King Theodore's Corsica

I wonder if this is normal "victory has a thousand fathers" between Ceccaldi and Cervoni, or something deeper and potentially more dangerous?

As Costa once wrote, "the enemy [Theodore] had to contend with, and worse than the Genoese, was jealousy." Paoli was especially bad in this regard IOTL, which is why Theodore's chances ITTL are immeasurably aided by his death, but he wasn't the only problem. For now it's just a spat over glory between colonels (well, a colonel and a general after Ceccaldi's promotion), but we'll just have to see where it goes.

Will this have broader operational consequences?

Well, the entire regular Genoese army at this point is probably not much more than 6,000 men. Although by continental standards Rutali is a minor engagement - as @Yanez de Gomera put it, "a skirmish between a few thousand mostly militia" - losing a thousand men when your entire national army is only six thousand strong is in itself a serious blow. Granted, not all of the thousand which the Genoese supposedly lost were regulars, but even with 500 regular casualties that's still 1/12 of the entire army gone in a single day's engagement.

But it's actually worse than that. One must keep in mind that Sardinia, although not actually a belligerent, has a big impact on the war. Charles Emmanuel III is a slavering wolf staring hungrily over the Genoese border, and the Genoese are quite aware of it. In effect, the Sardinian army is an "army-in-being" on the side of the Corsicans, as its mere existence requires thousands of Genoese regulars to be devoted to garrisoning fortresses in Liguria, making them unavailable for Corsican service. This means that the total number of Genoese regulars who can actually be sent to Corsica are perhaps 3,000 at most, and those have to be subdivided between all the various coastal ports and citadels that the Genoese still control. When you consider that, a loss of 500 regulars is really more like 1/6 of the available regular army, and perhaps a quarter or even a third of the available army that isn't tied down in port garrison duty elsewhere in Corsica. That's a setback of strategic consequences.

Putting together a field army in Corsica like Marchelli's is a major undertaking which required extraordinary effort - reducing Ligurian garrisons to dangerously low levels, pressing criminals into the army, hiring more expensive Swiss, and apparently even getting the Archbishop to promise new recruits exemptions allowing them to eat meat during Lent (!). It's not something the Genoese can just pull out of a hat whenever. The lesson learnt is that major offensive operations, as things currently stand, are simply too costly and dangerous. As a result, the greatest consequence of Rutali is a complete cession of the initiative back to the rebels. Where the next battle will be fought is now principally in the hands of Theodore and his generals.

Marchelli, by the way, did get defeated by the rebels IOTL, although it was a few months later and in a totally different location (near Isola Rossa in the Balagna). Although perhaps not uniquely incompetent, I presume he was a lot like other Genoese commanders in Corsica in the sense of being a completely inexperienced gentleman-colonel who blundered into ambushes at every opportunity. As I mentioned in the previous "Merganser Publishing" post, the quality of Genoese officers in the war was not inspiring.

As a further note of interest, none of the Genoese officers in the previous post are invented - Colonel Marchelli, Major Morati, and Captains Franchi, Schmitter, and Graziani were actual Genoese commanders at that time, although all I know of them is their names and ranks. (I don't actually know that Schmitter was Swiss, for instance, but it seems a safe enough assumption given his name.)

Random question: does Theodore currently have any significant chance of dying in battle? And what are the Corsicans' rough contingency plans for if he does?

Particularly early on in the war, he definitely did expose himself to danger, perhaps because it was important to give a first impression of being a fearless leader. Certainly Theodore was not a stranger to combat, although the last time he was really in harm's way was 20 years before when he was a young cavalry lieutenant in the War of Spanish Succession. IOTL, however, his closest brushes with death were not in battle but the result of assassination attempts. The Genoese frequently used their money to pay assassins and suborn traitors, a strategy which tended to work much better for them than actual warfare.

As far as I know, there was no specific discussion in 1736 of what to do if Theodore died. The constitution, however, stated that unless he had either an heir of his body or designated an heir of his relation during his lifetime, sovereignty reverted to the people who would be permitted to elect a new king (or have no king at all). To my knowledge, Theodore never named an heir. Right before his death in 1756 he sold his royal title to his creditors in London, but this was both meaningless and constitutionally invalid; the 1736 constitution made no provision for a transfer of the crown to someone not his relation, and in any case Paoli's republic had been proclaimed in the previous year, which effectively (although not explicitly) abolished the monarchy.

I am starting to think that the resolution will happen in Liguria and be linked to one of the major European conflicts that are about to start. The risk for the rebels being that a greater power (Imperial? French?) decides to intervene, thinking that a rival power must be behind Theodore as you have somewhat hinted at in some previous posts.

Quite. Sardinia, in particular, could end this all very quickly, but Sardinia is not a great power and won't risk attacking Genoa while France could (and certainly would) intervene. As I said at the start of the thread, Theodore's best chance is probably to hold out until the WoAS starts in 1740 and then throw in with the Pragmatic Allies (Austria, Britain, and Sardinia).
 
I was unaware that the Sardinian threat to Genoa was that serious. Methinks some shenanigans with the Corsicans is on the horizon...

