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Ionian islands (Greece, 1800-1864)
Last modified: 2023-07-03 by
Keywords: ionian islands | septinsular republic | law | united states of the ionian islands | lion: winged | venice | saint mark | lances | gospel |
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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.
T.F. Mills, 8 May 1999
Overview of the flags
The State of the Ionian Islands (1800) introduced a blue flag with the winged lion of Saint Marcus holding the Gospel, from which sprung seven lances symbolising the seven Ionian Islands. In the years of the Venetian occupation the flag was white bearing the winged lion, while on the canton there was a depiction of each island's patron saint, with a cross."
Source: Hellenic flags. Insignia-Emblems. [kok97]
Images of two flags are shown in the book.
by António Martins
- "The first official flag for an independent Greek state after the fall of Constantinople was the flag of the independent Ionian Republic. It was introduced in 1800 after a treaty which proclaimed the Ionian Islands a free and independent state. This flag remained in use until 1807, when the Ionian Islands were returned to France."
by António Martins
- "From 1815 to 1864 the Ionian Islands were under the protection of England and were called the "Union of the Ionian Islands". The flag with the Venetian Lion was again in use after 1817, with the addition of the British flag on the upper corner".
Pascal Vagnat, 9 May 1999
Flags during British rule
Extract from A Constitutional Chart of the United States of the Ionian Islands, as reproduced in an appendix to R.M.Martin's History of the Colonies of the British Empire (1834).
"Ratified by HRH the Prince Regent, in the name and on the behalf of His Majesty 26th August 1817.
Chapter VII Miscellaneous.
Section VI. Of the National Colours and Armorial Bearings.
- Article 1. The national commercial flag of the United States of the Ionian Islands, as directed by the seventh article of the treaty of Paris, shall be the original flag of these States, with the addition of the British Union, to be placed in the upper corner, next to the flag-staff.
- Article 2. On usual days, the British colours shall be hoisted on all the forts within the United States of the Ionian Islands, but a standard shall be made, to be hoisted on days of public rejoicing and festivity, according to the model of the armorial bearings of the said States.
- Article 3. The arms or armorial bearings of the United States of the Ionian Islands shall hereafter consist of the British arms in the centre, surrounded by the arms of each of the islands composing the said States.
- Article 4. The armorial bearings of each of the islands shall consist of the individual arms of the islands, and such emblem, denoting the sovereign protection, as may be deemed advisable."
David Prothero, 8 May 1999
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