On This Day: The Theriso Revolt breaks out in Crete

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The Theriso revolt (Greek: Επανάσταση του Θερίσου) was an insurrection that broke out in March 1905 against the government of Crete, then an autonomous state under Ottoman suzerainty.

The revolt was led by the Cretan politician Eleftherios Venizelos, and is named after his mother’s native village, Theriso, the focal point of the revolt.

The revolt stemmed from the dispute between Venizelos and the island’s ruler, Prince George of Greece, over the island’s future, particularly over the question of Cretan union with Greece. The conflict’s origin can be traced to 1901, when Prince George dismissed Venizelos from the government.

The hostility between Venizelos and the prince was precipitated by the latter’s attitude toward foreign relations and by his refusal to engage in dialogue with his advisers over the island’s internal affairs. After a prolonged political struggle, Venizelos and his followers decided upon an armed uprising, with the goals of uniting Crete with Greece and ushering in a more democratic government for the island.

The Theriso revolt not only established Venizelos as the leading politician in Crete, but also brought him to the attention of the wider Greek world. His reputation would lead in 1909 to his call to Greece, where he became Prime Minister.

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