I am surely digging a Savoyard-Corsican convergence, because is surely beneficial ITTL and in the long term for Italy. Always if the Savoia would see far like Theodore, of course.
Call to Arms
Call to Arms


Genoese troops encamped at Finale

On the 14th of March, a Gallispan army of 46,000 men began its attack on Sardinia. The French contingent was led by Marshal Daniel François de Gélas, Vicomte de Lautrec, while the Spanish were led nominally by the Infante Felipe de Borbón but in practice by his “lieutenant” General Jaime de Guzmán-Dávalos, Marqués de la Mina. The force crossed the Var on the 21st, and the city of Nice surrendered almost immediately. Most of the Sardinian garrison there had already withdrawn to Villefranche after the French had landed a force at Monaco. Villefranche was ringed by formidable fortifications and batteries of artillery, but its security was severely compromised by the presence of more than 4,000 French soldiers to the east. Although this force could not threaten the seven or eight thousand defenders of Villefranche on its own (including nearly a thousand British marines and gunners), it could certainly mount attacks on the Sardinian rear once they were occupied by the main Gallispan army. The Sardinian commander Vittorio Francesco, Marquis de Susa - the illegitimate brother of King Carlo Emanuele III - realized that despite the town’s strong natural and artificial defenses it would be difficult to hold with his flank turned. The Marquis had been assured that the British fleet would evacuate his force if the town could not be defended, but there was no sign of that fleet save for a few recently-arrived frigates and sloops, and the force to his east was potentially in a position to set up artillery that could make the harbor of Villefranche impossible to utilize.

Rather than waiting for the main Bourbon army to arrive and surround him totally, Susa elected to evacuate by land while the option still remained to him, leaving a rearguard of 400 men to hold the citadels of Villefranche and Montalban as long as possible. A clean getaway, however, was prevented by the action of François de Chevert, a man of no title or distinction who had started his career as a 11-year old infantry recruit and rose to the rank of brigadier, an extraordinarily rare feat in the aristocratic French army which is evidence enough of his capability. Chevert, leading the troops recently disembarked at Monaco, mounted a tenacious attack against the Sardinian army as soon as he realized Susa’s intention to withdraw. Although he could not overcome a superior force, his his harrying was so effective that he was able to slow, cut off, and finally destroy the Sardinian rearguard, causing the loss or capture of some 1,500 Sardinian troops. He regretted that Susa and the main Sardinian corps had managed to slip away, which other officers blamed chiefly on the slowness of the Spanish advance, but his accomplishment was noted at Versailles and he was promoted to Maréchal de camp within a few weeks. The Sardinian detachment holding the citadels continued to hold out after the evacuation of Susa’s corps, but eventually surrendered for lack of ammunition on the 15th of April.[A]

The dormant strategic question, whether to continue eastwards through Liguria or turn the advance elsewhere, now came to the fore. To recap, the Spanish preferred the former, as it promised to be the most efficient means of joining the Gallispan army with the Spanish army of General Jean Thierry du Mont, Comte de Gages, presently in central Italy, which the Spanish had been trying to achieve since 1741. But the French had their doubts. Lautrec feared that with the return of Mathews’ fleet to the Ligurian coast, the British would now be a persistent thorn in the side of the Gallispan army. By threatening the coastal route, British ships could interfere with supplies and communications. Moreover, when winter arrived and the Alps were rendered impassable, the French feared that the Gallispan army would find itself trapped in Liguria (or wherever else it had marched) with little hope of supply or reinforcement.

The variance between French and Spanish objectives reached all the way to the top. Spain’s uncompromising policy was driven by Elisabetta Farnese, the Queen of Spain and heiress of Parma, who cared only for the meeting of the Spanish armies, the reclamation of her patrimony, and the installation of her son Don Felipe in a suitable principality. She reacted indignantly to any suggestion of an alternative policy, blithely dismissed any concerns about the security of the coastal route,[1] and threatened unilateral action if France did not meet what she saw as its dynastic commitments. “The King of France is master of his own troops,” she told the French ambassador, “but there is nothing to prevent us sending on our troops and risking everything rather than expose de Gages’ army to certain ruin.” She was echoed both by her son Don Felipe and General la Mina, a man so proud of his blind loyalty that he was heard to boast that he would gladly march his army into the sea if given the order.


Elisabetta Farnese, Queen of Spain

Contrary to the Queen’s suspicions, King Louis XV was absolutely committed to the cause of his cousin Don Felipe. Sardinia’s treachery, however, had personally aggrieved him, and he was thus receptive to the arguments of his generals that it was wiser to lay Turin low before riding through Italy to the rescue of Gages. His commanders, including Lautrec, expressed their concerns that the Spanish were so obsessed with Parma that they had become heedless of all reason and military necessity. An advance over the mountains from the Dauphiné into Piedmont might pose more initial challenges, but it would avoid British interference, and if Sardinia could thus be knocked out of the war the Gallispan host could march to Parma, Naples, or anywhere else at their leisure.

Those had been the arguments over the preceding winter, but the unexpectedly swift progress of the Nice campaign seemed to undermine the French position. Sardinian opposition had proved far weaker than anticipated, and after the surprising collapse of the Sardinian position at Villefranche the Gallispan forces seemed unstoppable. Susa had lost more than a quarter of his army and had been forced to spike and abandon more than 80 cannon at Villefranche, some of which were soon repaired and pressed into service by the Bourbon forces. The Spanish drove the Sardinians from Sospello, forcing them ever higher up the Roya valley, while another Spanish force overcame a small garrison at Dolceacqua and then turned east towards Oneglia. Progress was slowed by floodwaters from the spring thaw, but with the Sardinians back on their heels it was easy to argue that the Gallispan army would be best employed continuing to forge ahead rather than retreating so as to attempt another approach.

