King Theodore's Corsica

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Carp, Jun 11, 2017.

Loading...
  1. Carp Literally a fish

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2014
    Well, it might be wrong. Consider this: Who is the source for 18th century figures on murder? Well, the government. And who runs the government? The Genoese - who, if you think about it, have pretty good reasons for wanting to portray the Corsicans as bloodthirsty savages who are totally incapable of self-government lest they descend into murderous anarchy.

    I'm not saying the figures are wrong, necessarily - we don't really have any other figures to go on, so I can't say. But I would not be the first to wonder if the murder statistics for Corsica at that time might be exaggerated.

    That said, even if the murder rate wasn't "an order of magnitude worse than 2015 El Salvador" bad, it was clearly still very high in comparison to the rest of Europe. A lot of human capital was being needlessly squandered.

    EDIT: Although I should add that 700 in 100,000 isn't actually the highest figure claimed (that would be 900 per 100,000), and that Costa himself, addressing that figure in one of his writings, did not claim that it was untrue but simply said it was the result of Genoese misgovernance.

    There were informal indigenous courts, in the form of clan elders and caporali, but their decisions were often based on the same code of honor that motivated the murderers.

    As a historical example, there was a case where man A killed man B, and in retaliation man B's brother killed man A's nephew. Belatedly, a Genoese official made inquiries (which seems to have been rare). The village elders discussed the situation and decided to tell the official that the two dead men had killed each other. As far as the elders were concerned, honor had been satisfied since each family had lost a man, and telling the Genoese official the truth would have only meant that two men of the village would be hanged or forced to live as outlaws, which would only hurt the community. From the perspective of the village and the clans, the decision made perfect sense, but from the perspective of crime prevention it was quite unhelpful, as it only affirmed the notion that retaliatory murder was acceptable and would not be punished.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
  2. The Professor Pontif of the Guild

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Location:
    Republic of Beerhaven
    Good update.
    Just to confuse you, with the greater Standard Italian in use I'd expect it to impact nonStandard, Corsican, spelling. So ghiunta rather than ghjunta etc
     
    TimTurner likes this.
  3. Earl Marshal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2017
    Location:
    Cavalier Country
    Theodore certainly fits the bill for a 18th century monarch with all the pomp and circumstance. Hopefully things go better for him and Corsica this time.
     
    TimTurner likes this.
  4. Alex Zetsu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    With the grace of the Hapsburgs and a pomp and charisma for a monarch, we have a bright future.l
     
    TimTurner and Earl Marshal like this.
  5. Threadmarks: Opposing Forces

    Carp Literally a fish

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2014
    Opposing Forces
    Excerpts from Merganser Publishing's "Rebellion!" Series #24: The Corsican Revolution


    The Genoese Army

    [​IMG]
    Genoese infantry march along a dusty road, c. 1740s

    Forces

    The army of the Republic of Genoa in the 18th century was intended as a defensive force. Surrounded by larger, more powerful neighbors, the Republic's very reasonable strategy was to employ its limited land forces in the garrisoning and defense of strong fortifications in Liguria that could hold back a superior opponent. The army performed this duty well enough, but when called on to fight a very different kind of war in Corsica its shortcomings quickly became evident.

    In 1727, just prior to the rebellion, the Genoese army amounted to about 5,000 men, up from a peacetime low of around 3,800 a few years before because of recent border skirmishes with the Sardinians. Of these, there were approximately 2,000 Ligurians, 1,600 Corsicans, and 1,400 Oltramontani (Germans and Swiss). All companies were "national," composed entirely of troops of a single national origin. Genoese and Corsican companies usually consisted of 80 to 100 soldiers, while the Oltramontani companies had 125 men with the exception of the Palace Guard (a German company) and the Swiss company of Friburg, which each had around 200 men.

    The Oltramontani were considered the Republic's most reliable troops and manned most key garrisons (including Genoa itself), although no major fortress or city garrison was held solely by troops of a single nation. The Corsican forces appear to have been considered the equal of the Oltramontani in a military sense, but even before the rebellion they were deemed politically unreliable and never given posts in Corsica itself. This remained true even after the rebellion, which is why there were no mass defections from the Genoese army to the rebels in the 1730s; most soldiers of Corsican origin were in Liguria. In wartime, the Republic tended to call up additional forces by hiring more Oltramontani and levying the Corsicans; the former was extremely expensive, and the latter became impossible after the widespread outbreak of rebellion.

    In August of 1730, around the time when the uprising first progressed from a violent tax protest into a true island-wide rebellion, the entire garrison of Corsica was only 1,350 men. Owing to the political and familial division of the Corsicans, these forces were soon bolstered by substantial numbers of Corsican irregulars. Some were partisans of Genoa, particularly those from northern regions like Calvi, Cap Corse, and the Nebbio, but many were not so much pro-Genoese as against the particular men who had been chosen as generals of the rebellion. A unit of around 200 Greek militia from Paomia also served the Genoese cause by reinforcing the garrison of Ajaccio.

    Despite the availability of such irregular forces, the rebellion was a serious blow to an army which had previously relied heavily on the recruitment of Corsicans. By 1734 the number of Corsican companies in the regular army had dropped from 22 to 12. The losses among these and other companies were made up for by the recruitment of deserters from the then-ongoing War of Polish Succession, but these were men of dubious loyalty who appear to have deserted (again) in large numbers to join the army of Naples, which was at that time just being formed after the Bourbon conquest of the kingdom in 1734. The presence of Spaniards, Frenchmen, and Austrians in ostensibly "Ligurian" companies noted by French and British sources in 1736 suggests that some of these castoffs from the recent war were nevertheless still in circulation in the regular army.

    With the renewal of the Corsican rebellion in 1734 and the arrival of Theodore early in 1736, the Republic was desperate for troops but was wary of spending much money on them. The emperor's "help" in the early 1730s was given only on the stipulation that Genoa pay the entire cost of the maintenance of the imperial troops, which at their height may have numbered as many as 10,000 men; the experience badly endangered the Republic's finances and the Senate was looking to cut costs. Captaincies were offered to anyone who could raise enough warm bodies to fill a company, with few considerations for the quality of either the captain or the men. So hard-up was the Republic for troops that following Theodore's arrival it raised the infamous "Compagnia dei Banditi," a unit formed entirely of outlaws and criminals offered pardon in exchange for enlistment.

    In battles against the rebels, the Genoese were again forced to rely increasingly on Corsican "loyalist" irregulars who were no better trained and sometimes even more poorly equipped than the rebel forces; the Genoese frequently had to distribute surplus arms to friendly militiamen who otherwise would have been no help at all. Thus, despite the shortcomings of the rebel militias, they were frequently up against forces of a similar caliber. Only the Swiss companies were up to the standards of continental line infantry, and they did not come cheaply.

