Primary Documents - Allied Proclamation on King Constantine's Abdication, June 1917

King Alexander of Greece, replacing Constantine I Reproduced below is the text of the Allies' reaction to news of Greek King Constantine's abdication.

This followed the issuance of an ultimatum by the Allies to the neutral Greek government in Athens on 11 June 1917.  Written by the Allies' nominated High Commissioner in Greece, the former French senator and Governor of Algeria, Charles Jonnart, the ultimatum demanded the abdication of the pro-German Constantine (and a further renunciation of the crown by the Crown Prince).

In so doing the Allies intended to install in government in Athens the decidedly pro-Allied Eleutherios Venizelos, at present based in exile in Crete, where he had controversially established an alternative Greek government.  Venizelos had earlier served as Greek Prime Minister until his overtly pro-Allied sentiments led Constantine to seek his effective dismissal.

At the same time as delivering the ultimatum the Allies simultaneously invaded Thessaly and a French force occupied the Isthmus of Corinth.  On 12 June 1917 Constantine duly abdicated in favour of his second son, Alexander (click here to read Alexander's inaugural proclamation).  Two weeks after this, on 26 June, Venizelos was installed as Prime Minister, replacing Zaimis.

Click here to read French Minister Auguste Gauvain's memoir of the events which led to Constantine's abdication.  Click here to read Alexander's coronation address to the Greek Parliament on 4 August 1917.

Proclamation by Allied High Commissioner Charles Jonnart

France, Great Britain, and Russia desire to see Greece independent, great, and prosperous, and they mean to defend the noble country, which they have liberated, against the united efforts of the Turks, Bulgarians, and Germans.

They (the Entente Allies) are here to circumvent the manoeuvres of the kingdom's hereditary enemies; they want to end the repeated violations of the Constitution and of the treaties and the deplorable intrigues which have resulted in the massacre of soldiers of the united countries.

Berlin until now has commanded Athens and has been gradually bringing the people under the yoke of the Bulgarians and Germans.  We have resolved to re-establish the constitutional rights and unity of Greece.

The protecting powers have in consequence demanded the abdication of King Constantine.  But they do not intend to touch the constitutional monarchy.  They have no other ambitions than to assure the regular operation of the Constitution to which King George of glorious memory had always been scrupulously faithful and which King Constantine has ceased to respect.

Greeks! the hour of reconciliation has come.  Your destinies are closely associated with those of the protecting powers.  Your ideal is the same.  Your hopes are the same.  We appeal to your wisdom and patriotism.

The blockade is now raised.  Every reprisal against the Greeks, no matter by whom, will be pitilessly suppressed.  No attempt against the public order will be tolerated.  The property and liberty of all will be safeguarded.  A new era of peace and work is opening before you.

Know that the protecting powers, respectful of the national sovereignty, have no intention of imposing upon the Greek people a general mobilization.

Long live Greece, united, great, and free!

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

A 'whizzbang' was a high-velocity, low-trajectory shell that made a shrill approach noise and then a sharp explosive report.

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