Even the French fears of British interference seemed to be overblown. Although the Spanish and French Mediterranean fleets were now divided, they still arguably had the numbers to challenge the British if they were able to combine forces. Mathews was quite aware of this and could only hope to avoid that unhappy scenario by a concentration of force at Hyères Roadstead to oppose any breakout from Toulon. Meanwhile, to continue the blockade of Italy Mathews was best served by his frigates and sloops, but he was terribly short of both. He possessed only six frigates in the entire theater, several of which had to be employed watching Toulon and Cartagena for signs of enemy movement. Prior to the Battle of Toulon, Mathews had augmented these cruisers with some detached ships of the line. Now, however, given the loss of the Rupert and the fact that several ships were still undergoing extensive repairs at Port Mahon, the admiral simply could not afford to make detachments from his battle fleet without jeopardizing his ability to face the Gallispan naval forces in another engagement. As a result, the British could spare but a small fraction of their force to patrol the Riviera. When the Gallispan army forged its way across the Var, the mighty British navy had only been able to oppose them with a pair of 8-gun sloops. Meanwhile, supplies, artillery, ammunition, and even soldiers continued to filter through the blockade towards Italy.


The Marques de la Mina

It was nevertheless conceded, even by la Mina, that a key ingredient for a successful Riviera campaign was still missing: the support of Genoa. While the Gallispan army could march through neutral Genoese territory, open support from the Republic was necessary for logistical and tactical reasons. In particular, Genoese fortresses - and Genoese forces to man them - would be of inestimable value in holding back counterattacks from the Sardinians. That support was not yet forthcoming but did not seem beyond the realm of possibility: Once more the British consul in Genoa John Birtles reported that magazines and supply depots were being assembled in Genoese territory, allegedly for the use of the Spanish army, and the Republic had gathered a large army at Genoa. Yet the Genoese remained frustratingly aloof, offering the Bourbon diplomats vague statements of support and sympathy but stalling every attempt to drag them into an alliance with never-ending parliamentary debates and tedious drawn-out negotiations.

While the Treaty of Worms had made a sham of Genoese neutrality, the Republic’s government was nevertheless pulled towards belligerence only slowly and with great reluctance. They had been manifestly unready for war in 1743, with an army of less than 6,000 men who at the time were mostly stationed in Corsica. More crucially, Spain - the only Bourbon power which had so far waged war in Italy - had continually failed to advance their cause since the opening of hostilities in 1741. Given the Republic’s exposed position in Italy, entry into the war without a strong Bourbon army immediately at hand would be tantamount to suicide, as Modena had demonstrated during its brief and farcical contribution to the conflict.[2] Although the Republic made preparations for war, their favored resolution to the crisis was a diplomatic reversal of the Finale clause. They had met with some success in England, where a number of prominent lords and politicians had publicly voiced their agreement that the proposed cession was unjust and unlawful. The policy of Sir John Carteret, however, did not change as a result, and Vienna received their ambassadors coldly. It was well known that Franz Stefan, the Grand Duke of Tuscany and Archduke of Austria, still had designs on Corsica and made sure the Genoese envoys received no fair hearing at Vienna, and his royal wife Maria Theresa needed Turin's support too badly to renounce or unilaterally abridge the Worms treaty.

By May of 1744 the Republic's strategic position was significantly improved. Genoa had completed its redeployment from Corsica and had mustered an 8,000 man army in Liguria. A large Gallispan army had easily routed the Sardinians at Villefranche, captured the county of Nice with astonishing rapidity, and was now poised on the Republic’s frontier. Growing more confident in their own position and that of the Bourbon powers, Genoa’s terror had given way to greed, for the Genoese were well aware of the strategic importance of their territory and now attempted to extract the best deal they could from Paris and Madrid. Spain was more than willing to carve up Sardinia for Genoa’s benefit, but France resisted the idea of offering any Sardinian territory to Genoa, as King Louis and his councilors continued to believe that Sardinia, though treacherous, could still be “turned” given the right pressure. But for the Republic, there was no rush; there were still preparations to make, and the 1744 campaign in Italy was yet young.

On February 3rd, just three days before the Battle of Toulon, Carlo Emanuele had received word from his ambassador to Britain, Giuseppe Antonio Osorio Alarçon, that London had approved his proposal to recruit soldiers from Corsica. In theory the “recruiting” was to be done at Livorno and aimed at Corsican expatriates there, but Carlo Emanuele fully intended to avail himself of the services of Theodore von Neuhoff in procuring these soldiers from Corsica itself. The offer which the Sardinian Secretary of War Lorenzo Bogino handed to Theodore’s agent Domenico Rivarola in late February was not an alliance, nor any agreement between states; it more closely resembled a “capitulation,” the type of contract which Turin regularly signed with Swiss and German colonel-proprietors charged with raising a foreign regiment for Sardinian service. For now, Turin would deign to deal with Theodore only as a private person. They acknowledged him by his title of “baron,” but not yet as king.

The proposal stipulated that Theodore would recruit and equip a regiment of three battalions of Corsicans for Sardinian service (nominally 1,800-2,100 men). Theodore would provide the men and select the officers, as well as providing the uniforms.[3] As compensation for his services and to assist him in his task, he would receive the sum of 12,000 sequins (=162,000 lire) in several installments and an annual pension of 275 sequins, the latter to be increased to 400 sequins immediately upon the entry of this regiment into Sardinian service.

The amount is notable for its generosity, as it was emphatically not Turin’s usual practice to advance mercenary colonels 30 years worth of salary before they had raised a single man. But Carlo Emanuele was not offering this sum out of the goodness of his heart, nor because he had any sentimental attachment to Corsican independence. By “overpaying” Theodore for his services Turin could disguise a subsidy as a salary advance, thus supporting the rebellion while plausibly claiming that they were merely recruiting a foreign regiment, an activity which they were in fact doing and which their British allies had explicitly condoned. The Sardinians, in effect, were doing an end run around their ally’s stated policy: while London maintained the official line that any aid to the “malcontents” was a serious crime, their own exchequer was sending money to Turin that was to be immediately handed to the leader of the Corsican rebel movement. Carlo Emanuele may also have already been planning for the future, as if Theodore’s rebellion was successful it was not out of the question that le soi-disant Roi, indebted to Savoyard generosity, might be convinced to set aside his royal claims and deliver “free” Corsica to Turin’s control.

Undoubtedly Theodore had wanted more, not so much in terms of money but in recognition and military support. The best he could get in that regard was a comforting but frustratingly vague promise that, when the war was over, His Sardinian Majesty would do his utmost to intervene on behalf of the Corsican people to secure their liberty. But he was certainly not going to turn down 12,000 sequins and a generous salary, and what Carlo Emanuele wanted him to do - raise an army - was exactly what Theodore intended. The only difference was that Theodore hoped to gain some use out of it himself before delivering the promised force to Sardinia’s control.