    The Genoese army had an independent artillery arm, but field artillery was of no use in Corsica, a land of mountains and few roads wider than a mule track. There is no certain evidence of their presence on Corsica, but if they were stationed on the island they must have done little more than man the batteries of the citadels. The Genoese army maintained no mounted companies at all.

    Organization

    Genoa had a notably complex military hierarchy with numerous autonomous organs. This owed less to strategic need than political caution, as the Republic feared the coalescing of military power in the hands of any one man. There was, of course, a War Office, but there were also separate offices for military finance and for ordnance, each of which was equal to and independent of the War Office. There was also a military "Corsican Office" which was independent of the other three. This system was politically useful and workable enough when it was called upon to supply the network of Ligurian fortresses by interior lines, but during the rebellion it meant that any offensive by the regular army in Corsica not only required coordinating separate and independent committees to provide personnel, ordnance, and payment, but required all this to be done in cooperation with the Navy as well.

    To complicate matters further, Genoese forces on the island were divided between the four commissari ("commissioners," usually rendered in English texts as "commandants") in Bastia, Calvi, Ajaccio, and Bonifacio. The commandant of Bastia was ex officio the Governor-General of Corsica and superior to the other commandants, but while he could give orders to the other commandants he could not take direct control of their forces. In practice, owing as much to logistics, terrain, and the inexperience and conservatism of the officers as to the command structure, the commandants rarely coordinated their forces.

    The Genoese army in the early phase of the Revolution was unusual in that it was organized solely at the company level with no regiments whatsoever. Company captains enjoyed the same position as colonels in other armies, in the sense that they had near total administrative and financial control over their unit. Attempts to create regiments or permanent battalions in the early 18th century were scuttled by opposition from the captains, who had no desire to lose this autonomy. As such, Genoese field officers—majors, lieutenant-colonels, and colonels—were not actually "regimental officers" but company commanders with superior rank. A proposal for reforming this system had been introduced in the Senate in 1732, but the reforms were not actually begun until 1738.

    Before and after the 1738 reforms, the army's tactical units, as opposed to administrative units, were the colonne ("columns"), consisting of several hundred men under a field officer, and the picchetti ("pickets"), which contained around 50 men led by a captain. In size, at least, these were roughly comparable with the battalions and companies of the rebels, respectively.

    Officers

    Service in the Republic's army was not considered prestigious and the officer corps suffered as a result. Officers were drawn from the nobility, but the nobility gained no special privileges or any particular honor by doing so. There was far more status and wealth to be gained through trade or politics. Commissions tended as a consequence to be filled by minor gentry, who as a rule had virtually no military experience or training. In Corsica, which was considered a particularly unappealing posting for an army officer, commandants used their positions primarily for personal enrichment. In effect, the Corsican interior was always treated as "hostile territory" into which the commandants only dispatched men to enforce the periodic collection of taxes, which were unlikely to be paid without the present threat of physical force. Such duties were fobbed off on lieutenants and captains while the commandants themselves rarely left their bases of operations on the coast.

    The result was an officer corps which was thoroughly uninspiring throughout the whole of the Corsican Revolution. Genoese commanders lacked initiative and rarely took the offensive, preferring to do what the army had always done in Liguria and put their trust in fixed defenses. In Corsica, however, these defenses were in many cases centuries old and often not designed with landward attack in mind. At times this preference for defense resulted in Genoese forts and towns being "besieged" by a rebel army far smaller and less well equipped than the garrison itself, with the defending commanders making no attempt to sally or counterattack. At one point early in the rebellion, before Theodore's arrival, the 500-man garrison of Bastia was effectively paralyzed by fewer than 170 militiamen in the surrounding hills.

    The Genoese did make use of Corsican officers, but they seldom rose above the rank of lieutenant in the peacetime army. In wartime, particularly during moments of crisis, Corsican officers frequently were promoted to high grades, but it was common (and in the case of Corsican colonels, practically inevitable) that when the danger had passed these officers would be "retired," removed from active service and put permanently on half-pay.

    The Corsican Revolutionaries

    [​IMG]
    Modern Corsicans wearing the costume of revolutionary militiamen in a heritage parade. Note the conch shell, commonly used as a signal by the revolutionaries.

    Forces

    The Corsicans had long been recognized as a "warlike" people of Europe, and the island had been a fertile recruiting ground for European states for centuries. Usually such troops were brigaded with other Italians; before the island's independence, the only notable all-Corsican units were the Corsican companies of the Genoese army and the famous Corsican Guard of Rome, which served the Pope until it was forcibly disbanded under French pressure in 1662. Relatively poor treatment of Corsican soldiers (and especially officers) in Genoese service encouraged many to find employment in other states. At the time of Theodore's arrival on the island, an estimated 4,000 Corsicans served in foreign armies, less than half of those in Genoese service. If these expatriate soldiers are counted, Corsica on the eve of the rebellion was on par with Prussia in terms of its ratio of soldiers to civilians.

    Estimating the number of rebel forces at any point in the rebellion is notoriously difficult. This is not only because of the decentralized nature of the rebel forces but the fact that virtually all soldiers were part-timers, farmers and herders who were motivated to fight by patriotism, the promise of a musket and pay, obligation to a family patriarch or caporale, or sometimes just to gain revenge for the ill-treatment of their village or a family member at Genoese hands. Desertion was common, but it was also often temporary; a militiaman might serve for a few weeks, return home for the harvest or to take care of some family business, and come back to the unit. There was essentially no penalty for desertion, or at least none which was enforced, and thus rebel units were constantly fluctuating in size as men left and returned by their own volition. Historians have estimated the "maximum" number of rebel forces active at any one time in 1736 at anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 men.

    Only two "regular" units existed in Theodore's army in 1736. The first was the "royal guard," led personally by Count Anton-Francesco Giappiconi, who was also Theodore's minister of war. This was an all-Corsican unit which counted a substantial number of young men of status in its ranks, including Lieutenant Giuseppe Costa (the son of the chancellor Sebastiano Costa). The other was the "foreign company" led by Captain Silvestre Colombani. This unit was initially formed from the several dozen foreign adventurers and mercenaries who had followed Theodore to Corsica and probably numbered no more than 50 men at its inception, but it was soon reinforced by deserters from Genoese service (mostly Germans) and freed galley slaves of non-Corsican origin.

    The Royal Army did possess an artillery arm, which owing to the impracticality of field artillery was really a siege train, initially under the command of the mysterious Lieutenant-Colonel Antoine Dufour, a French military engineer. The quality of Corsican gunnery was generally poor, as one might expect from hastily-trained shepherds, but the Corsicans proved remarkably adept at artillery logistics, regularly pulling dozens of heavy guns over mountain ranges on muleback using shepherds' paths only wide enough for two men to walk abreast, and doing it with with impressive speed.

