Update coming soon, but in the meantime I found this and I thought you might like it. I've managed to find an uploaded image of an original certificate signed and sealed by Theodore, who titles himself "Theodore I, by divine grace King of Corsica and Grand master of the Military Order of Redemption." While I can't read Italian (and certainly not 18th century cursive Italian), this is purported to be an "officer's certificate" sent to one Henrico Giulio Fielhen. The document is dated April 1738, and I presume the ending Data in Rauschenburg means "given in Rauschenburg," implying that Theodore was staying at Rauschenburg's estate near Olfen at the time. My guess is that Fielhen was a non-Corsican ("Fielhen" not being a particularly Corsican name) who was being recruited as an officer for the syndicate fleet expedition, which at that time was in the works.

(Click to enlarge)

Now I know Theodore called his order of chivalry Ordine Militare della Redenzione, whereas I had always heard it was originally della Liberazione. Thank goodness for primary sources!
Update coming soon, but in the meantime I found this and I thought you might like it. I've managed to find an uploaded image of an original certificate signed and sealed by Theodore, who titles himself "Theodore I, by divine grace King of Corsica and Grand master of the Military Order of Redemption." While I can't read Italian (and certainly not 18th century cursive Italian), this is purported to be an "officer's certificate" sent to one Henrico Giulio Fielhen. The document is dated April 1738, and I presume the ending Data in Rauschenburg means "given in Rauschenburg," implying that Theodore was staying at Rauschenburg's estate near Olfen at the time. My guess is that Fielhen was a non-Corsican ("Fielhen" not being a particularly Corsican name) who was being recruited as an officer for the syndicate fleet expedition, which at that time was in the works.

Now I know Theodore called his order of chivalry Ordine Militare della Redenzione, whereas I had always heard it was originally della Liberazione. Thank goodness for primary sources!

Owww!! this is beautiful!!!
My rough translation:
Theodoro I by the divine Grace King of Corsica and Grand Master of the Military Order of Redemption

Whereas we have complete knowledge of our noble and most beloved Henrico Giulio Fielhen, [this] is sufficient proof of his prudence and zeal in our Royal Service. Therefore wishing at the same time to give him a concrete sign of Our Royal Pleasure and to give him opportunity to further exert himself in the service of Our Crown we declared and elected him; we do declare and elect him Alfiere [Standard-bearer, Fahnrich, I think the lowest officer grade] in a German company. We therefore oreder that he be recognized, treated and distinguished by all our Officers and Ministers such an Alfiere and that he may enjoy all the prerogatives, preminences and emoluments proper of such a rank as specified in Our Royal Ordnance, this being Our Will. To this end we decided towards him [in person?] as we decide in the present official Patent, signed [could also be "written" as I can make out whether it is firmata or formata] by our own hand and sealed with Our Royal Sigil.
Given in Rauschenberg,
6 April 1738.
Theodoro Re di Corsica

Apart from some stylistic oddities (the two repetitions with different tenses, I think they mean that he did the act once orally at Fielhen's prence and is now restating it in the patent), and some spelling divergent from what we use now it is fairly standard Italian, with no apparent German mannerisms.
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Owww!! this is beautiful!!!
My rough translation:

Wonderful, thank you! :D

Alas, I have no other information on Fielhen - the name doesn't pop up anywhere in my sources. If he did join the fleet, he presumably never made it to Corsica, as the syndicate expedition didn't work out IOTL as it did ITTL.

I was just going to post that one because it's by far the most readable (and the best looking), but I do actually have two more. By their descriptions in the Bastia archive, the first is a document concerning taxation, and the second is a grant to Domenico Rivarola. Unlike the Fielhen commission, which is from 1738, both of the below documents were made in Corsica at Sartene towards the end of his reign in 1736.

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Generals and Mutineers
Generals and Mutineers

The Seat of War in Italy (click to expand)

The year 1742 had begun well enough for Spain. Between the landings at Orbetello and La Spezia and the allied forces provided by King Carlos of Naples, the Spanish could count on more than 40,000 soldiers in Italy. Don Carlos had no great interest in the war but had been pressured to contribute out of filial obligation to his parents, King Felipe V and Queen Elisabetta Farnese of Spain. The task of coalescing these forces into a united army and leading it against the Austrians was given to José Carrillo de Albornoz, Duque de Montemar. He succeeded in knocking Tuscany out of the war early; the Grand Duchy, possessed by Franz Stefan, the husband of the Queen of Hungary Maria Theresa, had a small army which was ill-trained, poorly organized, and completely unprepared for a military campaign. It was obvious to all that they would stand no chance against Montemar, whose troops at Orbetello needed to pass through Tuscan territory to link up with his other armies. Accordingly, when Montemar sent his ultimatum to the Grand Duke, Franz Stefan felt he had no choice but to declare Tuscany’s neutrality and permit the Spaniards passage through his lands. If he had done anything else, Tuscany would surely have been ravaged by the Spanish army. Thereafter, the Spanish armies met the Neapolitans at Spoleto, and the army encamped at Forli in mid-March, not far from the Lombard frontier.

