The Restoration
The Restoration


The Franciscan Convent of Alando, Bozio, site of the Consulta of Bozio

If there was one thing that nearly all the factions and personalities of the national movement could agree on, it was the necessity of a new consulta. In fact a national assembly had been proposed by some, including Count Gianpietro Gaffori, nearly a month before, but the presence of Theodore in the south had frustrated these attempts because of the insistence of the royalist partisans that no assembly be convened without the royal presence. Although relatively few in number, the royalists were vocal and militant, and their chief exponent in the Balagna Marquis Simone Fabiani seemed to be in a powerful position at Isola Rossa. Even if the inconciliabili were in the minority, to go ahead without them would risk not only an ideological breach in the national movement but possibily a geographic one as well, with the Tavagna and the interior set against the Balagna and the more pro-royalist areas of the Castagniccia. Not until Theodore’s arrival at newly liberated Corti in late March did the convocation of a new national consulta become feasible. It was ultimately to be held at Bozio on the 2nd of April, some 12 miles east of Corti.

The delegates of the Bozio consulta faced a considerable list of challenges, among the most urgent of which was the establishment of justice. Since the Battle of Ponte Leccia and the dissolution of Theodore’s Corti regime nearly two years before, there had been no effective national leadership. Despite its recent ex post facto recognition by Theodore, the “regency” of Marquis Luca d’Ornano had exerted power only in the western Dila and consisted of little more than d’Ornano’s own network of clans and villages. The sudden withdrawal of the Genoese thus left most of the island as an ungoverned space. Having liberated the interior, the nationals now needed to demonstrate they were capable of ruling it. Banditry and murder had escalated dramatically, and while much of the violence was directed at real or suspected filogenovesi the bandits were not always known for their qualities of patriotism and discernment. The orgy of private vengeance, as useful as it had been to purge the filogenovesi party in the interior, had to be replaced with public justice.

Beyond the immediate restoration of order, the long-term strategy of the national cause was also a point of contention. Outside of certain bases of royal support in the Balagna and the Castagniccia, the preference for negotiation over war enjoyed significant support. While the Genoese position seemed weaker than it had been in years, there was no telling when the war in Europe would be resolved, allowing the French or Austrians to return as Genoese auxiliaries. Without meaningful foreign alliances, there was no reason to think that the rebels would weather a third foreign intervention any better than they had weathered the last two, and despite the British hand in Theodore’s arrival there was little indication that the king had acquired the sort of backing that would prevent the Franco-Austrian conquest of 1739-40 from repeating itself. The worst case scenario was that, by committing to a war which Theodore did not have the resources to win, the Corsicans would forfeit a chance to extract concessions from the Genoese that the rebels in the early 1730s could have only dreamed of.

Against this tendency were the inconciliabili, generally royalist in their sympathies, who denounced any negotiation with the Genoese as misguided or even treasonous. They pointed to the previous fourteen years of war, and the history of Genoese abuses which long preceded it, and concluded that any concession obtained from Genoa would be fleeting. The Republic had a history of reneging on its promises, especially those which had been extracted from it through force; as a consequence, only independence could permanently secure the liberty of the people. Anything less would be a capitulation to the caprice of the Genoese, which was particularly senseless at a time when the Genoese position was so weakened. Count Marcantonio Giappiconi, Theodore’s Minister of War and representative from Tavagna, concisely expressed the frustration of the inconciliabili with their “moderate” foes: “Gianpietro, having the whole loaf in his hands,” he allegedly exclaimed after one of Gaffori’s speeches, “proposes to beg for the crust!”

Also at issue, albeit implicitly, was the place of the king in this new reality. After five years of rule (interrupted by his Amsterdam excursion in 1737), the mere fact of Theodore’s position was not really in doubt. The consulta had effectively been delayed until his arrival, was convened some sense under his auspices, and ended with a signed declaration of the representatives renewing their pledge to recognize Theodore “and none other” as the King of Corsica. While the consulta originated as and remained an essentially (representative) democratic organ of the people, it seems to have been already implicitly accepted that the king possessed a right to preside over, if not to command the assembly, and that his presence gave additional legitimacy to this native institution.[1] Yet those who were in favor of reconciliation could not be entirely pleased with his return, for his presence on Corsica as an active ruler of the nation was clearly incompatible with proposals to negotiate with the Genoese that would presumably - if successful - end in the formal resumption of Genoese sovereignty.[2][A] Rather than disputing the fact of Theodore’s rule, the advocates of negotiation favored approaches which gave no power to the king, placing the establishment of justice and the conduct of negotiations in the hands of commissioners or magistrates elected by the consulta rather than vesting these responsibilities in the king or his ministers.

Theodore had to content himself with “presiding” over the proceedings. Always aware of the theatrics of royal dignity, he had no desire to appear as one of many bickering representatives; certainly he had a personal interest, but he had proxies to promote them. His direct involvement, as far as we know, was limited to an address he gave the consulta “in state” - that is, seated before the assembly in his usual scarlet robes. Theodore, we are told, commended the delegates for their loyalty and their undaunted spirit of resistance towards the oppressors of Corsican liberty. He went on to speak of the situation abroad and of foreign support for their cause, undoubtedly benefiting from the fact that he was better equipped to hold forth on foreign affairs than anyone in Corsica. He possessed, he insisted, firm pledges of support from foreign governments and private persons, and went on to give lists of cargos and sums of money which were at his disposal. It was not possible, however, to realize this support so long as the Corsicans themselves had not determined whether they had the will and the intention to fight for their own liberty.

Theodore did not demand war. Indeed, he reminded the Corsicans that he had once before offered to abdicate if he was an obstacle to the peace and prosperity of Corsica. If the Corsicans believed that to be true now, and were convinced that their aspirations would be fulfilled by the Genoese, then he would quit the island once more. But he followed this with a lengthy list of Genoese abuses and incidents of bad faith in which they had reneged on their promises, a list that the Corsicans themselves knew all too well. Was it the intention of the delegates, he asked, to put their faith once more in Genoa and hope that the sacrifice of blood they had made to this point in their struggle would at last be honored by the Senate of the Republic, or did they prefer to place their trust in themselves and in Almighty God who rewards the righteous?

