I don’t see the Kingdom of Corsica lasting for that long in the grand scheme of things. It would undoubtedly side with the monarchists in the French Revolution, get invaded and made into a Republic or apart of Revolutionary France. And if they choose to stay neutral, they will likely get invaded anyway.
What makes you think they'd necessarily intervene in the French revolution? And even if they do, as an island they're harder to invade, especially with the British defending them. And anyway without Napoleon who even says the French will be as successful in Italy.
I don’t see the Kingdom of Corsica lasting for that long in the grand scheme of things. It would undoubtedly side with the monarchists in the French Revolution, get invaded and made into a Republic or apart of Revolutionary France.
What makes you think they'd necessarily intervene in the French revolution? And even if they do, as an island they're harder to invade, especially with the British defending them. And anyway without Napoleon who even says the French will be as successful in Italy.
It’s not impossible but Britain has much more important things to do (defending the colonies and homeland) so the fleets would be smaller. And if they stay neutral Napoleons bound to invade them anyway
The POD is enough to guarantee Napoleon's parents weren't born. He doesn't exist here. There may be a Bonaparte named Napoleon born around the same time as him, that would be considered this timeline's counterpart, but with different parents and a different situation on Corsica itself there is little chance he would have any influence on France. France will probably still have a revolution, but how that shapes itself is probably up in the air.
Britain certainly had many demands on its naval forces at that time, but the fact that they were able to shield both Sardinia and Sicily from French invasion suggests to me that protecting Corsica would not be terribly difficult. They have good reasons to try; Corsica is a great position from which to observe, blockade, and even attack France's Mediterranean coast and the Ligurian Riviera. The collapse of the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom IOTL had a lot to do with local opposition to the British regime by disaffected Paolists and Revolutionary fifth-columnists. While there will probably still be some revolutionary sympathizers ITTL, I don't think Corsica will be much of a revolutionary hotbed, and the British will be backed by a Corsican army and militia (and navy, for what it's worth) who are likely to be genuinely committed to thwarting a foreign invasion.

Of course, all that assumes that events unfold more or less as IOTL, which I make no assurances about. I agree that France's insolvency will probably lead to some sort of crisis ITTL, but that crisis ending in a militant French republic waging war on all of Europe is not guaranteed.
It seems proper to inform my readers that updates will not be coming quickly in the foreseeable future.
ISTM that KTC has reached an appropriate stopping point. There are knock-ons and butterflies spreading far beyond Corsica, but also rebounding to Corsica. So going forward with the narrative (at its established quality) means constructing a detailed history of the entire world, with enormous amounts of research.

Perhaps the best way to finish up would be a quick'n'dirty highlights-only narrative of the next 200 years of world history, with focus on what happens to Corsica. It won't be rigorous or detailed, but it could allow the story of the little Kingdom to come down to the modern world, with vignettes of for instance the Crown Prince marrying alt-Grace Kelly.
Look to the West has a Kingdom of Corsica.
Pretty sure in LTTW, it's Paoli's Republic, though its not anything more than a side mention and so it's rather a surface take on it, which is understandable. Certainly it's difficult to compare that to this very deep look at Corsica during the time period.
The Soldier-King
The Soldier-King


A depiction of King Federico I in the 1770s, wearing a Prussian-inspired military coat in the black and red colors of the Corsican Noble Guard.

It is almost impossible to find an analysis of King Federico I of Corsica which does not place the king’s Prussian upbringing at the very foundation of his personality and approach to governance. The Neuhoffs had been subjects of the Electors of Brandenburg since the annexation of the County Mark in 1666, but Federico had more exposure to the administrative and military apparatus of the Prussian state as a young man than most Neuhoff barons. His father had been a Prussian government councillor with considerable public authority in the County Mark, and Federico himself - before going off to foreign lands to become a prince - had been a junior officer in the army of Friedrich the Bold.