    The rebels possessed no cavalry company as such, although because of the 100 or so mounted militia of Balagna under Fabiani's command the rebels could factually boast that they possessed more cavalry than the Genoese. There is no evidence, however, that these men ever fought from horseback.

    Organization

    Owing to its geography of isolated mountain valleys, the Corsicans of the highlands had long been divided into small, autonomous clusters of villages, with their own customs and their own caporali, as well as longstanding rivalries with other communities and their leaders. The organization of the militia under Theodore was more political than it was military, which is to say it was designed not so much to achieve a military end as to build support for the new regime. It was necessary for every pieve, and sometimes individual parishes within a pieve, to have its own unit with its own leader, as the chiefs and caporali of one community would chafe at being denied a command which the chief on the other side of the mountain enjoyed.

    In Corsica's clan-based society, in which the prestige and strength of a family was judged chiefly by its numbers of kinsmen, militia bands sometimes resembled armed family reunions. This may have made for unit cohesion to a certain extent, but it also meant that most units had intense loyalty to their captains or colonels but very little to the rebel cause or its primary leaders. An officer who was offended would frequently abandon the army and take his entire company with him. Sometimes these units switched sides entirely, deciding that they had been wronged by either the Genoese or one of the rebel "generals" and turning their guns on their former compatriots. Frequently they did not see this as betrayal, as the demands of honor and the best interests of the clan had a superior claim on a man's duty than serving one particular faction.

    Theodore could not remake society overnight, but he did make an attempt at implementing a formal militia structure. Shortly after his coronation he appointed 24 company captains who were charged with raising 35 men each from their own villages (and thus 840 total soldiers). The number of captains expanded regularly thereafter. All companies within a pieve would be grouped into a battalion under the command of a colonel of that pieve. In theory the militiamen would be called in rotation, with men serving four-month terms before being deactivated such that one third of the militia was active at any one time. It was a sensible mode of organization, but Theodore possessed no method of enforcement, and there is little evidence that the system was strenuously observed. The rebel army continued to rely on ad hoc formations of militiamen, who joined the army for a particular purpose or to response to a particular threat, alongside its "semi-regular" companies.

    The rebels never possessed a formal logistical structure, but do not seem to have suffered much for it. The militia lived largely on what the men of Niolo called pane di legnu e vinu di petra – wooden bread (chestnuts) and stone wine (water) - and had plenty of both. Ammunition sometimes had difficulty circulating, but a French officer later complained that "nature itself conspires to arm them," noting that the rebels used pieces of rock crystal from the mountains for replacement gun flints and gathered a local stringy moss which could be used as wadding.

    Officers

    Each 35-man company was to have two lieutenants and two ensigns. The small size of the companies and battalions meant that the number of officers among the royal forces was quite high; in theory, nearly 15% of all rebel soldiers were officers of commissioned rank. Whether this was militarily useful was besides the point, as the surfeit of captains, lieutenants, and ensigns allowed every rebel of prominence (and his sons and nephews) to have a military rank, for which they had the king to thank.

    What is most surprising about the Corsican rebels under Theodore was the comparatively large pool of experienced officers they possessed. The prejudice which the Genoese held against Corsican officers and their tendency to "retire" those who advanced beyond lieutenant created a substantial class of company-grade officers who naturally saw foreign service as preferable to poor career prospects and a future of unending half-pay at home. Many of them, having served in the Venetian, Neapolitan, Tuscan, or Spanish armies, came back to Corsica during the rebellion to serve the patriotic cause. Compared to the aristocratic officers of the Genoese army, most of whom lacked the barest modicum of military or command experience, these returning mercenary officers represented a distinct rebel advantage. Although Theodore saw the need to make politically motivated appointments, he was also a convinced meritocrat, and we find a shepherd (Linguacitutto) and a peasant (Cipriani) among the list of rebel captains in 1736.

    Arms

    [​IMG]
    A Dutch/Liege musket c. 1706

    The muskets used by the Republic of Genoa came principally from France and Spain. While France had introduced a standardized musket in the form of the 1717 "Charleville" musket (updated in 1728), Spain would not adopt a similarly standardized model until 1752. Although there is little information about the specific weapons used by the Genoese army during the Corsican Revolution, it seems safe to assume that a variety of patterns were in use.

    Initially, the muskets used by the rebels came entirely from the Genoese themselves, as the Republic held a legal monopoly on arms sales on the island. At the start of the rebellion, however, the rebel arsenal was seriously out of date. The anti-banditry laws of 1715 failed to disarm the Corsicans but did end above-board arms sales to the islanders, and even those guns purchased before 1715 are unlikely to have been top of the line models. The older snaphance musket, which most countries had abandoned in the 17th century, was still in common use in the Corsican interior; it worked in a similar fashion to the "true" flintlock, but was generally less reliable and more difficult to repair. The rebels’ supply of guns was expanded and updated somewhat by the capture, throughout the rebellion, of weapons from defeated Genoese troops and captured Genoese arsenals, but the story of Costa smuggling 150 muskets to the rebels in 1734 demonstrates that even then the rebels lacked modern weapons in sufficient number.

    From the time of Theodore’s first arrival with 700 Amsterdam-made muskets in 1736, the flow of small arms to the rebels from the outside world was increasingly comprised of Dutch weapons. Amsterdam was a major weapons supplier, and Ripperda's consignment which traveled to Corsica with Theodore aboard the Richard was said to be of “modern” Dutch muskets, presumably of the type produced between roughly 1700 and 1730: pinned-barrel flintlocks with walnut stocks and iron fittings (or later, brass). The British Army purchased tens of thousands of such muskets in the early 18th century and clearly took inspiration from them in the design of the "Brown Bess" Long Land Pattern musket in the 1720s. Later Dutch shipments to the rebels were not always cutting-edge and drew more on older surplus, but even these were "modern" by the standards of the rebels and were highly prized. The only serious deficiency some of these older models possessed was a stock extending to the end of the muzzle which precluded the use of a ring/socket bayonet, but bayonets seem to have been infrequently used by the Corsicans, who notoriously preferred “[American] Indian” tactics of fighting in loose order behind cover and withdrawing in the face of an assault.

    There was little standardization in artillery at this time, and many accounts of rebel artillery describe them in only vague terms, like the six "heavy" and four "light" guns which Theodore brought with him to Corsica on the Richard. Later arrivals are sometimes more precisely described, and are usually 12 or 24 pounders. The Genoese also possessed artillery, albeit limited to the coastal citadels and the decks of their ships, but the specifications are seldom described. Although the rebels attempted to re-purpose these guns when they got the chance, they were hampered by a lack of proper field/siege carriages for them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2017
  6. The Merovingian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2017
    Some yank should sail on over and teach these Corsicans the old American tradition of "scalping."
     
  7. 123456789blaaa Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2016
    I know it's a good thread when I appreciate every post by the OP. Nice work @Carp. Is the second PoD a random butterfly of the first PoD? Also, is there anything in particular you'd like to see discussed?
     
