Pavlos Kountouriotis

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Pavlos Kountouriotis
Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis c. 1915.
President of Greece
In office
24 August 1926 – 10 December 1929
Prime Minister
Preceded byTheodoros Pangalos
Succeeded byAlexandros Zaimis
In office
25 March 1924 – 6 April 1926
Prime Minister
Succeeded byTheodoros Pangalos
Regent of Greece
In office
28 October 1920 – 17 November 1920
Succeeded byQueen Mother Olga
Minister of the Navy
In office
24 September 1915 – 9 June 1916
Prime MinisterAlexandros Zaimis
Stephanos Skouloudis
Preceded byAthanasios N. Miaoulis
Succeeded byKonstantinos Kallaris
Personal details
Born(1855-04-09)9 April 1855
Hydra Island, Kingdom of Greece
Died22 August 1935(1935-08-22) (aged 80)
Palaio Faliro, Second Hellenic Republic
Political partyIndependent (Venizelist)
Angeliki Petrokokkinou
(m. 1889; her d. 1903)

Helen Koupas
(m. 1918; his d. 1935)
RelationsGeorgios Kountouriotis (grandfather)
Nikolaos Votsis (nephew)
ChildrenTheodoros Kountouriotis
Despoina Kountourioti
Lucia Kountourioti
ProfessionNaval officer
AwardsGRE Order Redeemer 2Class.png Grand Commander of the Order of the Redeemer
Military service
AllegianceGreece Kingdom of Greece
Greece Second Hellenic Republic
Branch/serviceNaval Ensign of Greece (1863-1924 and 1935-1970).svg Royal Hellenic Navy
Years of service1875–1917
RankRHN-OF9-sleeve (WWI).svg Návarchos (Admiral)
Battles/warsGreco-Turkish War
Balkan Wars

Pavlos Kountouriotis (Greek: Παύλος Κουντουριώτης; 9 April 1855 – 22 August 1935) was a Greek rear admiral during the Balkan Wars, regent, and the first President of the Second Hellenic Republic. In total he served four times as head of the Greek State, the most times in the history of the seat.

Early life[edit]

Pavlos Kountouriotis was born on the island of Hydra to Theodoros Kountouriotis, Consul and Member of the Greek Parliament and Loukia Negreponte. From his father's side he descended from the Kountouriotis, an Arvanite Hydriot family originally from the village of Kountoura, in the Megarid. Pavlos used Arvanitika frequently as well, and his personal secretary wrote about him that whenever he traveled to Hydra he preferred to use only Arvanitika.[1] He was the grandson of Georgios, a shipowner who like many members of his family, participated in the Greek War of Independence and served as Prime Minister of Greece under King Otto. From his mother's side he was descended from the Negreponte family, a prominent family from Chios and was great-grandson of Constantine Hangerli, Prince of Wallachia. He was the second of nine children, including Ioannis Kountouriotis. Little is known of Pavlos' childhood. In 1875, following his family's long-standing naval tradition, he joined the Royal Hellenic Navy, presumably in the rank of Ensign.[citation needed]

Naval service[edit]

Kountouriotis and crew on the deck of Georgios Averof, 1912
The signal sent by Admiral Kountouriotis from the cruiser Georgios Averof to the fleet, at the start of the Battle of Elli.
Translated it reads: "By the power of God and with the wishes of the King and in the name of Justice, I sail with unstoppable force and with confidence about victory against the enemy of the nation."

First achievements[edit]

In 1886, he took part in the naval operations at Preveza as a lieutenant. During the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, serving as lieutenant commander he commanded the ship Alfeios. His ship took part in at least two landings of Greek troops on the island of Crete. In 1901, commanding the training ship Miaoulis, he was sent to Boston. This was reported as the first transatlantic trip of a Greek war vessel. Kountouriotis served as an aide-de-camp to King Geórgios I from 1908 until 1911, receiving the rank of Captain in 1909. In June 1911, Kountouriotis was sent to Britain, to take control of the newly-commissioned Georgios Averof, following the "blue cheese mutiny". As he was highly esteemed, he quickly reimposed discipline and set sail for Greece.

Balkan Wars[edit]

On 16 April 1912 he was appointed Chief of the Navy General Staff until 16 September, when he was appointed of the Aegean Fleet, in view of the worsening situation in the Balkans, and the imminent outbreak of the First Balkan War.