In March, with the snows thawing in the mountains and the first installment of Turin’s largesse in his pocket, Theodore felt the time was ripe to summon the national consulta. The chosen site was the Franciscan convent of Orezza, a place charged with meaning for the naziunali. At the same convent in 1731, in the early days of the Revolution, a consulta had convened in which the native theologians of Corsica sanctified the rebellion and declared it just for the people to resist tyranny with force; in 1734 another consulta here had officially renewed the rebellion after the collapse of the Austrian-brokered truce; and it was here again in 1735 that a third consulta gathered here to proclaim the short-lived Corsican Commonwealth. All this had occurred before Theodore’s arrival, but he had not been King of Corsica for eight years without learning anything of its very recent history, and he could hope for no more symbolic place from which to declare a new uprising.[B]


The Franciscan Convent of Orezza

The case for war which Theodore and his inconciliabili supporters laid before the assembled delegates on March 18th was straightforward. Negotiations had clearly failed; the Genoese Senate and Commissioner-General Pier Maria Giustiniani had failed to accept the demands of the Corsican people and had no intention of ever doing so. The Genoese were now weaker than they had ever been, and the rebels stronger than at any time since the fall of the kingdom to the French. Theodore promised money, guns, and ammunition to every Corsican willing to fight for God, king, and country - in fact he had brought a large cache of weapons and sequins with him to Orezza precisely to use the opportunity of the consulta to raise soldiers. He claimed, not entirely accurately, that he had secured an alliance with the King of Sardinia and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who would support Corsican independence. All that was necessary was for the Corsicans to take up Theodore’s proffered arms and bear them onward against tyranny.

Certainly there was dissent. Giustiniani had co-opted various caporali and delegates, and there was still a significant party of those who found the status quo comfortable enough to remain in it. Giustiniani’s cause, however, was weakened by his lack of means. The Genoese government’s reallocation of resources from Corsica meant that the commissioner-general’s coffers and arsenals were both empty. He could afford neither to continue bribing Corsican chieftains nor to provide their followers with functioning muskets. Theodore, it seemed, was now in a position to do both, and for many of Corsica’s more mercenary caporali this was decisive. On March 16th, the delegates of the consulta signed the so-called Ghjurà di Orezza (“Oath of Orezza”), in which they yet again confirmed their allegiance to King Theodore, enumerated the various violations of the truce and acts of bad faith committed by Genoa (including, risibly, Genoese “piracy” against traders - that is, smugglers - traveling to Corsica), pledged to follow the King and the Diet of Corsica to war, and promised to make no peace with Genoa without the general approval of the king and the consulta. The unanimous accession of the Diet followed, and on March 19th of 1744 by royal declaration the Kingdom of Corsica formally declared war on the Republic of Genoa.

It is not surprising that the Genoese were well-informed about this gathering; there were almost certainly delegates present who were passing information to Giustiniani. What is more surprising is that the Genoese also knew all about Theodore’s deal with Turin. Indeed, the Genoese seem to have uncovered this plan almost immediately - so quickly, indeed, that one wonders weather treachery was involved. While Genoese intelligence was relatively robust, Carlo Emanuele and his cabinet were skilled players in the art of covert diplomacy, and it seems unlikely that a leak could have come from Turin. It has been suggested that Rivarola traded his knowledge of the plot for cash, which would not be altogether out of character. But the most intriguing notion is that Theodore himself may have leaked the proposal, for while there is no evidence that he did so, the results were manifestly in his favor.

The revelation of the new Sardinian-Corsican axis struck the Genoese government like a bolt of lightning. Of course the “Worms Allies” had already stirred the pot in Corsica: The Archduke’s machinations were well-known, as was his role in the creation of the “Free Battalion” that had caused so many problems for the Republic in the Dila; Britain had sheltered Theodore in exile and had brought the pernicious instigator of rebellion back to Corsica on their own warships. But Sardinia now surpassed both in their aggression and shamelessness. They were now directly supporting the rebellion and paying the arch-rebel Theodore to raise an army of malcontents. The Genoese did not for a minute believe that Turin was merely recruiting Corsicans for the continental war; this was a proxy war against the Genoese Republic, the intent of which was nothing less than the overthrow of the Genoese government in Corsica and the likely Sardinian annexation of the island. As threatening as it was, the “Finale clause” had been merely a future, speculative loss of territory; this was a present and immediate attempt to provoke a new uprising and drive the Genoese from their island.

The Spanish kept up the pressure throughout the Spring, hoping to drag France and Genoa along with their preferred strategy by sheer momentum and obstinance. In April, the Spanish army occupied the Genoese city of Ventimiglia and received only the most cursory protest from Doge Lorenzo de Mari.[4] The Spaniards then moved against Oneglia, and the Sardinians again chose to withdraw rather than fight. On the 22nd of April, the Spanish army captured the city. Here, however, the offensive stalled, waiting on diplomatic progress.

By this time it had been a month since the consulta of Orezza, and Theodore had not spent it idly. The assembly had been immediately followed by a general levy in Orezza, which spread from there to much of the rest of the Castagniccia. Mindful of his obligation to Turin, he entrusted the formation of a regular regiment to his minister of war Major General Marcantonio Giappiconi, a former colonel of the Venetian army who had fought the Turks as a young officer during the Second Morean War (1714-1718). For the time being, however, most of the forces raised were still local militia companies motivated by some combination of patriotism, the personal loyalty of their leaders to the king, free muskets, and Turin's gold. This force, numbering at least a thousand, marched directly against Bastia. A small Genoese garrison was driven from Borgo, and on the 29th of March a more serious engagement took place between Biguglia and Furiani. The Genoese were driven from their positions near Biguglia and fell back on Furiani, while the Corsicans came within four miles of Bastia. Yet Theodore knew the city could not be taken; his artillery had not yet arrived, the Genoese had improved Bastia’s defenses since the city’s fall in 1736, and the Genoese had a full-sized galley and several smaller ships offshore which could bombard the approaching Corsican army. Before dawn on the 30th, Theodore’s force quietly withdrew from the outskirts of Furiani and filed west through the Bocca di San Stefano into the Nebbio. Most of this province was already in the hands of the naziunali, and the only Genoese position left was San Fiorenzo itself, whose garrison by April had been reduced to a mere 40 men. The Genoese lieutenant in command of this post chose to evacuate by sea rather than face the brunt of the uprising, and on April 4th Theodore’s forces liberated the town.