The Austrians, however, were waiting for him, and they had not come alone. King Carlo Emmanuele III of Sardinia had entered into an alliance with the Queen of Hungary by the terms of the Convention of Turin on February 1st, and the two states fielded a combined army in Italy of 30,000 men. Montemar’s forces had handily outnumbered them at the beginning of the campaign, but already by the time his army had assembled at Forli he had lost so many men to desertion and disease that the numbers were more or less equal. He hesitated, waiting for reinforcements, but time was not on his side, as with each passing week he lost more men while the Austrians brought up new reinforcements.

This stalemate was broken in May by Francesco III, the Duke of Modena, who was eager to expand his territories at the expense of the Habsburgs and had received Spanish subsidies to grow the size of his army. On April 30th, Modena and Spain signed an agreement by which Modena would pledge 5,000 troops to the Spanish army in exchange for the cession of the small duchy of Guastalla. Montemar, however, failed to move quickly or aggressively enough to take advantage of this opportunity. He advanced as far as Bologna but the Austrians and Sardinians reached Modena first, placing the city under siege while occupying the bank of the Panaro River to prevent the Spanish from coming to Francesco’s aid. After a 19 day siege, Modena surrendered and the duke fled his duchy. Modena’s participation in the War of the Austrian Succession had not even lasted a month.


The Duke of Montemar

By this time the Spanish army had dwindled to 25,000 despite having engaged in no fighting save for a bit of desultory skirmishing around the Modena frontier. The Spanish minister of war, José del Campillo, ordered Montemar to engage and defeat the enemy, but the duke was not stupid enough to run headlong into a force which was not only larger but better-equipped and clearly more motivated than his own and held a strong defensive position behind the Panaro. Instead he began a gradual withdrawal, avoiding battle with the Austro-Sardinian army as he retreated back towards Forli.

What made the situation especially exasperating for Spain was that an even larger Spanish army was stuck helplessly on the other side of the Alps, unable to assist. Spain had asked permission from the French to march an army through southern France and into Lombardy in 1741, but Cardinal André-Hercule de Fleury had refused them; he quite correctly feared that a Spanish invasion of Italy would draw Sardinia and Britain into the war. In March, the Spanish fleet had attempted to land a very considerable new force of 20 battalions of infantry and 27 squadrons of horse at Genoa, but was thwarted by poor weather and the British fleet and forced to put into Toulon. Belatedly, Fleury gave the Spaniards permission to pass through French territory, and the army marched to Antibes. The chance for an unopposed passage into Italy, however, had been lost; the Sardinians were now in the war and had garrisoned the Col di Tende with twelve battalions, and a coastal route was foreclosed upon by the presence of the British fleet, strong Sardinian defenses at Nice and Villefranche, and the neutrality of Genoa, which despite its clear favoritism for Spain was not prepared to actually commit itself as a belligerent power.

It was in this context, with the Spanish gradually falling back in the east and blockaded in the west, that Rear Admiral Thomas Mathews arrived on the scene in late May to take command of the Mediterranean squadron. At that time the fleet was gathered at the Sardinian port of Villefranche, which seemed like a tenuous position. To the west was the Spanish army, and to the east was a strong French garrison in Monaco. All that prevented Villefranche and the British fleet therein from being caught in a pincer attack was the neutrality of France, which despite escorting the Spanish fleet and allowing passage through its territory was still formally at peace with the British and Sardinians.

Mathews had much to do - and, as he continually reminded the Admiralty, too few ships to do it with. His theater of operations spanned from Gibraltar to the Adriatic, and he was simultaneously charged with stopping supplies from reaching Italy via small ships sailing from Spain and France, keeping watch over the French fleet at Toulon and the Spanish fleet at Cartagena, preventing any attack along the coast against Villefranche, and interrupting Montemar’s supply lines in the Adriatic. If the Spanish were to show some initiative - or worse still, if the French were to abandon their neutrality - he would be in very serious trouble.

Under the circumstances he could not spare much attention for Theodore. Although Mathews and Theodore were evidently quite chummy and dined together often on the voyage south, the admiral was a man of duty and was not going to put his “guest” before his mission. Circumstances, however, were developing in Theodore’s favor, for the partiality and transgressions of the Genoese were a source of continual aggravation to Mathews. The admiral learned soon after his arrival that the Genoese were, according to reliable reports, stockpiling magazines of military supplies and munitions in their territory, which all assumed were for the aid and comfort of the Spanish should they manage to force their way east. Small feluccas and galleys carrying war materiel traveled from Antibes to Genoa on an almost daily basis, many of which were able to slip through the admiral’s thinly stretched blockade of cruisers. Frustrated by the inability of his fleet to cut off these supplies totally and angered by the failure of the Genoese to maintain the spirit of neutrality, Mathews was ever more inclined to sic Theodore upon the Republic - if only as payback.

