Why is that particularly bad necessarily for Italy? France vs Austria works okay. Remember Italy was largely unified OTL when a unified Germany was still no more than a twinkle in Bismarck's eye. Germany made it easier to get Rome and Venetia, but the former was probably going to happen eventually and the latter would make Italy very salty, but isn't essential.

There's also the fact that without Napoleon, Austria may not be able to gobble up Venice.
 
In all fairness, the notion that Bonifacio could be sold to a major power which could thereafter dictate Corsican policy as almost a colonial overlord is hardly wrong and a much better reason than just wanting to colour the entire map of the island your colour.

There are certainly good and bad reasons for this war, and I agree that Paoli's is one of the better ones. Bonifacio would make a very useful base, particularly if the British manage to lose Minorca and/or Gibraltar in this war, and even if the British don't get it the French could always try and bully Genoa into selling it just to make sure they don't. I can't find it in my notes right now, but I recall reading that the British expressed an interest in buying Portoferraio in Elba from Duke Leopold around this time which went no further only because of Bourbon opposition.

There's also the fact that without Napoleon, Austria may not be able to gobble up Venice.
At the risk of derailing my own thread, Venice's destruction has always seemed like one of those weird quirks of history to me that wouldn't have happened under even slightly different circumstances. Without Napoleon deciding on his own to give Venice to the Habsburgs as a compensation for losing the Austrian Netherlands, it's hard for me to imagine Austria just conquering it for themselves. Venice had problems, but it wasn't anywhere near as pathetic a state as Genoa had become by this time.
 
No but I can't really imagine the Venetians remaining a major player in the Italian scene either. Their interests in the Balkans to me seemed to inevitably tie them to Austria, even if it was only as a buffer state against the French or Ottomans.
 
Venice losing some of their hinterland, but still remaining at least a city-state if not a small nation does make a degree of sense. Their glory days are not coming back, but their history and cultural distinctiveness is definitely enough to survive to the modern day, and they did have enough power to be a hard nut to crack throughout most of their history.
 
Venice could have really benefitted from a thorough re-ordering of its political structure. The Republic was actually on the upswing economically (and perhaps even militarily) in the 1780s and 90s, but it was held back by a sclerotic political system and a parasitic nobility which had long since ceased to take a real interest in the state and had turned into a useless rentier class living off state subsidies and their estates in the terrafirma.

That's not happening in this thread, but as a treat for you filoveneziani there will definitely be at least one update involving Venice before our story here is done.
 
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If, hypothetically, you were going to do an 18th century Venice timeline, what would you do Carp?
Hard to say, because the way I see it Venice's problem is mainly political. Venice has some strong fundamentals - it owns a solid chunk of Italy, it's a capital of European culture, it actually has an army and navy that aren't totally incapable (the navy more so than the army), and as I mentioned manufacturing and trade were actually improving in the last decades of the century - but I can't see any of this really going anywhere under the old oligarchy. There were occasional attempts at reform in the 18th century, but nothing that really represented anything more radical than a shift in power within the patriciate. Ideally Venice has a "Swiss scenario:" the old republic is replaced by a pro-French revolutionary "sister republic" (which, God willing, gets rid of those useless nobles), but is eventually overthrown in its turn after the revolutionary wave subsides. The "old" order is restored, but too much has changed to just turn back the clock and some new political arrangement has to be negotiated. The question is whether it's possible to achieve that process without the Austrians saying "now's our chance" and seizing Venice.

That TL would also be hard to do because it's "burying the lede" - your chosen POD is likely to have much greater consequences than your desired subject (in this case, Venice's changing political institutions). In KTC the POD is sized to the subject; nobody else in Europe is immediately affected by Giacinto Paoli getting killed, so I can focus on its local effects without having to immediately figure out continent-wide butterflies. If your tightly focused Venice TL starts with "Napoleon gets killed early on" or something that changes the course of the French Revolutionary Wars like that, you may be biting off more than you can chew.

By the way, as long as we're talking about non-KTC 18th century scenarios, I posted a WI on Sardinia and the SYW the other day in case anyone wants to share their thoughts on that.
 
As far as Venice goes, could one go back to an earlier war like the Morean conflict? Or failing that- what would a "Venetian Revolution" look like, if the Republic totters on into the 19th century and runs afoul of industrial-era politics? Italy did not lack for popular upheavals in this period, and historically a mismatch between rising economic classes and an archaic political system tends to cause... issues.
 
