King Theodore's Corsica

What would the modern population of an independent Corsica be? Being a nation with it's own centre and prestige, one would think there would be far less emigration and any infrastructure projects would be more well thought-out - not quite as great as the French Plan Terrier, but far more realistic and actually implemented.

I would think that a population around a million in the modern day is not out of the question. Corsica is a small country with a very mountainous interior, but if the port cities remain hubs of trade for one reason or another and Corti remains the official capitol, several settlements with six figure populations does not seem impossible.

It's also a very poor country, without a lot of clear paths towards generalized prosperity (although a relatively decent and even standard of living seems plausible). There will probably be less out-migration than IOTL, given that it will be an independent country, but especially in the face of social conflict and economic problems, people will be looking for a way off their little rock.

Which raises the question: where will they go? France is right there, but it's not a part of France, so that sort of migration may not be so seamless. One interesting place might be England, especially its port towns. One quick way off the island would be signing up with the Royal Navy, and if they have a base on the island (or just generally treat Corsican ports as friendly, especially given their assistance in freeing Corsica from Genoa), that might be the best option for a lot of young men looking for adventure, and after their service, they might end up in England (or its colonies) as merchant sailors or merchants or industrial workers. And once you have a starter population, established networks mean migration happens a lot more smoothly.

Peaky Blinders, but set in Bristol and with Corsicans, anyone?
 
Which raises the question: where will they go?

One place they went historically was Puerto Rico. After Spain lost most of her colonies in the early 19th century, the Spanish government sought to prevent further rebellions on the islands they still controlled (Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc.) by attracting foreign Catholic settlers who would presumably be more loyal to the crown than the existing locals, including Corsicans. Puerto Rico is actually somewhat similar to Corsica - an island of about the same size as Corsica, with a mountainous interior and coastal plains - and many of the Corsicans settled in the mountainous zones and became particularly prominent in coffee production. By the 1860s the Corsicans dominated this industry and owned a majority of all coffee plantations on the island.

The population comparison with Puerto Rico is an interesting one. In 1800 the islands had about the same population (around 150,000), but over the course of the 19th century Puerto Rico's population surged to a million thanks to massive immigration from Spain and the former Spanish colonies, and today Puerto Rico has nearly ten times the people as Corsica (3.2 million vs. 340 thousand). San Juan alone has more people than all of Corsica. But this population growth was only possible because of Puerto Rico's suitability for the classic plantation crops (sugar, coffee, tobacco) and because Spain was able to entice settlers with free land. Corsica doesn't have much free land to offer - at least, not until the malaria is vanquished - and because Corsica is ruled by a native government rather than a colonial overlord, they are less likely to offer free land to foreigners just to boost population umbers. "Free land for immigrants" (or some sort of attractive incentive) was actually Theodore's original plan to make the island prosperous, but the rough treatment of the Corsican Greeks and the unsuitability of Aleria (Theodore's original planned site for a Jewish colony) killed this idea.

In the future of this TL, Spanish America may become a favored destination for Corsican emigrants. We've already seen some Corsicans in the TL who made their fortunes there - Santo Antonmattei and Giacomo Giacomini, both historical figures. Similarities in language, culture, and religion might make the Spanish-speaking New World a more tempting destination for Corsicans than Britain.
 
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Could you share the source of this and other articles on Plan Terrier as I wasn't aware of it and it looks fascinating.

Regarding Corsica's population.
It grew continuously to reach 300k during the 19th century but then declined afterwards and is now on the rise again thanks to migration.
As it stands, Corsica is receiving small amounts of immigration and population growth has been somewhat higher than OTL.

Consequently, reaching 1M inhabitants by TTL 2020 is not outside of the realms of possibility. It also means that Corsica may look very different TTL and will be significantly more developed, urbanised. Most importantly, it will need a solid economic base with which to sustain such a large population.
Water supply may become a problem if the population becomes larger than OTL, especially during summer months when water levels are lower. More dams and more reservoirs may have to be built on the Golo compared to OTL.
Energy is bound to be a challenge as soon as the 19th century. There are no significant coal sources in Corsica and no way to easily import it from anywhere close by.

