Palace of St. Michael and George

Last updated on November 10th, 2023 at 09:14 am

History of Corfu

Corfu boasts a history spanning over 3,000 years, characterized by turbulence and fascination.

Despite enduring numerous raids, barbarian attacks, and European conquests during the medieval period, the island has not only survived but also preserved its Greek identity.

It adeptly assimilated the finest aspects of the civilizations that traversed the region, embedding them into its rich cultural tapestry.

Prehistoric and Ancient times

Corfu Island has been inhabited since the Stone Age.

At that time, it was part of the mainland, and the body of water that now separates it from the mainland was just a small lake. It became an island after the sea level rose due to the melting of glaciers at the end of the Ice Age, approximately around 10,000-8000 BCE.

Evidence of Paleolithic occupation has been discovered at two locations on the island: the first near the village of Agios Mattheos in the southwest and the second in the northwest near the village of Sidari.

According to mythology, the Greek name Kerkyra derives from the nymph Corcyra, who was a daughter of the river god Asopos. Corcyra was abducted by the sea god Poseidon, who brought her to the island and gave it her name. Over time, Corcyra evolved into Kerkyra, following changes in the Doric dialect.

The first known inhabitants in the 12th century BC were the Phaeacians, with Phaeakas as their reputed first leader and Nafsithoos as his son, who in turn was the father of the Homeric king Alkinoos.

According to the Odyssey, King Alkinoos and his daughter Nausikaa assisted Odysseus in his journey back to Ithaca.

It’s important to note that much of the above information is based on mythology rather than verified historical facts. The exact origin of the Phaeacians remains uncertain, although Homer suggested a connection to the Mycenaeans.

Recent archaeological investigations have failed to provide conclusive evidence of this connection, as no Mycenaean remains have been found on the island.

In the subsequent centuries, Corfu saw an influx of immigrants from various regions, including Illyria, Sicily, Crete, Mycenae, and the Aegean islands.

The Ancient Times – the first Greek colonization

Dorians in Corfu
Dorians in Corfu

Officially, the history of Corfu began around 775 BCE when the first Greek colonization took place.

Dorians from Eretria of Euboea established the initial settlement, followed shortly by a significant influx of Dorian refugees from Corinth in 750 BCE, led by Hersikrates, who played a pivotal role in establishing a robust colony.

The Corinthians gradually extended their influence in the vicinity of Corfu, establishing their colonies, including Epidamnos in ancient Illyria (now known as Dyrrachium in Albania).

They also built the ancient city of Corfu in the area that corresponds to present-day Garitsa and Kanoni.

Kerkyra, the Greek name for Corfu, achieved a notable milestone by becoming the first of the Greek city-states to construct a fleet of triremes in 492 BCE.

The harbour was situated in the lagoon of Chalikiopoulos, which corresponds to the site of the modern-day airport.

Corfu’s fleet grew to be the most powerful in ancient Greece, second in power only to the Athenian navy, boasting over 300 triremes and other vessels.

As the colony rapidly expanded, it openly challenged its metropolis, Corinth. In response, the Corinthians dispatched their fleet to occupy Corfu and regain control of this strategically significant region, particularly the colony of Epidamnos.

The first naval battle between Greeks occurred in 680 BCE and ended in failure for the Corinthians.

Following the battle, Following the battle, envoys from both Corfu and Corinth were sent to Athens in an attempt to secure support. The Athenians, recognizing the naval strength of Corfu, chose to establish a defensive alliance with the Corfiots, eventually sending 10 triremes to the island and later adding another 30.

This alliance persisted throughout the Peloponnesian War and endured for more than a century.

In 435 BCE, the Corinthians returned with a formidable fleet of 150 ships to challenge the Corfiots. The battle took place near the coast of Lefkimi in the southern narrow channel of the island and near Sivota off the mainland coast. Although the right wing of the Corfiot fleet began to falter, the intervention of 10 Athenian triremes, quickly followed by 20 more, forced the Corinthians to retreat.

