Charilaos Trikoupis

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Charilaos Trikoupis
Χαρίλαος Τρικούπης
Charilaos Trikoupis.gif
Charilaos Trikoupis - Athens, Photographic Archive of Hellenic Literary and Historical Museum
Prime Minister of Greece
In office
May 8, 1875 October 27, 1875
Monarch George I
Preceded by Dimitrios Voulgaris
Succeeded by Alexandros Koumoundouros
In office
November 2, 1878 November 7, 1878
MonarchGeorge I
Preceded by Alexandros Koumoundouros
Succeeded by Alexandros Koumoundouros
In office
March 22, 1880 October 25, 1880
MonarchGeorge I
Preceded by Alexandros Koumoundouros
Succeeded by Alexandros Koumoundouros
In office
March 15, 1882 May 1, 1885
MonarchGeorge I
Preceded by Alexandros Koumoundouros
Succeeded by Theodoros Deligiannis
In office
May 21, 1886 November 5, 1890
MonarchGeorge I
Preceded by Dimitrios Valvis
Succeeded by Theodoros Deligiannis
In office
June 22, 1892 May 15, 1893
MonarchGeorge I
Preceded by Konstantinos Konstantopoulos
Succeeded by Sotirios Sotiropoulos
In office
November 11, 1893 January 24, 1895
MonarchGeorge I
Preceded by Sotirios Sotiropoulos
Succeeded by Nikolaos Deligiannis
Personal details
Born(1832-06-11)June 11, 1832 [1]
Nafplion, Greece
DiedMarch 30, 1896(1896-03-30) (aged 63)
Cannes, France
Resting place Athens, Greece
Political party Modernist Party
Father Spyridon Trikoupis
Relatives Alexandros Mavrokordatos (uncle)

Charilaos Trikoupis (Greek : Χαρίλαος Τρικούπης; July 11, 1832 – March 30, 1896) was a Greek politician who served as a Prime Minister of Greece seven times from 1875 until 1895.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

The Greeks or Hellenes are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.

Prime Minister of Greece head of government of the Hellenic Republic and the leader of the Greek cabinet

The Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, colloquially referred to as the Prime Minister of Greece, is the head of government of the Hellenic Republic and the leader of the Greek Cabinet. The incumbent Prime Minister is Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who took office on 8 July 2019.


He is best remembered for introducing the motion of no confidence to the Greek constitution, proposing and funding such ambitious and modern projects as the construction of the Corinth Canal, but also eventually leading the country to bankruptcy. Nowadays, he is commonly considered one of the greatest Greek Prime Ministers to ever have served.

A motion of no-confidence, or a vote of no confidence, or confidence motion, is a statement or vote about whether a person in a position of responsibility is no longer deemed fit to hold that position, perhaps because they are inadequate in some respect, are failing to carry out obligations, or are making decisions that other members feel detrimental. As a parliamentary motion, it demonstrates to the head of state that the elected parliament no longer has confidence in the appointed government. In some countries, if a no confidence motion is passed against an individual minister they have to resign along with the entire council of ministers.

Corinth Canal canal

The Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, arguably making the peninsula an island. The canal was dug through the Isthmus at sea level and has no locks. It is 6.4 kilometres (4 mi) in length and only 21.4 metres (70 ft) wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships. Nowadays it has little economic importance and is mainly a tourist attraction.


Born in Nauplion in 1832, with family ties to Messolonghi, he was the son of Spiridon Trikoupis, a politician who was Prime Minister of Greece briefly in 1833, and Ekaterini Mavrokordatou, sister of Alexandros Mavrokordatos, who also served as a Prime Minister.

Alexandros Mavrokordatos was a Greek statesman and member of the Mavrocordatos family of Phanariotes.

After studying law and literature in University of Athens and in Paris, where he obtained his doctorate, he was sent to London in 1852 as an attaché of the Greek legation. By 1863, he had risen to be chargé d'affaires , but he aimed rather at a political not a diplomatic career. Trikoupis' family had been original supporters of the English Party; that and his reserved nature bestowed on him the nickname "the Englishman."