Corsican kings will need to do everything in their power to expand the island's economic base in the coming decades and centuries. Strict neutrality will be a prerequisite for this. A scenario where Corsica becomes an island version of Switzerland could be very interesting. Banking and financial institutions would bring in big money.
 
Could you share the source of this and other articles on Plan Terrier as I wasn't aware of it and it looks fascinating.

The source for that screenshot is the article Development Planning in Eighteenth-Century France: Corsica's Plan Terrier by F. Roy Willis. It's accessible on JSTOR and I can probably also figure out a way to share the PDF if you don't have JSTOR access. I've read that there's a very comprehensive study of the Plan by Antoine Albitreccia entitled Le Plan Terrier de la Corse au XVIIIe siècle, but I don't have access to that (and don't speak French). The Plan itself is enormous, with seventeen volumes completed before work stopped with the Revolution, as well as 39 highly detailed maps which can be found here. This, for instance, is the Plan Terrier's map of the Bevinco Gorge and its environs made in the mid-1770s (click to expand):

 
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I think that the plains around Aleria would be better than Porto Vecchio for settlement and is prime agricultural land OTL. Along with the plains south of Bastia it should house the bulk of the population of Corsica if it is in the 500,000-1,000,000 range. In any case I don't think Corsica can have any semblance of food self sufficiency unless it starts terraced farming on a large scale otherwise it is probably better of importing grain and exporting cash crop.
 
Not sure whether this was mentioned, maybe I just forgot, but what’s been going on with Luca d’Ornano? Is he still kicking around? At what capacity? If not, what’s happened to his estates and titles? And how’s he remembered in Corsica? As a sort of founding father?
 
I think that the plains around Aleria would be better than Porto Vecchio for settlement and is prime agricultural land OTL. Along with the plains south of Bastia it should house the bulk of the population of Corsica if it is in the 500,000-1,000,000 range. In any case I don't think Corsica can have any semblance of food self sufficiency unless it starts terraced farming on a large scale otherwise it is probably better of importing grain and exporting cash crop.
More mountainous lands near villages were used for griculture a century or so ago and land usage has drastically changed since then.
Case in point, thanks to my ancestors from Patrimonio my family owns land in the mountains and in various spots around the village. Given the way inheritance and local land usage customs worked, some of these patches of land are now quite small and amount to no more than 30m2. The biggest one is close to 1 hectare though, in the mountains some distance away from the village and even has a spring which goes through it. I saw it with my own eyes back in 2009, the only way to get there is by hiking and there is a lot of maquis and brambles all around.
Yet, over a century ago, the land was used for subsistence agriculture. A small stone reservoir (which we couldn't find when we got there) was built on the spring to retain water. There are some remains of terraces and there is even an old stone built shed not too far away too. The trail which we used was used by mules and donkeys a century ago, so subsistence level agriculture in the mountains is possible.

Nowadays this land has next to no value, but back in the days it was far more valuable than it currently is.
 
Not sure whether this was mentioned, maybe I just forgot, but what’s been going on with Luca d’Ornano? Is he still kicking around? At what capacity? If not, what’s happened to his estates and titles? And how’s he remembered in Corsica? As a sort of founding father?

Marquis Luca d’Ornano is indeed still alive, although not for much longer - a previous update (“The Soldier-King”) mentions that he dies in 1776 at the age of 72. He still holds the position of luogotenente of Ajaccio province, which Federico doesn't really like but can't really do anything about either, as Don Luca is too influential to just "fire." He is thus effectively the viceroy-for-life of the largest and most important province of the Dila, including Corsica's second-largest city. The marquis has achieved pretty much exactly what he set out to achieve at the beginning of the rebellion - he is the most powerful and important man in the Dila, lives comfortably off his lands (and skimming from the provincial budget), and enjoys the highest degree of nobility and honor in Corsica beneath the royal family itself. It's good to be the king regional strongman.

