The First Governor
Dafnis family olive oils are named in honour of the first governor of free Greece and founder of the modern Greek State.
Count Ioannis Capodistrias (1776-1831) was born in Corfu into a noble family. He studied medicine, philosophy and law but became involved in politics as a young man.
Corfu is part of a group of Ionian islands, which formed the Septinsular State in 1799. This is the first part of Greece to become independent, preceding the mainland by about 20 years. As Chief Minister of the Septinsular Republic, Capodistrias organized the public sector and established schools, which produced Greek scholars who would later contribute to the new Greek state. Capodistrias’ capabilities attracted the attention of Russian diplomatic circles, so when the Septinsular State reverted to Napoleonic France and was dissolved, Capodistrias had entered into the service of the Russian Czar.
In his capacity as joint Russian Foreign Minister, Capodistrias exerted efforts to influence the Czar on behalf of the Greeks, and made important international connections. When the Greek Revolution broke out, he organized material and moral support for his fellow Greeks. In 1827, the newly-formed Greek National Assembly voted him first Head of State of liberated Greece, with the title “Kyvernitis”, meaning “Governor.”
He did not live to see his beloved Corfu island united with Greece. Corfu was later ceded to the Greek State by the British government in 1864.
Capodistrias’ summer house in Corfu, Koukouritsa, is now a museum.