In 1815 with the signing of the Treaty of Vienna the Ionian Islands became a British protectorate.
Count John Capodistria, one of Corfu's new nobility asked the British for military protection–little realizing that the British would send the high-handed first Lord Commissioner, Sir Thomas Maitland.
His draconian behavior did not sit well with the Corfiots. He forced Corfu to remain neutral during the War of Independence, imprisoning and even executing members of the secret "Society of Friends." The best that can be said for him were some of his public works, such as roads, schools and a University funded by phillhellene Lord Guilford as well as a permanent water supply for the town.
The British imposed constitution forced the islanders into a near feudal condition.
An aristocratic government was then once more organized; the legislative functions were vested in a chamber of seventy deputies, eleven nominated by the Government and fifty-nine elected by the people. The executive power belonged to a Senate consisting of a president, appointed by the protecting power, and five senators elected for five years by the deputies from their own body.
An English lord commissioner controlled foreign relations and the police. England enjoyed the right of garrisoning the forts and of military administration.
After the French Revolution of 1848, an insurrection broke out in Cephalonia with the object of uniting the islands to Greece, but was rigorously repressed by England in 1849. From that time, however, the first vote of the Chamber, whenever it assembled, was in favor of the union with Greece, after which vote it was immediately dissolved. The English Government, after sending Mr. Gladstone to investigate the feeling of the population, at last decided to surrender the islands to Greece.
King George I, upon ascending the throne at Athens, in 1863, consented to succeed Otho I only upon England's undertaking to cede the Ionian Archipelago to the Hellenic Kingdom. This cession was effected between 21 May and 2 June, 1864. The Ionian Isles have since then formed the three nomarchies, or departments, of Corfu, Cephalonia, and Zante.
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