(Having said that traditionally native governments can get away with more taxes than foreign ones)

I mentioned this much earlier in the thread, but there’s a story which Napoleon supposedly dictated to Montholon during his captivity at St. Helena about a French officer and a Corsican peasant shortly after the conquest. The officer complains to the peasant about the ingratitude of his fellow Corsicans and lists all the good things the French administration had done since the conquest of the isle, adding that under Paoli, the Corsicans paid twice as much in tax as they presently did under France. "Very true, seigneur," replied the peasant, "but then we gave, now you take."

This fundamentally is why native governments can get away with more taxes; people can see their tax dollars at work, unlike a colony or distant territory that pays money to a distant land but sees nothing in return (even if they actually are getting a net benefit from the deal). In the Genoa/Corsica case, I wouldn’t be surprised if Corsica was keeping only about a third of the tax money it was paying to the Genoese (I’m not Carp! Don’t quote me on this!), meaning that even relatively modest taxes by Theodore are probably going to see a significant improvement for the Corsicans.

Actually, Corsica being a predominately agricultural country with not much opportunity for industry, I suspect that Theodore is going to attempt to keep tariffs low and raise the bulk of the revenue on taxes in kind on agricultural products.

How much money the Genoese kept in Corsica depends on how you define “Corsica” and “kept.” No doubt the citizens of Bastia benefited from Genoese development and capital improvements, and some attention was paid to agriculture in Capo Corso and the northern fringe of the island. Bastia was basically a Genoese settler colony, however, and many of its native-born citizens - like Spinola himself - considered themselves fully Genoese. The interior Corsicans saw very little of this largesse. While there are a number of Genoese stone bridges in the interior (like Ponte Novu), these were designed primarily to facilitate the movement of armies through the major valley corridors, and the French found the infrastructure to be so poor that they built their own roads during the first intervention.

Much of the government's budget in Corsica, even in peacetime, went to what we would broadly call “law enforcement” - the maintenance of the army, gendarmes, and paramilitaries (the dragoons, provincial troops, etc.), and the administrative apparatus of justice. If you live in Bastia, you were probably grateful for these things and saw them as being for your protection; the army protects you from the rebellious highlanders and the occasional Barbary raid, while the gendarmes deal with petty criminals and bandits. But the interior Corsicans perceived the law enforcement apparatus of Genoa not as their shield, but as a weapon pointed at them. Soldiers marched in to enforce the levies of the tax collectors or the sentences of the judges. They confiscated your property if you couldn’t pay your tax, and dragged away men from your community accused of illegal fishing, petty theft, or feuding, and sentenced them to years of miserable slavery in the galleys. When your only interaction with your government is through tax collectors and predatory law enforcement, you’re not likely to see your taxes as a patriotic duty.

Foreign governments always had trouble squeezing money out of Corsica. That French officer in the anecdote above was telling the truth, or something close to it - taxes were relatively low under the Ancien Régime. It was estimated that the annual tax revenue from Corsica was 600,000 livres, which was less than the annual cost of administration, to say nothing of paying back the cost of the conquest itself which was somewhere in the ballpark of 20 to 30 million livres. The National Assembly abolished the old system of taxation in 1789, but when the French re-imposed taxes on Corsica in 1791 the rate was twice as high as what the Ancien Régime had demanded. The Corsicans simply didn’t pay it. When the British subsequently occupied the island (1794-96), they fared little better, and were continually exasperated by their failed attempts to get the Corsicans to pay for their own defense.

A large part of the problem was administration. Most Corsicans lived in small, isolated villages in inland valleys, which made administrative schemes difficult to put into effect. The French taxation scheme of 1791 was based on property, but which Frenchman was going to go hike into the hills of the Castagniccia and tally up the monetary value of small farms and orchards, or survey the Niolesi shepherds as to how many goats they owned? The Corsican communes closed ranks and made no effort to cooperate with the government’s assessments, and the French government had neither the time nor the resources to force them.

In theory, Theodore will benefit from the good will of the population; his government is Corsica’s government, and nothing is going to be siphoned off to a foreign capital. He has some personal indulgences (particularly a love for Rhenish wine) and likes to be well-dressed, but he’s used to living in (relative) poverty and is not the sort of person to bankrupt the state by trying to build his own mini-Versailles or something. His motivation is fame, not wealth. Furthermore, the constitution of 1736 explicitly states that the king cannot conduct the “imposition of taxes” without the consent of the Diet, a proviso that is unlikely to be limiting (as the King currently appoints the Diet’s members himself) but gives any taxation an added veneer of legitimacy, as it will have the approval of Corsica’s most prominent men.

As for the types of taxes, taxation under the Genoese consisted primarily of capitations (taxes on every household and/or person, like the taglia and due seini), duties on state-monopolized goods like salt, and various feudal duties and license fees (for firearms, for instance, before they were banned altogether). The irony of the Corsicans rejecting the taglia is that it was written into their own royalist constitution in 1736, which specifically states that “the annual contribution or taxation paid by the Corsicans shall not exceed three lire per head of the family and that the half-taglia usually paid by widows and orphans up to 14 years of age should be abolished.” In other words, the problem the consulta had with the taglia was not that it existed, but that it was too high, and that it was unfair for it to be levied upon widows and young orphans even at the customary half-rate. A salt tax, too, was admitted by the constitution, which limited it to “2 seini, or 13 solidi and 4 denari a bushel.”

It's interesting to note that the due seini itself, the tax that started the revolution, is a pretty small amount of money. Although a lot of English-language sources claim that the due seini ("two sixes") referred to twelve scudi, that's plainly impossible. Twelve scudi equates to 96 lire per hearth per annum, which in a population of ~27,000 households would be 2.6 million lire, an insanely large amount that could easily run the government of Corsica for years (remember, the Genoese complained that the occupation cost them 800,000 lire annually). In fact the due seini appears to have been a reference to a 1/3-lira silver coin called the terzo di madonnina which was colloquially referred to as a seino (“six”) at the time, for reasons I'm not really sure of. The actual due seini thus amounted not to 96 lire, but ⅔ of one lira (=160 denari) from each household annually, or 18,000 lire per annum, but even that must have been much higher than the actual collected amount because only the interior Corsicans paid the due seini, not the Genoese citizens of the coastal cities. By comparison, the 1736 constitution limited the capitation to three lire annually (again, paid by household), which amounts to just over 80,000 lire per annum. I don't know the amount of the pre-revolution taglia, but if the consulta saw fit to limit it to three lire in the constitution it seems safe to assume that it was higher than three. Obviously the taglia, not the due seini, must have made up the bulk of the capitation tax paid to Genoa; the due seini was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