That, at least, is a summary based on the few accounts we have, which insist the royal address was received with near-universal acclaim. Yet the notion of the consulta being won over to the king’s side by his silver tongue is belied by the fact that the results of the assembly’s deliberation were by no means an unambiguous victory for Theodore and his partisans. Compromises had to be made to preserve the unity of the national front.

The king’s most severe setback was on the matter of the war itself. The desire for at least some extension of an olive branch to Genoa, if only to sound out what the Republic was now prepared to offer, could not be quashed without endangering national unity. The inconciliabili, moreover, were unsuccessful in their attempt to obtain the prerogative of negotiations for Theodore himself, which given Theodore’s own self-interest would have made an obvious farce of the endeavour. The consulta was obliged to bow to the concerns of the “moderates” and proceeded to appoint a troika of commissioners who would be empowered to discover and negotiate, although not agree to, the Genoese proposals for peace. This naturally meant that there would be no general war effort against the Genoese for the time being, which was in the interests not only of the pro-negotiation leaders but the considerable number of fence-sitters who merely wished to avoid confrontation and play for time.

Despite the assembly's disappointing failure to properly renew the rebellion, Theodore was able to gain an endorsement of the siege of Ajaccio. The king and his more belligerent supporters argued that to abandon the siege would seem like weakness, and the pressure which the siege exerted on the Genoese commissioners could only be of value in the prospective negotiations. Perhaps these arguments carried some weight, but the reality was that the consulta really had no say in the matter. There were few delegates from the Dila at Bozio, and virtually none of the troops under d’Ornano’s command were either from the Diqua or in any way beholden to the consulta. Accordingly, the delegates sensibly approved the status quo instead of pointlessly objecting to something that they had no power to change. Yet there was one concrete and important result of this rubber-stamp approval, which was that Gaffori was now compelled to yield the gunpowder he had seized at Morosaglia to be taken south, an act he had previously resisted owing to his personal disagreements with d’Ornano.

On the matter of establishing justice, the consulta voted to establish a local gendarmerie in the form of “flying squadrons” of paid volunteers. To sustain this force, the delegates proposed a 20 soldi (1 lira) tax on all households, which was the first general tax to be authorized by the revolutionary government.[3][B] Perhaps strangely given the overwhelmingly negative response to the recent Genoese attempts to re-introduce the taglia, this proposal met with very little resistance. Far more contentious were the details of who would collect the tax and how the squadrons would be organized. Many of the delegates wanted a decentralized system so as to keep their own district’s resources close at hand, but some worried that this might cause corruption. Not all pieves were equal in terms of resources or the threats facing them, and some local officers might simply pocket some or all of their pieve’s tax money. As a compromise solution, it was agreed that a number of “auditors” would be appointed (as it turned out, by the king) to supervise the collection in various districts, but the squadrons themselves would be under local control. This gave the royal government some tenuous control over these officers, as the royal auditors could in theory withhold or simply not collect taxes from the pieves of intransigent captains, but the consulta was clear that these were essentially police forces who were not to be used as armed forces against the Genoese.

The Bozio consulta certainly appeared to be the nadir of the power of the Theodoran monarchy. The king was compelled to merely preside over what was essentially a legislative session, in which the delegates, not the Diet or the royal ministers, established a tax, raised armed forces, and determined matters of peace and war. It was a product of the weak position of the king both politically and economically. Although a respected figure who was universally acknowledged as king by the delegates, there was no “absolutist” party as such which supported a consolidation of power in his hands (the inconciliabili were “royalist” insofar as they opposed a return to the Genoese fold, but did not necessarily advocate for the centralization of taxation and police power in the monarchy), and Theodore himself lacked either the funds or the military might to control or defy the consulta. Although clearly he exerted some influence, the reigns of governance now seemed to be in the hands of the popular assembly.

The consulta’s power, however, was not as great as it appeared. The body’s great weakness lay in the fact that it was impermanent - the consulta was not a standing organ of government but an extraordinary representative assembly called together at a specific time and for a specific purpose. Theodore’s royal administration, weak as it seemed, was nevertheless permanent - unlike the delegates, who ceased to have any power as soon as the consulta dissolved, Theodore’s ministers held their jobs at the king’s pleasure. As soon as the consulta adjourned, Theodore was soon occupied in filling those posts - confirming his ministers and elevating new ones, making appointments to the Diet, handing out knighthoods, and signing officer commissions. For the moment, however, this government structure was mostly nominal and honorary, for Theodore did not have the money to run an actual government. As ever, the handing out of offices and titles was a way to cultivate some influence, but a vitalization of the royal government would have to wait until the king had something to offer besides signed charters.

After spending Easter at Corti (April 14th), Theodore proceeded north to Isola Rossa, a convenient place to pursue what Theodore viewed as his paramount task: the conscription of foreign support into Corsica’s war. He had been at that for some years, of course, but his credibility was considerably greater now. Not only was he actually on Corsica, but he had in his hands the “Bozio Declaration,” the product of the recent consulta, in which the national delegates had pledged and signed their loyalty to the crown. On Corsica the Declaration was but a scrap of paper; many of the signatories had only a nominal attachment to the king. But foreigners knew nothing of Corsica's internal politics, and on the continent it looked like compelling proof that Theodore did at the very least enjoy the support of Corsica’s rebels. Theodore sent a copy of the Bozio Declaration to Arthur Villettes and Horace Mann, Britain’s ministers to Turin and Florence (respectively), along with a proposal for turning over Calvi and/or San Fiorenzo to the British to serve as military ports and even raising “one or two” Corsican regiments as British auxiliaries in the present war. No action from London was immediately forthcoming, but we know that the ambassadors took this proposal seriously enough to forward it on to Lord John Carteret and his southern secretary, Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle. News of the consulta spread into the popular press as well, and earned a mention as far afield as the Pennsylvania Gazette.

While convenient for the conduct of diplomacy, Isola Rossa was even more valuable from an economic standpoint. The small but defensible port town had been the smuggling capital of Corsica during Theodore’s earlier reign, and now that it was in rebel hands illicit traffic immediately resumed. With the French navy chased from the seas by the British Mediterranean squadron, Genoa had to rely on its own small naval force which was already occupied with interdicting smugglers elsewhere on the coast (particularly the eastern shore and Porto Vecchio) and escorting supply ships. This soon proved inadequate. Genoa’s inability to control Corsican smuggling was so profound that Genoa itself appears to have quickly become the second-largest port of supply for Isola Rossa contraband, second only to Livorno. With the war taking a heavy toll on their business, Genoese merchants were increasingly willing to supplement their incomes by selling arms to the Corsicans even if it meant subverting their own government.

