Monday, February 6, 2012

Your argument is invalid, so here's a picture of Greece's King George I's awesome mustache

You have to hand it to the men of the nineteenth century, they knew how to grow incredible facial hair. George I, King of the Hellenes (Greeks) was an interesting historical figure. First of all, he wasn't even Greek, but Danish. His predecessor Otto was likewise not Greek, but from Bavaria. Why was Greece ruled by two non-Greeks? Because Britain, France, and Russia said so. You see, Greece had for several hundred years been part of the Ottoman Empire. By the early 19th century, however, the Ottomans had weakened to the extent that the Greeks could rebel and a war of independence was launched.

Eventually The Great Powers - France, Russia, and British Empire - intervened and ended the war in Greece's favor, but at a price. The trio required the Greeks accept a monarchy headed by someone from one of Europe's then multitude of royal families. The first one, Otto, didn't last more than a few decades before he was overthrown in a revolt and abdicated. George I was then chosen to replace him and at the age of 17, became King of the Hellenes. What's interesting is that when Otto was crowned, he was only allowed to use the title "King of Greece" and not "King of the Hellenes" because The Great Powers were worried that that might antagonize the Ottomans. You see, with the former title, you're only establishing yourself as ruler of a country. With the latter, you're establishing yourself as ruler of an entire ethnic group - in this case, the Greeks. Not just the ones living in Greece, but all of the Greeks everywhere, including the sizable population that lived in the Ottoman Empire.

George ruled for fifty years, from 1863 until 1913 when he was assassinated at the onset of the First Balkans War. All of his successors never achieved his long reign and the Greek monarchy was ultimately abolished in 1973.

(Picture via Wikipedia)

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