George Greece
King of the Hellenes
George Greece
George I was King of Greece from 1863 to 1913. Originally a Danish prince, George was born in Copenhagen, and seemed destined for a career in the Royal Danish Navy. He was only 17 years old when he was elected king by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the unpopular former king Otto. His nomination was both suggested and supported by the Great Powers: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the Second French Empire and the Russian Empire.
Biography
George I of Greece's personal information overview.
{{personal_detail.supertitle}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
Photo Albums
Popular photos of George I of Greece
News
News abour George I of Greece from around the web
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of George I of Greece
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1913
    Age 67
    While out on an afternoon walk near the White Tower on 18 March 1913, he was shot at close range in the back by Alexandros Schinas, 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".
    More Details Hide Details George died instantly, the bullet having penetrated his heart. 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. The King's body was taken to Athens on the Amphitrite, escorted by a flotilla of naval vessels. For three days the coffin of the King, draped in the Danish and Greek flags, lay in the Metropolis in Athens before his body was committed to a tomb at his palace in Tatoi. Unlike his father, the new king, Constantine, was to prove less willing to accept the advice of ministers, or that of the three protecting powers (Britain, France and Russia). The distinctive Greek flag of blue and white cross was first hoisted during the Greek War of Independence in March 1822. This was later modified so that the shade of blue matched that of the Bavarian coat of arms of the first King of Greece, Otto. The shield is emblazoned with the coat of arms of the Danish Royal Family, and the supporters on either side are also adapted from the Danish royal arms. Beneath the shield is the motto in Greek, Ἰσχύς μου ἡ αγάπη του λαου ("The people's love is my strength"). Beneath the motto dangles the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer, Greece's premier decoration of honor.
    As he approached the fiftieth anniversary of his accession, the King made plans to abdicate in favor of his son Constantine immediately after the celebration of his golden jubilee in October 1913.
    More Details Hide Details Just as he did in Athens, George went about Thessaloniki without any meaningful protection force.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1901
    Age 55
    The death of Britain's Queen Victoria 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, continued to tie Greece to Britain. This was abundantly important in Britain's support of King George's son Prince George as Governor-General of Crete. Nevertheless, Prince George resigned in 1906 after a leader in the Cretan Assembly, Eleftherios Venizelos, campaigned to have him removed.
    More Details Hide Details As a response to the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, Venizelos's power base was further strengthened, and on 8 October 1908 the Cretan Assembly passed a resolution in favor of union despite both the reservations of the Athens government under Georgios Theotokis 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 called the Goudi Pronunciamento, and the King insisted on supporting the duly elected Hellenic Parliament 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.
  • 1898
    Age 52
    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 on 27 February 1898 with great bravery that his subjects again held their monarch in high esteem.
    More Details Hide Details Returning from a trip to the beach at Phaleron in an open carriage, George and his daughter Maria were shot at by two riflemen. The King tried to shield his daughter; both were unhurt though the coachman and a horse were wounded. The gunmen (an Athens clerk called Karditzis and his assistant) fled into the Hymettus hills but they were spotted and arrested. Both were beheaded at Nauplia. 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.
  • 1897
    Age 51
    The popular desire to unite all Greeks within a single territory (Megali Idea) 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.
    More Details Hide Details 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. While the Great Powers announced a blockade, Greek troops crossed the Macedonian border and Abdul Hamid II declared war. 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. 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 relations 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 million Turkish pounds.
  • 1896
    Age 50
    In 1896, the Olympic Games were revived in Athens, and the Opening Ceremony of the 1896 Summer Olympics was presided over by the King.
    More Details Hide Details When Spiridon Louis, a shepherd from just outside Athens, ran into the Panathinaiko Stadium to win the Marathon 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.
  • FORTIES
  • 1888
    Age 42
    George's silver jubilee in 1888 was celebrated throughout the Hellenic world, and Athens was decorated with garlands for the anniversary of his accession on 30 October.