In 375 BCE, Corfu joined the Athenian Confederation and actively supported Athenian interests throughout the entirety of the Peloponnesian War.

As noted by the ancient historian Thucydides, the issue involving Corfu played a significant role in the thirty-year-long Peloponnesian War, contributing to the weakening and fracturing of Greece.

However, the fundamental reason that made the war inevitable was Sparta’s growing apprehension about Athens’ expansionist and imperialistic policies.

Roman era and early Byzantine period

First Roman era (229 BCE– 379 CE)

After the Peloponnesian War, internal political conflicts between democrats and oligarchs led to the weakening of the state’s power and the dissolution of its alliance with Athens.

For a brief period, the island fell into the hands of Illyrian pirates. Seizing this opportunity, the Romans captured Kerkyra in 229 BCE. The Romans granted autonomy to the Corfiots in exchange for allowing the island to be used as a naval base.

Corfu followed the fate of many other Greek city-states by accepting Roman sovereignty and protection against various invaders and intruders of the era, becoming a part of the Roman Empire.

In the first century CE, Christianity arrived on the island, introduced by two disciples of St. Paul, Jason, and Sosipatros.

Following the death of Emperor Constantine in 337 CE, the Roman Empire was divided into three sections: the North (encompassing Spain, France, and England), the East (centred around Constantinople and Asia Minor), and the West, which included Greece, Italy, and Rome’s African territories. Corfu, at that time, was situated within the so-called Western Empire.

Early Byzantine period (379 CE– 562 CE)

During the reign of Emperor Theodosius in 339 CE, the Roman Empire underwent a re-division, with Corfu becoming part of the Eastern Empire, often referred to as the early Byzantine Empire. This Byzantine period endured for approximately three centuries.

Unfortunately, this era was marked by the island’s vulnerability to frequent barbarian raids and pirate invasions. The lack of adequate protection left Corfu exposed to these threats, which significantly impacted the region during this time.

Middle Ages and Byzantine Period of Corfu History

East Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire)

During this period, in 562 CE, Corfu suffered a devastating attack by the Goths. The raid resulted in the destruction of the ancient city of Corfu, leaving behind the ruins known today as Paleopolis.

This marked the end of the ancient city and the beginning of the medieval age on the island.

The remaining inhabitants of the old city abandoned their homes and relocated further north to a natural promontory of land, which would later become the site of the old fortress.

From there, the new city gradually expanded to the area now occupied by the old town of Corfu.

The period from 562 CE to 1267 CE is commonly referred to as the Byzantine period in Corfu’s history. Immediately following this, Corfu was occupied by the Angevins, a challenging time in the island’s history.

Situated as the westernmost corner of the Byzantine Empire, Corfu was particularly vulnerable to constant pirate attacks and the territorial ambitions of its neighbouring regions.

The multicultural Byzantine Empire made extensive efforts to protect Corfu during this period.

They stationed various mercenary guards of diverse races and ethnicities on the island, including Greeks, Syrians, Bulgarians, and Byzantine soldiers known as stradioti.

These guards were deployed in outposts that spanned from the northeast to the southwest of the island. Over time, these border guards assimilated into the local population.

It was during this era that most of the island’s fortresses were constructed or enhanced.

This included the redesign and fortification of the old Corfu fortress in the city. Additionally, fortresses like Angelokastro in northwestern Corfu, the fortress at Kassiopi, the fortress in Gardiki in the southwest, and several smaller ones were built, contributing to the island’s defences.

The turbulent years after the Fourth Crusade (1204 CE – 1214 CE)

In 1204 CE, Corfu was captured by the Normans of the Fourth Crusade. Subsequently, the Venetians briefly held control of the island until 1214 CE.

This period marked a significant shift in the island’s history as it changed hands between these European powers.

The Despotate of Epirus (1214 CE – 1267 CE)

From 1214 to 1259 CE, Corfu became part of the Byzantine domain of Epirus, specifically the Duchy known as the Despotate of Epirus.

