Corfu kept a leading role in Greece's history since ancient times. Due to its geographical position (it is in the north point of the Ionian Sea) but of its natural beauties as well, was in the sight of the powerful forces. It met the domination of Enetics, French and English. Each conqueror leaved his mark in the island's feature. The long coexistence of the residents with the conquerors added to the particular culture that Corfu has.
The island's denomination
According to mythology, Corfu took its name from the nymph Corfu, the daughter of river Asopos', whom Poseidon fell in love with and took her in the island that was named after her.
Feakas was born from their love, from whom the island took its mythic name as "the island of Feakes".
During the ancient times the island was named Makris of its oblong shape. It was also named Drepanon or Drepani, of its similarity to a reaping hook.
Homer, in his plays gives it the name Sheria. It is the island to which shores Odysseus was a castaway. He was found sleeping by Nausika, the daughter of king Alkinoos and brought into the palace. There, the hospitable Feakes offered him their hospitality and lead him back to Ithaki putting an end in his itinerancies.
During Byzantine times the island was named Korifo by the two-top Acropolis, that was in the place of today's town. From paraphrase of this denomination came the latin allocution Corfu which the island is known all around the world.
According to historic sources Corfu was first inhabited by Greeks in 775-750BC. Eretriis then came to the island from Evia.
In 734 BC Corinthians settled in peninsula of Kanoni and in 644BC was made the most ancient sea battle among Greek forces. Corinthians fought with the residents of Corfu. The victory of Corfu and their affiliation to the Athenaeum partnership was the cause of the Peloponese war.
Romans domained Corfu from 229 to 733BC. The residents themselves asked for protection in order to stop the Illirics' invasions. Rome offered her partnership and gave them a lot of privileges.
From the 1st century apostles Iasonas and Sosipatros spread Christianity in the island.
During this period the island met a lot of catastrophes by Vandakous, Goths, Saracens and Normandy.
In the beginnings of the 11th century Normandy manage to prevail and to make Corfu their base. A little later, in 1147, the Byzantine emperor Manuel Komninos with help from Enetics manages to liberate Corfu.
Enetics domain the island in 1204. In 1214, Greeks from the Despotato of Ipirus conquer Corfu. The residents accepted them with enthusiasm and managed to gain a lot of privileges. But unfortunately this period didn't last. In 1276 the island is confronted with a new conqueror. The domination of Andigavnos lasted more than 100 years. Corfu suffered a lot during this period.
In 1836, after a lot of adventures Enetics manage to take over Corfu. They kept the island for more than four centuries. Their domination lasted until 1797 and as a result of it, Corfu never met the Turkish domination. In this period the Old Town was built, a true ornament for the island but also one of the most beautiful towns in Greece.
Enetics set the aristocratic regime according to the model of Venice. The citizens are discriminated into classes (noble, townee, commons). During this period the middle urban class is developed, while many families in Corfu gain titles of nobility (contes and contesses) that maintain until our days (as a family heirloom) their offspring.
As commercial force of that time, Enetics made worth of the natural pores of the island. They contributed to the development of olive cultivation in the island and made Corfu's port one of the most important commercial ports in the world.
During the period of the Enetics domination, art and literature developed. But the Ottoman Empire had Corfu in sight. The Enetics' fleet along with the residents of Corfu managed to force back even the tremendous Barbarossa.The pillages of 1537 and 1571 caused the depopulation of the island that made Enetics bring people from Venice.
In 1797 the Enetics had to make an ally with Napoleon Bonaparti who conquered Corfu. The domination of France in the Ionian islands was settled with the convention of Kampoformio.
In 1800 the Turkish made a convention according to which they legitimized Ionian islands as an autonomous state. The Eptanese made the "Eptanisos State" and would pay a tax in Turkey. The seven years that the state lasted the financial and social life of the residents was improved. It was then that the Ionian Academy was established. But the war between Russia and Turkey started and the Eptanese State made an ally with Russia, which was beaten in that war. So, the Eptenese islands were under the French domination once again.
In 1815, after the fall of Napoleon, the Ionian islands with the convention of London became a free and independent state under the protection of England. As first commissioner was set Sir Tomas Maitlant. Its oppressive administration raised people. The English possession had a positive impact in the economy and the cultural growth of Corfu. The English made the road network and built many buildings. In 1824, the Ionian Academy was established that was virtually the first greek University and the Greek language was then dedicated as official language.
Incorporation to Greece
In 1863 was signed in London a convention between the Strong Forces according to which England quit from protecting the Ionian islands.
In May 21st of 1864 Eptanese integrate officially in Greece and the Greek flag is raised in the Castle of Corfu.