Eleftherios Venizelos

Eleftherios Venizelos of Crete

Eleftherios VenizelosEleftherios Venizelos is the greatest politician of modern Greece. He was born in August 1864 in Mournies of Chania but his family were forced to leave the island because it was involved in the revolution against the Turks. He and his family settled in Syros where he went to school.  His father wanted him to become a merchant but the young Eleftherios wanted to study so his father sent him to the University of Athens, where in 1886 he became Doctor of  Law. He then returned to Chania where he began to practice Law and become involved in politics.

When in 1898 England, France, Italy and Russia proclaimed the autonomy of Crete with the High Commissioner Prince George of Greece, Venizelos was appointed Counsellor of Justice. But shortly after he came into political conflict with the prince and was forced to resign. He declared the revolution of 1905 in Therisos in order to remove Prince George from Crete and to unify the island with Greece.

At the start of the 20th century, Venizelos founded and led the Liberal Party and, in the parliamentary elections of 1910, received a big majority. During 1911 - 1915 his Government began some radical changes in all sectors of the administration of the country. With the reorganization of the army, with the Crown Prince Constantine as Field Marshall and the signing of the Balkan Alliance, Greece won the liberation wars of 1912-1913 against the Turks and the Bulgarians.

In 1914, however the Frst World War created a disagreement between Venizelos and King Constantine on whether Greece will take part in the war on the side of the Allies or to remain neutral - and in effect support the Germans.  This conflict led Venizelos being unconstitutionally dismissed by the King of Greece, an act which led to the so-called Schism, aka the division of the Greek population into pro-royalists (Vasilofronesi) and pro-Venizelos (Venizelikoi).  In August 1916 the supporters of Venizelos set up their own state in thessaloniki.  this was supported by the alliance and its aim was to win back some of the lands of Macedonia.  On September 25, 1916 after the abdication of King Constantine, Greece entered the war with the British and French allies against the Germans and the Bulgarians. After the war, on August 10th 1920, Venizelos signed the Treaty of Sevres in Paris. This treaty almost doubled the size of Greece.

 In the elections of 1928 he won the majority with his Liberal  Party  and  ruled until 1932. He made a treaty of friendship with Italy and Serbia, and put together with Kemal, the leader of Turkey, the foundations for friendship between Greeks and Turks..
Venizelos died in Paris, March 17, 1936 , his body was transferred to Chania and now rests in the simple and unadorned tomb in Akrotiri..