As for the salt tax, in the late 18th century it was estimated in Britain that the average person consumed 25 lbs of salt per annum, or 11.34kg. The 1736 constitution set a bushel of salt at 22 lbs, which as far as I can tell in the Genoese system of measurement at the time was about 6.82kg. That amounts to about 1.36 million kg of salt per annum or almost exactly 200,000 Corsican bushels at a maximum tax rate of 133,333 lire per annum. That’s probably much too high, however, as it assumes that the rather poor Corsicans have the same salt intake as Englishmen, even though salt intake varies considerably between cultures (in modern times, the average Kazakhstani consumes nearly five times as much salt as the average Kenyan), and doesn't count any imported salt or salted foodstuffs. Furthermore, because people could (and did) flaunt the law and make their own salt - they are on an island in a saltwater sea, after all - enforcement will be much harder and compliance will be much lower with the salt tax than with the taglia.

Because of geographic and administrative hurdles, the best taxes for Corsica are going to be those that are easy to collect. Undoubtedly that’s why the Genoese favored a capitation - say what you will about the fairness of a poll-tax, but it has the advantage of being relatively simple to administer so long as you have a list of all households. Taxes on income or property, as Revolutionary France tried to implement, are hard to collect because you need a whole bureaucracy to keep track of the value of what people own and/or what their income is, which Corsica doesn’t have and can’t afford. In addition, the pre-feudal nature of Corsican society is such that a substantial amount of property is held in common or merely “used” rather than owned. Who owns the village’s chestnut trees, and how much are they worth? Should Niolesi shepherds pay land tax on their seasonal fields that they customarily graze their livestock on every winter?

Thus, the taglia is likely to stick around post-independence, and despite its unpopularity the salt tax is likely to remain as well, as a levy on salt was a common source of 18th century government revenue and Corsica doesn’t have a huge array of other options. A land tax is one possibility, although as mentioned the pre-feudal and customary nature of land ownership in the interior complicate the situation. Another likely source of revenue is excise duty, or a tax on production. All the olive oil of Corsica, for instance, is produced at just a handful of commercial-scale presses, which means that the administrative overhead for collecting an oil excise is minimal - you don’t need to inspect olive groves or warehouses, you just need to have an excise agent at the press where the oil is made.

Tariffs will probably not be very important. In the first place, free ports are a cornerstone of Theodore’s economic plan for Corsica. Although “free ports” varied in their actual level of “freedom” in the 18th century, in general they had some assortment of lower duties, less restrictive customs regimes, tax-free warehouses, and more openness towards foreign merchants. Theodore is something of a free-marketeer; he hopes that by throwing the doors open he can attract trade and settlement, and that this will make Corsica prosperous in the long run even at the cost of customs revenue in the short term. Even if he wanted them, however, tariffs would be hard to enforce. The Corsicans and Livornesi have become rather good at smuggling things in and out of Corsica over the last decade, and while Corsica will eventually have a small navy it will be difficult for them to closely patrol the whole coastline (just as it’s difficult for the Genoese now). Still, some tariffs are likely, for instance an export duty on timber; Corsica’s forest land was a major economic and strategic asset, and timber is a difficult commodity to smuggle.

Wonderful and very well researched. Description of historical personalities and their adaptation to this TL by you is quite awesome. Can you please write a short character introduction of the Corsican rebels.

Thank you! By "short character introduction," do you mean like the pieces I did on Andrea Ceccaldi and Luca d'Ornano? I can certainly do a few more of those, although a lot of characters in this story - while historical - don't have a lot of recorded information about them.
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The Story of the Corsican Greeks
The Story of the Corsican Greeks


A painted icon of the "Three Holy Hierarchs" (Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom) brought to Corsica by the Maniot settlers

The similarities between the Corsicans and the Maniots, Peloponnesian Greeks native to the Mani peninsula, are striking. Both were isolated from the mainland by rugged mountains and the sea, both were materially poor but fiercely independent, and both were known their clan society, their culture of honor, their predilection for banditry, and their propensity for vicious blood-feuds. When these two peoples met each other in Corsica, however, it was unfortunately their differences rather than what they had in common which was to define their relationship.

Owing to their rebellious spirit and the mountainous terrain of their homeland, the Maniots proved troublesome to subdue, and for many years they thwarted attempts at conquest by the Turks. Mani gave token submission to the Porte, but the peninsula resembled a loose tributary more than a constituent part of the empire. In the late 17th century, however, the peninsula suffered through an exceptionally tumultuous period. Many of the Maniots made the error of siding with the Venetians during the Cretan War (1645-1669), and in anticipation of Venice's defeat and the likelihood of Ottoman retribution a number of Maniot clans began considering the possibility of emigration. In the province of Vitylo (Oitylo), two rival clans, the Iatrani and the Stephanopoli, both sent emissaries to the west to seek out potential new homelands.

The Iatrani quite naturally looked towards Tuscany, as they had (or claimed to have) family ties there. The Iatrani were also locally known as the "Medici," as they were purported to be related to that famous family through kinship with the Acciaioli, a Florentine family which had ruled the Duchy of Athens during the late 14th and 15th centuries and had intermarried with the Medici. The Stephanopoli, meanwhile, also claimed an illustrious lineage; they later styled themselves "Comneno" or "Comnene" on account of a claimed descent from David Megas Komenos, the last emperor of Trebizond. There were not, however, any Komnenos principalities in 17th century Italy, so their investigation was more broad than that of the Iatrani. Eventually they approached the Genoese, who were interested in attracting industrious settlers to their island of Corsica. In 1663, at the same time the Iatrani were making their approach to Tuscany, four Stephanopoli representatives met with Genoese senators and made arrangements to travel to the proposed site of the new settlement in Corsica. Neither clan, however, was successful in arranging an exodus in the 1660s, in part because of diplomatic meddling on the part of the Venetians, who did not want their allies fleeing the country during the then-ongoing war.

