Those who do not have the best relations with history think that after it Revolution of 1821 and within a few years, almost everything was working fine in Greece. This, however, is far from the truth. For many years the country tried to stand on its own feet, to find a pace. But difficulties followed one another. It is no coincidence, after all, that just 22 years after the uprising, Greece went bankrupt and was forced to sign a memorandum with its creditors. Yes, they have existed since then. One day like todayhowever, September 3, 1843, was a historic day.
From Revolution to Bankruptcy
It was January 25, 1833 when Othon of Amoustakas arrived in Nafplion in order to take over the Kingdom of Greece. Tortured and afflicted by wars and domestic conflicts, the people wanted stability and thus warmly welcomed him. In the young face of the Bavarian they saw the man who could bring stability to the place which had been disturbed by his assassination Ioannis Kapodistrias.
The “honeymoon”, however, ended all too quickly. It turned out in practice that Othon was simply the man who in a cruel and absolute manner applied in Greece the policies that the Great Powers wanted. The king ruled as an absolute monarch, with no accountability (“monarchy for God’s sake”), and resentment grew.
About 10 years after Otto’s arrival in Greece, the country was unable to meet its loan obligations. In particular, he announced to the three protecting powers (England, France, Russia) that he cannot repay the interest payments on the loan of 60,000,000 francs for the six months that ended on March 1. Thus, Greece will go bankrupt and will be forced to sign a… “memorandum”! At the time, of course, they didn’t call it that, but it was still an unsustainable economic agreement that included a reduction in government spending, salary cuts and dismissals of civil servants, mass demobilization of officers (but not the Bavarians) and the closing of embassies.
It was clear, now, that Othonas could not control the situation and the dissatisfaction against him was growing more and more. It was a given that the conditions had now matured for Greece to have a Constitution. The question had been raised by members of the English and French parties since the time of Kapodistrias. The fighters of 21 as well as the qualifiers were asking for a constitution. The common people were also asking for a constitution, although most of them (simple peasants, without education) did not know exactly what it was. They believed that it could not be worse than Otho’s “mercy of God monarchy”.
This is how the idea of claiming a Constitution was born. As it turned out, in fact, some had not only remained in the ferment but had gone a few steps further after they had worked behind the scenes, so that the right moment would come and Othona would essentially find himself before fait accompli.
From Bankruptcy to Revolution
March 25, 1844 was the right moment for this. Then, for symbolic reasons as is easily understood, the military-political movement was set to break out which would demand from Otto the granting of a Constitution. The movement was the product of a conspiracy of a handful of people: the Cephalonian campaigner and diplomat Andreas Metaxas and Michael Soustos (Russian Party), the Aegian campaigner Andreas Londos (English Party) and the generals Ioannis Makrygiannis and Rigas Palamidis (French Party). Later, military officers were also introduced, such as the colonel of the Cavalry Dimitrios Kallergis, whom the conspirators managed to transfer from Nafplion to Athens, the colonel Spiromelios who was the commander of the Evelpidon School and the colonel Skarvelis who was the commander of the infantry.
The 25th of March, however, proved to be a distant date since already some movements of the Kinetics had been learned in the palace which began to take measures. Thus the manifestation of the movement was hastened and set for September 1st. Finally, those involved were forced to abort their project for a day after General Makrygianni’s house was surrounded by detachments sent there by Othonas. Finally, and unable to wait any longer, late in the evening of September 2, the movement took place.
In the early morning of September 3rd, the Athens Guard, encamped in Monastiraki, mutinied and, led by Dimitrios Kallergis, lined up in the square in front of the palaces (the current Parliament building). At the same time, a crowd led by Ioannis Makrygiannis, who had managed to break the siege at his house, arrived in front of the palaces, shouting “Long live the Constitution».
Othonas was still in his office at that time. An officer of the movements entered the palace and announced to him the revolution of the army. The king sent the Minister of Military to the revolutionaries to officially inform them of their demands, but they… arrested him! It is said that Amalia was the one who told Othon to listen to the kinematics and give them what they ask for.
The king appeared in the fourth window, to the right of the Propylaea, above the monument of the Unknown Soldier and opened a dialogue with Kallergis on horseback, who explained to him that the people and the army demand the immediate convening of a National Assembly to draw up a Constitution. The king tried to buy time and promised the fulfillment of the request the next day as long as they all left the front of the palaces and returned in order to their homes. Kallergis was adamant and demanded the immediate acceptance of the request, while he also demanded the resignation of the government and the formation of a government that would enjoy the trust of the people and the dismissal of the Bavarians from the public administration.
Realizing that he is isolated, Othon, at dawn, was forced to accept the demands of the revolutionaries and at dawn of the same day he signed the necessary decrees for the convening of the National Assembly. The movement, which was bloodless, ended formally around 3 pm, when the gathered crowd dispersed and the soldiers returned to their base in Monastiraki.