Greek History: May

Greek flag flying in Chicago's Daley Plaza

Greece has an amazing and storied history. Let’s take a look back at what happened in Modern Greek history in May.

May in Greek History

At WindyCity Greek, we celebrate our rich culture and heritage. It’s time to take a look back at the month of May in Modern Greek history.


1821 The governor Yusuf Bey ordered his men to kill every Greek in Thessaloniki that they find. The killings lasted for days, with the metropolitan and leading notables among the victims.

1885 Prime Minister Theodoros Deligiannis mobilized the Greek Army in accordance with the Bulgarian revolt. Fearing modification of the Treaty of Berlin, the British Royal Navy blockaded Greece.



Greek flag flying in Chicago's Daley Plaza



May 1

1909 – Yiannis Ritsos, Greek poet & playwright, was born. (d. 1990)

1944 World War II: Two hundred Communist prisoners were shot by the Germans at Kaisariani, Athens in reprisal for the killing of General Franz Krech by partisans at Molaoi.

1976 – Alexandros Panagoulis, Greek poet & politician, passed away. (b. 1939)

2004  – Cyprus joined the European Union.

2010 Prime Minister George Papandreou announced a 4th round of austerity measures. May Day rallies were staged by unions, left-wing, anarchist, and communist party supporters in Athens and Thessaloniki as citizens protested the harsh measures imposed by the government in order to secure bailouts from the International Monetary Fund and The European Union. The rallies turned violent when riot police were sent out to contain the protestors.


May 2

1864  – Britain donated the Ionian Islands to Greece, as coronation gift to King George I.

1906 – Closing ceremony of the Intercalated Games was held in Athens, Greece.

2010 International Monetary Fund and the European Union announced a €110 billion bailout for Greece in its financial crisis; the funds allowed Greece to fulfill bond payments due later that month.


May 3

1837 – The University of Athens was founded in Athens, Greece.

1821 Metropolitans Gregorios of Derkon, Dorotheos of Adrianople, Ioannikios of Tyrnavos, Joseph of Thessaloniki, the Phanariote Gorgios Callimachi and Nikolaos Mourousis were decapitated on orders of the Sultan in Constantinople.

1996 – Dimitri Fampas, Greek guitarist, composer, & educator, passed away. (b. 1921)


May 4

1912 – Italy occupied the Greek island of Rhodes.

1913 – Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark, was born. (d. 2007)

1941 Out of respect for the Greek nation, Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht not to take Greek war prisoners and allows them to carry weapons.

2001 Pope John Paul II visited Athens and made apologies for the sins of the Crusade Constantinople in 1204.

2010 Members of the Communist Party of Greece broke into the Acropolis and hung banners urging the “Peoples of Europe (to) Rise Up”.


May 5

1919 – Georgios Papadopoulos, Greek colonel & politician, 169th Prime Minister of Greece, was born. (d. 1999)

1965 – Nikos Gounaris, Greek tenor & composer, passed away. (b. 1915)

1999 – Vasilis Diamantopoulos, Greek actor, director, & screenwriter, passed away. (b. 1920)

2010Protests continue on austerity measures imposed by the government, sparked by sharp wage cuts and new taxes. The nationwide strike shut down the airport and all modes of transportation, virtually sealing off Greece from the world. Schools, some hospitals, and many private businesses were also closed. A large group attempted to storm the Parliament. The day’s events turned deadly when three people were killed as the result of Molotov cocktails hurled into the Marfin Bank. Dozens of people were injured and more than 100 people were arrested.


May 7

1832 – Greece’s independence is recognized by the Treaty of London.


May 8

1821 The Greeks defeated the Turks at the Battle of Gravia Inn, during the Greek War of Independence.

1944 – Themistoklis Diakidis, Greek high jumper, passed away. (b. 1882)

2010 Eurozone leaders approved a $145 billion dollar loan to aid Greece to prevent worsening of its financial situation, on condition that Greece cut its public spending to receive the 3-year loan. The preventive measure was done to prevent Greece from becoming bankrupt, and amid fears that the collapse of Greece could result in a similar fate for other European Union countries.