With Isola Rossa in hand and much of the productive Balagna vacated by Genoese forces, Theodore could now begin prying loose the rest of the syndicate’s funds which were waiting in Livorno contingent upon deliveries of oil and other goods. He further provided a copy of the Bozio Declaration to the partners in Amsterdam and asked for a loan now that he possessed some actual collateral. Rather predictably he vastly overstated his control over Corsica and its economic resources, but he must have controlled something, for by May it is clear that money was trickling into Theodore’s coffers as well as small but increasingly frequent shipments of arms. Yet the syndicate loan he was angling for remained elusive. The skittishness of the partners was undoubtedly a product of the war in Europe, which by the spring of 1743 had expanded as to directly involve the Dutch Republic. The States General had finally and reluctantly accepted their treaty obligations and raised an additional 20,000 soldiers, bringing the Dutch forces to some 65,000 men overall. As yet these men were not campaigning against France, but as the Anglo-Hanoverian "Pragmatic Army" mustered in the Netherlands under the command of Field Marshal John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair and King George II himself, it seemed to many inevitable that the Dutch would soon join the war in earnest.

[1] A recent work on the Enlightenment origins of western democratic thought has proposed the notion of “hybrid sovereignty” - sovereign power emanating both from God and the popular will - to describe the Corsican government under Theodore, who notably titled himself as “by the Grace of God and Unanimous Consent Elected King of Corsica.” His dual role as an elected representative of the people and a God-sent liberator king was certainly unusual for the period.
[2] It apparently did not trouble the pro-reconciliation delegates that their pledge of allegiance to Theodore, by which they promised to recognize him “and no other” as king, was by its nature impossible to reconcile with a belief that the kingship would, as a product of peace negotiations, eventually reside with the Doge of Genoa (and present claimant to that same royal title). Presumably Theodore noticed this obvious dissonance, but given his position and the need for consensus it was not politic to make a fuss over it. A pledge of loyalty, even undertaken in bad faith, was more useful to him than its absence.
[3] Technically Theodore’s government also collected the tithe (effectively a 5% income tax), of which one-third went directly into the royal coffers while the rest was apportioned between church upkeep and charity. But this was a diversion of a long-standing exaction rather than a new tax - the royal government had seized control of it from the pro-Genoese bishops - and its collection during the revolutionary era seems to have been spotty at best.

Timeline Notes
[A] IOTL, this conundrum was solved in Theodore’s absence by the creation of the “Regency of Corsica,” a national government which claimed to rule in the name of Theodore but ostensibly sought the reestablishment of Genoese sovereignty under favorable terms. An illustration of the regency’s ambivalence towards Theodore himself was its curious declaration that Theodore would not be recognized as king if he returned to Corsica “under the flag of a foreign power.” It remains unclear what exactly the Regency meant by this - were they saying that Theodore ought not to return with foreign support (in which case it would amount to a de facto deposition of Theodore - for how else might he return?) or were they prohibiting Theodore from trying to turn the island over to the sovereignty of another power? Either way, clearly the Regency’s loyalty to Theodore was not unconditional.
[B] The Regency established a similar tax for a similar purpose around this time, although I don’t have information as to how successful the collection efforts were. Evidently the Corsican allergy to taxes did not extend to the delegates they sent to the assembly, although a 1-lira tax was not very high. The infamous due seini amounted to 2/3rds of a lira, but that was on top of the much larger taglia, whereas the 1743 hearth-tax was the only tax imposed by the national government.
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The skittishness of the partners was undoubtedly a product of the war in Europe, which by the spring of 1743 had come to directly involve the Dutch Republic. Although reluctant to participate, the States General had finally accepted their treaty obligations and contributed 6,000 soldiers to the Anglo-Hanoverian “Pragmatic Army” then marshalling in Germany under the command of Field Marshal John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair and King George II himself.
AIR, the Dutch forces OTL didn't meet up with said Pragmatic Army in time to participate in the Battle of Dettingen.


I’m just waiting now for the Doge to storm into the assembly chambers and demand to know how many of the representatives are selling arms to Corsica, and be met with over half the chamber awkwardly raising their hands.
AIR, the Dutch forces OTL didn't meet up with said Pragmatic Army in time to participate in the Battle of Dettingen.

I double-checked, and you're right - while the Dutch did raise additional troops in Spring 1743 to comply with Carteret's demands and their treaty obligations, they weren't part of the "Pragmatic Army" proper at that time. (Also there were a lot more than 6,000, I think I got my wires crossed there). Update will be has been edited accordingly.
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I'd say that there's enough butterflies on the continent that the Dutch being ready to join in for Dettingen is by no means out of the question.
I'd say that there's enough butterflies on the continent that the Dutch being ready to join in for Dettingen is by no means out of the question.

The details of Count Maurice of Nassau's link-up with the Pragmatic Army after Dettingen, as well as the exact reasons for the delay, seem a bit hard to come by, but the only source I've found which offers a firm date for the rendezvous of Nassau and the rest of the Pragmatic Allies claims it was on September 25th at Speyer. Dettingen was fought on June 27th. Perhaps there may be butterflies one way or another - and I'm debating whether Dettingen itself will happen at all, or go some other way - but we're not talking about a few days of tardiness here, and I can't see a compelling reason why the Dutch, whose main delays were political rather than military, should advance their timeline so significantly. The Dutch didn't want to fight and had been dragging their feet for many months; they were in no hurry to rush out and confront the French.
@Carp Are we returning to the war on the continent next, or is that further down the line? If you are going to change anything about Dettingen, I would think you’d want to cover that before covering contiguous events on Corsica.
@Carp Are we returning to the war on the continent next, or is that further down the line? If you are going to change anything about Dettingen, I would think you’d want to cover that before covering contiguous events on Corsica.

