THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE GREEK WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE GREEK WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

The Greeks were able to secure their independence. This independence started in 1827 with the signing of the London Treaty by which the Great Powers of Britain, France and Russia agreed that Greece should be self-governing though under the Turkish over lordship. This was re-affirmed by the Treaty of Adrianople of 1829 by which the Turks recognised the Greek independence but with some tribute still paid to the Sultan of Turkey by the Greeks. In 1832, Britain, France and Russia signed another treaty in which the Greek boundary was extended further North and Greece was to become an independent monarchy under the youthful Prince Otto of Bavaria who began his reign in early 1833.




It resulted into heavy losses of lives and property on both sides. The war was characterised by hostility to the extent that the Greeks killed every Muslim they could lay hands on. For example, with only six weeks into the war, about 25,000 Muslims had perished at the hands of the Greek fighters. The Turks also revenged through the Aegean Massacres where they murdered over 27,000 Orthodox Greek Christians, women, men and children alike. On the Easter Day of 1822, the Patriarch (Head) of the Greek Orthodox Church was also hanged outside his Cathedral in Constantinople. Similarly, a lot of properties like arms were destroyed during the war.

The political independence of the Greeks altered or changed the work of the Vienna settlement of 1815.  The Vienna Settlement of 1815 had preserved the status quo in Eastern Europe because Turkish control in Greece was not affected. Therefore, the political map of the Ottoman Empire remained covering Greece as one of its vassal states.  However, the political map was altered or changed by the emergence of an independent Greece.




The war led to the collapse of the Congress System. The system which had remained operational since the Congress of Aix–la–Chapelle of 1818 started weakening when the Greek War of Independence broke out. In fact, the Greek War of Independence became one of the major issues at the Verona Congress of 1822, leading to disagreements between the Great Powers such that Britain, Russia and France chose to support the Greeks while others like Austria and Prussia opposed the Greek revolt. The London Treaty of 1827 also confirmed the collapse of the Congress System as it was signed by Britain, France and Russia but Austria and Prussia refused to sign it. This was the end of the Congress System.

The war however attempted to revive European diplomacy. Realizing that the Greek War of Independence was bound to resume hostilities in Europe especially among the rival continental powers, the European statesmen held a series of conferences with an aim of re-establishing peace in the Balkans. For example in 1827 and 1832, the powers of Britain, France and Russia held conferences in London that accorded (gave) the Greeks independence. Such a mechanism helped to avert a potential war in Europe which would have disturbed European peace.




It also accelerated the disintegration (break up) of the Ottoman Empire. Because of this war, the Greeks were able to break away from the Ottoman Empire and become independent under Prince Otto of Bavaria by 1833. Besides, Mehmet Ali gained hereditary possession of Egypt after breaking away from the Ottoman Empire following the Greek War of Independence. It resulted in to the Syria question or conflict of 1831-1841. During the Greek War of Independence, the Sultan appealed for military help from Mehmet Ali of Egypt which he offered after being promised the territories of Crete, Morea and Damascus for his services. However, the Sultan only rewarded Mehmet Ali by giving him Crete but

refused to hand in over the other territories. In 1831, Mehmet Ali sent his son Ibrahim Pasha with an Egyptian army which included and took over Syria and Ibrahim Pasha even attempted to move towards Constantinople within a year. The conflict was partly resolved in 1833 when Britain and France advised the Sultan to hand over Syria, Damascus and Palestine.

The Greek war of independence forced Britain to drop her policy of non- intervention or isolation so as to safeguard her commercial interests in the Turkish Empire. At the Verona Congress of 1822, Britain had opposed the intervention in the affairs of any country. However, when Russia decided to intervene in Greece, Britain was also forced to intervene. This was because she feared that if Russia gained influence in Greece, she was to destabilize her Mediterranean Sea route to the Far East where she had a commercial empire.