The Genoese could do nothing against this offensive but wait behind Bastia’s fortifications and prepare for the worst. Despite this threatening move against the city, the Republic nevertheless withdrew two companies of Jost’s Grison infantry from Bastia to the mainland in April, reducing the Bastia garrison from 1,100 to 700 regulars and the overall Genoese regular forces on the island from 1,800 to 1,400 (all nominal figures). For want of artillery, however, Theodore still did not move against the capital. The king had entrusted the movement of the artillery to Alerio Francesco Matra, the 26 year old son of Saviero Matra (who was seriously ill and would pass away in the following year). As the brother-in-law of Gianpietro Gaffori and son-in-law of Domenico Rivarola, the young Matra was a powerful figure despite his youth, and Theodore had given him the rank of colonel. Matra had elected to move these pieces down the Tavignano valley to Aleria and then northwards along the coast, an easier but more circuitous route than attempting to drag the artillery down the narrow Golo ravine. In the meantime, the naziunali forces in the Nebbio concentrated their efforts against Capo Corso, which remained in the hands of the filogenovesi. Progress was slow going owing to the difficulty of the terrain, the plethora of Genoese towers which studded the peninsula’s coast, and the general indifference of the natives to the national cause, but the rebels made initial inroads with the conquest of Farinole, Nonza, and Ogliastro on the western coast.

Undoubtedly this pressure played a role in loosening up the diplomatic deadlock between Genoa and the Bourbons. Genoa blamed their situation entirely on the Sardinians (and to a lesser extent, the British), who were clearly the authors of every new Genoese misfortune on Corsica. Although obviously significant foreign intervention in Corsica would not be forthcoming while the war raged on the continent, Theodore’s march on Bastia caused the Genoese government to request a small Spanish or French expeditionary force - perhaps two or three battalions - to help them hold their remaining citadels so as to preserve a foothold on the island and to deny them to the British fleet. The Bourbons were willing to oblige them, as well as assist the Republic with its financial needs by means of a generous subsidy, but not without Genoa's commitment to war.

Even with this apparent meeting of the minds, diplomacy remained a frustratingly slow process. As summer arrived, there was still no treaty. In the interim, however, Genoa agreed to set aside its neutrality - undeclared hostilities, after all, were nothing new in this war - and pledged to furnish the Gallispan army with all required aid and to defend its own territory by force from any Sardinian incursions. Genoa’s hesitation had caused serious delays for the Gallispan army, with virtually no activity on the Nice front in May, and that had given the Sardinians precious time to halt their withdrawal and reposition their forces. The adherence of Genoa, however, finally eroded the last of France’s objections. The Ligurian campaign of the Gallispan army could now begin in earnest.

Situation in Corsica, early June 1744 (Click to expand)

[1] The Queen fatuously explained that she knew the coastal route very well and foresaw no problems, having traveled it on a sedan chair from Parma to Madrid on the way to her wedding many years before. Presumably, however, her bridal procession had not been in danger of being raked by British naval gunfire.
[2] Duke Francesco III of Modena had joined the war on the side of the Bourbons on April 30th 1742, but is state was attacked and occupied by the Austrians before the Spanish army could arrive to support them. After a 19 day siege, Modena surrendered and the Duke was made an exile.
[3] It was standard practice in Sardinia for foreign regiments to supply their own uniforms, while Turin would provide their arms and ammunition from government arsenals. As Theodore fully intended to use his "regiment" before delivering it to the Sardinians, however, he was obligated to both clothe and arm them.
[4] A relative of Giovanni-Battista de Mari, Commissioner-General of Corsica during the French intervention and Spinola’s predecessor.

Timeline Notes
[A] IOTL, the Gallispan Nice campaign proceeded in a similar direction, but with considerably more resistance and at a much slower pace. Villefranche held out for weeks, inflicting thousands of casualties on the attackers. Most of the garrison was ultimately evacuated by Mathews' fleet to Oneglia. Although the French had preferred a more northerly advance even before Villefranche, the heavy cost of this battle and the continued neutrality of the Genoese ultimately compelled the Spanish to give up and accept the French plan. As a result of this stalling, the Alpine offensive did not begin until July, which was a crucial reason why it ultimately failed - the Gallispans simply lacked the time to reduce the all-important fortress of Cuneo before the snows began to fall and the army was forced to fall back over the mountains before the passes were closed.
[B] Unfortunately the historic convent of Orezza, one of the most important landmarks of the 40-year Corsica Revolution, suffered the same fate as the historic Ponte Novu and was destroyed by the Germans in the Second World War. Only the ruined walls still remain, which is why I was obliged to use an old photo.
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So where are the Bourbon expeditionary forces going to be set up? Are they going to be spread fairly evenly among the remaining six Genoese held garrisons, or are they going to try to concentrate on holding one or two of them?
So where are the Bourbon expeditionary forces going to be set up? Are they going to be spread fairly evenly among the remaining six Genoese held garrisons, or are they going to try to concentrate on holding one or two of them?

Presumably either Bastia or Calvi, depending on the danger posed by the rebels when (and if) this deployment is made. Bonifacio is in no immediate danger, and the other "garrisons" are all secondary. Rogliano in particular has a few dozen soldiers at most; it endures primarily because of its remoteness and limited value.

IOTL, the French did indeed land forces on Corsica during the war. A Franco-Spanish detachment of 200 men landed at Bastia in 1747 to help defend the capital against Rivarola's men. Another 400 French soldiers were dispatched in May of 1748 to lift a rebel siege of Bastia. By 1748 Corsica seemed like it might become a minor theater of its own: the French sent forces to Bastia and Calvi, the Sardinians occupied San Fiorenzo, and the British considered a proposal to invade Capraia and the northern Corsican ports to prevent them being used to resupply the Bourbon forces in Liguria. The war ended before anything could come of these maneuvers, although the French sent several thousand men to Corsica after the war in an attempt at peacekeeping which is generally known as the "Second French Intervention" (1748-1753).
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Worse still, the confluence of the allied Bourbon army with Neapolitan and Genoese forces in Lombardy in 1745 led to the coining of the bizarre (but mercifully rare) term “Galligurinapolispani.”

