The Noemvriana of November–December 1916 was a political dispute, which led to an armed confrontation in Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 between the royal
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

ist government of Greece
Kingdom of Greece
The Kingdom of Greece was a state established in 1832 in the Convention of London by the Great Powers...

 and the Allies
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

 forces over the issue of Greece's neutrality during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


Friction existed between the two sides from the beginning of World War I. The unconditional surrender of Fort Rupel, in May 1916, (a significant military fort in Macedonia) to the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

' forces, mainly composed of Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n troops, was the first event that led to Noemvriana. The Allies feared the possibility of a secret pact between the Greek royalist government and the Central Powers. Such an alliance would endanger the Allied army in Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

 bivouacking there since the end of 1915. Intensive diplomatic negotiations between King Constantine
Constantine I of Greece
Constantine I was King of Greece from 1913 to 1917 and from 1920 to 1922. He was commander-in-chief of the Hellenic Army during the unsuccessful Greco-Turkish War of 1897 and led the Greek forces during the successful Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, in which Greece won Thessaloniki and doubled in...

 and Allied diplomats took place throughout the summer. The king wanted Greece to maintain her neutrality, a position that would favor the Central Powers plans in the Balkans. While the Allies wanted demobilization of the Greek army and the surrender of war materiel equivalent to what was lost at Fort Rupel as a guarantee of Greece's neutrality. By the end of the summer of 1916, the failure of negotiations, along with Bulgarian army attacks against the Greek population in Macedonian, led to a military coup by Venizelists
Venizelism was one of the major political movements in Greece from the 1900s until the mid 1970s.- Ideology :Named after Eleftherios Venizelos, the key characteristics of Venizelism were:*Opposition to Monarchy...

 military officers in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 with the support of the Allies. The Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos was an eminent Greek revolutionary, a prominent and illustrious statesman as well as a charismatic leader in the early 20th century. Elected several times as Prime Minister of Greece and served from 1910 to 1920 and from 1928 to 1932...

, who from the very beginning supported the Allies, established a provisional government in northern Greece. He began forming an army to liberate areas lost to Bulgaria, but this effectively split Greece into two entities.

The inclusion of the Greek army along with Allied forces, as well as the division of Greece, sparked several anti-Allied demonstrations in Athens. In late October, a secret agreement was reached between the king and the Allied diplomats. The pressure from the military advisers forced the king to abandon this agreement. In an attempt to enforce their demands, the Allies landed a small contingent in Athens on . However, it met organized resistance and an armed confrontation took place until a compromise was reached at the end of the day. The day after the Allied contingent evacuated from Athens, a royalist mob began rioting throughout the city, targeting supporters of Venizelos. The rioting continued for three days, and the incident became known as the Noemvriana in Greece, which in the Old Style calendar occurred during the month of November. The incident drove a deep wedge between the Venizelists and the royalists, bringing closer what would become known as the National Schism.

Following Noemvriana, the Allies, determined to remove King Constantine, established a naval blockade to isolate areas which supported the king. After the resignation of the king on 15 June 1917, Greece unified under the leadership of Venizelos and joined World War I on the side of the Allies. The entrance of the Greek army provided the numerical superiority the Allies needed on the Macedonian front
Macedonian front (World War I)
The Macedonian Front resulted from an attempt by the Allied Powers to aid Serbia, in the autumn of 1915, against the combined attack of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. The expedition came too late and in insufficient force to prevent the fall of Serbia, and was complicated by the internal...

. The Allied army shortly thereafter defeated the Central Powers forces in the Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 followed by the liberation of Serbia
Kingdom of Serbia
The Kingdom of Serbia was created when Prince Milan Obrenović, ruler of the Principality of Serbia, was crowned King in 1882. The Principality of Serbia was ruled by the Karađorđevic dynasty from 1817 onwards . The Principality, suzerain to the Porte, had expelled all Ottoman troops by 1867, de...

 and the conclusion of the First World War.

Background: Greece 1914-1916

Greece emerged victorious after the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars
Balkan Wars
The Balkan Wars were two conflicts that took place in the Balkans in south-eastern Europe in 1912 and 1913.By the early 20th century, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, the countries of the Balkan League, had achieved their independence from the Ottoman Empire, but large parts of their ethnic...

, with her territory almost doubled. The unstable international political climate of the early 20th century placed Greece in a difficult position. The ownership of the Greek occupied eastern Aegean islands was contested by the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 which claimed them as their own. In the north, Bulgaria
Kingdom of Bulgaria
The Kingdom of Bulgaria was established as an independent state when the Principality of Bulgaria, an Ottoman vassal, officially proclaimed itself independent on October 5, 1908 . This move also formalised the annexation of the Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia, which had been under the control...

