IOTL, Max Joseph died of smallpox at the age of 50; there's no particular reason he has to die at that same time in a TL which begins when he's nine years old. In fact he was younger than his heir, Charles Theodore of the Palatinate. The Bavarian succession crisis is inevitable, but it hasn't happened yet.

A few considerations:
- Saxony does not in fact have Poland to worry about, as they lost control of it after the death of Friedrich Christian in 1777. Poland is presently ruled by King Casimir V (Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski). Saxony is thus likely to oppose the Bavarian plan, although you are correct that relations with Brandenburg are not good.
- Our Joseph II, being born some years after the POD, is not necessarily the Joseph II. There may be some similarities but he is not obligated to act in exactly the same manner as his OTL counterpart.
- Austria, having retained Silesia, is already stronger within the empire than it was historically, and thus the acquisition of Bavaria may represent even more of a threat to other powers than it historically did.
- France and Britain are likely to be at peace when the succession eventually happens, as the American rebellion is already resolved, and thus may be more active in opposing the move.

None of this guarantees a "War of the Bavarian Succession," but it may be worth keeping in mind. It's possible to imagine a situation in which Russia, Britain, and France all line up against Joseph either militarily or diplomatically, which might make him think twice. Austria doesn't really have any friends in this situation; even the alliance with Denmark is a defensive alliance, and the Danes may weasel out of it if they're facing pressure from Russia, Brandenburg, and Britain all at once.
Yeah, I mixed up the Polish settlement and forgot they had agreed on a 'Piast' king in last election.
The Saxon attitude, I suppose, would depend on what marriage ties they have with the Wittelsbachs, especially Zweibrücken line which would soon inherit the whole thing.
Joseph might also consider trying to get the Zweibrücken line onboard with his scheme, if he really puts the whole Low Countries on offer, would be actually a fair trade. Would France really object to having Habsburgs on their border no more?
Britain (and the Dutch) easily could, but can they DO anything? It boils down to Russia's position.
Corso-American alliance for the Barbary wars? This time line gets better and better. Hopefully Corsica can come out of this with some nice gains and a stronger navy that is much more experienced than before.
Corsica’s acquisition of the British frigate Nightingale in 1785 was facilitated by Cuneo d’Ornano​
Ex-Nightingale, if she has the same pedigree as her forebears, is a 24-gun sixth-rate, as the OTL Nightingale of 1746 was (assuming that this isn't more or less the same ship, having not met her OTL fate).

Cuneo d’Ornano’s plan to conduct “dynastic diplomacy” by convincing the king to allow his brother Carlo, the Duke of Sartena, to seek a position in the Austrian army was supported by Paoli.​
He's joining the Austrian army! Well, if there is a War of the Bavarian Succession, he may well make his name fighting in it. I hope we learn more about Don Carlo (or, as the Germans presumably call him, Karl von Neuhoff, Prinz von Korsika) and the culture shock he felt arriving in Vienna for the first time, having (as far as I can tell) never left Corsica before.
I guess Jefferson's efforts to assemble an anti-Barbary coalition in the 1780's bear fruit in TTL. The question is, who other than Corsica joins? Sicily is certainly likely, but who else? It's probably also worth thinking about whether or not the US could cobble together some kind of flotilla to send overseas. The USS Alliance might be possibly salvaged from private ownership...
I guess Jefferson's efforts to assemble an anti-Barbary coalition in the 1780's bear fruit in TTL. The question is, who other than Corsica joins? Sicily is certainly likely, but who else?
Malta, Venice, Portugal and Spain all attacked Tunis and Algiers in otl 1780s. Add Corsica, Sicily and USA to that, and it's a pretty strong grouping even if one of portugal or spain aren't willing to join.
I liked this one, I liked that you avoided the quick and easy path of "the British shower Corsica with money."

Corsica cooperating with America in its very early wars is something I didn't expect to be foreshadowed, although in retrospect I should have.
I am guessing that the Barbary wars will start a bit sooner, with Corsica and Sardinia also in the coalition of christian second-tier-and-lower powers who have skin clearly in the 'stop them pirates' game?