Notwithstanding the electorate’s defeat in 1760, King Federico saw Brandenburg-Prussia as a model to be emulated. Certainly the Prussian army had achieved remarkable feats, but Berlin’s power had not arisen from martial prowess alone. The efficiency of the Hohenzollern administration was equally remarkable: The Austrians had been so impressed by the revenue which Friedrich extracted from conquered Silesia that, upon retaking the province, they tried to keep the Prussian system intact rather than restoring their old system of administration. Recognizing Prussia’s accomplishments, however, was much easier than emulating them. Prussian kameralismus relied upon an educated and disciplined civil service, as well as the resources to directly expand the economy through infrastructure, invest in new industries, and promote internal colonization.

Federico’s grand ambitions immediately stumbled upon financial reality, as Theodore had not kept his fiscal house in order. The royal lands had been mismanaged, particularly in the last half of the 1760s after Queen Eleanora’s death, and the king refused to raise taxes so as not to endanger his popularity. As a consequence, the state’s expenses ballooned far beyond its revenue. Federico estimated that the government’s revenue in 1769 was less than two million lire, or just over 400 thousand livres. Maintaining the kingdom’s little army and navy alone cost nearly that much. Theodore had “balanced the books” by taking out loans and had concealed the extent of the debt from his own government.

The new king attempted to close the budgetary gap with new taxes and reforms to existing taxes. A new customs office, the scrittoio delle dogane, was set up to collect import tariffs on “luxuries” like sugar and coffee as well as goods which competed with domestic imports like wine, furniture, and woolens. A Genoese-era gabelle on salt fish was put back into effect. Anchorage fees were raised and more vigorously enforced. The taglia - the hearth tax - was modified such that instead of a flat one-lira tax on all households, the amount varied from one to three lire (the constitutional maximum) depending on the head-of-household’s profession.

One of the king’s key reform measures involved the sovvenzione, the controversial agricultural tax originally introduced by the French. Widely disliked and often evaded, the sovvenzione was a 5% tax on the gross product of land. In keeping with fashionable physiocratic ideas, the king proposed making it from a tax on net rather than gross production. By taxing only a farmer’s surplus, he reasoned, nobody would ever be taxed into going hungry, and a “fairer” tax might also help curb rampant evasion. Because a net tax would produce much less than a gross tax, however, Federico also proposed to raise the rate from 5% to 10%. This caused considerable controversy, partially because of common farmers who misunderstood the reform and thought the king was merely doubling the land tax.

The king’s ideas had some merit, but their implementation displayed his lack of political skill. Virtually no effort was made to drum up support from the notabili or any other constituency, nor does Federico appear to have solicited much advice from local leaders, the dieta, or even his own cabinet. As the state’s financial troubles under Theodore were not well known, many assumed that the new taxes and more stringent enforcement of domain rights were simply a sign that the new king was greedier than “u bonu Tiadoru.” The fast pace of reforms and new taxes introduced within just a few years of his coronation ensured that almost everyone had something to be upset about, even if they benefited from a change to the tax laws in some other way.

Not surprisingly, it did not take long for the king to start running into serious resistance from Corsica’s democratic institutions. The dieta accepted his initial proposals without much comment, and even swallowed the modified sovvenzione despite news of sporadic unrest in the pievi (mostly by farmers who did not understand it). In 1773, however, the king introduced the “contract gabelle” (gabella dei contratti), a tax on the sale or lease of real property. This was not Federico's invention - other states, including Tuscany, had a very similar tax - but the king favored it as a means to raise revenue from the towns, which hardly contributed to land taxes but had plenty of taxable rents. It also applied to the sale of agricultural land, however, which upset just the sort of landowning notabili who were over-represented on the dieta.