During this period, the Despot Duke Michael-Angelos Komnenos the Second oversaw the construction of important fortifications on the island.

Among these fortresses were the Gardiki fortress, located near today’s Chalikouna area, and the Angelokastro fortress, situated in the northwest part of the island north of Paleokastritsa.

These fortifications played a crucial role in the island’s defence during this era.

The Period of Sicilian rulers

During the tumultuous period from 1259 to 1267 CE, Corfu witnessed various attempts by Sicilian rulers to assert control over the island, sometimes through diplomatic means such as dowries and at other times through the use of military force.

The first successful conqueror of the island was Manfred, the king of Sicily. However, after Manfred’s death in a battle, his Franco-Cypriot adjutant, named Philip Ginardo, assumed control of Corfu.

Subsequently, Philip Ginardo met a violent end, and the island came under the rule of his generals, the Garnerio brothers, and Thomas Alamano.

It is noteworthy that the surname “Alamanos” is still prevalent in Corfu today, suggesting a Sicilian origin for some of the island’s inhabitants.

The House of Anjou (1267 CE – 1386 CE)

In 1267 CE, the Angevin King of Sicily, Charles of the House of Anjou, successfully conquered Corfu. Upon gaining control of the island, he reorganized it into four administrative regions known as Gyrou, Orous, Mesis, and Lefkimi, which are names that still exist in the region today.

During this period, there was a significant influx of Jewish people, primarily from Spain, who settled in Corfu and established the Corfiot Jewish community.

Charles of Anjou also attempted to replace the Orthodox Christian faith with Roman Catholicism and sought to convert Orthodox churches to Catholicism. However, this effort was ultimately unsuccessful and came to an end when the Venetians returned to the island.

The Venetian domination in Corfu 1386 – 1797CE

Corfu - the lion of Venice
Corfu – the lion of Venice

During the Council of Corfu, a significant majority of the nobility expressed a favourable disposition towards the Venetians.

Given the crumbling state of the Byzantine Empire and the constant threat posed by the Turks, the Council officially sought the protection of the Republic of Saint Markos (Venice) in 1386 CE.

The Venetians recognized Corfu’s strategic importance for safeguarding their naval interests in the region, as well as its agricultural potential.

Consequently, they purchased the island from the Kingdom of Naples for a sum of 30,000 gold ducats. Following this acquisition, Venetian forces, under the command of “Admiral of the Gulf” Giovanni Miani, landed in Corfu.

During this turbulent period in Corfu’s history, there was no strong sense of national identity, leading to unusual events.

While the Venetians occupied the Old Fortress without encountering resistance and established their dominance over most of the island, in the north, the fortresses of Angelokastro and Kassiopi remained under the control of Angevins who opposed the sale of the island. Strikingly, many local residents supported these Angevins and fought alongside them against the Venetians.

The Venetians responded by sending an army to capture the two fortresses.

While Angelokastro surrendered relatively quickly, the Angevins and Corfiots in Kassiopi fiercely resisted. The Venetians were so incensed by this resistance that, after conquering the castle, they completely destroyed it. Consequently, today, only remnants of the Kassiopi fortress remain.

This marked the beginning of the second extended period of Venetian rule in Corfu, which endured for precisely 411 years, 11 months, and 11 days.

The constitution during the Venetian domination

The Venetians established a feudalistic system of governance in which there were three distinct social classes: the nobility, consisting of aristocrats; the citizens (civili); and the common people (popolari).

In the painting below, we observe a typical snapshot of medieval Corfu, which is now known as Evgenios Voulgaris Street. The painting features the bell tower of Annunziata. Apart from the attire worn by the people, not much has changed since that time.

Corfu history - Medieval Evgenios Voulgaris street
Corfu history – Medieval Evgenios Voulgaris Street

Agriculture had flourished with the cultivation of numerous olive trees, and both the arts and sciences were advancing, thanks to Corfu’s connections with one of the great empires of the time.