2016 – Tom M. Apostol, Greek-American analytic number theorist, passed away. (b. 1923)


May 9

1918 – Moisis Michail Bourlas, Greek soldier & educator, was born. (d. 2011)

1998 In Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos was enthroned in Athens as the new head of the Greek Orthodox Church. A recent proposal to force the separation of church and state in Greece was rejected the previous week.


May 10

1878 Distinguished Greek painter Konstantinos Parthenis was born in Alexandria. He is known for breaking with the Greek academic tradition of the 19th century and introduced modern elements together with traditional themes, like the figure of Christ, in his art. (d. 1967)

1905 – Markos Vamvakaris, Greek singer-songwriter & bouzouki player was born. He is known as the Patriarch of Rembetiko. (d. 1972)

1907 – Harilaos Perpessas, Greek composer was born. (d. 1995)


May 11

1771 – Laskarina Bouboulina, Greek commander, was born. (d. 1825)

2005 – Michalis Genitsaris, Greek singer-songwriter, passed away. (b. 1917)


May 12

1821 – The first major battle of the Greek War of Independence against the Turks ws fought in Valtetsi.

1829 – Pavlos Carrer, Greek composer & educator, was born. (d. 1896)

1897 – Greco-Turkish War: Battle at Thessaly – Greek forces and Epirot volunteers tried to cut off Preveza but were forced to retreat with heavy casualties.

1992 – Nikos Gatsos, Greek poet & songwriter, passed away (b. 1911)


May 13

1995Grevena and Kozani were struck by an earthquake. Several villages were destroyed and hundreds of people are left homeless.

1883 – Georgios Papanikolaou, Greek-American pathologist who, invented the pap smear, was born.  (d. 1962)


May 14

1854 –  Anglo-French occupied Piraeus to ensure Greek neutrality during the Crimean War, although a Greek volunteer battalion participated in the Siege of Sevastopol. Cholera epidemic began in the capital, transmitted by the foreign troops.



2010 – Turkish PM, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, visited Greece along with 10 ministers; 21 agreements – memoranda of cooperation between the two countries’ ministries were signed.


May 15

1786 – Dimitris Plapoutas,#Greek general & politician, was born. (d. 1864)

1854 – Ioannis Psycharis, Greek-French philologist and author, was born (d. 1929)


May 16

1418 – John II of Cyprus, King of Cyprus and Armenia and also titular King of Jerusalem from 1432 to 1458, was born. (d. 1458)

1822 – Greek War of Independence: The Turks captured the Greek town of Souli, Epiros.

1936 Leonidas Paraskevopoulos passed away. He was a senior Greek military officer and politician who played a major role in Greece’s war effort during World War I, and was the commander-in-chief of the Greek Army of Asia Minor in 1919–20. In later life, he was a member of the Greek Senate and served as its speaker in 1930–32.

May 17

1902 – Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovered the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer.

1914 – The Protocol of Corfu was signed, recognising full autonomy to Northern Epirus under nominal Albanian sovereignty.

1936 – Panagis Tsaldaris, Greek lawyer & politician, 124th Prime Minister of Greece, passed away on his birthday. (b. 1868)

1891 – Napoleon Zervas, Greek general & politician,was born. (d. 1957)

1936 – Panagis Tsaldaris, Greek lawyer & politician, 124th Prime Minister of Greece, passed away. (b. 1868)


May 18-20

2006 – Athens hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2006.

May 18

2014 – Lykourgos Angelopoulos, Greek singer, musicologist, & academic, passed away.


May 19

Commemoration of the Pontian Greek Genocide (1914-1923)

1989 – Yiannis Papaioannou, Greek composer & educator, passed away (b. 1910)



May 20

1769 – Andreas Vokos Miaoulis, Greek admiral & politician, was born. (d. 1835)

1947 – Georgios Siantos, Greek sergeant & politician, passed away. (b. 1890)

1949 – Damaskinos of Athens, Greek archbishop & politician, 137th Prime Minister of Greece, passed away (b. 1891)


May 20-June 1

1941 – Battle of Crete. German paratroopers invaded Crete.