, defeated in the Second Balkan War
Second Balkan War
The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on 29 June 1913. Bulgaria had a prewar agreement about the division of region of Macedonia...

, was engineering revanchist strategies against Greece and Serbia. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Serbia precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia. This caused Germany and Austria-Hungary, and countries allied with Serbia (the Triple Entente Powers) to declare war on each other, starting World War I.

Greece, like Bulgaria, initially maintained neutrality during the conflict. The Greek leadership was divided between the Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, who supported Great Britain
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 on the side of the Allies and King Constantine who was educated in Germany and married to the Kaiser
Kaiser is the German title meaning "Emperor", with Kaiserin being the female equivalent, "Empress". Like the Russian Czar it is directly derived from the Latin Emperors' title of Caesar, which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar,...

's sister. The king admired Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n militarism and was anticipating a quick German victory. The king wanted Greece to remain neutral in the conflict, a strategy favorable to Germany and the Central Powers.

In early 1915, Britain offered Greece "territorial concessions in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

" if it would participate in the upcoming Gallipoli Campaign. Venizelos supported this idea, while the king and his military advisers opposed it. Dismayed at the king's opposition, the prime minister resigned on 21 February 1915. A few months later, Venizelos' Liberal Party
Liberal Party (Greece)
The Liberal Party was one of the major Greek political parties of the early 20th century.- History :Founded as the Xipoliton party in Crete , its early leaders were Kostis Mitsotakis and Eleftherios Venizelos...

 won the May elections, and formed a new government. When Bulgaria mobilized against Serbia in September 1915, Venizelos ordered a Greek counter-mobilization and asked the Anglo-French army to defend Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 and aid Serbia. The Allies, led by General Maurice Sarrail
Maurice Sarrail
Maurice-Paul-Emmanuel Sarrail was a French general of the First World War. Sarrail endeared himself to the political elite of the Third Republic through his openly socialist views, all the more conspicuous in contrast to the Catholics, conservatives and monarchists who dominated the French Army...

, began landing on 22 September 1915 and entrenched around the city. The Greek parliament gave Venizelos a vote of confidence to help Serbia, yet the king unconstitutionally dismissed the prime minister along with the parliament. This unlawful order escalated the animosity between the king and Venizelos as well as their loyal followers. The Liberals boycotted the December elections.

Surrender of Fort Rupel

On 9 May 1916, the Chief of the General Staff of the Central Powers, Erich von Falkenhayn
Erich von Falkenhayn
Erich von Falkenhayn was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. He became a military writer after World War I.-Early life:...

 informed Athens of the imminent advance of German-Bulgarian forces. In reply, Athens minimized the importance of General Sarrail's movements and requested Falkenhayn to change his strategy. On 23 May, Falkenhayn guaranteed that the territorial integrity of Greece and the rights of its citizens would be respected. On 26 May, despite an official protest by the Greek government, 25,000 Bulgarian soldiers led by German cavalry invaded Greece. The Greek forces at Fort Rupel surrendered. The German Supreme Command was concerned about Allied General Sarrail's movements and Falkenhayn was ordered to occupy strategic positions inside Greek territory, specifically Fort Rupel. Despite the assurances of Falkenhayn, Bulgarian soldiers immediately began to forcibly centralize the Greek population into large cities, namely Serres
Serres is a city in Greece, seat of the Serres prefecture.Serres may also refer to:Places:* Serres, Germany, a part of Wiernsheim in Baden-WürttembergIn France:* Serres, Aude in the Aude département...

, Drama
Drama, Greece
Drama , the ancient Drabescus , is a town and municipality in northeastern Greece. Drama is the capital of the peripheral unit of Drama which is part of the East Macedonia and Thrace periphery. The town is the economic center of the municipality , which in turn comprises 53.5 percent of the...

 and Kavala
Kavala , is the second largest city in northern Greece, the principal seaport of eastern Macedonia and the capital of Kavala peripheral unit. It is situated on the Bay of Kavala, across from the island of Thasos...

. German attempts to restrain Bulgarian territorial ambitions were partially successful, yet on 4 September, Kavala was occupied by the Bulgarian army.

