King Theodore's Corsica

Huh, so now we have a bunch of veteran Jesuits from the Americas that know how to rough it in an "uncivilized" environment and Corsica now has a bunch of dudes with the religious authority and the intellectual resources to begin true modernizations that wouldn't be aimed at a colonizer's enrichment and that the Corsicans wouldn't rebel against. In this rebirth of Christianity both court factions are likely to be weakened as the clan patronage networks and pieve notables have to make room within themselves for the Jesuit-trained professionals and scholars soon to follow.
 
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So glad to see this updated. I really like the depiction of your favorite mountebank in the autumn of his years, as well as the cut-and-thrust of Papal politics. It's ironic how, though Theodore is the most "enlightened" monarch in Europe, the very primitiveness of the land and its psychological remoteness from the continent made it a haven for refugees from the lands of "Enlightened Absolutism." This would seem to be a running theme.
 
It’s going to be a sad day indeed when King Theodore shuffles off this mortal coil. I do hope that the TL continues to follow his heirs and that they are at least fractionally as wonderfully eccentric as Theodore.
 
Corsica being the home of an Old, prestigious Jesuit Univeristyy in modern times has a to of appeal. Corsica as a highly educated trade hub in the med is interesting To think about
 
Given the hostility the native Corsicans have towards the Greeks and, to a lesser extent, the Jews, how will they see these Spanish Jesuits?
 
Given the hostility the native Corsicans have towards the Greeks and, to a lesser extent, the Jews, how will they see these Spanish Jesuits?

Well, it helps that the Jesuits are indisputably Catholic. The Pope may have dissolved the Society for political reasons, but it's not like they're heretics or something.

Spanish-Corsican relations are also rather good. As Genoa was historically a junior partner in the Spanish Empire, quite a few Corsicans established ties with Spain or became part of the Spanish imperial project; Antonmattei is not the only Corsican merchant captain working the Spanish-American trade routes at this time. When the naziunali decided to make a total break with Genoa (prior to Theodore's arrival) their first stop was Madrid, where they offered the crown of Corsica either to Felipe V or his son Carlos in exchange for Spanish support. Felipe declined the offer, but he did promise to not offer any assistance to the Genoese, a promise which he appears to have kept. Carlos then became King of Naples and proved to be remarkably favorable towards the rebels: He turned a blind eye to Corsican smuggling, allowed Corsican expatriates to reside in Naples largely unmolested, and after the first French intervention he provided employment and training to hundreds of Corsican exiles (including Pasquale Paoli) in his "Royal Corsican Regiment." It was widely rumored in the continental press that Carlos was angling to take Corsica for himself and that Theodore might even be his agent. Now Carlos is the present King of Spain, and the Corsicans have just helped him dispose of his Jesuit problem. At present, Corsica and Spain are not formal allies, but the Spanish have fairly intensive diplomatic relations with Corsica, currently maintaining an envoy as well as consular officials in both Ajaccio and Bastia. As a consequence of all this, the Corsicans tend to see Spain as a friendly power and a good neighbor. Spain has religious, cultural, and linguistic affinities to Corsica, and unlike France - which has invaded Corsica twice in a generation - they are not perceived as a threat.

This is not to say the Spanish Jesuits will always be welcomed with open arms. If they acquire economic power or political influence it could certainly breed resentment among the natives, particularly native elites. As Catholic Spaniards, however, the Jesuits are starting off with a lot more trust and goodwill than either the Greeks or the Jews.
 
Well, it helps that the Jesuits are indisputably Catholic. The Pope may have dissolved the Society for political reasons, but it's not like they're heretics or something....

...This is not to say the Spanish Jesuits will always be welcomed with open arms. If they acquire economic power or political influence it could certainly breed resentment among the natives, particularly native elites. As Catholic Spaniards, however, the Jesuits are starting off with a lot more trust and goodwill than either the Greeks or the Jews.

Which I guess raises the question: how do the Jesuits feel about the various groups of Corsicans, high and low, and including the Greeks and the Jews?
 
Which I guess raises the question: how do the Jesuits feel about the various groups of Corsicans, high and low, and including the Greeks and the Jews?

