I hope Greece gains Cyprus soon! Greece would gain a lot of land and people.
Whoops sorry I'll change that.I thought they had already gotten Crete in this timeline.
Assuming the powers that be make the mistake of allowing the Serbs any kind of self-determination, hoping for peace in the region is like smoking crack and hoping you retain the same level of mental clarity from before your mouth touched the pipe.OTL the ideological seismic shifts after the World Wars managed to encourage this (to some extent; obviously there are still some tensions between Greece and Turkey). ITTL there’ll need to be a similar rise of globalism or at least global diplomacy to discourage rampant nationalism tainting international relations in the region. I also hope that this can eventually occur ITTL!
Somehow I doubt leaving the Serbs as a subjugated people to some other country would be any happier of a solution. The borders of the Serbian nation are definitely a contentious issue, especially in the 19th century; the existence of it is not, and they would not take kindly to being part of a greater Hungary or Bulgaria or whatever.Assuming the powers that be make the mistake of allowing the Serbs any kind of self-determination, hoping for peace in the region is like smoking crack and hoping you retain the same level of mental clarity from before your mouth touched the pipe.
For the sake of everyone else in Europe's medical health, it certainly would. The whole point of them being a subjugated people is to keep them accountable. An independent Serbia is one that will go off any reservation you can think of and justify it by whining about the lack of a Turkish genocide.Somehow I doubt leaving the Serbs as a subjugated people to some other country would be any happier of a solution.
You know that's borderline racist.For the sake of everyone else in Europe's medical health, it certainly would. The whole point of them being a subjugated people is to keep them accountable. An independent Serbia is one that will go off any reservation you can think of and justify it by whining about the lack of a Turkish genocide.
That's... I want to say racist, but Serbs are white...For the sake of everyone else in Europe's medical health, it certainly would. The whole point of them being a subjugated people is to keep them accountable. An independent Serbia is one that will go off any reservation you can think of and justify it by whining about the lack of a Turkish genocide.
That's really not a good or healthy take to have, there are a lot of factors that led to Balkan instability, Serbians being inherently bloodthirsty warmongers isn't one of them. What's more this is currently in the 1850's the Balkan's haven't really developed their reputation yet, there's also not an Austria-Hungary which will completely change the dynamic. Why should Serbia in particular be regarded as anything but a young statelet like any other in Europe?For the sake of everyone else in Europe's medical health, it certainly would. The whole point of them being a subjugated people is to keep them accountable. An independent Serbia is one that will go off any reservation you can think of and justify it by whining about the lack of a Turkish genocide.
You know that's borderline racist.
I mean the Slavic people's are white and the Nazi's certainly had opinions about that which one might generally consider racist. Or America until recent changes in race relations and definitions, my dad was specifically asked by my great-grandparents if he was a 'polack' in the 60's/70's and started dating my mom.That's... I want to say racist, but Serbs are white...
Either way, extremely bigoted and you should be ashamed.
I think he was being sarcastic about it.I mean the Slavic people's are white and the Nazi's certainly had opinions about that which one might generally consider racist.
I kinda figured that but I can never tell online, or on this site in particular sometimes.I think he was being sarcastic about it.
Being racist against whites is still racism. The colour of your skin doesn't matter.That's... I want to say racist, but Serbs are white...
I usually don't like involving myself in these types of things, but this is really out of line.snip
Nationalist Bigotry is flat out unacceptable here.For the sake of everyone else in Europe's medical health, it certainly would. The whole point of them being a subjugated people is to keep them accountable. An independent Serbia is one that will go off any reservation you can think of and justify it by whining about the lack of a Turkish genocide.
Your TL is really worth the patience, Earl MarshalMoving on:
I know I'm quite late on this, but I'd like to report that the OP now has over a hundred likes (currently 108), whilst this thread just recently passed the 200 page mark. As such, I would like to sincerely thank you all for your continued support over these last four years. Things haven't been always easy for me throughout this journey, in fact the last few months have been some of the toughest so far. Yet through it all, you remained patient with me and continued to show interest in this timeline of mine for month after month.
I know I've said this before, but I feel the need to say it again. If not for your continued support, comments, and fair share of constructive criticism, I would have stopped writing this timeline a long time ago. So thank you very much, I really couldn't have done it without you!
Lastly, I'd like to let you know that the next chapter will be going live tomorrow, so I hope you all enjoy.
“They were a truly sorry lot. The children, two girls and one boy, were no older than 12 or 14 at most, with the boy being the smallest of the lot and little more than a toddler. The Mother was likely in her mid to late thirties and carried herself with a stoic pride; pride that had been weathered by exhaustion and whatever tragedies had driven them here. Their faces were gaunt; even that of the little ones. Their bodies emaciated and thin. Their eyes were blank and lifeless. Much of their skin and what remained of their clothes were caked in mud and dirt. The children were adorned in a smattering of rags and loincloths that had once been charming little outfits. The mother was clad in the remains of a formerly resplendent dress, a dress that had long since been torn apart viciously as if by vile vipers. All suffered from calloused and bloodied feet, whilst the mother and eldest daughter featured numerous bruises to their faces, arms and legs. There was no sign of a father for this household, nor any other adult menfolk; if there were, then they had met with a terrible fate.
