Otto of Greece (01/06/1815 - 26/07/1867)

Otto of Greece Otto of Greece was a prince of Bavaria and later became the first King of the Kingdom of Greece, under the formal title King of Greece.

His full name was Otto Friedrich Ludwig von Wittelsback and he was born in 1815 in Salzburg, Austria. He received education that was proper for a secondary position in the state hierarchy. In fact, his father wanted him to follow parochial education and commissioned a Catholic priest to teach his son.

In 1830, as the governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias was considered of having pro – Russian beliefs, Britain managed to convince the other Great Powers in the creation of a Greek Kingdom. In 1832, Otto was chosen as King of Greece, after the refusal of Leopold of Saxony, who later became King of the newly formed Kingdom of Belgium. One year later, Otto reached Nafplio and had a warm reception by the locals. As he was still underage, three regents were appointed to govern the country until the King would come of age two years later. During the regency, life in Greece was harsh; the army was led to dissolution, many heroes of the Greek Revolution were arrested and many more were killed. The management was highly bureaucratic, based on foreign systems that did not take into consideration any local peculiarities.

The discontent of the people due to the policies of Otto, as well as the clashing interests of the Great Powers, demanded for the creation of a constitution. However, the discontent grew stronger and eventually led to a rebellion on 3 September 1943. Representatives of the rebels met with Otto, and asked that they gain political rights, rather than Otto’s withdrawal. Otto was forced to oblige; there were elections held in October and November and led to the National Assembly of 1943. Eventually, the Constitution of 1844 was created, but the new government insisted not only on providing amnesty to the heroes of the Revolution, but also on awarding medals. The king, under the pressure of the Great Powers, accepted and the 3rd of September marked the beginning of constitutional monarchy in Greece. Moreover, Orthodoxy became the state religion, although any other religion was also tolerated.

After the Crimean War, the sentiment against the King was on the rise again. Otto decided to visit various Greek cities in order to increase his popularity, but meanwhile, a rebellion broke out. He was forced to abandon Greece in 1862 and moved to Bamberg. The Greek throne was later given to the Danish Prince George, who became King George I of Greece. Some historians mention that Otto loved Greece but not Greeks. He died in 1867, buried in the traditional Greek foustanela costume, as he had asked.

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