When the dieta rejected the new tax, Federico took a drastic step and threatened to defund the consulta generale. Traditionally the procuratori were fed, housed, and given a small stipend at the government’s expense for the duration of the three-day assembly. By withholding this money the king seems to have imagined that the people, seeing the practical effects of the state’s grave financial situation, would elect a new and more compliant dieta. Instead it made the king look even more grasping and miserly. Although many procuratori were nobles and other notabili who did not need the money, there were also many farmers for whom serving as procuratori was a hardship that the subsidy helped to mitigate. They were incensed that the king would raise their taxes and then take away their means to come to Corti and complain about those same taxes. When word reached the king that many of the pieve elections had turned into impromptu rallies against the revocation of the subsidies, he quickly backtracked.

There was to be no grand showdown. Certainly it was a rebuke to the king; the newly elected dieta was largely the same as before, and the king’s ministers had to endure some heckling at the consulta. His defeat, however, has been greatly exaggerated. The actual legislation at issue, the gabella dei contratti, was nevertheless approved later in 1773 (albeit at a reduced rate). Rather than picking any more fights with the dieta, Federico turned his energies thereafter towards enforcing existing taxes and enhancing the profitability of the crown lands. These approaches, however, proved just as fraught with difficulty.

Federico had long been critical of Theodore’s system of luogotenenti, the powerful appointed governors who administered the provinces. As a rule, Theodore had given these positions to the most powerful clan leaders among the naziunali to both reward them and tie them to his rule. This made political sense at the time, but many of them used their office to enrich themselves and expand their networks of patronage in the provinces. They were also largely unaccountable, as their status meant that firing them was politically dangerous; in theory they served at the king’s pleasure, but under Theodore the office of luogotenente was effectively a life appointment.

Realizing that it was not tenable to simply abolish positions held by some of the grandest nobles in the realm, Federico sought instead to undermine them with newly formed camere provinciali (“provincial chambers”). These were administrative committees staffed by commissari appointed from among the local notables. Initially these were only proposed as “advisory” bodies to the luogotenenti, but the royal lieutenants weren’t fooled; they correctly saw the camere as threats to their independence and did everything they could to impede their operation. In some cases the king simply had to wait for luogotenenti to exit the scene on their own, as was the case in Ajaccio province where the camera did not assume any real power until the death of Marquis Luca d’Ornano in 1776 at the age of 72.

Although often obscured by the other controversies that clouded Federico’s reign, the provincial chambers were a genuine improvement. They were more efficient and had less opportunity for corruption than the luogotenenti, and the committee system prevented any single person or clan from monopolizing state power within the provinces. Perhaps even more importantly, the chamber system opened the business of administration to a wider group of notabili - lesser nobles, proprietari, and lawyers who sought a role in local government - rather than leaving it to a handful of marquesses and their clients.

The king’s handling of administration at the national level was less inspired. Federico came to power convinced that, unlike Theodore in his later years, he would be an active and engaged monarch who devoted himself to the business of state. His idea of activity, however, was to monopolize practically all decision-making in his own person. This too was reminiscent of Prussia, as Friedrich the Bold had been notorious for making his own desk the nerve center of the Prussian administration. Corsica, however, was not Prussia. The king was not dealing with humble and disciplined civil servants, but proud Corsican noblemen. They joined the government expecting to wield real influence and have their voices heard on matters of state, not to be the king’s glorified secretaries whose only purpose was to pass information up and hand the king’s orders down. The king was not impervious to good counsel, but he did not often solicit the advice of his ministers or defer to their consensus, and actual meetings of the cabinet were rare occurrences that served mainly for the king to explain decisions he had already made.