Wonderful update, passionnating ! Worth the wait and really interesting for the doors it opens for the rest of the storyChapter 90: The New Men
The Port of Patras
The Kingdom of Greece emerged from the Great Russian War in a markedly improved position with extensive territorial, demographic and economic gains. As previously mentioned, its population ballooned from 1.4 million people to just over 2.2 million, while its land area grew by nearly 50 percent from 60 thousand square kilometers to more than 90 thousand kilometers. More than this, however, the economy of the Greek state would absolutely explode over the course of the War. At the start of the 1850’s, the GDP for the Greek state stood around 158 million Drachma per year (about £6.4 million); a respectable sum for such a small state on the edge of Europe with little in the way of natural resources, arable land, or manufacturing capabilities. Yet, by the end of the decade, a mere 10 years later the Greek economy had nearly tripled growing to an impressive 428 million Drachma (£17.1 million).
Much of this growth would be attributed to the added territory and population the Greek State gained in the preceding years, providing new resources to develop and more people to work. Some of this could also be attributed to the natural development of the Greek economy which continued to expand, modernize and industrialize. However, it cannot be denied that a significant portion of this sum was the result of the greatly increased investment of cash from the United Kingdom with nearly £2 million being injected into the Greek economy by British agents between May of 1855 and February of 1857.
Per the terms of the 1855 Clarendon-Kolokotronis Agreement, British ship captains were now permitted - if not actively encouraged - to layover at Greek ports where they could take on provisions (primarily foodstuffs and medical supplies). They would also be permitted to make moderate repairs to their vessel’s hulls, sails, engines, and rigging if necessary while in port. The only restrictions in this treaty would be regarding the selling of munitions and military armaments by the Greeks to the British. However, some enterprising Greek merchants and customs agents could be convinced to conveniently overlook this issue when provided with additional coin.
Moreover, this trade was not just restricted to ships and ship captains, as their compliments of sailors and soldiers were usually permitted shore leave during these stays in port, where they would often make smaller purchases of their own. Many touring troopers bought gifts for their families back home; Greek style jewelry and dresses for their wives and daughters, fustanellas and Greek weapons for their brothers and sons. Others laying over in Heraklion or Argos would even make the short trek up to the old Palaces at Knossos and Mycenae respectively, where they would tour the ancient sites and purchase artifacts, or rather replicas of said artifacts for their own collections and galleries back home.
However, most British soldiers and sailors would usually indulge in the local cuisine, delicacies like currants and oddities like mastic. Greek wines and spirits were especially popular among the British during their stays in Greece, with some discerning officers continuing to purchase particular brands of Hellenic liquor well after the war concluded in 1857. A few Britons would even enjoy the comforts of a Greek woman’s bed, usually resulting in a number of unwanted scandals for their commanding officers especially if that woman happened to be the wife of another man or if the girl’s father was particularly stalwart in upholding her honor. Thankfully these instances were far and few between, but there were still a few recorded instances of violence and a couple shotgun weddings for good measure.
The British procure supplies
This exchange of Greek goods and services for British coin would benefit both sides tremendously as many Greek shipwrights, merchants, and farmers gained great wealth. Meanwhile, the British troops were given a brief respite from the rigors of war - which did much to preserve their morale, while their ships underwent repairs, and their holds were restocked with fresh food, medicine, and in some rare cases weapons. However, not all Greeks benefited from this exchange, and even those that did, did not do so at the same degree as those at the upper end of Greek society reaped the rewards at a disproportionate level compared to those at the lower strata.
The reasoning for this disparity was quite simple as the small land holders of Hellas usually tended towards subsistence farming as opposed to growing for trade and personal financial gain. As such, they often had little to no excess product available to sell at market as much of what they cultivated was usually consumed by their families or their local communities for personal sustenance. While this would do little to advance their plots in life; for the rural farmers of Greece this worked out well enough as they were able to survive for generation after generation. They were self-sufficient and usually able to provide for themselves and their families. Even when they could not, due to unforeseen crop failures, conflicts, or pestilences; members of their local community would generally chip in whatever they could to help their neighbors survive their current hardships, confident that if their roles were reversed that their neighbors would return the favor. That is not to say that the Cretan goat herders and Boeotian grain farmers didn’t have excess product available to sell at the market to interested British tourists. They certainly did. Yet, they didn’t have nearly as much product available as their larger competitors who were geared towards mass production of marketable goods, nor did they have much incentive to produce in excess.
In contrast to the small peasant farmers, the great landed magnates of Greece were freed from the constant need to feed themselves and their families as they could often buy whatever they needed with their great wealth and affluence. As such they were able to sow their extensive plantations with desirable cash crops like grapes, olives, cotton, flax, and tobacco for sale, all of which were desirable commodities both in Greece and abroad. This made them rich beyond measure in impoverished little Greece, giving themselves and their families extensive influence over their communities. Many would gain their great wealth in the years preceding the Russian War, while many others would gain it during the War itself. One such individual to grow quite wealthy during this time would be the new representative of Livadeia, Dimitrios Nakos.
Although he was only a junior member of the Nationalist Party in 1856, Nakos came from a politically well-connected family in central Boeotia, one which had amassed a sizeable swathe of newly reclaimed land that had once been under lake Copais. His father and uncle had been among the greatest proponents of the Lake’s draining during the 1840’s and for their efforts, they were awarded several dozen hectares of the new land at a discounted rate. The property proved to be quite productive and quickly generated dividends for the Nakos family, with Dimitrios and his siblings assuming control in 1854.
