King Theodore's Corsica

Honestly I think Theodore II will do fine. He seems intelligent and personable enough to know when to have good relations with his subjects and direct subordinates but also know when he doesn't need to be involved directly.


Honestly I think Theodore II will do fine. He seems intelligent and personable enough to know when to have good relations with his subjects and direct subordinates but also know when he doesn't need to be involved directly.
I agree with You, he Will make a good job and regain the Goodwill his father Lost.
I agree with the optimistic thoughts of others about the coming reign of Theodore II. Despite some of his youthful wild oats and poor financial management (and who among us didn't go down THAT road, at least a little), he is clearly a more engaging and appealing personality than his father. Plus, he may reign long enough to provide the stability needed for Corsica to continue its development into a respected minor nation on the European stage.
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The King is Dead, Long Live the King.

I'm not sure how long you've been planning this but it certainly turned out to be quite topical, given recent events! You even included a lengthy queue! Well done :cool:
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Long Live king Theodore II, one supposes.

He has the means to do well. A charismatic disposition and already present friendships with at least one significant Austrian noble. As long as Corsica is not a battleground and the royal family sees no further personal disasters, this could easily be a time of consolidation, wherein the nation starts to gain permanence and prestige in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Oh does the American Revolution still happen? We're only 2 years off but the butterflies may have already have had some unexpected effects. I'm wondering what people like Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton would think of Corisca
Given the two were born in 1746 and 1755 respectively, 10 and 19 years after the POD, they likely do not exist or are AH siblings of our world's versions.
I don't feel like they'd be that different even. Perhaps somewhat due to alternate wars, but not too much.
Given the two were born in 1746 and 1755 respectively, 10 and 19 years after the POD, they likely do not exist or are AH siblings of our world's versions.
There's no reason to think they'd be any different since Corsican developments have zero influence on them till adulthood, at least.
There's no reason to think they'd be any different since Corsican developments have zero influence on them till adulthood, at least.
10 years on its own is a long time. Hell, Jefferson's parents didn't marry until 1739, 3 years after the POD. But, yes, you and Sardar are right that nurture-wise a boy Jefferson or Hamilton will largely have the same upbringing and experiences. My argument is that the odds of this kid, if they aren't already a girl instead of a boy, will on a genetic level not be the same person as in our world. Hence why I said sibling. Arguing that 10/20 years after the POD the same exact sperm meets the same exact egg as in our world and produces the same exact person just has odds so astronomically high to kind of stop me from suspending my disbelief.
Going by the rules I've followed thus far, Jefferson and Hamilton (and Madison) might not exist precisely as we know them, although similar persons might. Washington, Franklin, and Adams, on the other hand, were all born pre-1736. Benjamin Franklin has actually already been mentioned in the thread, as his newspaper reported on the initial Corsican uprising and Theodore's election (as IOTL).

Nevertheless, the original question concerned "what people like Thomas Jefferson or Alexander Hamilton would think of Corisca" (emphasis added), which doesn't require quibbling over butterflies. Historically, the Corsican Revolution was actually very closely followed in the colonies, particularly in the 1760s. Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette published more than 650 articles on Corsica between 1763 and 1770; there was a pause in 1765-66 when public attention was taken over by the Stamp Act, but from 1766 to 1769 the Gazette published weekly updates on Paoli's republic. In 1768 the New York Journal called Paoli "the greatest man on Earth," John Hancock named one of his ships after Paoli, and the Sons of Liberty made toasts to his name.

ITTL, however, the situation is very different. OTL's American colonists celebrated the Corsican struggle not just because of its perceived similarities to their own, but because it was contemporary. Many of the various "outrages" of the 1760s that led to the American Revolution - the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts - were happening at the same time that Paoli's republic reached its apex and then suffered its final downfall. As mentioned, Corsica was in the news every week, and Americans could readily draw parallels between Corsica's struggle and their own. ITTL, however, the Corsican Revolution ended in 1749, not 1769. Certainly the would-be revolutionaries in the colonies would know of Theodore and Corsican independence, and might even draw some inspiration from it, but I don't think Corsica will have nearly the same relevance to them as it did IOTL. It's simply not a current event.