Nobody felt this disillusionment more keenly than the king’s notional first minister, Marquis Alerio Francesco Matra. Don Alerio was the chief of the powerful Matra clan of Serra and had an admirable revolutionary record. Although too young to have participated in the early years of the revolt, the marquis had commanded a militia battalion at the Second Siege of Bastia, led the campaign that crushed the filogenovesi in Fiumorbo, held the rank of lieutenant-general, and was one of the two primary negotiators of the Treaty of Monaco in 1749 - all before the age of thirty. Politically, he was a rather astute pick. Although he was a northerner, the southern sgio could hardly grumble; Don Alerio was as grand a noble as they, and shared many views with the gigliati (although not their Francophilia - a few months in the Chateau d’If during the Revolution had apparently cured him of that). He could also count on a strong base of support in the north, not only from his own clients and allies in Serra and the other eastern pievi but from those of the great Marquis Gianpietro Gaffori of Corti, Don Alerio’s brother-in-law and longtime political ally.


Coat of arms of the Matra family

The marquis was initially grateful for the appointment, but he was also a proud and ambitious man who had expected that being in Gaffori’s role meant he would possess Gaffori’s power. It soon became clear that Federico’s idea of a “prime minister” was really more Giafferi than Gaffori - a figurehead who existed primarily to lend the government his prestige. It had been enough for the venerable Luigi Giafferi, but it did not suffice for Alerio Matra. For the moment he simply grumbled, but this disaffection and embarrassment over the irrelevance of his title would eventually lead Don Alerio down an unlikely path from a conservative figurehead to a willing (if temperamental) ally of "liberal" and parliamentary reformers.

Federico’s autocratic disposition and his deficits as a politician soon dissolved the great hopes which had accompanied his ascent to the throne. The gigliati who had been among his strongest supporters as prince were frustrated by his monopolization of power and his fight with the luogotenenti, while the asfodelati objected to his aristocratic and conservative cabinet, his disinterest in Theodore's free-trade economics, and his contempt for what they considered "constitutional governance." Disillusionment was not restricted to the politically active notabili, either: Once a popular hero for his "resistance" to the French during the Barefoot Revolt, Federico would end up sparking an actual armed uprising in the highlands over his attempts to wring more revenue out of the domains, a course he deemed necessary after running into resistance to his tax policy in the dieta. His talent for alienating his subjects was best expressed by a 19th century Corsican historian, who observed that “the king [Federico] was first a soldier, and so he fought - with the farmers, with the shepherds, with the nobles, with the consulta, with the dieta, with the luogotenenti, with his ministers - and finally, with his own son.”
Last edited:
I wonder if Federico isn't going to try to swing his idea of a Coriscan Switzerland/Hesse/etc... and sell out his battalions on mercenary work to subsidize his Prussian cameralism amd sidestep all this annoying Corsican ungovernability. Probably that sweet sweet British dosh, which only pisses off the gigliati further, and might come to piss off the asphodelati if they are sent to crush another nation's rebellions in some new world quagmire...
Oh dear. And since she was not mentioned in this chapter, I'd take it that Theodore I's beloved niece when she became queen also effectively became a pampered but politically ignored housewife due to how patriarchal the society is?
I wonder if Federico isn't going to try to swing his idea of a Coriscan Switzerland/Hesse/etc... and sell out his battalions on mercenary work to subsidize his Prussian cameralism amd sidestep all this annoying Corsican ungovernability. Probably that sweet sweet British dosh, which only pisses off the gigliati further, and might come to piss off the asphodelati if they are sent to crush another nation's rebellions in some new world quagmire...

I was reading an interesting article on this recently that argued that, with a few exceptions, subsidy agreements for soldiers in the 18th century were not especially lucrative. Hesse-Kassel specifically got a pretty good contract during the AWI, but as a rule the German states who rented out their armies during this period did not make much profit from it, and in many cases actually lost money.

Many of these subsidy contracts were not really about state revenue as much as they were about politics. The Duke of Württemberg, for instance, paid substantially more for the regiments he furnished to France in the SYW than he received in subsidies; the point was not to make money, but to demonstrate the his commitment and usefulness to the Franco-Austrian alliance (partly in the hopes that the emperor would reward him by making him an elector). For even smaller states, providing soldiers to the great powers was a way for them to maintain political importance and protect themselves against rapacious neighbors. Even if subsidy contracts didn’t actually turn a profit, they helped small states mitigate military costs, and thus allowed them to support a much larger standing army than they would be able to otherwise.