Following his election to Parliament in the 1856 Elections, Nakos would become increasingly detached from the day-to-day operation of his property, hiring an overseer to manage his plantation in his stead whilst he spent more and more time in Athens. Like most farms in the region, the Nakos estates would primarily produce cereals and fruits such as grain and barley and mulberries and pears. Yet, between 1855 and 1857, their main source of revenue would come from their currants and wine which were sold at a premium to British officers laying over in nearby Chalcis and Agios Konstantinos. In fact, bottles of Nakos brand Retsina would be especially popular among the officers of Lord Raglan’s staff, with the British commander being himself a rather noteworthy patron of the Nakos vineyards during his brief time in theater.
Dimitrios Nakos was not a singular case, however, as many other Greek MPs, Senators, Governors and Judges such as Georgios Lassanis, Nikolaos Poniropoulos, Nicholas Stournas, and Antonios Papadakis grew quite rich from the Clarendon-Kolokotronis Agreement as many were themselves great landholders with massive estates and plantations scattered across the country. Often times, these so-called New Men were the sons of klephts and armatolis, with little to their names beyond a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed at any cost. While this was certainly not illegal by any means, they did skirt the lines of what was or wasn’t legal as many of the men who assented to the treaty with Britain were coincidentally amongst the largest benefactors of this deal. Even King Leopold found himself cashing in on the Treaty with Britain as new tourists began visiting several of his properties, including a small vineyard owned by the King located just outside the port town of Nafplion.
Although less famous than their other holdings, this property was among their eldest as it was first bestowed to Leopold by the people of Nafplion upon his arrival in Greece back in the Spring of 1830. Since then, it had remained a fond residence for the Greek king who continued to visit it well into his later years. Known colloquially as the House of Leopold, the property was a finely built manor with territory amounting to roughly 13 hectares in land, featuring a number of olive groves, grape vines and citrus trees all of which were maintained by a team of laborers on the Royal dole. Whilst relatively small in comparison to the massive plantations owned by the men listed above which numbered in the hundreds of hectares, the site would still earn the King and his family a tidy profit over the years, with its greatest period of productivity coming during the height of the Great Russian War as numerous British officers and diplomats retreated to the villa for private meetings with the Greek King.
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The House of Leopold, near the port of Nafplion
This economic boon was not just limited to the landed elite as the shipping magnates of Greece also prospered from the Treaty with Britain as the constant need to supply British forces in Bulgaria and in Anatolia stretched the Royal Navy and the Board of Ordnance to the very limit. Although the British Royal Navy was the premier maritime force in the world and the British merchant marine was among the largest and most developed; the Board of Ordnance found itself hard pressed to support the extensive British War effort against Russia. Budget cuts and well-meaning, yet ill-timed reforms had gutted the once formidable institution in the run up to the War. Several Departments within the Board of Ordnance were downsized or eliminated entirely as part of a greater effort to combine the Board with the Department of the Army - a reform that was never fully implemented beyond these opening acts. Added to this was the inefficient and insufferably archaic bureaucracy that governed the British Army, with its aristocratic hangers-on and its division of responsibilities among several independent minded and rivalrous institutions.
In spite of all this, the Board of Ordnance would initially keep up with demands during the War’s opening months as the British contribution to the conflict was still relatively small at only 2 under strength Divisions in the Spring and Summer of 1854. However, as the size of the British Balkan Army increased exponentially over the latter half of 1854 and Britain began making offensives against Russia’s Baltic and Siberian coastlines, the situation began to quickly worsen as more and more troops and material were needed. Lack of munitions would prove to be a significant issue early on, as the British had recently begun transitioning to the new Model 1852 Enfield Rifle and Lancaster siege gun causing all sorts of supply shortages. The campaigning in the Baltic was especially wasteful in this regard as nearly 100,000 cannonballs were fired upon Bomarsund Fortress alone, stretching their already limited supply even further. Food was another issue for the British as several of their food stores had spoiled while en route or were lost at sea, leaving British troopers to ration their provisions. Fodder for horses would be another issue, with many cavalry regiments routinely being forced to fight as infantry due weak and sickly mounts. Whilst this was all certainly unfortunate, the worst blow to the Board would come in November with the early onset of Winter.
The Winter of 1854/1855 would be among the worst in recorded memory with terrible storms roiling the Black Sea on a daily basis and temperatures regularly dipping below freezing, rapidly turning the seasonal rains to snow. Yet, the worst would come early in the season on the 14th and 15th of November with stiff winds coming down from the North, damaging or destroying nearly 40 Allied ships (both British and Ottoman) gathered off the coast of Varna and Constanta. Aboard these ships were quantities of winter uniforms, charcoal, and tents for the troops which would be desperately needed in the weeks and months ahead. Without their winter gear, many British soldiers would succumb to the cold and illness, worsening an already terrible situation. Frostbite was a common occurrence for both sides, but overall, more British troops would die or become invalids during Winter quarters than during the entire fighting season of 1854.
While part of this would be attributed to back luck, much would be chalked up to poor planning on the part of the Board of Ordnance which had proven itself criminally incompetent. As Major General of the Board of Ordnance, Lord Raglan would receive harsh criticism for his poor leadership of the Board, both in failing to prepare the necessary logistical networks prior to the conflict and for his failure to adequately respond during the war once these failings became apparent. There would be consequences aplenty for this incompetence after the conflict was ended, but in the meantime the British Government would be forced to rely increasingly upon the assistance of the Ottomans and later the Greeks to supply their troops. The Ottomans would provide what they could, but as the needs of their own forces grew and more of their realm came under threat, they naturally had less to provide their ally.