The Pirate Admiral
The Pirate Admiral


VpQmbiL.png

A Spanish xebec dueling Barbary corsairs


Outside of the Council of State, one of the few people who was aware of the government’s plans was Lorenzo Corso, Admiral of the Royal Corsican Navy. Count Innocenzo di Mari, the Minister of War, was somewhat uneasy about sharing sensitive information with him given that Lorenzo was in many respects an outsider - he had left Corsica as a boy and had only returned in 1778 to take command of the new Corsican fleet. If Corsica was to win a war at sea, however, it would have to depend on the skills of the nation’s first admiral.[A]

Lorenzo was born in the Capocorsi village of Nonza in 1734 as “Guglielmo Lorenzi.” He was a younger half-brother of Giovan Francesco Natale, the captain of the Audace and Corsica’s most famous revolutionary privateer, and the teenage Guglielmo served on Natale’s ship in 1749 during “King Theodore’s War.” In 1751 he followed the Natale brothers to Malta and signed up as a crewman on a corsair ship. He soon showed his qualities and was eventually given his first command, a small brigantine, by none other than Grandmaster Manuel Pinto da Fonseca. He became known in Malta as “Lorenzo Corso,” which was how he would sign his name for the rest of his life.

Maltese corsairing - known as the corso - had been in decline for a long time.[1] This was not because the Muslim powers in the Mediterranean had grown stronger, but rather because of the growing strength and commercial influence of Christian states whose trade interests were inconvenienced by Malta’s activities. The “naval holy war” which the Knights had carried out for centuries increasingly seemed like an embarrassing anachronism in the context of European states who thought in terms of national interest and raison d’etat. Under intense pressure from these Christian powers, particularly France, the Knights gradually placed more and more stringent restrictions of where corsairs could operate and who they could prey upon until the Maltese raiding economy had all but collapsed. Grandmaster Pinto complained to one of his officials in 1765 that “our corso is reduced to attacking Barbary pirates, whose ships are, as you know, of no value.” The corsair activity which remained was conducted mostly by foreigners - chiefly Corsicans, Tuscans, and Monegasques - who sailed under the Order’s flag but often flouted the rules and crossed the line into actual piracy.

Lorenzo was the example par excellence of this late 18th century quasi-piratical foreign corsair. His voyages were backed by Maltese investors and he was subject to Maltese prize courts, but he took liberties with Turkish shipping and preyed upon Greek-crewed ships which were notionally off-limits. As a result, over the 1760s Lorenzo gained a reputation for successful and lucrative voyages even as the corso in general seemed to be dying, and investors rewarded him with ever larger vessels. By 1770 he was bringing in more goods and captives (destined either to be ransomed or enslaved) than any other corsair captain. In 1773 he briefly turned “legitimate” and accepted a commission in the navy of Naples. He commanded a xebec during the disastrous Spanish expedition against Algiers in 1774, but shortly thereafter he quit the service, bought his own ship, and volunteered as a privateer under the flag of Russia (whose Archipelago Expedition had arrived in the Mediterranean that year). Equipped with this legal license to plunder, he returned to the trade he knew best, cruising all over the eastern Mediterranean, looting Ottoman merchants and taking captives.

The Russians were sufficiently impressed to offer Lorenzo a captain’s commission after the peace, but when he heard that Corsica had acquired a new navy he decided to offer his services to his home country. It is quite possible he was in contact with Count Quilici or other members of the Korsikanskiy legion; certainly he was aware of their activities. His offer to King Theodore II, however, was made on the condition that the king outbid the Russians by giving him the rank of “admiral.” Count Innocenzo di Mari had initially balked at this presumptuous request (and at the considerable salary which Lorenzo demanded). The Corsican Navy had never had an admiral, and the position seemed ridiculous given the navy’s small size. He made a favorable impression on the king, however, and Theo preferred to hire a Corsican rather than searching for some foreign naval officer to organize the navy as Mari had suggested. It is possible that Lorenzo misrepresented himself somewhat to the Corsicans: he claimed to have commanded a "squadron" in Russian service, which was correct only in a technical sense - by the end of the war he seems to have commanded a grand total of three ships. In his defense, however, the Corsican Navy was not much larger than this.

Corsica’s first admiral was a colorful character. His plundering had made him a wealthy man and he liked to live in style even in the cramped captain’s quarters of a corvette. It was said that he dined on a French tablecloth with silver cutlery, and took his coffee in silver cups with “sugar from a silver bowl, stirred with a white porcelain spoon.” He smoked an amber pipe and made his own “admiral’s uniform” which featured a crimson brocade coat festooned with gold lace. He sailed with an enormous personal armory, including “two Turkish muskets, two sabers with silver guards, two pistols trimmed with silver, six ordinary pistols, a Sklavonian saber [schiavona], a carbine, an Albanian-style musket and pistol, a pair of hunting muskets, and a small blunderbuss.” All this ostentation rubbed some the wrong way, but in Lorenzo’s line of work it was advantageous to advertise one’s success: no corsair wanted to sail with a poor captain.

