Spiridon and Charilaos Trikoupis

Spiridon and Charilaos Trikoupis from Mesolongi: Spiridon Trikoupis, a Greek statesman, historian, politician, and writer was also the father of Charilaos Trikoupis. Spiridon Trikoupis was born on April 20th, 1788 in Messolongi and had his education in France and England. He served as secretary to Count De Guilford who was in charge of education in the Ionian Islands. He took an active part in the War of Independence in 1821.

He was a talented speaker and got noticed at the assembly of continental Greece in 1825. He was also a personal friend of Lord Byron. He was a member of the provisional government of 1826 and briefly served as the Prime Minister of Greece in 1833. He was appointed Ambassador of Greece to London between 1835 and 1838, later between 1841 and 1843 and finally between 1850 and 1861.

After his retirement from active politics, he authored a 4-volume work on the history of the Greek revolution that was published between 1853 and 1857. He was married to the sister of his close political associate Alexandros Mavrokordatos. Charilaos Trikoupis, the later Prime Minister of Greece, was his son.

Charilaos Trikoupis, like his father Spiridon Trikoupis, was a Greek politician, who served as a Prime minister of Greece seven times between 1875 until 1895. He was born on July 11, 1832. His mother Ekaterini Mavrokordatos was the sister of Alexandros Mavrokordatos who had also served as the Prime Minister of Greece. He studied in France where he earned his Ph.D. in Law. After his return to Athens, he was elected to the Greek parliament in 1865 and served as a Minister of Foreign Affairs briefly.

In 1872, he floated his own party Pempto Komma as he wanted reforms in the King's rule. In his manifesto titled Who is to blame?, he squarely placed the blame on the king for ignoring parliamentary opinion and on the King's selection of Prime Ministers. He was jailed briefly but his popularity soared that the very next year he rallied a parliamentary plurality and King George 1 had to reluctantly name him the Prime Minister of Greece.

During his tenure, Trikoupis pushed ahead of his progressive reforms aggressively and one of his acts was to reform the election law. In the ensuing election that was the fairest held to that date, Trikoupis lost his mandate. Greece, in order to become a plurality with a two-party system, saw the merger of many small parties. With changing election alliances and fluctuating results these years were very unstable for Greece. Greece had 12 prime ministers in the next 6 years and Trikoupis had three short stints at the helm.

In March 1882, Trikoupis headed a government that was to stay in office for the next three years. He tried to implement many of his progressive reforms during this period. He recognized the need for infrastructure for the development of Greece and tried to attract foreign investment. Road and rail construction was priority sectors and communication improved significantly. He envisioned the Corinth Canal and started work on the same.

Another pet project of Trikoupis was a bridge to connect the two cities of Rion and Antirion across the Gulf of Corinth. He was way ahead of his time; there was no technical know-how or the financial power to complete such a massive project then. However, his dream materialized in 2004 when it was opened to the public for the first time. It is named Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge in his honor.

His sixth term in office found his struggle with the empty treasury. Overspending and rampant corruption brought the administration to a halt. Charilaos Trikoupis was once again entrusted with Greece's responsibility from November 11, 1893, to January 24, 1895. Greece planned to host the 1896 Summer Olympics.

Trikoupis was very skeptical about this at first as he felt that the country could not meet the burden of the cost. However, he was persuaded and reluctantly made the arrangements. It was his last tenure in office. After 1895, he stepped away from politics due to ill health and lack of money. He died in Paris in 1896 and was buried in Athens.