Epirus / Ηπειρος / Épir / Эпир

M0139v Epirus 1900 AD
Map of Epirus 1900 AD  [Wikipedia]

orange: Modern administrative territory of Greek Epirus
grey:     Approximate extent of ancient Epirus
green:   Approximate extent of greatest concentration
             of Greek speaking population in Albania at the
             beginning of the 20th century
dotted red line: political Northern Epirus, territory
             occupied by Greece 1918-1923, then ceded to

The conquest of Epirus by the Ottomans began with the fall of Ioannina 1430 AD. Turkish rule lasted about 300 years with a short intermezzo by the Albanian Skanderberg who occupied parts of Epirus 1443 AD. During the 19th century several attempts were made to gain independence of the region, however, without success. The Albanian Ali Pasha Tepelena became governor of Ioannina and ruled practically independent of the Sultan until 1822 when he was murdered by ottoman agents. The Berlin Congress of 1878 made vague promises to Greece concerning its territorial claims over Epirus. Greece invaded the region 1878/1879 trying to realize these promises, but was repelled by the Albanian population. Only Arta was incorporated into the Greek state.

The 1st Balkan war 1912/1913 resulted in the occupation of the major part of Epirus by the Greeks. The invasion began on October 18th. Konitsa, Permet, Erseka, Agioi Saranda (Αγιοι Σαράντα), Chimarra (Χειμάρρα) and Argyrokastro (Αργυρόκαστρο) were taken by the end of November and Korça (Κορυτσά) in December 1912. The Ottoman army capitulated in Ioannina on March 6th 1913. Albania proclaimed independence November 28th 1912. The distribution of Epirus between Albania and Greece was defined in the Florence-Line protocol under the influence of the Great Powers, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungaria and Russia. The northern part was allocated to Albania the southern became Greek. The agreement was accepted by Greece on February 21st and the Greek army retreated from North Epirus in March 1914.

The Greek population of North Epirus was not prepared to accept the new situation and declared its independence on February 2nd 1914 founding the Autonomous Republic of  Epirus. The German prince of Albania Wilhelm von der Wied was not able to subdue this autonomy. In May an agreement was reached in Corfu which left North Epirus with Albania granting extensive autonomy to the region.


Epirus Local Issue Chimarra Ka 1/4

Epirus Argyrokastron overprinted 1908 stamps of the Ottoman Empire

Epirus Argyrokastron overprinted 1909/1910 stamps of the Ottoman Empire

Epirus Argyrokastron overprinted 1910 stamps of the Ottoman Empire

Epirus Argyrokastron overprinted 1911 stamps of the Ottoman Empire

Republic of Epirus postage and postage due stamps Ka 1-8 & P --

Epirus Koritsa Local Issue Ka 65/67

Epirus Chimara Local Issue Ka 68/75

28.8.1914 Republic of Epirus Ka 76/83

Epirus Greece Local Issue Chimarra Ka 84/93

Albania Local Issue Vlore Mi 1/12

Epirus Military Issue of Erseka Ka 43/49

North Epirus Greek Occupation Ka 96/111

Epirus Koritsa Local Issue Ka 94/95

Epirus Unofficial Local Moschopolis-Issue Ka 50/64

North Epirus Greek Occupation Ka 112/137
Korytsa, North Epirus, Occupation Française

Epirus Agioi Saranta private issue Ka ---

Epirus Chimarra Private Issue Vl U19/U22

With the beginning of the 1st World War the conflict between Essat Pasha and Wilhelm von der Wied was threatening to end in the collapse of the Albanian state. In this situation the British government encouraged Greece to reoccupy North Epirus and restore order promising to yield it to Greece after the war. The Greek army marched into the region on 14th October 1914. With Italy, who favoured Albania, joining the allies the political situation changed. The proclamation of the annexation of North Epirus by the Greeks in March 1916 was not recognized by the Great Powers. Italy, who had captured Avlona, finally forced the Greek army out of North Epirus. At the same time the French had captured Korça where thy established 1916 the Republic of Albania which was dissolved soon after and a status of French occupation was maintained until 1920.

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