There has been a pro-Prussian, anti-HRE historiographical tendency since the 19th century to portray the lesser German princes who engaged in the "soldier trade" as self-interested, greedy, callous men who literally sold German lives to fund their decadent lifestyles - unlike patriotic Prussia, which threw German lives into the furnace of war for the lofty and noble goal of forging the German nation. Prussia, however, was a great power; they did not need to rent out their armies to be taken seriously, and before they became a great power the Hohenzollerns were perfectly willing to engage in these same sorts of subsidy arrangements. For princes without Prussia’s resources, subsidy contracts were a useful tool to defend their territory, preserve their autonomy, and maintain political relevance.

We’ll talk about this more in the next update (probably), as it is indeed something Federico is interested in pursuing. A subsidy contract may help his financial situation considering how much of the budget is already going to Corsica’s small military, but even a profitable agreement will not obviate the need for a larger tax base.

Oh dear. And since she was not mentioned in this chapter, I'd take it that Theodore I's beloved niece when she became queen also effectively became a pampered but politically ignored housewife due to how patriarchal the society is?

Queen Elisabetta is still around, and is in fact rather popular. Unlike Eleanora, however, she's never had an interest in politics. Her role is more "traditional" in the sense that she is primarily occupied with her family and Corsica's rather limited court life. She will have a role to play, particularly when it comes to the relationship between her husband and her eldest son (which is going to be a big issue going forward), but she's not the sort of person to step in and correct her husband's political program.
Last edited:
Really interesting insight onto the fact that these famous German Mercenary states were not nearly like what the education system or other mediums portray them as.

With Federico seeming to have lost the battle with national monetary policy, I’m interest to see if he wins in other spheres, namely: military, foreign affairs and/or capital/trade, infrastructure, and immigration (there was Baltic Germans how about Mediterranean Germans).
“the king [Federico] was first a soldier, and so he fought - with the farmers, with the shepherds, with the nobles, with the consulta, with the dieta, with the luogotenenti, with his ministers - and finally, with his own son.
Hello, foreshadowing...

Are there any complaints from the Jewish community over this new king?
You know it really is a shame that we haven't reached the point in cross-language internet communication that a work like this is not immediately available in perfect Italian, French & German. I assume there are many people in those nations who would enjoy this brilliant little story and would likely have some helpful information from time to time that just won't pop up on an English language forum. (Sorry to be a bit off topic but this just hit me while I was drinking my morning coffee & considering if I could do a passable job of translating this into Italian.)
The First Estate
The First Estate


The Jesuit church of Bastia

Years before the arrival of Theodore upon Corsica, the Corsican clergy had been foundational to the national movement. In 1730, at the very dawn of the rebellion, clergymen from all over the island convened at Orezza and declared (“unanimously,” we are told) that if Genoa did not meet the people’s demands the Corsicans would no longer owe any loyalty to the Republic, and war would become not only justified but necessary. Naturally not all of the Corsican clergy were naziunali, but the Orezza Declaration was indicative of the key role which the rank and file of the Corsican Church played in supporting and legitimating the national struggle from its very inception.

The radical politics of the clergy arose from their role within Corsican society. The priesthood was poor and ill-educated, but this meant that there was little to separate them from the communities they emerged from. They lived no better than the peasantry, and only a small minority received any schooling in Genoa which might have instilled, alongside basic theology, some sort of gratitude or loyalty to the Republic. Despite - and in part, because of - their poverty and ignorance, the clergy were respected as moral and political authorities, often involving themselves in local politics and mediating clan disputes. With Corsicans virtually shut out of the Genoese administration of their own island, the priesthood was the sole organizational “superstructure” of Corsican society which rose above the level of local clan chiefs and caporali. Without the efforts of patriotic village curates, uniting the Corsican clans against a common enemy would have been impossible.