Although advised by Mathews to keep a low profile, Theodore was not confined to the Namur. He spent a few days in Villefranche, and on several occasions met with Mathews and Arthur Villettes, the British resident in Sardinia. Villettes, a friend and correspondent of Ambassador Horace Mann, was favorably impressed by the king and his proposals. He agreed with Mathews that the British should avoid anything too overt, both because of the danger posed by a belligerent Genoa and the simple fact that the British did not have the resources to do much more than provide Theodore with transportation. Theodore, however, had a matter of a diplomatic nature with which he sought Villettes’ assistance.

Grand Duke Franz Stefan had formally ordered the constitution of the “Régiment d’Ornano” in September 1741, a unit to be composed of Corsicans in the same manner as the French Régiment Royal-Corse. In many ways, however, the two regiments were nothing alike. The French had not been terribly discriminating when it came to recruitment, and thus there were many Genoese deserters among the ranks of “Corsicans.” In addition, the leadership of the French regiment was made up of French officers; no Corsican held a rank higher than captain. In contrast, Franz Stefan’s unit was overwhelmingly Corsican (and overwhelmingly ex-rebel), and all its officers up to Colonel Luca d’Ornano were Corsicans and former rebel chiefs. Although ostensibly formed as a means to strengthen the military power of Tuscany, it was widely suspected that this unit was also intended to interfere in Corsica for the Grand Duke’s benefit. Bowing to French and Genoese pressure, however, the Tuscan government had been obliged to withdraw the regiment from Corsica, and it had remained in Livorno since the summer of 1741.

Marquis d’Ornano had not followed his regiment; he had no intention of actually serving as a military officer in Tuscany or wherever else the Grand Duke might send him. This was not particularly out of character for the customs of the time, as many armies maintained regiments under “colonel-proprietors” who did not actually accompany or lead their regiments in battle. D’Ornano, however, had apparently not bothered to fill the upper regimental staff positions (perhaps so as to avoid paying their bonuses or salaries from his stipend), and thus the overall command fell to the most senior captain, Count Antonio Colonna-Bozzi, who had accepted a captaincy from d’Ornano as a means to have some gainful employment in exile and had been officially assigned to recruit troops from among the expatriates in Livorno. He had done a decent job of it, and although the Tuscan regency occasionally complained about the rowdy and undisciplined nature of the Corsicans, Ambassador Mann wrote that they were the only unit of the rather sad Tuscan army which possessed something resembling “fighting spirit.” The actual “native” regiments were filled with Tuscan peasants who detested their government and resented their foreign officers (mostly Lorrainers and Germans). When war erupted in Silesia, rumors flew through the ranks that they were going to be deployed to Germany to assist the Grand Duke’s wife, a prospect so openly dreaded by the Tuscans that desertion skyrocketed as a consequence. It was no surprise, then, that Franz Stefan had bowed to Montemar’s demands and declared the duchy’s neutrality.

The result was that an armed battalion of Corsicans, most of them ex-rebels, under an ex-rebel commander who was the brother-in-law of Lieutenant-General Matthias von Drost, was sitting around idly in Tuscany at the very moment when Theodore had a desperate need for good soldiers. Having been made aware of the regiment’s situation by letters from Drost, Theodore asked Villettes to help him convince the Tuscans to release the Corsicans from their service. Passage to Corsica could then be arranged via private craft, without any need to directly involve either Britain or the Grand Duke in hostilities against Genoa. All the Tuscans would have to do is dissolve the regiment and turn a blind eye to their activities until they were out of the country. Mathews and Villettes liked the idea immediately. They found Tuscany’s neutrality to be an annoyance anyway; when Captain Lee, one of Mathews’ subordinates, had requested Tuscan pilots for his ships, he had been refused on the basis of the duchy’s neutrality, causing Lee to write Mathews wondering “whether these people are as hearty in our service as we seem to be in theirs.” Theodore’s plan appeared to be a way by which Tuscan forces could be put to some marginally useful service, and it entailed little risk and no expense to the British government.

On July 6th, shortly after Mathews’ departure from Villefranche to cruise with the fleet off Toulon, Theodore and his followers boarded the frigate Mary Galley and sailed for Livorno.[1] Theodore was soon reunited with many of his old commanders and followers, many of whom were excited to hear of British support even if it did not seem to be much in evidence. One great Corsican, however, was regrettably absent. In late March, Count Sebastiano Costa, Grand Chancellor of the Kingdom and Keeper of the Seals, had died in Livorno after a short illness at the age of 59. A letter had been sent to Theodore informing him of the death, but it had not reached him before his departure on the Namur. The king was devastated; Count Andrea Ceccaldi said that Theodore openly wept upon hearing the news. It was a difficult loss for Theodore personally and the rebellion in general, for Costa’s importance to the Corsican cause is difficult to overstate. He had never carried arms nor commanded men in battle, but his intellectual leadership was second to none. He wrote Corsica’s first constitution and was the primary influence upon its second, and is thus justly known today as the “author of Corsican independence.” He had been the ringleader of the “conspiracy” to bring Theodore to Corsica and elect him king; without him, it is almost certain that Theodore would never have been crowned, and Corsican history would have taken an entirely different turn. His connections were invaluable - he was a native of the Dila and was married to Maria Virginia Baciocchi, who was a relative of both Colonna and d’Ornano, but he was also friends with prominent northerners like Luigi Giafferi and Anton Francesco Giappiconi, whom he convinced to join him in his project to utilize the Baron Neuhoff and create an independent Corsican monarchy. He had been from the start the king’s closest advisor, whose wisdom and sober advice had on numerous occasions spared the king from making some blunder or offense. More than that, he was in the estimation of some authors the only true friend Theodore had among the Corsican rebel leaders, the sole person on the island in whom Theodore could fully confide.

