United States of the Ionian Islands

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United States of the Ionian Islands
Ηνωμένον Κράτος των Ιονίων Νήσων (el)
Inoménon-Krátos ton Ioníon Níson
Stati Uniti delle Isole Ionie (it)
Amical protectorate of the United Kingdom
1815–1864
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
The Republic's territory extended to the seven main islands plus the smaller islets of the Ionian Sea
Capital Corfu
Languages Greek
Italian
Religion Greek Orthodox
Government Republic
Legislature Parliament
 •  Upper house Ionian Senate
 •  Lower house Ionian 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
Area
 •  1864 2,659 km2 (1,027 sq mi)
Population
 •  1864 est. 236,000 
     Density 89/km2 (230/sq mi)
Currency Obol (1818–64)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Septinsular Republic
Kingdom of Greece
Today part of  Greece
References: Capital city;[1] languages;[2][3] area and population.[4]

The United States of the Ionian Islands (Greek: Ἡνωμένον Κράτος τῶν Ἰονίων 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 covered the territory of the Ionian Islands, in modern Greece, and it was ceded to Greece as a gift of the United Kingdom to the newly enthroned King George I[5] at the end of the protectorate.

History

Before the French Revolutionary Wars, the Ionian Islands had been part of the Republic of Venice. When the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio dissolved the Republic of Venice, they were annexed to the French Republic as the French departments of Greece. Between 1798 and 1799, the French were driven out by a joint Russo-Ottoman force. The occupying forces founded the Septinsular Republic, which enjoyed relative independence under nominal Ottoman suzerainty and Russian control from 1800 until 1807.

The Ionian Islands were then occupied by the French after the treaty of Tilsit. In 1809, the United Kingdom defeated the French fleet off Zakynthos island on 2 October, and captured Kefalonia, Kythira, and Zakynthos. The British took Lefkada in 1810. The island of Corfu remained occupied by the French 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 formalised 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, representatives of 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.[6]

Languages

According to the second constitution of the republic (1803), Greek was the primary official language, in contrast to the situation in the Septinsular Republic.[7] 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 Italian as their first language.[8]

States

The British coat of arms surrounded by the emblems of the seven Ionian Islands. From top, clockwise: Corfu, Zakynthos, Ithaca, Paxoi, Cythera/Cerigo, Leucas, Cephalonia

The United States of the Ionian Islands was a federation. It included seven island states, each of which was allocated a number of seats in the parliament, the Ionian Senate:

State Capital Members elected
Corfu Corfu 7
Cephalonia Argostoli 7
Cythera Kythira 1 or 2[9]
Ithaca Vathy 1 or 2[9]
Paxos Gaios 1 or 2[9]
Leucas Lefkada 4
Zakynthos Zakynthos 7

Government

Ionian two-oboli coin, 1819

The government was organised under the direction 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 a Legislative Assembly and a Senate.[10]

The 1818 constitution also established a High Court of Appeal to be called the Supreme Council of Justice of the United States of the Ionian Islands, of which the president was to be known as the Chief Justice who would rank in precedence immediately after the President of the Senate.

The successive Chief Justices were:

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Constitution of the Ionian Islands, Article II
  2. ^ Constitution of the Ionian Islands, Article IV
  3. ^ Constitution of the Ionian Islands, Article V
  4. ^ "Treaty of London". Greek Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 8 March 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2006. 
  5. ^ The Times (London) 8 June 1863 p. 12 col. C
  6. ^ Hertslet, Edward. The map of Europe by treaty (PDF). p. 1609. Retrieved 21 July 2006. 
  7. ^ http://www.dircost.unito.it/cs/docs/settinsula.htm The second constitution of the republic (1803). (in Italian)
  8. ^ Kendrick, Tertius T. C. (1822). The Ionian islands: Manners and customs. J. Haldane. p. 106. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c Cythera, Ithaca, and Paxos each elected one member, but the three elected a second member in rotation. Constitution of the Ionian Islands, Article IV
  10. ^ Constitution of the Ionian Islands, Article VII

External links

  • "Constitution of the Ionian Islands". University of Kassel. Retrieved 21 July 2006. 
  • The Constitution in Italian
  • "Territories of the British Empire, History of the Ionian Islands". David Rumsey Map Collection. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
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