Kountouriotis played a crucial role in the Greek government's decision to enter the war. Partly because the Greek fleet had not yet completed its modernization programme, and in view of the disaster of 1897, the Greek leadership remained ambivalent about Greece's prospects. Kountouriotis weighed in decisively in these discussions, proclaiming his confidence that even with the existing fleet, victory could be achieved, thanks to superior personnel. His reply to Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos became famous:[2]

Mr. President, I do not occupy myself with x plus y and angles of divergence. I know to speak of one thing. Ships without capable personnel, are [nothing but] heavy lead that sinks in water. I assure you that with the ships we have, we shall do our job well.

During the Balkan Wars, with his flagship, Georgios Averof, he led the Greek Navy to major victories against the Turkish fleet in December 1912 (Battle of Elli) and in January 1913 (Battle of Limnos), bringing most of the Aegean islands under Greek control. His victories, due in large part to his daring but successful tactics, earned him the status of a national hero. He was promoted to vice admiral for "exceptional war service", the first Greek career officer since Konstantinos Kanaris to reach the rank (usually reserved for members of the Greek royal family).


In 1916, he became a minister in the Stephanos Skouloudis government, but, in disagreement with the pro-German feelings of King Konstantínos I of the Hellenes, he followed Eleftherios Venizelos to Thessaloniki where he was assigned the ministry of Naval Affairs in Venizelos' National Defence government. Konstantínos was deposed, and replaced on the throne by his second-eldest son, The Prince Aléxandros. Kountouriotis subsequently retired from the navy with the honorary rank of full Admiral. On the death of the young King Aléxandros of the Hellenes in 1920, he was elected Regent of Greece by the Greek Parliament on 28 October by a vote of 137 to 3.[3] After the sitting government of Venizelos was defeated in the elections that took place in November 1920, Kountouriotis resigned as Regent on 17 November, to be replaced by Queen Olga, King Aléxandros's grandmother. The following month, King Konstantínos was restored.

Kountouriotis in 1924 is sworn in as the first President of the Second Hellenic Republic


In March 1924, after King Geórgios II of the Hellenes was deposed, he was elected as the first President of the Second Hellenic Republic, but resigned the post in March, 1926, in opposition to General Pangalos' dictatorship. He was reelected President in May 1929, but due to serious health complications he resigned in December of the same year.

Death and honors[edit]

The cross on Kountouriotis' grave in Hydra

Admiral Pávlos Kountouriotis died in 1935. Α World War II Greek destroyer and a Standard-class frigate, Kountouriotis, are named after him.

One of the two gold 100-Euro coins issued by Greece in 2012 to commemorate the centenary of the Balkan Wars featured Kountouriotis and Georgios Averof.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jochalas, Titos (2020). "Lettere di contenuto velenoso inviate da Londra al Primo Ministro greco scritte nel dialetto albanese di Idra (1824)". Shejzat. 3–4: 69. Sembra che la lingua abituale di comunicazione dei Cundurioti anche con il loro cognato fosse l’arvanitica di Idra. Era così frequente l’abitudine dei Cundurioti di parlare arvanitica che persino l’ammiraglio Pavlos Cunduriotis tutte le volte che andava ad Idra voleva comunicare con gli abitanti dell’ isola solo in arvanitica, come attesta il testimone e suo segretario Nic. Chalioris: “E’ con vero piacere che il bell’ufficiale parla in albanese con i bravi isolani”, (ΤΟ ΜΕΛΛΟΝ ΤΗΣ ΥΔΡΑΣ, ag.-sett. 1935, n. 9, pag. 225) e altrove: «L’ammiraglio in tutto questo tempo era molto allegro. Salutava in arvanitica tutti i pescatori che incontravamo per strada», (ibidem, apr. 1960, n. 4, pag. 91).
  2. ^ "Η Πρώτη Νίκη του Ναυάρχου Κουντουριώτη στους Βαλκανικούς Αγώνες" (PDF). Hellenic National Defence General Staff. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  3. ^ The Times (London), Friday 29 October 1920, p. 12
  4. ^ "Greece - 100 Euro gold, centennial of the Balkan Wars, 2012". Electa Collections. The Eurocoin Store. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
Political offices
New title
President of Greece
25 March 1924 – 15 March 1926
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Greece
24 August 1926 – 9 December 1929
Succeeded by