I wasn't going to go there yet. To be honest I don't think alt-Dettingen would have any immediate effect on Corsica unless it was a real French blowout, i.e. the Pragmatic Army is surrounded and forced to surrender along with King George himself (as might have happened if Noailles had been able to pull off his plan as he envisioned it). While that would make for an interesting POD on its own, however, a crushing British defeat in 1743 is for obvious reasons not the way I'd like to go ITTL.

A less decisive outcome is unlikely to change much as far as Corsica is concerned. The British-curated negotiations for an Austro-Sardinian alliance had been ongoing since the spring of 1742. These talks were moved to Worms in May of 1743, and if Noailles wins a victory sufficient to force the Pragmatic Allies out of the Rhineland then they might be relocated, but they are likely to continue somewhere regardless of what happens on the battlefield in June unless Britain gets truly wrecked.

The Treaty of Worms which ultimately resulted from this process IOTL chiefly concerned matters in Italy, not Germany, and hinged upon whether Charles Emmanuel was going to take the Habsburg or Bourbon offer. Evidence strongly suggests that, despite the apparent generosity of Spain and Sardinia's diplomatic back-and-forth with the Bourbons all through the summer of 1743, Charles Emmanuel had no intention of aligning himself with Spain and was merely trying to use the prospect of his defection to force the Austrians to agree to Sardinian territorial demands that they had been haggling over for months (a plan which worked marvelously). A mere tactical defeat or indecisive battle in the Rhineland between Britain and France doesn't really alter his considerations; after all, it's not as if the Pragmatic Army is coming to his rescue. What Charles Emmanuel needs from the British is money and ships, and unless George ends up in French fetters Britain will still be able to provide him with those things regardless of what happens in Germany.
Popped over to Wiki and had a look at Italy. I had no idea almost all the monarchies outside of the Savoyard (at least those of note) were either Bourbon or Hapsburg at some point.
Popped over to Wiki and had a look at Italy. I had no idea almost all the monarchies outside of the Savoyard (at least those of note) were either Bourbon or Hapsburg at some point.

Not only that, but a lot of those monarchies fell into Bourbon/Habsburg hands right around the same time. The Gonzagas (Mantua) went extinct in the male line in 1708, the Farnese (Parma) in 1731, the Cybo-Malaspina (Massa-Carrara) also in 1731, and the Medici (Tuscany) in 1737.

These dynastic extinctions fueled the Bourbon-Habsburg struggle for Italy which recurred intermittently throughout the first half of the 18th century (between 1701 and 1753). Tuscany and Parma in particular were shuffled about as part of greater European treaty agreements, and the fact that the Queen of Spain was the heiress of Parma (and thus her desire to gain Parma back for her youngest son, Don Felipe) was a major reason for Spain's involvement in the WoAS.
That's informative. The gazillion wars involving France over Italy really blur together in my brain so having all of those dynastic extinctions set the scene makes this one more distinct.
That's informative. The gazillion wars involving France over Italy really blur together in my brain so having all of those dynastic extinctions set the scene makes this one more distinct.

I've found it most helpful to think of the Italian theater of the WoAS as the last clash in what you might call a half-century long "War of Habsburg Succession" or "Felipe's Wars for Italy" caused by the extinction of the Spanish Habsburgs. Although the Bourbon Prince Felipe (subsequently Felipe V of Spain) gained Spain itself in the War of Spanish Succession, the rest of the European domains of the Spanish crown were stripped from Spain and given to the Austrians - the Netherlands, Sardinia, Naples, Sicily, and Milan.

In a series of wars over the next several decades, Felipe fought to regain this lost patrimony for himself and his sons. He invaded Sardinia and Sicily in the War of the Quadruple Alliance, but was forced to relinquish both. Then in 1731 his son Carlos gained a foothold in Italy by inheriting Parma after the extinction of the male-line Farnese dukes. Carlos was initially also expected to succeed to Tuscany once the Medici died out there, but during the War of Polish Succession he instead launched an invasion of Naples and Sicily. In the subsequent peace of Vienna in 1738, Carlos was confirmed as king of Naples and Sicily but had to surrender Parma and renounce his claim to the Tuscan succession which instead went to (future emperor) Franz Stefan. This satisfied Carlos, because Naples/Sicily was much better than Parma, but his mother Elisabeth Farnese didn't much like losing her patrimony and wanted a state for her younger son Felipe. This prompted the Spanish invasion of Italy in the WoAS, in which the Spanish hoped at a minimum to place Felipe in Parma but also thought they might be able to eject the Habsburgs from Italy entirely. This grand ambition didn't materialize because of Savoy's support for Austria, but in the final peace (1748) Felipe was indeed granted Parma, much to the annoyance of the Austrians.

The struggle might have gone on further but for a combination of two things: First, the death of Felipe V in 1746 and the corresponding fall from power of his Italian wife Elisabeth Farnese, and second, Austria's traumatic loss of Silesia to Prussia. Spain's new monarch pursued a policy of neutrality, while Austria's attention shifted more or less permanently to Germany and the great Habsburg rival became the Hohenzollerns instead of the Bourbons. Both sides agreed to bury the hatchet in the Treaty of Aranjuez of 1753, in which they set the current borders in stone: the Bourbons would keep what they had conquered (Naples, Sicily, Parma) but the remainder would remain with the Habsburgs (Tuscany, the Milanese). This treaty proved durable, and Italy was spared from further war until the arrival of the French and Napoleon at the end of the century.

This is the backdrop to the story being told in this thread, and helps explain why anyone cares about the notion that the Genoese might sell Corsica to Spain. By itself, Corsica is of no consequence, but in the context of Felipe and Elizabeth's decades-long struggle to dominate Italy any suggestion that Spain might get even more of Italy (or islands proximate to it) is concerning.
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Many congratulations on a fabulously engaging TL, written with care and attention to minute detail, but equally rich in characters. Thank you for entertaining and enlightening me over the last few weeks (I read slowly and am a bit busy, but the tab has been permanently open on my phone!)
The old map of 'La Hiace' made me realise: I suppose we should be reading the blockaded city in the south-west as "Ah-yatch-oh", rather than the modern, French "Ah-jacks-ee-oh".
After years in the mountains, is Rauschenburg still in any shape to pose as a Kingly successor? I must admit I picture him looking like a cross between Che Guevara and Ole Gabby Johnson from Blazing Saddles by now. Slightly more seriously, might he be too associated with the Niolo and Balagna to be a 'national' figure in the way Theodore can?
Thanks again.
Many congratulations on a fabulously engaging TL, written with care and attention to minute detail, but equally rich in characters. Thank you for entertaining and enlightening me over the last few weeks (I read slowly and am a bit busy, but the tab has been permanently open on my phone!)