Don Luca is likely to be remembered well in Corsican history. He was one of the early leaders of the rebellion, joined Theodore's cause at the outset in 1736, and is credited with the successful Siege of Ajaccio that breathed new life into the royalist cause. His occasional prevarication and duplicity, as well as his feuds with other revolutionaries like Gaffori, will be overshadowed by the fact that he ultimately backed the right horse and remained in the royalist camp. Later revisionist historians might add some "nuance" to d'Ornano's biography, but that probably won't tarnish his popular image as a founding hero of the nation. After all, Don Luca’s worst sins were political opportunism and good old-fashioned corruption; it’s not like he owned slaves or anything. ;)
 
I wonder if he has the energy left for one last bought of duplicit shenaniganry, or is it mostly trying to assure his successor as head of the d'Ornano clan would have the almost same degree of latitude in his Lieutenancy and as elected/"elected" Dila notable? I imagine even with Frederico slowly introducing cameralism and more professionalized committees to the Lieutenancies, there's not really anything anyone short of Jesus Christ and King Theodore stepping down from heaven themselves could do to stop d'Ornano from funding Gigliati out of Federico's own treasury.
 
The problem for Don Luca is that while his client networks, lands, noble title, and clan relationships are all (mostly) heritable, the office of luogotenente is not. The provincial lieutenants are appointed by the king and serve at his pleasure, and the chance of Federico picking Francesco Maria d'Ornano (Luca's son) as the next luogotenente is approximately zero. Federico, after all, is actively trying to destroy the lieutenancies; if he's going to appoint anyone to the position, it definitely won't be the most powerful clan leader in the region who will have the most ability to resist the king's administrative reforms.

Don Luca may still try to press the king into doing just that, but it's worth noting that Francesco already has a public position of his own. He is currently a colonel and Inspector of Militia under the minister of war, Count Innocenzo di Mari, and is a likely pick as Mari's successor if Mari should die/retire/be dismissed. No doubt this appointment was a result of Don Luca calling in favors from his fellow gigliati magnates, because if there's one thing we've learned about Don Luca it's that he always keeps multiple irons in the fire - if he can't keep the lieutenancy, he'll fall back on a cabinet position. Francesco and his descendants may not even see this as a downgrade: Don Luca is an old fashioned guy who is quite happy to be a quasi-feudal regional strongman and doesn't really want to be off in Bastia or Corti administering the kingdom, but future d'Ornano marquesses might be more interested in national politics, particularly as administration and infrastructure begin to tie the disparate parts of the country closer together. Once the Bastia-Ajaccio road is finally finished, for instance, ruling the west-central Dila as an unaccountable viceroy a la Don Luca will be much harder.
 
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Once the Bastia-Ajaccio road is finally finished, for instance, ruling the west-central Dila as an unaccountable viceroy a la Don Luca will be much harder.
One minor side thought: could Don Luca and his circle argue against big national-level infrastructure, and claim it's dangerously expensive, to keep this from happening?
 
Roman Holiday
Roman Holiday


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British Gentlemen in Rome, Katharine Read, c.1750


In May of 1771, King Federico set forth on a journey to Rome. It was the first time Federico had left the country since he visited his Westphalian estates in 1753, and the first overseas visit by any Corsican monarch since independence in 1749. It was ostensibly a diplomatic and religious mission, meant to “formally” resume relations with the Holy See, assure Pope Benedict XV of Federico’s good will, and assure the Corsican people of their new king’s faithful piety. If diplomacy had really been Federico’s sole aim, however, his purpose would probably have been just as well served by an ambassador.

The less publicized (although hardly secret) purpose of Federico’s royal excursion concerned his children, and specifically his son and heir apparent Teodoro Francesco Giuseppe, known since 1770 as the Prince of Corti.[1] The prince had just celebrated his sixteenth birthday, and his father had decided that it was time for him to see something of the world beyond the rustic isle of his birth. The prince was an active and good-natured young man, but he could also be frivolous and lazy, and his father privately wondered whether the “Corsican vices” were rubbing off on his Corsican-born son. If, as some philosophers supposed, character was influenced by physical environment, perhaps a change of environment would contribute to the boy’s intellectual and moral improvement.

The king was also keeping an eye open for marital opportunities. Having failed in his earlier schemes to find royal (or at least royal-adjacent) matches for his eldest children, Federico had now set his sights somewhat lower and was eyeing the Roman aristocracy. Although not royal or even sovereign, the Roman princely families were old and respected - and more importantly, they were rich. Ever since he had taken the throne and became privy to the true extent of the state’s financial woes, a generous dowry had moved to the top of his list of priorities for a future daughter-in-law. The king's older daughter Maria Anna Caterina Lucia, now approaching nineteen years old, was also along for the trip. Federico had not yet entirely given up on the idea that she might yet submit to a husband - and, failing that, perhaps the pious splendor of Rome would convince her to take religious vows.