His loss was also a loss to historians. Aside from being a work of real literary value, Costa’s Memoirs[2] is by far the best account of Theodore’s reign from its inception to the publication of the Memoirs in 1741. The only account that even starts to approach it in value is the Journal of Denis Richard, Theodore’s private secretary, but Richard’s account begins only in 1737 with his arrival on the Yongfrau Agathe and thus misses the background to Theodore’s reign and his crucial first year. Furthermore, while Richard’s portrayal of Theodore’s character and reign is important, it should not be surprising that the young Englishman lacked the understanding of the history, personalities, and politics of Corsican society that the native Costa knew so well. The Journal is thus constrained, more of a diary than a historical memoir, and when it mentions events not in the immediate proximity of Theodore and Richard it is often vague and sometimes simply misinformed. Although the Memoirs is clearly not an unbiased work and consistently portrays Theodore in a positive light, the work is not as blatantly hagiographic as Theodore’s own History of Theodore I. Costa’s criticisms fall mainly upon his own countrymen, and he documents in detail the feuds and petty jealousies that were as dangerous to Theodore and his reign as the Genoese or the French. By 1742, with Costa dead and Richard having returned to England, our sources for the daily goings-on of Theodore’s life diminish considerably.

Theodore did not remain in Livorno long. Aside from showing himself to the expatriate leaders, his main purpose in the city was to meet with Burrington Goldsworthy, the British consul. Theodore had with him a recommendation from Villettes, and after a discussion of his plans Goldsworthy helped him on to Florence where he once more stayed at the residence of Francesco dell’Agata. His next stop was the house of Ambassador Horace Mann. Mann was not Theodore’s greatest fan, but he was not insensible to the recommendations of Mathews and Villettes. Although privately he thought any support of Theodore and the Corsicans to be quite mad, he at least complied in passing on the request. There was no point in writing to the supposed viceroy of Tuscany, Marc de Beauvau, Prince de Craon; the affable but dull Lorrainer was not of much use in general, but in this instance he was of no use at all, for the Tuscan forces were under the general command of an Austrian officer who took his orders from Vienna, Feldmarshall-Lieutenant Johann Ernst, Freiherr von Breitwitz.

Breitwitz did not want to cooperate. For now, Tuscany was neutral and the Spanish and Neapolitans were in retreat, but no one could say what the vicissitudes of war might bring, and there was no guarantee that Tuscan neutrality would be respected. An army in winter quarters was a hungry beast, and the Spanish would undoubtedly prefer to winter on enemy territory where they could maintain themselves at their foe’s expense rather than putting that burden on Naples or the Pope. If they were to make the attempt, even Breitwitz’s few thousand mediocre troops would be an asset to Austria, and the general did not relish the idea of informing the Grand Duke that he had disbanded a regiment shortly before the duchy had been ravaged by Spaniards. Mann, who was not terribly fond of the idea anyway and still felt as though he had insufficient instructions from his government, failed to press the matter any further.

As Theodore awaited some sign of favor from the Austrian military bureaucracy, events on the peninsula moved on. Blocked in the Riviera, the Spanish army at Antibes turned northwards and invaded the Duchy of Savoy, Sardinia’s territory on the French side of the Alps. This in turn prompted the King of Sardinia to withdraw nearly his entire army from the Romagna, informing the Austrians that he was taking up winter quarters in Piedmont and Parma. The comedy of this was not lost on the Austrians, who dryly observed that, at least in Italy, “winter” did not typically start in August. The Queen of Hungary was not amused; in fact she was livid, and suspected Carlo Emanuele of some betrayal. In retrospect she had placed too much trust in the notion that Carlo Emanuele’s aims were her own, assuming he was desperate to recover the former Savoyard possession of Sicily and as such would stop at nothing to help her eject the Bourbons from Naples. But what the king really wanted - which he had made clear from the start - was an appropriate slice of Lombardy, and he was unwilling to march off his army into the Abruzzi in the August heat to service Maria Theresa’s ambitions while Savoy was under the Spaniard boot.