It was pretty serious; the states were long-standing opponents. There were two Genoese-Savoyard Wars, in 1625 and 1672, and things were made worse when the Marquisate of Finale was given to Genoa in 1713 just as the Savoyard king was intriguing to get his hands on it. At the start of the Corsican Rebellion in 1729, Genoa had only just expanded its army because of border skirmishes with the Sardinians a few years previously. It wasn't a full-blown war, but tensions were clearly running high enough in 1727 for the Genoese to add a thousand more regulars to their standing army. The dispute over Finale was a major reason for Sardinia signing the Treaty of Worms in 1743, by which they entered the War of Austrian Succession on the side of Austria and Britain in exchange for the promise that they would get Finale (which they ultimately did not). While Finale was more important to Charles Emmanuel III than Corsica, the rebellion was obviously interesting to him, both as a means to weaken Genoa and perhaps as a way to get Corsica for himself. In the early 1740s Theodore was actually on Charles Emmanuel's payroll for a while, and of course the Sardinians and British jointly backed Domenico Rivarola's failed attempt to take the island during the war. The Sardinians actually landed several thousand regulars on Corsica right at the end of the war in 1748, but the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle gave the island back to the Genoese.* The Sardinians refused to give the treaty final ratification, IIRC, because they didn't get Finale as they had been promised, but they nevertheless complied with the terms of the treaty and withdrew from Corsica because they had no choice once the great powers made peace.

I suspect that the Genoese very reasonably never devoted more of their regulars to the Corsican conflict because to leave their border with Sardinia undefended would have been tantamount to national suicide. Had they been able to devote their whole strength to Corsica, I doubt the rebellion would have lasted nearly as long as it did.

*Well, at least on paper; the Pragmatic Allies couldn't "give" the Genoese the interior, which was still in the hands of the rebels, then under the triumvirate of Gaffori, Matra, and Venturini.
 
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Governance and Indifference
Governance and Indifference

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Corsican "Revolutionary" 5-soldi copper coin

"Tell me, in Heaven's name, whence you have obtained the dignity of monarchy and the title of royalty, when the fact is that your Republic has, in bygone times, been nothing but a corporation of rapacious pirates?"
- King Theodore, in his published address to the Genoese


Theodore roused himself from administrative tasks to support his lieutenants in the Nebbio against Marchelli's expeditionary force. He needn't have bothered, as before the king could arrive on the scene the threat presented by Marchelli was abruptly curbed on June 22nd by his humiliating defeat at the Battle of Rutai, in which a poorly planned attempt to rescue a stranded garrison resulted in the Marchelli's army being encircled and shot to pieces by the rebels in the valley of the Bevinco. Marchelli escaped with his beaten force, but at the cost of a thousand dead, wounded, or captured. The victory was widely credited to Count Andrea Ceccaldi, the victory of the First Battle of Calenzana in 1732, but it would have been impossible without the nearly spontaneous mustering of rebel sympathizers throughout the northern Castagniccia. It was an impressive demonstration of Corsican determination to evict the invader, at least when he strayed too far into the interior, but whether Theodore and his generals could translate such ardor into the long and tedious work of siegecraft remained questionable. True to form, most of the irregulars who had given Ceccaldi his victory melted back into the mountains and returned home with their muskets as soon as the Genoese fled.

This victory was followed a week later by the surrender of San Pellegrino after weeks of bombardment supervised by the minister of war, Count Anton-Francesco Giappiconi, and Lieutenant-Colonel of Artillery Antoine Dufour. With their surrender of the 80 or so surviving soldiers of the garrison, the entire eastern coast of Corsica from the Cape to Porto Vecchio was now vacated by the Genoese. That, in turn, freed up much of Theodore's artillery, which was badly needed elsewhere. A few pieces, principally of "light" artillery (presumably 12 and 8 pounders), were diverted northwards, perhaps with the hope that field artillery would be of some use in the generally flat and open plain of the Nebbio. The most dire need, however, was at Ajaccio, where Marquis Luca Ornano had abandoned the siege of the city after being embarrassed by a successful sally against his position by the garrison. Ornano complained that he had no support—too few muskets, not enough ammunition, no money to pay his troops, and no artillery. He was right, although not because of purposeful neglect; the mountains were a formidable obstacle to the transfer of supplies. Sea transport would have been ideal, but the presence of the Genoese fleet and the fact that the rebels in the Dila held no ports made this quite unthinkable. Dufour, whose background was military engineering, was charged with moving eight 24-pounder cannons with their carriages and ammunition, as well as various other munitions and supplies, on the backs of mules over the length and breadth of the country. To mollify Ornano personally, Theodore decided to travel to the Dila as well.

Over the course of June, Theodore's administration was busily minting an official currency to give his reign some of the trappings of regal legitimacy. Corsica, of course, had no mint and no minters, but eventually a rather unlikely engraver was found to craft the dies—a priest from Orezzo known as "Settecervella" ("Seven-brains") who was locally renowned as a counterfeiter of Genoese currency (and, Costa adds, quite proud of his work, describing it as practically a service to his country). Theodore placed Count Giampietro Gaffori at the head of the effort, giving him the title of "President of the Currency." His followers roved through the rebel-held regions to find brass to melt down for copper. Several pro-rebel monasteries voluntarily contributed candlesticks, plate, and other metal implements for the purpose.

