The first Greek civilization: from the 16th century BC

The discovery that Linear b is a Greek script places Mycenae at the head of the story of Greek civilization. Its right to this place of honour is reinforced in legend and literature. The supposed occupants of the Mycenaean palaces are the heroes of Homer's iliad.

Archaeology reveals the rulers of these early Greeks to have been as proud and warlike as Homer suggests.

Their fortress palaces are protected by walls of stone blocks, so large that only giants would seem capable of heaving them into place. This style of architecture has been appropriately named Cyclopean, after the Cyclopes (a race of one-eyed giants encountered by Odysseus in the Odyssey). The walls at Tiryns, said in Greek legend to have built by the Cyclopes for the legendary king Proteus, provide the most striking example.

At Mycenae it is the gateway through the walls which proclaims power, with two great lions standing above the massive lintel.

Royal burials at Mycenae add to the impression of a powerful military society. The tombs of the 16th century (known as 'shaft graves' because the burial is at the bottom of a deep shaft) contain a profusion of bronze swords and daggers, of a kind new to the region, together with much gold treasure, including death masks of the kings.

By the 14th century the graves themselves become more in keeping with the status of their occupants, with the development of the tholos or 'beehive' style of tomb. The most impressive is the so-called Treasury of Atreus at Mycenae, with its high domed inner chamber (independently pioneered in Neolithic Western europe 2500 years previously).

The earliest known suit of armour comes from a Mycenaean tomb, at Dendra. The helmet is a pointed cap, cunningly shaped from slices of boar's tusk. Bronze cheek flaps are suspended from it, reaching down to a complete circle of bronze around the neck. Curving sheets of bronze cover the shoulders. Beneath them there is a breast plate, and then three more circles of bronze plate, suspended one from the other, to form a semi-flexible skirt down to the thighs. Greaves, or shinpads of bronze, complete the armour.

The Mycenaean warrior's weapons are a bronze sword and a bronze-tipped spear. His shield is of stiff leather on a wooden frame. Similar weapons are used, several centuries later, by the Greek Hoplites.

Trade and conquest: 13th - 12th century BC

By the 13th century Mycenaean rulers control to varying degrees the whole of the Peloponnese, together with the eastern side of mainland Greece as far north as Mount Olympus, the large islands of Crete and Rhodes and many smaller islands. This is indeed a civilization which spreads around and through most of the Aegean.

Mycenaeans trade the length of the Mediterranean, from the traditional markets of the eastern coasts to new ones as far away as Spain in the west. They also have long-range trading contacts with Neolithic societies in the interior of Europe.

In the latter half of the 13th century, according to well-established oral tradition, the rulers of Mycenaean Greece combine forces to assault a rich city on the other side of the Aegean Sea. The city is Troy. Some four centuries later the oral tradition will be written down as the iliad.

In Homer's poem it takes many years before Troy is finally subdued. If there is truth in this, the war perhaps fatally weakens the Greeks. Certainly archaeology reveals that the successful Mycenaean civilization comes to an abrupt end not very much later - in about 1200 BC.

The sudden destruction of Mycenaean palaces in Greece is part of a wider pattern of chaos in the eastern Mediterranean. As far away as Egypt, the pharaohs fight off invasion by raiders whom they describe as people 'from the sea'. It is a mystery, then as now, exactly where these predators come from.

The most likely answer is the southern and western coasts of Anatolia. The rulers of Anatolia, the Hittites, are among their victims. So also are the communities of the eastern Mediterranean, where some of the Sea Peoples settle - to become known as the Philistines.

Dorians and Ionians

Doric and Ionic: from the 12th century BC

In muted form Mycenaean Greece survives this first assault. But it suffers a final blow later in the 12th century at the hands of the Dorians - northern tribesmen, as yet uncivilized, who speak the Doric dialect of Greek. The Dorians move south from Macedonia and roam through the Peloponnese. They have the advantage of iron technology, which helps them to overwhelm the Bronze Age Mycenaeans.