  8. Carp Literally a fish

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2014
    Thanks! As for the second PoD, my way of alt-history is conservative: I'm interested in what would change as a result of the POD, and I usually don't throw in "random butterflies" until we're years past the POD and the direct consequences of the POD are no longer easy to track. Thus, this is really a "double POD" TL, in which Paoli gets killed and Captain Dick doesn't get picked up by a Genoese felucca while unloading his cargo. The first POD is much more important than the second, and maybe the second won't end up influencing too much, but we'll see - mostly I just think it would help if Theodore had a regular lifeline to Livorno for a bit longer.

    With all this fantastic adventure, it's easy to forget that sometimes Theodore's schemes really did hurt people who trusted him. IOTL, after all, Ortega was deceived by Theodore and ended up committing suicide. Theodore apparently stole money from his foster father (his mother remarried not long before her own death), a banker named Joseph Marneau, who was kind to Theodore as a boy but came to despise him. "I therefore look upon this pretend-king as an adventurer with nothing to lose," he wrote, "who listens only to his temerity." Theodore's maternal uncle called him "the greatest crook and the greatest madman in the world." Hilariously, Theodore wrote both of them asking for money and support in his enterprise; he was ever an optimist. Less hilariously, a lot of people died or had their lives ruined because they were swayed by Theodore's charisma and followed him on his dream; but that's how it goes when you throw in with an unlikely and dangerous cause.

    Well, something I'll need help with eventually is the great power politics angle of it. France is the elephant in the room here; IOTL, Genoa didn't request their help until July of 1737 and France didn't send any until early 1738, but for reasons we'll soon see ITTL the Genoese are going to go into panic mode a lot faster than they did IOTL, which seems likely to make them even more desperate for prompt French aid. Cardinal Fleury seems to have been absolutely convinced, like many others at the time, that Theodore simply couldn't be what he appeared to be, and had to be a front for another power in some sort of devious scheme to take control of Corsica. Whether a longer-lasting Theodore can convince his government otherwise - something he was desperately trying to do IOTL - is an unanswered question.

    One thing I find particularly interesting about this TL (even if it's as yet a ways off) is its potential influence on 18th century revolutions and social thought. Pasquale Paoli, after he was made famous in the Anglo world by Boswell and later fled to Britain, became a real inspiration to radicals; he was a living embodiment of the Enlightenment and of nationalist, republican liberation. In America, the Sons of Liberty drank toasts to Paoli, and Adams, Franklin, and Washington referred to him in letters and conversations. ITTL, Corsican liberation might be just as inspirational, perhaps even more so because it succeeds; but while Theodore is a thoroughly Enlightenment figure, he's a king, and what he symbolizes is national liberation without the "republican" part. Of course Paoli did not cause the American Revolution, but one wonders whether, for instance, a Constitutional Monarchy would have greater support across the Atlantic having demonstrated its success in Corsica (assuming an American Revolution of some kind still happens).

    I wonder also how this might affect Social Contract Theory, which is still in the period of its articulation; Locke's Second Treatise of Government was written in 1689, but Rousseau's contribution in The Social Contract does not come about until 1762. IOTL, Rousseau was asked to write a constitution for the Corsican Republic. What would he, and other philosophers of his time, make of a monarchy which is truly contractual, established by a constitution which literally says it is "in the form of a contract" in the preamble? As discontent against Absolutism builds, is Corsica going to be ignored or will it be used as an example of a "better way?"
     
  9. Yanez de Gomera notorious procrastinator

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2014
    Location:
    il bel paese là, dove 'l sì suona
    Well aren't Corsicans famed for their use of knives in fights? Or maybe I am projecting from the Sardinians in WW1...?

    @Carp another very interesting update, this is shaping as a classical guerrilla war where the costs to the occupier are much higher than those to the rebel, even if they win most battles and have a kill ratio in their favour (which is not a given).

    Theodore really needs some foreign support though.

    Edit: reading your last comment I think that it would not be crazy to say that this will bolster constitutional monarchy vis à vis republicanism, but for the US the federal (initially only loosely so) nature of the rebellion makes it difficult to have it evolve in a monarchical direction imho.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
    The Undead Martyr likes this.
  10. The Professor Pontif of the Guild

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2006
    Location:
    Republic of Beerhaven
    I wonder if it might not strengthen the idea of a single written base constitution, especially in the U.K., depending how things work out. On the upside we have things like the German Basic Law, on the downside we have the U.S. constitution fetishism/worship.
    Loss of Paoli is probably a blow to the Radicals but you'd need to check with the PolitBrits on that.
     
    The Undead Martyr likes this.
  11. Carp Literally a fish

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2014
    Well, certainly the Corsicans used knives; I imagine most pastoralists did. What you have to be careful of when it comes to Corsican knives, however, is the tremendous amount of distortion which the concept of the "vendetta" has been subject to. What we in our society today would simply call murder, we often romanticize and ritualize when it takes place in other, "exotic" societies. People in law-abiding societies in which "honor" seems like an antiquated notion are tantalized by tales of chivalry, righteous vigilantes, men who value honor more than life, and the various rituals, codes, and weapons that accompany such things.

    A quick internet search will confirm that there is indeed such a thing today as a "Corsican vendetta knife," but that's in large part a notion constructed for tourists. As far back as the 19th century Corsican blacksmiths were making "vendetta knives" for foreigners who had heard tales of the hot-blooded Corsicans and their duels of honor and wanted a suitable souvenir. What are now sold as "vendetta knives" may indeed be related to real knives used by Corsicans; the Spanish navaja was popular in Corsica and straight-bladed "stylus" knives were probably in use by real Corsicans in the 18th century too. For the Corsicans, though, I suspect these were not "vendetta knives" but simply "knives," used for all the various and sundry things an 18th century peasant or shepherd uses a knife for.

    The accounts I've read of vendetta killings and assassinations in Theodore's time pretty much always involve guns. And they weren't duels either: the classic vendetta killing seems to have involved being ambushed and shot, sometimes by multiple assailants lying in wait, which was why one hears of Corsican men going around with their muskets at all times. I'm not saying there weren't stabbings too; I'm sure there were. One suspects, however, that if they were anything like vendetta killings via firearms, they would have involved someone getting stabbed in the back rather than an epic knife duel. The point was to restore honor by killing the guy, not to restore honor by honorable combat.

    Paoli's regulars supposedly all had knives, and at one point Theodore had 1,800 knives sent to Corsica as part of a larger arms shipment. I imagine that some of them were used in anger. That said, however, I haven't read anything about the Corsican rebels using knives preferentially or with any particular skill that would distinguish them. I suspect there were few who relished the idea of getting in a knife fight with a man wielding a bayonet-musket.

