The Corsican Revolt, 1729-1743

A.) Causes for the Revolt

For centuries, the island of Corsica had been a possession of the Republic of Genova. Genova was ruled by an oligarchy of patrician families who owed their wealth to trade and banking, and who formed a privileged caste. The artisans of Genova, the peasants of the Ligurian countryside belonging to the republic, and the inhabitants of Corsica, from cities as well as from the countryside, were excluded from political participation. Corsica was treated as a Genoese colony, the republic invested little in the development of the island.
In the 18th century, the Republic of Genova experienced an economic and political decline. The conquest of the Spanish possessions in Italy by Austria in the War of Spanish Succession had deprived Genova of her transit function - the traffic between Milan and Spain had drastically reduced, and Spain's dependence on Genoese bankers likewise had decreased.
The revolt was sparked by the introduction, by the Genoese administration, of a new tax.

B.) The Revolt

The revolt began in the village of Boziu in1729, where the peasants refused to pay a new tax; the rebellion spread, marking the beginning of what Corsicans refer to as the guerre de quarante ans (40 Years War). In 1730, Luigi Giafferi, Andrea Ceccaldi and Abbot Marc-Aurel Raffaelli (a commoner, a nobleman, a clergyman, thus each estate represented) were elected generals. The Republic of Genova appealed to Emperor Charles VI. for military help; the Emperor sent 8,000 men under the command of Baron von Wachtendonck, who relieved Bastia in 1732. The same year he was replaced by the Duke of Württemberg in May 1732. During the same month, the rebels surrendered to him conditionally. The rebel leaders, insofar they had been arrested by the Austrians, were released - only to be rearrested by the Genoese a month later. Formally, Genova accepted the conditions of the rebels' surrender in January 1733, but consequently it violated them.

C.) The Legacy

Dissatisfaction with and mistrust in the Genoese administration continued; already in 1733 the next (Second) Corsican Revolt ensued.

The History of Corsica, from Terra Corsa
A Nostra Storia di Corsica, Corsican-language timeline
La Corse enfin francaise, from Alsapresse, in French
La Guerre d'independance oula revolte contre Genes (the War of Independence or the Revolt against Genoa), from Histoire de la Corse, in French
La Corsica e Genova 1729-1769, from Cronologia, in Italian

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 11th 2004, last revised on November 19th 2004

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