Admiral Lorenzo might still play a role in it, and use his connections to possibly bring the knights of Malta into it as well.
In which case the great powers probably start frowning, as Lorenzo and the Maltese are basically Barbary pirates that happen to be on the other side:V
In which case the great powers probably start frowning, as Lorenzo and the Maltese are basically Barbary pirates that happen to be on the other side:V
Well, it's not like the Great Powers have much of a morally principled objection to piracy as such yet. Maltese piracy does not ever target them, so it is not actual piracy to them.
Well, it's not like the Great Powers have much of a morally principled objection to piracy as such yet. Maltese piracy does not ever target them, so it is not actual piracy to them.
Also, iirc, the Maltese have plenty of lobbyists in courts of the continental Great Powers in the form of nobles affiliated with the Knights of St. John in some capacity.
Oh no not in terms of principles, but in terms of their own shipping being caught up in the cross-fire of Theodore's War II: 2 Theodore 4 Me
The powers' issue with Malta was not that they fought the Barbary states - that was fine. The problem was that the Order's "naval crusade" extended to all Muslim ships in the Mediterranean, including Ottoman merchant ships, and by the 18th century trade between the Europeans and the Ottomans had become very lucrative and important. This was particularly true of France, which did a lot of trade with the Ottoman Levant - and was, coincidentally, where most of the order's knights and estate revenue came from. Nobody had an issue with the Order chasing down the Barbary corsairs, but that was not profitable, and had never been profitable; one grandmaster complained that their ships were "worthless." The Order's decline was in part because they were still expected to perform a task that made no profit (corsair hunting) but were pressured into abandoning their most profitable enterprise.

As long as Admiral Lorenzo is following this example and only fighting the corsair states, nobody will have an issue with it. Lorenzo made his fame pirating Ottoman shipping, however (even though it was technically against the rules), so if he ever gets back to his old tricks that might be an issue - but the Corsican government is unlikely to authorize their navy attacking Ottoman shipping.
Royal Relations
Royal Relations


Arms of the Duke of Sartena [1]

Although young Theo had once entertained doubts as to his fitness to rule, especially as he reflected upon the death of his younger brother Federico, once the laurel wreath was placed on his brow he never looked back. In his mind he was destined to be here, rooted in the very soil of Corsica, ordained by fate - and God, of course - to lead the nation. Although he never would have used the term, Theo has sometimes been described as Corsica’s own Sun King, the Corsican monarch who ascended to the throne in the last flowering of the “Age of Absolutism” and conceived of himself as the central point of Corsican society around which all else circled in harmonious orbit.

The king’s family played an ambiguous role in this orrery of state. His queen, of course, had an established biological duty; above all else, royal dynasties had to propagate themselves. Beyond this, Eleanora and Elisabetta had created some precedent for the social and organizational roles which a Corsican queen might fulfill. Yet these roles had been idiosyncratic, based on the personal interests, strengths, and limitations of these two women, leaving the eighteen year old Laura Flaminia Boncompagni-Ludovisi with only a vague sense of how she fit into this foreign society. The position of Federico’s other children was even less clear, for there had never been royal siblings before. The closest thing Federico had to a royal peer was Don Giovan, whom he had ushered off to a comfortable (and permanent) exile in Germany. Lisadora was accounted for, having been married off to a Savoyard cadet who now resided in Paris, but Princess Carina and Prince Carlo each had to make their own choice: either find a way to exist within Theo’s little universe, or escape it entirely.

Adjusting to life as the Queen of Corsica had not been easy for Laura. The Palace of the Governors was cramped and squalid compared to the sumptuous Boncompagni palace at Isola di Liri or the sprawling gardens and boulevards of the Villa Ludovisi in Rome. Laura had exchanged Rome and all its wonders for Bastia, which by continental standards was scarcely a “city” at all and had no culture to speak of. There were no theaters, operas, or concerts. Her rich and fashionable social circle in Rome was replaced with a few dozen flinty and uncouth Corsican noblemen and their dour, ignorant wives. Laura admired Theo, having been quite taken with him from their first meeting, but the king seemed to have little time for her - his idea of good entertainment involved horses, guns, swords, and being anywhere except the palace.