The denominations were 2-soldi, 5-soldi, and 20-soldi (one lira). The lower denominations were ostensibly billon (silver and copper ally), but the silver content was vanishingly small. The Corsicans joked that the "TR" on the coins, which stood for Theodore Rex, actually stood for Tutto Rami ("all copper"). The 20-soldi coins were silver and reasonably fine, but rare in comparison to the "billon" pieces. Workmanship was poor, and there was an initial setback where the mint workers themselves refused to accept payments in the currency they had made. Very quickly, however, the money began circulating outside the island. Independent captains trading illicitly with the rebels at Bastia were at first reluctant to accept the pieces, but soon realized that despite having a negligible silver content and being of shoddy workmanship, the pieces commanded high prices as collectibles; the novelty of Theodore and his reign was such that there were numerous collectors on the continent who were willing to pay high prices for them. The pieces were in such high demand that a mint in Naples began churning out counterfeit Corsican coins of the -soldi and 5-soldi varieties solely for the purpose of selling them as curios. With just as much silver content (that is, practically none) and considerably better craftsmanship than Theodore's coins, there was really little reason for Theodore to object to them; his goal, after all, was to raise the profile and legitimacy of his state, and the Neapolitan counterfeiters were unwittingly aiding him in that task while turning a profit.[A]


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Corsican "Revolutionary" billon/copper coins, 2 and 5 soldi denominations. The circling inscription on the reverse is an abbreviation of "Pro Bono Publico Regni Corsicae" (For the public good of the Kingdom of Corsica).

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Corsican "Revolutionary" silver coin, 20 soldi or 1 lira. The symbol on the obverse is Neuhoff's arms as the King of Corsica with a crown above it, circled by the inscription "Theodorus Rex Corsice." The reverse has an image of the Virgin Mary with the inscription "Monstra Te Esse Matrem" (Show thyself to be a mother), a line from the Liturgy of the Hours.


Despite the best efforts of the Genoese navy, supply ships continued to reach the rebels. A large consignment of muskets and ammunition which had been purchased in Livorno by Father Gregorio Salvini, a Corsican priest, managed to outrun a Genoese patrol ship in mid-July and reach Bastia intact. Although Bastia was a poor port, it did have a well-armed citadel, and while the gunnery of Castinetta's militia was presumably atrocious it was nevertheless enough to keep Genoese armed feluccas and galleys from attacking merchant shipping once it had reached the port. The Genoese, of course, intensified patrols in the area, but they could not get too close; in late July, some of Castinetta's men rowed out at night to a Genoese galley anchored just outside the range of the citadel's guns and stormed it, taking advantage of the fact that Genoese galleys (being rowed by galley slaves) had comparatively few fighting crewmen. The Corsicans captured the ship, but had no use for the galley itself and set it ablaze after beaching it. Theodore, who was a vocal abolitionist, had decreed that galley slaves were to be immediately freed when taken, and foreigners among them were either to be repatriated if possible or offered the chance to join the foreign company of the royal army. His position on slavery met with no opposition from the Corsicans, as the Genoese had long used the onerous penalty of galley slavery to punish Corsican dissidents and criminals and the practice was universally detested.

As the French began cracking down more harshly on their nationals who did business with the Corsicans, Livorno became the primary transit point for trade with the Corsican rebels. It was certainly geographically appropriate, given its proximity to Bastia, and it was politically convenient as well. As mentioned, both the Grand Duke Gian Gastone de Medici and the imperial governor of Livorno Karl Franz von Wachtendonck (the very same man who had led imperial forces on Corsica and was defeated by Ceccaldi at Calezana two years earlier) were friendly to Theodore, and while the official line was that trade with the "malcontents" was illegal there was little done to actually enforce this. Theodore's most effective agent there was a Florentine merchant, Francesco dell'Agata, whom Theodore had met during his preparations between 1734 and 1736 and like many was immediately attracted to the baron's charisma and sense of purpose. Intensely loyal to Theodore, dell'Agata used his skills and contacts acquired during his mercantile career to operate what was essentially a major smuggling operation, concealing goods and laundering payments while strenuously denying that he had anything to do with the Corsicans.