The Venetian era left an indelible mark on Corfu, influencing various aspects of life on the island, including art, musical traditions, culture, the development of a local linguistic idiom, Corfiot cuisine, and, most prominently, the architecture of both the city and the villages.

During the Venetian occupation, Corfu’s constitution, along with those of all the Ionian Islands, was exclusive.

Political power was concentrated in the hands of the nobility. The only Venetians with significant political influence were the General Proveditor of the Sea, who held the highest political authority, and his Judiciary, assisted by Vailos and his two advisers. All others were local nobles whose names were inscribed in the Golden Book (Libro d’Oro).

Centuries later, during the era of the second Ionian state, only those whose names appeared on this list were permitted to enjoy their coffee in the Liston area.

In the early editions of the Libro d’Oro, most of the names were of Byzantine origin, including Byzantine soldiers and large landowners.

Over time, many affluent civilians who could offer financial support to the state treasury were also added to the list.

If one examines the names in the Libro d’Oro, it becomes surprising to note that many of the names known in the city of Corfu today were included, while only a few common names from the villages made the list.

The migration flow from Turkish-occupied Greece

The Venetians made significant efforts to protect the city of Corfu, but despite their military measures, in the first centuries of their rule, they struggled to safeguard the island’s countryside.

This rural area experienced many tragedies and often paid a heavy toll during barbarian raids.

Corfu was also susceptible to pirate attacks, particularly during two major Turkish raids, one in 1537 and the other in 1571.

In 1537 CE, the Turks invaded and captured 20,000 men from the countryside, whom they later sold as slaves in Constantinople and Egypt.

The countryside was left devastated, prompting many Greeks from Peloponnese, Epirus, and Crete to migrate to the island as labourers. Over time, they became an integral part of the local population.

Following the raids of 1537, Corfu was almost deserted.

A few years later, in 1571, the Venetians lost the Peloponnese, Crete, and Cyprus to the Turks. This led to a significant influx of refugees from these regions who sought a new home, with the Ionian Islands, including Corfu, serving as ideal destinations. The Turks indirectly played a role in repopulating Corfu through this migration.

The Venetians also encouraged this migration for two reasons: first, to revitalize the depopulated countryside, and second, to attract individuals with valuable skills in spirituality, the military, technology, and economics to leave Turkish-controlled lands. This not only weakened the Ottoman occupiers but also strengthened Venice.

One group of refugees came from Nafplio and Monemvasia, with half of them settling in the area of Lefkimi and establishing the village of Anaplades. The others scattered along the northeast coast, from Pirgi to Kassiopi. Their leader was the chieftain Barbatis, and the area south of Nissaki is now called Barbati.

There is a suburb north of the city known as Stratia, formerly called Anaplitochori (Village of Anapli).

Another group from the Peloponnese founded the village of Moraitika, while some others resettled in the abandoned village of Korakiana and subsequently spread to other villages such as Benitses.

Throughout the island, you can find many families with the surname Moraitis, as well as many whose last names end with the Peloponnesian suffix “opoulos.”

The largest group of immigrants came from Crete, with many settling in Garitsa, just south of the city, and the most prosperous newcomers integrating into the city itself.

Others established the village of Saint Markos in the north above Ipsos.

In the south of Corfu, the villages of Stroggyli, Messonghi, Argyrades, and Kritika were also founded by Cretans.

These various populations introduced elements of their traditions and culture to Corfu, particularly the Cretans, who significantly impacted the formation of the Corfu linguistic idiom.

This linguistic influence is still evident today, with the use of the prefix “tsi” instead of “tis,” a pronunciation shared only with Crete and the Ionian Islands.

Over time, Corfu’s own culture proved resilient and absorbed these new elements, and within a few years, these immigrants became regular Corfiots.

Around 1800, a large group of refugees from Souli, following its destruction by Ali Pasha, fled to Corfu. Many of them settled in Benitses, and their descendants now make up approximately 70% of the Benitses population.