After the end of the Cretan War in 1669, the Ottomans—as expected—turned their attention to Mani. Early efforts to bring the natives to heel failed, so the Porte turned to Limberakis Gerakaris, a notorious Maniot pirate, who was rotting away in an Ottoman prison. The Turks offered him freedom and pardon if he was able to conquer his homeland and serve as the empire's viceroy. He made a triumphant entry in 1670 with the help of Turkish forces and was styled as the Bey of Mani, but he became predictably enmeshed in the clan rivalries of his homeland. At the time, the Iatrani and Stephanopoli were at each others' throats because of the abduction and forced marriage of a Iatrani woman by one of the Stephanopoli. Unluckily for the Stephanopoli, the woman was also apparently Gerakaris' fiancee. He sided with the Iatrani and hounded the Stephanopoli with their help and that of his Turkish allies, condemning a number of their leaders to death. Nevertheless, the despotism and volatility of Gerakaris made him unsafe even as an ally, and evidently the Iatrani were the first to have another go at Italian emigration. With Venice's opposition having evaporated after the end of the war, they were able to gain permission from the Grand Duke of Tuscany and several hundred of them arrived at Livorno in 1671. Their colony, however, was not long-lived; it faded away in the 1690s, although it is unclear whether it was wiped out by malaria or simply assimilated into Tuscan society (or a combination of the two).

It was not until October of 1675 that members of the Stephanopoli clan finally began their journey to Corsica. Around 730 men, women, and children squeezed onto the appropriately-named French ship Sauveur and sailed for their new home in Corsica. Although the Stephanopoli dominated the expedition, not every emigrant was of the clan, nor even Maniot; settlers from Corfu, Chios, and Crete were recorded among the passengers. They arrived safely, but a second ship which followed not long thereafter, carrying an additional 440 settlers, was captured off the Corsican coast by Barbary pirates. Its passengers were all sold into slavery in Africa.

The Maniot leaders had already agreed to a compact with the Genoese Senate which set out the terms of their settlement. They were required to swear loyalty to the Republic, to pay its taxes and serve in its armed forces as required, and in exchange were given the village of Paomia and its environs on the western coast of Corsica. Paomia had once been a Corsican village, but at that time was uninhabited. The colonists were also required to become Catholics, but this involved only a recognition of the authority of the Pope and the Catholic hierarchy; the Maniots were permitted to retain the language and ritual of the Greek rite and establish their own church at Paomia. There seems to have been no serious resistance to this requirement among the settlers. In facilitating their settlement, the Republic hoped to introduce a loyal population on Corsica (for even before the 1729 rebellion the Corsicans were turbulent and difficult subjects) and to promote the economic development of the island. The republic gave the Greeks an interest-free loan of 40,000 lire to fund their settlement, as well as animals, seeds, and tools. The Maniots soon proved to be very able agriculturalists, considerably more so than the natives, who were fairly indifferent farmers and reliant primarily on chestnuts and sheep-herding. In short order their new colony grew prosperous. Paomia was large enough to be self-sufficient, and even had its own monastery.


Ruins of the old Greek church of St. Elias (Elijah) at Paomia

For the first few years, relations between the Greeks and the native Corsicans were warm. Greek records claim that they were "welcomed as friends" by the natives, and that the Corsicans assisted in the construction of their new village. A Greek chronicle even describes the Greeks and Corsicans as being godparents to each others' children. The insularity of the newcomers, however, soon bred suspicion. They practiced their own strange religious rite in a foreign language, and they soon made it clear that they had no interest in intermarriage with their Corsican neighbors. For the Corsicans, whose society was based upon a staunch (if somewhat nebulous) Catholic identity and marital alliances between clans, this was bewildering and alienating behavior.

The success of the Greeks also inspired envy. Paomia had been abandoned for years; the Corsicans considered it worthless land and made no great fuss when it was first given to the Greeks. As the "desert" bloomed under the care of the new settlers, however, the Corsicans recalled that they had never been consulted about the land being given to the Greeks and that the neighboring pieves had never renounced their claims upon it. They grumbled at the unfairness of such rich land (as it had now become), which they had formerly written off as arid and useless, being taken from them without compensation and given to foreigners.

In April of 1679, tensions came to a head, and a Greek was murdered by a Corsican on Palm Sunday. The exact nature of the dispute that led to this killing is unrecorded, but from that day the relationship between the Greeks and the Corsicans was characterized mainly by conflict. Yet although the Maniots were known as a tough and warlike people, they knew that they were badly outmatched by the far more numerous Corsicans and thus appealed to their Genoese hosts. The Genoese ensured that the colony was protected, although even they could not stop frequent quarrels and the occasional murder every few years. The Corsicans, determining the Greeks to be heathens and perhaps knowing how deeply it would offend them, took to calling them "Turks." The Greeks, in turn, called the Corsicans "vagabonds" and "poncho-wearing goats."[1]

When the Corsican Rebellion broke out in 1729, the Greeks soon became targets of insurgent forces from Vico and the Niolo. Their fields were devastated by the Corsicans in 1730, but an attempt by a band of Vicolesi to assault the town itself was repulsed by the Greeks. Then, in April of 1731, the newly established leadership of the Corsican national movement extended an olive branch to the Greek colonists. The "generals of the nation" Luigi Giafferi and Andrea Ceccaldi sent a delegation to Paomia offering to set aside their differences if the Greeks would join them in their fight against the Genoese oppressors.

The Greeks flatly refused them. "We do not care at all about the wars of the Corsicans," replied a Greek chieftain, "which they wage unjustly against our prince; for we are strangers in this land, and tend to our own business; and if you have issues with him, you sort them out. We recognize no master other than the prince of Genoa, to whom we acknowledge everything we own; and we are ready to die a thousand times, one after the other, for his sake." Their allegiance was very sensible; the Genoese had not only given them a new home but had protected them for decades against the very same Corsicans who were now trying to lead them into rebellion. The compact they had made with the Genoese required them to give their loyalty and their service in arms to the Republic. Why would they break that promise and betray their lord and protector to join forces with their enemies?


The Tower of Omignia

As justifiable as their reply may have been, it was ill-considered, for the Corsicans did not take rejection well. Within a few weeks, a large force of Corsicans under the leadership of Francesco Battini (claimed rather improbably in a Greek account to be 2,500 strong) besieged the Greek settlement. This time the Genoese could not save them; they best they could offer was a few ships to evacuate the colony to Ajaccio. Even so, the Greeks did not give up without a fight. Having sent off the rest of the colony to Ajaccio, 127 Greeks barricaded themselves in the Tower of Omignia and defied every attempt by the Corsicans to conquer them. Yet it was a futile gesture, as no relief was forthcoming, and the Greeks had no choice but to surrender after several days of siege. The Corsicans took their weapons but allowed them to leave in peace in a somewhat surprising demonstration of mercy. But no mercy was shown to Paomia itself, which was utterly annihilated. The Corsicans destroyed the fields and the orchards, looted the homes, and then burned the whole village to the ground.