The Greeks in turn grew as a trading partner following the Clarendon-Kolokotronis Agreement in early 1855, which improved relations between the two countries tremendously. To this end, several dozen ships sailing under the Greek ensign made their way to the Bulgarian coast carrying loads of food, clothing, and medical supplies to the main British depots at Varna earning their captains and crews a great bounty in coin. Greek merchant families such as the Argentis, Lemos, Papayanni, Schilizzi, Sekiaris, Skaramagas, Spartali and Vagliano families made great profits sailing their ships into the ports of Varna and Burgas. However, the true beneficiaries of this trade were the Rallis brothers whose preexisting relations with the British facilitated greater cooperation between them.
With over 40,000 employees across four different continents and branches from London to Athens and Konstantinyye to Calcutta, the Rallis were truly a global enterprise that had staked their credibility and their fortunes on the success of the British Empire. More than this, however, they had extensive business dealings and philanthropic ventures in Greece giving them a high degree of influence over the Greek government, helping to facilitate the Agreement between Britain and Greece in early 1855. Pantias Ralli in particular, had a close connection to the influential Skaramaga merchant family through his wife Marietta, and would in turn bring the rest of the Chian Network of families into the arrangement as well. As such, by the Fall of 1855, the Hellenic Merchant Navy was almost entirely at the beck and call of the British Government. However, not all Greeks were satisfied with this arrangement.
Pantias Rallis, Director of the London Branch of the Ralli Bros Trading House
While the Clarendon-Kolokotronis Agreement would do much to strengthen Anglo-Greek relations and put a tremendous amount of wealth into the hands of Greek merchants and traders, it would do little to diminish Greek support for Russia which still remained high even in the wake of the Treaty with Britain. Russia was a historic friend of Greece, with shared cultural, religious, and dynastic ties with the Hellenes. Most importantly to this particular discussion, Russia was also Greece’s second largest trading partner, behind only the Ottoman Empire and just ahead of the United Kingdom. Naturally, the outbreak of War between Greece’s largest three trading partners wounded their economy immensely as they could no longer openly trade with Russia owing to the British blockade of Russia’s Black Sea ports, resulting in a brief, albeit sharp decline for the Greek Market. This economic downturn was made worse by growing animosity between the Greek State and Ottoman Empire, which brought about an abrupt reduction in trade between the two countries for the remainder of the war.
Faced with the prospect of financial ruin and presented with a golden opportunity to snub the Ottomans, many Greek captains and their crews turned to smuggling with Russia. One such family were the Vagliano Brothers who quickly came to dominate the Russian grain trade. Based out of Taganrog, the Vaglianos and their compatriots had an intricate knowledge of the local waters around the Sea of Azov and the Crimea. They knew of its coves and caves, where its sand banks and shoals lay, and where the tides usually settled. With their swift ketches and sloops, these derring-do’s and their experienced crews would manage to routinely evade the British and Ottoman patrols in the Black Sea, making their way to Greece with hulls full of Russian goods. There, these smugglers would then sell their loads – predominantly grain, before sailing back to Russia with their ill-gotten gains. In the highest of ironies, there were several instances where Greek ship captains would buy Russian goods in Crimea with British coin and then promptly sell these very same goods to the hungry British in Rumelia.
Whilst this illicit trade certainly aided both the British and the Russians, it cannot be denied that the Russians benefitted more as their cash strapped regime became increasingly dependent upon this exchange to stay afloat financially. By late 1856, the grain export trade – reduced as it was – still amounted to nearly one third of all Russian exports. Moreover, Greek smuggling made a mockery of the British Government who had promised their Ottoman Ally an end to Greek belligerency in return for territorial and economic concessions to the Hellenes. Greek smuggling also undermined the stalwart reputation of the Royal Navy who were repeatedly made to look like fools in the face of lowly Greek merchants who eluded them with relative ease. Nevertheless, the British Government would grin and bear the insult for the remainder of the war with Russia, choosing to overlook it in favor of winning the ongoing conflict.
While this tourism and trade was all well and good for the Greek Economy; the most direct British investments in Greece would come in the form of various upgrades to Greece’s port facilities. Between 1855 and 1857, several coastal cities such as Piraeus, Patras, Heraklion, and Chios among several others were gradually brought up to the same standards as Britain’s naval dockyards back in Malta. Ostensibly, this was done to help grease the wheels of Greek neutrality, but in truth, the British simply found many of the Ottoman ports to be severely lacking in modern naval accoutrements, barring Kostantîniyye and a few others. The Imperial Arsenal in Constantinople was certainly a high-quality naval yard capable of building, repairing and maintaining modern steam warships, but it was only one site. The Porte had made efforts to expand their shipbuilding capabilities at Izmit and Gemlik but owing to the many crises plaguing the Empire over the years, little progress had been made at either site before the start of the current War with Russia.
Greek smugglers loading Russian wares onto their boats
The Ottomans did have a number of quality ports along the Black Sea such as Sinope, Trabzon, and Varna; but these sites were prone to Russian raids which frequently harassed the Turkish coast. Even after their defeat in the Battle of the Bosporus in 1854, the Russian Black Seas Fleet continued to sortie against vulnerable Ottoman ports up to the end of the War in 1857. The collapse of Ottoman defenses in Anatolia and the Balkans also didn’t help in this regard either, as both Trabzon and Varna were effectively under siege by late 1856 making them less than ideal repair depots for British ships.
