History of Greece

Brief history of Greece summarized

A brief and simple overview of the history of magnificent Greece, the cradle of democracy.

Ancient Greece

Stone Age farmers lived in Greece from 7,000 BC. Bronze was then introduced around 3,000 BC

Around the year 2,500 BC a sophisticated society grew up on the island of Crete. It is known as the Minoan civilization. By 1950 BC the inhabitants had invented a form of writing using hieroglyphics. This script is called Linear A.

The Minoans were a civilization of the bronze age. (They made bronze tools and weapons.) Their civilization was at its height from about 1700 BC to 1500 BC However, the Minoan culture declined after 1450 BC We are not sure why, but they may have been conquered by the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece.

Most Minoans lived in small villages and made a living from farming. They grew wheat, barley, grapes, and olives. They raised goats, cattle, sheep, and pigs. Minoan farmers had to give part of their crops to the ruler as a tax.

The Minoans were also a trading people. They traded with Sicily, Cyprus, Egypt, and other parts of the Middle East. The Minoans exported wine, olive oil, wood, and pottery. (Minoan potters made a very thin pottery called Kamares ware.) They also exported jewelry and weapons. Traders imported lead, copper, obsidian, and ivory.

Each Minoan palace was surrounded by a large, unfortified city. The fact that the cities were not fortified showed that life in ancient Crete was peaceful. Perhaps the fact that the Minoans had a large and powerful fleet gave them security.

Around the year 1,600 BC the civilization spread to the Greek mainland. This early Greek civilization is called the Mycenaeans after the city of Mycenae, which was found by the great German archaeologist Schliemann. The Mycenaeans lived in city states. Its palaces were fortified, which shows that life was less calm than in Crete.

The Mycenaeans were also great merchants and their craftsmen worked with gold and silver. However, after 1200 BC the Mycenaean civilization went into decline and by 1100 BC Greece had entered a dark age.

At that time a people called the Dorians conquered the Mycenaean cities. However, the Dorians also introduced iron to Greece. Around 800 BC, a new civilization based on city-states like Athens and Sparta arose in Greece.

In 490 BC Darius, the Persian king led an army into Greece. However, the Persians were crushed at the Battle of Marathon. In 480 the next Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece again, but was completely defeated at the naval battle of Salamis. The following year, the Greeks triumphed at the Battle of Plataea.

In 477 BC Athens formed an alliance of Greek city-states called the Delian League. However, Athens came into conflict with Sparta and they fought a long war in 431-404 BC It was called the Peloponnesian War and it ended in a Spartan victory. However, later Sparta fell out with the city of Thebes.

The Thebans won a great victory at Leuctra in AD 371. For a short time Thebes became the main Greek city. Sparta and Athens joined forces against Thebes in 362. The great Theban general Epaminondas was assassinated and Theban power declined.

Meanwhile, in the north, Macedonian power was growing. In 338 BC Philip of Macedon defeated an alliance of Greeks in battle. He was assassinated in 336 BC but his son Alexander took firm control of Greece.

In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, Greece excelled in architecture, sculpture, and literature. They also produced some of the world’s greatest philosophers and mathematicians. They also gave us the Olympics.

Alexander the Great led an army into what is now Turkey in 334 BC. He crushed the Persians at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC and conquered a vast empire that stretched from Egypt to India. However, Alexander died in 323 BC and his empire was broken. However, Greek culture spread throughout the Middle East.

After Alexander’s death, the Greek cities became independent again. However, it didn’t last long. Rome was a rising power. In 168 BC the Romans defeated Macedonia. In 86 BC they captured Athens. Greece became a province of the Roman Empire known as Achaea.

However, under Roman rule, Greece prospered. During this time Greece converted to Christianity. Saint Paul traveled to Greece in the 1st century AD and afterward Christianity gradually spread throughout the region.

In the year 395 AD the Roman Empire was divided into east and west. The Eastern Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire with its capital at Constantinople.