Setting out from Bastia on the frigate Capraia, the royal party made an initial detour to the ship’s namesake island, which Federico had not visited since he had led the conquest of the isle in 1747. After joining the town elders for a ceremonial banquet, the royals sailed on towards Civitavecchia. Never having been on a ship before, Prince Theo spent the journey interrogating the sailors and peering at passing islands from the quarterdeck through a spyglass. Princess Caterina, in contrast, hardly showed her face above deck; she was violently seasick for most of the journey and vowed never to go overseas again, a promise she would end up keeping.

The king’s host in Rome was the wealthy and eccentric Prince of Farnese, Sigismondo Chigi della Rovere, who put the Corsican delegation up in lavish style at his palazzo in Rome.[A] Although best known at this time as a patron of the arts and a talented poet and librettist in his own right, the 35 year old Chigi was also a freethinker and covert Freemason who had admired King Theodore as a model Enlightenment ruler. Chigi fancied the idea of playing host to the monarch of Europe’s newest and most curious kingdom, and given his wealth it was a fancy he could easily indulge. Chigi soon discovered that he did not actually like Federico very much; he found the king to be uptight, miserly, and a lacklustre conversationalist. His opinion of the king’s children, however, was more favorable, and he would remain friends with Prince Theo for many years. After his wife died in childbirth in 1774 Chigi would actually propose marriage to Princess Caterina, but a number of factors prevented this from transpiring - questions over the dowry, the reluctance of the would-be bride, and Chigi’s own political disgrace after it became known that he was the author of a brutally satirical pamphlet mocking the Curia. It was the closest the “Corsican Diana” would ever come to being married.


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Sigismondo Chigi della Rovere, Prince of Farnese


The king’s audience at the Vatican was rather anticlimactic. Diplomatic protocol seems to have been adequately observed and discussions between the king and the pope were presumably cordial enough, if not extraordinarily productive. Federico, as noted, was offering Rome more platitudes than concrete concessions. Several Corsican clerics who accompanied the king submitted a petition in favor of the canonization of Alessandro Sauli, a 16th century bishop of Aleria known as the “Apostle of Corsica,” who had been beatified in 1742.[2] This would eventually be granted, but it would not happen during the life of Benedict XV, either because of opposition within the Curia or doubts about the veracity of the “miracles” the Corsicans claimed in Sauli’s name.

After paying his respects to the Holy Father, the king spent most of his remaining time in Rome in the company of the aristocracy, mainly to sniff out marital options for his son. The salon was not Federico’s natural environment, particularly without the assistance of his much more sociable wife. Nevertheless his royal crown opened doors, as did the assistance of Prince Chigi and Orazio Albani, the prince of Soriano nel Cimino. Albani was technically the king’s relation - he was married to the sister of Maria Camilla Cybo-Malaspina, Don Giovan’s estranged wife - and was both a well-regarded diplomatic figure at the Papal court and a pillar of the Roman social scene.[3]

One door in particular which Federico was anxious to open was that of Gaetano Boncompagni-Ludovisi, Prince of Piombino and Duke of Sora and Arce. Gaetano was rich in land, wealth, and honor: He was a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, a Grandee of Spain, a Knight of the Golden Fleece, and owner of a long list of fiefdoms in central and southern Italy. His fortune was described by a contemporary as “almost royal,” and the dowry which Gaetano had obtained for the marriage of his son Antonio was so large that it required special papal dispensation to avoid a ban on excessive gifts.