Whatever his presumptuous title and refined tastes may have suggested, Lorenzo took his duties extremely seriously. He was a demanding captain and a strict disciplinarian who was known for his hot temper. He was once brought before a court in Malta on charges that he “mistreated and beat the crew for no reason,” though he was ultimately acquitted. Despite this harsh reputation he had never encountered any difficulty in Malta finding either crew or investors given his record of successful voyages. The Maltese sailors all knew that under Lorenzo Corso’s command they might get beaten, but they would definitely get paid.

Upon gaining his commission as “Admiral of the Royal Corsican Navy,” Lorenzo began trying to hammer his new flotilla into shape. The navy had declined precipitously in the late 1770s, not just in terms of available ships but in the quality and conduct of the officers and men. Lorenzo set about imposing his brand of iron discipline and demanding the removal of officers he considered to be insubordinate or incompetent. Secretary of the Navy Giulio Francesco Baciocchi complained that too many men were deserting the service because of his “excessive rigor;” Lorenzo replied that the service was better off without such men, and that if Baciocchi wanted to retain personnel he ought to pay them better. This was typical of the admiral’s relationship with the secretary (who was notionally his boss), which was always combative. Lorenzo was contemptuous of Baciocchi, who merely owned ships rather than sailing them, and considered the secretary to be little more than a jumped-up accountant.

Ethnic and linguistic divisions also caused problems which the army didn’t have to deal with. The “new” navy was crewed by a motley assortment of Corsicans, Tuscans, Neapolitans, Maltese, and Greeks, ranging from veteran corsairs to common fishermen. It was helpful that Lorenzo spoke both Italian and Maltese, which he often demonstrated with a torrent of bilingual profanity. The admiral also spoke a smattering of Greek, but his relationship with the Greek sailors was fraught as they considered him to be an infamous pirate. While Lorenzo had fought on “their” side during the Russo-Turkish War, in the 1760s he had been their hated nemesis, as the Ottoman ships he plundered under the Maltese flag were frequently Greek ships with Greek crews. An English naval historian compared the situation to “Spaniards under the command of Sir Francis Drake,” although Drake never sold Spaniards into slavery.

Admiral Lorenzo’s relationship with his officers was somewhat better, in part because of how many of them shared his background and life experiences. Of Corsica’s four warships at the start of the Coral War, three were captained by men of Capocorso - Lorenzo himself, Sebastiano Piccioni, and Teramo Terami. As the only Corsican province with a real naval tradition, Capocorso contributed more officers to the Corsican Navy than all the other provinces combined (with most of the rest coming from the presidi). Maltese service was also a common thread among many of them, as the kingdom had frequently sent officers to Malta for training and preferentially recruited Corsican-born sailors in Maltese service like Lorenzo.[2] Nevertheless, a common background did not exempt an officer from the admiral’s wrath, and Lorenzo had very little tolerance for error.

The Archipelago Fleet’s first years were difficult. Lorenzo’s leadership style caused considerable pushback, and when he attempted to take the fleet on a short cruise to Livorno in 1779 there was a mutiny on the Minerva. This was ultimately suppressed without violence, although at one point Lorenzo personally brandished his pistols at his sailors and threatened to shoot them down where they stood. A sojourn in 1780 got off to a better start and the fleet visited Trapani without incident, but at Tabarka the Idra ran aground and had to undergo repairs. The admiral went off on a furious tirade against the captain and relieved him of command, letting his lieutenant finish the journey in his stead. Lorenzo organized another voyage in 1781, first sailing to “show the flag” at the Sardinian port of Finale, but a messenger caught up to him there with orders to return to Ajaccio. The government had made a momentous decision and needed his ships to be ready.


6iBgRH3.png

Officer's schiavona, Corsican Marine Company, late 18th century


As well as new ships and a new admiral, the navy also had a new armed force. Up to this point, security on Corsican ships had been provided by infantrymen from the army detached from their units for naval duty. Most Corsican soldiers were farmers from the interior who had never even set foot on a boat, and the “black coats” were notorious for being violently ill throughout the entire voyage. Even seasick peasants could perform the basic duties of marines - keeping order and guarding the liquor - but after the Minerva mutiny and with the prospect of a real war on the horizon, Baciocchi asked for an actual marine detachment which was fit for purpose.