The clergy’s “nationalist” sentiment had transitioned very easily to “royalist” sentiment from 1736. Many hailed the king’s arrival as an authentic miracle. While Theodore’s religious policy had its detractors, most Corsican priests put patriotism before orthodoxy. It had not been hard to find prominent clergymen who were willing to justify and support religious toleration on the king’s behalf. (Even Rome, they reasoned, had its Jews; why not Corsica?) Just as they had abrogated the people’s duty to Genoa, the clergy now affirmed the people’s duty to their heaven-sent king. A few went so far as to cast the rebellion as a new Crusade, promising that anyone who killed a Genoese would be cleansed of sin and the gates of Heaven would be thrown open to the nation’s martyrs.

This fervent nationalist sentiment among the clergy explains the lack of any serious native clerical opposition to King Theodore’s “war” against Rome in the 1760s, even when the king’s latae sententiae excommunication became known. Devoted to both king and pope, the Corsican priesthood solved their ideological dilemma by blaming the pope’s evil councillors: The archbishop of Genoa and the scheming cardinals in Rome who had undoubtedly been bribed by the Republic to mislead the Holy Father. During the Revolution, Genoa had frequently used its power over the Church hierarchy to try to demoralize and divide the Corsicans and to discredit their national struggle; the idea that they were up to their old tricks again was entirely believable. The complete impotence of Theodore’s excommunication was demonstrated after his death, when - despite never reconciling with the Papacy - the king’s funeral rites were performed with all due ceremony and presided over by none other than the Bishop of Aleria.

In contrast, King Federico made it clear upon surmounting the throne that reconciliation with Rome was a royal priority. Despite the apparent irrelevance of the “schism” to the Corsican clergy, Federico had always believed that Theodore’s spat with the papacy was ill-advised. He was also, particularly early in his reign, closely associated with elements of the landowning nobility who had taken far more umbrage at Theodore’s religious policy than most of the native clergy. Within months of his coronation, the king re-established diplomatic relations with Rome and signalled that the provisions of the 1764 May Edicts and the 1765 “Paoline” Edicts would be immediately reviewed and amended.

If Rome assumed that this conciliatory language implied that Federico was going to offer any significant concessions, however, they were soon disappointed. In the first place, the actual amount of ecclesiastical territory at issue was miniscule. Before 1730 the Church had controlled only about one percent of Corsica’s agricultural land, a much smaller share than in many other Catholic kingdoms. Federico estimated that the amount of land Theodore had actually seized barely exceeded 1,500 arpents - about two square miles - divided between dozens of scattered small properties.[A]

In other matters Federico likewise offered little more than a token capitulation. He pledged that the tithe would be used only for religious purposes, but did not actually return control of this revenue stream to eccleastical authorities. The 1765 Edicts were formally “suspended,” but were quietly replaced with laws that replicated most of their content. Marriage was still a civil contract, and young women were still barred from taking religious vows (although the minimum age was lowered from 40 to 30). Clergymen were still subject to secular courts and could not appeal most legal matters to Rome. Seminaries were reopened, but they remained under government control. The arbitrary limit on the number of clergy in the kingdom was abolished, but the same effect could be obtained by simply limiting seminary enrollment.

On the matter of religious tolerance, Federico did not budge at all. Conservatives grumbled that the king tolerated the Jews only because he was in debt to them, which was not entirely wrong but did greatly oversimplify the king’s perspective. Jewish immigrants had established Ajaccio’s first coral factory, first printing house, and first coffeehouse; Jewish businessmen had helped fund the construction of the navy’s galiots and had even donated the black cloth used for Theodore’s funeral procession. Federico does not seem to have shared Theodore’s deep philosophical commitment to freedom of conscience, but he saw no reason to harass loyal and productive citizens just to curry favor with Rome. The king’s desire for religious tranquility did not trump his desire for a fiscally sound state.