Bulgarian and Greek partisans were also known issues for the Sublime Porte as they routinely targeted Ottoman war making infrastructure throughout the War. While their sedition was not always successful, nor was it long lasting; they did make life difficult for the Ottomans and their British allies. Their most impressive achievement would be the complete destruction of Varna’s harbor in October 1854, with nearly two hundred buildings around the wharf being burnt to ash and cinders by Christian saboteurs. The damage was so great at Varna, that ships could not unload their goods at the port for nearly five months, while the site was cleared of debris and later rebuilt. With all this taking place, Greece became increasingly attractive to the Admiralty and the Board of Ordnance as a safer means of repairing, supplying, and transporting their forces into the Ottoman Empire.
Now of course, the British could have made similar investments into the Ottoman Aegean and Mediterranean ports; they were formal allies in the War against Russia after all. Yet they surprisingly chose not to do so. Perhaps, the seditionary activity by Christian rebels deterred them as there were many rebel bands operating in Asia Minor, Macedonia, Thrace and Rumelia during this time. Perhaps, they were fearful of a complete collapse by their Ottoman allies, thus leaving these investments vulnerable to the Russians or their proxies. Or maybe, they simply wanted a smaller and weaker state to influence, a state much more prone to their intrigues.
While British influence was certainly strong in the Ottoman Empire, they were technically an equal partner of the British and would not take kindly to their “Ally” controlling their port facilities for months and years at a time. There was also no guarantee that British influence in Kostantîniyye would continue at its current high after the present conflict. In fact, there were already signs of disillusionment within the Sublime Porte towards their British ally in mid-1855, with some Ottoman Ministers openly questioning their commitment to the War. The Kingdom of Greece in comparison was a substantially weaker power and would have much less ability to protest, especially if “adequate” compensation were provided – ie; the cessation of the Ionian Islands and increased British investment in Greece. Whatever the case, the Greek Government eventually agreed to London’s terms, and the British would gain control over many of these ports for the duration of the War against Russia.
In the short term, this would cause a moderate decline in Greek shipping and commerce as the Greeks were forced to cede precious harbor space and port facilities to the British, while also losing out on valuable port tolls and customs dues. In the long term, however, this development would prove to be a great boon to the Greek economy as new slipways were dug, new warehouses were constructed, and preexisting port infrastructure was expanded all at the British Government’s expense. All told, around half a million Pounds Sterling would be spent improving the Greek ports between 1855 and 1857 providing a massive boon to Greece’s maritime industry.
One group that benefitted immensely from this improvement in maritime infrastructure was the steamship industry in Greece, with Hellenic Steamship Company being among the most successful. Founded in 1837 by veteran British naval commander and Philhellene, Sir Frank Abney Hastings, the Hellenic Steamship Company (EEA) had quickly expanded into a wide-open market in the Eastern Mediterranean. The EEA specialized in shipbuilding and seaborne transportation of goods and people across the Aegean which they accomplished to great effect. Later on, EEA operations would expand to the Black Sea, Ionian Sea, and Eastern Mediterranean Sea by the late 1840’s, increasing the company’s bottom line immensely.
The Port of Piraeus circa 1860
However, while Hastings was certainly a visionary with an eye to the future, he would prove to be a poor businessman who unfortunately hamstrung the company for many years with his blunt demeanor and insensitive disregard towards Greece’s sailing tradition. There was also substantial resistance to modernization amongst the merchant class and shipping magnates of the Archipelago who viewed the steamship with contempt. Despite its success as a weapon of war during the War for Independence and its growing proficiency for seaborne commerce; various elements within Greece’s maritime community still considered the steamship a novelty, a very expensive novelty that was prone to mechanical breakdowns. In their eyes, the advantages steamships offered were not nearly enough to overcome the immense financial burdens of buying the ships, hiring the engineers necessary to maintain them, and training the crews to operate them safely. Not to mention the exorbitant costs of coaling the ships on a regular basis, as coal wasn’t exactly readily available in Greece at the time.
Hasting’s efforts to sell his ships and their services to Greek Government would meet with more success as they would agree to a minor transporting contract in the early 1840’s. Yet, there were also those within the Ministry of the Navy who argued that a dramatic shift to steam powered ships would diminish the quality of the Hellenic Navy as they would effectively lose all the accumulated knowledge and finely honed skills developed over countless generations. Instead, they suggested a more gradual transition, taking place over the next few decades – a timeline that was very much at odds with the EEA’s interests of a more rapid shift.
Eventually, Hasting’s declining health, along with the Company’s declining profits would see the EEA’s Board of Managers vote to replace Hastings with one of their own, Elias Kechagias who took the reins of the company in February 1851. Kechagias was a businessman through and through, but he had developed a firm respect for Hastings over the years and had adopted several of his opinions on the importance of naval innovation. Upon taking power, Kechagias quickly began a broad sweeping public relations campaign to expand the appeal of the steamship amongst a younger generation of seamen, citing their increased safety and speed compared to the antiquated sailing ships of their forefathers.
His most notable public relations initiative, however, would be a boat race from Piraeus to the port of Mytilene between a traditional sailing sloop named Cleon and one of his company’s newest steamships named the Diodotus. To heighten the excitement of the race, Kechagias gave the Cleon a head start of several hours before unleashing the Diodotus to chase it down. Despite its initial disadvantage, the Diodotus quickly caught and then passed the Cleon as it was nearing the western coast of Lesbos. The Diodutus’ victory was so great that the Cleon had only arrived in port after the winning captain had begun his victory speech. While these public relation displays would prove dividends in the long term, the EEA’s profits margin would stay relatively static in the short term, that is until the signing of the Clarendon-Kolokotronis Agreement in the Spring of 1855.
