The Corsican Revolt, 1733-1743

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.
In 1732 the First Corsican Revolt had ended with the rebel leaders agreeing to a conditional surrender, the conditions including amnesty for themselves. However, the Genoese, while formally accepting the conditions of surrender, violated them, thereby causing the second Corsican Revolt.

B.) The Revolt

The second rebellion began with the failed attempt of the Genoese to arrest Hyacinthe Paoli, in his pieve (district) of Rustinu, on November 17th 1733. Hyacinthe Paoli and Luigi Giafferi were appointed generals of Corsica. In 1734 the rebels took Corte. Luigi Giafferi, returning from exile in Parma, offered the crown of Corsica to Philip V. of Spain, who refused. In 1735 the Corsican assembly (Cunsulta d'Orezza), lead by Andrea Ceccaldi, Luigi Giafferi and Hyacinthe Paoli, declared independence and gave the island a constitution. Genoa imposed a blockade over the rebel-held parts of the island.
In 1736 a Westphalian nobleman and adventurer, Theodor von Neuhoff, having promised to bring weapons into the country, was elected king of Corsica, with Paoli, Giafferi and Luc d'Ornano as his ministers; unable to fulfil his promises, and unfamiliar with the customs of Corsica, von Neuhoff left the island after a few months (he returned twice, in 1738 and 1743). The rebels were supported by the British, who delivered arms. The rebels controlled most of the interior, but the Genoese held on to a number of fortified coastal towns.
In 1737, France (Cardinal Fleury) promised military intervention with the aim to restore Corsica to Genoese control; French forces, commanded by the Comte de Boisseaux, landed in Corsica in 1738. In 1739, General Hyacinthe Paoli went into exile (Naples). Defeated, the Corsicans laid down their arms in 1743.

C.) The Legacy

Dissatisfaction with and mistrust in the Genoese administration continued; already in 1745 the next (Third) Corsican Revolt ensued.

The History of Corsica, from Terra Corsa
Timeline Pascal Paoli, from Associu Femu Aiacciu, bilingual Corsican/French
Successive Invasions of Corsica, from Mad Catarelle
A Nostra Storia di Corsica, Corsican-language timeline
Pascal Paoli, from bludimare
30 Janvier 1735, Declaration d'independance des Corses a Orezza, from Herodote, in French
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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