The Dorian incursion plunges Greece into a period usually referred to as a dark age. But Dorian military traditions survive to play a profound part in the heyday of classical Greece. The ruthlessly efficient Spartans will claim the Dorians as their ancestors, and model themselves upon them.

The rival tradition in classical Greece is linked with Athens, an outpost of Mycenaean culture. Athens successfully resists the Dorians and becomes something of a place of refuge for those fleeing the invaders.

With the encouragement of Athens, from about 900 BC, non-Dorian Greeks migrate to form colonies on the west coast of Anatolia. These colonies eventually merge to form Ionia. In subsequent centuries Ionia, with Athens, becomes a cradle of the classical Greek civilization. So there is a genuine continuity from Mycenae. It is reflected in the romantic idea of Mycenaean Greeks expressed by Homer - himself probably a native of Ionia.

The power of the Peloponnese: 13th - 9th century BC

The most famous of the Greek heroes in the Iliad are chieftains of the Peloponnese. They rule either coastal valleys or offshore islands. Progressing clockwise on the map, Ajax brings ships and men to Troy from Samos, Agamemnon from Corinth and Mycenae, Diomedes from Tiryns, Menelaus from Sparta, Nestor from Pylos and Odysseus from Ithaca. Contingents come from other similar regions all over Greece, but they are led by less prominent figures (Menestheus, for example, brings the Athenians).

This is an accurate reflection of two historical facts. Mycenaean power is centred in the Peloponnese. And the geography of Greece favours small self-contained political units.

The rich Peloponnese has been the main target of the Dorian invaders, whose depredations lead to two centuries of anarchy in the peninsula. But by the 9th century the Dorians are establishing their own stable communities.

Foremost among these are Sparta in the south and Corinth in the north. Sparta develops a militaristic slave society of a kind which has made it one of the famous oddities of world history. Corinth, with seafaring advantages from its position astride an isthmus, contributes greatly to an important strand in Greek history - the planting of overseas colonies.

Greek colonies overseas: 8th - 7th century BC

One of several colonies founded by Corinth in the 8th century BC is Syracuse, in Sicily. In the following century Byzantium, the most historic of all Greek colonies, is founded by Corinth's neighbour, the Dorian state of Megara.

But the most energetic Greek colonists are the Ionians, sailing from both the mainland and from Asia Minor. Settlers from Chalcis and Eretria are the first Greeks in Sicily (at Naxos) and in mainland Italy (Cumae and Naples). Greeks from Phocaea, in Asia Minor, establish a colony on the coast of France, at Marseilles, by about 600 BC.

Threats from the east: 7th - 6th century BC

The shores of the Black Sea, a richly fertile region close to the Aegean, are an early focus for Greek settlement. Miletus, the main sea power of Asia Minor, founds some sixty cities on the Hellespont, the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.

The impulse to establish Greek colonies derives partly from the desire for trade but also from population pressure. In both Greece and Asia Minor the easiest way of expanding from coastal valleys is outwards, by sea. In Asia Minor, from the 7th century, a large and aggressive neighbour, Lydia, gives added reason for restlessness.

Lydia emerges in the 7th century BC as a rich and powerful state in the interior of Anatolia, with its capital at Sardis. The last king of Lydia, Croesus, has survived in popular memory as a man of legendary wealth (he is the first ruler in history to mint Coins of gold and silver).

The Lydians raid into Ionia, with increasing success. By the mid-6th century Croesus controls Ephesus and many other Greek cities in Asia Minor. But in 546 he is defeated by a greater conqueror from the east, Cyrus. Within a year or two the Persian empire has engulfed Ionia. Greek civilization is confronted with its defining challenge.

Classical Greece

The Greek identity: from the 8th century BC

The Persian defeat of Ionia comes at a time when the outlines of classical Greece are emerging from the mists of prehistory.