Despite these rather meager concessions, the Church was ready to welcome the king of Corsica back into the fold. Rome had a new pope, Benedict XV, who was more practical and accommodating than his predecessor. Whereas Clement XIII had seen Corsica as a perfect candidate for some exemplary punishment, Benedict saw it as just one more headache he didn’t need. The new king seemed to be genuinely interested in the welfare of the Corsican church; at the very least, he wanted a more disciplined and better educated priesthood. Benedict sympathized with this, as “Benedict XV” was none other than Carlo Alberto Cavalchini, the very same man who had been Apostolic Visitor to Corsica in the 1750s. He was also under some pressure from the Spanish ambassador, whose court desired the normalization of relations between Corsica and Rome. This was partially to build Corso-Spanish relations, but was probably also intended to "encourage" Corsican compliance with the recent dissolution of the Jesuits, on the assumption that the Corsican monarchy's protection of the Society was essentially an act of spite against a hostile Papacy. While there was some truth to this, however, the healing of the breach did not achieve the results that Madrid may have been expecting.


Pope Benedict XV

The question of the Spanish Jesuits proved to be a far thornier issue than Theodore's regalist edicts. In January of 1770 Benedict issued Solliciti Servare Unitatem, a papal brief which officially suppressed the Society of Jesus. In one of his final acts, Theodore had refused to grant the exequatur, preventing the bull from being published or implemented within the kingdom. Although Corsica was not the only state to refuse the dissolution, by 1772 it became evident that it was the only Catholic state to do so.

The Society of Jesus had only a small presence in Corsica during the Genoese period. There were two Jesuit parishes, at Bastia and Ajaccio, each consisting of a chapel and a secondary school which catered mainly to the children of Genoese families. Aside from these buildings the Society owned no land on the island; their operations were funded not by agricultural rents, but by interest on an endowment deposited with various Italian banks. Nevertheless, the Corsican Revolution had not been kind to them. Their parish in Bastia was used as a strongpoint by Genoese soldiers during the Second Siege of Bastia, and was hammered by Corsican guns until the roof collapsed. The school there was shuttered, and no attempt at repair was made until the late 1760s.

Upon their arrival in Corsica, the exiles faced appalling conditions. They slept on pews and under stairwells, or encamped in empty barns and long-abandoned convents. The Spanish subsidy was meager, and became even less useful as the presence of the exiles drove up the price of food. Spain had deported the Jesuits without regard to age or health, and many old and sick brothers - already weakened by a long and difficult oceanic voyage - did not survive the ordeal. The island made a poor impression upon these sophisticated men; one exile, dispatched to San Fiorenzo, wrote that the condition of the town was “the most unhappy that can be explained or even conceived” and that its church “did not deserve to be compared with the poorest hermitage in the most unhappy place in Andalusia.” The government did what it could to assist them but its capabilities were limited, and some brothers chose to retire to Italy as secularized priests rather than struggling for survival in miserable Corsica. The Corsican ordeal thus served as a sort of winnowing process: The Jesuits who remained on the island were those most committed to the Society and its mission, and the most willing to bear hardship in its name.

The Corsican government strived to make good use of them. By the time Solliciti was promulgated in 1770, the Bastia school had reopened and a third parish-school was being organized in Corti. Jesuit fathers were also teaching at the national university there. They brought expertise on practical subjects including mathematics, botany, zoology, physics, hydraulics, language, medicine, and astronomy. A few Jesuits found employment as private tutors or with the royal household. A group of Peruvian Jesuits sent to Oletta are credited with introducing copper pot distillation to the island, marking the beginning of the Corsican brandy industry.[1]

Federico fully supported the educational mission of the Jesuits, and feared that if he allowed the dissolution of the Society the brothers would have no further reason to stay. He thus continued Theodore’s refusal to grant the exequatur. As the other kingdoms complied one by one, however, he began to worry that his refusal would turn the island into a “haven” for dissident Jesuits who could cause economic, social, and political trouble. He was, after all, trying to mend fences with Rome at exactly this moment, and while Corsica needed teachers and experts it did not need thousands of them. In 1772 the king signed an edict which banned (former) Jesuits from entering the kingdom - excepting those already present - and prohibited the Jesuits from establishing a novitiate, which effectively stopped the Corsican Jesuits from increasing their numbers either by immigration or recruitment. The Spanish Jesuits protested these decrees, but they were not in a position to bargain. Nowhere else on Earth could they serve in the Society of Jesus under a Catholic government.

