Skip to main content
Select Source:

Makarios III

Makarios III

His Beatitude, Makarios III (1913-1977), archbishop and ethnarch of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus and the first president of the Republic of Cyprus, 1959-1977, championed the campaign to unite the island politically with Greece for a quarter-century.

Archbishop Makarios III was born Michael Christodoulou Mouskos on August 13, 1913, the son of a goatherder in the village of Ano Panayia, near Paphos in western Cyprus. The island was then under British administration. At age 13, after a primary education in the village, he was accepted as a novice in the famed monastery of Kykko and began a brilliant career as a student. At age 20 he was sent to the Pancyprian Gymnasium in Nicosia, where he completed his secondary education in 1936. Returning to Kykko, he was ordained a deacon in the Greek Orthodox Church in August 1938, taking the name of Makarios, meaning "blessed." A month later the monastery gave him a small grant to help him continue his studies in Greece.

Makarios spent the difficult years of World War II studying theology and law at the University of Athens. In 1946 he was ordained a priest and awarded a scholarship by the World Council of Churches to do further theological study in the United States. Makarios was studying religion and sociology at the theological school at Boston University when in the spring of 1948 he was informed that he had been elected bishop of Kitium (one of the four sees of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus) and was to return home. Two years later, in October 1950, following the death of his aged superior, Makarios II, the 400,000 Greek Cypriots elected him archbishop and ethnarch (national leader) of Cyprus. At age 37 Archbishop Makarios III took charge of one of the 14 autocephalous churches of Eastern Orthodoxy.

Makarios promptly became the dedicated and acknowledged spokesman for enosis, the near-unanimous desire of Greek Cypriots for the end of British rule and the political union of Cyprus with Greece, a cause that had moved him personally since his late teens. During the next five years he worked tirelessly and successfully to attract the world's attention to the issue of self-determination for Cyprus—in Athens, London, Washington, and various European capitals; at the United Nations General Assembly; and at the Asian-African Conference of third-world leaders in Bandung, Indonesia, in April 1955. Great Britain was hesitant. It was prepared to offer a measure of home rule to Cyprus but was concerned about the political status of the 100,000 Cypriot Turks and the security of its own extensive military installations there, the headquarters of its Middle-East Command. Turkey threatened to take Cyprus (located only 40 miles from Turkish shores but 700 miles from Greece) rather than let Greece acquire it.

In response, after 1955 Makarios became increasingly combative, accepting support not only from Greek Cypriot nationalists but also from the Communists and EOKA (the National Organization for the Liberation of Cyprus), the underground guerrilla movement led by the implacable Colonel (later General) George Grivas. He appeared to condone, even encourage, the rising tide of demonstrations and riots, acts of sabotage and violence, and open terrorism that engulfed the island and precipitated bloody disturbances in Turkey and Greece. The British replied by sending crack troops to Cyprus and making mass arrests. In March 1956, when Makarios himself was allegedly implicated in terrorism, the British authorities deported him to Mahé, one of the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. He was freed in early 1957 and, forbidden to return to Cyprus, he went to Athens. Finally, in February 1959, he met with the prime ministers of Britain, Turkey, and Greece in London to work out a compromise agreement for an independent Cypriot republic.

Makarios returned to Cyprus in triumph and was easily elected its first president in December 1959. He was reelected twice—in 1968 and 1973—with overwhelming majorities. Gradually, however, the continuing friction between the Greek and Turkish populations and the precarious status of the new republic convinced him that enosis was inopportune and would have to be postponed. This alienated Greek Cypriot extremists who, with the backing of the military junta then ruling Greece, mounted pressure to remove Makarios from office. He managed to survive several attempts to assassinate him and a move by several Cypriot bishops to depose him as archbishop. Finally, in July 1974, he was briefly removed from the presidency and exiled by a right-wing coup. He returned in December, but not before Turkey, interpreting his removal as a prelude to enosis, had sent troops to invade Cyprus and occupy the northern 40 percent of the island. Three years later, when Makarios died of a heart attack in Nicosia on August 3, 1977, Cyprus was still divided. It remained so into the mid-1980s, separated practically into two hostile states, the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, with a United Nations peacekeeping force manning a demilitarized buffer zone between them.

Makarios was buried in a tomb he himself had designed on a mountain peak above Kykko. Without the charismatic "dark priest," with his dour intransigence, his "Byzantine" shrewdness, and his wide personal influence, the "Cyprus Question" seemed destined to remain unsolved.

Further Reading

Stanley Mayes, Makarios: A Biography (1981) is, like Mayes' earlier book Cyprus & Makarios (1960), a sympathetic but critical treatment of Makarios based on long study of the Cyprus problem and close personal contact with the prelate-statesman. Nancy Crawshaw's The Cyprus Revolt: An Account of the Struggle for Union with Greece (1978) deals with the broader context of enosis, primarily to about 1960, and contains a comprehensive bibliography on the subject. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Makarios III." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Makarios III." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makarios-iii

"Makarios III." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makarios-iii

Makarios III

Makarios III (mäkä´rēôs), 1913–77, Orthodox Eastern archbishop and Cypriot statesman, first president of Cyprus (1960–77). Born Michael Mouskos, Makarios was elected bishop of Kition in 1948 and archbishop of Cyprus in 1950. Leader of the Greek Cypriots in the movement for enosis (union with Greece), he was exiled by the British in 1956 on charges of encouraging terrorism. He was released in 1957. In 1958 he began to press for Cypriot independence from Great Britain rather than union with Greece. When agreement was reached on the independence of Cyprus, he was elected president. Makarios pursued a neutralist policy, favoring a peaceful solution between the island's Greek and Turkish communities. After his term of office had expired in 1965 and had been extended to 1968, Makarios was reelected in 1968 and 1973. In 1972 he came under increasing pressure from the Greek government to allow for greater Greek influence in Cypriot affairs; the Cypriot Orthodox Church pressured him to resign if he failed to do so. Gen. George Grivas, leader of the enosis movement, launched a terrorist campaign aimed at overthrowing Makarios. This effort finally succeeded (July, 1974), when a Greek-sponsored coup deposed Makarios. After several months of exile he returned to Cyprus in Dec., 1974, and resumed the presidency.

See biography by P. N. Vanezis (1971).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Makarios III." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Makarios III." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makarios-iii

"Makarios III." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makarios-iii

Makarios III

Makarios III (1913–77) Greek-Cypriot leader. Appointed Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus in 1950, he led the movement for enosis (union with Greece), and the British deported him in 1956. Makarios was elected president when Cyprus gained independence in 1959, but was briefly overthrown (1974) by Greek Cypriots still demanding enosis. The coup provoked unrest among Turkish Cypriots and led to a Turkish invasion and the partition of Cyprus into Greek and Turkish sections, which Makarios was powerless to prevent.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Makarios III." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Makarios III." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makarios-iii

"Makarios III." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makarios-iii