    The funny thing is that everyone was sure he had it. Theodore was an international celebrity in his day - newspapers talked about him, books were written on him, he was discussed in salons and by men of letters. But all of them, almost invariably, agreed with what Edmond Barbier wrote in his accounts of the French court: "It is not possible, in any case, that a private individual like [Theodore] has ships, men, money, and arms, without being supported by any power." Even statesmen were totally convinced that he had to be just a pawn in some devious scheme by one great monarch or another. Unfortunately for Theodore, this meant that the French were operating on the assumption that some other power was conspiring to take Corsica (since they obviously weren't behind Theodore), and that helped convince them to intervene on Genoa's behalf.
     
  12. Unknown Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Location:
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Carp, PM Thande for details on the 18th century at this time...
     
    DarkKayder likes this.
  13. Threadmarks: Treachery and Triumph

    Carp Literally a fish

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2014
    Treachery and Triumph

    [​IMG]
    Bastia in the 1830s

    At the first meeting of the war council, days after his coronation, Theodore announced that a quick strike would first be made against Porto Vecchio with the forces then available. This was probably inspired by the objection of Giovan Arrighi, one of those more skeptical rebel leaders who had rather grudgingly accepted his election as king. Arrighi had at one point argued that Theodore should not be made king until he had proven himself in some military enterprise. This argument made little headway at the consulta, and Arrighi seems to have been placated after the fact by being made a count, but Theodore doubtless wished to gain a swift victory to silence similar critics. Porto Vecchio was the best harbor on the island, and its acquisition would be a great boon to the rebels. The attack was led by Colonel Antonio Colonna, a nephew of Chancellor Sebastiano Costa and former captain in the Genoese army who had defected to the rebels. With virtually no preparation, Colonna managed to achieve complete surprise over the unsuspecting garrison. The the town was stormed on April 23rd and the garrison captain fled by boat to Bonifacio. Theodore had only been on the throne for eight days.

    Having established his reputation for quick and victorious action, Theodore now planned an offensive on all fronts to take advantage of his initiative. Marquis Luca Ornano would besiege Ajaccio on the west coast, while Captain Angelo Luccioni, having been made governor of the recently-captured Porto Vecchio, would lead a reconnaissance-in-force against Bonifacio in the south and capture it if practicable. Marquis Simone Fabiani would return to his native Balagna, the richest Corsican province, and move to besiege Calvi in the northwest. Theodore, in the meantime, would take personal command of the rest of the forces in the Diqua and lead them north with the ultimate objective of capturing Bastia, the Genoese capital. A detachment from this army, under Count Arrighi, would attack San Fiorenzo in the Nebbio, while another detachment under Count Anton-Francesco Giappiconi, the secretary of war, was sent to invest San Pellegrino on the eastern coast to secure his flank.

    At the time, some outside observers questioned the wisdom of subdividing his force to such an extent, but it seems to have been a political necessity. There had already been quarrels among his "generals" as to their precedence; Marquis Luigi Giafferi had bristled at the prospect of Fabiani, some three decades his junior, being chosen as vice-president of the war council, and had only been placated by Theodore making him a marquis. By giving each of his most prominent commanders their own command and their own task, the king hoped to satisfy the pride of all.

    On the 1st of May, the rebel host in the Diqua attacked Furiani, where the Genoese held a fortified position on the outskirts of Bastia. The Genoese, who had come to expect ambushing and skirmish warfare from the rebels, were quite surprised to find some 2,000 rebel militia and irregulars advancing across open ground less than ten miles from Bastia. Theodore led the attack in person, and despite taking artillery fire from the Genoese position and from an offshore galley, the rebels drove the Genoese from Furiani after a day-long battle. The garrison retreated into Bastia. The rebel army was close on their heels, and on the 3rd the rebels invested the city and set up Theodore's six heavy guns on the hills above it. The king gave the garrison an ultimatum, demanding their surrender within ten days.

    The Genoese commissioner-general, Count Paulo Battista Rivarola, rejected his demands. Theodore, however, had means other than assault at his disposal, for he knew Bastia's weakness. Situated on a rocky stretch of the eastern coast, Bastia had been chosen as the capital of Genoese Corsica solely for its proximity to Genoa and the coast of Italy, not because of any great geographical advantages. It had no natural harbor, but more importantly for Theodore it had no secure water source. All the city's water was diverted from springs and creeks in the nearby hills through a number of pipes and channels. Learning the location of these channels from local informers, Theodore ordered them all to be cut, hoping to thereby gain a bloodless victory. As waiting for the city to capitulate did not require his personal presence, he left Count Gio Giacomo Ambrosi di Castinetta there with the bulk of the force to maintain the blockade. The king himself would relocate to San Pellegrino and monitor the progress there.

    Besieged Bastia roiled with anxiety. There were rumors that the rebels would slaughter everyone if victorious, possibly stoked by the Genoese. Theodore, before his departure, had attempted to counter these rumors with declarations of his own, circulated within the city by his sympathizers, which invited them to join the cause and promised amnesty to all Corsicans. Rivarola did his best to organize a general defense, sending messages to the commandants of the other citadels demanding an inventory of their armed forces, but the initiative and morale to take any offensive action against the rebels was lacking. The commandant of Calvi, writing to a senator in Genoa, opined dejectedly that the loss of the whole island was only a matter of time.

    [​IMG]
    Nicolò Cattaneo Della Volta, 153rd Doge of Genoa

    The Doge of Genoa, Nicolò Cattaneo Della Volta, ordered the publication on May 9th of an extended screed against the "Baron Neuhoff." By this time his identity was known—initially the Genoese (and the rest of Europe) were uncertain as to who the mysterious king was, with some suggesting it was Ripperda himself. As soon as they learned his true identity, the Genoese had scrambled to find any sort of dirt they could on the adventurer who had unexpectedly turned up on the island and ruined their attempt to pacify the rebels.

    The publication gave an abbreviated and scurrilous account of his life containing a mix of truths, half-truths, and baseless rumors. The Doge claimed Theodore was a "mountebank" dressed in "oriental fashion," a "wandering vagabond devoid of fortune," as well as a "heretic," "magician," and "cabalist." The Doge derided the "few arms and supplies" which Theodore had brought and called his cause hopeless. He lamented the "evil influence" such a man might have over the Republic's loyal Corsican subjects and fretted that he would "disturb the repose of our people." He finally accused Theodore of breaching the peace, treason, and committing lese majeste, and promised that he would be dealt with like the common criminal he was. How seriously anyone took this document is hard to say; John Bagshaw, the English consul in Genoa, forwarded it to his government and noted that it did no credit to the Doge, who sounded "petulant" and "most desperate." In besieged Bastia, rebel sympathizers defaced a number of the posted copies by scrawling "Long Live Theodore" upon them.