Painting of Naples at the beginning of the 18th century

Now it was the turn of the Austrian commander, Otto Ferdinand, Graf von Abensberg und Traun, to fall back before Spanish and Neapolitan arms. They had not gone far, however, when the Spanish too were abandoned by their ally thanks to the guns of the British Navy. Under orders to keep Don Carlos out of the war, Mathews sent Commodore William Martin to Naples with a squadron including four bomb ships with instructions to “bring the King of the two Sicilies to a just sense of his errors.” Upon arrival on the 8th of August, the commodore brazenly threatened to bombard the city and destroy all Neapolitan shipping he could find along the coast unless the king would withdraw his troops and pledge no further assistance to Spain. He demanded a reply within half an hour, and when pressed for more time or asked to modify his terms he replied that he was “sent as an officer to act, not a minister to treat.” Helpless to resist, the Neapolitans crumbled, and in short order they had withdrawn their army. In early September, Montemar was sacked and replaced with the Walloon Jean Thierry du Mont, comte de Gages, who notwithstanding the loss of the Neapolitans had clear orders to advance on either Lombardy or Tuscany at his discretion.

Genoa ought to have learned from the Neapolitan example, but by August it was clear that the British would need to teach them a lesson about neutrality as well. The British consul in Genoa, John Birtles, reported to Mathews that not only was the republic continuing to stockpile munitions and supplies in her territory, but they were actively engaged in soliciting the desertion of Sardinian and Austrian troops. The matter would ultimately be resolved by another stop on Commodore Martin’s gunboat diplomacy tour, but in the meantime the republic’s offenses gave Mathews only further reason to stretch his own definition of “neutrality” where Theodore was concerned. He had, in early August, officially been vested with plenipotentiary authority by the Southern Secretary Thomas Pelham-Hobbes, Duke of Newcastle, giving Mathews broad license to conduct British policy and diplomacy in the Mediterranean. This was doubly notable because Newcastle was also Mann’s superior. Resolved to demonstrate to the Genoese that actions had consequences, Admiral-Plenipotentiary Mathews directly instructed Mann to give whatever reasonable assistance to Theodore which he required and to effect the disbandment of the “Corsican Regiment.”

Aware of the need to show some deference to Mathews, whose fleet as the only thing that had kept the Austrians from having to face a much larger Spanish-Neapolitan army in the south, Breitwitz gave his provisional agreement to this request. He insisted, however, that it had to be cleared with the Grand Duke, which might not happen soon. Breitwitz was probably just playing for time, for Gages was on his way north again. By late September, it was clear that Lombardy would remain inviolate; neither Traun nor Gages thought a Spanish attack north of the Panaro was practicable in what remained of 1742, and eventually the Spanish government was forced to agree with that assessment as well. The question was where Gages would winter his army, and both his government and an anxious Pope Benedict XIV were pressuring him to avoid doing so on Papal territory. Forbidden to retreat to Naples, pressured to leave the Romagna, and unable to advance into Lombardy through Traun’s army, his only choice seemed to be to violate Tuscany’s neutrality and winter his forces there. This was confirmed to Traun by intelligence reports from Rome, which alleged that Gages planned to invade the Grand Duchy. Breitwitz had, at least on paper, a force of more than 7,000 men, but this “army” was an eclectic mix of regulars, provincial militia, “free companies,” gendarmes, and enemy deserters. They could not offer battle, but it was plausible that they could make a Spanish transit over the Apennines so costly that Gages would be forced to abandon his plans. He understandably wished to avoid any diminishment of his forces, at least until the Spanish had been forced to abandon their designs against Tuscany.

The Corsicans, however, would not be pawns. Their loyalty to Tuscany was only that which had been bought with cash, and they had no stake in a fight between Austria and Spain. Indeed, between the two of them they vastly preferred Spain. The Corsican nationals had first offered their crown to Madrid, and although Felipe had declined to take it he had given the Corsican representatives his word that he would not send troops to support the republic. The Austrians, in contrast, had twice invaded and occupied Corsica at the request of the Genoese. Having been informed by Theodore of Breitwitz’s “provisional” agreement, the expatriate soldiers did not react well to his continued delays. Rumors that the army was to be sent to face the Spanish in battle, stirred by agitation from their own officers, put the regiment in a mutinous ferment. The officers sent a petition to Consul Goldsworthy seeking his intercession, but Goldsworthy had no intercessory power to offer. Concerned as to the possibility of mutiny, Breitwitz ordered the regiment's weapons put in storage, which was effected without a rebellion but only further angered the soldiers.

Mathews and Mann took it as a given that the official disbandment of the regiment by Breitwitz was a necessary precondition for the execution of Theodore’s plan, but there was more than one way for a military unit to be dissolved. Theodore and his agents had been given several months to prepare for a return to Corsica, and while Theodore could not tap most of the syndicate's money without some goods in compensation, his own resources - amassed from various loans taken out in England, Italy, and Germany, some under the names of his co-conspirators - were enough to make considerable initial purchases. The Wizard of Westphalia, who could seemingly conjure up chests of silver and shiploads of arms despite having the worst credit in Europe, was at it again. In particular, Theodore was aware that even if the Tuscans disbanded the regiment they would not let them walk off with Tuscan muskets, so it was imperative to acquire sufficient weapons to arm them. By October, the rebels had hundreds of muskets as well as ammunition, powder, and other warlike supplies in warehouses in Livorno just waiting to be transported. Furthermore, with the assistance of Goldsworthy, the Corsicans had already made arrangements for transport with three English merchant ships.