Her only consolations were her piano, her spaniel Sofia, and the Queen Mother. Elisabetta had been devastated by her husband’s sudden death and was still in mourning when her new daughter-in-law arrived, and Laura made a special effort to comfort and befriend her. Laura was from a much higher strata of society than Elisabetta, who was merely the illegitimate daughter of a French count, but both had left behind a more “civilized” life on the continent to become a royal spouse on a remote island full of strangers. Court life in Bastia, such as it was, had practically revolved around Elisabetta until her husband’s death; Theo had clearly gotten his pleasant and outgoing nature from his mother’s side. Elisabetta never completely recovered from the loss of her husband, but she quickly warmed to her new daughter-in-law and the two women became very close. Laura kept Elisabetta company and did her best to cheer and entertain her, and Elisabetta instructed her daughter-in-law on Corsican society and the personalities of the court.

Laura also sought advice for dealing with her husband, who did not seem particularly interested in her despite concerted efforts to gain his attention. As he seemed indifferent to poetry, she wrote him music; just a month after her wedding she composed an ebullient piano bagatelle which she entitled “Pour mon Roi” (for my King). Learning of his horticultural interest, she had her family send her rose varietals from the Ludovisi gardens and gave him a rare first edition of Hesperides, a beautifully illustrated multi-volume work on citrus and orangeries by the 17th century botanist Giovanni Battista Ferrari. When she learned that Theo had kept a “mistress” in Tuscany, Laura wrote melodramatically that she was so sick she could not leave her bed. (She was assured that this affair was over and done with by Princess Carina, of all people - apparently Carina told her that if the king was still pining for some opera singer, she would know about it.) Despite all this it appears that the matter still necessitated the direct intervention of the Queen Mother, who scolded her son for “neglecting” his new wife. When it became known that Laura was pregnant in 1779 it was quietly joked that Theo had done it on his mother’s command.


A series of plates from Ferrari’s Hesperides. Although Ferrari himself was a scientist, the book featured illustrations made by some of the finest painters and engravers of his day, and was hailed for its extraordinary detail and accuracy.

In October of 1779 the queen gave birth to a son, christened Teodoro Antonio Francesco, Prince of Corti. “Antonino,” however, would not reach adulthood - he died in May of 1781 of a “putrid throat” (likely diphtheria), only 19 months old. Laura took the loss badly and disappeared from public life for several weeks, and Theo was also very affected. Yet the short life of Antonino was not all for nothing: Becoming parents, followed by their shared experience of bereavement after their son’s death, seems to have brought Theo and Laura closer together. In October it was announced that the queen was pregnant again, and in April of 1782 she gave birth to a daughter, Vittoria Maria Elisabetta, whose name was chosen because she was born only ten days after Genoa’s evacuation of Capraia. A second daughter, Marianna Giulia Teodora, followed in September of 1783, and in March of 1785 a new Prince of Corti was announced with the birth of Arrigo Francesco Teodoro.[2]

As Laura became more confident and assured in her position, she began making an effort to bring her version of “culture” to Corsica. She arranged concerts and plays at the royal palace, and in later years helped fund and design the country’s first dedicated concert house. The queen would occasionally even hold her own recitals for the court; she was a talented pianist in her own right who stayed abreast of the latest continental pieces (and, as mentioned, occasionally made her own compositions). She became the patroness of the Accademia dei Vagabondi literary society, making her support conditional upon the society opening its membership to women, and contributed some of her own poems under various pseudonyms. As the representative of continental high fashion she was often emulated by elite women who wanted to be seen as properly “modern” (although Laura’s own tastes were relatively conservative). While the queen did not have the social charm of either her husband or her mother-in-law - her public persona was impeccably formal and reserved, even stiff - she did manage to win the respect of her adopted people.