    More Details Hide Details Visitors included the Crown Prince of Denmark, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, Grand Dukes Sergei and Paul of Russia, and Djevad Pasha from the Ottoman Empire, who presented the King with two Arabian horses as gifts. Jubilee events in the week of 30 October included balls, galas, parades, a thanksgiving service at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, and a lunch for 500 invited guests in a blue and white tent on the Acropolis. 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 was built by a French company cutting the sea journey from the Adriatic Sea to Piraeus by.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1874
    Age 28
    In July 1874, Charilaos Trikoupis, a member of the Greek Parliament, 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.
    More Details Hide Details In the article, he accused the King of acting like an absolute monarch by imposing minority governments 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 a man supposed by the authorities to be the author was arrested, whereupon he was taken into custody himself. 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.
  • 1869
    Age 23
    The King was related by marriage to the rulers of Great Britain, Russia and Prussia, maintaining a particularly strong attachment to the Prince and Princess of Wales, who visited Athens in 1869.
    More Details Hide Details Their visit occurred despite continued lawlessness which culminated in the kidnap of a party of British and Italian tourists, including Lord and Lady Muncaster. Two female hostages, a child and Lord Muncaster were released, but four of the others: British diplomat E. H. C. Herbert (the first cousin of Lord Carnarvon), Frederick Vyner (the brother-in-law of Lord Ripon, Lord President of the Council), Italian diplomat Count Boyl di Putifigari, and Mr. Lloyd (an engineer) were murdered. George's relationships with other ruling houses assisted him and his small country but also often put them at the center of national political struggles in Europe. From 1864 to 1874, Greece had 21 governments, the longest of which lasted a year and a half.
  • 1867
    Age 21
    They met for a second time in April 1867, when George went to the Russian Empire to visit his sister Dagmar, who had married into the Russian imperial family. While George was a Lutheran, the Romanovs were Orthodox Christians like the majority of Greeks, and George thought a marriage with a Russian grand duchess would re-assure his subjects on the question of his future children's religion. Olga was just 16 years old when she married George in Saint Petersburg on 27 October 1867.
    More Details Hide Details After a honeymoon at Tsarskoye Selo, the couple left Russia for Greece on 9 November. Over the next twenty years, they had eight children: As a marriage gift, the Tsar gave George a group of islands in the Petalioi Gulf, which the family visited on the royal yacht Amphitrite. George later purchased a country estate, Tatoi, north of Athens, and on Corfu he built a summer villa called Mon Repos. George developed Tatoi, building roads and planting grapes for making his own wine, Chateau Décélie. Intent on not letting his subjects know that he missed Denmark, he discreetly maintained a dairy at his palace at Tatoi, 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 two or three times before they weighed anchor. When alone with his wife, George usually conversed in German. Their children were taught English by their nannies, and when talking with his children he therefore spoke mainly English.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1864
    Age 18
    On 28 November 1864, he took the oath to defend the new constitution, which created a unicameral assembly (Vouli) with representatives elected by direct, secret, universal male suffrage, a first in modern Europe.
    More Details Hide Details A constitutional monarchy 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 (eventually King Edward VII of the United Kingdom), and sought his help in defusing the recurring and contentious issue of Crete, an overwhelmingly Greek island that remained under Ottoman Turk 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 Greek port Piraeus to dissuade Greek irredentism during the Crimean War. During the Cretan Revolt (1866–1869), the Prince of Wales sought the support of British Foreign Secretary Lord Derby to intervene in Crete on behalf of Greece. Ultimately, the Great Powers did not intervene and the Ottomans put down the rebellion.
    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, 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".
    More Details Hide Details 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.
    From May 1864, George undertook a tour of the Peloponnese, through Corinth, Argos, Tripolitsa, Sparta, and Kalamata, where he embarked on the frigate Hellas.
    More Details Hide Details Proceeding northwards along the coast accompanied by British, French and Russian naval vessels, the Hellas reached Corfu on 6 June, for the ceremonial handover of the Ionian Islands by the British High Commissioner, Sir Henry Storks.
