1386-1797 1815-1863

The Ionian Islands, 1797-1815

When Napoleon granted the REPUBLIC OF VENICE to Austria in the PEACE OF CAMPO FORMIO in 1797, as a compensation for Belgium, the Austrians inherited also Venice's outlying possessions - Dalmatia; the IONIAN ISLANDS however, were separated and administrated by the French. On Corfu, French rule was welcomed; symbols of feudalism, such as the Libro d'Oro (Golden Book, in which the noble families were listed) and coats of arms of these families were burnt. The French introduced a Republican Council, which included members of the former nobility and burghers. However, the French collected high taxes and forced the communities to loan further amounts of money to the French state. Under French administration, a book printing shop was established (the first in Greece), a library founded, a government department of education established.
In 1799, an allied Russian-Ottoman fleet took the Septinsular Republic. In 1800, the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and Britain agreed on the Ionian Islands to form an autonomous republic tributary to the Ottoman Empire, with Corfu being the capital. The rights of the nobles were restored; the republic was administrated by a 14 member Senate (two representatives of each island). The restitution of feudalism caused a rebellion, which was suppressed; yet a revision of the constitution was promised. The new constitution of 1806 basically placed the Ionian Islands under Russian administration. In reality, from 1799 to 1807, they were administrated by the Russians, who had taken them from the French. In the Treaty of Tilsit (1807) Russia and France became allies; the Ionian Islands were were reverted to French rule.

In 1809, the British fleet disrupted existing communication between the islands and Venice, and established a PROTECTORATE OVER THE IONIAN ISLANDS; KORFU remained a French outpost until 1813. The French administration on Corfu opened higher education to persons from the lower classes, organized a public service, introduced mandatory military service, established a (short-lived) Ionian academy. The potato and tomato were introduced to the island.
The island group consisted of a number of islands located to the west of mainland Greece - KORFU, ITHACA, LEFKAS, KEPHALONIA, ZAKYNTHOS (ital. Zante), then KYTHIRA south of the Peloponnese and the small island of SASENO off Albania.

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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