Reactions of Venizelos and the Allies

The surrender of Fort Rupel caused the Allies to believe that the German-Bulgarian advance was a result of a secret agreement between Athens and the Central Powers, as they were assured that no Bulgarian force would invade Greek territory. The Allies saw this as a violation of Greek neutrality and a disturbance in the balance of power in the Balkans. The Allied press, especially in France
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

, demanded swift military action against Greece to protect the Allied forces in Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

. For Venizelos and his supporters, the surrender of Fort Rupel signaled the loss of Greek Macedonia. On 29 May, Venizelos proposed to Sir Francis Elliot (senior British diplomat in Athens) and Jean Guillemin (senior French diplomat in Athens) that he and General Panagiotis Danglis
Panagiotis Danglis
Panagiotis Danglis was a Greek general of the Hellenic Army and a politician.He was born in Agrinio in 1853, graduated from the Scholi Evelpidon Officer Academy in 1878 as a Second Lieutenant of Artillery, and later extended his studies for another year in Belgium...

 should establish a provisional government in Thessaloniki to mobilize the Greek army to repel the Bulgarians. Venizelos pledged that the army would not move against the king and the royal family. According to Elliot's report, Venizelos hoped that the"success of his action and pressure of the public opinion might at the last moment convert His Majesty". The proposal had French support. However it met with strong opposition from Britain
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, forcing Venizelos to abandon the plan.

On 9 June the Allies held a conference in London to examine the reasons behind the quick surrender of Fort Rupel and favored a complete demobilization of the Greek army and navy. King Constantine anticipated the results of the conference and ordered a partial demobilization on 8 June. The tension between the royal government and the Allies continued since 'anti-Allied activities' in Athens were ignored by the Greek Government. On 12–13 June, a mob destroyed Venizelist newspapers: Nea Ellas, Patris, Ethnos, and Estia
Estia is a national newspaper published daily in Athens, Greece. It is generally considered a broadsheet of a conservative, right-wing political alignment, and an advocate of free-market policies...

. The mob proceeded to the British Embassy as police idly stood by without interfering. This incident gave France the political ammunition to persuade Britain that more extreme measures were needed. On 17 June, the London conference decided "that it was absolutely necessary to do something to bring the king of Greece and his Government to their senses".

Military coup of Thessaloniki

On 27 August 1916, during a demonstration in Athens, Venizelos explained his disagreements with the king's policies. Venizelos said that the king became a victim of his advisers, whose aims were to destroy the goals of the Goudi revolution. Additionally, Venizelos appealed to the king to pursue a policy of benevolence and true neutrality. Venizelos ended his speech by stating that "if this proposal does not lead to success then there are other means to protect the country from complete catastrophe". The king refused to accept any compromise including meeting with a committee sent by Venizelos.

Two days later, army officers loyal to Venizelos organized a military coup in Thessaloniki and proclaimed the "Provisional Government of National Defence
Movement of National Defence
The Movement of National Defence was an uprising by Venizelist officers of the Hellenic Army in Thessaloniki in August 1916 against the royal government in Athens. It led to the establishment of a separate, Venizelist Greek government in the north of the country, which entered the First World...

". Despite the support of the army, the provisional government was not officially recognized by Venizelos nor the Allied powers. Venizelos criticized this course of action, noting that without the support of the Allied army, the movement would fail immediately. This further polarized the population between the royalists
Monarchism is the advocacy of the establishment, preservation, or restoration of a monarchy as a form of government in a nation. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government out of principle, independent from the person, the Monarch.In this system, the Monarch may be the...

 (also known as anti-Venizelists), and Venizelists. The newly founded separate "provisional state" included Northern Greece, Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 and the Aegean Islands
Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...

. The "New Lands", won during the Balkan Wars, broadly supported Venizelos, while the "Old Greece" was mostly pro-royalist. Venizelos, Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis
Pavlos Kountouriotis
Pavlos Kountouriotis was a Greek admiral and naval hero during the Balkan Wars and the first and third President of the Second Hellenic Republic.-Family Background:The Kountouriotes was a prominent Arvanite family from the island of Hydra...

 and General Panagiotis Danglis
Panagiotis Danglis
Panagiotis Danglis was a Greek general of the Hellenic Army and a politician.He was born in Agrinio in 1853, graduated from the Scholi Evelpidon Officer Academy in 1878 as a Second Lieutenant of Artillery, and later extended his studies for another year in Belgium...

 formed a triumvirate provisional government and on 9 October moved to Thessaloniki to assumed command of the National Defense. They directed Greek participation in the Allied war effort in direct conflict with the royal wishes in Athens. According to a British diplomat:
From the very beginnings, Venizelos continued his appeals to the king to join forces to jointly liberate Macedonia. Venizelos wrote:
Venizelos' moderation did not convince many citizens, even among his own followers. It was only after the end of 1916 and the "Noemvriana" that he pushed for a radical solution to end the stalemate.