On the morning of October 9th, having been informed by the contracted captains that the wind was expected to be suitable, Colonna made his move. Addressing the soldiers, he invited all who wished to fight for their country to come with him; weapons would be provided, as would a month's pay in advance. Not all of the unit chose to follow him, and one can hardly blame them for choosing the security of a Tuscan salary over a return to war-torn Corsica. Most, however, were quite fed up with their treatment by Breitwitz and vastly preferred to fight the Genoese over the Spaniards. They simply decamped from the barracks, marched to the docks company by company, and boarded their ships in broad daylight. Nobody was of a mind to question Tuscan soldiers in Tuscan uniforms marching down a Tuscan street, and even those Corsicans who chose to remain behind apparently did nothing to rat on their deserting colleagues. The English captains were duly presented with letters from dell’Agata (in whose name their services had been bought) and Goldsworthy authorizing their transport. The captains were put at ill-ease by the men's uniforms and questioned the lack of any authorization from Breitwitz, but were persuaded that if there was any problem their consul (who was clearly supporting this venture) would protect them from consequences. Breitwitz, then at Florence, knew nothing of it until the transport ships had long since left the port.[A]

“Colonna’s Mutiny” was something of an embarrassment to Mathews, who was accused by Breitwitz of soliciting the desertion of allied troops. At a time when Mathews was accusing the Genoese of doing the exact same thing to Austrian and Sardinian forces, it was not a good look. In the end, however, the repercussions of this incident were limited by the fact that the Spanish ultimately chose not to invade Tuscany, instead breaking their promise to the Pope and wintering at Bologna. In a way, the “mutiny” actually helped Mathews, as he could in all honesty claim he had been as surprised by the incident as anyone else. Goldsworthy came under fire for his involvement, but he pleaded that he had been tricked by Colonna and dell’Agata who assured him that everything was above board, and had secured passage under the naive assumption that Breitwitz’s permission would be imminent. These were lame excuses, but ultimately the Austrians had more important things to worry about than the misbehavior of one British consul, and Goldsworthy received a mere reprimand. Dell’Agata’s situation was more serious, as he was a Florentine and a Tuscan citizen and might plausibly be punished for his role in the affair. He quietly slipped out of the country and spent the winter in Rome, returning in the spring of 1743 after everything had blown over.

The ships made first for Portoferraio and soon thereafter began the run to Corsica. Early in that leg of the journey they encountered the British warship Panther, a 50-gun fourth rate, cruising off Elba under Captain Solomon Gideon. He approached the ships and inquired as to the nature of their journey, and was told after some hesitation by the captains that they were conveying passengers to Corsica. Their reluctance was understandable, as the 1731 act of the British government prohibiting its citizens from aiding or having commerce with the “malcontents” of Corsica was still in force. Colonna then emerged in his uniform and introduced himself as a colonel “in the service of His Majesty the King of Corsica” and presented him with letters from Theodore, Villettes, and Goldsworthy. Gideon, who was known in the service as something of an eccentric,[3] merely skimmed these documents, and responded that he was pleased to make the colonel’s acquaintance and had heard that “His Majesty” was a fine fellow. He then turned back to the captains and said that he would be pleased to accompany them as far as Corsica to ensure no Englishmen fell prey to privateers on his watch.


Reconstruction of the uniform of the "Free Battalion," wearing the green royalist cockade

On the 12th of October, the ships reached the Corsican coast and proceeded southwards. Their destination was the Bay of Pinarello, about halfway between Porto Vecchio and Solenzara. Although there was a Genoese tower there, it was not manned, and the Corsicans were safely disembarked with their arms and supplies. They were now styling themselves the “Free Battalion” (Battaglione Libero) and put green cockades on their hats to show their allegiance. They had even fashioned a Moor’s Head flag while on the voyage. In total, Colonna’s force numbered about 340 men, and he knew precisely what he was going to do with them. The very first military venture of Theodore’s reign in April of 1736 had been an attack against Porto Vecchio, a brilliantly successful assault led by none other than Colonna himself. Now he aimed for a reprise.

[1] The British possessed several so-called "galley frigates" and typically indicated them by putting "galley" in their names. These were not galleys in the usual sense of the term, but small warships (usually fifth or sixth rate) built on a standard frigate plan and equipped with a bank of oars to give them more mobility in galley-favorable environments like the Mediterranean.
[2] More fully, "Memoirs regarding King Theodore written by the hand of Sebastian Costa, former Auditor-General of the Corsican Nation in 1735, and later Grand Chancellor and First Secretary of State of the said King with whom he lived and accompanied in his travels."
[3] While cruising with the fleet off Algiciras in 1741, Gideon’s ship reportedly began drifting worryingly close to the Spanish batteries. Admiral Haddock sent a boat to him to determine what the problem was and render assistance as needed. Upon being told by the boat’s lieutenant that he was very near to being fired upon by the Spanish guns, Gideon responded coolly, "Well then, I will cast loose my lower-deck guns and fire at them." Fortunately for his crew, this duel between a fourth-rate ship and the Spanish shore batteries did not come to pass.