Broadly speaking, it depends on the Jesuit. The exiles are from all over the Spanish Empire, and as a consequence they come from a wide variety of different backgrounds and lived very different lives. Even among the American Jesuits there were many different experiences - The Jesuit who has spent his career on the distant frontiers of Spanish America, reinforcing the Catholic faith and instructing the natives in agriculture at a mission or reduction, probably has a different worldview than a Jesuit who lived in a big colonial city educating the criollo urban elite. Some Jesuits will undoubtedly be scandalized by the "backwardness" of the country, its rather unorthodox religious practices, and the total lack of urban sophistication; some may be accustomed to the rural simplicity of the frontier and the superstitious heterodoxy of the Indian peasantry and will take no offense.

Antonio López de Priego, whom I quoted in the update, doesn't have many nice things to say about the people or the island. Priego's account reads like the world's worst Tripadvisor review - the towns are poor and ugly, the people are surly and aggressive, porters are constantly trying to gouge him or steal his luggage, and nobody knows how to speak properly (the Corsican dialect is unintelligible to him, and at one point he says it "seemed to be Otomi," a native language of central Mexico). It's worth remembering, however, the circumstances in which he arrived and the state of Corsica at this point in history. The Spanish officials spared nobody, deporting even the sick and aged, so there were a lot of infirm priests who simply died on the long journey. When they eventually reached Corsica they still couldn't disembark, because the island was presently at war; they spent months confined to crowded ships in the middle of the Mediterranean summer, causing many more deaths. When they were finally allowed to land they were herded into various barracks and camps across the country, but because there wasn't enough space for them many were quartered in stables, ruins, or houses recently vacated by Corsicans who had fled into the interior. They feared getting caught in the crossfire, and most of all they feared the French, who drove the Jesuits out of the territory they controlled and treated them with hostility and contempt. Because the country was in turmoil and ill-equipped to handle such an influx of population, food was hard to find, and when it could be found it was extraordinarily expensive. Even with some outside help, their existence was highly precarious. Many of the Jesuits endured these conditions for more than a year. As they suffered through all this, the American-born Jesuits could also contemplate the fact that they had been exiled to the other side of the world and would probably never see their homeland or their families again, as even ex-Jesuits were forbidden from returning to Spanish territory.

Sometimes it's hard to separate Priego's opinions of the Corsicans from the misery of his own experience. Take this passage:

We delayed there [Ajaccio] one day, and some of us went ashore to see the cathedral and to visit the Blessed Sacrament. But, on beholding this new world, we were astounded and could only gaze at each other, without uttering a single word: women with their legs crossed were seated in the pews; bearded men were seated in the confessionals, and, clerics wearing their capes, kept marching back and forth from the choir to the cemetery, as if engaged in a ludicrous performance out on the public plaza. Some of our religious that had arrived previously were living under the staircase, others in the kitchen and still others in the stable. On beholding all this I was deeply pained, and, leaving there, I did not go ashore again until we reached Bastia...

What pained Priego more, women crossing their legs in church or the fact that his poor brothers were literally sleeping under the staircase? If he and his comrades hadn't been so miserably treated, would he have given a more charitable account of the country?

Corsica is not a paradise, but its situation ITTL is much better than IOTL. Corsica's government doesn't have a lot of resources, but it is stable. The people aren't wealthy, but at least they're not desperate survivors in a war-torn land. The Jesuits aren't living in lavish conditions, but neither are they being herded into detention centers, sleeping rough in tumbled ruins, chased about by French troops, or just ignored by everyone and left to starve. Thanks to Corso-Spanish negotiations they're even receiving a modest stipend, which IOTL they didn't receive until 1769 when they finally made it to Papal territory. Maybe Priego will still have unkind things to say, but one hopes the willingness of the Corsican government to take the Jesuits in - and, after 1770, to ignore the official dissolution and allow the Society to still exist - would have some effect on his attitudes and those of his comrades.
 
It’s going to be a sad day indeed when King Theodore shuffles off this mortal coil. I do hope that the TL continues to follow his heirs and that they are at least fractionally as wonderfully eccentric as Theodore.

As we said before, the only acceptable end to the timeline is one of Theodore's descendants being crowned king of Italy in the 19th century.
 