Constantine-Bénazet agreement

After the creation of the provisional government in Thessaloniki, negotiations between the Allies and king intensified. The Allies wanted further demobilization of the Greek army and the removal of military forces from Thessaly to insure the safety of their troops in Macedonia. The king wanted assurances that the Allies would not officially recognize or support Venizelos' provisional government and guarantees that Greece's integrity and neutrality would be respected. After several unproductive negotiations, on 23 October the king suddenly agreed to some of the demands required by the Allies including the removal of the Greek army from Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

. The king also volunteered war materiel and the Greek navy to assist them. In exchange, the king requested French Deputy Paul Bénazet to keep this agreement secret from the Central Powers.

On 3 November, du Fournet used the sinking of two Greek merchant ships by a German submarine, as well as the secret agreement, to demand the surrender of the docked Greek war ships and took command of the Salamis
Salamis Island
Salamis , is the largest Greek island in the Saronic Gulf, about 1 nautical mile off-coast from Piraeus and about 16 km west of Athens. The chief city, Salamina , lies in the west-facing core of the crescent on Salamis Bay, which opens into the Saronic Gulf...

 French arsenal. The Greek government yielded, and on 7 November, the partial disarmament of Greek warships began. The Allies towed away 30 lighter craft. Three weeks later the French took over the Salamis naval base completely, and began using Greek ships operated by French crews.

The Constantine-Bénazet agreement was short-lived due to Venizelos military plans as well as pressure exerted by the military in Athens led by the king regarding the forced Greek disarmament. Venizelos' action at Katerini met with some disapproval among the Allied circles and among his own associate in Athens. Answering these criticisms Venizelos wrote to A. Diamandidis:
The advance by Venizelos toward Katerini was not an attempt to undermine the king's pact with Bénazet, since the advance was planned long before that. The failure of the secret agreement was caused by subversive activities within segments of the royalist government in Athens to paralyze and disrupt the Provisional government.

Last diplomatic efforts before the events

The seizure of Greek ships by the Allies, the Katerini incident and the Franco-British violations of Greece's territorial integrity offended the national honor of a segment of "Old Greece" and increased the king's popularity. The king refused to honor his secret agreement with Bénazet and soldiers who requested to fight against the Bulgarian occupation were charged with "desertion to the rebels". A growing movement amongst the low rank officers within the army, led by Ioannis Metaxas
Ioannis Metaxas
Ioannis Metaxas was a Greek general, politician, and dictator, serving as Prime Minister of Greece from 1936 until his death in 1941...

 and Sofoklis Dousmanis
Sofoklis Dousmanis
Sofoklis Dousmanis was a Greek naval officer. Distinguished in the Balkan Wars, he became twice the chief of the Greek Navy General Staff, and occupied the post of Navy Minister in 1935....

, were determined to oppose disarmament and any assistance to the Allies.
Diplomacy failed despite continuing pressure applied by the Allies against Athens. On 24 November, du Fournet presented a 7 day ultimatum demanding the immediate surrender of at least ten Greek mountain artillery batteries. Du Fournet was instructed not to use force to take possession of the batteries. The admiral made a last effort to persuade the king to accept France's demands. He advised the king that he would land an Allied contingent, and occupy certain positions in Athens until all the demands were accepted by Greece. The king said that the citizens of Greece, as well as the army, were against disarmament, and only promised that the Greek forces would not attack the Allies.

Despite the gravity of the situation, both the royalist government and the Allies made no serious effort to reach a diplomatic solution. On 29 November, the royalist government rejected the proposal of the Allies and armed resistance was organized. By 30 November military units and royalist militia (the epistratoi, "reservists") from surrounding areas had been recalled and gathered in and around Athens (in total over 20,000 men) and occupied strategic positions, with orders not to fire unless fired upon. The Allied commanders failed in their assessment of the situation, disregarding Greek national pride and determination, causing them to conclude that the Greeks were bluffing. The Allies thought that in the face of a superior force, Greeks would "bring the cannons on a plater" (surrender); a viewpoint that Du Fournet also shared.

The battle of Athens: 1916

On early morning of the Allies landed a 3,000-strong marineforce in Piraeus
Piraeus is a city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens Urban Area, 12 km southwest from its city center , and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf....

