Thursday, 12 July 2012

HISTORY - United States of the Ionian Islands

Ionian Islands, 1817
The United States of the Ionian Islands (Greek: Ηνωμένον Κράτος των Ιονίων Νήσων, Inoménon Krátos ton Ioníon Níson, literally "United State of the Ionian Islands"; Italian: Stati Uniti delle Isole Ionie) was a state and amical protectorate of the United Kingdom between 1815 and 1864. It was the successor state of the Septinsular Republic. It is located in modern Greece, to whom it was ceded as a gift of the United Kingdom to the newly enthroned King George I, at the end of the protectorate.

The Republic's territory extended to the seven main islands plus the smaller islets of the Ionian Sea
Capital Corfù
Language(s) Greek
Religion Greek Orthodox
Government Republic
Legislature Parliament
 - Upper house Senate
 - Lower house Legislative Assembly
Historical era 19th century
 - Congress of Vienna 9 June 1815 (signed)
 - Protectorate est. 9 November 1815
 - Constitution 26 August 1817
 - Treaty of London 29 March 1864
 - Gifted to Greece 28 May 1864
 - 1864 2,659 km2 (1,027 sq mi)
 - 1864 est. 236,000 
     Density 88.8 /km2  (229.9 /sq mi)
Currency2 Lepta Obol (1818–33)
2 Lepta
Greek lepton (1833–64)


Prior to the French Revolutionary Wars, the Ionian Islands had been part of the Republic of Venice. With the dissolution of that polity under the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio, it was annexed into the French Republic, created into the French departments of Greece. Between 1798 and 1799, the French were driven out by a joint Russo-Turkish force. The occupying forces founded the Septinsular Republic, which enjoyed relative independence under nominal Ottoman suzerainty and distant Russian control from 1800 until 1807.
The Ionian Islands were then occupied by the French following the treaty of Tilsit. In 1809, the United Kingdom defeated the French fleet off Zakynthos on 2 October, and captured Kefalonia, Kythira, and Zakynthos. The British took Lefkada in 1810. Corfu remained under French rule until 1814.
The Congress of Vienna agreed to place the Ionian Islands under the exclusive "amical protection" of the United Kingdom. Despite British military administration, the Austrian Empire was guaranteed commercial status equal to the UK. The arrangement was solidifed with the ratification of the "Maitland constitution" on 26 August 1817, which created a federation of the seven islands, with Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Maitland its first "Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands".
On 29 March 1864, the United Kingdom, Greece, France, and Russia signed the Treaty of London, pledging the transfer of sovereignty to Greece upon ratification; this was meant to bolster the reign of the newly-installed King George I of the Hellenes. Thus, on 28 May, by proclamation of the Lord High Commissioner, the Ionian Islands were united with Greece.


Greek was the primary official language, in contrast to the situation in the Septinsular Republic.  Italian was still in use, though, mainly for official purposes since the Venetian Republic. The only island in which Italian (Venetian) had a wider spread was Cephalonia, where a great number of people had adopted Venetian as their first language.


As its name suggests, United States of the Ionian Islands was a federation. It included seven island states:
State Capital Members elected
Corfù Corfù 7
Cephalonia Argostoli 7
Cerigo Kythira 1 or 2
Ithaca Vathy 1 or 2
Paxò Gaios 1 or 2
Santa Maura Lefkada 4
Zante Zakynthos 7


The government was organised under the leadership of a Lord High Commissioner, appointed by the British monarch on the advice of the British government. In total, ten men served in this capacity, including William Gladstone as a Lord High Commissioner Extraordinary.
The Ionian Islands had a bicameral legislature, titled the 'Parliament of the United States of the Ionian Islands' and composed of the Legislative Assembly and the Senate.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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