Nevertheless, the family’s political fortune had been on the decline for years. Pro-Spanish by inclination, Prince Gaetano had supported the conquest of Naples by the infante Carlos in 1734, even personally presenting the key to the city to his new sovereign. He received great favor for this loyalty, becoming one of the king’s most influential advisors and even serving as Carlos’s ambassador to his father’s court in Madrid. This close relationship between Gaetano and his king, however, would quickly begin to deteriorate over matters of religious policy. Gaetano was an uncompromising reactionary (his foes at court called him a “fanatic” and a “bigot”) who fought tooth and nail against the clique of liberal reformers at the Neapolitan court. When the Neapolitan concordat of 1740 was being negotiated, Gaetano infamously sided with the Pope against his own sovereign. His relationship with Carlos grew so poor that in 1746, when Carlos’s half-brother Fernando IV became King of Spain, Gaetano claimed that Piombino was actually a Spanish fief - not Neapolitan - and traveled to Madrid to give Fernando his fealty.[4] After this breach, Gaetano quit Naples for good and went to Rome, finding there a social circle more suitable to his taste.

The Boncompagni-Ludovisi fortune naturally attracted Federico’s interest, but Gaetano wanted nothing to do with him. The Prince of Piombino had despised King Theodore, who stood for everything Gaetano loathed, and he sneered at the pretensions of the so-called “kings” of Corsica. Despite efforts by Sigismondo Chigi, Gaetano’s nephew, the Prince of Piombino snubbed Federico and refused to associate with him. But Gaetano was not long for this world, and in a few years the head of the family would be his son Antonio, the Prince of Venosa, who inherited the family’s problems along with its assets.


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Antonio II Boncompagni-Ludovisi, Prince of Piombino, Duke of Sora and Arce


Antonio did not share his father’s religious conservatism, but nevertheless found himself at loggerheads with Naples. Under the direction of its centralizing ministers, the Neapolitan royal administration was tightening the financial screws on the nobility. Antonio continued his father’s vain insistence that Piombino was a Spanish vassal (despite the King of Spain declaring emphatically that it was not) and struggled against the Neapolitan government’s encroachments upon his estates and privileges, but unlike his tenacious and quarrelsome father Antonio’s heart was not really in it. The never-ending and seemingly futile task of fighting against this creeping absolutism bored and frustrated him, and he quickly lost interest in his dominions and retreated fully into the social bubble of the Roman court. Antonio even offered to sell all his Neapolitan fiefs to the crown just to be rid of the whole mess for good.

Antonio may have been Federico’s superior in wealth and prestige, but the king did have something that Antonio lacked - true sovereignty. However inconsequential the King of Corsica might be on the European stage, he gave fealty to nobody but God. Marrying his daughter to another Roman or Neapolitan nobleman would not change Antonio’s subjection to Naples or avert the steady erosion of his patrimony, but marrying her to a king, however petty, would at least be a gesture towards the idea that the Prince of Piombino was a peer of kings. Perhaps it would even improve his relationship with Madrid, given the warming Corso-Spanish relations. Even if nothing could halt the seemingly inevitable decline of his family’s autonomy, the connection might be of some value at the Papal court. The popes, after all, were kings too, and courtiers with ties to foreign monarchs were diplomatically useful. Orazio Albani’s marriage into the (notionally) sovereign family of Cybo-Malaspina had considerably raised his profile at the Curia, and they were not even royal.

After various twists and turns - and thanks in no small part to the efforts of Antonio’s cousin Sigismondo Chigi - the Prince of Corti would eventually marry Antonio’s eldest daughter Laura Flaminia. That, however, was years in the future, and Federico could not have anticipated this outcome after the brusque dismissal he received from Prince Gaetano. When the king left Rome after three weeks, it must have been with some frustration. His attempt to mend relations with Benedict had gone well enough, but he was no closer to finding marriages for his children than before, and he could not even boast of having a new saint for Corsicans to venerate.

In another respect, however, the Roman embassy of 1771 would have great consequences for Corsica’s future. It should come as no surprise that Rome made an impression on the Prince of Corti; it was, after all, a bustling metropolis of 150,000 people, and up to this point the largest “city” Theo had ever seen was Bastia and its meagre six thousand souls. But what seems to have made the greatest impact on young Theo was not the teeming multitudes of Rome, but its silent and majestic ruins. Classical history was not a new interest of the prince - history in general was one of his better subjects - but struggling through Virgil and Sallust paled in comparison to standing in the shadow of the Colosseum and the Pantheon.