The Venetian fortifications and the frequent Turkish raids

Corfu history - The fortifications of Corfu
Corfu history – The fortifications of Corfu

The Venetians attempted to convert the population to Catholicism but were ultimately unsuccessful. They later abandoned these efforts for political reasons, as they came into conflict with the Vatican, particularly after the loss of Cyprus in 1571.

They justified their religious tolerance with the famous saying “Siamo prima Veneziani e poi Cristiani,” which translates to “We are first Venetians and then Christians.”

In order to maintain good relations with both faiths, the Venetians organized and established many common religious events in which both Catholics and Orthodox Christians participated. Some of these events continue to be observed today.

The Venetians’ inability to protect the countryside and suburbs of the town from Turkish incursions led to widespread public discontent.

Moreover, after the loss of Crete and Cyprus, Corfu became the most important possession after Venice itself. Therefore, the Venetians decided to bolster the island’s defences.

They initiated ambitious defence plans, constructing the largest and most modern fortifications for Corfu.

From 1576 to 1588, they built a new fortress on the hill of San Markos in the west of the town and cleared the open space in front of the old fortress to create the vast Esplanade Square.

They connected the two fortresses with a wall that protected the entire city from the west. This defensive system featured powerful elements such as the bastions of Raimondo, St. Athanasius, and the bastion of Sarantaris.

Additionally, they constructed four main city gates for residents and two more gates for military purposes.

The four primary gates of the city were the Porta Reale, the Porta Raymonda, the Gate of Spilia, and the Gate of Saint Nicholas. The Porta Reale, noted for its unique beauty, was unfortunately demolished in 1895 without a clear reason, leading to an international outcry.

These ambitious defensive plans were designed by engineers Michele Sanmicheli from Verona and Ferrante Vitelli.

The fortifications continued to evolve. During the 17th century, following the successful repulsion of the third major Turkish siege in 1716 by Prussian Marshal Johann Mattias Von Schulenburg, who was then responsible for the defence of Corfu, an additional wall was constructed outside the existing one, this new wall was designed by the engineer F. Verneda.

After the Turkish invasion of 1716, the Venetians further fortified the island of Vido and the hills of Avrami and Saint Sotiros. They also built a fortification for the area of San Rocco, known today as Saroko.

The Turkish Siege of 1716

Corfu history
Corfu history

The 1716 siege of Corfu was a critical episode in the Seventh Venetian-Turkish War. The occupation of this strategically important island was seen as a potential gateway to the occupation of Venice and the rest of Europe.

The Turkish forces were estimated to be between 25,000-30,000 men, along with auxiliary and irregular troops, and they had 71 ships equipped with about 2,200 guns.

If we include the crews of these ships, their total strength must have reached approximately 45,000-50,000 men.

In contrast, the Venetian military forces were significantly outnumbered, with only 3,097 men, of whom 2,245 were combatants.

The Corfu New fortress, where most major battles occurred, was armed with 144 guns and four mortars.

Marshal Johann Mattias Von Schulenburg, who was tasked with the defence of Corfu, initially had to contend with the chaos prevailing among the local population, as they were attempting to leave the island or seek refuge in the mountains.

He promptly ordered the recruitment of able-bodied individuals, secured several reservists, and bolstered the morale of the besieged.

The siege commenced on July 8th when the Turks landed in Ipsos and Gouvia and concluded after many brutal and deadly battles on Saturday, August 22nd.

Notably, on August 20th, an unprecedented storm scattered the Turkish ships and resulted in the drowning of many Turkish soldiers and sailors.

While the people of Corfu attributed the storm and the city’s salvation to a miraculous intervention by St. Spyridon, the historical reality is that the Turkish defeat had clear military causes.

First, the determined resistance put up by the defenders up to the last moment and, second, the defeat and destruction of the Ottoman army in Peterwardein by Eugene of Savoy. Both of these events compelled the Turks to retreat.

Ascribing the victory solely to divine intervention misrepresents history and diminishes the heroism of the defenders.