Thereafter, EEA ships would transport countless tons of cargo to the Bulgarian coast, whilst British Steamships requiring service would flock to Syros with nearly four dozen British warships, transport ships, and medical ships arriving at the EEA’s facilities between May 1855 and March 1857 seeking repairs and resupply. While the British coin was certainly nice, the publicity generated by the increased traffic helped too as local business for the EEA nearly doubled within a year’s time. Another factor working in Kechagias’ favor was the opening of the Megalopolis coal mine in recent years, nearly doubling Greece’s production of lignite by 1861 thus mitigating one of the largest remaining criticisms of steamship usage, namely the high cost and limited supply of coal.
While the improved fortunes of the EEA helped revitalize Syros for a time, it would only be temporary as Athens and Piraeus continued their ascendency as the economic heart of Greece, especially with the opening of the Corinth Canal in late 1862. Moreover, the EEA’s great success would breed competition as a number of rivals began to emerge in the coming years to service the growing steamship industry. Nevertheless, Syros and the EEA would still see a number of prominent engineers travel to and emerge from their dockyards including one young shipwright from Paros named Demosthenis Issigonis.
Although he was only in his late twenties at the start of the Great Russian War, Demosthenis Issigonis had already established himself as a capable worker among his peers at the port town of Parikia, one with a keen intellect and good work ethic. Owing to its ideal location, Paros like many other islands in the Cyclades would host a number of British warships over the course of the Great Eurasian War. Naturally, this uptick in traffic would also mean an uptick in business for the local shipwrights, Issigonis included, with many walking away from the war substantially richer than they began it. Yet as is usually the case with fast money, many would quickly squander it on poor investments and personal vices. Issigonis was no exception. Yet what made him special was that he would walk away from the Conflict with something far greater than coin; he would gain an intricate knowledge and experience working on steamships.
The port of Hermoupolis on the isle of Syros, seat of the Hellenic Steamship Company
Following the last major sortie of the Russian Black Seas’ Fleet in the Spring of 1856, various British warships withdrew from the theater seeking safe harbors for repairs. Most ships would stop in the nearby ports of the Ottoman Empire, yet a small handful would attempt to return to Malta for more extensive work. One such ship, was a steam frigate called HMS Tiger which would soon begin experiencing engine trouble whilst steaming through the Aegean and quickly fell behind its compatriots. Although the ship would make it as far as the Cyclades, its issues began to multiply and worsen greatly, forcing the ship’s Captain, Sir Henry Wells Giffard to make the fateful decision to dock at the closest port; the port he chose was Parikia on the isle of Paros.
The arrival of HMS Tiger in the small seaside town would prove troublesome for the locals as they lacked the experience or knowhow to repair a steamship’s engines. Many of the older and more established shipwrights simply balked at the challenge outright, whilst a few others considered the job before abandoning it later on. Ultimately, young Demosthenis would take it upon himself to repair the damaged vessel at great personal expense to himself and his family. Yet, after several weeks of trial and error, as well as extensive correspondence with representatives of the EEA, Demosthenis would succeed in restoring the warship to active service, earning himself a tidy commission for his considerable efforts. More important than this, however, was the great knowledge and insight he had gained on steamships which would help propel him and his family to greatness in the years ahead. Months later, Demosthenis would move to Syros and work as an engineer for the Hellenic Steamship Company for several years before ultimately leaving to create his own company in 1864, but that is a story for another day.
Sadly, for many Greeks scattered across the countryside, this great economic proliferation was not readily apparent. Whereas the great plantations and shipping magnates of Greece had seen their profits increase exponentially thanks to a massive influx of British coin, this foreign investments into Greece’s port facilities and luxury industries had little impact on the daily lives of many hundreds of thousands of Hellenes still residing in rustic villages scattered across the interior. Far from the glitz and the glamor of Athens or Patras or Heraklion or Chios, most Greeks eked out a spartan existence just at or slightly above the poverty line, with some unfortunate souls even living in states of abject poverty. To help make ends meet, those within the lower strata of Greek society were often forced to take on multiple jobs just to keep a roof over their families’ heads and to keep their children’s bellies full.
A Morean man could be a farmer for much of the year, planting grain or corn in Autumn and then harvest it in late Spring. At the same time, he would begin cultivating beans and lentils to add variety to his diet while also increasing his stock of sellable produce. The women and children of the family also contributed to the effort by tending to their small vegetable garden where they grew various plants and herbs like tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, cabbage and squash among others for personal consumption. If they were fortunate enough, then they would also maintain their olive groves, apple orchards and fig trees. When there was nothing else to tend to, or when there were breaks in the growing seasons; these peasant farmers would often supplement their meagre incomes by cobbling shoes, knitting clothes, felling trees for raw lumber or for making charcoal out of it. Some less fortunate souls even made their livings collecting and selling wild herbs and grasses, or by working as seasonal laborers harvesting crops on a larger plantation. This wasn’t just true of farmers as most shepherds and some lesser merchants also performed various other jobs to support their families when their main profession wasn’t enough to make ends meet.