In June of 1781 the king signed an edict authorizing the creation of the Compagnia di Fanteria di Marina, a single 100-man independent company of soldiers placed under the authority of the Navy. They were to be armed and trained as infantry and charged with providing onboard security, fighting in boarding actions, and guarding military docks and naval installations on land.[3] Because they were formally part of the Navy, not the Army, they were exempt from nationality requirements and Baciocchi was free to recruit whomever he wanted. In fact the company was largely a reprise of the Korsikanskiy legion: Baciocchi offered command of the unit to Gio Carlo Paganelli, a veteran of the Venetian army who had been Count Quilici’s second-in-command in the Archipelago campaign.[4] Paganelli was respected by his troops and brought in many Corsicans and Greeks who had fought under his command in Crete.

As this company had only been in existence for a few months before the outbreak of war, it was initially a rather slapdash outfit. Baciocchi asked for uniforms but Mari refused to give him any, as he was already terribly short of uniforms for the army. The soldiers were armed with whatever muskets the navy had on hand, and although the Fanteria di Marina were supposed to be armed with “short sabers” for boarding actions very few of these (if any) had actually been issued to the troops by the start of the war. Admiral Lorenzo ended up personally buying a number of schiavoni for the marine officers just so that everyone else would know they were officers. Under the direction of Paganelli the Fanteria di Marina would eventually adopt a very distinctive “Balkan” uniform which closely resembled that of the Venetian marines, although contrary to some depictions this uniform did not become widespread until after the Coral War.

As the overall commander of the Corsican Navy, Admiral Lorenzo was charged with devising a strategy for the coming naval campaign. His experience made him ideally suited for conducting the guerre de course, but preying upon Genoese merchants was not the sole purpose of the navy. Until Bonifacio fell, his first duty was to enforce a blockade of the city to prevent the Genoese from resupplying or reinforcing their position. Only once this job was complete could the king allow him to turn his fleet loose upon the enemy. That did not mean, however, that there could be no prize-taking of any kind until then.

The government hoped to multiply its naval forces with a privateering campaign. Secretary Baciocchi actually recommended against allowing Corsican citizens to apply for lettere di corsa (letters of marque), as Corsica was already terribly short on sailors and he feared that men would desert the service to join a privateer crew (which, as Admiral Lorenzo could attest, was usually more profitable than service on a state warship). Foreign nationals, however, would be welcome to join in the legalized plunder of Genoese merchants. It was hoped that the Livornesi in particular would jump at the chance, as Genoa was Livorno’s greatest commercial rival. In this way Genoese shipping could be harried even while the Navy itself was tied down at Bonifacio. It might even make the state some money, as the government’s proposed lettere di corsa stipulated that a quarter of all plunder would be claimed by the crown. This was a large cut - even Malta only demanded 15% from its corsairs - but chasing Genoese merchantmen was presumably a safer enterprise than chasing Ottoman merchantmen.


Footnotes
[1] The fact that corso meant both “corsairing” and “Corsican” was a total coincidence, but undoubtedly apt. One could loosely translate Lorenzo Corso as either “Lorenzo the Corsican” or “Lorenzo the Corsair.”
[2] The outbreak of the Coral War raised serious concerns in Malta as to whether their neutrality was at risk based on the participation of Malta’s most famous living captain, not to mention all the other Corsican officers who had served under the Order’s flag at one time or another. The Grandmaster quickly sent an envoy to Genoa, ostensibly to offer the belligerents his own services as a mediator, but the Grandmaster also wanted to give Genoa his assurances that the Knights were in no way involved.
[3] The Minerva was allocated a detachment of 28 marines led by a lieutenant, while the Lacedemone, Arcipelago, and Idra had complements of between 22 and 16 marines led by a sergeant. Crewing these four ships at once thus required almost the entire company. During the war Paganelli was authorized to raise a second "reserve" company, but the total number of marines during the war probably did not exceed 150.
[4] Paganelli was given the rank of “comandante,” which was theoretically equivalent to a major in the army, but he insisted upon being paid the salary of a lieutenant-colonel because that had been his rank in the Korsikanskiy legion.

Timeline Notes
[A] Guglielmo Lorenzi, a.k.a. “Lorenzo Corso,” was a real person and one of the most successful Maltese corsairs of the 18th century, a time when the corso in general was in terminal decline. He moved to Malta as a boy in the 1740s and lived there for most of his life, although at various times he also served under the flags of Naples, Monaco, Russia, and the Corsican Republic of Pasquale Paoli. He was both highly effective and notoriously strict, and he really did sail with fancy tableware and an extensive personal armory. His exceptional success in the twilight years of the corso is exemplified by records from 1778 which show that Lorenzo personally brought in two thirds of all the slaves taken into Malta by corsairs that year. The Russians hired him in 1789 during their war with the Turks and gave him command of a squadron of nine vessels, and he styled himself as “Her Imperial Majesty’s Fleet Lieutenant-Colonel and Head of Her Squadron in the Mediterranean.” He was a rival of the famous Greek privateer Lambros Katsonis, who commanded a separate squadron in Russian service. Lorenzo was dismissed from the Russian navy in 1792, returned to Malta, and retired from the sea as a rich man at the age of 58. He was executed in 1799 after leading an unsuccessful uprising against the French occupation of Malta. For this reason, despite his Corsican birth he is probably best known as a Maltese patriot.
 