Laura’s polar opposite (and occasional rival) was the king’s eldest sister Maria Anna Caterina Lucia, known popularly as “Carina.” By this time it was clear that Princess Carina, who celebrated her 30th birthday in 1782, would never marry. After Federico’s death she had received one more proposal from Sigismondo Chigi della Rovere, the Prince of Farnese - a widower 16 years her senior - but while Theo gave his assent, he stressed that he would not make his sister marry against her will, and Carina declined the offer. Theo may have been pleased that he didn’t have to pay a dowry, but this did mean that he would have to support his sister financially for the rest of her life. Much to her delight, Theo appointed her as the colonel-in-chief of the Royal Dragoons, which not only gave her another excuse to wear military dress (not that she needed it) but also provided her with a salary.[3]

Carina was a controversial figure, and not just for choosing to remain unmarried.[4] She is perhaps most famous for her sartorial choices, being fond of masculine (and especially military) dress and wearing breeches when out of doors, although she always appeared at court in conventional clothing for a woman of her station and was usually depicted as such.[5] She had a quick wit and was the best linguist of the family, speaking Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English quite fluently. That wit was not always used for good, as Carina was notoriously sharp-tongued and could be downright cruel. She made a sport of inventing (usually unflattering) nicknames for everyone at court and mastered the art of the cutting remark. Count Ciavaldini, a frequent hunting companion of the king, remarked that the princess did not really respect anyone except “the king, her mother, and her horses.” Queen Laura thought her petty, crass, impious, and immature. In Carina’s defense, however, her society did not really give her a chance to use her intellect for anything more than her own amusement. Theo valued her insight and often solicited her advice, but nobody considered offering the king’s sister a government post.

With few official responsibilities, the princess was mostly left to pursue her own interests. Aside from her honorary colonelcy, her only real “job” - as befitting the “Corsican Diana” - was as the de facto royal stablemaster. Technically the equerries, grooms, and other equestrian staff were supervised by the maestro di stalla, but in practice this was mostly an honorary post and Carina actually oversaw this part of the household. When not at the stables or reviewing her dragoons, Carina could usually be found riding, hunting, or reading; despite her reputation as an “outdoorswoman,” the princess was an avid reader who was particularly fond of avant-garde French philosophy. Biographers have variously described her as a freethinker, skeptic, or even an atheist. She was fond of the works of the French materialists and despised the Jesuits, remarking that her pious younger sister Lisadora had been “ruined” by her Jesuit education. She also lobbied her brother on behalf of the STB (Società Tipografica Bastiese), Bastia’s controversial printing syndicate which flourished in the 1780s and was a constant target of Jesuits and conservatives.

While Carina could be a handful, Theo’s youngest sibling presented the king with a different sort of challenge. Carlo Teodoro Maurizio, Duke of Sartena, was a young man of seventeen by the beginning of the Coral War in 1781. Although he resembled his older brother physically, there was an eight year difference between the two and they had never been particularly close. They also contrasted in disposition - unlike Theo’s generally agreeable personality, Carlo had a restless intensity to him. He was talkative and had a curious mind, but was also prickly, argumentative, impatient, and easily bored (unless something interested him, in which case he could not be pried away from it). He seemed to be a young man with something to prove, and there was no opportunity to prove himself on little Corsica.

Theo did not really know what to do with him. Carlo had asked his brother to give him a military role when war had broken out with Genoa, and when a landing force was being prepared to break the siege of Capraia the prince begged Theo to allow him to lead it. After all, their father had only been 21 years old when he had led the conquest of Capraia from the Genoese in 1747. Theo flatly refused: he was not going to entrust a serious military venture to a seventeen year old, and at that moment the Duke of Sartena was Theo’s heir presumptive and the only chance of the House of Neuhoff continuing in the male line if something were to happen to Theo. The prince was furious, particularly given that Theo himself had gone off to “lead” the siege of Bonifacio and suffered no ill consequences.

After the war, presuming that Carlo simply wanted some measure of independence - something Theo could sympathize with - the king decided to find him a bride. A dowry would give Carlo financial autonomy, and a family would give him some responsibilities of his own. Carlo, however, was totally uninterested in Theo’s proposals, which mainly involved matches with other wealthy Roman families suggested to him by the queen. Carlo instead asked to be able to seek his fortune abroad, which the queen mother resisted and Theo refused outright. He did not like the idea of a member of the royal family serving another monarch, believing it would damage his efforts to make the Neuhoffs perceived as the equals of other royal dynasties and might allow Carlo to be used as leverage against him.

