THE BATTLE OF CORFU ‘
The Battle of Corfu Three hundred years ago, in the summer of 1716, a famous battle took place in Corfu which served to halt the advance of the Turks towards the West and forever prevented their entry into the Adriatic Sea, guaranteeing a last long period of peace. to the Serenissima. The Venetian troops, led by J. Matthias von der Schulenburg, a Saxon leader in the service of the Republic of San Marco, despite being inferior in number and armaments, were able to resist the attack of the fleet of the Ottoman Grand Vizier, writing a famous and glorious page of history. The popular festival of Our Lady of the Apparition, which is celebrated in Venice on the island of Pellestrina in the first days of August, since then annually remembers the event: from the documentation it appears that the Madonna, miraculously appeared to a boy, invited everyone to pray for the salvation of Christianity. Venice and Europe anxiously awaited the outcome of the clash that ended victoriously on August 18. Field Marshal Schulenburg was welcomed in Venice in autumn 1716 as a hero. A curious detail, however, is little known: returning from the victorious campaign he too, coming from the seas of the East, had to comply with the strict health regulations in force in Venice and had to do the “quarantine”: he was one of the noble characters who during the history were guests of the lagoon island of the Lazzaretto Vecchio.
The last Turkish-Venetian war (1714-18) The battle of Corfu At the end of 1715, having reconquered all of the Morea (Peloponnese) and taken the fortress of Santa Maura, the Turkish army was preparing to attack the last Venetian defense before of the Adriatic, represented by the stronghold of Corfu. Venice faces the new war campaign by sending military contingents to the island, including mercenary troops enlisted in Germany, under the supreme command of Count Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg, who leaves Venice in February 1716 and immediately reinforces the now dilapidated fortifications of the island. Having only about 1600 soldiers, the field marshal prepares for the attack of the Turkish troops, made up of 30,000 men, who land on the north coast of the island in July under the command of Captain Pascià Hogia. The ships of the Venetian fleet led by Andrea Pisani remain to watch and do not prevent the landing of the Turks, who, having placed the batteries on the island on the hills overlooking the city, begin the bombing. In the meantime, a second war front is being opened on the Balkans: the Christian world knows it is in mortal danger. In Petervaradino, near Belgrade, Eugenio di Savoia in command of the Austrian troops on 5 August managed to put the Ottoman army to flight, obtaining an important and incredible victory (the battlefield in the middle of summer was miraculously covered with snow!) , still celebrated annually today. In Corfu, during the long siege that lasted more than forty days, Schulenburg, continually moving his men on the fortifications, with skilful military strategy had managed to confuse the enemy by hiding his inferior state. On 18 August, going out on the side of the Turkish line with all his 800 men, he managed to surprise the Ottoman forces, who were then overwhelmed the following night by a terrible storm that destroyed the camps and damaged the fleet. Only then did the promised aid arrive, that is, the fleet sent from Spain. Returning as a hero to Venice, Schulenburg received exceptional honors from the Republic, and in Corfu in front of the entrance to the Old Fortress he was erected, two years later (living adhuc, still alive), a marble monument, the work of Antonio Corradini, who depicts him as an ancient Roman leader. He was awarded an annual annuity of 5,000 ducats and among the various gifts he received from the Doge also a sword encrusted with diamonds worth 8,000 ducats, visible in the portrait of G.A.Guardi now exhibited in Ca ‘Rezzonico. A. Vivaldi composed “Juditha Triumphans”, an allegorical work “, an allegorical work that enhances the rhythms of war and battle
CORFU HISTORICAL NOTES
Corfu The northernmost of the Ionian islands, ancient Corcyra or Kerkyra, according to some the island of the Phaeacians where Ulysses met Nausicaa, Corfu is geographically located in front of the southern end of Puglia, very close to the Greek-Albanian coast, the ancient Epirus. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has historically always been an island of great strategic and military importance. Venetian since 1204 (fourth crusade), lost and reconquered, it remained under the banner of San Marco until the fall of the Serenissima (1797). It was called the “sentinel of the Gulf”, a bulwark of the Adriatic. About sixty kilometers long, mountainous, with cliff banks, it has few accessible coves. The main port, facing the danger of the Turkish advance, it was fortified as early as 1500 with two mighty fortresses, called Fortezza Vecchia and Fortezza Nuova. Corfu was also of great importance from a commercial as well as a military point of view, as a stopover for Venetian trade with the Levant. Also in Corfu, as in many other port structures, places of “quarantine” or “sanitary default” were established. In front of the city, on an islet called San Demetrio, there are still the ruins of a Venetian “hospital”, commissioned by the Magistrato alla Sanità and functioning between the 16th and 18th centuries, then used as such also by the English, finally military uses and therefore abandoned