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Lorenzo gives off some real John Paul Jones energy here. Also, does this mean that wily old Antonmattei has passed on in he intervening 20-30 years, or has he just been demoted to purely secretary of commerce under the council of state and the remaining full ministers?
 
I would say the cast of characters is the best thing about the TL. My favorites are probably the last secretary of the Navy, the rich Spaniard, Rauschenburg, and the Jewish poetess.
 
Reality is stranger, and apparently cooler, than a lot of fiction. Admiral Lorenzo would be a more memorable character than the protagonists of most pirate-themed films and shows.
 
Lorenzo gives off some real John Paul Jones energy here. Also, does this mean that wily old Antonmattei has passed on in he intervening 20-30 years, or has he just been demoted to purely secretary of commerce under the council of state and the remaining full ministers?
Historically Antonmattei died in 1770 at that age of 60. ITTL, he may have lasted a little longer but certainly is dead by 1778. Which is a bit of a shame for Corsica - he was a better naval secretary than Baciocchi, and his impeccable pro-Spanish credentials might have been diplomatically helpful.

Baciocchi isn't wholly incompetent, but as Lorenzo correctly pointed out he doesn't actually know very much about sailing, unlike Antonmattei who personally crossed the Atlantic numerous times. Of course, the naval secretary's job is not to sail, but to administer the navy; Baciocchi's career as a naval patron involves owning and investing in trading and fishing ships, so he does have some relevant experience. Both of them were also biased in their own way - Antonmattei was obviously partial to Spain (he was a naturalized Spanish citizen, knighted by the King of Spain, and still owned investments in Spain), while Baciocchi is of the opinion that what's good for his business in Ajaccio is also good for the nation, which may or may not be true. In one sense Baciocchi's bias is what triggered this whole war, as he really wants to drive out Genoese competition and personally gave Piccioni license to extend his patrol for Geneose coral boats to the Maddalenas.
 
The Pirate Admiral


VpQmbiL.png

A Spanish xebec dueling Barbary corsairs


Outside of the Council of State, one of the few people who was aware of the government’s plans was Lorenzo Corso, Admiral of the Royal Corsican Navy. Count Innocenzo di Mari, the Minister of War, was somewhat uneasy about sharing sensitive information with him given that Lorenzo was in many respects an outsider - he had left Corsica as a boy and had only returned in 1778 to take command of the new Corsican fleet. If Corsica was to win a war at sea, however, it would have to depend on the skills of the nation’s first admiral.[A]

Lorenzo was born in the Capocorsi village of Nonza in 1734 as “Guglielmo Lorenzi.” He was a younger half-brother of Giovan Francesco Natale, the captain of the Audace and Corsica’s most famous revolutionary privateer, and the teenage Guglielmo served on Natale’s ship in 1749 during “King Theodore’s War.” In 1751 he followed the Natale brothers to Malta and signed up as a crewman on a corsair ship. He soon showed his qualities and was eventually given his first command, a small brigantine, by none other than Grandmaster Manuel Pinto da Fonseca. He became known in Malta as “Lorenzo Corso,” which was how he would sign his name for the rest of his life.

Maltese corsairing - known as the corso - had been in decline for a long time.[1] This was not because the Muslim powers in the Mediterranean had grown stronger, but rather because of the growing strength and commercial influence of Christian states whose trade interests were inconvenienced by Malta’s activities. The “naval holy war” which the Knights had carried out for centuries increasingly seemed like an embarrassing anachronism in the context of European states who thought in terms of national interest and raison d’etat. Under intense pressure from these Christian powers, particularly France, the Knights gradually placed more and more stringent restrictions of where corsairs could operate and who they could prey upon until the Maltese raiding economy had all but collapsed. Grandmaster Pinto complained to one of his officials in 1765 that “our corso is reduced to attacking Barbary pirates, whose ships are, as you know, of no value.” The corsair activity which remained was conducted mostly by foreigners - chiefly Corsicans, Tuscans, and Monegasques - who sailed under the Order’s flag but often flouted the rules and crossed the line into actual piracy.

