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James Prineas

Ionian Flag 1815-1864


Venetian Rule, 1386-1797.

Venice acquired the Ionian Islands off the western coast of Greece in 1386. Venice was a major naval power, and the islands were extremely important for control of access to the Adriatic Sea. After the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718 all that remained of the Venetian Empire was the Dalmatian Coast and the Ionian Islands.

French Rule, 1797-1800.

In 1796 Napoleon defeated the Austrians and Piedmontese in a series of battles, and set up the Lombard Republic on 16 May 1796. In March-April 1797 Napoleon crossed the Alps to attack Austria, but the people of Venetia and Tyrol rose up against the French. Napoleon was in danger of being cut off, and by the preliminary Peace of Leoben on 18 April 1797 much Venetian territory (Dalmatia, Istria, and region between the Oglio and Po) was ceded to Austria. Austria in return recognised the French puppet Cisalpine Republic in northern Italy. But in May 1797 France declared war on what was left of Venice, occupying it and the Ionian Islands. By the Treaty of Campo Formio on 17 October 1797 Austria received Dalmatia, Istria and the city of Venice, but France retained the Ionian Islands.

Russian Rule, 1800-1807.

In December 1798 Russia allied with Britain (partly because the new tsar had proclaimed himself Grand Master of the Order of St. John), and in the 1799 War of the Second Coalition, Austrian and Russian forces captured virtually all of France's conquests in northern Italy of 1796-97. France surrendered the Ionian Islands to Russia, which in 1800 set up the protectorate of the Septinsular Republic. The seven islands were known to the ancient Greeks as Heptanesus, and consisted of Corfu, Paxos, Leukas, Ithaca, Cephalonia, Zante, and Cerigo.

French Rule, 1807-1815.

The War of the Fourth Coalition saw the disintegration of the Russian army, and by the Treaty of Tilsit (7-9 July 1807) Russia reluctantly became an ally of the French and ceded the Ionian Islands to France. After the Austrian defeat at Wagram, Austria ceded to the French by the Treaty of Schönbrunn (14 October 1809) all lands beyond the Save River including Villach, Istria, Hungarian Dalmatia and Ragusa. France organised these together with the Ionian Islands into the Illyrian Provinces ruled directly from Paris.

British Rule, 1815-1864.

French defeat in 1814 led to British occupation of the Ionian Islands. The Congress of Vienna in June 1815 does not seem to have addressed the question of the Ionian Islands, but by a separate treaty on 5 November 1815 the British set up a Protectorate of the Ionian Islands. (And meanwhile Austria annexed Venice.)

Greek Rule, 1864-present.

On 5 June 1864 Britain ceded the Ionian Islands to Greece in order to help stabilise the new Danish royal dynasty there. The original modern Greek dynasty was Bavarian but was deposed in 1864. Greece then chose the British Prince Albert as its king, but the British government disapproved of the scheme.

George C Poulos

Executive Director, Australian Iconography Foundation
Senior Member, Flag Society of Australia
Member, Heraldry Australia Inc.
Vexillographer, Official Bondi Beach Flag.
Vexillographer, Hawkesbury Waratah Festival Flag.
Vexillographer, Karavitiko Symposium Flag.
Vexillographer, Australian Total Reconciliation Flag.

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