In terms of casualties, the defenders suffered approximately 800 dead and 700 wounded, whereas the Turkish losses were substantial, reaching 6,500 men. Among the casualties was Muchtar, the grandfather of Ali Pasha.

The defenders of Corfu were supported by a coalition of forces, including Venetians, Germans, Italians, four Maltese ships, four Papal galleys, two galleys from Genoa, three galleys from Tuscany, five Spanish galleys, and even Portuguese forces who participated before the end of the siege.

Corfu history - the statue of Johann Mattias Von Schulenburg outside old fortress in Corfu
The statue of Johann Mattias Von Schulenburg in Corfu

The Jews of the city displayed great courage during the conflict, and they were equipped at the expense of the Corfiot Jewish community. They fought under the leadership of the son of the Rabbi himself.

The General Proveditor of Corfu was Antrea Pizanis, who had command of the light fleet and served as the adjutant of Marshal Schulenburg. The Corfiot Lieutenant Dimitrios Stratigos also played a crucial role.

Marshal Schulenburg’s determination and bravery were honoured with a lifelong pension from the Senate of Venice. His statue can still be seen at the entrance of the Old Fortress.

Furthermore, all individuals who demonstrated bravery during the fighting were recognized and honoured.

The Turkish failure in Corfu was a historically significant event, a pivotal moment that influenced the course of history for all of Europe, especially Greece.

Few are aware that, without the bravery of the Corfiots and many Europeans, the Turkish advance would likely not have been halted at Corfu, potentially leading to the expansion of the Ottoman Empire rather than its eventual decline. This would have had profound implications for the emerging Greek nation and Europe as a whole.

Regrettably, this event has not received the recognition it deserves from historians. The Turkish invasion of the West was decisively blocked, and it is sometimes overlooked that, without this victory, the present-day Greek state might not exist.

The repulsion of the Turkish invasion of 1716 held immense importance for Western Europe during that era. It was celebrated with impressive events across Europe, and Antonio Vivaldi composed the oratorio “Juditha Triumphans” in honor of this event. The oratorio was performed in major theatres for many years.

This marked the final Turkish attempt to expand their empire into Europe.

The period of Venetian rule left both positive and negative legacies in terms of culture and civilization.

While it contributed positively, it was also marred by many challenges, including strained relations between the common people and the nobility.

Popular uprisings, primarily in the villages, were a consequence of the authoritarian rule of the Venetians and the arbitrary behaviour and lawlessness of the ruling noble class.

Corfu was undoubtedly of great importance to Venice and remained an integral part of the Venetian State until the fall of Venice to the French.

The Ionian State (Septinsular Republic) 1800-1807

Corfu - flag of the Ionian state
Corfu – flag of the Ionian state

The Venetian period was succeeded by the first French occupation in 1797. This marked the end of the feudal system, and the people burned the Book of Gold (Libro d’oro) where all the Aristocrats were listed.

As a symbolic gesture, the Libro d’oro was burned in all the Ionian islands.

The initial euphoria that followed the arrival of the French, who were initially welcomed as liberators, quickly gave way to severe distress due to French arrogance towards the locals and heavy taxation.

This period was marked by instability, with the populace divided. The Nobles began exploiting popular discontent against the French and conspired to have Corfu occupied by the Russians.

Their efforts succeeded in 1799 when a peculiar alliance of Russians and Turks occupied Corfu.

The Russian admiral Ousakof, who had an aristocratic background, promptly reinstated the privileges of the nobility. On the 21st of March 1800, at the instigation of Ioannis Kapodistrias, who was then the foreign minister of Russia, the Ionian State, also known as the Septinsular Republic, was established. This marked the birth of the first independent Greek state, a vision Kapodistrias held as a precursor to the rebirth of a Greek nation.

The Ionian State was a federation of seven larger island states: Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos (Zante), Paxos, Lefkada, Ithaka, and Kythyra, which also included all other smaller Ionian islands. The capital was Corfu.

This state persisted until 1807 when the French, under Napoleon, returned and remained until 1814. During this period, the two buildings that are now famous as the Liston were constructed by the French for use as military barracks.

