The stormy past of Corfu Island until the twentieth century

Old Fort in Corfu

Old Fort in Corfu ©wfbakker2/Flick

Corfu is the second biggest Ionian Island and until the 20th century was a famous tourist destination of the European royals and elite.

Due to the geographical position of the island Romans, Venetians, French and British became leaders of the island over the centuries.

Castles and monuments that can be found today on the island are testament of the many cultures and civilizations that have lived here since ancient times until today.

We would like to present the stormy past of Corfu Island until the twentieth century.

Ruins in Gardiki

Roman period

The Romans ruled in the island since 229 BC until 337, but recognized the privileges Corfu and allowed to have full autonomy.

Byzantine Period (337 AD – 1267 AD)

After the division of the Roman Empire in the Western and the Eastern Empire, Corfu was included in the Eastern Roman Empire, which eventually became the Byzantine Empire.

Old Fort in Corfu

Old Fort in Corfu ©wfbakker2/Flick

Corfu in Epirus Despotate (1214 – 1267)

The Despotate of Epirus, founded in 1204, was one of three independent Greek states which replaced the Byzantine Empire after its dissolution, under the rule of a prince of the Byzantine House, who assumed the title of “despot”.

Angevin period (1267 – 1386)

In 1267, after the pact of Viterbo, the Angevins became rulers of the island under the leadership of Charles I of Anjou (King of Sicily and South Italy). Their occupation was a one century period in the stormy past of Corfu Island and ended in 1386 after the death of Charles III of Anjou.

Venetian Period (1386 – 1797)

After the Angevin occupation, the Genoese came to the island for a short period of time, until they were evacuated by the Venetians, who ruled on the island for over 4 centuries. The venetian domination took a significant part in the stormy past of Corfu Island and had a strong influence on the local language, customs and architecture.

Venetian influence in Corfu

Venetian influence in Corfu ©wfbakker2/Flick

France Republican period (1797 – 1799)

In 1797 Napoleon Bonaparte conquered and abolished the Republic of Venice. According to the Pact of Campoformio (signed by Austria and France) Corfu, together with other Ionian islands, were ceded to the French Republic.

Russians & Turks

After the “Battle of the Nile” in 1798, Russia and Turkey formed an alliance and declared war to France, conquering all the Islands except Corfu. In 1799 they conquered Corfu and they reinstatemented a Greek – Orthodox archbishop in Corfu.

Roman-Catholic church in Corfu

Roman-Catholic church in Corfu ©wfbakker2/Flick

The Septinsular State (1800-1807)

In 1800, after the Pact of Constantinople between Russia and Turkey was formed a semi-independent state of the Seven Ionian Islands (State Septinsular). The Septinsular State was the first Greek state after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Imperial France (1807-1814)

After the Pact of Tilsit (1807) between Emperor Napoleon I and Tsar Alexander I, the Russians gave their rights on the Ionian Islands to French. The new administration has left the Greek Constitution of the seven states unchanged.

English protectorate (1814 – 1864)

Shortly after the fall of Napoleon, the British occupied the island. Ten High Commissioners were on the island and each of them has changed Corfu. Although Ioannis Kapodistrias was elected the first President of Greece in 1827, the Ionian Islands were not part of Greece until 1864.

Ioannis Kapodistrias

Ioannis Kapodistrias ©Tilemahos Efthimiadis/Flick

The Twentieth century

Although Corfu was declared a neutral territory it was invaded by the French during the First World War and during the Second World War the island was under Italian and German occupation. After the Second World War and after the Greek Civil War, Corfu followed a general program of the reconstruction of the Greek Government.
In 1956 Maria Desya Kapodistria was chosen mayor of Corfu and became the first female mayor in Greece.

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