The Monkey That Attacked A King: A Historical Story

The monkey that attacked King Alexander I of Greece bit him so that he became infected, and he died a few weeks later. His death had major political consequences.
The monkey that attacked a king: a historical story

The year was 1920 when a macaque changed the country of Greece forever. The monkey in question attacked King Alexander I at his residence in the Tatoi Palace, and the incident led to the monarch’s death.

The monkey that attacked a king

This monarch, the third king of the Helles, had a strange and short rule in Europe just before the First World War. Probably the strangest thing, however, was his death, because as I said, it was a bite from a monkey that caused it.

The Berber monkey is a species that has been kept as a pet throughout Europe. It has left its mark on everything from Roman Pompeii to Iceland. In this particular case, the monkey that attacked King Alexander I was a pet belonging to one of his servants. This particular servant took care of the farm, where he kept several of the monkeys as pets.

En arg makak

The monkey attacked the king’s dog

So what happened? During one of the king’s walks through the palace vineyards , a quarrel  arose between one of these macaques and a dog belonging to the king – a German Shepherd. When the king tried to separate them, another macaque joined, biting the king in the leg and on the stomach.

Although monkeys have a reputation for being funny, the barber monkey is a very dangerous animal with big teeth. It can easily hurt opponents severely, and in the worst case even kill. The monkey that attacked the king was shot immediately, along with the other monkey that attacked the king’s dog. The king’s servant then cleaned his wounds.

But it was already too late. Bite wounds become easily infected, and even more so when they come from wild animals, such as the Berber monkey. The king survived for a time, but after weeks of fever and pain he died in his bed.

The scenario before the monkey attacked

To understand what this meant for Greece, we need to learn a little history. Alexander’s father, Constantine I, remained neutral during World War I. Despite this, the Hellenic King gave a speech to Germany, while the Prime Minister leaned towards Russia and France.

As a consequence, the state was divided, and in the end the country drove the monarch and his family into exile. But the Triple Entente, which controlled Greece as prime minister, did not want to make Greece a republic. Alexander received the crown illegally,  as he was the only member of the royal family to stay in Greece.

Tattoo Palace in Greece

The puppet monarch

Alexander served as a puppet. He never ruled seriously and isolated himself from his friends. At the end of World War I, the Greek kingdom expanded by a third after the ensuing peace talks, and in addition, a war against Turkey broke out.

Alexander died during these years, and his death was the reason the monarchists won, which led to his father returning. But the general dissatisfaction with his return and defeat in the war against Turkey forced him to abdicate two years later. When Churchill said, “The macaque killed a king and 250,000 Greeks,” he was referring to the Greek loss after his father’s return.

It is interesting to see that a macaque that attacked a king had such a great impact on Europe. Who would have thought that a macaque could bring down an entire kingdom?

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