05 September 2014

Friday Flag - United State of the Ionian Islands

Flag of the United State of the Ionian Islands 1815

During the Congress of Vienna the United Kingdom wanted to gain rights to 'protect' the United State of the Ionian Islands. This group of seven islands off the coast of Greece had a number of ports that could be of use by the British. The Austrian Empire was not thrilled at the prospect of continued British expansion into the Mediterranean so they unexpectedly pushed for more rights there themselves.

With the numerous more important issues to be handled at the Congress, it was quickly decided that the British and Austrians would form a condominium over the islands. It quickly became apparent that the two powers would be unable to cooperate. This allowed the Ionians to exert much more control over their own territory. In late 1815 Ioannis Kapodistrias became President of the United State of the Ionian Islands. He became adept at playing the two powers against each other and advancing his own ends as they squabbled or ignored the islands.

While many inhabitants preferred British laws to Habsburg they desired their own freedom as well. Taking the best each culture had to offer and taking inspirations from ancient Greek city-states and modern American political innovations the tiny new nation tried to create its own identity.

In 1864 the British pushed to have the Ionian Islands annexed into the Kingdom of Greece. Luckily a half-century of relative independence allowed them to resist annexation. With Habsburg involvement now almost non-existent the Ionians turned to Imperial Russia for help. Turning to the Tsar to ensure their freedom was bizarre, but worked. By allowing Russian access to some of their ports they were able to get the Tsar to support their independence.

Again the United Kingdom had other more important interests to deal with and eventually let the matter drop.

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