The Greeks are increasingly conscious of themselves as a special group of people, linked by the shared language which distinguishes them from the barbarians (an Indo-european word common to both Greek and Sanskrit, imitating the sound of incomprehensible strangers who seem to be babbling 'baa-baa').

The link between all Greeks, wherever they may be, has been strengthened in the 8th century by the development of the Greek Alphabet. Writing heightens the awareness of a Greek identity - for example through the Homeric epics which begin the great tradition of Greek literature.

Religion also is a bond. The Greek communities have local gods, but there is a central pantheon shared by all. Two shrines to Apollo, in particular, bring worshippers from far and wide. One is on the island of Delos (considered the central island of the Aegean) and the other is at Delphi, which goes one step better. It is believed to be the centre of the world. A stone called the omphalos ('navel') marks the actual spot.

The same spirit of coming together, in an essentially Greek gathering, is expressed in the athletic contests held every four years at Olympia. This ability to identify with each other, in a bond against barbarians, enables the Greeks to triumph - against all the odds - when threatened by the might of Persia in the 5th century BC.

But there is another side to the coin. The races in the Olympic games are bitterly contested between athletes representing their own city or state. This underlying rivalry contributes in the 5th century to a Greek failure as significant as the success against the Persians. The internal feud known as the Peloponnesian war inflicts grievous damage on the whole of Greece.

All Greeks identify, above all, with the place of which they are a citizen. This place is their polis, a Greek word with several meanings: the city as a place; the city and its supporting countryside as a political unit (the word 'political' derives from polis); and the city as a collection of living citizens.

With these complex associations, polis is usually translated into English as a 'city-state'.

Government and the city-state: from the 8th century BC

Citizenship, all-important in Greek life, is restricted to a small proportion of the people living in a city-state. Neither women nor children can be citizens. Nor can Slaves, who form much of the work force throughout Greece.

Citizens are free male adults. They take a passionate interest in the affairs of their city-state, effectively inventing the art of politics as they violently argue the merits of three rival forms of government. One extreme is the rule of a single all-powerful tyrant; then there is the middle ground of oligarchy, or rule by a few; and finally the radical solution of Democracy, in which power is shared by all the citizens.

The tradition from which classical Greece develops is the Homeric one of a feudal society, with each region ruled by a king or prince backed up by an aristocracy of nobles. In Greece's dark ages this often degenerates into a lawless world of rival clans, whose chieftains fight each other for land and power.

By the 7th century stability is returning to most parts of Greece, and with it prosperity. A new class acquires wealth, and military strength - through providing the Hoplites who are the mainstay of any Greek army. This new class, impatient with the old aristocracy, is ready for power.

A frequent event in the Greek city-states of the 7th and 6th centuries is the seizing of power by individual members of this class. These men rise on the grievances of others like themselves. But they rule with a personal authority as absolute as that of the kings whom they replace.

The Greek word for such a man, coming to power by a military coup, is turannos, a tyrant. It has not yet acquired its later brutal and despotic connotation. The tyrants of many Greek city-states improve the methods of government. But on the whole they fail to establish dynasties. Their authority dies with them.

Sparta and Athens: 5th century BC

By the 5th century the days of the tyrants are over. The battlefield of Greek politics is cleared for a dispute between Oligarchy and democracy. The struggle is a long one, though in many ways it is merely a reflection of a broader conflict between rival alliances.

The two most powerful states, Sparta and Athens, become associated respectively with Oligarchy and democracy. Any group scheming to replace an oligarchy will appeal to Athens for help. Similarly the opposition in a democracy will look to Sparta.

In 480 the threat from Persia brings Sparta and Athens together, with most of the other city-states of mainland Greece, in a rare show of unity. During the Greco-persian wars the leading position of Sparta is acknowledged by all.

By the time the Persians withdraw at the end of 480, soundly defeated, Sparta's military reputation has been enhanced at Thermopylae and Plataea. The Athenians, by contrast, have lost their city, laid waste by the Persians. Yet on balance it is the Athenians who emerge stronger. The navy which routs the enemy at Salamis is largely theirs. And it is becoming evident that control of the Aegean Sea is the best defence against Persia.

