Otto becomes the first modern King of Greece.
Otto of Greece (Othon, Vasileus tis Ellados) was made the first modern king of Greece in 1832, under the Convention of London, whereby Greece became a new independent kingdom under the protection of the Great Powers. The second son of the philhellene King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Otto ascended the newly-created throne of Greece while still a minor. His government was run by a three-man regency council made up of Bavarian court officials. Upon reaching his majority, Otto removed the regents when they proved unpopular with the people and he ruled as an absolute monarch. Eventually his subjects’ demands for a constitution proved overwhelming and in the face of an armed insurrection, Otto granted a constitution in 1843.
Throughout his reign, Otto faced political challenges concerning Greece’s financial weakness and the role of the government in the affairs of the church. The politics of Greece of this era was based on affiliations with the three Great Powers, and Otto’s ability to maintain the support of the powers was key to his remaining in power. To remain strong, Otto had to play the interests of each of the Great Powers’ Greek adherents against the others, while not aggravating the Great Powers. When Greece was blockaded by the British Royal Navy in 1850 and again in 1853, to stop Greece from attacking the Ottoman Empire during the Crimean War, Otto’s standing amongst Greeks suffered. As a result, there was an assassination attempt on the Queen and finally, in 1862, Otto was deposed while in the countryside. He died in exile in Bavaria in 1867. He left a legacy of struggle between autocracy and democracy. This struggle has dogged subsequent Greek history. For years, dictatorships and military rule hindered the development of a healthy democracy. A new state needed a clear vision of how it was to be governed, so that good practice could become the established pattern of political life and leadership. Otto, the first King of the modern nation state of Greece, was unable to provide this and as leader of the nation he failed to lay down a solid foundation on which others could build.