As a rule of thumb, I use “Bourbon” to refer to the Franco-Spanish alliance in general, while “Gallispan” is used specifically to refer to joint Franco-Spanish forces, specifically the Gallispan army in Liguria and the Gallispan fleet at the Battle of Toulon (which does not presently exist as the fleets went their separate ways after the battle).
Interesting that the major changes so far is that sardinia are doing worse than otl. I can see how that's useful to the corsicans short term but well long term, they're relying on genoa losing. The Spanish and French rolling up Italy is not remotely what they want.
Interesting that the major changes so far is that sardinia are doing worse than otl. I can see how that's useful to the corsicans short term but well long term, they're relying on genoa losing. The Spanish and French rolling up Italy is not remotely what they want.

Well the Corsicans are going to rely more on the British than the Sardinins going forward.
With Genoa now officially at war with the British and their allies, I would assume open support of the Kingdom of Corsica is next on the docket in Parliament.
Interesting that the major changes so far is that sardinia are doing worse than otl. I can see how that's useful to the corsicans short term but well long term, they're relying on genoa losing. The Spanish and French rolling up Italy is not remotely what they want.

It’s not so much that the Sardinians are doing especially badly; rather, the Bourbons are just running ahead of schedule.

IOTL, 1744 was something of a wasted year in Italy. The French ultimately got their way and the united Gallispan army attacked over the Piedmontese Alps. This attack was marvellously done, but because of several factors - the late start of the campaign, the skill and bravery of Baron Leutrum, and the ingenious relief plan of Charles Emmanuel - the Gallispan army failed to take the key fortress of Cuneo before the arrival of winter, which forced them to return back over the mountains to Savoy with nothing to show for the year’s campaign but the acquisition of Nice and Villefranche and a lot of dead soldiers. Meanwhile, the supremely incompetent Austrian general Lobkowitz faffed around in the neighborhood of Rome for a while and failed to accomplish anything of note against Gages and the Neapolitans. Only in 1745, when Genoa’s adherence to the Bourbon alliance made a Ligurian campaign feasible, did the Bourbons actually make meaningful progress in Italy.

ITTL, a worse-than-OTL British performance at Toulon leads to a much easier (for the Bourbons) Nice-Villefranche campaign, which combined with Theodore’s return and the greater success of the Corsican rebels results in the Genoese being pressured into an alliance earlier and Liguria becoming a viable option for the Gallispan invasion in 1744, which is the option the Spanish preferred all along. The result is that the “lost year” of 1744 never happens, and - at least in the north of Italy - we go straight into something resembling the OTL 1745 campaign, which historically was a massive Bourbon success.

But there’s a key difference, which is that the Bourbon powers fought the OTL 1745 Italian campaign with considerably more men than they had in the 1744 Italian campaign. In the spring of 1744 the Gallispan army had about 46,000 men in the Provence/Dauphine/Savoy theater. In contrast, the Gallispan army in that same theater at the same time in 1745 had nearly 75,000 men, not including the Genoese army or Gages' army which later joined them. What was possible with 75k men may not be possible with 46k.
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It looks like the continental war now hinges on how effectively the royal navy can harass and perhaps land real shots on the forces travelling along the Ligurian coast. Genoa should have plenty of impressive if likely outdated fortresses facing the sea.
Turn of the Tide
Turn of the Tide


Soldiers of the Kalbermatten Swiss Regiment (Sardinian) skirmishing in the mountains

“The King of Sardinia has failed us. We must make him repent of it.”

- King Louis XV to King Felipe V, December 1743

Although Genoa’s long-awaited decision to support the Bourbon campaign removed the last obstacle to France’s acceptance of a Ligurian entry into Italy, Paris and Madrid continued to clash over the strategic objectives of the campaign. The French still placed first emphasis on the defeat of Sardinia, while the Spanish desired an immediate drive to the east and south to support the Spanish army of Jean Thierry du Mont, Comte de Gages. The fundamental problem was that the Bourbons simply did not have the men to both invade Piedmont and march to the defense of Gages. With approximately 32,000 men[1] against some 26,000 Sardinian defenders, the united Gallispan army could turn its whole might against Sardinia and enjoy a good chance of success, but this would be of no use to Gages. Yet if the Gallispan army proceeded immediately towards central Italy, those 26,000 Sardinian troops would be left largely free to invade Liguria and cut off the Gallispan army’s supply lines. Under the circumstances the support of Genoa’s 8,000 soldiers would be of tremendous help regardless of their quality, but as long as the ambassadors prattled on at Aranjuez that force would remain an army-in-being only. The campaign could only go forward with a compromise: The French made the prioritization of Piedmont the price for their cooperation in Liguria, and with considerable resentment the Spanish were compelled to accept. They simply did not have the forces to undertake the campaign alone.

The operational plan of Marshal Daniel François de Gélas, Vicomte de Lautrec called for an advance along the coastal route to the Genoese cities of Albenga and Finale. From there, the Gallispan columns would turn inland, cresting the Apennines and using the valleys of the Tanaro and Bormida to descend upon Ceva, a key Sardinian fortress which lay only 20 miles from Finale. At the same time, a secondary French force would threaten the Sardinians at Saorgio below the Col di Tende, while a secondary Spanish force would move eastwards towards Genoa to seize the Col de Bochetta and parry any Sardinian counterattack against the Republic. Once Ceva was conquered, the Gallispan army would descend into the Piedmontese plain, targeting Mondavi and then Cherasco and bypassing the formidable fortress of Cuneo. The considerable Sardinian force at Saorgio would, as a result of this maneuver, be faced with the prospect of being cut off from the capital entirely, and as a consequence would surely withdraw, ceding the Col di Tende to the French and thus giving Lautrec an alternative (and critically, non-coastal) route into Piedmont. In any case, the fall of Cherasco would fling open the gates to Turin, forcing King Carlo Emanuele III to capitulate.