It also resulted into the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi of 1833 signed between Russia and Turkey. This treaty worsened the relations between Britain and Russia because it increased Russian influence in the affairs of the Turkish Empire. In this treaty the two powers pledged military assistance where their peace and security were threatened. By its terms, the Sultan agreed to close the entrance to the Black Sea (Dardanelles and Bosphorous) to the warships of all nations except those of Russia. The treaty was a secret one but Britain eventually got to know about it which greatly annoyed her. For long, it was a British policy to keep Russia as far as possible away from the Mediterranean region because the Russian influence threatened the British commercial interests in the region. Britain therefore became determined to cancel the treaty as soon as possible.

The war also undermined Louis Philippe’s popularity both in and outside France and partly contributed to his downfall in 1848. The way King Louis Philippe handled the Mehmet Ali affair by yielding to the British pressure (to withdraw his support from Mehmet Ali) annoyed the French glory seekers like the Bonapartists. The Chief Minister of France Adolph Thiers wanted war against Britain but Louis Philippe was opposed to the war. Consequently, Adolph Thiers was dismissed. This was a great disappointment to many French men who apparently regarded Louis Philippe as a coward for having succumbed to the British demands. This made him unpopular in his eyes of the glory seekers, thus leading to his down fall in 1848. The aftermath of the war increased hostility between Russia and Britain over the Balkans, leading to the Straits Convention of 1841 and later the Crimean War of 1854-1856. The Straits Convention of 1841 was a treaty basically meant to reverse the terms of the Unkiar Skelessi Treaty of 1833 which was a threat to the British economic and naval interests in the Mediterranean area. It was signed between Britain and Turkey containing an article that Turkey was to close the Straits of Dardanelles and Bosphorous to warships of all nations, in times of peace including those of Russia. The convention therefore was a success for Britain because the threats of Russian expansion had been




checked but it greatly annoyed Russia which had lost influence in the region. This situation of hostility later resulted into the outbreak of the Crimean War of 1854-1856.

The war further exposed the hidden interests of the Great powers of Europe towards the Ottoman Empire. For example, Europe and the world at large realized that Russia’s aim was to break up the Ottoman Empire by supporting the Balkan nationalists like the Greeks which would lead to the development of a strong Russian Empire to the East of Europe. Britain was bent on the protection of her economic interest by preventing as far as possible Russian advance into the Mediterranean Region. It also became clear that France wanted to promote her political and economic interests with in the territories of the Ottoman Empire.

The Greek War of the Independence inspired the outbreak of other liberal and nationalistic uprisings in Europe and hence stirred up the 19th century European liberalism and nationalism. For example within the Ottoman Empire, several nationalistic revolts broke out with an aim of declaring independence. For instance, in 1853 there was a revolt in the Ottoman provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia which partly led to the Crimean War of 1854-1856. Between 1877 and 1878, the Bulgarians, Montenegros and Bosnians also revolted in an attempt to end the Ottoman rule. In 1885, another revolt against the Sultan also occurred in Eastern Rumelia which resulted in the union of this territory with Bulgaria, the very thing the Berlin congress of 1878 had dismantled (destroyed). In 1908, a section of the Turks declared a revolution known as the Young Turks Movement demanding for a constitutional or liberal government and absolute equality between the Christians and Muslims in the Empire. Because the movement was greatly supported by the army, Sultan Abdul-Hamid was forced to grant a parliamentary system, complete freedom of political association and discussion and the return of many exiled politician. In other parts of Europe, the Greek revolt inspired the 1830 liberal and nationalistic revolts in Belgium (the Belgian revolution of 1830), Poland (the Polish revolt of 1830), Italy (the Italian revolts of 1830) and the general 1848 revolutions in Europe.




The war further intensified the persecution of the Christians in the Ottoman Empire. The tension and conflicts between the Christians and Muslims had begun as early as the 15th century when the Ottomans expanded into the Christian dominated areas of Central and Eastern Europe. The Greek revolt, in which many Muslims were executed, simply annoyed the Sultan and compelled him to revenge by withdrawing even the very little privileges he had accorded to some Ottoman Christian subjects. The consequence was that between 1875 and 1878 several Christians in the Ottoman Empire were massacred by the Muslims, many more persecuted and their privileges retracted (withdrawn).

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