First Aetolian Republic
|Republic of Aetolia|
|Δημοκρατία της Αιτωλίας|
Dimokratía tis Aitolías
|-||1199-1200||Sabastian Zacharias (first)|
|-||1261-1264||Gilles Kollias (last)|
|Legislature||Congress of the Republic|
|-||Established||18 February 1199|
|-||Monarchist coup d'état||2 June 1264|
|-||Disestablished||3 June 1264|
The First Aetolian Republic, officially the Aetolian Republic (Aetolian: Aitolikí Dimokratía), was founded on 18 February 1199 during the Wars of Aetolian Unification. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the Kingdom in 1264 under Andreas I. The period was characterised by conflict between the newly-formed Republic and the remaining states. After the final unification, internal friction in the Republic led to periods of instability and resistance from individual provinces that eventually built support for Monarchists.
The rising rebellion of several provinces had severely weakened the Congress. Its membership continued to dwindle and President Gilles Kolias failed at reigning in the power of the provinces. The failure to curb the control of wealthy landowners early in the Republic had proven fatal as they controlled the funds and forces the Republic needed. The merchant class in the coastal cities, until now strong supporters of the Congress, became weary of being caught in the middle of an armed conflict. They also worried about the Republic's ability to secure important trading routes for merchant vessels.
Andreas of Delphoi, Governor of Tavros, a high-ranking member of the former ruling family of Pyrgos and Tavros, had begun mobilizing supporters and militiamen in Theodosia. While other provinces had began open rebellion, Tavros' large merchant class wanted to avoid conflict, but had withdrawn their support for the government. Andreas formed an alliance with them. The idea of a march on Palaiochori was born and the mobilized supporters departed for the Congress. Upon arrival in Palaiochori the Congress building was sacked and looted by the mob. Supporters assassinated Kolias and senior members of the Congress, while Andreas declared a coup d'état. Shortly after the removal of the government, Andreas was crowned as King in the Temenos of Hera in Theodosia. The support of the Armazist Church had been vital in ensuring the legitimacy of the newly formed Kingdom.
The first republic's structure changed several times throughout its existence. Originally, the nine states that had unified to form the republic each became governorates. Each governorate was ruled locally by a Governor, who was generally from the existing leadership of the pre-unification state. Each governorate was under the sovereignty of the Congress of the Republic in Palaiochori, who was led by the President. Governorates sent 70 delegates each to the Congress, whose decisions were de jure binding on the individual provinces. In practice, the Governorates enjoyed a large degree of autonomy and the republic operated as a loose confederation.
After further conflict and the final War of Unification with the Kingdom of Hiererikon in 1212, the Congress took much greater control in the internal affairs of the Republic. The powerful Governorate of Ledalla was divided into two and Governors were now appointed by the Congress. Many of the former nobility were now removed from power and caused considerable conflict in the politics of the Congress. Monarchist elements severely undermined Republican governance efforts during this period, with large landowners refusing to pass on taxes to the federal government.
Congress restructured again in 1248 after several landowners refused to supply their proportion of troops to the army. Fearing collapse in the face of an invasion, Congress gave much greater levels of power to the governorates. Governorates were now allowed to proliferate their own militia forces, given they had provided to the national force. While initially providing security, large governoratial militias began to form, which became increasingly destablising for the Congress. Attempts to combine these into the Army were met with threats of uprising. From 1255, many governorates had ceased sending delegates to the Congress, and as such it was made up of representatives primarily from Ledalla and had lost much of its legitimacy.
The final structure of the Republic was of a fatally weak Congress with increasingly powerful governorates. Many of these were in open rebellion of federal direction by the time Andreas of Delphoi (then Governor of Tavros) marched to Palaiochori and sacked the Congress (see Coup of June 2).