Timeline Notes
[A] “Colonna’s Mutiny” is wholly invented, although it appears Theodore really did present the British with figures regarding the number of Corsicans in the employ of various states and hoped to find some means to get them - at least those who were neutral or on Britain's side - to release them into his service. Given the high rates of desertion in the Italian theater (and the WoAS more generally) and the poor state of the Tuscan army, it seems plausible to me that the better part of a battalion could simply walk off the job. Several regiments of Croats and other Balkan troops did exactly that during Traun’s maneuvers in Italy, declaring that their terms were up and that they were going home whether the marshal liked it or not. The French and Spanish openly solicited deserters from the Genoese - it was publicly known that the French consul in Calvi solicited Genoese deserters and protected them until they could be shipped to France, while the Spanish ship San Isodoro, which was blown up in the harbor of Ajaccio in 1743 by the British, was serving as a sort of “deserters’ hotel” where Genoese sailors and soldiers would go to enlist with the Spanish army and get a nice bonus. Lest you feel too bad for the Genoese, however, they also played that game, and formed entire units out of deserters they’d poached from their enemies and allies alike.
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I think despite being invented that Colonna's mutiny feels plausible enough that if it were presented to me OTL I wouldn't be shocked or even skeptical. Between rampant desertion, the fact that Tuscany barely has a military, and the way you set up the personalities and decisions involved it all feels credible.

I would maybe have liked to see more consequences for those non-Corscians and perhaps those Corscians who remained in the area and abetted the mutiny. It seems stunning to me that a larger diplomatic incident wouldn't develop out of such a thing - although this time isn't my strong suit. Perhaps this will have some small but divergent impact on Austro-British relations? Although I understand the desire to butterfly nets Corscia to some degree.

Regardless, this remains one of the best timelines I've ever read on this site and you have a remarkable gift for bringing 18th century politics to life and sketching some of the wild characters who inhabited that world. Truly amazing!

(I'm still rooting for the French)
Probably the only thing that didn't turn it into a larger crisis was because everything worked out and the Spanish didn't invade Tuscany that year, and honestly Austria had bigger fish to fry like Sardinia or Genoa.
I think it boils down to the fact that the British subsidy was worth much, much more than 300 Corsicans

Yeah, certainly. But I think a diplomatic incident could still occur within the framework of such a pact, if not a major one. Especially if this causes Tuscany additional hardship.
I would maybe have liked to see more consequences for those non-Corscians and perhaps those Corscians who remained in the area and abetted the mutiny. It seems stunning to me that a larger diplomatic incident wouldn't develop out of such a thing - although this time isn't my strong suit. Perhaps this will have some small but divergent impact on Austro-British relations? Although I understand the desire to butterfly nets Corscia to some degree.

That’s reasonable, and the consequences may not be over yet - so far in the story, Tuscany has been very permissive and accommodating to the rebels, and if anything the existence of the Regiment d’Ornano gave further reasons for the Tuscan authorities to look the other way in order to not unduly aggravate the Corsicans under their command. Breitwitz, however, feels personally betrayed by this incident, and he may crack down as a consequence. On the other hand, if he comes down too hard on them it would be substantially to the benefit of the Genoese, and the Austrians are quite aware of Genoese unofficial support for their enemy Spain. It’s a complicated situation - the military commandant has been embittered against the Corsicans but his superiors dislike the Genoese more, the substantial English mercantile community of Livorno supports the Corsicans as do Britain’s diplomatic and naval officers (except for Mann, who’s lukewarm at best), while the official Tuscan government (Craon’s viceroyalty) doesn’t really care at all and is fairly powerless anyway.

My read on the time period is that such diplomatic incidents caused protests, but not much more. I didn’t mention it in the update, but during 1742 there was a serious incident between Britain and France (which, remember, are still ostensibly at peace) in which one of Mathew’s captains chased some Spanish ships into a French port, and when the French refused to expel them he sent a fireship right into the harbor and burned the Spanish vessels. That seems like an outrageous act to perpetrate in the port of a neutral country, but what were the consequences? A written letter of protest from the port’s governor, the fireship’s captain getting a gold medal from King George, and no change at all in the relationship of Britain and France. I have no doubt that France could have used that incident as a casus belli if they had wanted to, but they didn’t want to, and in the same way the Austrians have nothing to gain from raising a stink about a British consul allegedly helping to solicit the desertion of a single Tuscan battalion of rather unreliable Corsicans.