Some have suggested in this thread that the colonials might look more favorably on the idea of an American monarchy because of Theodore's example, but I have my doubts. It's not as if Federico's Corsica is some shining example of prosperity and enlightened rule. Corsica isn't a failed state, but it is still a poor state with a lot of problems of its own. Moreover, while the government may be enlightened by some standards (most notably on the matter of religious liberty) it's certainly not a democratic regime. Yes, the Corsican electorate is much broader than that of the British Parliament, but Parliament actually rules the country, whereas the Dieta possesses only a very limited veto power. At best, you (and by "you" I mean the head of a property-owning Corsican household) get to vote once a year for someone to go to the consulta to vote for someone else to go to the Dieta who will have no legislative power but does theoretically have to sign off on any new levy of war or taxation by the regime, and all that is only if your pieve elections are actually competitive and not effectively dominated by some local sgio family that calls all the shots. The American colonies already had far more powerful democratic institutions than this.

As to the question of whether the American Revolution will happen, I consider it - or something like it - to be very probable even ITTL. Not much has actually changed with regards to the relations between Britain and the colonies. Yes, the "alt-SYW" was shorter and thus presumably less expensive than IOTL, but Britain's tax policy wasn't really about forcing the colonies to directly "pay down the war debt" so much as ensuring the colonies paid for their own administration (rather like the taxation policy of the Genoese in Corsica!), and colonial resistance to parliament's taxes wasn't so much about the taxes being high (several of the hated British acts actually lowered tax rates in an attempt to encourage compliance and discourage smuggling) as it was about the lack of colonial representation in parliament to legitimize those taxes. The interests of the colonial elite and the elite of the British metropole were diverging, and while events ITTL might change the year or the exact nature of their eventual breach, I think a breach will come. France is in a somewhat better position in the Americas ITTL - they still hold the (vaguely defined) Louisiana territory - but I don't think the colonial elites would see this French colonial remnant as a threat great enough to maintain their loyalty to Britain.
A Frederician Eulogy
A Frederician Eulogy


Interior of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Bastia

On January 30th of 1778, Prince Theo arrived at Bastia aboard the Tuscan corvette Aurora, which the Grand Duke had put at his service upon hearing the news of King Federico’s death. He was met by a crowd gathered at the docks shouting “Rè Teodoru” and “Evviva u rè,” although this demonstration of loyalty was not entirely impromptu. Theo's return was expected, and Marquis Alerio Matra, Princess Carina, and various cabinet ministers were awaiting him at the harbor. With the crowd following along, the king and his escort walked to the palace where Theo was reunited with the rest of his family. The Dieta then assembled in the palace courtyard, where they formally welcomed the king and offered him their oaths of allegiance.

Even before Theo’s arrival, Princess Carina had taken it upon herself to start making arrangements for her father’s funeral. Unlike Theodore, whose body had been subjected to a Corsican-style viewing and funeral feast at the insistence of Don Luca d’Ornano, Federico received a more conventional funerary process. His body was laid in state in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Bastia, a richly decorated church which also served as a meeting for the Dieta when they convened in the city.[A] The late king was placed in a wooden coffin atop a catafalque, all draped in black cloth and surrounded with candles, with a crown of laurels resting upon the coffin. Soldiers of the Guardia Nobile kept watch over the body.

Now that Theo had returned from abroad, the process could be completed. On February 2nd the coffin was carried to the harbor in a procession led by the Bishop of Mariana and loaded onto the galiot Santa Devota. Federico’s body was brought to Campoloro, carried inland to Cervioni, and then taken in another procession to the Cathedral of Sant’Erasmo. After a funeral mass led by the Bishop of Aleria, the king was interred in the cathedral crypt. For the moment he remained in a wooden coffin, for a sarcophagus had not yet been prepared, but in time his granite tomb would join those of Theodore I, Queen Eleanora, and his beloved son Prince Federico.

