Ἑπτάνησος Πολιτεία (el)
Repubblica Settinsulare (it)
|Protectorate of Russia and Turkey1 (to 1807)
Protectorate of the French Empire (thereafter)
The Republic's territory extended to the seven main islands plus the smaller islets of the Ionian Sea
Greek (from 1803)
Unofficial minority languages:
Italkian, Venetian, Yevanic
|Religion||Eastern Orthodox Church
Roman Catholic Church
|-||1800–02 (first)||Count Spiridion Georgio Teotochi (el)|
|-||Upper house||Senate (Senato, Γερουσία)|
|-||Lower house||Legislative Assembly (Corpo Legislativo, Νομοθετικό Σώμα)|
|Historical era||19th century|
|-||Established||April 2, 1800|
|-||2nd constitution||23 December 1803|
|-||3rd constitution||1806 (not implemented)|
|-||Ceded to France||7 July 1807|
|-||British Protectorate||5 November 1815|
|Today part of||Greece3|
|1: Formally under Ottoman suzerainty; under the de facto protection of the Russian Empire
2: According to the 1803 Constitution the President of the Senate gets the title of the Prince (Principo, Πρίγκηψ) and he is head of state.
3: Sazan Island (Saseno, Σάσων) is now a part of Albania.
The Septinsular Republic (Greek: Ἑπτάνησος Πολιτεία, Italian: Repubblica Settinsulare) 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 mid-15th century. Whilst a part of the First French Empire, the republic was known in French as République Septinsulaire or République des Sept-Îles.
The seven islands constituting the Republic were:
- Kerkyra (Corfu)
- Paxi (Paxos)
- Lefkada (Leucada/Santa Maura)
- Kefalonia (Cefalonia)
- Ithaki (Ithaca)
- Zakynthos (Zante)
- Kythira (Cythera/Cerigo)
By the late 18th century, the Ionian Islands had been under Venetian authority for centuries. With the Treaty of Leoben (18 April 1797), the French Republic gained the islands, a move finalised with the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio, which formally abolished the Venetian state.
The islands now formed part of the départements Mer-Égée, Ithaque and Corcyre. The arrival of the French sparked great enthusiasm among the islands' inhabitants, and was marked by acts such as the burning of the Libro d'Oro, the abolition of aristocratic privileges and the adoption of the French Constitution of 1795.
The French then proceeded to strengthen the defences of Corfu. By the end of the 18th century, it was the strongest fort in Europe, with more than a thousand French cannons placed on its walls.
Despite several progressive measures adopted by the French administration, heavy taxation and the undisciplined behaviour of French soldiers soon alienated the population. This discontent was used by a joint Russo-Ottoman force under Admiral Ushakov to evict the French from the islands.
In 1800, the so-called "Byzantine" Constitution was approved in Constantinople by the Sultan, establishing the Septinsular Republic as a tributary state to the Ottoman Empire. The winged Lion of St. Mark on its flag indicated that it was supposed to be a successor state to the Venetian Republic, recently abolished by Napoleon. In fact, political power was exercised more by murder and vendetta than through the Senate.
The Republic existed practically as a Russian protectorate largely because the population saw the Russians as their Orthodox co-religionists. The political experience of administering the Republic was hugely important for the young Ioannis Kapodistrias, who thereby attracted Russian patronage, and would later became the first governor of independent Greece. Jervis gives a copy of the constitution (presumably the second) in his book. The franchise was restricted to males of legitimate Christian birth on the islands, who did not keep a shop or practise any mechanical art and could read and write. They also required a minimum yearly income which varied between the islands from 1800 ducats on Corfu to 315 ducats on Ithaca. People with the franchise are normally referred to as nobles, but this term probably exaggerates their wealth.
In secret articles of the 1807 Treaty of Tilsit, they were ceded by Russia to Napoleon's French Empire, an expeditionary force led by general Cesar Berthier (fr) taking control of the islands in August 1807. Unlike their Adriatic neighbour the Illyrian provinces, the Seven Islands were not annexed by France, keeping their institutions of government and the Ionian Senate, under the occupation of French forces led by Governors General Berthier and, after March 1808, François-Xavier Donzelot.
The official language was at first the Italian language and then in 1803 Greek became, along with Italian, one of the two official languages of the Republic. During the Venetian period, Italian was used for official purposes in the islands but it was also widely spoken in the cities, whereas in the countryside people continued to speak Greek. The only island in which Italian (Venetian) had a wider spread was Cefalonia, where a greater number of people had adopted Venetian as their first language.
The constitution of the Septinsular Republic was printed in Greek by the patriarchal press in Constantinople, using many loanwords from Italian for technical terms. However, the new constitution approved in 1803 was drafted in Italian. The text of the constitution is prefaced by the report of the committee that drafted it, which states that: "the noble, rich and harmonious Hellenic dialect, having been exiled by the Venetians, should be recalled to the dominion and become the language of administration and the interpreter of the active citizens." This issue was considered to be so important that it was even given a separate article (Art. 211) in the constitution. According to the article, Greek was scheduled to replace Italian as the working language in public acts by the year 1820.
Most of the people on these islands during this period were Christians, with a small number of Jews on Corfu, Zante and even smaller on Cefalonia. The majority were Eastern Orthodox. However, there was a significant number of Catholics, especially on Corfu, Zante and Kefalonia. The Constitution of 1803, recognized Orthodoxy as the dominant faith; it also states that the Roman Catholic faith is recognized and protected. The Constitution also provides for the enactment of a law defining the privileges of the Jews residing in the State.
In 1809–10, the British took all the islands except Corfu, where a French garrison persisted until 1814. In the Treaty of Paris of November 5, 1815, the islands were formed into the "United States of the Ionian Islands" under British protection. The colonial government lasted for half a century until 1864, when the islands were gifted to the Kingdom of Greece.
- List of Greek countries and regions
- Corfiot Italians
- Republic of Venice
- United States of the Ionian Islands
- The Republic was known by many names in Italian like Repubblica delle Isole Ionie, Repubblica Settinsulare, Eptaneso or Stato Ionio.
- In the first official translation of the constitution to Greek in 1804 the word una was translated as single or united.
- Kendrick, Tertius T. C. (1822). The Ionian islands: Manners and customs. J. Haldane. p. 106. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
- Mackridge, Peter (2009). Language and national identity in Greece, 1766–1976. Oxford University Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-19-921442-6. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
- H. Jervis-White Jervis 1852 reprinted 1970 History of the Island of Corfu and the Republic of the Ionian Islands
- The second constitution of the republic (1803) (Italian)
- The second constitution of the republic (Greek)