This Past Week in History: May 5th to May 11th

Dora Bakoyannis nominated as Secretary-General of the Council of Europe. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

May 6th:

On this day in 1954, Theodora (Dora) Bakoyannis, the Greek politician, was born in Athens. Daughter of the late Konstantinos Mitsotakis, Bakoyannis was educated at the German School of Paris. After studying Political Science and Communication at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, she continued her studies in Political Science and Public Law at the University of Athens. She speaks fluently English, French and German. She is a member of the Greek Parliament, Coordinator responsible for Economy and Development for Nea Demokratia, and member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (EPP/CD group). She has been consecutively elected as a member of the Greek Parliament since 1989. From 1990 to 1992 she served as Under-Secretary of State and from 1992 to 1993 as Minister for Culture. She was the first female Mayor of Athens (2002-2006) and the first female Greek Foreign Minister (2006-2009). Moreover, she was the President of the United Nations Security Council (2006) and the Chairperson of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (2009).

May 7th:

On this day in 1832, Greece’s independence was recognized by the Treaty of London which was signed at the London Conference. By this time, Greece had already won its independence from the Ottoman Empire following the Greek War of Independence. The Conference was convened to establish a stable government in Greece after the Governor of Greece at the time, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was assassinated – resulting in the country falling into a state of confusion. The Treaty laid out the negotiations between the three Great Powers (Britain, France and Russia) which resulted in the establishment of the Kingdom of Greece under a Bavarian Prince. It dealt with the way in which the Regency of Bavaria was to be managed until Otto of Bavaria reached his majority. In the document, Greece was defined as an independent kingdom with the Arta-Volos line as its northern frontier and Otto as its King.

May 9th:

On this day in 1927, the first Delphic Festival, organized by Angelos and Eva Sikelianos, was held to celebrate the ancient Greek Delphic ideal. The Sikelianos couple believed that Delphi could actually serve as a focal point for the global understanding of mutual respect analogous to the amphictyony (an association of neighboring states in ancient Greece established to defend a common religious center) which had existed there for centuries. They built a house in the region and prepared the celebrations which were to have an international status. The entire endeavor was funded by the Sikelianos couple and was repeated two times (in 1927 and 1930), a fact which exhausted them financially and soon led to their separation.

May 11th:

On this day in 1771, Laskarina Bouboulina, the Greek naval commander and heroine of the Greek War of Independence of 1821, was born in a prison in Constantinople and was immediately part of a revolutionary family.

Laskarina Bouboulina’s Statue, Spetses, Greece. (Photo: Eurokinissi, file)

Her father had been incarcerated because of his role in a failed coup against the Ottaman empire and she was born during one of his wife’s visits to the jail. After her father died, Bouboulina and her mother moved to the Greek island of Hydra and then on to Spetses. She was married and widowed twice and was left considerable fortunes by her sea-faring husbands. Through wise investments she increased her worth and bought several ships, including the Agamemnon, the largest warship in the 1821 revolution against the Turks. Bouboulina became a member of the underground organization, Filiki Etairia (Friendly Society) organizing and preparing the Greeks for the revolution against the Turks, the only woman in this organization. On March 13, 1821, twelve days before the official beginning of the War of Independence, Bouboulina raised the first revolutionary flag, on the island of Spetses. Bouboulina was killed on May 22, 1825, by a bullet wound to her head – presumably fired by the angry father of her daughter-in-law (who had eloped with her son). She became a national hero, one of the first women to play a major role in a revolution. Without her and her ships the Greeks might not have gained their independence.

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