Byzantine and Ottoman Greece

The great emperor Justinian reigned from 527-565. During his time Roman influences weakened in the Byzantine Empire and Greek influences grew stronger. Justinian tried to keep Latin as the official language of the empire, for which he became known as the “last of the Romans “.

Justinian was also famous for building. The largest building from it was the Church of Saint Sophia in Constantinople, which was built between 532 and 538. Apart from architecture, the other arts also flourished in the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines made great mosaics, frescoes, jewelry, and illuminated manuscripts.

Meanwhile, during the reign of Heraclius (610-641) ties with Western Europe weakened, and Greek finally became the official language of the Byzantine Empire. In 1054 the Eastern Orthodox Church formally separated from the Western Church.

In 1204, when the Crusaders captured Constantinople. However, some parts of the Byzantine Empire remained independent and were ruled by emperors-in-exile. Little by little the emperors in exile recovered territory and in 1261 they recaptured Constantinople. However, the Byzantine Empire never recovered.

Beginning in the late 13th century, Byzantium was threatened by a new people from Central Asia, the Ottoman Turks. Little by little they became stronger and Byzantium was reduced. At the time of Emperor Manuel II (1391-1425) the Byzantine Empire consisted of Constantinople and small parts of Greece and Asia Minor.

However, Constantinople finally fell in 1453 and the Byzantine Empire came to an end.

From the 15th to the early 19th centuries, Greece was ruled by the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Empire was at its height in the 16th century. However, from the end of the 17th century it slowly declined, and by the end of the 18th century nationalism grew in Greece.

At the beginning of the 19th century there were many expatriate Greeks living in Odessa on the Black Sea coast. In 1814 some of them formed the Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends) to fight for independence from Greece. The society soon became widespread in Greece and on 25 March 1821 a rebellion broke out against the Turks.

European powers eventually intervened, and a French, British, and Russian fleet destroyed the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Navarino in 1827. Greece finally became independent in 1829.

Modern Greece

Britain, France, and Russia decided that Greece should be a monarchy, and sent Prince Otto of Bavaria. He became King of Greece in 1833. In 1863 he was replaced by a Dane who became King George I. In 1893 the Corinth Canal opened between the Ionian and Aegean seas. In 1896 the Olympic Games were revived.

Meanwhile, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries many Greeks emigrated to the United States.

In 1912, Greece, with its allies Bulgaria and Serbia, fought the First Balkan War against Turkey. Greece and Serbia argued with Bulgaria and fought against it in the Second Balkan War in 1913. Greece then kept its greatly enlarged territory.

When World War I began in 1914, Greece remained neutral at first, but in 1917 it joined the Allies. In 1922 the Greeks captured Smyrna in Turkey. Greece and Turkey made peace with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. However, there was a huge population exchange afterwards, with hundreds of thousands of Turks leaving Greece and over a million Greeks leaving Turkey.

In 1924 Greece became a republic, but the king was restored in 1935. Then, in 1936, Prime Minister Metaxas became a virtual dictator of Greece.

On October 28, 1940, the Italians invaded Greece, but were quickly pushed back to Albania. Metaxas refused to allow British troops to land in Greece for fear of provoking Germany, but he died in January 1941 and his successor reversed that decision. The Germans invaded Greece on April 6, 1941.

They captured Athens on April 23. Greece was then occupied by Germans and Italians. The Greeks suffered terribly during World War II and many starved to death. However, communists and non-communists formed resistance groups. The Germans withdrew from Greece in October 1944, and on October 18 a Greek government-in-exile returned to Athens.

However, at the end of 1944 fighting began between communists and non-communists in Greece. The US sent aid to the non-communists and by 1949 they were in control of Greece.

Elections were held in 1952 and during the 1950s and 1960s Greece became more prosperous. However, in 1967 the army staged a coup and introduced a military dictatorship. The army held power in Greece until 1974, when democracy was restored.

In 1981 Greece joined the EU. In 2001, Greece joined the euro. In 2009 Greece entered a serious economic crisis and the future is uncertain. In 2012, unemployment in Greece rose to 25%. Today unemployment is still very high and the economy is stagnant.

Currently, the population of Greece is 10.7 million.

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