-reigning monarch in Europe. His always cordial relations with his brother-in-law, the new King Edward VII
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

, continued to tie Greece to Britain. This was abundantly important in Britain's support of the King's son George
Prince George of Greece and Denmark
align=right| Prince George of Greece and Denmark was the second son of King George I of the Hellenes and Grand Duchess Olga, and is remembered chiefly for having saved the life of a future Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II...

 as Governor-General of Crete. Nevertheless, George resigned in 1906 after a leader in the Cretan Assembly, Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos was an eminent Greek revolutionary, a prominent and illustrious statesman as well as a charismatic leader in the early 20th century. Elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece and served from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1932...

, campaigned to have him removed.

As a response to the Young Turk Revolution
Young Turk Revolution
The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 reversed the suspension of the Ottoman parliament by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, marking the onset of the Second Constitutional Era...

 of 1908, Venizelos' power base was further strengthened, and on 8 October 1908 the Cretan Assembly passed a resolution in favour of union despite both the reservations of the Athens government under Georgios Theotokis
Georgios Theotokis
Georgios Theotokis was a Greek politician and four times Prime Minister of Greece. He represented the New Party or Neoteristikon Komma .- Biography :...

 and the objections of the Great Powers. The muted reaction of the Athens Government to the news from Crete led to an unsettled state of affairs on the mainland.

A group of military officers formed a military league, Stratiotikos Syndesmos, that demanded that the Royal family be stripped of their military commissions. To save the King the embarrassment of removing his sons from their commissions, they resigned them. The military league attempted a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 called the Goudi Pronunciamento, and the King insisted on supporting the duly elected Hellenic Parliament
Hellenic Parliament
The Hellenic Parliament , also the Parliament of the Hellenes, is the Parliament of Greece, located in the Parliament House , overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece....

 in response. Eventually, the military league joined forces with Venizelos in calling for a National Assembly to revise the constitution. King George gave way, and new elections to the revising assembly were held. After some political maneuvering, Venizelos became Prime Minister of a minority government. Just a month later, Venizelos called new elections at which he won a colossal majority after most of the opposition parties declined to take part.

Venizelos and the King were united in their belief that the nation required a strong army to repair the damage of the humiliating defeat of 1897. Crown Prince Constantine was reinstated as Inspector-General of the army, and later Commander-in-Chief. Under his and Venizelos' close supervision the military was retrained and equipped with French and British help, and new ships were ordered for the Hellenic Navy
Hellenic Navy
The Hellenic Navy is the naval force of Greece, part of the Greek Armed Forces. The modern Greek navy has its roots in the naval forces of various Aegean Islands, which fought in the Greek War of Independence...

. Meanwhile, through diplomatic means, Venizelos had united the Christian countries of the Balkans in opposition to the ailing Ottoman Empire.
When Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

 declared war on Turkey on 8 October 1912, it was joined quickly, after ultimata, by Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and Greece in what is known as the First Balkan War
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

. The results of this campaign differed radically from the Greek experience at the hands of the Turks in 1897
Greco-Turkish War (1897)
The Greco-Turkish War of 1897, also called the Thirty Days' War and known as the Black '97 in Greece, was a war fought between the Kingdom of Greece and Ottoman Empire. Its immediate cause was the question over the status of the Ottoman province of Crete, whose Greek majority long desired union...

. The well-trained Greek forces, 200,000 strong, won victory after victory. On 9 November 1912, Greek forces rode into Salonika, just a few hours ahead of a Bulgarian division. Followed by the Crown Prince and Venizelos in a parade a few days later, King George rode in triumph through the streets of the second-largest Greek city.

Just as he did in Athens, the King went about Salonika without any meaningful protection force. While out on an afternoon walk near the White Tower of Thessaloniki
White Tower of Thessaloniki
The White Tower of Thessaloniki , is a monument and museum on the waterfront of the city of Thessaloniki, capital of the region of Macedonia in northern Greece and a symbol of Greek sovereignty over Macedonia...

 on 18 March 1913, he was shot at close range in the back by Alexandros Schinas
Alexandros Schinas
Alexandros Schinas , was a Greek anarchist who assassinated King George I of Greece in Thessaloniki in 1913....

, who was "said to belong to a Socialist organization" and "declared when arrested that he had killed the King because he refused to give him money". The Greek government denied any political motive for the assassination, saying that Schinas was an alcoholic vagrant. Schinas was tortured in prison and six weeks later fell to his death from a police station window.
For five days the coffin of the King, draped in the Danish
Flag of Denmark
The national flag of Denmark, Dannebrog is red with a white Scandinavian cross that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side...

 and Greek flags
Flag of Greece
The flag of Greece , officially recognized by Greece as one of its national symbols, is based on nine equal horizontal stripes of blue alternating with white...

, lay in the Metropolis
Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens
Annunciation Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, popularly known as the "Mētrópolis", is the cathedral church of the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece....

 in Athens before his body was committed to the tomb at his palace in Tatoi
Tatoi
Tatoi, located 5 km north of Athens's suburbs, and 27 km from the Athenian Acropolis was the summer palace and 10,000 acre estate of the former Greek Royal Family, and the site of George II of the Hellenes's birth...

. Unlike his father, the new King Constantine
Constantine I of Greece
Constantine I was King of Greece from 1913 to 1917 and from 1920 to 1922. He was commander-in-chief of the Hellenic Army during the unsuccessful Greco-Turkish War of 1897 and led the Greek forces during the successful Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, in which Greece won Thessaloniki and doubled in...

 was to prove less willing to accept the advice of ministers, or that of the three protecting powers (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, the French Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 and the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

).

Titles from birth to death

  • 1845–1852: His Serene Highness Prince Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
  • 1852–1858: His Highness Prince Vilhelm of Denmark
  • 1858–1863: His Royal Highness Prince Vilhelm of Denmark
  • 1863–1913: His Majesty The King of the Hellenes

Arms


The distinctive Greek flag of blue and white cross was first hoisted during the Greek War of Independence
Greek War of Independence
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

 in March 1822. This was later modified so that the shade of blue matched that of the Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

n coat of arms of the first King Otto. The shield is emblazoned with the coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 of the Danish Royal Family
Danish Royal Family
The Danish Royal Family includes the Queen of Denmark and her family. All members except the Queen hold the title of Prince/Princess of Denmark with the style of His/Her Royal Highness or His/Her Highness. The Queen is styled Her Majesty. The Queen and her siblings belong to the House of...

, and the supporters on either side are also adopted from the Danish coat of arms. Beneath the shield is the motto
Motto
A motto is a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. A motto may be in any language, but Latin is the most used. The local language is usual in the mottoes of governments...

 in Greek, Ἰσχύς μου ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ λαοῦ ("The people's love, my strength"). Beneath the motto dangles the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer
Order of the Redeemer
The Order of the Redeemer , also known as the Order of the Savior, is an order of Greece. The Order of the Redeemer is the oldest and highest decoration awarded by the modern Greek state.- History :...

, Greece's premier decoration of honor.

Ancestry