King Federico of Corsica has never enjoyed a particularly high historical reputation. In Corsican popular culture he has often been reduced to one of two caricatures, or a combination of both - the grasping miser and the stiff-necked martinet. Even academics have tended to minimize his place in Corsican history, dismissing his reign as a brief and relatively undistinguished interlude between the much longer reigns of Theodore I and Theodore II.

Critically evaluating the figure of Federico is particularly difficult given the relative scarcity of details about his life. Aside from a bare chronology of events, almost nothing is known about Federico’s life prior to his arrival in Corsica. We know the basic outline of his military service in the Prussian army, but very little about his relationship with his own parents, his experience in the army, his schooling, his youthful hobbies, and so on. This is in stark contrast to his son Theo, who grew up as the heir apparent in a royal household and thus had his personality and interests committed to record from the very beginning. Theo also left historians a trove of letters, including intimate correspondence between him and his family members; from Federico we have almost nothing aside from terse instructions regarding the business of state. Not only does this lack of material make Federico difficult to understand and empathize with as a person, but the dearth of sources has discouraged historians from giving fair treatment to Federico and his reign, as so much about him rests on speculation, conjecture, or the dubious opinions of hostile writers.

There has been a welcome trend in recent Corsican scholarship towards a modest reappraisal of Federico as a monarch, who though not one of Corsica’s ablest kings was not without achievements. Although his unending fiscal struggles have been interpreted as mismanagement - and certainly his management was not without fault - he left the state on better financial footing than it had been under the more popular but shockingly irresponsible administration of Theodore I. Federico’s son scoffed at the memory of his father’s tight-fistedness, but he could afford to; between his enormous dowry and the eventual inheritance of the family’s Westphalian estates, Theodore II was the first King of Corsica who was not constantly broke. Tellingly, Theo left most of his father’s fiscal innovations in place, as well as the revenue collection system of provincial chambers which Federico had devised.

It is likewise unfair to treat Federico’s military interest as mere wasteful indulgence. It is certainly true that Federico’s obsession with fixing state finances sat uneasily alongside his interest in creating a respectable military, and this military fixation often comes under particular criticism given that his rule was one of uninterrupted peace. Yet this period was also one of great potential danger, for Corsica had been a battleground between France and Britain in very recent memory, and another war between these two powers was the subject of continuous speculation and apprehension throughout the 1770s; indeed, Federico almost lived long enough to see it. As prince, Federico had witnessed firsthand the upheavals and humiliations of the French occupation, and he was determined that the country and its monarchy should never be so helpless and degraded again.

Still, we should be wary of overcorrection. Despite many strands of continuity between Federico’s policies and those of his son, there were stark differences in the nature of their rule, and they were generally unflattering to the former. Federico’s conception of monarchy, rooted in his interpretation of cameralism, absolutism, and his experience managing the family estates, was that of the monarch as the central genius of government, the font from which all policy flowed. In this view, ministers and bureaucrats existed merely as conduits, passing information up to the monarch and transmitting orders downwards to those who would ultimately implement them. This was not only good, as it would ensure a singular purpose and vision in administration, but right, as princes were directly entrusted with the care of their people by God.

This vision of the state was aspirational even in the ideological heartland of cameralism in Germany; in Corsica it proved wholly incompatible with political harmony. Federico’s ideal minister may have been a docile, guileless bureaucrat who would unquestioningly carry out the royal will, but insofar as such people existed, they were not produced in Corsica. What he had instead - because he had put them there to build elite support - was a clique of prideful noblemen who would have bristled at being called “public servants.” The result was increasing animosity and dysfunction at the highest level of government, culminating in Matra’s so-called “coup,” which might be most charitably described as a product of the frustrated ambition of privileged men who had fought for their nation’s freedom and now expected to have some control over their nation’s destiny.

