The Ionian Islands, 1386-1797

Wars, Defense : the last years under Angevin rule had been politically instable, and in 1386 the population of Corfu - under siege by Francesco Carrara di Padova, agreed to the establishment of Venetian rule. In a 1402 treaty, the Kingdom of Naples, in return for a compensation of 30,000 Golden Ducats, ceded her claim to the Ionian Islands.
Corfu was raided by the Genoese in 1403 and 1432, city and fortress besieged by Ottoman forces in 1431, 1537, 1571, 1573 and 1716. The Venetians strengthened the fortresses and constructd new ones. Venetian forces also had to face peasant rebellions on Corfu (1610, 1640, 1642, 1652).

Administration : The Ionian Islands included Corfu (Kerkyra), Santa Maura (Lefkas), Ithaca, Zante (Zakynthos), Kephalonia, Kythira and Saseno; the center of the Venetian administration was the island and city of Corfu, the head of the administration the Venetian Bailo (bailiff); from 1420 onward he was supported by two counsellors and a Provedittore Capitano (military commander). From the 16th century onward, the latter, also commander of the fleet, assumed the administration.

Society : The Venetians maintained the feudal system which treated the nobles as privileged class. The noble families were registered in the Libro d'Oro (Golden Book, begun in 1572). Successful merchant families strove to be listed in the Golden Book, but new families rarely were added to the roster. The class of burghers (civili) consisted mainly of merchants and mariners, a good number of whom had achieved prosperity. The peasants had no political rights at all. Peasant revolts on Corfu in 1610, 1640, 1642 and 1652 document dissatisfaction of the peasants with Venetian rule.
The Venetians did not interfere in the affairs of the Orthodox Church, as long as the Orthodox priesthood remained loyal to the Venetian administration.

the Economy : Venice, as a trading republic, supported trade. Because of her location, Corfu was port of call for most Venetian ships to or from the Eastern Mediterranean; Corfiotes participated in that trade as mariners as well as as merchants. The Venetians promoted the plantation of olive trees, mainly on lands unfit for other agricultural use. Corfu turned into a major producer of olive oil, the latter famed for its high quality.

Republican French 1797-1798 and Russian/Turk 1798-1800, from Corfuxenos
Septinsular State 1800-1807 and Imperial French, 1807-1815, from B> Corfuxenos
Foreign and Colonial Troops in British Pay, 1815, from Documents in Military History posted by Hillsdale, mentions Ionian Greek Infantry
History of Zakynthos. from greekislands.com
DOCUMENTS British naval movements in the vicinity of the Ionian Islands, 1809, 1 : 700,000. from napoleonseries.org
Rapporto della Commissione Conferente al Corpo Legislativo sopra la Costituzione al Corpo Legislativo Constituente della Repubblica Settinsulare, 1803 (Report of the Constitutional Commission to the Constituent Legislative Body of the Septinsular Republic), from Archivio delle Costituzione, in Italian
Archives des ambassades, consultats et anciens protectorats et mandats (Nantes) : Archival Deposits of the Septinsular Republic, inventory posted by France Diplomatie, in French
REFERENCE Verlag Haitali, Korfu - ein umfassender Reiseführer (Corfu - a comprehensive Tourist Guide), Athens : Haitali 1998, in German [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on October 23rd 2005

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