Foreign Minister Giovan Francesco Cuneo d’Ornano came to Carlo’s defense. The minister pointed out that having a prince of royal blood serve a foreign monarch was not inherently disreputable, as one needed only to consider the celebrated commanders Maurice de Saxe or Eugene of Savoy (although Maurice was illegitimate and Eugene was from a cadet royal line). Moreover, if Carlo were to serve the emperor, who was superior in rank to any king, nobody could perceive it as a diminution of the status of the House of Neuhoff. Cuneo d’Ornano also shared his ulterior motive with the king, which was that sending Carlo to Vienna to offer his services to the emperor might help strengthen relations which had been strained during the Coral War. Lacking any better ideas, Theo was eventually convinced, and in 1784 the Duke of Sartena sailed from Corsica and presented himself before the imperial court in Vienna as Prinz Karl Teodor Moritz von Neuhoff, Herzog von Sartena.

Although Emperor Joseph II was willing to go along with this, the Duke of Sartena was an awkward fit. He might have had an easier time of it 50 years prior, when the upper ranks of the Habsburg army had been dominated by a clique of elite aristocrats with no formal training, but the War of the Austrian Succession had demonstrated the shortcomings of an army led by well-bred amateurs. The increasing technical and logistical complexity of warfare made education more important than ever, and well-connected generals from old aristocratic families like Lobkowitz and Neipperg had embarrassed themselves while “new men” like Browne and Lacy (both nobles, but not part of the court elite) had brought Austria victory. The Oberdirector of the Theresian military academy at Wiener Neustadt, Count Anton Colloredo (who had coincidentally commanded the imperial occupation of southern Corsica), warned his cadets that the “splendor of nobility” served only to illuminate the failings of a man who had no merits other than the “accidental advantage” of his breeding. It was truly a new age, and a twenty year old foreign prince with no military experience or training showing up at Vienna and seeking a commission was something of a throwback.


Karl Borromäus Joseph, Fürst von Liechtenstein​

Fortunately for Carlo, there was one man of station in Vienna who actually had a familial connection to the Neuhoffs: General der Cavallerie Karl Borromäus Joseph, Prince of Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein’s wife Eleonore von Oettingen-Spielberg was the niece of Queen Eleanora (the wife of Theodore I) and her father Count Johann Aloys von Oettingen-Spielberg had been the guardian of King Federico’s sisters (the youngest of whom had married Ludwig Eugen, the future Duke of Württemberg). Liechtenstein, now 54, was a distinguished general, a former Inspector-General of Cavalry, and a favorite of Emperor Joseph. Possibly on the urging of his wife, Liechtenstein offered to take on the Duke of Sartena as a Flügeladjutant (“wing-adjutant,” a junior staff officer or aide). At best, he might learn something as an assistant to a seasoned commander; at worst, an incompetent adjutant was unlikely to do much harm.

Carlo quickly made a favorable impression on the general. Although the prince had no military education, he was far from uneducated. His Jesuit tutors had managed to drill mathematics and geometry into him, and like all the Neuhoff siblings he could speak Italian, French, and German fluently (the product of being raised at an Italian court by a German father and a French mother). Liechtenstein thought him an intelligent young man and praised his work ethic in particular. Given his status and connections, Carlo could have easily avoided any real duties, but instead he pored over every report and treatise Liechtenstein could give him and dutifully observed every maneuver and evolution of Liechtenstein’s cavalry on the parade grounds. Liechtenstein may have taken Carlo on merely out of familial obligation, but he soon came to rely on Carlo as an aide.