Lorenzo was the example par excellence of this late 18th century quasi-piratical foreign corsair. His voyages were backed by Maltese investors and he was subject to Maltese prize courts, but he took liberties with Turkish shipping and preyed upon Greek-crewed ships which were notionally off-limits. As a result, over the 1760s Lorenzo gained a reputation for successful and lucrative voyages even as the corso in general seemed to be dying, and investors rewarded him with ever larger vessels. By 1770 he was bringing in more goods and captives (destined either to be ransomed or enslaved) than any other corsair captain. In 1773 he briefly turned “legitimate” and accepted a commission in the navy of Naples. He commanded a xebec during the disastrous Spanish expedition against Algiers in 1774, but shortly thereafter he quit the service, bought his own ship, and volunteered as a privateer under the flag of Russia (whose Archipelago Expedition had arrived in the Mediterranean that year). Equipped with this legal license to plunder, he returned to the trade he knew best, cruising all over the eastern Mediterranean, looting Ottoman merchants and taking captives.

The Russians were sufficiently impressed to offer Lorenzo a captain’s commission after the peace, but when he heard that Corsica had acquired a new navy he decided to offer his services to his home country. It is quite possible he was in contact with Count Quilici or other members of the Korsikanskiy legion; certainly he was aware of their activities. His offer to King Theodore II, however, was made on the condition that the king outbid the Russians by giving him the rank of “admiral.” Count Innocenzo di Mari had initially balked at this presumptuous request (and at the considerable salary which Lorenzo demanded). The Corsican Navy had never had an admiral, and the position seemed ridiculous given the navy’s small size. He made a favorable impression on the king, however, and Theo preferred to hire a Corsican rather than searching for some foreign naval officer to organize the navy as Mari had suggested. It is possible that Lorenzo misrepresented himself somewhat to the Corsicans: he claimed to have commanded a "squadron" in Russian service, which was correct only in a technical sense - by the end of the war he seems to have commanded a grand total of three ships. In his defense, however, the Corsican Navy was not much larger than this.

Corsica’s first admiral was a colorful character. His plundering had made him a wealthy man and he liked to live in style even in the cramped captain’s quarters of a corvette. It was said that he dined on a French tablecloth with silver cutlery, and took his coffee in silver cups with “sugar from a silver bowl, stirred with a white porcelain spoon.” He smoked an amber pipe and made his own “admiral’s uniform” which featured a crimson brocade coat festooned with gold lace. He sailed with an enormous personal armory, including “two Turkish muskets, two sabers with silver guards, two pistols trimmed with silver, six ordinary pistols, a Sklavonian saber [schiavona], a carbine, an Albanian-style musket and pistol, a pair of hunting muskets, and a small blunderbuss.” All this ostentation rubbed some the wrong way, but in Lorenzo’s line of work it was advantageous to advertise one’s success: no corsair wanted to sail with a poor captain.

Whatever his presumptuous title and refined tastes may have suggested, Lorenzo took his duties extremely seriously. He was a demanding captain and a strict disciplinarian who was known for his hot temper. He was once brought before a court in Malta on charges that he “mistreated and beat the crew for no reason,” though he was ultimately acquitted. Despite this harsh reputation he had never encountered any difficulty in Malta finding either crew or investors given his record of successful voyages. The Maltese sailors all knew that under Lorenzo Corso’s command they might get beaten, but they would definitely get paid.

Upon gaining his commission as “Admiral of the Royal Corsican Navy,” Lorenzo began trying to hammer his new flotilla into shape. The navy had declined precipitously in the late 1770s, not just in terms of available ships but in the quality and conduct of the officers and men. Lorenzo set about imposing his brand of iron discipline and demanding the removal of officers he considered to be insubordinate or incompetent. Secretary of the Navy Giulio Francesco Baciocchi complained that too many men were deserting the service because of his “excessive rigor;” Lorenzo replied that the service was better off without such men, and that if Baciocchi wanted to retain personnel he ought to pay them better. This was typical of the admiral’s relationship with the secretary (who was notionally his boss), which was always combative. Lorenzo was contemptuous of Baciocchi, who merely owned ships rather than sailing them, and considered the secretary to be little more than a jumped-up accountant.

Ethnic and linguistic divisions also caused problems which the army didn’t have to deal with. The “new” navy was crewed by a motley assortment of Corsicans, Tuscans, Neapolitans, Maltese, and Greeks, ranging from veteran corsairs to common fishermen. It was helpful that Lorenzo spoke both Italian and Maltese, which he often demonstrated with a torrent of bilingual profanity. The admiral also spoke a smattering of Greek, but his relationship with the Greek sailors was fraught as they considered him to be an infamous pirate. While Lorenzo had fought on “their” side during the Russo-Turkish War, in the 1760s he had been their hated nemesis, as the Ottoman ships he plundered under the Maltese flag were frequently Greek ships with Greek crews. An English naval historian compared the situation to “Spaniards under the command of Sir Francis Drake,” although Drake never sold Spaniards into slavery.

