On This Day

Eleftherios Venizelos

Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos

Profession: Greek Prime Minister

Nationality:
Greece
Greek

Why Famous: Venizelos first came to prominence in the Cretan uprising, when the population of Crete rose against their Ottoman overlords. When a force of 2,000 Greek soldiers landed on the island in 1897, many Cretan rebels saw this as their opportunity to act. Venizelos was in Crete at the time and hurried to a village where a large group of rebels had assembled. He managed to install himself as their leader and directed them to take the peninsula of Akrotiri from the Turkish forces stationed there. After successfully routing this opposition, Venizelos and his men raised the Greek flag. For this early act, Venizelos was to receive enduring acclaim as a patriot of the highest order.

Following Crete’s union with Greece, Venizelos became Prime Minister. Under his leadership, Greece initiated a broad reorganisation of its constitution, economy, and military.

Greece also doubled its territory after the Second Balkan War, acquiring most of Macedonia, Epirus, Crete, and the Aegean Islands. When the Allies won WWI, Venizelos proved himself an able diplomat during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919.

As a result of his statesmanship, Greece acquired further extensions of its territory into Western Thrace, Eastern Thrace, Smyrna, etc.

Despite these successes, the National Schism continued to be a problem at home. When King Alexander died following a monkey bite in 1920, the following election became a contest between Venizelos and the former king, Constantine.

In a surprise defeat, Venizelos lost power and Constantine returned to Greece that year. While Venizelos would return to power in 1928—during which period he achieved reconciliation with Turkey, and even signed a treaty of friendship between the two nations that had so recently been enemies.

Born: August 11, 1864

Star Sign: Leo

Died: March 18, 1936 (aged 71)

Historical Events

  • 1905-03-24 A group of Cretans dedicated to Crete's union with Greece led by Eleutherios Venizelos, meet at the village of Therisso and proclaim a union in defiance of the Great Powers
  • 1912-03-11 Eleftherios Venizelos, leader of the Liberal Party, wins the Greek elections again.
  • 1914-06-13 Eleftherios Venizelos announces that Greece intends to annex Chios and Mytilene, two large islands off the Turkish coast; Greece and Turkey have been heading towards conflict for months over claims to Aegean islands
  • 1915-03-06 Greek King Constantine I fires premier Venizelos
  • 1916-09-30 Eleftherios Venizelos announces he is forming a Provisional Government in Crete as an alternative to the one in Athens; he is determined to bring Greece into the war on the side of the Allies
  • 1916-10-19 France extends formal recognition of the Provisional Government in Crete proclaimed Eleftherios Venizelos
  • 1916-12-01 There is virtual civil war in Greece as royalists fight Eleftherios Venizelos' Liberal Party, the Allies ensure a Venizelist victory
  • 1917-06-27 Venizelos takes over as Prime Minister of Greece and severs relations with Central Powers, bringing Greece onside with the Allies in WWI
  • 1921-01-16 Eleftherios Venizelos becomes Prime Minister of Greece (4th time)
  • 1932-10-31 Greek government of Venizelos falls

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