    The king, however, did feel it necessary to pen his own response. He dismissed the account of his past as a cheap fabrication and mocked the charges laid against him. He could not have breached the peace, he wrote, as there had been no peace upon his arrival. Treason, he said, could only be committed against one's friends, and he had "never pretended nor desired" to be friends with the Genoese. As for lese majeste, he made a jest of the Doge and the mercantile origins of the Republic. "Did not an Englishman once address a letter to 'The Doge of Genoa and General Dealer?'" he wondered. "How can majesty possibly be possessed by a hardware merchant?" He ridiculed the tone of concern in the Doge's proclamation, claiming that the "repose" which Genoa wished for the Coriscans was that of the grave, and turned the accusation that he had "few arms and supplies" back on the Doge, saying that he had brought a modest amount because overcoming the feeble Genoese would not require any great exertion. He claimed the Genoese were cowards, men who had acquired everything they possessed through "cupidity and trading," and sarcastically praised their "courage" for hiding within their citadels rather than face him and the "ten thousand brave Corsicans" at his command. He offered a threat, as well: "Since the Genoese say I am a mountebank, I shall go and play from their stage at Bastia!"[1]

    The king was in the meantime at San Pellegrino. Not much could be done there for a dearth of artillery, as all of Theodore's heavy guns were at Bastia, but Theodore was at least able to inspire the men with his personal bravery. He allegedly toured the perimeter on horseback with serene calm even as cannonballs hurled from the fortress tore up the path before him. From there he retired to Venzolasca, five miles to the northwest of San Pellegrino, where he established a temporary headquarters and prepared his forces to attack in whichever direction the Genoese might appear as his lieutenants continued their endeavors.

    While at Venzolasca, a messenger arrived with the most dire of news. Captain Angelo Luccioni, whom the king had placed in command of Porto Vecchio and charged with attacking Bonifacio, had sold his city to the Genoese for 30 sequins and was presently on his way to convince Theodore to go south with him, where he would betray the king to the Genoese. Luccioni indeed arrived the next day, claiming that he had been forced to retreat from the city and asking for the king to join him in retaking it. There was no question of his guilt, and he was immediately arrested; the king, in a rage, told him that he would have access to a confessor and then be shot within the quarter-hour. Costa and Giafferi, concerned that an execution of a prominent man would make enemies, urged leniency, but Theodore insisted that no sovereign could stand for such treachery. He was duly executed by firing squad, only slightly later than Theodore had promised.

    Better news, however, was to come within days. The position of Rivarola at Bastia had grown hopeless. Although some succor could be had by supply ships from Genoa, it was impossible to supply a city of thousands with water by ship alone. On the 14th of May, Consul Bagshaw sent a report to his superiors claiming that, according to an informant he had within Bastia itself, the people of Bastia were pleading with Rivarola to capitulate and that there was a very real chance they would "revolt against the Garrison in favor of the Malcontents." There were rumors that the garrison was bleeding out of the city daily, defecting to the rebels to avoid reprisal or simply to get some water.

    Count Rivarola decided that it was necessary to escape his confinement by force, and he attempted it on the 16th of May. Despite the rather poor preparation of Castinetta, who does not seem to have been able to get his soldiers to do much defensive preparation in the two weeks during which they invested the city, the rebels were able to beat back Rivarola's attack. Costa remarked that the garrison soon ran out of steam, and engaged in desultory skirmishing with the rebels instead of pressing home an attack which might have caught the poorly prepared defenders off-guard. Part of the blame may be placed on the absentee leadership of Rivarola, a career bureaucrat who "led" the breakout from the safety of the citadel, but his forces were clearly demoralized. Bagshaw reported a "reliable" story that one Genoese group of foreign mercenaries threw down their weapons and surrendered "at the first crack of musket-fire."

    Theodore arrived two days later, having rushed north from Venzolasca to aid the besiegers, only to find that Castinetta had matters well in hand. Reinforced with another 500 or so men, Theodore ordered preparations for an assault. It did not came. Rivarola, without water, without reliable soldiers, and fearing a rebellion from within, capitulated.[A]


    Footnotes
    [1] The joke is clearer if you know that the etymology of "mountebank" is the Italian montambanco, literally meaning one who "mounts the bench," i.e. leaps upon a stage. In context, of course, it usually means one who mounts a stage to hawk fraudulent medicines or goods.

    Timeline Notes
    [A] IOTL, Giacinto Paoli was placed in charge of the siege of Bastia. Theodore's strategy was the same as ITTL—he cut the water to the city and left matters in Paoli's hands. Bagshaw's reports are mostly quoted verbatim; the Genoese position was desperate. Just as the city was close to surrender, however, Paoli inexplicably departed with many of his men, and the defenders sallied forth and defeated the remainder. Theodore thus lost the best chance he ever got of taking Bastia. According to legend, Theodore was enraged and wanted to seize him as a traitor, but was convinced by his other commanders that Paoli had only left because he had to attend his father's funeral in accordance with custom. This seems rather dubious; Theodore probably spared him for the same reason he made him a general in the first place, because he was too powerful and important to leave out, and a bad friend was better than an enemy. ITTL, Paoli doesn't screw everything up because he's quite dead. Castinetta is not a military genius, but he is at least capable of staying in one place for two weeks. Much of Theodore's subsequent success ITTL will hinge on this crucial conquest.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  14. frustrated progressive Insert Witticism Here

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2013
    Location:
    Traffic,Heat,Crime,Poverty, Still Paradise (LA)
    I just want to say that I love this timeline and am following it avidly. Keep up the good work!
     
  15. Mccarthypaddy1216 Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2017
    Very good keep it up mate
     
  16. John Fredrick Parker Donor

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Are both Della Volta's pamphlet and Theodore's response as OTL? Also, since the war is already going better for Corsica than OTL, is Theodore still going to personally leave the island later this year?
     
  17. The Merovingian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2017
    Dost thou mean "The Doge, claimed Theodore, was a...."
     
  18. Carp Literally a fish

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2014
    The pamphlet and response are basically as OTL, and many of the quotes given are actual, although since I couldn't find the original transcripts the text of both is filtered through secondary sources and a few things which I have presented as quotes are actually paraphrases. I believe the basic gist of both documents, as I've presented them, to be historical (and so is Bagshaw's comment that the Doge seemed "petulant" and "most desperate").

    Theodore left IOTL because his followers were running out of patience and had started to give up on him. He had promised them plenty of arms and money, and support from abroad; he had certainly brought some arms and money, but by autumn the money had run out, the arms had been distributed, no foreign aid seemed to be arriving, and despite winning several battles Theodore had little to show for his efforts as all the Genoese citadels of the coast remained in Genoese hands. People came to distrust his constant promises that the foreign aid he mentioned was almost here, and when he left it was ostensibly to go find out what was holding up his aid. Of course there was no aid, and never had been, apart from the shipments of Ripperda and a few independent ships which had traded with the rebels, and these vessels had difficulty getting to the rebels because they held no ports (thus forcing them to lay off shore and unload, which risked capture by the Genoese just like what happened IOTL to the Richard).