Thank you! Hopefully the personalities will stay interesting even after we start moving from historical people to fictional ones. (I still have yet to introduce any fully fictional named characters…)

The old map of 'La Hiace' made me realise: I suppose we should be reading the blockaded city in the south-west as "Ah-yatch-oh", rather than the modern, French "Ah-jacks-ee-oh".

Indeed. In modern Corsican it’s spelled Aiacciu, but sometimes also Aghjacciu. As “ghj” is apparently a rather rare sound and seems likely to be considered “rustic” and low-status ITTL (thus Italian Giovanni being preferred over Corsican Ghjuvan), my wild guess is that the city’s name is likely to be spelled Ajaccio or Aiaccio ITTL, and pronounced Aiaccio (which I guess is roughly “A-yatch-o” but you Italians out there are welcome to correct me).

Historical forms of the name include Classical Latin Adjacium or Adiacium, Early Byzantine Greek Agiation, Late Medieval Italian Aiazo, Early Modern Italian Addiazzo, and (as in the map) Early Modern French La Hiace.

After years in the mountains, is Rauschenburg still in any shape to pose as a Kingly successor? I must admit I picture him looking like a cross between Che Guevara and Ole Gabby Johnson from Blazing Saddles by now. Slightly more seriously, might he be too associated with the Niolo and Balagna to be a 'national' figure in the way Theodore can?
Thanks again.

After years in the maquis, I’m sure he’s at least got the beard for it...

As far as his chances at succession go, I think the problem is not so much that he’s too close to the Niolesi, but rather that he’s been a bit politically unwise. Being a fiery and outspoken leader of the inconciliabili gets respect from people of that ilk, but as a consequence he’s made himself a polarizing figure and an opponent of the “moderates” including powerful people like Gaffori (who he fell out with over the issue of the Morosaglia artillery). Theodore himself obviously prefers the approach of the inconciliabili to that of those who want to negotiate with Genoa, but he has enough political sense to at least appear aloof and “non-political,” as he attempted to do at the Consulta of Bozio.

Rauschenburg is still in the running and technically Theodore can choose whoever he wants regardless of what the Corsicans think, but Gaffori and other Corsican elites aren’t without influence. If a considerable number of those elites think of Rauschenburg as a loose cannon or an uncompromising hothead - or merely hold a grudge - they may ultimately pressure Theodore to pick someone else.
Disquiet and Despair
Disquiet and Despair


18th century cannon overlooking the Gulf of Sagone, north of Ajaccio

By the end of March the gunpowder supply had become so low at Fort Costa that the rebel battery had to cease firing almost entirely, and the “blockade” enforced by Marquis Luca d’Ornano became rather porous. Lieutenant-General Matthias von Drost complained in a letter to Theodore that not only was d’Ornano’s conduct of the siege inexcusably lax (plausibly explained at least in part by the lack of powder), but the marquis was actively engaged in trading with the besieged citizens for his own profit, which somewhat defeated the point of a blockade.

For Commissioner Stefano Veneroso, the most critical issue in the siege thus far was Ajaccio’s water supply. Although Ajaccio existed in ancient times, the city had long been long abandoned by the time the Republic of Genoa came to possess the island. The Genoese re-founded Ajaccio in 1492, but not in its original location, as “old Ajaccio” had been located on an alluvial plain that was both militarily vulnerable and infested with malaria. As the new Ajaccio was intended merely to be a castle rather than a major metropolis, the planners prioritized defensibility over having sufficient resources to sustain a large population when selecting a site. The location they ultimately chose, and where Ajaccio’s citadel now stood, was a rocky headland projecting into the gulf. It was a commanding position, but not one with immediate access to water.[A]

That was bad enough, but shortly after the beginning of the siege Veneroso had discovered to his horror that the town’s largest cistern was completely dry, and that it had been deliberately drained. The city elders explained that this had been done as part of a routine cleaning, but Veneroso was convinced it was sabotage and suspected that the elders were either concealing their own treachery or covering for their embarrassing failure. Contributing to his suspicions were the fact that, at the same time, the apparatus of the city’s primary flour mill was found to be missing important parts.[B] While the slackening of the siege allowed Veneroso to bring in a substantial amount of flour, alleviating his food shortage and obviating the immediate need for a working flour mill, water sufficient to supply a 800-man garrison for months - let alone a small city - was difficult to bring in by ship. There were certainly rivers and springs in the city’s hinterland, but these were contested with the rebels and Veneroso made little effort to challenge the besieging forces outside the walls.

Veneroso’s solution was to drastically reduce the number of people reliant on his scant water supply. In late March, the commissioner ordered the forcible expulsion of the residents of the Borgu, Ajaccio’s “lower town” outside the walls. Water was not the only consideration - most of the Borgu’s residents were Corsicans, particularly Ajaccio’s coral divers, some of whom had or were suspected to have helped the rebels in their salvage efforts. Veneroso, seeing spies and saboteurs everywhere, considered the liquidation of the Borgu to be beneficial to security. There were, however, side effects. Chased from their homes at the point of a bayonet, a number of these residents joined the besieging rebels, including divers, carpenters, and other tradesmen who were of some utility to d’Ornano’s force. Additionally, d’Ornano’s trading contacts in the city appear to have been chiefly in the Borgu, and thus the expulsion had the unanticipated effect of cutting off the trickle of supplies to Ajaccio coming from the rebels themselves.

Veneroso had considered expelling the citizens of Ajaccio proper - the “upper town” - as well, but this was a more delicate matter because most of its residents were not Corsicans but Genoese citizens. Veneroso’s attempts to negotiate with d’Ornano for the safe passage of the Genoese population went nowhere, which may have had less to do with d’Ornano’s intransigence than the defiance of the Genoese citizens themselves, who understandably resisted the idea of being turned out of the city and delivered into the hands of the rebels. The slackening of the rebel siege in early April provided Veneroso with an opportunity to remove the citizens by ship, and he did his best to accomplish this even with the very limited naval resources the Republic could offer him.