To fully understand the poverty of the rural Greek communities, one need not look any further than their diet, which generally consisted of the very foodstuffs they had produced themselves. Usually, this took the form of bread, beans, corn, dairy products, nuts, potatoes, and various fruits and vegetables. Sometimes they would accent their meals with fish if they lived near the coast or flourishes of salt, garlic, piperi (paprika), saffron and other herbs if they were lucky. Meanwhile, their choose of beverages often consisted of well or river water, milk if they had goats or cattle, mead if they had honey, wine if they had grape orchards, and/or other liquors if they had the resources to produce them. For most Greeks, however, meat was a rarity, one that was only indulged once a year during Easter and even then, the poorest within Greece couldn’t even afford this small luxury.
Things were even worse in the New Provinces of Greece as large swaths of Thessaly and Epirus had been despoiled by Greek partisans and Ottoman auxiliaries over the course of the recent conflict. Countless acres of farmland had been scorched, numerous villages had been pillaged, thousands of people had been slain, and thousands more had been uprooted from their homes and forced to flee in whichever direction they could. Epirus was especially hit hard as what had once been the best road system in the Balkans under Ali Pasha Tepelenë had deteriorated into one of the worst as three decades of neglect, war and wanton destruction had ruined the region’s infrastructure. Moreover, the already limited arable land of Epirus was ravaged and raided by warring bands year after year leaving little pristine land for those that remained. Even after the War had come to an official end in 1857, the fighting continued unabated for a time as sporadic acts of sectarian violence occurred between neighboring Christian and Muslim communities until the latter emigrated from the region or the Greek Government intervened to restore peace.
Dakos - a traditional Cretan dish
Moreover, the archaic land practices and feudal practices of the Ottoman era carried over into the Kingdom of Greece for a short time, stunting the growth – or rather recovery - of the new provinces for several critical months. Several enterprising Greeks would attempt to replace the outgoing Muslim elites themselves, only to face stiff resistance from the yeoman farmers of these lands. Although the Greek Government would move quickly to help Thessaly and Epirus recover, investing heavily into the reconstruction of damaged roads and irrigation systems, it would ultimately take a number of years before these provinces would fully rebound from the turmoil of recent conflict and beginning surpassing their previous limits.
Complicating matters was the practice of dividing a father’s properties evenly amongst his sons, even when such divisions made it impossible to support them and their families. As such, the younger sons would often be forced to sell these unproductive properties to their elder siblings and migrate to the cities in the hopes of fending off starvation. While many thousands would emigrate from the countryside to the cities, many thousands more stubbornly refused to leave the land of their birth, resulting in widespread poverty and famine across large swathes of Thessaly and Epirus. The Athenian Government would attempt to curtail this practice and promote migration to the cities, but there was little they could really do in this regard without trampling upon the legal rights of landholders. As such, Thessaly long considered the breadbasket of Greece, was forced to import grain from the other provinces of Hellas for several months just to feed its population.
Added to this growing crisis was a not so insignificant number of refugees from Macedonia, Thrace and Ionia who had fled Ottoman reprisals for the relative safety of Greece. Although Government sources during this time were relatively sparse, most accounts put the total number of refugees arriving in the Greek State at around twelve to sixteen thousand people although it is believed to be much higher, with many thousands more fleeing elsewhere. Of these people, many settled in the nearest safe haven they could find, which in most cases were the already encumbered regions of Thessaly and Epirus. Sadly, as these border provinces had been desolated by war and rebellion, many refugees were then forced to venture even further south into Aetolia-Acarnania and Phocis-Phthiotis, with many turning to the major cities for shelter and sustenance. Most of the new arrivals had little more than the clothes upon their backs, while some unfortunate souls didn’t even have that meagre luxury. One particular account from an unknown writer describes the arrival of a Kozani mother and her three young children in Lamia during the Summer of 1856.
Similar accounts were sadly commonplace across the Balkans during the waning days of the Great Russian War and Macedonia Revolt of 1855-1857 as numerous communities were ransacked by rampaging Ottoman troops and their auxiliaries. The North African mercenaries were particularly brutal in their pillaging; killing whatever men and boys of fighting age they could find, raping the women, and enslaving the rest. Whatever wealth they could find was pillaged, whilst everything else was burned and left to rot. It comes as no surprise then that feelings of revanchism grew within the hearts and minds of the Greek people for their kinsmen were left to suffer and die under such depraved overlords as these.
The refugee crisis afflicting the Balkans was not exclusive to the Greeks however, as many communities of Albanians, Bulgarians, Serbians, and even some Turks also experienced forced migrations from their homes by warring bands. The plights of these other peoples will be covered in a later account, but for the purpose of this piece it should be noted that many of the Muslims of Thessaly and Epirus would flee from the annexed provinces for the relative safety of the Ottoman Empire. Although many of the poorer Muslims left with in a hurry with naught but the clothes on their backs; several of the Chifliks in the know took their time and carefully vacated as much of their personal property as they possibly could in anticipation of the Greek annexation. This was usually in the form of coin, furniture, jewelry, livestock, pottery, tools, and anything else that wasn’t nailed down, before promptly selling what was left to the highest bidder and departing for the Ottoman Empire. Much of this was done out of financial necessity as many of these items would be needed to start over in the Turkish State; yet for many, this was simply one last act of spite towards the Greeks who had opposed them and driven them from their homes.