The Delian League: from 478 BC

A shift in the balance of power between Athens and Sparta is emphasized in 478, when representatives of Athens and other Aegean states meet on the island of Delos to form a coalition, subsequently known as the Delian League. Members will subscribe to a common fleet, either by contributing ships and crews or in a minority of cases by a tribute of money. One of the aims is to liberate the Greek territories held by Persia on the east coast of the Aegean.

Sparta is not interested in membership, having little in the way of a fleet. So Athens is unmistakably the leader of this new Greek alliance.

In its early years the Delian League grows in strength, achieving several significant victories against Persia. This in itself is alarming to Sparta. Even more so is the way Athens begins to treat the League as an Athenian empire, with its fleet at the automatic disposal of Athens.

The behaviour of Athens towards its supposedly equal allies is soon that of an imperial bully. States which attempt to bow out of the league are forcibly retained. Annual subscriptions are demanded instead of ships. Most significant of all, in about 454 the accumulated funds of the League are transferred from Delos to Athens.

To make matters even more alarming for Sparta, Athens is now once again a strongly walled city. After the Persian destruction of the city, in 480, Themistocles makes a priority of building new walls - against strong protests from Sparta.

Sparta herself has no city walls. In the supposed interests of peace, the Spartans now argue that all Greek cities should dismantle their walls.

Athens goes to the other extreme. In addition to building new city walls, the Athenians join their city for the first time to the harbour at Piraeus, 5 miles (8km) to the southwest. The famous Long Walls from the city to the coast are begun in 461 and are largely completed by 457.

With the most powerful navy in Greece, and a fortified seaside zone around their capital extending to several square miles, the Athenians are unmistakably presenting themselves as the dominant power of the region.

Build-up to the First Peloponnesian War: 478-460 BC

Sparta is having difficulty in retaining the loyalty of the members of its own Peloponnesian League, several of whom adopt democratic governments hostile in principle to the Spartan oligarchy.

Sparta's troubles are compounded by a devastating earthquake in 464. Indirectly it brings to a head the simmering hostilities between Sparta and Athens.

The earthquake destroys much of the city of Sparta and kills many Spartiates - the Greek term for Sparta's warrior citizens. The Helots seize the opportunity to rise in revolt. The Spartans manage to contain the rebels in the region of Mount Ithome, in Messenia, but they lack the strength to defeat them. They appeal to their allies for help.

Athens, at this stage technically an ally of Sparta, is among the city-states which send an army.

Instead of welcoming this Athenian support, the Spartans send the soldiers back to Athens without involving them in the campaign. The precise reason is not known, but is probably political. The decision follows the news that Athens is in the process of introducing a more Radical democracy, a measure profoundly offensive to aristocratic Sparta. The episode is interpreted as a snub by the Athenians, who are constitutionally inclined to distrust Sparta.

Soon after this event Athens makes provocative alliances with two city-states opposed to Sparta. Open hostility breaks out in 460, the year commonly taken as the start of the First Peloponnesian War.

Mutual destruction: 5th - 4th century BC

The war is spasmodic and has a built-in element of stalemate. Athens tends to win battles at sea; Sparta and her allies are stronger on land. In 446 a Thirty Year Treaty is agreed, in principle safeguarding the status quo. Sparta recognizes the Delian League, which has by now unmistakably evolved into an Athenian empire. Athens, in turn, will not take steps to diminish the Peloponnesian League.

The peace makes possible the heyday of Athens under pericles, but it lasts for only half its intended thirty years. Athens is unable to resist interfering in Peloponnesian affairs. Amid recriminations as to which side has broken the treaty first, war resumes in 431 BC.

The war continues in fits and starts for more than twenty years. Neither side establishes a clear advantage until, from 414, the Persians intervene on the Spartan side. By 404 the Athenian fleet has been destroyed, and a punitive peace treaty is imposed on Athens. Sparta is once again the undisputed leader of the Greek city-states.