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with the largest municipal population in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

<i>Chargé daffaires</i> head of diplomatic mission when no higher official exists

A chargé d'affaires, often shortened to chargé (French) and sometimes to charge-D, is a diplomat who heads an embassy in the absence of the ambassador. The term is French for "charged with matters". A female diplomat may be designated a chargée d'affaires, following French declension.

In 1865, after he had concluded the negotiations for the cession by United Kingdom to Greece of the Ionian Islands, he returned to Athens and in 1865 he was elected to the Hellenic Parliament, and in the following year was made Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the young age of thirty-four.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Ionian Islands Traditional region of Greece

The Ionian Islands are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese, but the group includes many smaller islands as well as the seven principal ones.

Hellenic Parliament Legislative body of the Hellenic Republic

The Hellenic Parliament, in Greek known as Voulí ton Ellínon is the parliament of Greece, located in the Old Royal Palace, overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens. The Parliament is the supreme democratic institution that represents the citizens through an elected body of Members of Parliament (MPs).

"Who's to Blame?"

In 1872 he created his own party, called the Fifth Party (Πέμπτο Κόμμα) on a reformist agenda. On June 29, 1874 (Julian calendar) he published a manifesto in the Athens daily Kairoi entitled "Who's to blame?" [2] (Τις Πταίει;), naming the King as the answer. Specifically, he condemned the king for bypassing public opinion expressed in elections in his selection of Prime Ministers. Trikoupis wrote that the political instability, which characterized the public life was due to the privilege of the crown as far as the appointment and ousting of governments was concerned. This privilege may have derived from the Greek Constitution of 1864, but it resulted in the formation of weak minority governments based exclusively on the royal favor.

The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 708 AUC (46 BC/BCE), was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on 1 January 709 AUC (45 BC/BCE), by edict. It was the predominant calendar in the Roman world, most of Europe, and in European settlements in the Americas and elsewhere, until it was gradually replaced by the Gregorian calendar, promulgated in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

The Second National Assembly of the Hellenes took place in Athens and dealt both with the election of a new sovereign as well as with the drafting of a new Constitution, thereby implementing the transition from constitutional monarchy to a crowned republic.

Moreover, it underlined that if "a remedy is not applied", the country will revolt. In order to prevent this, the writer suggested the restriction of the royal privileges with the introduction of the principle of the "declared confidence" which, as he supported, would bring about the harmonization of the political life via the formation of a basically two-party parliamentary system: "When it (the kingship) sincerely decides to accept that it invites to power only the majority, there is doubt that in Greece, as elsewhere, this enviable honour will not remain exposed for long. Therefore, it is not the fault of the regime, it is not the fault of the representatives of the Nation, it is not the fault of the Nation, if the Parliament is divided in many parties and has not the majority when demanded… The vice lies elsewhere and it is there that a remedy should be sought".

The article landed him briefly in jail [3] but also boosted his popularity significantly. A year later, on May 8, 1875 he mustered a parliamentary plurality and King George I reluctantly named him as Prime Minister as the leader of a new Reformist party called the New (or Modernist) Party (Νεωτεριστικόν Κόμμα).

Political power and struggles

Trikoupis at the podium of the Hellenic Parliament. Trikoupis played a major role in the evolution of a genuine parliamentary process in Greece through the adoption of the dedilomeni principle, but his reformist projects suffered because of frequent electoral upheavals. Oil painting of the Greek Parliament, at the end of the 19th century, by N. Orlof.jpg
Trikoupis at the podium of the Hellenic Parliament. Trikoupis played a major role in the evolution of a genuine parliamentary process in Greece through the adoption of the dedilomeni principle, but his reformist projects suffered because of frequent electoral upheavals.

Among his first acts was the reform of election law and the establishment of the " dedilomeni principle" (αρχή της δεδηλωμένης): the "declared [confidence of Parliament]", obliging the king to appoint the leader of the party with a plurality of parliamentary votes as the Prime Minister. The dedilomeni principle may have contributed to Greece quickly becoming a two-party state as smaller parties merged in an effort to form a plurality. Initially observed by convention, the dedilomeni has been incorporated into all subsequent Greek constitutions and ushered Greece into modern parliamentary politics. The opposing party to Trikoupis's Modernist Party was the conservative Nationalist Party led by Alexandros Koumoundouros.

