Corfu History

  • 3000 BCE

    Mythic Past-Epic Tradition

    Mythic Past-Epic Tradition
    Scheria, Corkyra, Kerkyra, Pheakia, Drepani, Korifo are some names that were attributed to today's Corfu.
    In Scheria Homer places the penultimate station of Odysseus' return to Ithaca. Coming from Oygia (Sicily?), he met the princess Nafsika, who hosted him in her palace. Her father, King Alkinoos, offered him the boat to take him to Ithaca.
  • 1200 BCE

    Phaeacians

    Phaeacians
    The first residents in the 12th century BC were the Phaeacians, the first founder was Phaeaks, grandfather of the Homeric king Alkinoos. In this point mythology gets muddled with history, and we do not know the exact origin of the Phaecians.
    Later more immigrants came from Illyria, Sicily, Crete, Mycenae and the Aegean islands
  • 775 BCE

    Eretrians

    The first Greek settlers came from Eretria in Euboea, around 775-750 BC. The Greek name of Kerkyra came from a mythological Nymph called Corcyra, a daughter of the river god Asopos. Corcyra was kidnapped by the god of the sea Poseidon who brought her here and gave her name to the island.
    Corcyra became Kerkyra later in the Doric dialect.
  • Period: 775 BCE to 733 BCE

    Eretrians

  • 733 BCE

    Corinthians - The Archaike Era

    Corinthians - The Archaike Era
    The needs of trade, the political problems of the powerful Greek cities and the lack of space lead the Greek world to establish colonies on the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. First the islands around Greece were colonized, for example the first colony in the Adriatic was Corcyra (Corfu), founded by Corinth in 733 BC
  • Period: 733 BCE to 435 BCE

    Corinthians

    The first colony in the Adriatic was Corcyra (Corfu), founded by Corinth in 733 BC
  • 435 BCE

    Corfu as an Athenian Ally

    The fast-growing colony quickly gained strength and openly challenged the metropolis of Corinth. The Corinthians sent their fleet to occupy the island of Corfu and regain control of this strategic region and especially the colony of Epidamqnus. The Corfiot issue, as ancient historical Thucydides writes, was one of the causes of the thirty-year long civil Peloponnesian War that eventually weakened and broke Greece.
  • Period: 435 BCE to 229 BCE

    Athenian ally

  • 400 BCE

    Hellenistic Era

    In the 4th century BC Corcyra became more involved in regional politics, helping the Athenians in their attempts to block Macedonia from operating in the Adriatic.
  • 229 BCE

    Short Illyrian Occupation

    The Illyrians conquered the island in 229 BC
  • 229 BCE

    Roman Era

    The Romans conquered the island later in 229 BC.Romans gave autonomy to the Corfiots provided that they would be allowed to use the island as a naval base. Corfu followed the fate of all other Greek city-states, they accepted the sovereignty and protection of Rome from the various invaders of that era.
  • Period: 229 BCE to 395

    Roman Era

  • 80

    Arrival of Christianity

    Arrival of Christianity
    During first century AD. Christianity arrived, brought by the two disciples of St Paul, Jason and Sosipatros
  • 337

    Split of the Roman Empire

    Split of the Roman Empire
    After the death of emperor Constantine at 337AD the Roman empire divided into three sections- the north (Spain, France, England), east (Konstantinople and Asia Minor) and the west, which included Greece, Italy and Rome’s African territories. Corfu then was included in the so called west empire.
  • 395

    Final split of the Roman Empire

    Final split of the Roman Empire
    After the death of emperor Theodosius the Roman empire was re-divided into east and west, Corfu then belonged to the east empire.
  • 395

    Early Byzantine Period

  • Period: 395 to 562

    Early Byzantine Period

  • 455

    Raid of the Vandals

    Raid of the Vandals
    Corfu suffered barbarian raids repeatedly, such as the one in 455 A.D. when the Vandals of Genseric laid waste to the island.
  • 562

    Byzantine Period

    Byzantine Period
    The destruction of the ancient city, marks the beginning of the medieval city and the main Byzantine period.
  • 562

    Attack of the Goths

    Attack of the Goths
    Corfu was attacked at 562 AD by the Goths, who destroyed the ancient city of Corfu, leaving the ruins that today are called ‘’Paleopolis’’. This was the end of the ancient City and the beginning of medieval age for the island. The inhabitants abandoned the old city and moved to the natural cape which later became the old fortress. From there the new city slowly expanded to the area where it is today.
  • Period: 562 to 1204

    Byzantine Period

  • 650

    Saracene Occupation

    Saracene Occupation
    In the second half of the 7th century A.D. Saracens seized Corfu, ravaged it and then used it as a base of operations.
  • 733

    Byzantine rule

    Byzantine rule
    In 733 A.D. the Byzantines expelled the Saracens, signaling the start of a new era for Corfu, under Byzantine Orthodox rule.
  • 1081

    Short Norman Occupation

    Short Norman Occupation
    In 1081 the Normans under the leadership of Robert Guiscaud besieged and captured the island. Their rule did not last long, however, since the Byzantines, with the help of Venice, beat them in a naval battle and again took possession
  • 1204

    First Venetian Occupation

    First Venetian Occupation
    When knights of the Fourth Crusade seized Constantinople, Corfu fell into Venetian hands until 1214.
  • Period: 1204 to 1214

    First Venetian Occupation

  • 1214

    Part of the Despotate of Epirus

    Part of the Despotate of Epirus
    In 1214 Corfu became part of the Despotate of Epirus, at that time one of three independent Byzantine states.
  • Period: 1214 to 1259