Although arms continued to flow into the island, the rebels were beginning to have issues with manpower. July meant harvest season, and many irregular and militia soldiers (and entire units at times) dissolved to return to their fields and orchards. Had the Genoese not recently been chastened at Rutali, it would have been an excellent time for a counterattack; as it stood, the Genoese did little of anything. Marquis Simone Fabiani, captain-general and governor of the Balagna, offered to raise men at Orezza, the country of his in-laws, but Theodore ordered him to remain in place; he did not want to lose Calenzana, and after the loss of much of the Nebbio it was olive oil from Balagna which was presently paying the bills of the merchants who came to Bastia selling arms.[B]

Count Gaffori, after managing the mint, went to the interior of the country to raise troops in the vicinity of Corti. While there, however, he was stymied by Colonel Ignazio Arrighi, who had returned to Corti after falling out with Cavaliere Felice Cervoni, and Gaffori wrote back to Theodore complaining of Arrighi's interference. Theodore, who was planning on heading south to meet Ornano anyway, proceeded to Corti with his royal guard to investigate matters, only to find that Arrighi refused him entry to Corti. Despite patient negotiations, Arrighi still resisted, so Theodore's guard caught Arrighi entirely by surprise and took the town by storm. Arrighi fled to Vico, and disavowed Theodore's sovereignty. His party, which became known as the indifferenti ("Indifferents"), comprised those Corsicans who were opposed to Theodore but still defiant towards the Genoese, and it was soon joined by Marc-Antonio Raffaelli (a relative of Father Domenico Raffaelli, one of the Prisoners of Savona) and Theodore's own justice minister Father Giovanni Aitelli, who had long been upset with Theodore's religious policy. Their defection was a serious blow to Theodore and the rebellion, and although the indifferenti were supposedly hostile to the Genoese there was little fighting between those two factions and it was speculated that their leaders might be in the Republic's pay. Nevertheless, Theodore resolved to continue with his mission to the south, with Dufour's caravan of cannon crawling along behind.



Map of Corsica around the end of July
Green: Royalist control
Yellow: "Indifferenti" control
Red: Genoese occupation
White: Neutral, uncertain, or unoccupied areas
Dotted Green Line: Route of Dufour's caravan

Timeline Notes
[A] All this stuff about the currency is basically true. They really did find a counterfeiting priest named "Seven-brains" to design the coinage, and there really was a mint that opened in Naples to sell counterfeit Corsican currency to collectors. You can actually buy the Corsican coinage pictured above, but you'd better be loaded because the coins are extremely rare and the examples I've seen online sell for a few thousand dollars a piece.
[B] IOTL, Fabiani did indeed return to Orezza to raise troops. On his way there, he was ambushed and assassinated. Who did it and why is still not exactly clear. It was claimed that the attack was a vendetta killing to avenge the death of Luccioni, the man who had betrayed Porto Vecchio to the Genoese and had been executed by Theodore, but as Fabiani was not at all involved in Luccioni's execution it's not clear why he specifically would be the target. It was also claimed that the murderers were in the pay of the Genoese, who were absolutely willing to pay assassins or at least put bounties on the heads of the rebel leaders and tried to have Theodore killed on several occasions. Also possible is the involvement of Giacinto Paoli, whose home territory in Rostino was very near Orezzo. Paoli's clan and Fabiani's clan were traditional enemies, and Paoli also hated Fabiani personally, being intensely jealous of the high position he had been given. Paoli had allegedly been spreading false rumors about Fabiani prior to his death and attempting to turn other rebel leaders against him. Since all I can do is speculate as to how it really went down OTL, my decision ITTL is that the absence of Paoli, the capture of Calenzana, and the improved situation of the rebels (which makes Fabiani's return to Orezza less necessary) butterflies away his assassination. That said, however, not everyone will be so lucky as to escape Genoese-paid gunmen. The butterflies go both ways, as it were.
 
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Things are looking good for King Theodore at the moment; and sounds like Ajaccio is next to fall. If things do start going less good for Theodore down the road, I wonder if the "indifferents" decide to get back into the fight, maybe take a swing at the impregnable Calvi?
 
@Carp, the rise of the Indifferenti must have something to do with the Spanish Inquisition, because that was utterly unexpected!

Is there any likelihood of the indifferenti "inviting" the King of Sardinia to the crown of Corsica?

Is the Royalist currency broadly accepted in Theodorine Corsica?
 
@Carp Is Arrighi actually ruling the area of Indifferenti control?

The indifferenti isn't really a government; the word seems to have been sort of a blanket term for leaders who proclaimed a nominal sort of "armed neutrality" and professed themselves neither loyal to Theodore nor the Genoese, although in practice the Genoese seem to have largely left them alone while the indifferenti actively skirmished with Theodore. Vico and west Corsica seem to have been under their influence but they didn't really "rule" it in the sense of setting up an administration.

What motivates the indifferenti depends on your view. Some, like Costa, suspected they were merely Genoese stooges. He alleged that Arrighi, in particular, had engaged in trade with the Genoese while he was besieging Bastia (which is sort of against the point of a siege) and had purposefully sabotaged Cervoni's attack on San Fiorenzo by alerting its garrison either because he was paid to or just because he was jealous of Cervoni and wanted to see him fail.

On the other hand, the rebels had governed themselves for several years before Theodore's arrival and even had their own constitution in 1735. It's not totally unreasonable that some were committed to the rebel cause but also didn't want to be ruled by Theodore. That may well be the case with men like Aitelli who were never comfortable with Theodore and his policies despite being given offices and titles. It's possible that the leaders of the "movement" each had their own motivations; some, perhaps, really were traitors who were being paid off by the Genoese, while others may have been legitimate dissenters who had no desire to go back to Genoese rule but didn't see Theodore as a viable alternative to that rule.