  • 1863
    Age 17
    He arrived in Athens on 30 October 1863, after docking at Piraeus the previous day.
    More Details Hide Details He was determined not to make the mistakes of his predecessor, so he quickly learned Greek. 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 by mending 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, back to Denmark with the words, "I will not allow any interference with the conduct of my government". Another adviser, Count Wilhelm Sponneck, became unpopular for advocating a policy of disarmament and tactlessly questioning the descent of modern Greeks from classical antecedents. Like Julius, he was dispatched back to Denmark.
    Aged only 17, he was elected King of the Hellenes on 30 March 1863 by the Greek National Assembly under the regnal name of George I. Paradoxically, he ascended a royal throne before his father, who became King of Denmark on 15 November the same year.
    More Details Hide Details There were two significant differences between George's elevation and that of his predecessor, Otto. First, he was acclaimed unanimously by the Greek Assembly, rather than imposed on the people by foreign powers. Second, he was proclaimed "King of the Hellenes" instead of "King of Greece", which had been Otto's style. His ceremonial enthronement in Copenhagen on 6 June was attended by a delegation of Greeks led by First Admiral and Prime Minister Constantine Kanaris. Frederick VII awarded George the Order of the Elephant, and it was announced that the British government would cede the Ionian Islands to Greece in honor of the new monarch. The new 17-year-old king toured Saint Petersburg, London and Paris before departing for Greece from the French port of Toulon on 22 October aboard the Greek flagship Hellas.
  • 1862
    Age 16
    Following the overthrow of the Bavarian-born King Otto of Greece in October 1862, the Greek people had rejected Otto's brother and designated successor Leopold, although they still favored a monarchy rather than a republic.
    More Details Hide Details Many Greeks, seeking closer ties to the pre-eminent world power, Great Britain, rallied around Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, second son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. British Foreign Minister Lord Palmerston believed that the Greeks were "panting for increase in territory", hoping for a gift of the Ionian Islands, which were then a British protectorate. The London Conference of 1832, 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 in which Prince Alfred received over 95% of the 240,000 votes. There were 93 votes for a Republic and 6 for a Greek. King Otto received one vote. With Prince Alfred's exclusion, the search began for an alternative candidate. The French favored Henri d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale, while the British proposed Queen Victoria's brother-in-law Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg, her nephew Prince Leiningen, and Archduke Maximilian of Austria, among others. Eventually, the Greeks and Great Powers winnowed their choice to Prince William of Denmark, who had received 6 votes in the plebiscite.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1852
    Age 6
    Although he was of royal blood, his family was relatively obscure and lived a comparatively normal life by royal standards. In 1852, however, George's father was designated the heir presumptive to the childless King Frederick VII of Denmark, and the family became princes and princesses of Denmark.
    More Details Hide Details George's siblings were Frederick (who succeeded their father as King of Denmark), Alexandra (who became queen consort of Edward VII of the United Kingdom and the mother of King George V), Dagmar (who, as Empress Maria Feodorovna, was consort of Alexander III of Russia and the mother of Tsar Nicholas II), Thyra (who married Prince Ernest Augustus, 3rd Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale) and Valdemar. George's mother tongue was Danish, with English as a second language. He was also taught French and German. He embarked on a career in the Royal Danish Navy, and enrolled as a naval cadet along with his elder brother Frederick. While Frederick was described as "quiet and extremely well-behaved", George was "lively and full of pranks".
  • 1845
    Born
    Born on December 24, 1845.
    More Details Hide Details
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
All data offered is derived from public sources. Spokeo does not verify or evaluate each piece of data, and makes no warranties or guarantees about any of the information offered. Spokeo does not possess or have access to secure or private financial information. Spokeo is not a consumer reporting agency and does not offer consumer reports. None of the information offered by Spokeo is to be considered for purposes of determining any entity or person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing, or for any other purposes covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)