    Despotate of Epirus period

  • 1259

    Sicilian Rulers

    Sicilian Rulers
    From 1259 to 1267 various Sicilian rulers attempted to claim Corfu.
    The first who conquered the island was Manfred, king of Sicily, and when he was killed, Philip Ginardo took over. When Philip Ginardo was murdered, the island passed into the hands of his generals, the Garnerio brothers and Thomas Alamano, to mention here that the surname Alamanos is widespread today in Corfu, apparently of Sicilian origin.
  • Period: 1259 to 1267

    Sicilian Rulers

  • 1267

    House of Anjou

    House of Anjou
    At 1267 the Angevin King of Sicily Charles of the house of Anjou, conquered the island. That was the era when large numbers of Jewish people, mainly from Spain, settled in Corfu and created the Corfiot Jewish community. Charles of Anjou attempted to erase the Orthodox Christian faith by changing all Orthodox churches into Roman Catholic. This attempt stopped later when the Venetians returned to the island.
  • Period: 1267 to 1386

    House of Anjou

  • 1386

    The Venetian Occupation

    The Venetian Occupation
    The Council of Corfu were friendly with the Venetians.
    They didn’t expect protection from the collapsing Byzantine Empire, and because of the Turkish threat, at 1386 AD they asked for the protection of the Republic of Saint Mark. Venetians knew that Corfu was a key strategic location to guard their naval interests therefore they bought the island from the kingdom of Naples, paying an amount of 30,000 gold ducats.
  • Period: 1386 to

    The Venetian Occupation

  • 1537

    Turkish invasion in the countryside

    Turkish invasion in the countryside
    Despite the Venetian effort to protect the city of Corfu, the island suffered from pirate attacks and Turkish raids. In 1537 AD the Turks invaded and seized 20.000 men from the countryside to sell as slaves.
  • 1571

    Loss of Peloponnese, Crete and Cyprus

    Loss of Peloponnese, Crete and Cyprus
    Following the raids of 1537 Corfu was almost deserted. In 1571 the Venetians lost Peloponnese, Crete and Cyprus by the Turks.This created an large wave of refugees to the Ionian Islands. The Venetians encouraged this migration stream in order to revive the dead countryside, and also to strengthen Venice with people with great spiritual, military, technical and economic potential.
  • The Turkish Siege

    The Turkish Siege
    The 1716 siege of Corfu was part of the 7th Venetian-Turkish war. This was the last of many Turkish attempts to expand their empire into Europe.
  • First French Occupation

    First French Occupation
    The Venetian period was followed by the first French occupation in 1797.
    It was the end of the feudal system, and the people burnt the book of Gold (libro d’oro) where all Aristocrats were listed.
  • Period: to

    First French Occupation

  • The Ionian State

    The Ionian State
    Followed by a period of instability, people were divided, the Nobles began to exploit the popular discontent against the French, and began to plot for the occupation of Corfu by the Russians.
    They finally succeeded in 1799 when a strange alliance of Russians and Turks occupied Corfu. This state remained until 1807 when the French under Napoleon returned
  • Period: to

    The Ionian State

    This state remained until 1807 when the French under Napoleon returned
  • Second French Occupation

    Second French Occupation
  • Period: to

    Second French occupation

  • British limit Jews' rights

    British limit Jews' rights
    The British seized Corfu in 1814, limiting some of the Jews' privileges
  • United States of Ionian Islands

    United States of Ionian Islands
    In 1815 Corfu went under British rule, the seven Ionian island state declared its independence under British protection. Greek was the official language and Corfu town the capital. During the British rule, many immigrants came from the island of Malta, the original home of many, mainly Roman Catholic, Corfiots
  • Period: to

    United States of the Ionian Islands

  • Greek state restore Jews' rights

    Greek state restore Jews' rights
    The State granted them equal rights to the rest of the population
  • Union with Greece

    Union with Greece
    On 21 May 1864 after the London treaty and the positive vote of Ionian parliament, Corfu and all Ionian islands united with Greece.
    It was one of the most important turning points in the history of Corfu
  • Favourite Destination

    Favourite Destination
    From the early years of the century up until the Second World War, Corfu had rivalled Capri and Mallorca as the favourite Mediterranean destination of the European elite.
  • Short Italian occupation

    Short Italian occupation
    In 1923 Italian forces bombarded and held Corfu briefly, following the murder of an Italian boundary delegation.
  • Period: to

    World War II

    In World War II the city was again bombed by the Italians and occupied in succession (1941–44) by Italians and Germans. Many of its buildings and other landmarks were destroyed in the fighting of 1943.
    The island was restored to Greece in 1944.
  • Holocaust

    Holocaust
    When the island was occupied by the Germans in 1944, an ordinance told all the Jews to remain in their homes.
    About two hundred Jews succeeded to flee. The following day, the Germans arrested all the others and deported them to Auschwitz. The Nazis and the mob looted their homes and shops. Out of 1900 Jews of Corfu, about 180 survived the Holocaust.
  • Post-war Jewish community

    Post-war Jewish community
    In 1946 the Community had 140 members; the Synagogue and the school were almost ruined. As time passed the Community reformed and resumed normal life. Today it is composed of 65 members who continue their course
  • Corfu escaped the earthquake

    Corfu escaped the earthquake
    The island escaped the great earthquake of 1953, which destroyed large parts of the southern Ionian Islands
  • Mass Tourism

    Mass Tourism
    Corfu starts becoming a very popular tourism destination.
  • UNESCO

    UNESCO
    The Old Town of Kerkyra was named a UNESCO World Heritage site