Russian – Turkish Occupation
On 3rd of January 1799, the Turkish signed the alliance with the Russians. The French were in the Mediterranean and they had started a crusade in Egypt. During that time, propaganda against the “atheists” French was being raised motivating the people to war against them. A declaration of the head officer of the Russian fleet, Theodore Ousakof, was also passed around the Ionian Islands. According to this, the Tsar Pavlos I and the Sultan Selim III, would liberate the islands and the Ionian people could choose the administration and the privileges would be respectfully accepted. There were also declarations from other parts, written by Constantine Stamati (4th of October 1798) and Emile Gaudin (22nd of November 1798), which motivated the Ionian people to resist and not to believe the propaganda, thereby helping the French. The possession of the Ionian Islands started from Kythira on the 7th of October, following onto Zakynthos on the 23rd of October and Kefalonia on the 19th of October. The people in Ithaca convinced the French garrison to move to Corfu. Lefkas was also occupied in 17th of November. Corfu was the only island left. The French ordered a military law: all the citizens between 16-50 years old should participate in the war, they forced the wealthy Corfiots to pay taxes, they used their animals, and they disarmed the people of the town. The residents of Mantouki in Corfu resisted. The French besieged and burned the village. They moved onto Platytera, where the people also resisted and the French besieged the monastery and after pillaging it, they burned it. The rest of the people were being disarmed with no any resistance. The French destroyed the area of Saint Charalambos, (which was close to the main entrance of the town), in order to avoid the use of the buildings from the conquerors. They fortified the small island of Vidos, which they named “the Island of Peace” (Ile de la Paix). The people of the villages instigated the raising of the Russian flag. The Russians suggested to the French that they vacate the island, but they refused. The starvation devastated the French. On the 23/25th February, Admiral Ousakof declared a general attack. By the 1st of March the alliance besieged the island of Vidos and on the 20th of February – 4th of March 1799 the two sides signed the convention. The French gave up and the Russian flags were being raised on the Old Fortress. French and Russians fraternized and the French left from Corfu in the end of March.
The nobles and the middle class created a temporary government. The nobles’ privileges were been re-strengthened. On the 24th of April, the generals of the alliance announced that the Ionian Islands would be a united state with a central government –Senate-, which it would take place in Corfu. The Senate would organize the temporary constitution of the state. The presidency of the Senate was given to Angelo Orio. The Senate had the judicial and administrative power, as well as the military and police control. There was a separate government and cashier in each island, but the central cashier was established in Corfu. The national courts could use the Greek language. The Senate decided (9/21st of June) to send the ambassadors, 4 from Corfu, 2 from Lefkas, 2 from Kefalonia, 2 from Zante, 1 from Ithaka and 1 from Kythira, adjoined by the president of the Senate, Angelo Orio, who was replaced after a while by the count Spyridon Georgios Theotokis, to go to Constantinople in order to thank the sovereigns and receive the approval of the constitution. The Ionians asked for the recognition of the political liberty and the independence of the Islands, as the residents had helped the alliance to defeat the French. Though, they understood that the Turks wanted to control and possess the islands.