Ioannis Kapodistrias (10/02/1776 - 09/10/1831)

Ioannis Kapodistrias Count Ioannis Kapodistrias was a Greek diplomat and politician. He was the first governor of Greece during the transitive period after the Greek Revolution.

He was born in Corfu in 1776, son of a lawyer father and an aristocrat Cypriot mother. Both of his parents’ families were included in the Libro d’Oro. Kapodistrias studied at the monastery of St. Justine, where he was taught Latin, Italian and French, and later went to Venice. In 1795, he started his studies in Medicine at University of Padova. After receiving his degree, he returned to Corfu and practiced his profession for free. In 1799, he was appointed director of the Ottoman hospital there. Kapodistrias was first involved in politics at the Ionian State, after he was called to replace his father. He went to Kefalonia, where the local families vied for control of the island, abolishing the local government, and taking power in their hands. Kapodistrias, along with Sigouros, managed to maintain order within two months. In June 1802, he cofounded the National Medical Society, becoming its General Secretary. A few months later, he was once again sent to Kefalonia and restore order. In 1803, he became Secretary of the State, in which position he remained until 1806. In 1807, he became Special Commissioner in Lefkada, in an effort to enhance the defense of the island against the Ottomans. He arranged a secret meeting of the Klepths and the Armatoles on the island, during which he appointed Katsantonis as the leader of the klepths in Western Greece. However, he was soon asked to return to Corfu.

In 1808, he received a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire, declaring him a Knight of the Second Class of the Order of St. Anne, and invited him to St. Petersburg, where he went and became a consultant. He was later appointed as an attaché at the Embassy of Vienna, where he remained until 1812. In 1813, the Tsar offered him the Grand Cross of St. Anne to honor him for his services. The presence of Kapodistrias in Vienna is considered to have been of great importance, as his advice greatly influenced the actions of the Tsar.

After the Greek War for Independence was over, Alexandros Mavrokordatos asked Kapodistrias to come to Greece and become the governor. In 1827, he was declared governor for a seven-year period. This was considered a win of the Russian politics over the British, as Kapodistrias was not well received by the latter. Among his first concerns as a governor, he had to deal with piracy, the complete dissolution of the army and the bad financial state of the country. Thanks to Andreas Miaoulis’ efforts, piracy was quenched. The army was reformed and the Evelpides Military School was established. He also created the National Mint and introduced the phoenix as the national currency, replacing the Turkish kurush. Many schools were founded, including the Ecclesiastical School of Poros, as well as the Orphanage of Aegina.

Apart from the above, Kapodistrias also had to tackle the problems of the rivalry between French and British, as well as the power struggles of the locals. In order to better manage the situation, he tried to collect most authorities on himself. This eventually led to his murder in Nafplio, in 1831.

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