King's College London
Online Exhibitions
West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967

Development and future direction of the islands

Public building housing the first courthouse on Cephalonia, known as the Markato, viewed across the water, with sailing boats in the foregroundPublic building at Lixuri which housed the first courthouse on Cephalonia, known as the MarkatoCharles James Napier (1782-1853), was an army officer who had served in the Peninsular War. In 1821 he was appointed to the post of British resident in Cephalonia. He devoted his time to overseeing the construction of roads, lighthouses and public buildings. The most important of these was the Markato, the first courthouse on the island of Cephalonia, depicted here.

His plans for further improvements – a prison and a new barracks – were thwarted by a shortage of funds.  After suggestions that he had made unauthorised use of public money, and that he had built his roads using forced labour, he was removed from his post in 1830.

The book featured here, written after Napier’s return to England, is a sustained attack on the second Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands, Sir Frederick Adam (1784-1853), whom he held responsible for his dismissal. It also gives his views on international relations in the region and the future of the British protectorate. He supported the cause of Greek independence, but he leans to the received British opinion that ‘many years must pass before a national Greek government would be a safe protection for the Ionian Islands.’

Britain was reluctant to part with a territory which, together with Gibraltar and Malta, formed part of chain of commercial ports and naval bases that secured her power in the Mediterranean. Despite increasing nationalist sentiment and resentment of British colonial rule amongst the population, the islands did not achieve enosis, or union with Greece, until 1864.

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