For reasons of security, however, Veneroso refused to remove the Greek population of Ajaccio. The Greeks ostensibly fought for Genoa out of a sense of gratitude and duty to their protector, but it no doubt helped that Ajaccio was their home too, and had been ever since their settlement at Paomia had been destroyed by the rebels. Veneroso suspected that if the non-combatant Greeks (around 600 of them) were removed from the city, this would also remove a significant motivation of the Greek militia companies to fight. Additionally, the ships full of evacuees were bound for Genoa, and the Genoese government had already refused repeated requests by some of the Greek leaders to permit their emigration from Corsica on account of how necessary they believed the Greeks to be to Ajaccio’s defense (an opinion which Veneroso shared). To remove the majority of the Greek population from Corsica, even temporarily, simply did not serve the government’s interests.

The Greeks were thus forced to watch ship after ship of Genoese citizens leave besieged Ajaccio while they and their families were compelled to remain. Unsurprisingly, they did not take it well, and some members of the community began to rethink their allegiance. Major Micaglia Stefanopoli had made a secret outreach to Theodore in March, but this had come to nothing; Theodore had demanded actual betrayal in the form of the Greeks giving him gunpowder from the citadel armory, and the siege did not seem so perilous then as to merit such an act. Now, however, with the Genoese fleeing the city in shiploads, it was another story. Stefanopoli again reached out, this time to d’Ornano, to see how the situation might be salvaged. Unlike Theodore, d’Ornano had no philosophical attachment to cultural tolerance, but he was willing to strike a deal if it brought the siege to a faster resolution. D’Ornano offered safe passage to any Greek militiaman who decamped from the city so long as he consented to be disarmed, but he also demanded money. Whether Stefanopoli and his community could afford d’Ornano’s price is unclear, but the major evidently decided that he could not trust d’Ornano. Like the March negotiation, this conversation too came to nothing.

Veneroso’s efforts to evacuate the city were cut short by the arrival of the Morosaglia gunpowder at Fort Costa in mid-April (along with nearly a hundred rebel volunteers from the north). Once again Ajaccio harbor was made unsafe for shipping, a fact which was demonstrated most clearly on the 18th of April when the Fort Costa battery claimed its first victim. A Genoese felucca attempting to run the gauntlet and bring in a small shipload of supplies was struck by hot shot and burned in the harbor as the remaining population of Ajaccio watched. Veneroso, who had also received more gunpowder, had attempted to suppress the battery with a sustained long-range bombardment of Aspretto Hill by the citadel’s guns, but by this time the rebels had been fortifying for weeks and the Genoese guns had little effect (although Drost did report a few casualties). Veneroso had reduced the population of the city from about 3,200 to just over a thousand (not including the garrison), but he could not safely shed any more.

The weeks between Theodore’s departure for Corti and the arrival of the gunpowder from the north would, in retrospect, have been an ideal opportunity for a counterattack by Veneroso, or at the very least for Acting Commissioner-General Gian Benedetto Speroni to have reinforced Ajaccio with additional men. In the wake of the Battle of Morosaglia and the subsequent purging of the filogenovesi party, however, Speroni was convinced that the rebels would soon move against Bastia itself, particularly now that they possessed artillery. Although some ships with food and supplies were diverted to Ajaccio, Speroni decided to keep Bastia’s considerable garrison in place to fend off what he believed was an immanent assault. As the rebels convened at Bozio, Speroni assumed that a new rebellion was about to be declared. Even as rumors came that the national assembly had determined to try negotiation, Speroni was skeptical, for he recalled that the rebel attack at Morosaglia had come immediately after Gaffori had proposed to negotiate. Bombarded with pleas for support by Veneroso, Speroni did eventually order Giuseppe Maria Mambilla, the commissioner of Calvi, to send a company to Ajaccio. But Mambilla outright refused these orders, claiming that Marquis Simone Fabiani and the rest of the Balagnese leaders were planning a revolt. With fewer than 600 men at his disposal, he argued, the relocation of any of them to Ajaccio would mean he would no longer be able to hold Algajola. Despite this insubordination, Speroni did not press the matter further, and Mambilla was not exactly wrong to object; Speroni had more than three times the number of troops at Bastia as Mambilla did at Calvi. Thus, while Veneroso did make some good use of his reprieve to depopulate the city and gather more supplies, he neither received new soldiers nor made any use of the ones he already had.

As this drama unfolded in the south, both the Genoese and the nationals in the north seemed to be spinning their wheels to no particular end. The Corsicans empowered by the Bozio consulta to negotiate with the Genoese had communicated their intentions to Bastia within a week or two of the consulta, but there was virtually no activity on the negotiating front for the next two months. Speroni initially dismissed the offers of negotiation as a mere distraction from the attack he still feared, but the real obstacle was that he was a lame duck. Speroni, who was merely the acting commissioner-general on account of Spinola’s death in office, had been made aware that his replacement was coming in June. Any negotiations would surely drag out much longer than that. Jealous of its power, the consulta had limited its “negotiators” to the point where they were little more than messengers. Only the consulta itself could approve or reject terms, which meant that the assembly needed to be formed anew for every serious offer and counter-offer. Speroni doubted their seriousness, and understood that even in an ideal situation the process would stretch far beyond the rest of his provisional term. He was aware that his own government expected little from him but to keep the commissioner-general’s seat warm until he could be relieved, and so this is what he did. Speroni gave the national representatives assurances that Genoa was open to negotiations, but was mainly interested in running out the clock.

This was certainly discouraging to the pro-conciliation nationals, whose cause was not benefited by Genoese stonewalling, but a worse setback was yet to come. On May 20th, armed men arrived at the village of Muro in the Balagna and surprised Giovanni Tommaso Giuliani, whom they forcibly placed under house arrest. Giuliani had been active in the royalist cause in Theodore’s earlier reign and served as a brigadier in the battles of the Balagna and Ponte Novu, but his reaction to Theodore’s return had been distinctly tepid and he had long nursed a grudge against Marquis Simone Fabiani. For several months, Fabiani had suspected Giuliani of filogenovese tendencies and confided to Theodore that he believed Giuliani was seeking to undermine the national movement. Now he had decided to act. Why Fabiani chose this particular time to strike is unclear; perhaps it was because Theodore had recently returned to Corti from Isola Rossa, which allowed the king to plausibly (and perhaps accurately) claim he had nothing to do with the arrest.