, and headed towards Athens. When the Allied troops reached their designated positions, they found them already occupied by Greek troops. For more than two hours both sides stood facing each other. Some time in the morning, an unknown origin rifle shot was fired and the battle of Athens began. Each side blamed the other for firing first. Once the battle spread throughout the city, the king requested a ceasefire proposing a solution and reach a compromise. Du Fournet, with a small contingent of troops was unprepared to encounter organized Greek resistance, and was already short of supplies, so readily accepted the king's compromise. However, before an agreement was finalized, the battle resumed. The Greek battery from Arditos Hill fired a number of rounds at the entrance of Zappeion
The Zappeion is a building in the National Gardens of Athens in the heart of Athens, Greece. It is generally used for meetings and ceremonies, both official and private.-Constructing the Zappeion:...

 where the French admiral had established his headquarters. The Allied squadron from Phaliron responded by bombarding sections of the city, mostly around the Stadium
Panathinaiko Stadium
The Panathinaiko or Panathenaic Stadium , also known as the Kallimarmaro , is an athletic stadium in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896...

 and near the Palace. Discussions soon were resumed and a final compromise was reached. The king compromised to surrender just six artillery batteries camouflaged in the mountains instead of the ten that the Allied Admiral demanded. By late afternoon the battle was finished. The Allies had suffered 194 casualties, dead and wounded, and the Greeks lost 82, not counting civilians. By early morning of 2 December, all Allied forces had been evacuated.

The role of the Venizelists during the battle has been intensely contested by witnesses and historians. Admiral Louis du Fournet wrote that Venizelists supported the Allies and attacked passing Greek royalist army units. Venizelists participation was allegedly so extensive, that lead Admiral du Fourne wrote in his report that he had been involved in a civil war. The Venizelists continued fighting after the evacuation of the Allied marines until the next day, when they capitulated. The royalists claimed that large caches of weapons and ammunition were found in their strongholds packed in French military containers. Venizelists were led to prison surrounded by a furious mob and supposedly only the royal army escorts saved them from being murdered by the angry citizens. Other historians deny that the Venizelists collaborated with the Allied forces: Pavlos Karolidis
Pavlos Karolidis
Pavlos Karolidis or Karolides was one of the most eminent Greek historians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.- Life :Karolidis was born in 1849 in the village of Androniki in Cappadocia. His father Konstantinos Karolidis or Karloglou was a wealthy landowner and wheat merchant...

, a contemporary royalist historian, argues that no Venizelist attacked their fellow citizens and the only weapons found during the raids on prominent Venizelists' houses were knives.

The following days

The authorities, with the pretext of the events, claimed that the Venelizelists had staged an insurrection with the support of Allied troops and proceeded with the help of the Reservists to extensive arrests and reprisals against the city's Venizelists. The terror and destruction that followed soon went out of hand, making even the respectable conservative newspaper Politiki Epitheorisis that at the beginning urged Greek "justice" to "smite mercifully the atrocious conspiracy" and to purge all followers of the "archconspirator of Salonika [Venizelos]", in the end to urge "prudence". During the following three days houses and shops of Venizelists were ransacked and 35 people were murdered. Chester says that most of those who were murdered were refugees from Asia Minor. Many hundreds were imprisoned and kept in solitary confinement. Karolidis characterizes the imprisonment of certain prominent Venizelists, such as Emmanuel Benakis
Emmanuel Benakis
Emmanouil Benakis was a Greek merchant and politician, considered a national benefactor of Greece.Benakis who, after studying in England emigrated to Alexandria, Egypt where he worked for the Greek cotton industrialist Horemi and in whose family he married. There, he had six children. Among them...

 (mayor of Athens), as a disgrace. Some authors argue that Benakis was not only arrested and imprisoned but also disrespected and ill-treated. Seligman describes that they were only released 45 days later after a strong demand contained within the Entente ultimatum, which was accepted on 16 January. Opposing reports also exist, e.g. Abbot asserts that during the evacuation of the Allied forces, many "criminals" and "collaborators" on the payrolls of different Allied spy agencies slipped out of Athens at night after allegedly "terrorizing the city for nearly a year". Due to his failure Admiral du Fournet was relieved of his command.


In Greece, this incident became known as Noemvriana (November events), using the Old Style calendar, and marked the culmination of the National Schism.