Admiral Lorenzo’s relationship with his officers was somewhat better, in part because of how many of them shared his background and life experiences. Of Corsica’s four warships at the start of the Coral War, three were captained by men of Capocorso - Lorenzo himself, Sebastiano Piccioni, and Teramo Terami. As the only Corsican province with a real naval tradition, Capocorso contributed more officers to the Corsican Navy than all the other provinces combined (with most of the rest coming from the presidi). Maltese service was also a common thread among many of them, as the kingdom had frequently sent officers to Malta for training and preferentially recruited Corsican-born sailors in Maltese service like Lorenzo.[2] Nevertheless, a common background did not exempt an officer from the admiral’s wrath, and Lorenzo had very little tolerance for error.

The Archipelago Fleet’s first years were difficult. Lorenzo’s leadership style caused considerable pushback, and when he attempted to take the fleet on a short cruise to Livorno in 1779 there was a mutiny on the Minerva. This was ultimately suppressed without violence, although at one point Lorenzo personally brandished his pistols at his sailors and threatened to shoot them down where they stood. A sojourn in 1780 got off to a better start and the fleet visited Trapani without incident, but at Tabarka the Idra ran aground and had to undergo repairs. The admiral went off on a furious tirade against the captain and relieved him of command, letting his lieutenant finish the journey in his stead. Lorenzo organized another voyage in 1781, first sailing to “show the flag” at the Sardinian port of Finale, but a messenger caught up to him there with orders to return to Ajaccio. The government had made a momentous decision and needed his ships to be ready.


6iBgRH3.png

Officer's schiavona, Corsican Marine Company, late 18th century


As well as new ships and a new admiral, the navy also had a new armed force. Up to this point, security on Corsican ships had been provided by infantrymen from the army detached from their units for naval duty. Most Corsican soldiers were farmers from the interior who had never even set foot on a boat, and the “black coats” were notorious for being violently ill throughout the entire voyage. Even seasick peasants could perform the basic duties of marines - keeping order and guarding the liquor - but after the Minerva mutiny and with the prospect of a real war on the horizon, Baciocchi asked for an actual marine detachment which was fit for purpose.

In June of 1781 the king signed an edict authorizing the creation of the Compagnia di Fanteria di Marina, a single 100-man independent company of soldiers placed under the authority of the Navy. They were to be armed and trained as infantry and charged with providing onboard security, fighting in boarding actions, and guarding military docks and naval installations on land.[3] Because they were formally part of the Navy, not the Army, they were exempt from nationality requirements and Baciocchi was free to recruit whomever he wanted. In fact the company was largely a reprise of the Korsikanskiy legion: Baciocchi offered command of the unit to Gio Carlo Paganelli, a veteran of the Venetian army who had been Count Quilici’s second-in-command in the Archipelago campaign.[4] Paganelli was respected by his troops and brought in many Corsicans and Greeks who had fought under his command in Crete.

As this company had only been in existence for a few months before the outbreak of war, it was initially a rather slapdash outfit. Baciocchi asked for uniforms but Mari refused to give him any, as he was already terribly short of uniforms for the army. The soldiers were armed with whatever muskets the navy had on hand, and although the Fanteria di Marina were supposed to be armed with “short sabers” for boarding actions very few of these (if any) had actually been issued to the troops by the start of the war. Admiral Lorenzo ended up personally buying a number of schiavoni for the marine officers just so that everyone else would know they were officers. Under the direction of Paganelli the Fanteria di Marina would eventually adopt a very distinctive “Balkan” uniform which closely resembled that of the Venetian marines, although contrary to some depictions this uniform did not become widespread until after the Coral War.

As the overall commander of the Corsican Navy, Admiral Lorenzo was charged with devising a strategy for the coming naval campaign. His experience made him ideally suited for conducting the guerre de course, but preying upon Genoese merchants was not the sole purpose of the navy. Until Bonifacio fell, his first duty was to enforce a blockade of the city to prevent the Genoese from resupplying or reinforcing their position. Only once this job was complete could the king allow him to turn his fleet loose upon the enemy. That did not mean, however, that there could be no prize-taking of any kind until then.

