The Turbulent Reign of King Otto
After Kapodistrias' assassination, the three "Protecting Powers", Great Britain, France and Russia, selected 17-year old prince Otto, second son of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, as king of Greece. It was their second choice, the first one, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, had turned down the throne.
The young king arrived in Nafplion in February 1833, accompanied by a large Bavarian retinue. Otto being a minor, a regency council consisting of five Bavarians and presided over by count, J.Armansberg, was to govern Greece until 1835. The regents ruled autocratically with little or no respect for the aspirations of the Greek people, especially those who had fought in the war for independence, and no sensitivity toward Greek traditions. The armed forces were inundated with hundreds of Bavarian mercenaries; the educational system was structured according to German prototypes; judicial and legal reforms were based on western European codes and practices with little consideration for existing customary law; ties with the ecumenical Patriarchate were severed and the church of Greece became subject to state control.
Even after the formal termination of the regency in 1835, Bavarian influence remained strong, making king Otto, his wife queen Amalia and their entourage increasingly unpopular. A further source of resentment was the king's refusal to grand a constitution. Discontent developed into opposition which culminated in a coup d'etat staged on September 3, 1843. The conspiracy was headed by the leaders of all three political groups (known as the "English", "French" and "Russian" parties to reflect each one's affiliation) and had the support of general Dimitrios Kallergis, commander of the cavalry unit in Athens, the new capital of Greece. Otto conceded the principal demands of the insurgents and a constitution was promulgated in March 1844.
In practice, however, this exercise in parliamentary democracy did not work, due to tensions and conflicts between democratic forms and traditional attitudes in Greece, and to the king's and several politicians' disinclination to abide by the rules of the constitutional game.
Old resentments related to burdensome taxation (necessary for the repayment of a loan guaranteed by the "Protecting Powers" when Greece gained its independence), the continued dominance of the court in public affairs, Otto's refusal to convert from Catholicism to Orthodoxy, and uncertainty over the succession as a result of the fact that the king had no children were rekindled. They led to a coup by the Athens garrison and to Otto's overthrow in 1862. On the advice of the "Protecting Powers" Otto put up no resistance and fled to Bavaria.
The three Powers chose as new sovereign for Greece Prince Christian William Ferdinand Adolphus George of the Danish Glucksburg dynasty. He assumed the throne as King George of the Hellenes in 1864 and reigned until 1913 when he was assassinated by a mad man in Thessaloniki.
National Revival and Expansion From the Brink of Catastrophe
World War I The Catastrophe in Asia Minor
King George's reign began with a good omen: as a kind of dowry, Great Britain yielded the Ionian islands to Greece- the first addition of territory since independence.
The Second World War The Post-War era
Immediately after the start of World War I a fundamental dispute between King Constantine and Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos erupted over the question of Greece's participation in it.
Greece and the European Union
The outbreak of World War II in 1939 found Greece under an authoritative regime headed by Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, whose intention was to keep Greece out of the hostilities.
Greece is a full-fledged member of the European Economic & Monetary Union within the broader European Union. It took 40 years of hard efforts to achieve this goal.