For more than a century Greece has been torn by lethal squabbles as cities change sides, betray treaties, make surprise attacks on each other, impose new forms of government or encourage treachery. The Greek invention of politics seems like the poison in the brew. This has been a century of political intrigue elevated to the status of war.

Sparta, from 404 BC, has the opportunity and the strength to impose some sort of unity on Greece, but her hidebound social structure is ill-equipped to provide the necessary leadership.

Instead Athens recovers sufficient prestige to put together, in 377, a revised version of the Delian League. This alliance proves strong enough to defeat the Spartan navy off Naxos in 376. A few years later the Spartan army receives a terminal blow when overwhelmed by a smaller number of Thebans, thanks to the revolutionary tactics of Epaminondas, at Leuctra in 371. In 369 Epaminondas liberates Messenia, the neighbouring territory long exploited by the Spartans and the basis of much of Sparta's strength.

Philip and Alexander

The emergence of Macedonia: 356-338 BC

By the mid-century, with the military reputation of Sparta tarnished, Athens is again perceived as the leading Greek city-state.

But the Athenians are slow to respond to a new threat - the remorseless but diplomatically skilful pressure from the north of Philip ii of Macedon. From about 349 the great orator Demosthenes urges his fellow citizens to make a stand against Philip (his series of speeches on the theme become known to history as the Philippics), and in 338 they finally do so. But a joint army from Thebes and Athens is convincingly defeated in that year by Philip at Chaeronaea. Demosthenes delivers the funeral oration for the Athenians who have died in the battle.

Philip follows his victory with a bout of diplomacy, persuading all the Greek cities (except Sparta, which stands proudly aloof) to attend a congress at Corinth, in 337. They enter into a treaty for military cooperation, both defensive and offensive, known as the League of Corinth. Greece is now more nearly united than ever before, even though under duress.

The campaign against Persia: from 336 BC

One of the resolutions of the League of Corinth is to launch a war against Persia, with Philip as commander of the confederate forces. In the following spring (336) an advance guard of 10,000 troops sets off eastwards. But that same summer, at a feast to celebrate the wedding of his daughter, Philip is murdered by one of his courtiers.

The League immediately elects his son, Alexander, in his place as commander. But this degree of unity is short-lived. The Thebans rebel against the League. Alexander storms Thebes in 335 BC, killing 6000. He then puts into effect a stern judgement by the council of the League. Theban territory is divided between its neighbours. The surviving Thebans are enslaved.

This display of ruthless authority enables Alexander to leave Macedonia under the control of a regent, with reasonable confidence that Greece will remain calm during what may prove to be a prolonged absence.

In the spring of 334, still at the age of only twenty-two, Alexander marches east with some 5000 cavalry and 30,000 footsoldiers. There are ancient scores to be settled between Greece and Persia. And they will be settled fast. But first he engages in some romantic tourism, making a pilgrimage to the site of Troy. In a classic Greek ceremony he runs naked to the supposed tomb of Achilles, to place a garland. He is presented with a shield, said to have been dedicated by the Trojans to Athena.

From now on this sacred shield invariably accompanies Alexander into battle. It soon sees action. A short distance to the east of Troy a Persian army awaits the Macedonians. The battle is fought at the river Granicus, with Alexander leading a cavalry charge through the water. The Persians are routed. Many of their troops are Greek mercenaries, of whom thousands are captured. Most of them are killed, but 2000 are sent back to Macedonia in chains to provide slave labour in the mines.

A year later, at Issus, Alexander defeats an army led by the Persian emperor, Darius III. He captures the emperor's mother, wife and children and treats them with every courtesy - a detail which does much for his reputation.

Macedonia after Alexander: 323 - 148 BC

The whole of Greece seems to hold its breath during the astonishing saga of Alexander's conquests in the east. His regent in Macedonia (Antipater, one of his father's most trusted generals) keeps the region calmly under control apart from one brief uprising by Sparta.