This plan suffered from a few key geographical problems. The first was that the coastal route remained seriously vulnerable to the interdiction of the British fleet. The road from Nice to Albenga was 80 miles long and rarely strayed more than a mile from the coast. Although the Gallispan forces and the Genoese controlled a few fortified points along its length, most of this route was exposed to naval bombardment. The failure of the British fleet to meaningfully support the Sardinians in the Nice-Villefranche campaign had given the Gallispan commanders a sense of security, but at that time Admiral Thomas Mathews had been stuck out in the Mediterranean trying to force his way back from Port Mahon against heavy winds. When the French crossed the Var, the British had been able to send only two 8-gun sloops to support them; now the Riviera was patrolled by Captain Temple West of the 60-gun Warwick, leading a squadron consisting of his flagship, the 50-gun Leopard, the 40-gun heavy frigate Diamond, the 20-gun light frigates Winchelsea and Dursley, the bomb vessels Terrible, Firedrake, and Lightning with their tenders, and four small ships.

The army’s difficulties with geography, however, were not restricted to the coastal road, for mainland Genoa was little better than Corsica in terms of travel and infrastructure. Liguria was not a flat coastal plain but a series of rugged valleys descending into the Ligurian Sea, and being a maritime state Genoa had never invested much in the road networks of its hinterland. This would necessarily slow the Gallispan advance, but it was particularly problematic from the perspective of moving the heavy artillery that would be necessary to capture Sardinian fortresses. Under normal circumstances the French would simply move siege guns from Toulon or Antibes to Oneglia, Albenga, or Savona by sea, but the presence of West’s squadron made this extremely risky. The Spanish had already lost fourteen xebecs laden with artillery to British interdiction, whose cargoes now languished at Bonifacio, and the artillery that had made it to Genoese territory would not be sufficient. Moving the army’s existing artillery from Villefranche to Ceva would be a time-consuming process that would seriously delay an already lamentably late campaign and would put the siege train in danger from West’s ships.

This latter problem, at least, had a possible solution. Despite their lackluster army, the Republic of Genoa possessed an impressively large artillery park with some impressively large guns. Some of these guns were near at hand at Finale and Savona, but unfortunately many of them were at Genoa itself, which is not much closer to Ceva than Villefranche. Still, this was advantageous in at least one way, for although Genoa’s shift in allegiance was unlikely to remain a secret for long, no formal treaty had been signed and no war had been declared. Mathews had proved that he was more than willing to stop Genoese ships and fire upon enemy troops using the Republic’s roads, but Lautrec guessed that he would not fire upon Genoese artillerymen moving Genoese artillery through Genoese territory. Even so, the Genoese would still have to move said artillery by land, no swift task.

In early June, West’s squadron observed a substantial movement of troops towards Oneglia, while reports from the British consul John Bagshaw indicated that the Genoese were once more building up magazines in their territory. The Genoese government, which had in the past quickly caved to British pressure to destroy such magazines, now received these requests coldly. Mathews, with his usual cavalier attitude towards Genoa’s neutrality, authorized West to make descents against Genoese territory and destroy any magazines or depots he might find if he had the men for it. This was accomplished in at least a handful of incidents, but the material effect was minor, and the political effect was to further push the Senate to reach formal accomodations with Paris and Madrid. Yet the movement of the Genoese heavy artillery from Genoa to Finale was allowed to go on wholly unmolested, as these guns were escorted by battalions of the Genoese army and the British were not yet so bold as to bombard Genoese soldiers.

The British navy was clearly suffering from overextension. By keeping the vast majority of his ships hovering outside Toulon, Mathews could effectively prevent the Spanish and French fleets from linking up and challenging him, but he had very few ships to spare for other missions which kept piling up. Most critically, Mathews was running out of food. He opined to the Sardinians in early March that the fleet’s present stores would last no longer than the end of April, and that if he did not soon acquire 120 head of cattle he would be obliged to leave Italy entirely. At that time the Sardinians were able to render him some assistance, for even after the fall of Villefranche they could move supplies through Genoese territory to the Bay of Vado, but as Genoese neutrality came into doubt in June this was no longer an option. A convoy of victualling ships had been dispatched from England months before, but they had become trapped at Lisbon by a French squadron and lacked a strong enough escort to escape the blockade. Mathews could send ships to break them out, but sending more than a few would deplete his main force by an unacceptable amount.

Under such circumstances, Captain West could perform his duty only imperfectly. On June 16th, as it was now becoming clear that Genoa was serving as a Bourbon auxiliary, Mathews ordered West to blockade the port of Genoa and intercept all ships of any nationality coming in or out of the harbor. West’s twelve vessels, however, were hard pressed to blockade the port, cruise the Ligurian Sea, and interfere with the Gallispan coastal advance all at once. An example of this difficulty was in early July, when West’s squadron encountered a large flotilla of at least 50 tartanes and other small vessels laden with corn and fodder on their way from Barcelona to Genoa. Although these boats were defenseless, he could only catch so many with the ships available to him, and many were able to slip through to their destination. This action, in turn, pulled him away from watching the coast - for his ships were so few he was using even the bomb ketches as cruisers - allowing the Gallispan army to push forward. When he returned to the coast, West found a division of the French army moving through San Remo, east of Monaco. With a hot fire of shot and shell he forced the French to retire and take a mule-track through the hills beyond, which Lautrec estimated would delay the arrival of these forces by eight days. Such service was of value to the Sardinians, but it was clear that West simply did not have the vessels necessary to be everywhere he needed to be to stop the Ligurian campaign in its tracks.

Yet another task for the British navy arose further south. The French were not the only ones who were at their wit’s end over the impractical and visionary dreams of an uncompromising allied queen; while they had Elisabetta Farnese of Spain, the Anglo-Sardinians had Maria Theresa of Hungary. Notwithstanding the warnings of her allies, the Hungarian queen was determined to conquer Naples by any means necessary. When she had given such orders to her previous commander in Italy, Otto Ferdinand von Abensberg und Traun, the general had found them so disproportionate to the means he was provided with that he resigned his post. His replacement was Georg Christian, Fürst von Lobkowitz, a man with less talent in his whole body than Traun had in one finger. Although he would do it reluctantly, at least Lobkowitz would march, and because he heavily outnumbered his enemy the Comte de Gages (20,000 Austrians to 13,000 Spaniards) he met with initial success. In March, Lobkowitz pursued Gages south through central Italy, with Gages losing a quarter of his men in the process thanks to rampant desertion and the aggressive action of Lobkowitz’s energetic vanguard commander Ulysses von Browne. But Lobkowitz himself was halting and indecisive, constantly stopping to await new orders from Vienna, and upon reaching Rome in late April the advance ground entirely to a halt. Lobkowitz took a week off to pay a visit to the Pope, while his idle officers spent their time wine-tasting and cavorting with Roman prostitutes.[A]