Is there any likelihood of the indifferenti "inviting" the King of Sardinia to the crown of Corsica?

I'm not really sure what the indifferenti "endgame" was. They were notable enough to be mentioned in European newspapers as a new complication to the struggle, but I know of no attempt made by their leaders to invite in another candidate or otherwise present an alternative to Theodore for leadership. Perhaps they hoped to return to the ghjunta system of 1735, although that government lasted only a few months and was such a failure it's hard to see anyone as being all that nostalgic for it. In any case they possess no major towns or ports (Vico, while a pieve capital, is really just a village), had no single organized army, and possessed no artillery, which meant that their ability to expand and hold territory was limited. They were, however, relatively safe within their home country, where they enjoyed all the usual advantages of local militias defending mountain terrain.

As for Charles Emmanuel, I can't really see him directly involving himself in the rebellion at this stage. It would be tantamount to declaring war on Genoa, and it's impossible to imagine that happening without the intervention of France or Spain (or both). Sardinia's army is not too shabby but he still doesn't have the power to simply defy the Bourbon powers alone. What's more, the Sardinian navy at this time is like... three galleys or something. All France would need to do to totally shut down a Sardinian invasion would be to dispatch a few frigates to hang off Sardinia's tiny bit of coastline, which they are eminently capable of doing.

Is the Royalist currency broadly accepted in Theodorine Corsica?

Not really. Theodore had difficulty getting Corsicans to accept it, presumably because it looked rather garbage, had little to no silver (save for the rare 20-soldi pieces), and was minted by a government which had only been in power for a few months. It's not exactly a strong currency. It seems to have circulated more outside the island than within it.
 
I wonder if the defection of Arrighi and his ilk might actually help Theodore in the long run. After all, this means the conservatives/reactionaries are sitting around in an uncontrolled region instead of sabotaging him. Is Theodore's government mainly composed of his supporters now?
 
I wonder if the defection of Arrighi and his ilk might actually help Theodore in the long run. After all, this means the conservatives/reactionaries are sitting around in an uncontrolled region instead of sabotaging him. Is Theodore's government mainly composed of his supporters now?
On the contrary, I've got a nasty feeling that the existence of the indifferenti will hang like the sword of Damocles over Theodore's head in disputes with his subordinates and other rebel leaders, as they can blackmail him into doing what they want, on fear of defections to the indifferenti.
 
On the contrary, I've got a nasty feeling that the existence of the indifferenti will hang like the sword of Damocles over Theodore's head in disputes with his subordinates and other rebel leaders, as they can blackmail him into doing what they want, on fear of defections to the indifferenti.

I hadn't thought of that. On the other hand, is this all that different from melting back into the mountains on their own, like they were already doing? Arrighi and other rebels had already came and went as they pleased when offended according to Carp. They have no overaching state structure,so the best the indifferenti can do is skirmish individually with Theodore after all. They're not really a big military threat.
 
I hadn't thought of that. On the other hand, is this all that different from melting back into the mountains on their own, like they were already doing? Arrighi and other rebels had already came and went as they pleased when offended according to Carp. They have no overaching state structure,so the best the indifferenti can do is skirmish individually with Theodore after all. They're not really a big military threat.
Well, now there's an active challenge to Royal authority.
 
I wonder if the defection of Arrighi and his ilk might actually help Theodore in the long run. After all, this means the conservatives/reactionaries are sitting around in an uncontrolled region instead of sabotaging him. Is Theodore's government mainly composed of his supporters now?

"Supporters" is too strong a term. A few, like Costa, will support him to the bitter end. Gaffori and Fabiani also seem to have had a good personal relationship with him, and IOTL Gaffori (who eventually became the head of the rebellion until his assassination in 1753) continued to proclaim his loyalty to Theodore, at least formally, many years after the king left the island. Then there are those who are patriots and can be generally counted on to support the cause, but their personal attachment to Theodore is conditional upon him continuing to function as the king and benefactor he claims to be - in other words, their ultimate loyalty is to Corsica, not Theodore. Still others are opportunists, men who aren't even that committed to the patriotic cause but are adept at seeing the writing on the wall; they're with Theodore because he has guns, he has money, and he wins, but the moment he ceases to look like the winning bet they'll jump ship, maybe to the indifferenti and maybe to the Genoese.

Theodore has won some respect but remains an outsider; one gets the impression that Costa was his only actual friend, the sole member of his government/court he could confide in and not feel like he needed to constantly be worrying about his loyalty or taking pains to act regally to keep up his image. It's lonely at the top.

As for the indifferenti, there are positives and negatives about them being openly declared. It remains to be seen whether dissent within or conflict without is more dangerous.
 
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Theodore in the South
Theodore in the South

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Looking up from the Pass of Vizzavona, which divides the Diqua from the Dila.

Quandu tuttu u mondu cumanda, l’affari vanu male.
(When everyone's in charge, business goes badly.)
- Corsican proverb

King Theodore, accompanied by his royal guard, descended into the Dila through the Bocca di Vizzavona and valley of the Gravona in the first week of August. It was the first time he had set foot in the south, a region which was less populous and economically important than the north but was nevertheless just as vital if he was to assert his claim to be king of all Corsica.