The personal character of the king also contributed to the problems of his reign. Although he grew more aloof and suspicious in his final years, particularly after the death of his son and the events of the Balagna Crisis, Federico was never a particularly approachable figure. He was proper, polite, serious, and diligent, admirable traits in their own right, but he had little patience for the “personal touch” of politics and put little thought or effort into his own public persona. These deficiencies were particularly stark when he was compared to his predecessor, whose captivating personality and near-universal popularity remain unequaled in Corsican history. Federico must have understood that there was more to royal legitimacy than mere administrative competence; his care in arranging Theodore’s burial demonstrated as much. But the reflected glow of the Theodoran legacy was not sufficient on its own, and if anything the lingering memory of the Pater Patriae only made his cousin look less impressive.

Some writers have claimed that Federico was the subject of popular loathing in his own time, which is not true. It was simply his misfortune that his most disgruntled critics, the “liberal” notables who came into ascendance under the rule of his son, are also some of our best sources for this period. If not loathed, however, neither was he loved - not by the notables, not by the farmers, not by the shepherds, and not even by many of the conservative nobles whom he had supposedly shown such favor to. Years later, after his mother's death, Theodore II would quip that of all the many remarkable things about his mother, the most remarkable by far was that she alone had managed to love his father. But this remark reveals more about Theo than Federico, for Theo seems to have been the exception in the family. Even Carina, who in her teenage years was constantly testing her father's boundaries and defying his expectations as to the "natural" role and conduct of an aristocratic daughter, expressed seemingly genuine sorrow at his death and spoke of his good qualities. Theo alone could never manage it, even as he endured his father's obsequies with the requisite solemnity. Of course, Theo had been burdened with a far greater weight of paternal expectations than any of his siblings; Federico was a demanding father, and never more so when it came to his eldest son and heir. One might see this as an expression of his sense of duty, and perhaps even, in his own way, his love - until his dying day, Federico's greatest worry was that his son had not yet become the man which he believed his family and his state needed him to be.

Despite popular ambivalence towards the person of the late king, the Corsican monarchy was in no danger in 1778. There was, in the first place, no alternative; “republic” was practically synonymous with “Genoa,” and even aside from this unfortunate association the sclerotic oligarchies of Italy were hardly paragons of progress and liberty to be emulated. Perhaps more importantly, the crown was linked inextricably with the idea of Corsican freedom and nationhood. In a time before the rhetoric of self-determination as an inherent right of peoples, this medieval crown - created and sanctified by the Pope himself - was the very basis of Corsica’s claim to be a peer among the nations. Theodore had not been the first to wear this crown, but he had been the first to make it his sole title and first responsibility, not a mere trophy of colonial mastery. His unlikely victory had ensured the popular association between Corsica’s crown and Corsica’s liberty. To the Corsican people, the regno was the nazione and the nazione was the regno - and there was no regno without a re.

Nor was there any doubt as to who the re would now be. Not everyone welcomed the accession of the “young king” Theo with optimism: Aside from the fact that he was a headstrong twenty-two year old bachelor (for the moment, at least) with all the potential problems that entailed, Theo had little experience in governance or politics and had spent most of the last year cavorting around Tuscany with his mistress. Many suspected that the prince’s youthful hedonism meant that he would be a mere cipher for his ministers, which delighted some and greatly unnerved others. Again, however, there was really no alternative; the constitution was clear, and even those alarmed by the youth and character of their new monarch did not dream of opening Pandora’s box by questioning the legal succession.

Timeline Notes
[A] Historically, this church was also the meeting place of the parliament of the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom (1794-96), when the island was briefly under British sovereignty. An empty throne was placed before the altar to symbolize the presence of King George III.
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