PARGA, a town in the province of Albania in European Turkey, on the coast of the Ionian Sea, opposite to the Isle of Paxo, from which it is .12 miles distant, in 39° 17' N. lat. and 20° 18' E. long. This place is first mentioned in the fifteenth century, when, amidst the wreck of the Eastern empire, the inhabitants of Parga sought safety in the protection of Venice, and became voluntary subjects of thahrepublic. A nobleman of Corfu, under the title of governor, resided at Parga, subject to the Venetian governor-general at Corfu, and commanded the garrison, which consisted of a company of Sclavonian or Italian troops, in the pny of Venice. The Parguinotes however had theirown municipal council, which appointed the magistrates, and they enjoyed several other privileges. They were all armed, and were frequently at war with their neighbours. This state of things lasted till the fall of Venice, in 1797, when, in the partition of the Venetian territories between France and Austria, France kept for herself the Ionian Islands and the Venetian tetllements on the coast of Epirus. These settlements were Butrinto, Parga, Prevesa, and Vonitza in the Ambracian Gulf. They had each a small territory, which was guaranteed from Turkish intrusion by treaties between the Porte and Venice. The French, having taken possession of the Ionian Islands, sent small garrisons to each of these towns to replace the Venetian garrisons. But the invasion of Egypt by Bonaparte, in time of profound peace with the Porte, threw the latter into the coalition then forming against France, and a treaty was concluded in December, 1798, between Russia and Turkey, by which the two powers agreed lo join their forces by sea and by land against the common enemy. The Turco-Russian fleet and army accordingly attacked the Ionian Islands, and took them from the French, and at the same time Ali Pasha of Epirus attacked the French garrison of Prevesa, and massacred it with circumstances of great atrocity. He likewise invaded Butrinto and Vonitza, from which the French had withdrawn, as well as from Parga. Parga however was strong by nature, and the inhabitants, being summoned by Ali to submit, boldly refused. In March, 1800, a convention was agreed upon between Russia and Turkey, by which the Ionian Islands were constituted a republic, under the protection of the Porte and the guarantee of Russia. By articles vii.-x. of the same convention it was stipulated that 'the former Venetian possessions of Butrinto, Prevesa, Parga, and Vonitza, which are on the continent and contiguous to Albania, shall belong in future to the Porte, and the inhabitants of those places be governed by a Turkish commandant, paying however no more tribute than they used to pay to Venice; the inhabitants shall continue to be administered according to their own laws and usages, shall retain the free exercise of their religion, and no Mussulman shall acquire property or reside amongst them, with the exception of the commandant.' By article xi. of the same convention the emperor of Russia promised to use his endeavours, in the event of a general peace, to cause the stipulations of the present treaty to be accepted by the other powers. (Martens, Recueil de Traites, vol. vii.) To the unfortunate surviving people of Butrinto, Prevesa, and Vonitza, who were already in the grasp of Ali Pasha, who had treated them with great cruelty, this convention was a boon, by giving them a claim to some sort of protection. Parga however was still free, and the inhabitants for a time refused to submit, but being threatened with imminent destruction from the numerous forces of AH Pasha, they sent a deputy to Constantinople to request the interference of the Porte, and through the influence of the minister of the republic of the Ionian Islands, supported by Russian influence, the divan sent them a bey to reside among them, thus fulfilling the stipulations of the treaty, and at the same time protecting them against any encroachments from Ali. Parga remained in this state of nominal subjection to the Porte till 1806, when war broke out between Russia and the Porte. Ali Pasha took this opportunity of taking military possession of Prevesa, Butrinto, and Vonitza, and dealing with the inhabitants as he pleased, against the stipulations of the convention of 1800. Those of Parga, fearing the same fate, applied for protection to the Russian admiral on that station, who sent them a garrison.