The Dila was geographically isolated from the north, but it had long been socially distinct as well. In the days of the Carolingians, when Corsica had been freed from the terrors of Saracen raids, many noblemen of Frankish and Lombard descent had settled on the island, but by the turn of the millennium the situation had degraded into constant strife between these petty lords. The people of the inland north, particularly in the region of Castagniccia, decided to take action against such predations, and in the 11th century at Morosaglia in Rostino they established an elective republican government comprised of a union of the various pieves and their chosen elders. Their territory became known as the Terra di Comune, as opposed to the Terra di Signori of the south, where the quarreling lords still ruled. As the southern lords would not leave them in peace, the men of the Terra di Comune invited the Margrave of Massa to come to their aid, and in a very poorly-attested campaign Margrave William succeeded in defeating the southern signori. Although these structures had long been submerged in centuries of Papal, Pisan, and Genoese dominion, their legacy was still evident: the rebellion against Genoa had been led in large part by men of the old Terra di Comune, who still treasured their legacy of autonomy and resistance to feudal dominion, while the old Terra di Signori retained a somewhat more hierarchical society in which the descendants of the old barons still guarded their ancient privilege.[1]

Lieutenant-General Luca d'Ornano had been made a marquis by Theodore, but he did not need a German baron to tell him he was a nobleman. Of the old noble families of the Terra di Signori, his was among the most respected. A proud man with an aristocratic bearing, he was also a devoted patriot. Ornano had been the supreme commander of the revolt in the Dila since at least 1734 and had seen various "national" regimes (which were inevitably headquartered in the north) come and go. When a new uprising had been proclaimed in January of 1735, he had gone north to be appointed as general, and then returned to the Dila; he had done the same later that year after the government of the ghjunta had been proclaimed; and he did it once more shortly after the coronation of Theodore. News of arms shipments and rebel victories in the north, however, had irked him, not because he begrudged the northern rebels their success but because he felt unequally treated, as rumors came of the northerners being showered in vast amounts of munitions and money by Theodore's foreign friends. That was a bit of an exaggeration, to be sure, but Ornano's lack of support was real enough. After engaging in a long and fruitless (not to mention artillery-less) siege of Ajaccio only to be surprised and defeated by a sally by the Genoese garrison, he abandoned the siege and demanded the aid he felt was due him before he would continue the campaign.

Theodore's trip south was as much to soothe the feelings of this very important commander as to accomplish any real military objective. Arriving in advance of the caravan of artillery and arms under Lieutenant-Colonel Antoine Dufour, Theodore met personally with Ornano at the little village of Peri in the Celavo. After a congenial chat and Theodore's promises of aid soon to come, they decided to take a short trip to Cinarca to the north. It was thought that the indifferenti had been attempting to rally support there, but evidently without much success, as Theodore and Ornano captured the whole pieve practically without a fight and raised a company of Cinarcans to join Ornano's army. That brought them within striking distance of Vico, but Theodore declined to waste more time on the "traitors." They returned south towards Ajaccio, and stopped at Alata, the hilltop estate of Carlo Maria Pozzo di Borgo just four miles from the Genoese port. Signore Pozzo di Borgo, another one of the grand signori of the south, hosted the king for dinner. On the 15th of August, Theodore departed, assuring Ornano that Dufour would be along shortly. He was, although not without some difficulty, as his caravan was ambushed by the indifferenti near Tavera. They made off with some of the muskets but not with the vital artillery, which they had no means to carry away anyway.

Theodore traveled southeast to the district of La Rocca, the domain of Lieutenant-General Michele Durazzo, a southern lord second only to Ornano in importance (and his superior in wealth, we are told). Theodore had made Durazzo a general and a count, and Durazzo had done reasonably well for the rebel cause by driving the Genoese garrison out of Sartena soon after Theodore's arrival. He welcomed the king at Livia with a little parade by a troop of cavalry that had been assembled from the noblemen of La Rocca. Although Durazzo possessed fewer men than Ornano, he was an officer of somewhat more initiative and daring, and had skirmished several times with Genoese companies operating out of their southern garrison ports. Theodore had no artillery to give him, but provided him with a modest amount of arms and ammunition and promised him that once affairs were on a better footing in the north he would be able to give him aid in the recapture of Porto Vecchio. Durazzo and his cavalry accompanied Theodore to Fiumorbo on the eastern coast, a sparsely populated but restless pieve whose village elders readily swore fealty to Theodore.

Clearly, however, not all in the province were friends of the king. After Durazzo turned back to his home territory, Theodore was left with only a small part of his royal guard—most seem to have been given to Dufour as an escort, leaving only a small group on horseback to accompany the king. Near the village of Ventiseri, their local guide insisted on taking a path down a forested valley, claiming that the usual route lay near a hostile village, but Theodore refused to go despite his protests. Perhaps he trusted in his charisma; perhaps he did not fully trust the guide. Either way, the man vanished from the column a few miles later, and when Theodore reached the next village he found them quite friendly. It was discovered, in retrospect, that the "guide" had been paid off by the Genoese, and it was assumed he was trying to lead the little royal party into an ambush.