Reaction to this outrage was swift. Giuliani’s family was influential and his allies significant, and there were immediate threats of retaliation against Fabiani and sporadic acts of violence against his supporters. Provoking this intemperate response, however, was precisely Fabiani’s aim. Declaring Giuliani’s supporters to be in rebellion against the Kingdom, Fabiani ordered his forces - including not only local militia, but the new tax-funded “flying squadrons” authorized by the consulta, which in the Balagna were totally under Fabiani’s control - to neutralize the threat. Royalist forces swept through the province, kicking in doors and confiscating the weapons not only of known Giuliani supporters and alleged crypto-filogenovesi, but pro-reconciliation persons in general, and more generally anyone else Fabiani and his allies deemed to be troublesome. Compared to the violent destruction of the filogenovesi in the interior in recent months, it was relatively bloodless; Fabiani’s men were after muskets, not vengeance. There were some shootings, but Giuliani’s supporters had been caught off-guard and most appear to have been cornered and forced to disarm before they could gather or mount any kind of organized resistance.

In a matter of days Fabiani had gained effective control over almost the entire Balagna outside of those areas directly held by the Genoese. The effect was not only the neutralization of Giuliani’s faction but the dismantlement of the organized “moderate” party in the Balagna altogether. The other significant chiefs of the Balagnese nationals, Nicolo Poletti and Gio Ambrogio Quilici, had either acquiesced to Fabiani’s coup or simply realized after the fact that there was no sense siding with losers. Fabiani, in his capacity as Captain-General of the royal army, made them both colonels.

The dismantling of the pro-reconciliation forces in the Balagna was a damaging blow to the moderates more generally, for the authority of the consulta and its representatives to gain terms from the Genoese was left in some doubt if they could not even claim to speak for the Balagna, the north’s richest province. Fabiani argued that he was simply dealing with suspected traitors and restoring order to the province, but even if the moderates found this specious it was difficult to imagine how they might reasonably combat this defiance of the consulta’s will. The consulta was not presently convened, and even the pro-reconciliation forces were hesitant to call a new one when Speroni’s policy of stalling meant that they had nothing to show for nearly two months of attempted negotiations. Furthermore, given the effective autonomy of the Balagna and Fabiani’s power there it was not clear that the assembly would have any more power over the Balagnesi than it did over d’Ornano’s army at Ajaccio.

On June 9th Genoa’s new commissioner-general arrived at Bastia: Pier Maria Giustiniani, the Bishop of Ventimiglia. As a clergyman, he represented a notable departure from the usual practice of selecting distinguished elder statesmen and retired diplomats for the post. His family was the very distinguished house of Giustiniani whose fame had been won in the East. A Giustiniani captain had commanded the Genoese contingent which was present at the fall of Constantinople (and had died in the city’s vain defense), while other members of the family administered the Greek island of Chios under Genoese rule. Although Chios had fallen to the Ottomans in 1566, many Genoese families stayed on and maintained links to the republic, including a branch of the Giustiniani to which Pier Maria belonged. Born on Chios, Pier Maria traveled to Italy for an ecclesiastical education and joined the Benedictine Order. He served for some years as the Dean of the Congregation of the revered monastery of Monte Cassino.

In 1726, Pier Maria was appointed as the Bishop of Sagone in Corsica.[1] He showed himself to be a faithful agent of the Republic, but his methods reflected his vocation. The bishop met with leaders of the nationals, invited the people of his diocese to submit their grievances, and advocated for a general pardon for rebels who earnestly wished to reconcile with the Republic. Although he was not exactly an opponent of the republic’s more forceful means to bring the Corsicans back to obedience, his own approach was to win over the people and their leaders by playing the conciliator. In 1736, just a few weeks after Theodore’s coronation, the bishop was forced to leave the island for health reasons and because the rebel confiscation of Church property and assets had left him without means of support. In the following year, now residing in Genoa, he (anonymously) published the so-called Anticurzio, a political tract countering the arguments of pro-independence Corsican intellectuals and written specifically as a response to Giulio Matteo Natali’s landmark Disinganno intorno alla guerra di Corsica.[2] In 1741, Bishop Giustiniani was transferred to the diocese of Ventimiglia in mainland Liguria.


Title page of Bishop Giustinani's anonymously published tract of 1737, more commonly known as the "Anticurzio."

During his term of office in Sagone, Giustiniani acquired a mixed reputation both in Corsica and Genoa. Although popular among some Corsicans for his reasonableness, the more committed nationals despised him for working to undermine the national movement and acting as Genoa’s chief propagandist. His own government had welcomed his writings against the rebels, but at that time had preferred the harsher methods of men like Commissioner-General Mari over the bishop’s “softer” approach, which had become discredited by the reinvigoration of the rebellion following Theodore’s arrival. Since then, however, the government had come gradually to see the value in mildness. After Spinola’s death, Giustiniani seemed to be the perfect man to replace him given the obvious futility of a military solution and the need to find a suitable compromise with the Corsicans. The bishop was articulate, tactful, and a skilled writer and mediator.[3] After serving in Corsica for 15 years, he was already well-acquainted with the island and the leaders of the national movement.

Speroni was relieved as acting commissioner-general and was probably glad of it, but his trials were not over yet. Dissatisfied with the performance of Commissioner Veneroso, the Genoese government decided to recall him from Ajaccio and send Speroni as his replacement. As the city was presently under siege, this was not the simplest of matters; the galiot which carried Speroni to the city had to anchor well outside the harbor, while the commissioner waited for night to be rowed by ship’s boat to a beach west of the citadel.

The situation that he found there was dispiriting. Although the garrison was considerable in number, they were nearly useless as a fighting unit. Over the past few months feckless leadership, slack discipline, and a lack of military supplies had taken a severe toll on their fighting ability and general morale. Notwithstanding the supply ships which had reached the city in early April, Speroni noted soldiers without boots and muskets with flints worn down to the nub. Perhaps in part because of the effect of the water shortage on hygiene, disease was spreading and more than a hundred soldiers were invalids. The Greeks, amounting to more than a quarter of the garrison’s force, were in a nearly mutinous state and refused to follow orders. The Genoese officers seemed to expect that they would be evacuated at any moment, and their defeatism was infectious.