By this time the Greek community consisted of just over 800 people, and around 200 of them—surely representing most of the colonists' able-bodied men—were formed into three militia companies serving under the command of the commissioner of Ajaccio. The Greek militia companies proved vital in the defense of the city against several attacks by the rebels, including a siege by Luca d'Ornano and his men during Theodore's early reign. Though the Greek militia was effective and enthusiastic, however, the Genoese found them to be ill-disciplined, and the commissioner of Ajaccio complained in a letter in 1734 that they were impossible to control unless led by Genoese officers and even then sometimes made themselves a liability.

Although their service was useful to the Genoese, this new reality proved controversial among the Greeks themselves. The Paomia colony had originally been divided into nine hereditary chieftainships, each of which presided over between one and two dozen households, but the move to Ajaccio disrupted this traditional power structure. Because they had been deprived of their farmlands, and since most of the adult male population was conscripted into the militia companies, the income of the whole Greek community now depended substantially on Genoese wages. In these circumstances the company captains tended to displace the chieftains as the most powerful men in the Greek community, which caused some internal resentment because the captains were not themselves chieftains or sons of chieftains. Moreover, the three captains—Micaglia Stefanopoli, Teodori Cozzifacci, and Giovanno Busacci—were not on good terms with one another. Stefanopoli, who sought to assert himself as the effective ruler of the whole colony, successfully petitioned the Genoese to give him the rank of major, thus implying his overall seniority. That seniority, however, was largely nominal, and the other captains bitterly resented his attempts to make himself out to be their superior.

The environment of Ajaccio, the island's second-largest city, was more cosmopolitan than that of isolated Paomia, and the Greeks were not unaffected by it. They were in a precarious position and needed to adapt to new surroundings. The Genoese gave them a church in Ajaccio and they continued practicing their own rite, but within a few years the younger generation of Greeks began to show some signs of assimilation, including wearing Corsican dress, learning the Corsican language (which they had spurned before), and even occasionally intermarrying with Corsican families. They remembered their loyalties, however, and continued to render loyal service to the republic even during the nadir of Genoese fortunes during Theodore's early reign. But the rebel Corsicans too remembered the loyalties of the Greeks, and considered the them to be little more than stooges of the Genoese. Accordingly, when the 1736 constitution was drawn up for King Theodore's coronation it specifically named the Greeks as among those "rebels to the Kingdom" whose property was to be confiscated. The Greeks must have found it darkly humorous that the Corsicans were calling them rebels, and may have wondered what property the Corsicans expected to confiscate since they had already destroyed their village.

By 1742, more than ten years after the fall of Paomia, this relationship had not changed much. While they lasted, the French and Austrian interventions took the pressure off Ajaccio, but nevertheless the situation had never been secure enough for the Greeks to return to Paomia and try to rebuild their ruined settlement. The Greek chieftains looked on with apprehension as the French sailed away, and each new setback for Spinola increased their anxiety. Their inquiries about being allowed to emigrate were rebuffed; like the Venetians before them, who had prevented their flight from Mani because they needed them to fight the Turks, the Genoese would not part with them in a time of war and refused to let a single Greek leave the island. Although they dreaded the prospect of being sent off into the mountains of the interior, where the "poncho-wearing goats" were no laughing matter, their captains reluctantly complied with Spinola's orders to reinforce Corti. They simply did not see any other option. Having nailed their flag to the mast of Genoese fortunes, they knew they would sink or swim with the republic.

OTL Postscript

The French conquest of Corsica came initially as a godsend to the Greeks of Corsica, as the new governor, the Comte de Marbeuf, greatly favored them. He organized the construction of a new village for them, named Cargèse, not far from old Paomia, and Marbeuf even built himself a house there. The Corsicans did not forget their rivalry with the Greeks, however, and every time there was a breakdown in governance - at the outbreak of the French Revolution, in the wake of the British withdrawal, after the collapse of the First French Empire, and during the July Revolution in 1830 - the Corsicans inevitably took advantage of the chaos and attacked Cargèse. Some of the Greeks resettled in Ajaccio, others went abroad, but nevertheless several hundred Greeks remained at Cargèse despite these trials.

1830 was to mark the last Corsican raid on Cargèse, for over the course of the 19th century Cargèse became a mixed Corsican-Greek village, with a Latin church and a Greek church standing on opposite sides of the valley. Nevertheless, there was a large wave of emigration by the Corsican Greeks to French Algeria in the 1870s. The remaining Greek population, no longer forced into a staunch Greek identity by the hostility of the natives, quickly began assimilating. The last native Greek speaker in Corsica died in 1976, exactly 300 years after the arrival of the first settlers.

[1] Undoubtedly they were referring to the pilone, the traditional hooded cloak of the Corsicans.
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One related factoid you might find interesting is Napoleon's association with the Greek community. Napoleon's family, of course, was native to Ajaccio, and they were family friends with the Stefanopoli. Theodoro Stefanopoli, who was officially recognized by Louis XVI as the legitimate descendant of the last emperor of Trebizond (!), was one of Napoleon's sponsors to the Ecole Militaire at Brienne. Later, around the time of his Egyptian expedition, Napoleon allegedly toyed with the idea of sending Theodoro to Mani, supporting a rebellion there, and setting his old sponsor up as a Komnenid monarch in opposition to the Turks, but obviously nothing ever came of that.

Looks like the second immigrant ship of Greeks making it to Corsica would make for an interesting POD.

There was actually a third ship of colonists, carrying another 400 people, that never even made it near Corsica - it was captured by pirates off the Ionian island of Zante. Had they all made it, the colony would have had over 1,500 residents. The Bishop of Vitylo informed the Genoese that if the colony was successful, there were more than a hundred monks and priests who would be willing to follow them; they never arrived, but it's unclear if they were never sent or whether they were on the other two ships lost to pirates. The Venetian census of 1700 put the population of Mani at 14,773, so this was (or was at least intended to be) a pretty major relocation of the local population.