While Theodore was away, the war in the north had been focused in the Nebbio. Although humbled by defeat, the Genoese colonel Marchelli still controlled around 2,000 men in total, and he was reinforced by another 500 or so in mid-August, although these appear to have all been more additions of prisoners and galley slaves to the compagnia dei banditi. Count Andrea Ceccaldi, recently promoted to Lieutenant-General, was his chief adversary, along with Colonel Don Felice Cervoni, who had acquitted himself bravely at Rutali; Colonel Giovan Natali, the leader of the local militia of the Nebbio; Captain Giovan Luca Poggi, who had defended the Bocca di Teghime against the Genoese battalion of Major Morati; and Major Antone Nobile Battisti, a former engineer in the Venetian army who had been placed in command of artillery in the absence of Dufour.

This was a fairly experienced and capable group of officers, but a rift between Ceccaldi and Cervoni had continued to grow since their victory at Rutali. Cervoni disputed the great credit that had been given to Ceccaldi and despite being made a knight by Theodore resented that Ceccaldi, once his fellow colonel, had been given general rank ahead of him. This division between Ceccaldi and the second most senior leader in the Nebbio stymied progress, as did the depleted rebel numbers during the harvest season. A more daring leader than Marchelli might have sought to take advantage of this situation by going on the offensive, but Marchelli was probably fearful for his career prospects if he were to lead his army into disaster a second time and never risked it.

Despite these complications, the rebels did capture Olmeta and Cervoni managed to defeat a large company of banditi under Captain Domenico de Franceschi in the valley of the Aliso. An attack on Oletta, however, was delayed because of disagreements between Ceccaldi and Cervoni, allowing Ceccaldi to reinforce Major Morati and hold the position. On the 19th the rebels made another go at it, this time attempting to cut off Oletta by seizing the road between the village and San Fiorenzo. The result was Ceccaldi's defeat at the hands of Marchelli in the Battle of Conca d'Oro ("Valley of Gold"), an engagement which was won by the Genoese less through brilliant generalship than the superior discipline and musketry of the Genoese and Swiss regulars. In an open field with none of the confounding terrain that had been so useful to the rebels at Rutali, the rebels were at a clear disadvantage. Marchelli claimed it as vengeance for Rutali and the Genoese government, hungry for any kind of good news, crowed about it as a sign of the impending collapse of the rebels. Numerically, however, it was poor revenge; the rebels suffered some 300 dead, wounded, or captured compared to a probable 100-150 on the part of the Genoese, a far cry from the 1,000 or so Genoese casualties at Rutali. Marchelli was seemingly content within the defensive triangle which he had established between San Fiorenzo, Oletta, and Patrimonio, and made no attempt after the battle to expand his control.

Unhappy with Theodore's extended absence, a number of northern leaders including his own prime minister Marquis Luigi Giafferi had presented the king with a petition upon his return to Vescovato, imploring him for the good of the realm and the preservation of his own life to fix his residence in one place and not go touring the realm anymore. As we find him in the Nebbio on the 24th, he cannot have taken this advice entirely, but matters there urgently demanded his intervention. After Conca d'Oro, the rebels in the province were in disarray. Ceccaldi and Cervoni were blaming each other for the defeat and morale was low. The king, meeting with his commanders at Murato, decided to reassign Cervoni to command the rebels in Niolo so as to end the raids of the indifferenti and perhaps stamp them out entirely. Cervoni was from Rogna in central Corsica and had family ties in Niolo, which recommended him for the position, but it was probably also intended as a means to keep him and Ceccaldi on opposite sides of the island. Theodore then proceeded to Bastia, where he met with Count Gio Giacomo Ambrosi di Castinetta. Castinetta had been doing well enough keeping order in occupied Bastia, whose residents were mostly opposed to the rebel movement, but he had been hoarding the arms and ammunition which had been arriving at the port, preventing it from being disseminated elsewhere. Major Battisti had complained he had no powder or shot for his guns. Theodore managed to get him to loosen his grip, allowing the rebels in the Nebbio to receive new supplies, and attempted to get Castinetta to use his time more productively by instructing him to organize some privateers to take the fight to the Genoese.