But Alexander's death in 323 reopens the floodgates of chaos. Macedonian generals spend the next forty years fighting over the division of his far-flung empire. Closer to home, Greek city-states resume their usual activity of forming military and naval alliances against each other, beginning with an Athenian campaign as early as 323 against the Macedonians.

Macedonia itself, Alexander's homeland, is subject to a succession of violent upheavals. In one of them his mother, Olympias, arrives with an army in 317 BC and kills his half-witted half-brother, Philip III, together with Philip's wife and 100 of his supporters. She loses her own life in the next coup, in the following year.

In 276 a stable dynasty is at last established by descendants of Antigonus, another of Alexander's generals. But its future is relatively short. As the most westerly part of Alexander's empire, Macedonia is the first region to be devoured by its imperial successor. Rome first invades Macedonia in 197 BC. From 148 Macedonia is reduced to the status of a Roman province. Not until the 19th century does it feature prominently again in history.

New empires

Greece and Rome: from the 2nd century BC

Throughout the 3rd century the Greek city-states, in varying coalitions, make frequent and sometimes successful attempts to rid themselves of Macedonian dominance. They recover their freedom for a while after the Roman defeat of Macedonia in 197 BC, when Rome declares that all Greek cities are now free under Roman protection.

It is soon found to be a hollow liberty. A Roman army arrives in 148 to punish regions considered disloyal or hostile. In Epirus seventy towns are destroyed and 150,000 men taken into slavery. In Corinth, even more brutally, the city is razed to the ground, the men are massacred, the women and children enslaved.

Greece languishes under Roman rule. The Roman example may civilize the more primitive Western empire. But Greek civilization loses its vitality in a provincial setting, even though the influence of Greek culture is now spread far and wide in what becomes known as the Hellenistic Age.

Athens and Sparta, as cities of resounding fame, are allowed to keep their independence. Athens, in particular, remains a centre of cultural excellence. It has one of the Roman empire's best universities. Its architecture and sculpture bring tourists from Italy. When Nero wants to prove his artistic tendencies, this is where he comes in AD 66-7. But the throb of Athenian life, in politics, literature or theatre, is a thing of the past.

A new Greek empire: from the 4th century AD

Greece itself, as a district, will never again be the centre of a distinctive culture. But just when the region of the old city states seems in terminal decline, a Greek empire of a new kind emerges which will flourish for more than 1000 years.

In AD 330 the emperor Constantine selects an ancient Greek colony - Byzantium, on the Bosphorus - as the site for his new capital. Athens will from now on lie in the shadow of this more spectacular neighbour to the east, under its new name of Consantinople. But the Byzantine empire and Greek orthodox christianity are, in the perspective of history, as characteristically Greek as the Parthenon or Athenian democracy.

Greece unsettled: 11th - 13th century AD

The position of Greece, as a central region of the Byzantine empire, remains reasonably secure until the 11th century. At that time, and in the following century, there are troublesome attacks on the Greek coastline from the Normans of sicily. But the real upheaval, throughout the Balkans, comes in the early 13th century after the capture of Constantinople by the fourth crusade.

The invading Latins seize kingdoms in the Balkans. The Venetians establish settlements along the coast. When the Byzantine emperors reassert themselves, later in the century, this becomes a hotly disputed region. It remains so, in the 14th century, with the arrival of new intruders - the Ottoman Turks.

Ottoman empire

Turks in the Balkans: 14th - 15th century AD

The advance of the Ottoman turks into the Balkans begins with their capture of Gallipoli in 1354. By 1389 they are in control of Serbia, and by 1393 of Bulgaria. Greece is evidently their next prey. But a reprieve is provided by the arrival of Timur in Anatolia in 1402.

The Turks are soon back in the Balkans, and the task of defending central Europe against them falls chiefly upon the Hungarians. One Hungarian warrior in particular, Janos Hunyadi, takes the lead.

