The Genoese pirate Leo Vetrano detached Corfu from the Byzantine territories in 1199. After the destruction of the Byzantine Empire by the crusaders, the island came under Venice, on the strength of the Partitio
terrarum imperii Romaniae (1204), which did not seem willing to allow the continuation of the dominion of a Genoese in an island that had strategic significance for its economic interests in the East. In 1207, the Venetians occupied the island and condemned the Genoese pirate to death.
The Serenissima then granted its new acquisition to ten Venetian peers, who assumed to eke out the conquest at their own expense and organize the region administratively. Inaugurating a policy that did not aim at innovations (non si facciano novita), but at the preservation of the local law, whenever such a thing did not infringe on its interests, Venice commanded its subjects to continue to put into effect the institutions that were in force during the Byzantine period.
In 1214 Michael I Doukas, despot of Epirus, deprived Venice from Durazzo and Corfu, a fact that allowed the continuance of the Byzantine presence in the island. In 1258, however, the admiral of the Sicilian fleet, the Frank-Cypriot Philip Chinardo spread the dominion of the king of Sicily, Manfred, to Corfu as well, after having conquered Durazzo and Avlona. The conquest was validated by the marriage of the daughter of Michael II Doukas (1231-1268) Helen (1259) to the king of Sicily Manfred. However, the administration was exercised by Chinardo until the moment that the fate of the island was influenced by the prevalence of Charles I of Anjou in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Angevin rule (1267-1386)
When Chinardo was murdered, Charles I of Anjou approached his son Gazo, who acknowledged him as the seigneur of Corfu. But it seems that Charles had intruded in the island before the signing of the treaty of Viterbo (May 1267), which ratified his suzerain rights over the island. However, the occupation of the island by him had not been completed before the death of Garnerio (March 1272), when Alamanno, son of the last Aymus, ceded Corfu to Charles against 3,000 ounces of gold. Virtually, that was how started the period of the Angevin rule in Corfu. It was possibly then that was introduced the division of the island into four administrative districts (the bailata): Gyros at the west, Oros at the east, Mesi at the central part and Lefkimmi at the south of the island.
Charles looked upon the island as a key acquisition due to its strategic position as far as the annexation of Romania was concerned and used it as a supply depot, which provided him with soldiers, horses and money for his operations in Regno Albaniae.
During the Angevin period (1267-1386) Corfu had come under the kingdom of Sicily and Naples, a fact that had determined for a hundred years its social, economic and commercial life. The Anjou even sent wheat from Apulia to be sold in Corfu. It is worth mentioning that people used the feathers of vultures and large birds that existed there and made arrows out of them.
As regards Corfu, Venice maintained significant commercial and strategic interests mainly with regard to its rivalry with Genoa. Venice exploited the insecurity of the Greek populations caused by the Turkish military successes and assigned to its consul George Panemsaco to enter into contact with the inhabitants of Corfu.
After the related negotiations that were completed in 1386, the Serenissima offered the protection that the inhabitants longed for and acknowledged the privileges that had been ceded to them initially by the Byzantines and later by the Anjou. Therefore, the Venetians conquered in 1386 the forts of Corfu and the following year the privileges of the inhabitants were acknowledged solemnly (security of people and goods, participation of the inhabitants in the court of the bailo, selection by vote of a Greek notary etc.). In this way, the Venetian rule was consolidated and was maintained until the downfall of the Venetian state (1797).