The reputation of the 'victorious army commander', King Constantine I, was built during
the Balkan Wars, when under his leadership the Greek army scored important victories.
In the general euphoria of the era, his role in the defeat of 1897
was forgotten or minimized. But when, later, in the build-up to the First World War, the question of coalitions arose, the attitude he had adopted contributed to his
demystification as a binding national symbol; he became part of the
political conflict. The neutrality he advocated was in favour of the Central Powers. This
attitude of his disguised his dislike for paliamentary liberalism of the western
republics and his confidence in the authoritarian and militarist ideals of Kaiser's
In general lines, the policy of Constantine expressed the views of the traditional social strata that
were not in favour either of the reforms of the Venizelists or the entrance
onto the political scene of new social forces. The established elites naturally feared any change of the status quo. They reached the point of facing with reservation both
the outcome of the victorious Balkan Wars, that is the annexation to the Greek state
of new territories and populations, and the furtherance of military operations aiming
at a wider expansion of the borders of the Greek state. There were many
reasons for this attitude: the 'unknown' outcome of these developments, the unbearable
cost of campaigns in terms of human lives and money, the annexation of areas with remarkable
productive and commercial activities (and therefore competitive with the economic centres
of Old Greece), the presence of refugees from war zones or areas under foreign rule,
who, on the one hand received minimal care from the state and, on the other hand, were developing economic activities competitive with
those of native Greeks. In addition, the humiliating (so many thought) intervention of the Great Powers in the domestic affairs of the country and the
imposition of the removal of the King in particular must be taken into account. This fact
reinforced the discontent towards the policy of Venizelos and rallied the supporters of Constantine even more.
The victory of the anti-Venizelists in the elections of 1920, despite the success of the
Treaty of Sevres, expressed the view of the 'small but honourable Greece'.
What is of interest is that royalist governments immediately after this victory practised a policy opposite to that promised beforehand. They expanded
the front in Asia Minor, probably inspired by the Great Idea even more than their predecessors.
The chances are that various legends may have played a part, such as that of the marmaromenos
vasilias (the king turned to marble) that Constantine might have personified in the imagination of his
followers. Nevertheless, the required military conditions were not secured, and naturally it
was impossible for aid to originate from the Great Powers, with whom
the King had recently clashed. All these contributed to the magnitude of the ensuing Catastrophe.