The Cretan rebellion of 1896 activated Greek irredentism once again. In 1896, and in far better organized fashion in 1897, the National Society sponsored revolutionary movements which, in tandem with the developments in Crete, led to Greece's humiliating defeat in the war of 1897.
The Bulgarians profited from Greece's defeat and her deteriorating economy by stepping up their activities in Macedonia. In 1902 the Supreme Committee attempted unsuccessfully to foment rebellion in eastern Macedonia. Shortly afterwards, with their promises of autonomy and redistribution of land accompanied by strong pressures, IMRO managed to mobilize a large segment of the rural population, particularly in western and northern Macedonia, to revolt on Ilinden (20 July 1903, the feastday of Prophet Elijah -- Ilinden).
Corps of Bulgarian partisans
The Illustrated London News, 1902
Strategically, the uprising was a failure, and the Turks repressed it with tough penalties at the expense of the Christians. Politically, however, it represented a victory for Bulgaria, which had managed, on the one hand, to internationalize its views on the Macedonian Question and, on the other, to bring the Europeans to open intervention in the area for the purpose of implementing social and economic reforms in Macedonia.