With ever-changing alliances in parliament and fluctuating election results, Greece went through twelve prime ministers in the next six years. Trikoupis headed three of these short-lived governments. The 1875 general election on October 4 was considered the most honest election held to that date in Greece: Trikoupis lost. His short period in office meant he had no opportunity to begin carrying out the aggressive reform program which he had in mind. His foreign policy was to develop the resources of his country so as to create an army and a fleet, and thus to give Greece the power to acquire a leading place among the nations of Southeastern Europe.

It was not until 1882 that he was able to take measures to this end. On March 15, 1882 he became prime minister for the third time (his second period of office, two years earlier, had lasted only for a few months), and at once set about the task of putting Greek finance upon a firmer basis, and of increasing the prosperity of the country by making roads, railways and harbours. Despite his vision of a progressive nation with modern infrastructure, Greece in the latter part of the 19th century was a poor and backwards country.

Greek satirical poster of 1895 depicting Trikoupis and his main political opponent Theodoros Deligiannis. The flag reads: "down with the taxes, up with the loans!" Neos Aristofanis5.jpg
Greek satirical poster of 1895 depicting Trikoupis and his main political opponent Theodoros Deligiannis. The flag reads: "down with the taxes, up with the loans!"

His government was relatively stable and lasted for more than three years. During that time, he was able to push through an aggressive program of reforms. Trikoupis was a strong believer in the need to create an infrastructure to support the economy, and to attract foreign investment. A progressive program of road and railroad construction significantly improved internal communications. The most important of the works he campaigned for was the digging of the Corinth Canal. Another project that Trikoupis envisioned during that period was a bridge to connect the cities of Rion and Antirion across the Gulf of Corinth. The bridge was beyond the technical and financial abilities of the young Kingdom at that time; construction began more than a century later. The bridge, officially named the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge in his honour, was completed in 2004.

His difficulties, however, were now increased by the large expenditure that had been incurred for military preparations while he had been out of office as the result of the union effected between Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia. The Greeks had demanded a compensation for this shifting of the balance of power from the Ottoman Empire and had prepared to enforce their demand by an appeal to arms. The Great Powers, however, interfered blockading the Piraeus to make Greece remain quiet. Trikoupis nevertheless believed that he could raise the value of Greek paper currency to par in a short time, and all his calculations were based upon that assumption. Unfortunately for him and his country, he was not able to make it happen.

He was defeated at the 1885 general election, but in the following year he resumed office and again took up the cause of economic and financial reform.

Anti-athletic Olympic Games

Despite the Greek government receiving more than generous funding from Evangelis Zappas, back in 1856, for Athens to host athletic Olympic Games at the Panathinaiko Stadium, in perpetuity, members of the Greek government, notably Trikoupis and Stephanos Dragoumis, were resoundingly against them being athletic games. Trikoupis preferred an agro-industrial Olympics instead. [4] The Zappeion, built to honor Zappas, was intended, by Trikoupis, to host agro-industrial competitions. Despite Trikoupis' anti-athletic politics, the Zappeion not only was the first indoor Olympic arena, hosting fencing in 1896, it also became the first Olympic Village in 1906. Coincidentally, Trikoupis died during the first week of the Athens 1896 Olympics.

"Regretfully, we are bankrupt"

His sixth turn in office (June 22, 1892 – May 15, 1893) was a dramatic one. The country's treasury had been depleted by overspending and systemic corruption often caused by political campaigns in which parties promised massive spending programs. Trikoupis stood before parliament and made the most famous statement of his career: "Regretfully, we are bankrupt" [5] (Greek: "Δυστυχώς επτωχεύσαμεν"). The servicing of foreign loans was suspended, and all non-essential spending was cut.

Trikoupis was again in power from November 11, 1893 until January 24, 1895. It was during that time that the planning for the 1896 Summer Olympics was begun. Trikoupis was skeptical about the games as he feared that the country could not shoulder the cost. He was convinced, eventually, to host them and made the needed arrangements. This would be his last term in office.

