The Captive Sun: Historical Background
The Captive Sun‘s plot takes place during some of the most dire decades of the 20th Century. Here are some historical photos taken in various parts of Greece during this tumultuous era.
Modern Greek History
1821–29: War of Independence following four centuries of Ottoman rule.
1832: European powers officially recognise Greece’s autonomy.
1843: Greece becomes a constitutional monarchy.
1897: Greco-Turkish War over Crete. The island would not be incorporated into Greece until 1913.
1910: Eleftherios Venizelos is elected Prime Minister, ushering in a controversial 25-year political era, marked by the hope of recovering Ottoman territories long inhabited by ethnic Greeks. This would become known as Venizelos’ Great Idea.
1912–13: Balkan Wars bring about a partial realization of the Great Idea. The island of Lesbos becomes independent.
1914–18: Venizelos and King Constantine clash over the advisability of maintaining neutrality in the First World War. This conflict (known as the National Schism) marks the beginning of intense political upheaval, dividing the Greek nation into Venizelist and Royalist camps. Allied pressure, however, forces the King into exile. With Constantine’s younger son, Alexander, on the throne, Greece enters the war and gains several new territories after the Ottoman Empire is carved up by the Allied victors.
1920: Venizelos survives an assassination attempt but is defeated at the polls. King Alexander’s unexpected death from a monkey bite leads to a national referendum. King Constantine returns to the throne.
1921–22: Encouraged by Allied promises, Greek troops invade Asia Minor, only to be abysmally defeated by the Turks. This event is thereafter referred to as the Great Catastrophe.
1922: King Constantine abdicates and is succeeded by his elder son, George II.
1923: The League of Nations orders Greece and Turkey to undertake a formal exchange of their ethnic populations, uprooting ancient Greek and Turkish communities. Forced to absorb 1.5 million Anatolian refugees, Greece finds itself in economic ruin, beset by prolonged political upheaval.
1924: Proclamtion of a Greek republic. Venizelos has returned from exile but is once again defeated at the polls.
1924–35: This period is notable for its dire economic conditions and violent political strife, with coups and counter-coups taking place, eventually resulting in the restoration of the monarchy. The nascent Communist Party gains in popularity.
1936: National elections result in a hung parliament, with the Communist Party holding the balance. Ioannis Metaxas, a former Royalist general, becomes Premier and, with the King’s support, establishes a dictatorship.
1939: Having occupied neighbouring Albania, Italy demands a right of passage through strategic Greek territories. Greece refuses and, despite the threat of a German invasion, goes into battle against the Italian aggressor.
1941: Germany invades Greece and, along with its Italian and Bulgarian allies, occupies the country, while the Greek government goes into exile. In the mountains, several resistance groups are formed, some Communist, others anti-Communist, but for now sharing the same patriotic goal.
1944: End of the German Occupation; the Greek government-in-exile returns to Athens.
1946: Civil War between Communist and Royalist supporters breaks out.
1948: The Soviet Union breaks off relations with Yugoslavia, forcing Greek Communists to choose between Stalin and Tito. When the majority opt to side with Moscow, Tito closes the Yugoslav border and disbands guerrilla camps inside his country, causing internal conflict within the Communist party.
1949: General Papagos launches a fierce anti-Communist campaign, further weakening an already splintered Communist party. A formal treaty brings an end to the Civil War.
1954: Greece becomes embroiled in Cyprus, the majority of whose population is ethnic Greek.
1955: Constantine Karamanlis, a Royalist supporter, is elected Premier, dominating Greek politics for nearly a decade.
1964: George Papandreou Senior, an opponent of the monarchy, is elected Prime Minister.
1967: Right-wing army officers, led by George Papadopoulos, stage a coup, ostensibly to prevent an imminent Communist takeover.
1973: The monarchy is abolished and Greece becomes a presidential republic.
1974: A failed coup in Cyprus brings about the downfall of the military junta. Constantine Karamanlis is recalled from exile to form a new government.
1975: A presidential democracy is proclaimed.
1981: Andreas Papandreou is elected Prime Minister, heading the first sociaist government in Greece.