The history of Corfu
The history of Corfu island is very long & tumultuous, as many different cultures & nations sought to capture the island as their own. Their influence can be seen in every aspect of present day Corfu, from its physical appearance & historical monuments to its inhabitants’ disposition & the local cuisine.
The First Era of Venetian Rule
In 1204, the Venetians laid claim to Corfu (Kerkyra) after the conquest of the Byzantine Empire by the 4th Crusade. In 1214, the island was recaptured by Michael I Aggelos Komninos, Despot of Epirus, who restored the old privileges of the inhabitants and reinforced the island’s fortifications until 1258-1259, when the region was ceded by Duke Michael II to his son in law Manfred.
The battle of Beneventum and the Treaty of Viterbo resulted in the transfer of the island to Charles I of Anjou for the next 120 years. Charles I of Anjou had many anti-orthodox feelings and replaced the Orthodox churches with Catholic churches. More and more people were gathering in the basin between the two hills, seeking protection and refuge. It was during this time that the Old Fortress was constructed.
In the second half of the 14th century, the island once more sought the protection of Venice, which bought the island from Naples and undertook to defend it for the next 412 years.
The Venetian administration was carried out by short-term members of a council that was appointed by Venice. During this period the Byzantine fortifications were further reinforced. The island was besieged by Turkish forces in 1537. Many acres of cultivated land were destroyed and at least 20,000 inhabitants were killed. The island though, was not captured due to its great defence.