    Theodore doesn't yet have any more "foreign aid" ITTL than he did IOTL, but he does have Bastia. Not only does that mean his weapons and money will last for longer (as he has more of them), but he also has a port to receive shipments and can point to a very concrete accomplishment of his reign: "I captured the Genoese capital and imprisoned the governor." Capturing Bastia doesn't solve all his problems but it does give him more time and will deflect his followers' concerns about where the foreign aid is for at least a while longer. (Paoli being dead helps his situation too.) It's possible Theodore may still be forced to leave for a time, but probably not in 1736.

    No, the way I have it is correct. The commas make it parenthetical: "Theodore (claimed the Doge) was a 'mountebank'..." Nevertheless, I see how that could be a bit confusing, so I'll make an edit.
     
  19. Threadmarks: Early Conquests

    Carp Literally a fish

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2014
    Early Conquests

    [​IMG]
    Calenzana, looking northeast.


    The fall of Bastia on May 19th was a moment of unparalleled triumph for the rebels. It was, in the first place, a great symbolic victory: the capital of Genoese Corsica had fallen and its governor had been captured. In his red robe and plumed hat, flanked by his Corsican guards and foreign servants, Theodore rode through the city streets, intent upon making the same impressive spectacle as he had made upon his arrival. The rebel soldiers and sympathizers were ecstatic. Those Genoese and republican Corsicans who remained were presumably less so, but the massacre they feared did not happen. French and English diplomats reported looting, but it is difficult to distinguish between disorganized looting by soldiers and the purposeful seizure of Genoese assets by Theodore to fund his war effort.

    Theodore badly needed money to pay his soldiers and officers, and Bastia was the perfect place to get it. Genoese citizens and Corsican filogenovesi[1] were more prevalent in Bastia and its surrounding territories than anywhere else, which gave Theodore and his officers the excuse to plunder them. Costa records that mandatory "war contributions" were collected from the people of the region to the tune of over 1.5 million livres, which Count Sebastiano Costa claimed could provide for Theodore's army for more than a year. Specific wealthy families in Bastia were targeted for extra taxation; a certain signore in the city was compelled to give up 4,000 livres on his own. Much of this payment was "in kind," and in particular the rebels took cattle, olive oil, flour, and wine from wherever it was found. A good deal was seized from "absentee" owners, Genoese citizens and well-off Corsican filogenovesi who had fled the advance of the rebel forces.

    The rebel gains in materiel were substantial. Not only was the garrison disarmed of its weapons, but Bastia was the largest Genoese arms depot on the island. The British consul in Genoa John Bagshaw, citing his secret contact in the city, claimed that the rebels had seized "two thousand muskets & much powder and shot" along with an unknown quantity of pistols, "large muskets" (presumably wall guns), swords, and even grenades. The citadel's battery also came into rebel hands; the defenders had spiked the guns but done little else, and local smiths soon restored most of them to working order. Costa also reported that the rebel militia stripped the Genoese soldiers of their boots, as despite Theodore's gifts of shoes many of the rebel soldiers seem to have remained barefoot or shod in the uncured boar-hide footwear worn by many of the natives.

    The Genoese soldiers were interned until ransom or exchange could be arranged. The officers seem to have been treated graciously, but their inferiors were held in warehouses and the dungeons the Genoese had previously used to keep galley-slaves. Foreigners were interned with the Genoese unless they volunteered to join the king's foreign company. As for the Corsicans of the garrison,[2] the deadline for the king's amnesty had long since passed, but nevertheless Theodore offered clemency to those who would join the rebellion and imprisoned those who refused along with the Genoese. The only Corsicans not given this chance were the few Corsican officers. They were lined up and summarily shot in the town square as vittoli, traitors to the nation.[A] According to Costa, some 300 men joined the rebel ranks, including both Corsicans and foreigners.

    The acquisition of a port, particularly after losing Porto Vecchio, was crucial to the rebel cause. Within days of Bastia's capture, a ship from Livorno arrived with a small cargo of munitions as well as a number of foreign volunteers and Corsicans returning to the motherland from foreign service. They included Giovan Luca Poggi, a Corsican captain in the Neapolitan army, and Antone Nobile Battisti, Count Giappiconi's brother-in-law and an engineer in the Venetian army. Within the next few weeks, two more ships full of "contraband" would arrive, this time from France, under captains Pierre-Paul Blanchier and Lorenzo Denas. Both delivered their cargoes safely, including 18 cannon, in part because the Genoese navy feared to fire on vessels bearing the French flag. Genoese complaints to the French government resulted in both captains being arrested upon their return to France, but that did not stop the trickle of cargo; a week later a French tartane called the St. Louis delivered muskets and ammunition to the rebels at Bastia. Were the shipments already arranged by Theodore, or by Ripperda (then in Morocco), or some greater power? Nobody seemed to know.

    After a few days at Bastia, Theodore's army descended into the Nebbio, the fertile region around the Bay of San Fiorenzo. The population here was largely unsympathetic to the rebel cause, although there were evidently enough locals to assemble a pro-monarchist militia battalion under a native of the village of Oletta, Giovan Natali, who was made a colonel. Natali was a tenacious solider but also had a serious axe to grind against his neighbors, with whom he had quarreled during the earlier years of the revolt. He was quite pleased to lead the "confiscation" of filogenovesi property in the region, and responded to resistance with arson. His score-settling in the Nebbio, however, was a sideshow to Theodore's primary goal, which was to capture the port of San Fiorenzo. Although fairly small in population thanks to the "poor air" from nearby wetlands, its squat, cylindrical citadel overlooked an excellent sheltered cove that rivaled that of Porto Vecchio. Unless it was taken, the threat of a Genoese landing there would continually endanger Bastia and the rest of Theodore's recent conquests in the northeast.

    The Genoese were also aware of San Fiorenzo's importance, and had reinforcements on the way. Actually the reinforcements had been intended for Bastia, but did not make it in time; Consul Bagshaw reported that their departure was delayed by panicked citizens fleeing from that city who erroneously claimed that it had already fallen. Instead, 600 Genoese regulars were diverted to San Fiorenzo under the command of Colonel Marchelli. That scuttled any hope of a quick assault on the town, and it lacked Bastia's vulnerable water supply, so there was nothing for it but to begin a siege. Guns were moved into position, although most of the artillery was moved southwards to San Pellegrino to assist in the thus far fruitless siege that was still going on there.