Perhaps Carlo was industrious by nature or was just eager to prove himself worthy, but it probably helped that he did not have much else going for him in Vienna. Rather than succumbing to the allure of the big city like some stereotypical wide-eyed boy from the provinces, Carlo’s instinct was to define himself against it and make a virtue of austerity. He was famously a hater of opera, which was practically the national pastime of the Viennese elite, describing it as “dreadfully tedious” and a waste of time. Despite his connections to the court through Liechtenstein, who also initiated him into the Masonic lodge Zum heiligen Joseph, he struggled to make friends or relate to his notional peers. HIs fellow officers thought him a blue-blooded dilettante and nicknamed him der Schreiberprinz (“the clerk-prince”) as his only “military experience” was behind a writing desk, while the courtiers sneered at his ignorance of fashion and culture - what else could one expect from the family of the Lorbeerkönig? The Duke of Sartena yearned desperately for war to grant him an opportunity to prove himself worthy and shame his tormentors. He would not have to wait too long.

[1] The use of “cadency” in Corsican royal arms was not formalized until the reign of King Federico, who declared that the Prince of Corti would bear the royal arms with the addition of a red lambel (label) and laurel branches. Federico himself had used these arms informally in the 1760s as the Prince of Capraia and heir-designate. Yet while he established the system of creating titular dukedoms for royal cadets, Federico does not seem to have created cadenced arms for them, perhaps because none of his younger sons reached adulthood before his own death. The arms of the Duke of Sartena were actually created by the duke himself around 1788. The addition of a bordure was a common sign of cadency, and Carlo explained that he chose a gold bordure around the black-and-white royal arms as an homage to the black and gold colors of the Habsburg monarchy which he now served. King Theodore II found this acceptable and, in his capacity as the dynastic head, formally approved this design for the use of Carlo and his heirs.
[2] Arrigo, a medieval Tuscan variant of Enrico (Henry), was an unusual choice, and a product of Theo’s interest in Corsican history. Several of the Cinarchesi bore this name, most famously Arrigo della Rocca, Count of Corsica. Arrigo della Rocca held the position of Lieutenant-General of Aragon and notionally ruled Corsica on their behalf, but declared himself “sovereign prince” of Corsica in 1399, just a few years before his death. He was the uncle of Vincentello d’Istria, Theo’s direct ancestor through his mother’s side. Contemporary English-language sources often referred to Theo’s son as “Henry of Corsica,” but in modern texts the name is more often left untranslated.
[3] It was not unusual for a royal woman to be the notional commander of a regiment. The Queen of France, for instance, was the colonel of the infantry regiment La Reine. Usually this was a purely ceremonial role, and certainly no Queen of France ever wore an infantry officer’s waistcoat and breeches.
[4] Carina’s sexuality and gender identity have long been subjects of debate. She refused marriage and is not known to have had any romantic relationships with men, but nevertheless preferred male social company. In fact Carina seems to have disliked most (if not all) of the women in her life, declaring her general contempt for the ladies of court and bemoaning the “defects of our sex” in a letter to her brother. Then again, the social circle of Corsican court women was quite small, and virtually nobody within it shared Carina’s education, to say nothing of her interests or morals. Carina has often been described as a “tomboy,” but some more recent works have argued that she ought to be considered as transgender, pointing to her cross-dressing, preference for masculine hobbies and social roles, and some (admittedly rare) moments in her letters when she appears to speak of herself as a man, for instance describing herself as speaking "as one man to another” to a state minister.
[5] Despite this, the best-known portrait of Carina is also the most “masculine,” portraying her astride a rearing horse and wearing her colonel’s uniform. Aristocratic women riding astride are not unknown in 18th century portraiture, but most such female equestrian portraits from this century are part of a pair, depicting a king and queen (or duke and duchess, etc.) each on a horse. The other best-known portrait of Carina went in the opposite direction entirely: In 1786 she posed for an allegorical portrait as the goddess Diana, which was not only apt for her specifically but was a common trope in royal portraiture at the time. Typically for the genre, she wears a white gown, a leopard skin as a shawl, and a golden crescent in her loose red hair, and holds a golden bow and a sheaf of arrows. Queen Laura thought it was a flattering portrait but Carina loathed it, and it was not put on display until after her death.
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Interesting. So, Anglicizing the names and barring anything bad happening, the list of kings for Corsica at this time seems to be Theodore I, Frederick (I?), Theodore II, and Henry (I?). I like how Theo is more interested in/attuned to Corsica's history so he chose a name that might not have had any dynastic precedent.