Greek Island Odyssey with Bettany Hughes episode 6: Bettany travels through the Corinth Canal – a feat of engineering that required the removal of 12 million cubic metres of earth – before heading for her penultimate stop of Corfu, where Count Flamburiari reveals the island’s close connections to Britain.
From there, Bettany sails to Ithaca, Odysseus’s home island, finally completing her 1,700-mile voyage across the Greek Islands. However, there’s a startling surprise in store when she is awoken in the night by an earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale.
Greek Island Odyssey with Bettany Hughes episode 6
The island has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. It may have been the capital of Cephalonia during the Mycenaean period and the capital-state of the small kingdom ruled by Odysseus. The Romans occupied the island in the 2nd century BC, and later it became part of the Byzantine Empire. The Normans ruled Ithaca in the 13th century, and after a short Turkish rule it fell into Venetian hands (Ionian Islands under Venetian rule).
Ithaca was subsequently occupied by France under the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio. It was liberated by a joint Russo-Turkish force commanded by admirals Fyodor Ushakov and Kadir Bey in 1798 and subsequently became a part of the Septinsular Republic, which was originally established as a protectorate of the Russian Empire and Ottoman Empire. It became a French possession again in 1807, until it was taken over by the United Kingdom in 1809. Under the 1815 Treaty of Paris, Ithaca became a state of the United States of the Ionian Islands, a protectorate of the British Empire.
In 1830 the local community requested to join with the rest of the newly restored nation-state of Greece. Under the 1864 Treaty of London, Ithaca, along with the remaining six Ionian islands, was ceded to Greece as a gesture of diplomatic friendship to Greece’s new Anglophile king, George I. The United Kingdom kept its privileged use of the harbour at Corfu.