That said, I'm not sure if 1,500 Maniot settlers instead of 730 would have had a larger historical effect. Spinola would have undoubtedly welcomed another few hundred Greek militiamen, but since the Genoese defaulted on their wages in the 1740s it's questionable whether he could have actually afforded their services, and a few hundred troops here or there is not going to change the fact that the Corsican War was simply unwinnable for Genoa. A larger community might have been better able to defend itself against Corsican attacks, but the odds are still heavily against the Greeks.
That's a pretty fascinating community.

A cursory search says a lot of the Corsican Greeks who went to Algeria had to leave after independence- so they were forced out of three countries in three centuries. Poor bastards couldn't catch a break.
A cursory search says a lot of the Corsican Greeks who went to Algeria had to leave after independence- so they were forced out of three countries in three centuries. Poor bastards couldn't catch a break.

Some went even further than that. In 1768, just a scant few months before Genoa turned over Corsica to France, about 70 Corsican Greeks joined the expedition of Andrew Turnbull which founded the town and plantation of New Smyrna in Florida, principally as indentured servants. The expedition is mainly notable for being the first settlement of Greek Orthodox people in the Americas (there were about 500 Greeks on the expedition, out of some 1,300 colonists). Unfortunately, the colony was a failure; many of the colonists died of malaria, and the harsh treatment of the workers by Turnbull and his overseers caused a rebellion. In 1777, many of the remaining workers walked all the way to St. Augustine where they were granted freedom from their servitude by the British governor of East Florida. New Smyrna was abandoned, and the survivors settled permanently in St. Augustine. There are hints that some of the Corsican Greeks may have survived - a later census, for instance, records a family called Cocifaccio, another spelling of the surname of Teodori Cozzifacci, one of the Greek militia captains I mentioned. If so, they must have assimilated into the Minorcan community (Minorcans made up the largest share of the New Smyrna colonists), of which a few families apparently still reside in St. Augustine today.

So yeah, not a lot of breaks were caught.
The settler community in Algeria was incredibly diverse. A very large number of Spanish people as well as the Corsican Greeks and everything else.
Corsica in the Balance
Corsica in the Balance


Map of the Bay of Porto Vecchio, 1730

The bay of Porto Vecchio is widely described as the best natural harbor on Corsica, yet it had only been settled by the Genoese in the 16th century and never attained any great significance under their rule. Its gifts were outweighed by the two great scourges of the Corsican coast - pirates and malaria. The local marshes made the site hostile to permanent settlement, which in turn meant that the uninhabited bay was a welcome refuge for corsairs on their expeditions of plunder and slavery. That the Genoese settled there at all was due mainly to the desire to deny the pirates their safe haven on Genoese territory. The first colony at Porto Vecchio was founded in 1539 and the fort was completed two years later, but the settlement of the bay met with several false starts due to malaria outbreaks and conflict. Over a 50 year period after its construction, the fort was destroyed and rebuilt no fewer than three times owing to the attacks of Barbary corsairs and the Franco-Ottoman invasion of Corsica in 1553, during which the town became an advance base of the Ottoman fleet and was briefly the headquarters of the famous rebel Sampiero Corso. By the start of the Corsican Revolution the town numbered only about 500 inhabitants, many of whom were only seasonal residents who migrated inland during the summer. By 1742, the effects of the rebellion had caused that number to drop to 300. The town’s hinterland, despite being a potentially promising agricultural area described by one contemporary traveler as a “beautiful and very fruitful country,” was largely uninhabited.

The final form of Porto Vecchio’s defenses was a trapezoidal fort on a low hill overlooking the bay, punctuated by five bastions. It was assisted by two lightly-armed watchtowers, the tower of San Cipriano overlooking the bay's entrance and the tower of Benedetto further up the bay. The town’s walls served it well enough against the pirates - eventually - but not much work had been done on them since the 16th century. The Austrians, during their brief occupation, had surveyed the fort and contemplated upgrading the fortifications themselves, but had concluded that the walls were in such poor condition that serious repair would be too expensive for a temporary occupation force to justify. As soon as Sartena had fallen, the Austrians moved their headquarters there.

Still, even if the town was less than ideal for a permanent residence, it was potentially useful to the rebels as a port for smugglers and traders to bring in arms and supplies. The Dila, however, had been a relatively quiet sector since the Austrian withdrawal. With fewer than a quarter of the total Genoese complement in Corsica stationed in the southern provinces of Ajaccio and Bonifacio, the Genoese commanders had no ability to occupy inland positions (save Sartena) or make expeditions into the countryside, so the interior Corsicans of the south were largely left to their own devices and had no reason to seek battle with the Genoese. Despite the radicalizing presence of Matthias von Drost and the royalist captains of Zicavo, the only armed conflict in the south since 1741 had been a mere handful of minor skirmishes in the Rocca between “bandits” and the filogenovesi militia of Giacamo Maria Peretti. Furthermore, even if Zicavo or the Alta Rocca were to rise in rebellion, Porto Vecchio would be effectively shielded by Peretti and and the jurisdiction of Sartena. With their interference, the rebels could not easily mount an offensive on Porto Vecchio and would not be able to hold it even if they could.

Accordingly, despite the quality of the anchorage Porto Vecchio was not considered by the Genoese to be a point of major strategic importance and they had not committed many resources to its defense. Under the plan of Commissioner-General Domenico Maria Spinola, only 33 regular soldiers had been assigned to the bay, of which 20 held the fort itself and the other thirteen were stationed at the tower of Benedetto. The tower of San Cipriano, at the bay’s entrance, was left unoccupied. In addition to these regulars, there were 27 “provincial soldiers” - local militia - stationed at the fort, of which around half were mounted for patrol and gendarme duties. Both the fort and the Tower of Benedetto possessed artillery, but the guns were ancient and poorly maintained.[1] At Benedetto there was a single 8-pounder iron saker and a pair of 2-pounder falconets, although only the falconets were capable of firing inland. The fort of Porto Vecchio had half a dozen bronze sakers of various shot-weights and an assortment of smaller falconets and swivel guns which were apportioned between the five bastions.