There is ample evidence that the ban was also supported by the Franciscan Order, which had long held a dominant position in the religious life of Corsica.[2] The order’s poverty, simplicity, and earnest piety had earned them the respect of the common people, and they shared the priesthood’s sympathy with the naziunali. While other monastic orders like the Benedictines had vainly called for calm and obedience to the Republic, many Corsican Franciscans openly preached against Genoese tyranny and provided the rebels with moral and material support. Some even took up arms themselves. Many of the pivotal consulte of the revolutionary period had been held in Franciscan convents, and Theodore had been crowned at the Franciscan convent of Alesani. With the arrival of independence, the Order’s position had grown stronger than ever.

It was no wonder, then, that the Franciscans were not entirely pleased to see hundreds of foreign Jesuits washing up on their shores. On an individual level, Jesuits and Franciscans competed for educational positions, including in the royal household where the education of the Neuhoff princes was contested between Franciscan instructors and the new Jesuit tutors promoted by Theodore. More broadly, it was a question of royal favor and social supremacy, as the Order’s status as the island’s dominant and most favored religious society now seemed less secure. Xenophobia was also a factor, as the Franciscans were mostly natives. So too was class, as while the Jesuits were favored by the literate and socially aspirational notabili the Franciscans retained the trust and favor of the rural population. The rivalry between the Society and the Order must not be overestimated - they were not universally hostile, and many Franciscan convents welcomed Jesuit refugees with a spirit of Christian charity - but the Franciscans, particularly their leadership, pressed Federico to restrict their numbers and activities.

Despite growing resentment of his policies and leadership in some circles, Federico had little reason to doubt the loyalty of the clergy. The priesthood had always been staunchly royalist and presumably approved of his warming relations with Rome. Whatever qualms the Franciscans had with the Jesuits, the king himself had done nothing to provoke their ire. But the very closeness between the clergy and the peasantry was a double-edge sword. In the context of Genoese oppression and misrule, the native clergy’s sympathy with the common people had turned them into naziunali. Now, however, Corsica was ruled by Federico and his administration. If that administration was itself perceived as oppressive by the common farmer or herdsman, would the clergy side with their poor comrades, or their king?

[1] After grapes were introduced in the 16th century, Peru soon became the viticultural capital of Spanish America with the Jesuits taking the lead in cultivation and production. Initially the main product of Peru’s vineyards was wine, with brandy being produced only as an additive to better preserve the wine. In the 18th century, however, Peruvian grape brandy - known as pisco - grew rapidly in popularity. By the time of the expulsion of the Jesuits, around 90% of Peruvian wine grapes were being used for pisco production. In the immediate aftermath of the expulsion this industry declined precipitously, as the Jesuits were replaced with private landowners who had none of their accumulated expertise.
[2] Prior to the Paoline Edicts the Benedictines possessed 65 convents on Corsica, making them by far the largest order on the island. The Capuchins - themselves a Franciscan offshoot - held a distant second place with 17 convents.

Timeline Notes
[A] Contrast this with France, where estimates I have read place the amount of land owned by the church prior to its seizure by the National Assembly at somewhere between 5 and 10 percent.
Last edited:
I think the educational impact of the Jesuits would be interesting, it could well be that Corsica is in one of the best positions in Catholic Europe to benefit from the industrial revolution which is in the brewing.