Epirote militiamen attack an Albanian community in Epirus
-Scene from the Thesprotia Land Feud
This ironically created another problem for the Greeks as roughly three fourths of all arable land in Thessaly and Epirus were previously owned by the Turks and Albanians. Efforts to divvy up the vacant property would often result in feuds between those who claimed ownership via their dealings with the Chifliks and those who claimed ownership via right of occupation and conquest. Here too, the Greek Government would have to step in to settle the matter, resulting in a number of years of legal debates and court cases between the various interests and actors. Even when these litigations were resolved peacefully, and tracts of land were finally sold at auction, the landed magnates would often times outbid their poorer opponents forcing the latter to finally give up their claims and settle for a pittance. Thankfully, this wasn’t always the case as many thousands of peasant farmers gained their own land after generations of effective serfdom, but not all were so lucky. In fact, many thousands would be forced to vacate their homes for the cities in the hopes of finding new opportunities and sources of income to support their families.
Although these were all certainly unfortunate developments, it wasn’t entirely negative for the Kingdom of Greece and its New Provinces. As previously mentioned, the Hellenic Government invested heavily in the recovery of Thessaly and Epirus, spending upwards of one million Pounds Sterling between the Spring of 1857 and the start of 1860. Most of this sum was spent on the construction, or rather reconstruction of various roads, bridges, aqueducts, irrigation canals, and drainage culverts across the regions, all of which helped revert the territory to the state it was in before the recent conflict. However, around a quarter of this amount would go towards the construction of a new railway connection the city of Larissa with the region's chief port of Demetrios in the south of the province.
Another fifty million Drachma (~2 million Pounds Sterling) would be loaned to smaller Thessalian and Epirote farmers, enabling them to legally purchase their lands, hire laborers, and acquire more modern farming tools and equipment like cast iron and steel ploughs and horse drawn reapers. Additionally, the University of Athens’ School of Agriculture opened its doors to particularly deserving Thessalian and Epirote Farmers, granting them access to their resources and accrued knowledge on modern farming practices and techniques. Most importantly, the Greek Government would formally abolish the dreaded Chiflik system in early 1861 and established various protections for small landholders against predatory buyers and large plantation owners.
While modernization and development would be a slow process, especially among Greece's smaller land holders and farmers who continued to use their ancient practices well into the 1880's, these initiatives were more quickly adopted by the county's latifundia who experienced marked improvements in their production in the ensuing months. However, one crop in particular – grain - would see a truly meteoric jump in its annual yields thanks to these measures. In 1860, the total national production of Greek grains (wheat, maize, barley, rice, etc) was a respectable 620,000,000 kilograms, a sum that was largely divided amongst the many provinces of Greece. By 1900, this total had more than tripled to 2.1 billion kilograms per year, with much of the increased production coming from the lands of Thessaly alone; earning the province the moniker “the Breadbasket of Greece”.
Next Time: A Game of Gods and Men
 His father and uncle were both veterans of the War for Independence. Later on, this uncle would become a prominent politician from Boeotia during the late 1830’s and 1840’s in OTL.
 As of the 1840’s the only known sources of coal in Greece ITTL are those on Euboea and near Megalopolis. However, only the Aliveri mine was operational at this time, with the Megalopolis mine only opening in the early 1850’s ITTL.
 This is a reference to the Mytilenean Debate and the ensuing race to Mytilene during the opening years of the Peloponnesian War.
 This is an ATL version of the grandfather of Mini Cooper founder, Sir Alec Issigonis. ITTL, his family stays in Paros owing to the better fortunes of Greece.
 This is basically the “Mediterranean Diet” in a nutshell.
 For reference, the Kingdom of Greece produced a similar yield of cereals (615 million kg) per year in 1906. While this is a massive improvement over OTL, I do believe it is justified as TTL’s 1860 Greece is roughly the same size territorially as OTL 1906 Greece, with the only major differences being the addition of Crete and Northern Epirus ITTL which aren’t exactly agricultural powerhouses. However, TTL’s Greece is far ahead of OTL in terms of its agricultural development. In OTL, Greece’s agricultural industry really underperformed, with many Greek farmers still utilizing archaic tools like the wooden plough and hand reaper well into the 20th century. They also failed to implement even the most basic modern farming practices such as crop rotation and the use of fertilizers, much to their own detriment. Obviously, this wasn’t uniform across the entire country as some did try to modernize, but by in large most were really behind the times. As such, I believe a Greece that does implement a lot of these new tools and techniques can really ramp up their agricultural production to more respectable numbers far sooner than OTL.
Wait a minute here. Greek production in 1938 was 1,658,000 tons. In OTL it went up from 234,000t in 1860 to 286,000t in 1875 to 424,000t in 1887 to 612,000t in 1911 to 874,000t in 1914. It can certainly by increased in OTL it doubled between 1928 and 1938. The tables below (complete tables available in link), from Detrilis History of modern Greece covers the area in square km used for cereal. If you do the math production is 102 tons/km2 in 1860, 106 tons/km2 in 1911 and 103 tons/km2 in 1938. So most of the expansion is directly connected to reclaiming land for cultivation. Last column is the total land under cultivation, which makes for some interesting reading. The Greece of 1860 has 6.35% of land under cultivation. In 1911 it's is up to 13.59%. In 1914 it goes down to 11.13%, put differently the 57,000 km2 gained in 1912-13 have only 8.26% of land under cultivation. Come 1938 it has increased to 18.68%.In 1860, the total national production of Greek grains (wheat, maize, barley, rice, etc) was a respectable 620,000,000 kilograms, a sum that was largely divided amongst the many provinces of Greece. By 1900, this total had more than tripled to 2.1 billion kilograms per year, with much of the increased production coming from the lands of Thessaly alone; earning the province the moniker “the Breadbasket of Greece”.