This was nevertheless more artillery than was possessed by Colonel Antonio Colonna-Bozzi - that is to say, none - and any hope that the fort might be taken by a sudden escalade against flat-footed defenders was lost through delay. As it was late in the day on their arrival, Colonna decided to encamp his forces and advance on the town on the following day, but their landing had been spotted by the Genoese and reported to the lieutenant in command at Porto Vecchio. The Genoese were unsure as to who exactly had landed on their shores, but had observed the British flag on the Panther and concluded that this was probably not a landing in the republic’s favor. Aside from sending a rider to Bonifacio, however, the Genoese garrison did little with their initiative. No attempt was made to recall the garrison at Benedetto, perhaps because the presence of British ships suggested an attack by sea might be forthcoming. When Colonna began his march on the 15th of October, he detached 40 men to lay siege to the tower, which at a stroke denied the Genoese of more than a fifth of their available manpower. Completely unprepared for a siege, the tower garrison held out for only two days before surrendering.


Plan of the Fortress of Porto Vecchio

Now, however, it was Colonna’s lack of preparedness that became a problem. The secretive and rushed nature of his departure from Livorno had cut short some of his plans, and the “Free Battalion” was lacking not only in artillery but a variety of supplies, including food. In the uncultivated “desert” of Porto Vecchio there was not much foraging to be done. This had not seemed like a major obstacle initially, when Colonna had expected that the town would fall quickly as it had done six years earlier, but finding the garrison prepared for him he hesitated to throw his men against a prepared position, and now was forced to conduct a siege. For the moment, 46 men held out against 340.

The first senior Genoese official to learn of the landing was Giovanni Francesco Franzoni, the commissioner of Bonifacio. There was not much that Franzoni could do - all the regulars in the entire jurisdiction of Bonifacio amounted to just 300 men, smaller than the force that had just landed (which was reported to Franzoni as four or five hundred). Help from Bastia was required, but Franzoni did not have much information to pass on; unhelpfully, the rider from Porto Vecchio had departed before the siege had actually started, and thus had no clear idea of who the foreign soldiers actually were aside from the sighting of a British warship nearby. Franzoni determined that the prudent course of action would be to dispatch a ship to Bastia posthaste, which would stop by Porto Vecchio first and attempt to make contact with the garrison. 25 regulars and some supplies would be sent board on the ship to bolster the defenses there if practicable.

Colonna, too, had sent for help, dispatching several men to work their way inland and make contact with Drost and other exiles. Meanwhile, anxious to avoid a costly assault, he resorted to subterfuge. Many of his men were natives of the Dila, and he managed to infiltrate two of them into the city in “Corsican costume” by posing as herders who had fled from the “nationals.” As it turned out, the rebels had a friend in the city, the parish priest Napoleone Talese, whose brother had apparently been saved from Genoese imprisonment by King Theodore. With the priest’s help, one scout was able to escape the town and report on the strength of the garrison, while the other surreptitiously distributed pamphlets containing Colonna’s declaration of the liberation of Corsica and the imminent return of the king.

The garrison was growing demoralized, and it is not hard to see why. Despite the advantages of their fort and its artillery, the length of the walls was such that even if the 46-man garrison were placed evenly along the entire perimeter there would be only one man every 50 feet or so, and even that was possible only if the entire garrison was continually on patrol without rest. Although marginally better stocked for food than Colonna’s men, they could not know this, and their own supply was not very large - starved for flour in the Diqua, keeping the larders of Porto Vecchio full on the off chance of a naval invasion had been fairly low on Spinola’s list of priorities. Although the circulation of propaganda within the walls does not appear to have caused any internal unrest, it added to the anxiety of the defenders, and the twenty regulars may have wondered how reliable the provincial troops, which made up more than half their small complement, really were.

The arrival of the felucca from Bonifacio would have considerably boosted their morale. Although 25 soldiers still would have left the garrison fearfully shorthanded, the knowledge that Genoa was exerting itself to aid them would have been welcome. The relief ship, however, never made to Porto Vecchio. Upon reaching the mouth of the bay, the ship’s crew observed the Moor’s Head flying over the tower of San Cipriano, where Colonna had placed a few men as lookouts, and when it tentatively attempted to sail further into the bay it was fired upon by the Torre Benedetto. The ship could potentially have run the gauntlet - an 8-pounder gun was of some danger to a felucca, but there was only one gun and Colonna’s men were not exactly trained artillerists - but the crew evidently determined that the port was now in the hands of the nationals and beat their way back out to sea and on to Bastia.

On the 26th of October, the twelfth day of the siege, Colonna gained a parley with the Genoese commanding lieutenant. His numbers had recently been strengthened by the arrival of several dozen militiamen from the interior and he now had nearly four hundred men under arms, although the added numbers put further strain on his dwindling supplies. Colonna informed the lieutenant that unless the garrison surrendered at once, he would take the fortress by storm with ladders and grapnels, and if he were forced to that extremity he would give no quarter to any Genoese soldiers found within. As proof of his good faith, he produced the prisoners taken from the Tower of Benedetto, who were still alive and ambulatory. The poor lieutenant, without any orders or communication from his superiors, found himself in an impossible situation. To preserve his honor and on the off chance that the Genoese were on their way to his aid, he proposed a seven-day truce, at which point he would capitulate if no Genoese relief was forthcoming. “That will not do,” Colonna brashly replied, “as I will have buried you and your men long before then.” This bravado veiled the fact that he knew he could probably not maintain the siege for another week. But the lieutenant’s mettle was shot, and on the following day he offered the surrender of the garrison. For the second time, Colonna had captured Porto Vecchio.

Word spread quickly. It was a shocking turn of events for the Genoese; although the actual strategic importance of Porto Vecchio was limited, Spinola had hardly expected an amphibious landing by uniformed Corsican troops, and scrambled to figure out a response. But there were simply no options - his troops were fully tied down in the north, where he expected the situation to grow even more dangerous once the Corsicans learned of Colonna’s conquest. Spinola sent 40 regulars of the Bastia garrison on a ship to reinforce Franzoni, but for the moment a reconquest of Porto Vecchio was quite impossible.


The guns of Bonifacio

Yet Colonna too found himself with few options. He had arrived in Corsica with an army and captured his objective, but where was he to go from here? Bonifacio was out of the question; it would take more than a few bronze sakers to take down a fortress of that magnitude. Aside from a few coastal towers of little significance, there was only Sartena, the sole inland Genoese position in the Dila. Colonna, however, was still worried about his supply situation in Porto Vecchio, and was not confident in his ability to sustain an overland campaign.