The government hoped to multiply its naval forces with a privateering campaign. Secretary Baciocchi actually recommended against allowing Corsican citizens to apply for lettere di corsa (letters of marque), as Corsica was already terribly short on sailors and he feared that men would desert the service to join a privateer crew (which, as Admiral Lorenzo could attest, was usually more profitable than service on a state warship). Foreign nationals, however, would be welcome to join in the legalized plunder of Genoese merchants. It was hoped that the Livornesi in particular would jump at the chance, as Genoa was Livorno’s greatest commercial rival. In this way Genoese shipping could be harried even while the Navy itself was tied down at Bonifacio. It might even make the state some money, as the government’s proposed lettere di corsa stipulated that a quarter of all plunder would be claimed by the crown. This was a large cut - even Malta only demanded 15% from its corsairs - but chasing Genoese merchantmen was presumably a safer enterprise than chasing Ottoman merchantmen.


Footnotes
[1] The fact that corso meant both “corsairing” and “Corsican” was a total coincidence, but undoubtedly apt. One could loosely translate Lorenzo Corso as either “Lorenzo the Corsican” or “Lorenzo the Corsair.”
[2] The outbreak of the Coral War raised serious concerns in Malta as to whether their neutrality was at risk based on the participation of Malta’s most famous living captain, not to mention all the other Corsican officers who had served under the Order’s flag at one time or another. The Grandmaster quickly sent an envoy to Genoa, ostensibly to offer the belligerents his own services as a mediator, but the Grandmaster also wanted to give Genoa his assurances that the Knights were in no way involved.
[3] The Minerva was allocated a detachment of 28 marines led by a lieutenant, while the Lacedemone, Arcipelago, and Idra had complements of between 22 and 16 marines led by a sergeant. Crewing these four ships at once thus required almost the entire company. During the war Paganelli was authorized to raise a second "reserve" company, but the total number of marines during the war probably did not exceed 150.
[4] Paganelli was given the rank of “commandante,” which was theoretically equivalent to a major in the army, but he insisted upon being paid the salary of a lieutenant-colonel because that had been his rank in the Korsikanskiy legion.

Timeline Notes
[A] Guglielmo Lorenzi, a.k.a. “Lorenzo Corso,” was a real person and one of the most successful Maltese corsairs of the 18th century, a time when the corso in general was in terminal decline. He moved to Malta as a boy in the 1740s and lived there for most of his life, although at various times he also served under the flags of Naples, Monaco, Russia, and the Corsican Republic of Pasquale Paoli. He was both highly effective and notoriously strict, and he really did sail with fancy tableware and an extensive personal armory. His exceptional success in the twilight years of the corso is exemplified by records from 1778 which show that Lorenzo personally brought in two thirds of all the slaves taken into Malta by corsairs that year. The Russians hired him in 1789 during their war with the Turks and gave him command of a squadron of nine vessels, and he styled himself as “Her Imperial Majesty’s Fleet Lieutenant-Colonel and Head of Her Squadron in the Mediterranean.” He was a rival of the famous Greek privateer Lambros Katsonis, who commanded a separate squadron in Russian service. Lorenzo was dismissed from the Russian navy in 1792, returned to Malta, and retired from the sea as a rich man at the age of 58. He was executed in 1799 after leading an unsuccessful uprising against the French occupation of Malta. For this reason, despite his Corsican birth he is probably best known as a Maltese patriot.
You need to write up Lorenzi Wikipedia page, as it is missing.
 
You need to write up Lorenzi Wikipedia page, as it is missing.

I guess I could. I have a Russian scholarly article on his life that is readable enough with Google Translate. English-language sources on his life are vanishingly rare, but the Russians and Maltese remember him. Not sure if he passes the Wikipedia requirements for "notability" and such.

Thus far the only edit I have ever made to Wikipedia was to the List of Rulers of Tuscany, which incorrectly claimed that Boniface III was a member of the House of Boniface, when in reality that house had died off decades earlier and the "third" Boniface was in fact a member of the Hucpolding dynasty. (The things I learned writing SotHE...)
 
I guess I could. I have a Russian scholarly article on his life that is readable enough with Google Translate. English-language sources on his life are vanishingly rare, but the Russians and Maltese remember him. Not sure if he passes the Wikipedia requirements for "notability" and such.

Thus far the only edit I have ever made to Wikipedia was to the List of Rulers of Tuscany, which incorrectly claimed that Boniface III was a member of the House of Boniface, when in reality that house had died off decades earlier and the "third" Boniface was in fact a member of the Hucpolding dynasty. (The things I learned writing SotHE...)
Well, if there are a quotable source, it is an interesting tidbit, I mean,on Wikipidia there are the biographies of various rebel leaders in various peasant rebellions who have less relavance then Lorenzi.
 
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