The victory of Janos Hunyadi at Belgrade in 1456 draws a line beyond which, for the next few decades, the Turks will not push westwards. But the confrontation also has the effect of allowing them virtually a free hand east of that line.

Constantinople, as impregnable as ever, is now securely transformed into Istanbul. From this strategic base it is easy for the Turks to settle unfinished business in the region between the Aegean and Hungary. Greece is occupied in 1458-60, Bosnia in 1463-4. The Balkans, for the next century and a half, win respite only when the Turks are occupied on their eastern frontier.

Greek independence: AD 1821-1832

Early in the 19th century there are several schemes by Greek aristocrats to raise an insurrection for the liberation of Greece. Prominent in these plots are the Ypsilantis family, one of whom - Alexandros Ypsilantis - becomes in 1820 the leader of a group calling itself Philiki Etaireia (Friendly Band).

The Philiki Etaireia has been founded in 1814 by Greeks living in the Russian port of Odessa on the Black Sea. Like the contemporary Carbonari in Italy, their specific purpose is to rid their homeland of foreign oppressors. But these Greeks operate on a grander scale. They intend to march south through the Balkans with Russian support.

In March 1821 Ypsilantis moves with a small force into Moldavia. His expedition fails when he is defeated by the Turks near Bucharest in June, but the attempt has provoked impromptu uprisings in several parts of Greece, beginning on or around March 25 (now Independence Day). The massacre of several thousand Muslims by Greek insurgents is followed by Turkish reprisals, including the hanging of the Greek patriarch in Constantinople.

These chaotic beginnings are typical of the warfare which follows over the next few years. Neither side can gain a lasting advantage. Turkish armies are baffled by guerrilla tactics in the mountainous regions of Greece.

The Greeks complicate their own task by local bouts of civil war, and from 1824 there is another threat. The Turkish sultan demands support from his viceroy in Egypt, Mohammed Ali, who sends his son Ibrahim Pasha with a fleet and army. During 1824 Ibrahim and the Egyptians subdue much of the Peloponnese. But they too, like the Turks, are unable to suppress entirely the Greek resistance.

Meanwhile the struggle is attracting wider attention. As a fight for liberty, by the distant descendants of Europe's First democrats, this is the most romantic of the independence movements now flaring up around the world. In 1823 Lord Byron arrives.

A large loan is raised for the Greek cause in London in 1823 and the new foreign minister, George Canning, adopts a pro-Greek policy. The eventual result is an alliance between Britain, Russia and France - and the arrival in Greek waters in 1827 of fleets of the three nations.

Their immediate purpose is merely to show a glimpse of the iron fist and to threaten an economic blockade. But in October, more by accident than design, they encounter the Egyptian and Turkish fleets at Navarino. In the resulting battle the Muslims lose sixty ships and some 8000 men, with very light allied casualties. It is the main turning point on the route to Greek independence.

The war drags on for another five years (the Turks hold Athens until 1832), during which time there are intense international negotiations as to the nature of an independent Greece.

It is eventually agreed, in the 1832 treaty of Constantinople, that Greece will include the Peloponnese, the mainland up to a line between Árta and Vólos, and the Cylades (but not the other islands of the Aegean, the Ionian islands or Crete). Turkey relinquishes all sovereignty over this area. The king is to be the 17-year-old prince Otto of Bavaria, who delights everyone on his arrival by wearing Greek national costume and spelling his name Othon.

Sections are as yet missing at this point.

Kingdom of Greece

Enlarging the frontiers: AD 1833-1913

Othon, or Otho as he is usually spelt in English, becomes a popular monarch in Greece during the middle years of his reign but it begins and ends badly. At first his Bavarian entourage causes offence, until German troops are finally withdrawn in 1843. Otho's acceptance in that year of a constitution, providing for a lower house and a senate, is followed by some years of calm. But his tendency to relapse into autocracy prompts a coup in 1862, as a result of which Otho is deposed.