May 21

1864 Unification of the Ionian Islands with Greece became official.


May 22

1825 Laskarina Bouboulina was assassinated in Spetses.

1941 The King, the Royal family and the Government were evacuated to Alexandria.

1963 – Greek left-wing politician Grigoris Lambrakis, was shot and died five days later.

2005 – Charilaos Florakis, Greek politician, passed away.  (b. 1914)


May 23

1942 – Panagiotis Toundas, Greek composer & conductor, passed away. (b. 1886)

1943 – Vicky Moscholiou, Greek singer, was born. (d. 2005)

1992 – Kostas Davourlis, Greek footballer, passed away. (b. 1948)

2013 – Georges Moustaki, Greek-Jewish singer-songwriter & guitarist, passed away. (b. 1934)

2014 – Panagiotis Pikilidis, Greek wrestler passed away. (b. 1965)


May 24

1832 – The First Kingdom of Greece was declared in the London Conference.

1961 – Cyprus joined the Council of Europe.

2014 – A 6.4 magnitude earthquake occured in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, injuring 324 people.


May 25

1941 – King George of Greece abandoned Crete, relocating to Cairo in a narrow escape from the German forces.

1973 – HNS Velos, while participating in a NATO exercise and in order to protest against the dictatorship in Greece, anchored at Fiumicino, Italy, refusing to return to Greece.



May 26

1821 – Establishment of the Peloponnesian Senate by the Greek rebels.

1913 – Pierre Daninos, Greek-French author, was born. (d. 2005)

1978 – Cybele Andrianou, Greek actress, passed away  (b. 1887)

2009 – Mihalis Papagiannakis, Greek journalist & politician, passed away. (b.1941)


May 27

1963Assassination of politician Grigoris Lambrakis.

1986 – Giorgos Tzifos, Greek actor & cinematographer, passes away. (b. 1918)



May 28

1979 – Konstantinos Karamanlis signed the full treaty of the accession of Greece with the European Economic Community. 

1981– Greece entered the EU.

1943 – Elena Souliotis, Greek soprano & actress was born. She passed away in 2004.

1979 – Konstantinos Karamanlis signs the full treaty of the accession of Greece with the European Economic Community.

2004 – John Tolos, Greek-Canadian wrestler, passed away. (b. 1930)

2013 – Fotis Polymeris, Greek singer-songwriter passes away. (b. 1920)


May 29

1453 – Fall of Constantinople. Ottoman armies under Sultan Mehmed II Fatih captured Constantinople after a 53-day siege, ending the Byzantine Empire.

1453 – Constantine XI Palaiologos, Byzantine emperor, passed away. (b. 1404)

1922 – Iannis Xenakis, Greek-French composer, engineer, & theorist was born. He passed away in 2001.

1926 – Thanasis Veggos, Greek actor & director, was born. (d. 2011)

1951 – Dimitrios Levidis, Greek-French soldier & composer passed away. (b. 1885)

2017 – Constantine Mitsotakis, Greek politician & former PM of Greece, passed away. (b.1918)


May 30

1913 – Signing of the Treaty of London. End of the 1st Balkan War. 

1917 – Alexander I became king of Greece.

1934 – Alketas Panagoulias, Greek footballer &  manager was born. (d. 2012)

1941 – The first resistance act took place in Athens. Two law students (Apostolis Santas and Manolis Glezos) tore down the Swastika banner from the Acropolis.

2014 – Leonidas Vasilikopoulos, Greek admiral, passed away.  (b. 1932)


May 31

1954 – Antonis Benakis, Greek art collector & philanthropist, founded the Benaki Museum, passed away. (b. 1873)

1957 – Stefanos Sarafis, Greek general & politician, passed away. (b. 1890)

2012 – Christopher Challis, Greek-English cinematographer, passed away. (b. 1919)

2013 – Tim Samaras, Greek-American engineer & storm chaser, passed away. (b. 1957)


Greek History – May: Did we miss anything?

Did we miss an important date in modern Greek History? If yes, drop us an email and well add it to the list.

SOURCES: Wikipedia and other online listings

More Greek History: