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The Siege of Corfu (October 1798 – March 1799) was a military operation by a joint Russian and Turkish fleet against French troops occupying the island of Corfu.
The first period of French rule in the Ionian Islands lasted from June 1797 to March 1799. Following the Fall of the Republic of Venice in May 1797, the Ionian Islands, a Venetian possession, were occupied by the French Republic. The French instituted a new, democratic regime and, following the Treaty of Campo Formio, annexed the islands to France, forming the three departments of Corcyre (Corfu), Ithaque (Ithaca) and Mer-Égée.
Corfu or Kerkyra is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the second largest of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the margin of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered as a single municipality, which also includes the smaller islands of Ereikoussa, Mathraki and Othonoi. The municipality has an area of 610,9 km2, the island proper 592,8 km2. The principal city of the island and seat of the municipality is also named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University.
By the Treaty of Campo Formio (November 1797) and the dissolution of the Republic of Venice, the Ionian Islands were ceded to the French Republic, which occupied Corfu as the département Corcyre .
The Treaty of Campo Formio was signed on 18 October 1797 by Napoleon Bonaparte and Count Philipp von Cobenzl as representatives of the French Republic and the Austrian monarchy, respectively. The treaty followed the armistice of Leoben, which had been forced on the Habsburgs by Napoleon's victorious campaign in Italy. It ended the War of the First Coalition and left Great Britain fighting alone against revolutionary France.
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic, traditionally known as La Serenissima, was a sovereign state and maritime republic in what is now northeastern Italy, which existed for over a millennium between the 7th century and the 18th century from 697 AD until 1797 AD. It was based in the lagoon communities of the historically prosperous city of Venice, and was a leading European economic and trading power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Citizens spoke primarily the still-surviving Venetian language, although publishing in (Florentine) Italian language became the norm during the Renaissance and after.
The Ionian Islands are a group of islands in Greece. They are traditionally called the Heptanese, but the group includes many smaller islands as well as the seven principal ones.
In 1798, Admiral Fyodor Ushakov was sent to the Mediterranean in command of a joint Russian-Turkish squadron to support General Alexander Suvorov's upcoming Italian and Swiss expedition (1799–1800). One of Ushakov's main tasks was to take the strategically important Ionian Islands from the French. In October 1798 the French garrisons were driven from Cythera, Zakynthos, Cephalonia, and Lefkada. It remained to take the largest and best-fortified island of the archipelago, Corfu.
Fyodor Fyodorovich Ushakov was the most illustrious Russian naval commander and admiral of the 18th century.
Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov was a Russian military leader, considered a national hero. He was Count of Rymnik, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince of Italy, and the last Generalissimo of the Russian Empire.
Zakynthos or Zante is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. It is the third largest of the Ionian Islands. Zakynthos is a separate regional unit of the Ionian Islands region, and its only municipality. It covers an area of 405.55 km2 (156.6 sq mi) and its coastline is roughly 123 km (76 mi) in length. The name, like all similar names ending in -nthos, is pre-Mycenaean or Pelasgian in origin. In Greek mythology the island was said to be named after Zakynthos, the son of the legendary Arcadian chief Dardanus.
The city of Corfu is located on the east coast in the central part of the island between two forts:
Corfu or Kerkyra is a city and a former municipality on the island of Corfu, Ionian Islands, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform, it is part of the municipality of Corfu island. It is the capital of the island and of the Corfu regional unit. The city also serves as a capital for the region of the Ionian Islands. The city is a major tourist attraction and Greek regional centre and has played an important role in Greek history since antiquity.
The Old Fortress of Corfu is a Venetian fortress in the city of Corfu. The fortress covers the promontory which initially contained the old town of Corfu that had emerged during Byzantine times.
From the new to the old fort a high wall ran along the shore. The town was also covered by bastions on two mountains, Abraham and Salvatore, and the intermediate fort of San Rocco. From the sea, the city was protected by the well-fortified island of Vido, and the smaller island of Lazaretto, two miles up the coast, was also strengthened by the French.
Vido is an island of the Ionian Islands group of Greece. It is a small island at the mouth of the port of Corfu.
The French, commanded by the governor General Louis Chabot, had 3000 soldiers and 650 guns in Corfu, plus 500 soldiers and 5 artillery batteries on the island of Vido. In the harbour was a French squadron of two ships of the line, the 74-gun Généreux and 54-gun Leander, the 20-gun corvette Brune, a bomb-vessel, a brig and four auxiliary vessels.
On 4 November 1798 Ushakov's Russian-Turkish squadron, consisting of three ships of the line, three frigates and a number of small ships, began the siege of Corfu. They were joined shortly afterwards by a Turkish squadron and another Russian squadron under the command of Captain Dmitry Senyavin. Given the strong fortifications of the island and the lack of strength for a landing, it was initially decided to wait for Turkish reinforcements for a landing force. However, on the first day the French abandoned their fortifications on Lazaretto island, which the Russians immediately occupied.
On 13 November a small force of Russians landed without opposition and took the small port of Gouvia about five miles along the coast. From then on the Russians began building batteries and shelling the French-held forts. In December, another Russian squadron, this one under Rear-Admiral Pavel Pustoshkinthe, augmented the besieging forces. The combined fleet now consisted of 12 ships of the line, 11 frigates and many smaller vessels.
On the night of January 26 the Généreux, with her sails painted black, and the brig escaped from the harbour and sailed to Ancona.
In February, about 4,000 Ottoman troops arrived and it was decided to make a landing on the island of Vido – the key to the defense of Corfu – using naval artillery against its shore batteries.
The assault on Vido began early in the morning of 28 February 1799. After a four-hour bombardment by several ships, all five shore batteries on the island had been suppressed. The Leander and Brune tried to intervene but were damaged and forced to retreat to the protection of the batteries of Corfu. The allied fleet then landed over 2000 men on Vido and after a two-hour battle the island was taken. Of the 800 men defending the island, 200 were killed and 400 were taken prisoner, including the commandant of the island, Brigadier-General Pivron. About 150 men managed to swim to Corfu. Russian losses were 31 killed and 100 wounded. The Ottomans lost 180 killed and wounded.
After the fall of Vido, the key to Corfu was in the hands of Ushakov. On March 1 the captured batteries on the island opened fire on the city's forts, supported by the Russians' shore batteries and some of the Russian and Turkish warships. The allied forces stormed and captured the outlying forts of San Rocco, San Salvatore and San Abraham.
On 2 March Ushakov planned to assault the main forts, but in the morning the French sent envoys to request a forty-eight-hour armistice, and on 3 March they surrendered.
The capitulation agreed between the French and Russians was an honourable one, including a provision for the French troops to be conveyed to Toulon. The remaining French ships in the harbour were taken by the allies, including the Leander which had been captured from the Royal Navy on 18 August 1798; the Russians returned her to the British.
Admiral Ushakov was honoured by the Emperor of Russia with the star of the Order of St Alexander Nevsky and by the Ottoman Sultan with a chelengk, rarely awarded to non-Muslims.
The capture of Corfu completed the Russo-Turkish takeover of the Ionian Islands, which was of great military and political importance. The islands became the Seven Islands Republic, a temporary protectorate of Russia and Turkey, and for several years Corfu served as a base for the Russian Mediterranean fleet. Ushakov's fleet went on to support the allied attack on Naples.
In 1953, director Mikhail Romm made a cinematographic dramatization of the Russian conquest of the Ionian Islands called Корабли штурмуют бастионы (The Ships Storm the Bastions), the second of a two-part biographical epic about admiral Ushakov. The movie was released by Mosfilm.
The Septinsular Republic was an oligarchic republic that existed from 1800 to 1807 under nominal Russian and Ottoman sovereignty in the Ionian Islands.
HMS Leander was a Portland-class 50-gun fourth rate of the Royal Navy, launched at Chatham on 1 July 1780. She served on the West Coast of Africa, West Indies, and the Halifax station. During the French Revolutionary Wars she participated in the Battle of the Nile before a French ship captured her. The Russians and Turks recaptured her and returned her to the Royal Navy in 1799. On 23 February 1805, while on the Halifax station, Leander captured the French frigate Ville de Milan and recaptured her prize, HMS Cleopatra. On 25 April 1805 cannon fire from Leander killed an American seaman while Leander was trying to search an American vessel off the US coast for contraband. The resulting "Leander Affair" contributed to the worsening of relations between the United States and Great Britain. In 1813 the Admiralty converted Leander to a hospital ship under the name Hygeia. Hygeia was sold in 1817.
Jean-Baptiste Perrée was a French Navy officer and Rear-admiral.
A lazaretto or lazaret is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings. In some lazarets, postal items were also disinfected, usually by fumigation. This practice was still being done as late as 1936, albeit in rare cases. A leper colony administered by a Christian religious order was often called a lazar house, after the parable of Lazarus the beggar.
The Dardanelles Operation was the Royal Navy's unsuccessful attempt to impose British demands on the Ottoman Empire as part of the Anglo-Turkish War (1807-1809).
Dmitry Nikolayevich Senyavin or Seniavin was a Russian admiral who ranks among the greatest seamen of the Napoleonic Wars.
Généreux was a French Téméraire-class 74-gun ship of the line. After capture she completed her career as part of the Royal Navy as HMS Généreux.
The Adriatic campaign was a minor theatre of war during the Napoleonic Wars in which a succession of small British Royal Navy and Austrian Navy squadrons and independent cruisers harried the combined naval forces of the First French Empire, the Kingdom of Italy, the Illyrian Provinces and the Kingdom of Naples between 1807 and 1814 in the Adriatic Sea. Italy, Naples and Illyria were all controlled either directly or via proxy by the French Emperor Napoleon I, who had seized them at the Treaty of Pressburg in the aftermath of the War of the Third Coalition.
Sir Thomas Boulden Thompson, 1st Baronet, GCB was an officer of the Royal Navy. He served during the American Revolutionary, French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, eventually rising to the rank of Vice-Admiral. He was one of Horatio Nelson's Band of Brothers at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 and Comptroller of the Navy from 1806-1816.
The Mediterranean campaign of 1798 was a series of major naval operations surrounding a French expeditionary force sent to Egypt under Napoleon Bonaparte during the French Revolutionary Wars. The French Republic sought to capture Egypt as the first stage in an effort to threaten British India and support Tipu Sultan, and thus force Great Britain to make peace. Departing Toulon in May 1798 with over 40,000 troops and hundreds of ships, Bonaparte's fleet sailed southeastwards across the Mediterranean Sea. They were followed by a small British squadron under Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, later reinforced to 13 ships of the line, whose pursuit was hampered by a lack of scouting frigates and reliable information. Bonaparte's first target was the island of Malta, which was under the government of the Knights of St. John and theoretically granted its owner control of the Central Mediterranean. Bonaparte's forces landed on the island and rapidly overwhelmed the defenders, securing the port city of Valletta before continuing to Egypt. When Nelson learned of the French capture of the island, he guessed the French target to be Egypt and sailed for Alexandria, but passed the French during the night of 22 June without discovering them and arrived off Egypt first.
The Action of 18 August 1798 was a minor naval engagement of the French Revolutionary Wars, fought between the British fourth rate ship HMS Leander and the French ship of the line Généreux. Both ships had been engaged at the Battle of the Nile three weeks earlier, in which a British fleet under Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson had destroyed a French fleet at Aboukir Bay on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. Généreux was one of only four French ships to survive the battle, while Leander had been detached from the British fleet by Nelson on 6 August. On board, Captain Edward Berry sailed as a passenger, charged with carrying despatches to the squadron under Earl St Vincent off Cadiz. On 18 August, while passing the western shore of Crete, Leander was intercepted and attacked by Généreux, which had separated from the rest of the French survivors the day before.
The Battle of the Malta Convoy was a naval engagement of the French Revolutionary Wars fought on 18 February 1800 during the Siege of Malta. The French garrison at the city of Valletta in Malta had been under siege for eighteen months, blockaded on the landward side by a combined force of British, Portuguese and irregular Maltese forces and from the sea by a Royal Navy squadron under the overall command of Lord Nelson from his base at Palermo on Sicily. In February 1800, the Neapolitan government replaced the Portuguese troops with their own forces and the soldiers were convoyed to Malta by Nelson and Lord Keith, arriving on 17 February. The French garrison was by early 1800 suffering from severe food shortages, and in a desperate effort to retain the garrison's effectiveness a convoy was arranged at Toulon, carrying food, armaments and reinforcements for Valletta under Contre-amiral Jean-Baptiste Perrée. On 17 February, the French convoy approached Malta from the southeast, hoping to pass along the shoreline and evade the British blockade squadron.
Siege of Corfu may refer to:
Louis-Jean-Nicolas Lejoille was a French Navy officer and captain.
Brune was a Coquette class 20-gun corvette of the French Navy, launched in 1781 and captured in 1799 at the siege of Corfu, which saw a joint Russian and Turkish fleet capture Corfu from an occupying French force.
The Venetian arsenal at Gouvia was a shipyard built by the Republic of Venice during their rule over the island of Corfu. It was located on the west side of what used to be called "Govino Bay", the current location of the modern village of Gouvia.
Admiral Ushakov is a 1953 Soviet historical war film directed by Mikhail Romm and starring Ivan Pereverzev, Boris Livanov and Sergey Bondarchuk.
The Treaty of Constantinople of 2 April [O.S. 21 March] 1800 was concluded between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, and heralded the creation of the Septinsular Republic, the first autonomous Greek state since the Fall of the Byzantine Empire.
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