NATIONAL GARDENS A Monkey Bite
The Royal Gardens were the scene of a unusual turning point in Greek history. In 1920, at the end of World War I, Greece under King Alexander and the government of Eleftherios Venizelos remained committed to the Megali Idea (Greek for The Great Idea) that Greece should regain control from the Ottoman Empire of portions of Asia Minor on the Ionian coast. In 1919, they began the Greco-Turkish War with the support of their former allies Britain and France. While walking in the Gardens on September 30, 1920, King Alexander was bitten by a pet monkey (whose pet it is not revealed) and he died of sepsis three weeks later. His death ushered the return of his deposed father, King Constantine I who had been deposed for his pro-German sympathies during the First World War. Upon his return to power, King Constantine assisted in the defeat of his political nemesis, Venizelos in the November, 1920 General Election. The new Prime Minister, Dimitrios Gounaris, a monarchist, began replacing the Venezelist military staff with officers more loyal to the new King. As a result of this change in political environment and it is argued, the reduction in military experience bythe Army's General Staff, the Allied Powers withdrew their support. The result was the 1922 Great Fire of Smyrna and the 1923 Exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey known collectively by the Greeks as the "Catastrophe."
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