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What was so revolutionary about the Greek Revolution? Reinterpreting Greek diplomacy



What was so revolutionary about the Greek Revolution? Reinterpreting Greek diplomacy

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5 February 2021


"The establishment of the Greek nation-state in the early nineteenth century, which inaugurated the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, was the product of the only successive independence movement among the “first wave” of European risings. How did the Greek insurgents manage to prevail over the much more powerful Ottoman army? Was the Greek Revolution different from the revolts in Italy and the Iberian Peninsula, which broke out a few months earlier but were quickly put down? In other words, how did the Greek leaders reconcile the Great Powers of the time to their revolutionary ideas? This paper explores the processes through which the “legitimation” of the Greek revolutionary demands was achieved. It examines the role of the Greek leaders who, coming from the Greek diaspora, were conscious both of the Great Powers’ geopolitical and economic rivalries and of the need to obtain international support. As a consequence, many of the revolutionary proclamations they issued were drafted more with an eye to the philhellene readers rather than to the Greeks, to whom they were supposedly addressed. Within this context, the emphasis on Greek historical national rights not only provided the revolutionary manifesto with influential political arguments, but also resulted in the inauguration of an early nation-building process. Almost ten months after the outbreak of the revolution, the insurgent Greek state had its first provisional constitution, its government and, first and foremost, a definition of its citizenry. By that time, the Greek leaders were eager to invite even a European monarch to their homeland, if he was likely to guarantee its national independence. However, both internationally defined territory and international recognition of its independent status were achieved almost a decade later. Thus, this paper examines the transition from a local upheaval in the southern Balkans to an international political issue."

(Slightly modified abstract from the Initiative 1821-2021 website)

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