Political situation in Greece and Europe

On , Britain and France officially recognized Venizelos government as the only lawful government of Greece, effectively splitting the country. On , Venizelos' government officially declared war on the Central Powers. A royal warrant for the arrest of Venizelos was immediately issued and the Archbishop of Athens, pressured by the royal house, anathema
Anathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...

tised the prime minister.

In France, the presidency of Aristide Briand
Aristide Briand
Aristide Briand was a French statesman who served eleven terms as Prime Minister of France during the French Third Republic and received the 1926 Nobel Peace Prize.- Early life :...

, a leading proponent of engaging with Constantine to bring about a reconciliation of the two Greek administrations, was threatened by the events in Athens, leading to the reorganization of the French government. In Britain, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
H. H. Asquith
Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, KG, PC, KC served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916...

 and foreign minister Sir Edward Grey resigned and were replaced by Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour
Arthur Balfour
Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, KG, OM, PC, DL was a British Conservative politician and statesman...

. The change in the British leadership proved to be particularly important for Greece, since Lloyd George was a known Hellenophile
Philhellenism was an intellectual fashion prominent at the turn of the 19th century, that led Europeans like Lord Byron or Charles Nicolas Fabvier to advocate for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire...

, an admirer of Venizelos and dedicated to resolving the Eastern Question
Eastern Question
The "Eastern Question", in European history, encompasses the diplomatic and political problems posed by the decay of the Ottoman Empire. The expression does not apply to any one particular problem, but instead includes a variety of issues raised during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including...


The fall of the Romanov
The House of Romanov was the second and last imperial dynasty to rule over Russia, reigning from 1613 until the February Revolution abolished the crown in 1917...

s in Russia (who refused the French proposals for Constantine's removal from the throne), caused France and Great Britain to take more drastic measures against King Constantine. In June they decided to invoke their obligation as "protecting powers" to guarantee a constitutional democracy in Greece and demanded the king's resignation. Constantine accepted and on 15 June 1917 went into exile. His son Alexander
Alexander of Greece
Alexander reigned as King of Greece from 1917 to 1920 until his unusual death as the result of sepsis contracted by being bitten by two monkeys.-Early life:...

, who was considered to have Allies sympathies, become the new King of Greece instead of Constantine's elder son and crown prince, George
George II of Greece
George II reigned as King of Greece from 1922 to 1924 and from 1935 to 1947.-Early life, first period of kingship and exile:George was born at the royal villa at Tatoi, near Athens, the eldest son of King Constantine I of Greece and his wife, Princess Sophia of Prussia...

. The king's exile was followed by the deportation of many prominent royalists, especially army officers such as Ioannis Metaxas
Ioannis Metaxas
Ioannis Metaxas was a Greek general, politician, and dictator, serving as Prime Minister of Greece from 1936 until his death in 1941...

, to France and Italy.

The course of events paved the way for Venizelos to return to Athens on 29 May 1917. Greece, now unified, officially joined the war on the side of the Allies. The entire Greek army was mobilized (though tensions remained inside the army between supporters of the Constantine and supporters of Venizelos) and began to participate in military operations against the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 on the Macedonian front.

The Macedonian front

By the fall of 1918, the Greeks, with over 300,000 soldiers, were the single largest component of the Allied army on the Macedonian front. The Greek army gave the much needed advantage to the Allies that altered the balance between the two sides on the Macedonian front. On 14 September 1918, under the command of French General Franchet d'Esperey, a combined Greek, Serbian, French and British force launched a major offensive against the Bulgarian and German army
German Army (German Empire)
The German Army was the name given the combined land forces of the German Empire, also known as the National Army , Imperial Army or Imperial German Army. The term "Deutsches Heer" is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the German Bundeswehr...

. After the first serious battle (see battle of Skra) the Bulgarian army gave up their defensive positions and began retreating towards their country. On 29 September, the armistice with Bulgaria was signed by the Allied command. The Allied army pushed north and defeated the remaining German and Austrian forces
Austro-Hungarian Army
The Austro-Hungarian Army was the ground force of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918. It was composed of three parts: the joint army , the Austrian Landwehr , and the Hungarian Honvédség .In the wake of fighting between the...

. By October 1918 the Allied armies had recaptured all of Serbia and were preparing to invade Hungary. The offensive was halted because the Hungarian leadership offered to surrender in November 1918, marking the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire. This ended the First World War since Germany lacked forces to stop the Allies from invading Germany from the south. The participation of the Greek army at the Macedonian front was one of the decisive event of the war, earning Greece a seat at the Paris Peace Conference
Paris Peace Conference, 1919
The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

under Venizelos.
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