United States of Ionian islands 1815-1864

In 1815, Corfu came under British rule, and the seven Ionian Island states declared their independence under British protection. The official name of the new protectorate was the “United States of Ionian Islands” with Greek as the official language and Corfu town as the capital.

The first “Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands” was Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Maitland.

The state’s government consisted of 29 members, with 7 from Corfu, 7 from Kefalonia, 7 from Zante, and 4 from Lefkada. Additionally, Paxos, Ithaka, and Kythera each elected 1 member, plus a second member who was elected in rotation by the three islands.

During this period, several institutions were established, including the Ionian Academy, the Reading Society, and the public library.

Under British rule, the local economy was well-developed. The Palace of Saint Michael and George was constructed, and the island’s road network was expanded. An aqueduct was built to supply Corfu town with water from the hills around Benitses.

Power plants were also constructed in Corfu, although they were later relocated to Piraeus after the union with Greece.

Many other projects and significant improvements were made to the island’s infrastructure during this period.

It’s worth noting that during the British rule of Corfu, immigrants arrived from the Mediterranean island of Malta, which was the original home of many Corfiots, especially those of the Roman Catholic faith.

Ioannis Kapodistrias and his role in the history of Corfu

The first governor of modern Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, hailed from an aristocratic family and was born on the island.

After his education, he departed for Russia, where he enjoyed a brilliant career that culminated in his appointment as foreign minister. This position allowed him to actively participate in various European political affairs.

One notable achievement was his involvement in the creation of the state entity and constitution of Switzerland, for which he was honoured by the Swiss.

Concerning the historical course of Corfu, Kapodistrias had limited involvement, primarily through his diplomatic role in the island’s occupation by the alliance of Russians and Turks in 1800 when they liberated it from French domination.

Apart from that, there is no significant connection between his name and the history of Corfu, which is why his mention on this page may not be as extensive as some might expect.

(It’s worth noting that world history includes several instances of Russian-Turkish alliances, despite the fact that the Russians have not always been friendly to Greece. This is a point for those who have an affinity for Russia to consider.)

Modern Times, union with Greece

On May 21, 1864, following the London treaty and the favourable vote of the Ionian Parliament, Corfu and all the Ionian islands united with Greece.

This momentous event marked one of the most significant turning points in the history of Corfu. It signalled the end of the island’s tumultuous historical past and also marked the decline of Corfu as the capital of the Ionian State.

The emerging Greek state, faced with limited resources, could not sustain the existence of two centres of economic and cultural influence.

Consequently, in the competition with Athens, Corfu lost its university, its prestige, and its cultural prominence. Within just 40 years, it transitioned into a Greek provincial town.

Nonetheless, the memories of its glorious past persist, making Corfu a unique Greek town that distinguishes itself from others.

Historic Pictures

History of Corfu – Union with Greece and Modern Times


On the 21st of May 1864, the British ruled Corfu and together with all the Ionian Islands, following the London Agreement and the Ionian Parliament’s resolution, united with Greece… Read More

Corfu of the Middle Ages on a Map of 1575


This map of Corfu of 1575 was designed like all medieval maps. According to the sources of that time and lots of imagination… Read More

Corfu at Prehistoric and Ancient Times


Corfu has been inhabited since the Stone Age.
At that time it was part of the mainland and the sea that today separates it from the mainland was only a small lake… Read More

Roman Era and Early Byzantine Period


At the time of emperor Theodosius (339 AD), the Roman empire was re-divided into east and west, Corfu then belonged to the east empire… Read More

Corfu Middle Ages and Byzantine Period


During this period the whole island was exposed to frequent barbarian raids and pirate invasions… Read More

Venetian Domination in Corfu


The Council of Corfu and especially the overwhelming majority of nobility were friendly with the Venetians… Read More

Ionian State – United States of Ionian Islands


The Venetian period was followed by the first French occupation in 1797, It was the end of the feudal system… Read More