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View of the Colosseum, Giovanni Paolo Panini, 1747


While his father exchanged pleasantries with the aristocracy, Theo took every opportunity to escape into the “urban countryside” and see the ancient sights. He viewed the rich collections of Chigi and Albani, and joined the famous British artist-archaeologist Gavin Hamilton at Tor Colombaro, a nearby estate belonging to Chigi’s uncle Cardinal Flavio which Hamilton had been contracted to excavate. His father was not entirely pleased - here was Theo shirking his duties to go gallivanting about the countryside again - but at least this pastime seemed vaguely academic, and an interest in classical history was certainly more “manful” than botany (although Theo did also visit Rome’s esteemed botanical gardens).

The prince’s Roman excursion was the beginning of a lifelong love affair. To be sure, Theo was never a true classical scholar; he could hold his own in a dinner party conversation, but his studies were fairly superficial and his Latin was only ever mediocre. He was taken more by the “classical spirit,” the ideas and aesthetics of the Greco-Roman past as they were understood in his time. Theo - subsequently Theodore II - is well known today as Corsica’s “neoclassical king,” whose tastes are still evident in the colonnaded facades of public buildings and the famous equestrian statue of Theodore I in the garb of a Roman emperor.

Theo’s classicism was not restricted to art and architecture. In later years, perhaps as a reaction to the common view of his country as backwards and uncivilized, he came to embrace the idea that Corsica possessed a “Roman spirit” which the rest of Italy had forgotten. Much ink has been spilled by his biographers explaining how Theo’s sense of Romanitas influenced his personality and style of rule, not always convincingly. At worst, Theo’s classical enthusiasm has been ridiculed as a vain, fatuous, pseudo-intellectual pretension; he was, after all, the king who notoriously commissioned a portrait of himself in the guise of Hercules.[5] Yet it proved to be a popular pretension among later Corsican elites, who sought an identity more flattering than that of Italy’s poor, barbarous cousin.


Footnotes
[1] By a royal decree promulgated in October 1770, King Federico granted new titles to his sons and codified the forms of address to be used for the royal family. The sovereign’s eldest son and heir apparent would be styled Principe di Corti, while younger sons could be given the heritable title of duke, the first use of that rank in independent Corsica (as the highest noble title was that of marquis). Federico’s second son Federico Giuseppe was named Duca di Calvi, while his youngest son Carlo Teodoro became Duca di Sartena.
[2] One of the Corsican Navy’s two galleys, the Beato Alessandro, was named in his honor. It is said that during Alessandro Sauli’s tenure as Bishop of Aleria, twenty-two Turkish galleys attacked Campoloro. Refusing to flee, Bishop Sauli instead asked the people of Campoloro to pray with him, and a fierce storm suddenly arose which drove the Turks away.
[3] Albani was also at this time playing host to Charles Edward Stuart, who following the death of his father was now the Jacobite king-in-pretense of the British kingdoms. Despite occasionally being under the same roof, King Federico studiously avoided meeting the “Young Pretender” as to give no offense to the British.
[4] Unfortunately for Gaetano, Fernando died without issue and was succeeded by Carlos, who immediately issued a formal renunciation of any Spanish claim over Piombino in favor of Naples.
[5] In an age of clean-shaven, impeccably dressed royal portraiture, an official portrait of the King of Corsica sporting a beard - and not sporting a shirt - was something of a novelty. His successors kept the portrait in storage, evidently considering it unsuitable for display, and the original “Theodoran Hercules” did not reemerge until the 20th century.

Timeline Notes
[A] Today, the Palazzo Chigi is the official residence of the Prime Minister of Italy.
 
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Caterina is such an interesting figure. While it is a shame she never really gets married, it is her choice. I could see 21st century people debating if she might have been some form of asexual or homosexual. Theodore definitely seems to take after his namesake. I wonder who will end up being his wife.
 
Caterina is such an interesting figure. While it is a shame she never really gets married, it is her choice. I could see 21st century people debating if she might have been some form of asexual or homosexual. Theodore definitely seems to take after his namesake. I wonder who will end up being his wife.+
Carp told us, she will be Laura Flavinia Buoncompagni-Ludovisi the daughter of prince Antonio of Piombino, If I am not mistaken.
 
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So far, everything about Prince Theo suggests that he's one of those lazy-but-brilliant types who excels at anything they find interesting, with perhaps a side order of dyscalculia.
 
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