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United States of the Ionian Islands

United States of the Ionian Islands

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The United States of the Ionian Islands was a state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 and amical protectorate of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 between 1815 and 1864. It was the successor state of the Septinsular Republic
Septinsular Republic
The Septinsular Republic was an island republic that existed from 1800 to 1807 under nominal Ottoman sovereignty in the Ionian Islands. It was the first time Greeks had been granted even limited self-government since the fall of the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans in the...

. It is located in modern Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, to whom it was ceded as a gift of the United Kingdom to the newly enthroned King George I
George I of Greece
George I was King of Greece from 1863 to 1913. Originally a Danish prince, George was only 17 years old when he was elected king by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the former king Otto. His nomination was both suggested and supported by the Great Powers...

, at the end of the protectorate.

History


Prior to the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

, the Ionian Islands had been part of the Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

. With the dissolution of that polity under the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio
Treaty of Campo Formio
The Treaty of Campo Formio was signed on 18 October 1797 by Napoleon Bonaparte and Count Philipp von Cobenzl as representatives of revolutionary France and the Austrian monarchy...

, it was annexed into the French Republic
French First Republic
The French First Republic was founded on 22 September 1792, by the newly established National Convention. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First French Empire in 1804 under Napoleon I...

, created into the French departments of Greece
French departments of Greece
The French departments of Greece designate the three former departments created under the First French Republic in 1797 with the annexation of the Ionian Islands after the signing of the Treaty of Campo Formio by Napoleon Bonaparte.The departments were:* Corcyre ;* Ithaque The French departments...

. Between 1798 and 1799, the French were driven out by a joint Russo
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

-Turkish
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 force. The occupying forces founded the Septinsular Republic
Septinsular Republic
The Septinsular Republic was an island republic that existed from 1800 to 1807 under nominal Ottoman sovereignty in the Ionian Islands. It was the first time Greeks had been granted even limited self-government since the fall of the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans in the...

, 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
Zakynthos
Zakynthos , also Zante, the other form often used in English and in Italian , is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It covers an area of ...

 on 2 October, and captured Kefalonia
Kefalonia
The island of Cephalonia, also known as Kefalonia, Cephallenia, Cephallonia, Kefallinia, or Kefallonia , is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece, with an area of . It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit...

, Kythira
Kythira
Cythera is an island in Greece, once part of the Ionian Islands. It lies opposite the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula. It is administratively part of the Islands regional unit, which is part of the Attica region , Greece.For many centuries, while naval travel was the only means...

, and Zakynthos. The British took Lefkada in 1810. Corfu
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

 remained under French rule until 1814.

The Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 agreed to place the Ionian Islands under the exclusive "amical protection" of the United Kingdom. Despite British military administration, the Austrian Empire
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 was guaranteed commercial status equal to the UK. The arrangement was solidifed with the ratification of the "Maitland constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

" on 26 August 1817, which created a federation of the seven islands, with Sir Thomas Maitland its first "Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands".

On 29 March 1864, the United Kingdom, Greece
Kingdom of Greece
The Kingdom of Greece was a state established in 1832 in the Convention of London by the Great Powers...

, France
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

, and Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 signed the Treaty of London
Treaty of London, 1864
The Treaty of London in 1864 was in regards to the United Kingdom ceding the United States of the Ionian Islands to Greece. The United Kingdom had held an amical protectorate over the islands since the 1815 Treaty of Paris....

, pledging the transfer of sovereignty to Greece upon ratification; this was meant to bolster the reign of the newly-installed King George I of Greece
George I of Greece
George I was King of Greece from 1863 to 1913. Originally a Danish prince, George was only 17 years old when he was elected king by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the former king Otto. His nomination was both suggested and supported by the Great Powers...

. Thus, on 28 May, by proclamation of the Lord High Commissioner, the Ionian Islands were united with Greece.

Languages


Greek was the primary official language, in contrast to the situation in the Septinsular Republic
Septinsular Republic
The Septinsular Republic was an island republic that existed from 1800 to 1807 under nominal Ottoman sovereignty in the Ionian Islands. It was the first time Greeks had been granted even limited self-government since the fall of the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans in the...

. Italian was still in use, though, mainly for official purposes since the Venetian Republic. The only island in which Italian (Venetian
Venetian language
Venetian or Venetan is a Romance language spoken as a native language by over two million people, mostly in the Veneto region of Italy, where of five million inhabitants almost all can understand it. It is sometimes spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia...

) had a wider spread was Cephalonia, where a great number of people had adopted Venetian as their first language.

States


As its name suggests, United States of the Ionian Islands was a federation
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

. It included seven island states:

State Capital Members elected
Corfù
Corfu
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the edge of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality. The...

Corfù
Corfu (city)
Corfu is a city and a former municipality on the island of Corfu, Ionian Islands, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform, it is part of the municipality Corfu, of which it is a municipal unit. It is the capital of the island and of the Corfu regional unit. The city also serves as a capital...

7
Cephalonia Argostoli
Argostoli
Argostoli is a town and a former municipality on the island of Kefalonia, Ionian Islands, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Kefalonia, of which it is a municipal unit...

7
Cerigo Kythira 1 or 2
Ithaca
Ithaca
Ithaca or Ithaka is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It is also a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and...

Vathy 1 or 2
Paxò
Paxi
Paxi or Paxoi is the name given to the smallest group of the Ionian Islands . In Greek it is a plural form and it refers to a complex of islands, the largest of which are Paxos and Antipaxos...

Gaios
Gaios
Gaios is the main port on Paxi, the smallest of the seven principal Ionian Islands, in Greece. Gaios is situated on the east coast of the island. It is named after a homonymous pupil of Paul the Apostle, who brought Christianity to the island....

1 or 2
Santa Maura Lefkada
Lefkada (city)
Lefkada is a city and a former municipality on the island of Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Lefkada, of which it is a municipal unit. It is the capital and main town of the island of Lefkada, located in the northern and...

4
Zante Zakynthos
Zakynthos (city)
Zakynthos is a city and a former municipality on the island of Zakynthos, Ionian Islands, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Zakynthos, of which it is a municipal unit. It is the capital of the island of Zakynthos. Apart from the official name Zakynthos,...

7

Government


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
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 as a Lord High Commissioner Extraordinary.

The Ionian Islands had a bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

, titled the 'Parliament of the United States of the Ionian Islands' and composed of the Legislative Assembly and the Senate.

See also

  • Order of St Michael and St George
    Order of St Michael and St George
    The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George is an order of chivalry founded on 28 April 1818 by George, Prince Regent, later George IV of the United Kingdom, while he was acting as Prince Regent for his father, George III....

    , an extant British chivalrous order created in honour of the protectorate
  • Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands with list of holders of this office
  • Septinsular Republic
    Septinsular Republic
    The Septinsular Republic was an island republic that existed from 1800 to 1807 under nominal Ottoman sovereignty in the Ionian Islands. It was the first time Greeks had been granted even limited self-government since the fall of the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans in the...

  • List of Greek countries and regions