The Corsican Revolt, 1745-1753

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. Corsica had seen a revolt 1729-1743, which had been suppressed by French intervention.

B.) The Revolt

In 1745 the Corsicans rose again in rebellion and elected a new leader, GIANPETRO GAFFORI, who liberated his hometown of Corte in 1746. In November 1745, Charles Emmanuel III., Duke of Savoy-Piemont and King of Sardinia, sent a fleet which, together with the British, bombarded Bastia (still held by the Genoese; Genova, allied to Spain, was at war with Savoy-Piemont and Austria (War of Austrian Succession, 1741-1748). Bastia was then occupied by the British. In 1746 Corsica's assembly proclaimed independence. Gaffori was assassinated in 1753, at the instigation of the Genoese governor. In 1747 a French contingent under Marechal de Cursay liberated Bastia from the English and administrated it, as well as parts of the island, in the name of the Republic of Genova. De Cursay negotiated with Gaffori with the aim of ending the rebellion peacefully. However, the Genoan government disagreed with a number of political measures taken by de Cursay; in 1753, Gaffori was assassinated at Genoese instigation.

C.) The Legacy

Dissatisfaction with and mistrust in the Genoese administration continued; already in 1755 the next (Fourth) 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
Gian-Pietro Gaffori, from Bludimare in French
Le Temps des Revolutions (1729-1769), from La Prefecture de 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 12th 2004, last revised on November 19th 2004

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