Resignation and death

Trikoupis tried to make terms with the creditors of his nation, but he failed in that too. The taxation measures he proposed to combat the country's bankruptcy aroused great hostility, and in January, 1895 he resigned. At the general election, four months later, he and his Modernist Party were astoundingly defeated by his main political rival, Theodoros Deligiannis, and Trikoupis did not even manage to win a seat in the parliament. This led to him resigning from politics and moving to Cannes.

Statue to Trikoupis outside the Old Parliament in Athens. Charilaos Trikoupis statue Athens.jpg
Statue to Trikoupis outside the Old Parliament in Athens.

In the 17 March 1896 elections, he was involuntarily nominated as an MP, and was elected back into Parliament, but Trikoupis never returned to Greece to assume his seat; he died in Cannes on 30 March 1896. He was buried in Athens.


Trikoupis is considered as one of the greatest modern Greek politicians for his reformist and modernising programs as well as for the introduction of the dedilomeni principle. Roads in all major Greek cities, as well as the Rio–Antirrio bridge, have been named after him.

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1881 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 20 December 1881. Supporters of Charilaos Trikoupis emerged as the largest bloc in Parliament, with 125 of the 245 seats. Trikoupis became Prime Minister on 15 March 1883.

1887 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 4 January 1887. Supporters of Charilaos Trikoupis emerged as the largest bloc in Parliament, with 90 of the 150 seats. Following the election Trikoupis remained Prime Minister, having assumed office on 21 May 1886.

1892 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 3 May 1892. Supporters of Charilaos Trikoupis emerged as the largest bloc in Parliament, with 160 of the 207 seats. Trikoupis became Prime Minister for the sixth time on 22 June.

1899 Greek legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Greece on 7 February 1899. Although Charilaos Trikoupis died in 1896, his supporters emerged as the largest bloc in Parliament, with 110 of the 235 seats, Georgios Theotokis, his successor as a leader of the New Party became Prime Minister after the election.

Aikaterini Trikoupi was the wife of the Prime Minister of Greece and historian Spyridon Trikoupis. Her son was Charilaos Trikoupis, also a prime minister.


  1. Note: Greece officially adopted the Gregorian calendar on 16 February 1923 (which became 1 March). All dates prior to that, unless specifically denoted, are Old Style.
  2. Ways to modernity in Greece and Turkey: encounters with Europe, 1850-1950 by Anna Frangoudaki,Çağlar Keyder.
  3. Old and new Athens by Dimitrios Sicilianos.
  4. Young, "The Modern Olympics - A Struggle for Revival", Chapter 5, p.63, The Johns Hopkins University Press (1996).
  5. More Than Bricks in the Wall by Lea Stadtler,Achim Schmitt,Patricia Klarner,Thomas Straub.


Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Fyfe, Henry Hamilton (1911). "Tricoupis, Charilaos". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.


Political offices
Preceded by
Dimitrios Voulgaris
Prime Minister of Greece
May 8, 1875 – October 27, 1875
Succeeded by
Alexandros Koumoundouros
Preceded by
Alexandros Koumoundouros
Prime Minister of Greece
November 2, 1878 – November 7, 1878
Succeeded by
Alexandros Koumoundouros
Preceded by
Alexandros Koumoundouros
Prime Minister of Greece
March 22, 1880 – October 25, 1880
Succeeded by
Alexandros Koumoundouros
Preceded by
Alexandros Koumoundouros
Prime Minister of Greece
March 15, 1882 – May 1, 1885
Succeeded by
Theodoros Deligiannis
Preceded by
Dimitrios Valvis
Prime Minister of Greece
May 21, 1886 – November 5, 1890
Succeeded by
Theodoros Deligiannis
Preceded by
Konstantinos Konstantopoulos
Prime Minister of Greece
June 22, 1892 – May 15, 1893
Succeeded by
Sotirios Sotiropoulos
Preceded by
Sotirios Sotiropoulos
Prime Minister of Greece
November 11, 1893 – January 24, 1895
Succeeded by
Nikolaos Deligiannis