Now in command, Speroni did what he could to salvage the military situation. He doubted that the siege could actually be broken with the forces he had available, but he could at least try to gain control of the surrounding territory so as to exploit springs in the nearby hills and ease the water crisis. Speroni ordered new inventories of the arsenal, initiated regular inspections of the soldiers’ equipment, and demanded drills from his officers to shake the men out of their glassy-eyed stupor. His measures, however, were only partly successful at lifting the general malaise; there was a palpable feeling, manifested in every street now silent and devoid of residents, that the city was doomed. When Speroni attempted to organize an expedition outside the walls most of the Greeks simply refused to participate, demanding an evacuation of their families that Speroni could not provide even if he had wanted to.

Speroni did eventually make a series of forays, and with some success; the Grisons soldiers in particular acquitted themselves well, and after months of inactivity the Corsicans besieging the city had grown just as lax as the garrison. Indeed, every time the Genoese sallied forth they easily drove away the Corsican pickets around the city, and on several occasions they were able collect some water or plunder Corsican supplies to lug back to the garrison. Upon realizing the aim of the Genoese, however, the Corsicans began fouling springs and laying ambushes for the foraging parties. Speroni must have bitterly regretted not reinforcing Ajaccio when he had the chance, as his lack of troops was crippling. Between disease and the disobedience of the Greeks, he had fewer than 500 fit and reliable soldiers (the term “reliable” being used loosely), and since the Greeks obviously could not be left in sole command of the citadel he could really only spare two or three hundred men at most to venture outside the walls at any one time. This was enough to defeat the Corsicans in skirmishes, but the diminished and demoralized garrison simply could not keep the Corsicans permanently at bay, let alone drive them from their position atop Aspretto Hill.

Finally realizing the true gravity of the situation, the Genoese senate appealed to the French for aid. France had an interest in maintaining Ajaccio as a friendly port; indeed, in 1741 they had proposed to install a garrison there as the price of continuing their occupation, though the Genoese had turned them down (a decision which the Senate was now undoubtedly regretting). The French fleet in the Mediterranean, however, was quite busy preparing for a war with Britain which seemed to be lurching ever closer. The British, who kept a close watch on Toulon, reported that the French fleet was refitting its ships and putting its sailors through exercises all through the spring and summer. At this moment the fleet was not yet ready, and if war should suddenly arrive while a French ship or detachment was away at Ajaccio it might well suffer the same fate as the San Isidro and weaken the Franco-Spanish squadron as a consequence. This time the French would not be rushing to Genoa’s rescue, or at least not quickly enough to matter.

Corsica in June 1743
Green: Royalist controlled
Red: Genoese garrisoned
White: Non-aligned or contested

[1] Corsica’s dioceses are sometimes a source of confusion. Because of population shifts over the centuries and the ruin or abandonment of villages over Corsica’s history, several of the island’s dioceses were by the 18th century named after settlements that no longer existed. The “Bishop of Aleria” lived in Cervioni, the “Bishop of Mariana” lived in Bastia, and the “Bishop of Sagone” lived in Vico, as Aleria, Mariana, and Sagone were all long-abandoned ruins by the 18th century. Only the bishops of Ajaccio and the Nebbio (at San Fiorenzo) actually resided in the locales their dioceses were named for.
[2] "Anticurzio" was not the actual title of the booklet, but it was commonly known as this because Natali's original broadside was written under the pseudonym of “Curzio Tulliano Corso” (Curtius Tullius of Corsica). Although Giustiniani published the pamphlet anonymously, his authorship was not secret, and he was so strongly associated with the work that he received the nickname "L'Anticurzio."
[3] He was also a good deal younger than his predecessor and in considerably better health. Spinola had been appointed as commissioner-general in 1740 at the age of 74, while Giustiniani was appointed at the relatively tender age of 50.

Timeline Notes
[A] Ajaccio’s water supply issue was first addressed in the years of the First French Empire by the diversion of several springs in nearby hills, and more fully solved by the Gravona Canal which was built on the orders of Napoleon III.
[B] This really happened. Was it sabotage? Who can say? I must admit, though, that late winter/early spring - when presumably the cistern is full, or nearly so - seems like a strange time to drain it for routine cleaning.
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I thought the Greeks were primarily in Bonifacio? Did they in the past have settlements all across the coast of the Dila?
I thought the Greeks were primarily in Bonifacio? Did they in the past have settlements all across the coast of the Dila?

No, the whole community is in Ajaccio after fleeing their original settlement at Paomia. Some of the Greek militia were temporarily garrisoned in Corti in 1742, but they departed before the general Genoese withdrawal from the interior. There have never been any Greeks in Bonifacio.
Looks like the whole thing will end with more of a whimper than a bang. Nobody is in much of a position to send a real army against Theodore so he should win by defeault.
I'm curious, what are Theodore's or rather maybe the Marquis d'Ornano's plan for the Greek community once the city is, presumably taken.
I'm curious, what are Theodore's or rather maybe the Marquis d'Ornano's plan for the Greek community once the city is, presumably taken.

Theodore wants a kingdom of harmonious tolerance and diversity where Corsicans, Greeks, Jews, Protestants, Muslims, and everybody else lives in peace and pays their taxes. Seeing as he offered the Jews the opportunity to establish their own colony in Corsica, his ultimate plan for the Greeks is probably similar - let them rebuild their old colony or establish a new one, and perhaps help them do it. If they wanted to remain in Ajaccio he'd probably allow that too. He doesn't want them to leave Corsica, but it's unclear if he would actually forbid them from emigrating as the Genoese did.

D'Ornano wants what's good for d'Ornano, which is a bit nebulous in this case. He has no particular grudge against the Greeks, but he'll certainly confiscate all their property if it makes him more popular with his followers (and besides, the constitution says he can). Whether or not his conscience is strong enough to cause him to stand in the way of a pogrom, even at the risk of angering the Corsicans, remains an open question.