By the treaty of Tilsit, in 1807, the Ionian Islands being given up to France, the Russian troops which were stationed in them withdrew, including the detachment at Parga. Ali Pasha now renewed his efforts to take possession of Parga, and applied to the French governor-general at Corfu tor the formal cession of that place. That officer however refused, and sent a garrison to Parga. In 1814, the English, having already driven the French out of the Ionian Islands, with the exception of Corfu, and placed a garrison in the island of Paxo, which lies in sight of Parga, Ali Pasha sent a considerable force against Parga, which invaded its territory, took some villages, and murdered or carried away the inhabitants, but the Parguinotes sallied out of their town, repulsed the Turks, and killed the bey, who was a nephew of Ali. The French garrison remained within the citadel, and did not take part in the action. The Parguinotes, seeing that they could no longer rely on the protection of France, applied to the English at Paxo, in March, 1814, and offered to hoist the English flag, and master the French garrison, if the English would take them under their protection. General Campbell, who commanded in the Ionian Islands, sent a detachment with two frigates, and the Parguinotes having surprised the citadel and hoisted the English flag, the detachment was landed, and took possession of the fortress on the 22nd of March, and the French garrison was sent to Corfu. (Colonel de Bosset, Proceedings in Parga, with a Series of Correspondence and other Documents.)
The future condition of the Ionian Islands remained to be settled by the great power3 assembled at the congress of Vienna. A convention, agreed upon between the courts of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Great Britain was signed at Paris on the 5th of November, 1815, by which the isles of Corfu, Zante, Cefalonia, Santa Maura, Ithaca,Cerigo, and Paxo, with their dependencies, 'as designated in the treaty between his majesty the emperor of all the Russias and the Ottoman Porte, concluded on the 21st of March, 1800,' were to form an independent state uuder the protection of the crown of Great Britain. By article viii. of the same convention the Ottoman Porte was invited to accede to its stipulations. The Porte, being applied to, demanded as a preliminary step, the fulfilment of tho treaty of March, 1800, by the formal cession of Parga. After some lapse of time, nn agreement was entered into at Constantinople between the English minister and the divan early in 1817, for tho delivery of Parga to the Porte, under the condition that those inhabitants who might choose to emigrate should hare an asylum in the Ionian Islands, and their immoveable property be valued and paid for by the Porte previous to their embarkation. Joint commissioners were appointed, one by the English and the other by Ali Pasha, for the purpose of making the valuation. This arrangement was formally announced to the Parguinotes by a proclamation, dated 28th May, 1817. The primates and other inhabitants declared that all would leave the place rather than trust themselves to the Turks. The population of Parga at the time was stated by the English commandant, Colonel de Bosset, at 800 familes, making 3040 individuals in all. The olive-trees belonging to them amounted to about 81,000. The landed properly and houses were roughly estimated by Col. de Bosset at between 400,0001. and 500,000/. The proceedings for the estimation and payment of the property were protracted for nearly two years through the cavils of the Turkish commissioner, and the intrigues of Ali Pasha, who wished to obtain Parga without paying the money. Ali tried all means to excite the inhabitants of Parga to acts of violence, by which they might forfeit the English protection, but the good sense of the Parguinotes and the steadiness of the British authorities disappointed his cunning. At last, in May, 1819, the whole population of Parga embarked in English vessels, having received tho valued amount of their property, 150,000/., and were settled at Paxo and Corfu. The Turks then occupied Parga. (Letter from a Grecian Traveller respecting the intended Cession of Parga, London, 1819.) The cession of Parga has been treated by several writers as a question of feeling rather than one of strict diplomacy, and has been made on the Continent tho topic of much declamation against England, both in prose and in verse. That cession however was a direct consequence of the treaty of March, 1800, in which England had taken no part, which treaty was the result of two unprincipled acts of aggression by Bonaparte, the first against Venice, and the second upon Egypt. In politics, as in private morality, one act of injustice is often the leader of a long train of woful results. A liberal Italian writer, Count Pecchio, in his 'Life of Foscolo,' ch. x., frankly acknowledges that the cession of Parga was obligatory upon the English in fulfilment of former treaties, and that they did everything they could to mitigate its hardships upon the inhabitants, considering that they had to deal with such a man as Ali Pasha; and Foscolo, by birth a Greek, after writing a big book on the subject, perceived his mistake just in lime to stop its circulation.
The town of Parga stands on a rock forming a small peninsula. It has two ports, one of them antiently called ykvibc Xipriv, ' the port of sweet waters,' now Port Veliki. The town is walled and has narrow streets. The citadel on the summit of the rock is almost impregnable. It is surrounded by a fertile territory, and tho townsmen export oil, tobacco, fruit, end tolerably good wine.
Note - this article incorporates content from The Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1840)