In the Balagna, meanwhile, the Genoese of Algajola under Captain Bembo broke out of their confinement for the second time and, in coordination with an armed flotilla, made an attack against Isola Rossa less than five miles to the east. Although only a small fishing village, Isola Rossa had rapidly become the primary port for the smuggling of Balagnese olive oil (primarily to France), for although the rebels controlled the port of Bastia there existed no infrastructure by which oil could be transported from the Balagna to the eastern coast. As Theodore's government levied no direct tax upon the already impoverished citizens, Balagnese oil (which Costa estimated at 100,000 barrels annually) represented the lion's share of the rebel government's regular income (excluding irregular exactions and confiscations of Genoese and filogenovesi property). Although the rebel besiegers of Algajola were heavily defeated, the physician-turned-officer Captain Paolo-Maria Paoli (no relation to Giacinto Paoli) delayed Bembo at Corbara long enough for Marquis Simone Fabiani to arrive and force the attackers back, while the Genoese flotilla was dissuaded from landing men by strong winds and sporadic cannon-fire from the Torre Pietra, a Genoese tower off the coast of Isola Rossa which had been garrisoned by the rebels. Bembo caused more casualties than he suffered and burned fields and orchards in the vicinity of Pigna and the Nonza Valley, but Isola Rossa remained in rebel hands and smugglers continued to arrive.[A]


Map of Corsica around the end of July
Green: Royalist control
Yellow: "Indifferenti" control
Red: Genoese occupation
White: Neutral, uncertain, or unoccupied areas
Dotted Green Line: Route of Theodore's southern review

Footnotes
[1] The north and south had linguistic differences as well. Despite the Terra di Signori being ruled by lords who claimed descent from Frankish counts of the continent, it was the northerners who spoke a dialect much closer to Tuscan, for the north's proximity to the Italian coast and its relative richness compared to the south had attracted many more immigrants from Tuscany over the course of the second millenium. The language of the south, meanwhile, was considered more "rustic;" that is, less Tuscan-influenced and closer to Sardinian and Sicilian. This contributed to a certain northern chauvinism, particularly among the educated class which contributed heavily to the leadership of the rebellion: while many (mainland) Italians thought of Corsica as a rough and uncivilized backwater, northern Corsicans thought much the same of the Dila. It was, in a sense, the Corsica of Corsica.

Timeline Notes
[A] IOTL, Isola Rossa (now L'Île-Rousse) played a similar role. Pasquale Paoli, unable to take Calvi, built the little village up into a major port (by Corsican standards). That has not happened ITTL, but it's possible that it may, depending on how long the rebels hold the Balagna and how long Calvi and Algajola remain in Genoese hands.
 
How weak was the Genoese navy to not be able to put Isola Rossa under blockade (also considering it is close to Genoese-held ports in Algajola and especially Calvi)?

Galleys are not good for a blockade, I know, but still...
 
How weak was the Genoese navy to not be able to put Isola Rossa under blockade (also considering it is close to Genoese-held ports in Algajola and especially Calvi)?

Galleys are not good for a blockade, I know, but still...
I imagine it had less to do with being weak, and more to do with how expensive this war could turn out to be. I'm also not sure Genoa was in a position to dictate terms to people who wanted to trade in Genoa. The Spanish and French certainly wouldn't have taken such threats seriously.
 
How weak was the Genoese navy to not be able to put Isola Rossa under blockade (also considering it is close to Genoese-held ports in Algajola and especially Calvi)?

Galleys are not good for a blockade, I know, but still...

As you say, galleys indeed are not good for blockading, considering the prodigious amount of food and water (especially water) a ship full of galley slaves require. Apart from galleys, most of the ships I'm aware of the Genoese using in the Corsican war were feluccas. A felucca is basically a mini-xebec: a small, open-decked ship with oars and lateen sails. While the size of a felucca presumably varied (like most "classes" of ships), 18-20 oars seems common for a "military" felucca. With a small crew they could carry some cargo, but the "armed feluccas" the Genoese used seem to have relied on boarding rather than gunnery, and thus aside from some small cannon and swivel guns their power presumably derived from being full of marines. A small, open sailboat full of marines presumably doesn't have much more cruising potential than a galley.

Furthermore, while feluccas were nimble little ships they were notoriously poor in rough seas, and Corsica's waters aren't the gentlest in the area. There are numerous accounts of feluccas being wind-bound or wrecked around Corsica. If you like your accounts with a bit of British chauvinism, you may enjoy this one by John Molesworth, writing in 1723: "No mariners in the world are as cowardly as the Italians in general, but especially the Genoese; so that on the least appearance of a rough sea, they run into the first creek where their feluccas are sometimes wind-bound for a month."

Additionally, the Genoese are very wary of firing on ships with foreign flags even if they appear to be obvious blockade-runners. While some smugglers, particularly in little feluccas and tartanes, bore no flag, others sailed brazenly under Spanish, French, British, or Neapolitan colors. If they were trading at Isola Rossa then they're obviously likely to be smugglers, but until they actually stop at port the Genoese don't know their intention. Then all they have to do is slip away when there are no Genoese ships on the horizon, or when the weather gives them a favorable means of escape. Unless they actually swoop down on the ship in the process of unloading, as they did with the Richard, smuggling is hard to interdict, and once the rebels possess ports with protective batteries it becomes much more difficult to snap them up while making deliveries.

I'm also not sure Genoa was in a position to dictate terms to people who wanted to trade in Genoa. The Spanish and French certainly wouldn't have taken such threats seriously.

As we'll see in a coming chapter, the main thrust of Genoese diplomacy during the rebellion was trying to get agreements with other powers to restrict their nationals from trading with the Corsicans. They did have some success with this, and by the early 1730s the British and French had made such agreements, but Genoa could only use diplomacy, not force.
 
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