Whatever advantage Lobkowitz might have enjoyed soon evaporated. Since 1742, when Commodore William Martin had sailed to Naples and threatened to bombard the city unless the kingdom withdrew from the war, King Carlos had been officially neutral. Like Genoa, however, the King of Naples knew where his true interests lay. He correctly suspected that Lobkowitz’s real aim was not merely to defeat Gages but to overthrow the House of Bourbon altogether in Naples. Now emboldened by the French declaration of war and recent upgrades to his capital’s coastal defenses, the king felt secure enough to repudiate the concessions he had made to Martin under duress and declare his previous neutrality “offensive to the interests of my House.” The addition of Neapolitan soldiers to Gages’ force now gave him the advantage in numbers, and Neapolitan ships were able to resupply Gages’ forces and bring up heavy artillery along the Tyrrhenian coast. Lobkowitz had been assured that Naples was on the verge of a popular uprising against Bourbon rule, and that this would win him the victory without much effort, but if there was local discontent it was certainly not going to break out into revolution when the Austrians had not even managed to enter the country yet.[2] His prospects for a successful conquest now looked exceedingly bleak, but Lobkowitz was unwilling to admit defeat, and instead demanded that the admiral make yet another detachment from his force to stop the Neapolitan ships and support a campaign that seemed already lost.

The Gallispan thrust inland into Piedmont began in the third week of July. It had been significantly delayed, but not stopped, by the intervention of the British Navy. The main advance fell against the Tanaro. With clearly inferior numbers, the Sardinians avoided a pitched battle, withdrawing down the Tanaro while fighting a series of minor engagements with the Gallispan vanguard. By early August, Lautrec had encircled the fortress of Ceva, held by the German-born Major General Karl Sigmund von Leutrum and 4,000 Sardinians. King Carlo Emanuele concentrated his main army of at Cherasco, 27 miles from Ceva, which consisted of around 20,000 Sardinians and 4,000 Austrians (many of them Croats) on loan from Vienna. The king also had some 7,000 local militia, who were of little value in a battle but were put to excellent use as irregulars, falling upon foraging parties and raiding the supply lines and communications of the army besieging Ceva. The invading Gallispan army was now just over 30,000 strong, but 4,000 Spaniards had been diverted towards Genoa to shield the eastern flank of the advance, protect additional Genoese artillery being brought up from the capital, and defend Genoese territory as necessary.

Carlo Emanuele’s objective was simply to hold on until the Gallispan army would be forced into winter quarters. Owing to delays imposed by Franco-Spanish bickering, the hesitation of the Genoese, and the interference of the British, it was already August by the time the siege of Ceva began in earnest, giving Lautrec an uncomfortably small window of time with which to complete his objectives. It was not necessary to force the capitulation of Sardinia in a single campaign season, but the Gallispan army had to take and control enough territory upon which to subsist until the next spring. If they did not, they would either have to return to Liguria and count upon Genoese supplies - who, being net food importers, would be at the mercy of the British blockade - or withdraw back to Nice, abandoning all the progress they had made in Liguria and subjecting the army once more to naval bombardment.

It was now clear to Vienna that the threat to their Sardinian ally was deadly serious, and given Lobkowitz’s failure to accomplish anything in the south the Queen of Hungary grudgingly agreed to call off the invasion. Mathews had sent a detachment to cruise between Civitavecchia and Gaeta consisting of the 50-gun ships Newcastle and Antelope, the 40-gun heavy frigate Feversham, and the 20-gun light frigate Lowestoffe in July, but although this detachment was effective at stopping the Neapolitan supply ships running up the coast it did not greatly change the strategic balance on land. A plan to land Austrian forces behind Spanish lines, perhaps at Gaeta, was planned but never executed, and the Neapolitan insurrection against Bourbon rule never came. The British detachment did serve some purpose, for they were able to use the transport ships acquired for the abortive amphibious descent to take the Austrian sick and wounded to Livorno, although because of adverse winds this could not actually be undertaken until early September.

If there was any hope that Austria might quickly come to Carlo Emanuele’s rescue, it was dashed by a new and calamitous turn in the war in Germany. Since Prussia had withdrawn from the war in July 1742, King Friedrich II had watched with disquiet as Franco-Bavarian forces had been driven from Bohemia, Bavaria, the Palatinate, and finally out of the Empire entirely. In the summer of 1744, an Austrian army had crossed the Rhine after them and invaded Lorraine. Although Friedrich had acquired most of Silesia in the 1742 Treaty of Berlin, he knew better than most that treaties could be broken, and if Austria were to gain a total victory in the present war there would be little to stop Maria Theresa from turning her armies upon Prussia to reclaim what had been extracted from her under duress. The King of Prussia, a perfidious man who saw perfidy in everyone else, was especially worried by the terms of the 1743 Treaty of Worms which made no mention of the Treaty of Berlin or Britain’s guarantee of Prussia’s acquisition of Silesia.

Since late 1743, the King of Prussia had been in secret negotiations with France with a view towards restoring the balance of forces on the continent. In May of 1744, Friedrich had established an alliance, known as the League of Frankfurt, between Prussia, Sweden, Bavaria, Hesse-Kassel, and the Palatinate, whose stated purpose was to loyally defend the territory of the French-backed Wittelsbach Emperor Karl Albrecht, the Elector of Bavaria. Never one to offer his aid without some compensation, Friedrich secured a promise from the emperor that, in exchange for Prussia’s assistance, he would cede the northern fringe of Bohemia to Prussia. With the Austrian army of Prince Karl Alexander of Lorraine fighting on the other side of the Rhine, it seemed like a perfect moment to strike, and in August the King of Prussia and 70,000 Prussian soldiers invaded Bohemia. Clearly there would be no new reinforcements from Vienna for the Italian theater.

