Primary Documents - Allied Ultimatum Demanding Abdication of King Constantine I, 11 June 1917

Eleutherios Venizelos Reproduced below is the text of the ultimatum issued 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 Greece's pro-German monarch King Constantine I (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 the Allies' reaction to news of Constantine's abdication.  Click here to read Alexander's coronation address to the Greek Parliament on 4 August 1917.

Allied Ultimatum to King Constantine I

The protecting powers of Greece have decided to reconstitute the unity of the kingdom without impairing the monarchical constitutional institutions that they have guaranteed to Greece.

His Majesty King Constantine, having manifestly on his own initiative violated the Constitution of which France, England, and Russia are the trustees, I have the honour to declare to your Excellency that his Majesty the King has lost the confidence of the protecting powers, and that the latter consider themselves free toward him from the obligations resulting from their right of protection.

I have in consequence the mission, with a view of re-establishing the real Constitution, to ask for the abdication of his Majesty King Constantine, who will himself designate, together with the protecting powers, a successor among his heirs.

I am under the obligation to ask from you an answer within twenty-four hours.

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.

- Did you know?

Primary Docs