04.11.

1798: Russian Empire Occupies Mediterranean Islands

1798: Russian Empire Occupies Mediterranean Islands
Photo Credit To http://www.crestinortodox.ro/files/image/feodor-ushakov.jpg

Story Highlights

  • historical event: It was a time when Russian expansion was at its peak. They simultaneously encroached upon California and Hawaii, and ruled over the vastness of Central Asia and far-away Alaska. The Russian fleet was led by Admiral Fyodor Ushakov (pictured), one of the most famous naval strategists in Russian history. He gained fame for not losing any of the 43 naval battles in which he participated during his career – truly a rare accomplishment.

On this day the fleet of the Russian Empire blockaded the Greek island of Corfu. This was the time when Russian expansion was at its peak. They simultaneously encroached upon California and Hawaii, and ruled over the vastness of Central Asia and far-away Alaska. Russia also had great pretensions in the Mediterranean. Their naval expansion was made possible thanks to Emperor Peter the Great’s efforts to improve the Russian navy.

In 1798, France under Napoleon expanded towards the Balkans, having previously defeated Venice, which was once a regional power there. The Russians decided to oppose Napoleon’s expansion towards their sphere of interest, i.e. the Eastern Mediterranean. The conflict took place at the Ionian islands (Corfu, Ithaca, Cephalonia, Lefkada, Zakintos, Kythira, Paxi). These islands are located just south of the Adriatic Sea, approximately on the border of modern Greece and Albania.

The Russian fleet was led by Admiral Fyodor Ushakov, one of the most famous naval strategists in Russian history. He gained fame for not losing any of the 43 naval battles in which he participated during his career – truly a rare accomplishment.

Admiral Ushakov had command of three ships-of-the-line, three frigates, and a number of smaller ships. He attacked the island of Corfu, which was defended by the French under General Louis Chabot. The French had a total of around 3,000 soldiers and 650 cannons. In addition, Corfu was heavily fortified. The Russians landed on the island’s shores and, after several hard-fought battles, managed to defeat the French.

Ushakov took control of the island in the name of Russia, which now held the territory from Corfu to Hawaii and California. The Russian emperor awarded Ushakov the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky for his great deed.

Russian appetites didn’t end there. Soon after they tried to  take territories on the Adriatic. They took Kotor, and even threatened the Republic of Dubrovnik (Ragusa).

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