When the Worms alliance had been declared one year before, the prospects of the Pragmatic Allies had looked fair indeed. With the French driven entirely from Germany and the Prussians removed from the war, Maria Theresa’s once-fragile throne appeared saved, and every Spanish attempt to gain ground in Italy had been deftly thwarted by sea and land. One year on, the outlook was far more bleak. The Bourbons had bypassed the Alps and invaded Piedmont, Lobkowitz was withdrawing from Naples with his advantages squandered and his tail between his legs, and the King of Prussia was back in the fight and storming through Bohemia. Not every Bourbon endeavour had met with triumph - the attempt to invade England had ended in costly failure - but on every continental front the anti-Habsburg forces were gaining ground.

It was at last time for Genoa to acknowledge formally what had already been known informally since June. By the end of August, Genoese, Spanish, and French negotiators were putting the finishing touches on the Treaty of Aranjuez, by which Genoa would commit themselves to a formal alliance with France and Spain. The Republic would contribute 10,000 soldiers to the Bourbon cause in Italy as well as a train of artillery (much of which was already in use or on its way to Ceva). Spain would contribute a monthly subsidy to the Republic to help debt-laden Genoa pay for these forces, and the Bourbon powers together promised to protect the Republic from Sardinia, guarantee all Genoese territories including Finale and Corsica, and contribute an expeditionary force as needed to protect Corsican ports from the Worms allies and the “malcontents” acting at their bidding. The Republic would also be compensated with territorial aggrandizement, although the full extent of this was left vague, with only the Sardinian exclave of Oneglia and the Tuscan exclaves of the Lunigiana being mentioned explicitly in a secret clause.[3] Soon, the Genoese would be marching to the aid of their new allies on the front.

[1] The total Gallispan force in the theater was around 46,000 men, but battalions were needed for the occupation of Savoy, the protection of Nice and other coastal locales from possible amphibious descent, and the protection of the mountain passes from Sardinian counterattack, particularly the Col di Tende, where the Sardinians might descend on recently-captured Nice and cut off the invading Gallispan army from France entirely. In addition, a large part of the Gallispan cavalry was left behind, as Lautrec expected it would be of limited use owing to the terrain of Liguria and the nature of the campaign, and the need to supply a large host of cavalry with fodder and stores would strain the army’s logistics too much.
[2] Maria Theresa’s proclamation to the Neapolitans, by which she hoped to provoke a revolt in her favor, included a curious line which promised the expulsion of all Jews from the kingdom. The queen seems to have presumed that the Neapolitan people were as anti-Semitic as she herself was (they weren’t) and that they yearned to be delivered from Jewish exploitation (they didn’t). In fact Naples was a rather cosmopolitan place and the people found this “offer” perplexing.
[3] The proposal of the Tuscan Lunigiana had come about from the desire of French diplomats to avoid taking too much from Sardinia and thus forcing Carlo Emanuele to stay in the fight for fear of having his state crippled. France had accepted Genoa’s demand for the Principality of Oneglia, a coastal exclave of Sardinia entirely within Genoese territory, but attempted to satisfy the rest of Genoa’s greed with the Lunigiana instead, which had the advantage of being Tuscan territory instead of Sardinian. Tuscany had been declared neutral by the Grand Duke and Paris had been loathe to condone any hostile acts against it in previous years, as Tuscany had been swapped for Lorraine at the end of the War of Polish Succession and the French did not want to delegitimize their own claim to Lorraine. In 1744, however, the Austrians had both invaded Lorraine and attempted to invade neutral Naples, which considerably decreased King Louis’ concern for observing the sanctity of Tuscany.

Timeline Notes
[A] In fact IOTL one Austrian detachment was surprised and wiped out by the Spanish while its commanding officer was away visiting a local winery. You can’t make this stuff up.
The British should just give the corsicans the stolen Genoese gun/ammunition stores they have since attacking genoas last outpost on corsica might scare the senate into wanting to divert a part of the army to corsica. And giving Theodore some army advisors would be helpful.
I've decided to do a slight retcon and scale back the progress made by the rebels in Capo Corso in the update before last. I did a bit of reading on Paoli's campaign there and I think I made it too quick and easy for Theodore's men. The peninsula may be fairly lightly inhabited, but there were a lot of towers on Capo Corso, more than anywhere else on Corsica, and the terrain is pretty difficult even by Corsican standards. No wonder Corsica's best sailors came from there - you can hardly get anywhere save by water. The map in the update before last has been edited accordingly.

Lobkowitz is absolutely awful and fails at everything. It's a shame, since the Austrians had some genuinely talented commanders - Traun, Khevenhüller, Daun, and Browne were all creditable. If Traun had maintained his command of the army in Italy, if Khevenhüller hadn't died suddenly in early 1744, or if Lobkowitz's subordinate Browne had been in overall command instead (a position which he attained later in the war), things might have turned out very differently. Even Lobkowitz IOTL came within a hair's breadth of capturing King Carlos himself at the Second Battle of Velletri, so one can only imagine what an actually good commander might have been able to accomplish. I considered going another way with the Naples campaign ITTL, but decided to keep it mostly the same - the main difference is that there's no Second Battle of Velletri. The reason for this is that the battle arguably only happened because the Spanish reallocated their forces to deal with the British threat, but ITTL the British fleet arrived later and was considerably weaker than the detachment sent to the Roman coast IOTL, a result of Mathews' more difficult circumstances.

The British will indeed be able to help soon, but whether they will help is another question. Mathews, as stated, is a little short on ships at the moment. Interestingly, the officers of the Mediterranean fleet always opposed the Corsican intervention IOTL - both Admiral Medley (Mathews' eventual replacement) and Commodore Townshend (who commanded the Corsica squadron) believed it was a complete waste of time that kept ships from far more important duties like the Italian blockade. It only happened at all because Britain's fleet command was incredibly moronic. The British naval historian Admiral Herbert Richmond described the Admiralty under Carteret's ministry as "one of the most incompetent Boards of Admiralty that have ever held office." To make things worse, although the Admiralty was in charge of allocating Britain's ships, they were completely ignorant of what Mathews was ordered to do with those ships, because Mathews' orders came not from the Admiralty but from the (Southern) Secretary of State Newcastle, who didn't bother to share those orders with the Admiralty. This worked badly for the British, but was favorable to the Corsicans, because it meant that the fleet's orders were coming not from the Navy itself but from the chief of the diplomatic corps, and the diplomats (Mann, Villettes, Newcastle) were always more interested in Corsica than the admirals who correctly saw that it was a meaningless sideshow.
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