1821-1832 1863-1897

Greece 1832-1863

In an 1832 treaty signed by Britain, France, Russia and Bavaria, these powers, without Greek participation, agried that Otto von Wittelsbach, 17-year-old son of King Ludwig I. of Bavaria, should become King Otto I. of Greece. Attica with Athens and a stretch of land to the north of the Gulf of Corinth were included into the young Greek monarchy. Yet Crete, the Dodecanese islands, the region around Smyrna were left outside of the Greek state, as were Thessaly, Macedon, Thrace and Epirus (which contained strong, often dominant elements of non-Greek population).

Young King Otto I. arrived in Nafplion, still provisoric capital. Otto was still a minor; as regents Bavarian courtiers acted. They introduced law codes based on continental European legal tradition; an education system based on central European exoerience. These measures showed little sensitivity for Greek traditions. In 1833 the Orthodox Church of the young kingdom was declared AUTOKEPHALOUS, i.e. independent of the Patriarch in Constrantinople.
ATHENS was selected as the nation's capital. In 1837 the UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS was established. Athens, until 1830 a small town of 4000 in a predominantly Albanian-speaking area, saw a lot of construction, representative buildings designed in the CLASSICIST style of the era. In 1837 the University of Athens, in 1841 the NATIONAL BANK of Greece was founded.

The King, who assumed personal rule in 1835, surrounded himself with many Bavarians, a matter which alienated many Greeks. His unwillingness to grant a constitution did not help to increase his popularity, as the many breaches with Greek tradition undertaken by the administration also did not.
Greek patriots regarded the independence achieved in 1832 as only a partial realization of their dream. The MEGALI IDEA, literally translated to the 'Great Idea' envisioned a Greater Greece, with Constantinopolis as the capital, that would include the areas with a significant Greek population, i.e. most of Ottoman Europe and significant areas in Asia Minor..

Economically the country suffered from high taxation, the generated revenue to a large extent spent on the army and on paying interest resp. downpayments on international loans.
In 1843 military officers staged a coup d'etat; among the concessions King Otto made was the 1844 CONSTITUTION, which provided UNIVERSAL ADULT MANHOOD SUFFRAGE.
During the CRIMEAN WAR, an Anglo-French force occupied the port of Piraeus (1854-1857) in order to pressure the Greek government not to give in to widespread sentiment demanding to join the Russians in fighting the Ottoman Empire. Another coup in 1862 ousted King Otto in 1862; he retired to Bavaria.

Representative Institutions throughout King Otto's Monarchy, from Macedonian Press Agency
After the First Constitution, 1844-1862, from Impressum · Datenschutz