The Greeks search for another king among the courts of Europe and select in 1863 a Danish prince. Crowned in 1864 as George I, he is accorded a new title - 'king of the Hellenes'.

George's title, making him the monarch of Greeks everywhere, reflects the main issue of his predecessor's reign and of his own (which lasts until 1913). The borders established in 1833 incorporate only a small part either of historic Greece or of the region now occupied by people speaking Greek. Greek political effort is therefore aimed primarily during the 19th century at bringing other Greek areas within the kingdom, in what is effectively a continuation of the original war of independence.

The first success, involving Corfu and the other Ionian islands, is achieved in tandem with the change of monarch.

These islands have been made a British protectorate under the Treaty of paris in 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars. In subsequent decades Britain consistently maintains that their possession is an essential part of a British peace-keeping role in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless they are placed under Greek rule in 1864 as a concession to mark the beginning of the new reign.

The focus falls next on Crete and Macedonia. Crete, an island under Turkish rule since 1669, has a Greek Christian population with a significant minority of Muslims. Throughout the 19th century there are periods of unrest, with much violence and brutality, as the Christians try to eject the Muslims from their island.

The political aim of many Cretans is union with the kingdom of Greece, but the western powers (always chary of dismantling the Ottoman empire), resist this solution, promoting instead compromise measures of reform and limited autonomy. In the event the Cretan problem is resolved on the back of the much more complex Macedonian question.

Macedonia, unlike Crete, is a geographically inderterminate region and is occupied by Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian Christians in addition to a minority of Muslims. There are constant attempts during the 19th century to extend in this direction the northern border of Greece.

The first gain is made in 1881, in the aftermath of Turkey's defeat by Russia in 1878, when the region of Thessaly is transferred from the Ottoman empire to the kingdom of Greece. But the real enlargement of the Greek borders, effectively bringing within the kingdom all ethnic Greeks, results from the Balkan wars of 1912-13.

By the terms of the treaty of Bucharest, in 1913, Greece wins much of Macedonia, the western part of Thrace including the important port of Salonika, the remaining islands of the Aegean (apart from Rhodes and the Dodecanese) and the great prize of Crete. This satisfactory conclusion is marred by a final act of violence. George I, visiting Salonika, is assassinated there in March 1913 - the fiftieth year of his reign.

World War I: AD 1914-1918

World war i plunges Greece into prolonged political difficulties. The reason is the incompatible allegiances of the new king, Constantine I, and his prime minister, Eleutherios Venizelos. The problem is evident from the first weeks of the war, when the German-educated king, married to the Kaiser's sister, assures his brother-in-law that Greece, although remaining neutral, inclines to the German side. A few days later his prime minister sends a similar message to the Allies.

During 1915 Venizelos is dismissed from office, briefly recalled and then dismissed again. Meanwhile, almost certainly with his permission, British and French forces land on Greek soil (at Salonika) after Bulgaria's entry into the war on the German side.

During 1916 the king's sympathies also begin to have practical results. In May, for example, a powerful Greek fort on the Bulgarian frontier is transferred to German and Bulgarian control. Unable to influence policy in Athens, Venizelos moves with his supporters to Salonika, where he sets up a rival Greek government. Soon recognized by France and Britain, the Venizelos government declares war on Germany and Bulgaria in November 1916.

Increasing pressure (including even a naval blockade) is now put on Constantine by the Allies until, in June 1917, they force his abdication. Venizelos returns to Athens to head a national government, which immediately declares war on the Central powers.

Greece's year or more of warfare on the Allied side (mainly on the Macedonian front) seems at first to bring great gains in the post-war settlements and great personal glory for Venizelos. Particularly pleasing to Greek nationalist sensibilities is the Allied award to Greece, in the Treaty of sèvres, of Turkish territory in eastern Thrace and western Anatolia, including Smyrna (Izmir to the Turks).

These are regions of historic resonance from the days of classical Greece. But recovering them leads the nation into a new and disastrous war, from which Turkey emerges the stronger.

This History is as yet incomplete.
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