    Theodore was a capable military leader, but he suffered at times from inconstancy. On June 4th, he received word from General Simone Fabiani, the governor of the Balagna, that he had defeated a 500-strong Genoese force and laid siege to Algajola. Fabiani added that he had received word that the citizens of the key town of Calenzana, the site of the rebels' finest victory over the imperial troops several years before, wished to join the rebellion but were prevented by a Genoese garrison. Costa feared it might be a trap, and said as much to Theodore, but the king insisted on going. With 300 men (possibly his royal guard), Theodore relocated westwards, and on the 8th Fabiani and the king assaulted the town. After a bloody and close-fought battle, the Genoese retreated from the town and withdrew to Calvi.[B] The victory was tempered only by the action of an enterprising Genoese captain in Algajola, who took advantage of Fabiani's absence to surprise and rout the small observation force he had left behind. His boastful missive to the Senate that he had destroyed one rebel cannon and captured seven (!) muskets from the fleeing Corsicans did not give the Genoese much to celebrate.

    From the Balagna, Theodore rode to Vescovato, which he had established as a temporary headquarters in the northeast. There were matters of state he wished to discuss with Costa and Giafferi; men of good standing needed to be selected for the constitutionally-mandated Diet, which had never been formed, and Theodore wished to arrange the minting of currency. He also had numerous letters to write to foreign capitals, continental friends, and Ripperda. Strategically speaking, removing himself from the "front" at such a time to pursue matters of parliaments and coinage was not ideal, and he was criticized for it by some as being more interested in playing king than taking the responsibilities of one. Theodore, however, knew that gaining support from abroad was necessary to his purpose, and believed that the trappings of sovereignty—a currency, a Diet, foreign affairs, and so on—were preconditions to having one's sovereignty actually recognized, both in Corsica and abroad.

    Still, it was a bad time to leave. Colonel Marchelli was reinforced in early June by the Compagnia dei Banditi under Captain Domenico de Franceschi, an irregular unit raised from Liguria by promising amnesty to bandits and freedom to criminals and galley slaves in exchange for their armed service. He succeeded in sallying forth and defeating the rebel encirclement, led by colonels Felice Cervoni and Giovan Arrighi, and captured six guns. The royalists retreated in confusion; Cervoni subsequently accused Arrighi of cowardice, saying he fled the battlefield without engaging, which created such a rift between the two men that Arrighi subsequently abandoned the Nebbio altogether and returned to the mountains with his whole battalion. Marchelli unleashed Franceschi and his irregulars upon the Nebbio to punish traitors, and handed out some 200 muskets to filogenovesi loyalists who had been alienated by Natali's cruelty. Cervoni and Natali, badly outnumbered, withdrew into the hills to the south, although Natali soon returned as a guerrilla, moving about the country with a small band of men to conduct retaliations against "traitors" (and their families) who had joined up with Marchelli.

    Having reconquered much of the Nebbio, Marchelli asked for further reinforcements to retake Bastia. The Senate, reeling over the loss of their island capital, had made the very (financially) painful decision to retain six additional companies of Swiss mercenaries. Two were diverted to Calvi to oppose any attempts by Fabiani to take that strong fortress, while the other four were dispatched to San Fiorenzo with four companies of Ligurians. By mid-June, Marchelli had amassed 1,500 regulars at San Fiorenzo (of whom 500 were Swiss), as well as around 600 native auxiliaries and at least 800 banditi.

    Against this host Colonel Cervoni was badly outmatched. He sent messengers requesting aid, both from Theodore and from Colonel Castinetta in Bastia. Castinetta, however, did little to assist him. Bastia was a large and restless city, with many disloyal elements, and Castinetta was also convinced that Marchelli's attack on Bastia would come over the Bocca di Teghime, the pass over the mountainous spine of the Capo Corso to the west of Bastia. Rising 536 meters above sea level by way of a steep, rocky, well-wooded slope above Patrimonio, Teghime would not be an easy avenue of attack (particularly with abysmal Genoese logistics and a near total lack of pack animals) but it was the most direct, and Castinetta hoped that with preparation he could make it too costly to take. That, however, precluded being of much help to Cervoni further south. Cervoni, having withdrawn to Oletta less than five miles from San Fiorenzo, now faced the prospect of facing three thousand men with no more than two or three hundred, a figure which included Natali's local militiamen.

    [​IMG]
    Map of Corsica (Click for Large)
    Dark Green: Rebel-controlled areas at Theodore's arrival
    Light Green: Rebel gains between April 1st and June 15th
    Red: Genoese-occupied areas as of June 15th
    White: Neutral, uncertain, or unoccupied areas
    [C]

    Footnotes
    [1] Supporters of Genoa.
    [2] The Genoese were not generally in the practice of stationing Corsican companies of the regular army on Corsica, so it's unclear who these pro-Genoese Corsican troops were. It's possible that the Genoese were simply so desperate for occupying forces that they bent their own rules, or perhaps these were loyalist irregulars or militia under their own officers.

    Timeline Notes
    [A] Vittolo was the name of the man who betrayed and assassinated Sampiero, the 16th century Corsican national hero. For centuries afterwards, Corsicans continued to use his name as a synonym for "traitor," in the same sense as "Quisling."
    [B] IOTL, Theodore narrowly lost this battle because his men ran out of ammunition. ITTL, having taken Bastia and raided its armory, there's enough powder and shot to go around, and it becomes a hard-fought victory instead.
    [C] For purposes of my sanity, only major towns and villages which have been mentioned so far in the TL are indicated. Other sites will be added for your reference as we go on. Some regions have also been added; except for Niolo, which is a single pieve, they all represent physical regions which cover multiple pieves.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
  20. 123456789blaaa Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2016
    It doesn't seem like the second PoD has effected much so far...were there really no other ships that could act as a lifeline to Livorno?

    Your point about the consequences of Theodore's actions rings true. I'm glad you're keeping the TL grounded. I do wonder though, if his step-father and uncle will attempt to make use of their familial relationship once Theodore becomes King...and what his reaction would be :eek:.

    I have access to Jstor and Project Muse so feel free to ask me if there's something in particular you want to know about. I can probably find at least a few full articles or book reviews on it.

    It will also be interesting to see how being the center of state power will effect Corsican administration. Going from being a semi-colony to the poor backwater of a large and properous state didn't really allow for exploration of Corsican potential. Draining swamps has already been brought up

    I'm not well-versed in philosophy so I'm not sure about how Enlightenment thought will be effected. Off the top of my head, Corsica is relatively small and poor but it isn't insignificant. I would think that a literal constitutional monarchy would be hard to ignore. Certainly, talking about the sovereign will of the people would be less controversial in a state founded to represent the wishes of the people. How couldEnlightenment philosophers ignore him?

    You say that there is "some suggestion" that one of the most prominent opponents of freedom of conscience it was Giacinto Paoli. can you go into more detail on this? Who were in the conservative party?

    Also, forgot to Like most of the posts I appreciated. Sorry for the mass of alerts :oops:.
     
    The Undead Martyr and Alex Zetsu like this.
Loading...