Do new Jesuits count towards the priest cap? I imagine there would be some robust rivalry between the various religious orders to have their particular brand get the most recruits. Apart from Schools I think Jesuits also like to found Hospitals and Orphanages so there's that as well. Could do a lot of good for Corsica if they have enough time.

Great to see this updated! And Theodore is slowing down and showing his age? That's a shame I was really rooting for him establishing a dynasty of his direct heirs.
 
Do new Jesuits count towards the priest cap? I imagine there would be some robust rivalry between the various religious orders to have their particular brand get the most recruits.

The sensible solution, and the one the Corsican government will probably adopt, is to change tactics slightly and simply limit the number of new priests. This is made easier by the fact that the Grida Paolina placed all seminaries under government control, so the government gets to decide how many seminarians are admitted.

Inter-order rivalry is unavoidable, particularly between the Franciscans and Jesuits. The Franciscans are the largest and most influential religious order on the island, and are held in especially high regard by the population as they generally supported the Revolution (in contrast to the Benedictines, who seem to have inclined more towards Genoa). They are likely to be in competition with the Jesuits for political influence and control over education, a competition which will be made fiercer by the cultural differences between the "native" Franciscans and the "foreign" Jesuits. If the Jesuits become established and try to grow their order they will also be competing with the Franciscans for new novices, who will be in rather short supply on account of the limits established by the Grida Paolina.
 
Do modern stereotypes about Jesuits (academic, revolutionary, more secular minded than other orders) apply during this period? Or are the Jesuits of the 18th century closer to the fanatical & mystical devotion of Loyola?
 
Great update always, I wonder if the Jesuits from the New World will spur more Corsicans to go there, maybe even under the crown to set up ventures or influence there.

Are the Danish still mucking about in Corsica with their merchants or has that yet to happen?
 
Do modern stereotypes about Jesuits (academic, revolutionary, more secular minded than other orders) apply during this period? Or are the Jesuits of the 18th century closer to the fanatical & mystical devotion of Loyola?

Possibly more the former than the latter. I don't think "revolutionary" was a trait attributed to the Jesuits at this time, but they were certainly academic. Their importance in education has already been mentioned, and many Jesuits were also heavily involved in the progress of the arts and sciences. In 1760 the Journal de Trevoux (no relation to Theodore's nephew), the literary journal of the French Jesuits, counted only 20% of its articles as "religious;" the other 80% concerned (non-religious) history, philosophy, science, art, and technical fields (medicine, agriculture, cartography, etc.). The Spanish American Jesuits produced a lot of work on medicine and botany, and were very skilled in the agricultural sciences. The productivity of the vineyards, plantations, stockyards, and other agricultural enterprises they managed in Spanish America took a massive nosedive after the Jesuits were expelled and the lands were auctioned off to private owners who had nowhere near the same expertise.

One could certainly describe this interest in secular topics as being "secular minded," but that interest shouldn't be taken as evidence of a lack of religiosity. The Jesuits on the Indian reductions taught the gospel with as much care and fervor as they taught modern agricultural methods. It seems that, at least in the 18th century, they saw no conflict in combining practical studies and scientific empiricism with religious and doctrinal conservatism. Certainly their enemies among the philosophes did not mistake them for secularists - Voltaire singled out the Jesuits for censure on account of their "fanaticism."

Are the Danish still mucking about in Corsica with their merchants or has that yet to happen?

They're around. The Danes don't have enormous political importance in Corsica at the moment, but historically their merchant marine became much more active in the Mediterranean in the second half of the 18th century, increasing from around 100 departures per year around 1750 to nearly 800 per year by the start of the French Revolution. As we'll see, this increased commercial activity brought them into conflict with the Barbary corsairs, which in turn brought the Danish navy into the western Mediterranean. ITTL, they've got a consul in Ajaccio and they'll be making another appearance in the story pretty soon.
 
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Always with your references in hand! Half the pleasure of reading your timeline is your deep dive into questions that people ask. Keep up the good work!

Indeed, it's a superb way to fill in blanks regarding one's knowledge of the often neglected parts of the history of the 18th century.
 
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