Furthermore, an attack on Sartena was impractical without the support of the inland Corsicans, and to his dismay he did not seem to have it. A few dozen men had, as noted, arrived at his call, but the major clan leaders of the interior were as surprised by his arrival as the Genoese and were not rushing to his flag. Certainly they had little love for the Genoese, but the status quo suited them rather well; the republic had left them entirely alone since the Austrian withdrawal, and what the clans of the Dila valued above all else was their autonomy. It was not altogether clear what Colonna’s plan was, exactly, or whose interests he served; he claimed to be acting on behalf of the Kingdom of Corsica, and thus Theodore, but he was leading a Tuscan unit formerly in Austrian service which had been delivered by British vessels. Furthermore, if he was really acting in the name of Theodore, where was Theodore? Like his counterparts in the north who had been disappointed by the failure of a general uprising to materialize after their attacks on Corti and Morosaglia, Colonna too was let down by the cautious and calculating nature of the Corsicans in the wake of a long and costly war.

Paradoxically, Colonna’s conquest had a greater impact in the north, where the exiles and malcontents were inspired to further stir the pot of rebellion. Count Gianpietro Gaffori, who had been laying low in the Castagniccia since the incident at Corti, had been trying to organize resistance in that district for months without much tangible success. The publication of the Regulation had considerably strengthened his hand, however, and he inveighed against Spinola’s decision to break up the abortive consulta at Morosaglia. He was not yet counselling rebellion as such, but argued that the Corsicans at the very least had a right to discuss the law which would be placed upon them by Genoa. Spinola’s offer to host such a discussion at Bastia, flimsy as it was, at least promised to string out the “peace” a little longer, but in the wake of Colonna’s attack this summit was quietly tabled. Spinola suspected the Corsicans would use the excuse to be bolder in their negotiations, and even if the talks were a sham he did not want to enter them from a position of weakness and uncertainty. The rebels, in turn, denounced this as more lies and broken promises from the Genoese government.

Spinola was quite correct in his assessment. While few Corsicans in the interior were yet willing to take up arms, many Corsican leaders saw the fall of Porto Vecchio as a golden opportunity to press the Genoese for yet more concessions. What they needed was unity, and by mid-November there was considerable talk among the various chiefs and procuratori of the interior about attempting another consulta, this time at Orezza, to discuss and publicize their criticisms of the Regulation and formulate a negotiating position. Of course the consulta would need to be protected to dissuade Spinola and his minions from dissolving it as they had done at Morosaglia, and so the local chieftains began to gather and arm their followers. It was clearly a tinderbox in the making. Orezza, one of the cradles of the Corsican rebellion, was a particularly restless district as well as being the “arms capital of Corsica” where all the best native gunsmiths could be found. Those gunsmiths were widely rumored to be busily expanding and repairing the clans' arsenals. Moreover, Orezza also occupied a key strategic position near the Bastia-Corti supply route, such that if it became a serious rebel base the Genoese position at Corti would likely be rendered untenable.

The fall of Porto Vecchio had at first produced panic among the Genoese, but after several weeks of inaction by Colonna, Spinola and his government had come to the conclusion that their initial assessment of Porto Vecchio’s marginal strategic value was correct and that Colonna was not the tip of the spear for some massive foreign invasion. Orezza was a far more serious threat, as a fire that started there could quickly blaze out of control and raise the whole Castagniccia in rebellion, and that would collapse Genoese control over the interior. The gathering of militia at Orezza, the continued reports of weapons production there, and new calls for a national consulta convinced Spinola that the time for talk was over and the pieve had to be subdued with overwhelming force. He even dared to hope that the gathering of malcontents there might be an opportunity to arrest several prominent rebel leaders in one fell swoop, to say nothing of collecting a great deal of contraband weapons.

Spinola envisioned a three-pronged attack, with Colonel Pietro Paolo Crettler leading a force of some 300 men from the north, another force of 100 Genoese and 100 Greeks advancing from Corti in the west, and Captain Grimaldi and his company of filogenovesi approaching Orezza from the east. Such numbers could have undoubtedly overwhelmed the militia then gathered at Orezza, which were few in number and had no coherent leadership. Genoese logistics, however, were already in a miserable enough state without having to support complex coordinated maneuvers, and this crushing blow against Orezza was repeatedly delayed by difficulties with getting enough men in position and finding enough food and supplies to sustain them. Even those reinforcements Spinola managed to get from Genoa did him little good, as they did not even keep pace his losses from desertion. As weeks passed with no offensive being launched, winter descended upon the island, which further complicated matters as the Genoese soldiers were still largely without winter clothing.

As the Genoese struggled to launch their offensive, everything began to come apart at the seams. Violence steadily increased across the interior, including arson and murder directed at both filogenovesi and “nationals.” Giuseppe Maria Mambilla, the commissioner of Calvi, sent worrying reports of coordination between the exiles in the Balagna and the Castagniccia, and lamented that his entire province (outside of the garrisoned towns of Calvi, Calenzana, and Algajola) was now effectively in the hands of the malcontents. The capture of Porto Vecchio, while it had not yet led to further rebel conquests, had encouraged a resumption in smuggling which the Genoese were not well-equipped to deal with now that they lacked the support of the French fleet, and Spinola's commanders on the coast were sending him constant warnings about ship sightings and alleged landings of arms, supplies, and exiles.

The weakness of the republic was further demonstrated in mid-December when three filogenovsei militiamen on a patrol were abducted and disarmed by men of the Ciavaldini clan, which had strongly supported Theodore in the past. Spinola sent Major Domenico de Franceschi to recover them, and Franceschi’s company was reportedly victorious in a short skirmish with “bandits” to attempted to impede their progress. Belatedly realizing the danger they were in, the Ciavaldini reached out to their allied clans, calling them to rally to their defense. This growing force gave Franceschi pause, as he did not want to be responsible for triggering another uprising. He elected not to press the attack, but instead secured the release of the militiamen in exchange for a promise of amnesty to the Ciavaldini and their men. This resolved the situation, but set a dangerous precedent that the “justice” of the republic could be neutralized with sufficient numbers of armed men.