If the WoAS has one unifying theme, it’s how completely treacherous and dysfunctional the relationships between all the states were. The French wanted Spanish support but refused them access through French territory until it was too late, kept their neutrality with Britain and avoided directly helping the Spanish until 1744, and then negotiated with the Sardinians behind the Spaniards’ backs. The British supported the Austrians with money but privately told Frederick that he could keep Silesia if he ended his alliance with France, while King George declared Hanover’s neutrality even as his parliament in Britain wrote checks to Maria Theresa. The Sardinians royally screwed over the Austrians by pulling their army from central Italy, made an elaborate show of flirting with the notion of switching sides to the Bourbons to hoodwink King Louis while extracting more territorial concessions from Austria, and ultimately stabbed France in the back after agreeing to an armistice. The Austrians occupied Genoa to spare it from their ally Sardinia, and their separate peace with the Genoese so enraged the British admiral that he continued to blockade the port of Genoa - even after the Austrians had taken the city - until Newcastle wrote him personally to knock it off. The Austrians and Sardinians had such a dysfunctional “alliance” that they let Maillebois’ army in Italy escape because they could not agree on to whose territory the French ought to be driven and destroyed; the Sardinians did not want the French in Piedmont, the Austrians did not want them in the Milanese, so as a compromise solution they let them flee Italy entirely. Then, at the end of the war, Britain brokered a general peace with France without any input from their ally Austria that not only recognized the Austrian loss of Silesia but forced them to give away Parma as well (naturally, the British themselves lost nothing), a betrayal which led directly to Austria switching sides and allying with France a few years later. And that’s not even to mention King Frederick, the least trustworthy man in Europe, whose betrayal of his allies in the WoAS was the stuff of legends and led to practically all of continental Europe ganging up on him in the Seven Years War.

In that context, I just don’t see the defection of one battalion - and not even an Austrian battalion, but a Tuscan battalion, which everyone suspects was formed by Franz Stefan to screw with the Genoese anyway - as having serious consequences for European diplomacy. It’s just not that important. Breitwitz is going to write an angry letter to Mann, Mann’s going to pass it to Newcastle with the added comment that we really shouldn’t have any business with these Corsican rogues, and Newcastle is going to shove that letter in a drawer and never think about it again, because even if he agrees with Mann it’s a bit too late to do anything about it now, and since the battalion has already deserted there’s really nothing further the British could do relating to Corsica that would give any offense to Austria. At most, Newcastle will write a letter to Goldsworthy telling him to sort his shit out and avoid provoking any more angry letters from Britain’s allies. The British merchant captains might find themselves in hot water when they return to Livorno, but they’ll deflect any blame onto Goldsworthy. They could potentially get in trouble with their own government, which as mentioned has banned any aid to or commerce with the Corsican rebels, but while this might have gotten them a stint in jail a few years back (as would have happened to poor Captain Richard “Dick” Ortega had he not shot himself instead), nothing is likely to come of it now, because there’s very little sympathy for Genoa in the British government and because jailing some British merchant captains for helping “our man Theodore, scourge of the Frogs” is going to be incredibly unpopular back home. And it’s not as if the British were taking that ban all too seriously anyway, because IOTL Theodore was taken to Corsica in 1743 on a British warship, the HMS Revenge, which caused the Genoese to lodge an official protest but which had no further consequences either for British-Genoese relations or the captain of the Revenge.

Regardless, this remains one of the best timelines I've ever read on this site and you have a remarkable gift for bringing 18th century politics to life and sketching some of the wild characters who inhabited that world. Truly amazing!

Thank you! I appreciate all the input and critique, too.
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He's back in the field now but at the moment no siege weapons until the British become further engaged.

That summary of dysfunctional alliances sounds like a good game of Diplomacy.
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I do wonder if it makes more sense to think of the WoAS and the 7YW as being part of a larger, interrupted 18th century conflict.
Not really sure about that, because some major powers switched sides between these wars. As far as Austria and Prussia are concerned, though, sure, the 7YW is only a continuation of the WOAS.
I do wonder if it makes more sense to think of the WoAS and the 7YW as being part of a larger, interrupted 18th century conflict.

If one counts the Second Carnatic War, a proxy war in India between Britain and France that spanned much of the interwar period, the conflict was hardly "interrupted" at all.

I partially agree with your proposition, but what makes the WoAS so confusing is that involved several, largely unrelated conflicts unfolding simultaneously. Certainly the 7YW was a continuation of two conflicts that had been at issue in the WoAS - specifically, Britain's ambition to dominate North America (and India), and King Frederick's ambition to make his state into a great power in central Europe at Austria's expense - and as far as those conflicts go, the Treaty of Aachen in 1748 was nothing but a temporary armistice.

But the picture was quite different in Italy, where the WoAS was merely the final struggle between the Spanish Bourbons and the Austrian Habsburgs over dominance in Italy that had been ongoing since the death of Carlos II. As long as we're lumping wars together, you could easily include the Italian theater of the WoAS in a half-century long "Bourbon-Habsburg War for Italy" that would also include the War of Spanish Succession, the War of the Quadruple Alliance, and the War of Polish Succession, and ended only with the Treaty of Aranjuez in 1753 which fixed the borders of Italy until Napoleon came on the scene. As a result, Italy was quiet in the 7YW - presumably to the relief of its people, but to the dismay of the princes of Sardinia and Modena, who had hoped to keep using the Austro-Spanish rivalry to expand their own states.
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