One must compliment the resourcefulness and drive of Spinola during this difficult time, who went to extraordinary lengths to make his plans come together. He conscripted the tailors and seamstresses of Bastia to make winter coats for the soldiers and solicited loans from the Bastian citizenry to buy flour. When the Senate failed to give him the support he needed, he set himself as an example to others, contributing 10,000 lire from his own pockets to buy supplies and pay salaries in preparation for the long-delayed Orezza expedition. Meanwhile, as the Genoese navy seemed powerless to stop the arrival of ships from the mainland, he developed a plan to arm small “gondolas” armed with muskets and spingardi[2] that could intercept small craft used by smugglers. The 76 year old retired statesman toiling away in Bastia was undoubtedly the hardest working man in the Genoese government, and a rare bright spot of competence in an otherwise dismal picture. Nevertheless, it was not until late January that the plan was actually ready to be executed, and the numbers he had gathered were still less than he had hoped for. Most troubling was the absence of the Greeks, who had refused outright to participate in the operation. Spinola reproached their captains for their disobedience, but they were unmoved; they had the support of their soldiers and experience had taught them that Spinola could not afford to lose them, which meant he had no power to punish them.

As the year 1743 opened, Corsica was a curious blend of turmoil and stasis. The exile-led “rebel” bands in the north continued their assaults on the Genoese government and their collaborators, but were unable to break through from “banditry” into conquest. Loosely allied clans and exiles gradually built a base of power in Orezza in preparation for a declaration of defiance, but the planned consulta was continually put off by interminable debates between clan leaders and the concerns of rebel commanders like Gaffori and Rauschenburg who did not want to make the same mistake twice of declaring war when the Corsican people were not ready to follow them. In the south, a royalist army under Colonna had landed and captured a Genoese port but was frozen in place by problems of supply and the cautious passivity of the southern mountaineers. The Genoese held an enormous military advantage on paper, but were so paralyzed by shortages, desertion, disorganization, bad information, and paranoia that even high-priority military ventures were delayed by months or never carried out at all. Something more was necessary to shake the island loose from this deadlock.

[1] The inventory of the artillery of the Presidium of Bonifacio reads like a list of 16th century antiques, which is probably exactly what they were. They had a bewildering array of weapons - falcons, falconets, sakers, culverins, pierriers, cannons, mortars - in an even more bewildering array of arcane and obsolete calibers, ranging from two massive 54-pounder “ancient cannons” and four 46-pounder “Spanish cannons” to iron and bronze guns with shot weights of 34, 27, 13½, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8½, 8, 7, 6¾, 6½, 4½, 2, and 1½ pounds. The Genoese officer taking this inventory apparently gave up when he got to the petrieri (pierriers), noting only that they had “ten various pierriers.” To what extent any of these guns had the correct ammunition or were in serviceable condition is unclear. One saker is specifically described in the inventory as “useless,” but no comment is made on the condition of the others.
[2] Spingarde, or “springald,” is a rather archaic term, used originally to mean a medieval arrow-throwing engine, that at this time designated an anti-personnel gun of relatively modest size, probably a wall-gun or pintle-mounted blunderbuss only somewhat more portable than a swivel gun. In modern Italian, the term refers to a punt gun, a very large, long-barreled shotgun affixed to a small boat (a punt) to shoot whole flocks of birds. Such armaments might have been helpful against the smallest unarmed and open-decked vessels, but to call a spingarde-armed gondola a “warship” may be too generous.
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So @Carp, I know you’ve said events on the continent are still going to go roughly OTL through the summer of 1743, but I do hope you still cover those events, including the Battle of Dettingen.
I'm guessing either Theodore returns to Corsica prompting the rebellion to begin again or the Orezza Expedition becomes a Lexington and Concord type situation. Either way I'm curious to see what happens next!
Well Genoese power collapsed IOTL with a lot more favorable circumstances than ITTL so it's pretty doomed here.
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Theodore is still in Livornio at this point correct?

When last we left him (in October 1742), Theodore was at Florence.

So @Carp, I know you’ve said events on the continent are still going to go roughly OTL through the summer of 1743, but I do hope you still cover those events, including the Battle of Dettingen.

I was probably only going to mention it in passing, as I’m inclined to be a bit vague about what’s going on on the rest of Europe. I think my previous “How the WoAS got started” update was useful because it sets up why all these countries are suddenly fighting and what the diplomatic landscape looks like (which is crucial for Corsica), but knowing the progress of the war in Germany is rather less important apart from broad strokes.

Any particular reason you wanted me to cover Dettingen?
I was probably only going to mention it in passing, as I’m inclined to be a bit vague about what’s going on on the rest of Europe. I think my previous “How the WoAS got started” update was useful because it sets up why all these countries are suddenly fighting and what the diplomatic landscape looks like (which is crucial for Corsica), but knowing the progress of the war in Germany is rather less important apart from broad strokes.

Any particular reason you wanted me to cover Dettingen?

I don’t mean to issue idle flattery - but I think a lot of the focus on our part on hearing a recounting of war is a complement to your storytelling ability, research based attention to detail, and method of conveying ideas and events in an interesting way that’s very easy to follow.
A broad strokes overview of the progress of the WoAS would be helpful for those of us who don't know the period well, especially in light of how freaking complicated it was. Probably not needed quite yet, but maybe at least an annual update on the continent?
Sure, I can do that. I don't want to get too bogged down in foreign details - this TL is moving slowly enough as it is - but I can stop occasionally to catch you up with how the wider war is progressing.
Some went even further than that. In 1768, just a scant few months before Genoa turned over Corsica to France, about 70 Corsican Greeks joined the expedition of Andrew Turnbull which founded the town and plantation of New Smyrna in Florida, principally as indentured servants. The expedition is mainly notable for being the first settlement of Greek Orthodox people in the Americas (there were about 500 Greeks on the expedition, out of some 1,300 colonists). Unfortunately, the colony was a failure; many of the colonists died of malaria, and the harsh treatment of the workers by Turnbull and his overseers caused a rebellion. In 1777, many of the remaining workers walked all the way to St. Augustine where they were granted freedom from their servitude by the British governor of East Florida. New Smyrna was abandoned, and the survivors settled permanently in St. Augustine. There are hints that some of the Corsican Greeks may have survived - a later census, for instance, records a family called Cocifaccio, another spelling of the surname of Teodori Cozzifacci, one of the Greek militia captains I mentioned. If so, they must have assimilated into the Minorcan community (Minorcans made up the largest share of the New Smyrna colonists), of which a few families apparently still reside in St. Augustine today.

So yeah, not a lot of breaks were caught.
So that’s how New Smyrna got its name.