King Theodore's Corsica

Personally, I think that a shorter TL focused on Corsica, well written and well researched, is really a better solution. Of course, you can always end with an epilogue showing glimpses of Corsica and other countries in the future as a solution.

Completely unrelated : do you intend to continue Sons of the Harlot Empress?
 
My personal bias would like to see "he who shall not be named" stay that way and not really come into this world.

The timeline is still years upon years away from the Storming of the Bastille and I'm sure the international conflicts to come (and the eventual independence of Corsica) where the environment might change enough where either the French Revolution is not guaranteed or it happens but isn't commandeered by a petty noble.

All in all I'm happy with an ending not long after Theodore (but would voraciously read lengths after that if it so happens); and letting the world be left to imagination.
 
My personal bias would like to see "he who shall not be named" stay that way and not really come into this world.

The timeline is still years upon years away from the Storming of the Bastille and I'm sure the international conflicts to come (and the eventual independence of Corsica) where the environment might change enough where either the French Revolution is not guaranteed or it happens but isn't commandeered by a petty noble.

All in all I'm happy with an ending not long after Theodore (but would voraciously read lengths after that if it so happens); and letting the world be left to imagination.

While i certainly would like to see more, either this timeline continued or in a grander sequel, I would think after decades of butterflies He would not exist as such, much less his parents. And anyways I would also like to see if somewhere other than France has the revolution this time.
 
While i certainly would like to see more, either this timeline continued or in a grander sequel, I would think after decades of butterflies He would not exist as such, much less his parents. And anyways I would also like to see if somewhere other than France has the revolution this time.

Between the French government's fiscal profligacy and factors like the French peoples' reluctance to embrace things like overseas settlement or the potato that might help alleviate the famine time bomb, I have a hard time envisioning France dodging the revolutionary bullet, but Britain in the Corn/Reform laws era could potentially go sideways with the right POD I suppose too...
 
I am afraid there will definitely, absolutely be no Napoleon ITTL. The Buonaparte family will show up, but not in that way.

My feeling, based on what small amount I do know of 18th century France, is that something like the Revolution is inevitable or at least very likely, particularly since I don't believe the outcome of the 7YW (as far as France is concerned) is going to be greatly changed by Corsica's independence. I tend to be fairly conservative with my butterflies and as a general rule don't like unduly influencing events with no apparent rational connection to the POD and its consequences, particularly when the TL in question, like this one, is supposed to be narrowly focused.

I am very grateful for any help, and I'm sure I will need it if I do decide to take the TL past 1790 or so. For now, however, I'm going to go by what I put in the original post:

Carp said:
How I intend to approach this problem—or indeed whether, for I may simply decide to end the timeline near the close of the 18th century—is a bridge I shall cross when I come to it, and not before.

In other words, I'm going to defer a final answer on the question of how far the TL will go until we actually get to that point in the TL. Considering that right now we're less than a year past the POD, we still have a ways to go!

Completely unrelated : do you intend to continue Sons of the Harlot Empress?

Yes, absolutely. I'm a little burned out on SotHE right now, which is why I decided to use the opportunity of an intermission to spend some time on a different project, but I fully intend to come back to it.
 
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Well the Revolution could end up differently, it could end up with a constitutional monarchy. There's a lot thing which affected the French revolution like the Patriot Period in Netherlands, which could be affected by Netherlands not joining the American Revolution. Also there's a insane number of things which could change Europe, let's say that Peter III only become Zar after Prussia are beaten in the Seven Year War. This means that Prussia aren't able to intervene and end the Patriot Period, which would result Netherlands reforming and the fewer Dutch revolutionaries in exile in France. This could all result in a more moderate French Revolution. Also wth the fall of Prussia a much stronger Austria enter the scene, which could result in a Austrian successful intervention in France under the revolution. Also the fall of Prussia would result in a stronger Sweden (as they would gain Pomerania), while it would open North Germany up for a more active Danish foreign policy, Mecklenburg and Hessen was already in Danish orbit. At the same time if Peter III first became Zar after the fall of Prussia, his chance of long term survival increase significant, which removes Catherina from European politics.
 
The Consulta of Morosaglia
The Consulta of Morosaglia

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The Convent of St. Francis at Morosaglia

By a strict military reckoning, Theodore's reign had so far been a success. Since his arrival, the Genoese had lost their capital of Bastia, as well as San Pellegrino, Calenzana, Sartena, and numerous other villages. Only a handful of coastal garrison towns remained in their grasp, and even these seemed to be endangered as Count Andrea Ceccaldi's forces skirmished with the Genoese in the Nebbio and Marquis Luca d'Ornano renewed his siege of Ajaccio with his newly-acquired heavy artillery.

Nevertheless, his reign was beginning to show cracks that indicated just how fragile it really was. It was true that he had delivered considerable amounts of munitions and money to the Corsican rebels, much of it from confiscated Genoese properties and arsenals, but his promises of imminent great power support had so far been empty. Certainly his initial contributions had been valuable, both materially and in terms of leadership, but now rebel generals were prosecuting the war and some were paying for it quite effectively through smuggling. What use, then, was Theodore if he could not provide the beneficent intervention which he had promised?

Theodore had created nobility, assigned ministers, and minted coins to emphasize that he was not merely a benefactor or foreign general here to provide his services in wartime but the permanent crowned head of a legitimate and functioning government. As a practical matter, however, the "government" had virtually no power save that which it exercised in military matters by Theodore's personal commands, and even then much of the armed struggle was carried out autonomously. The government collected no taxes; even if the destitute Corsicans had been able to pay, Theodore dared not, lest he completely destroy his own popularity. The king's various edicts had little effect, for there was no real system of justice or enforcement. Theodore had repealed many onerous Genoese laws, but many of these had been ignored anyway since 1729, as the Corsicans had hardly waited for a royal edict to tell them they could hunt and fish once Genoese power in the interior had collapsed.

What Theodore had which maintained him in power was honor and money. By honor, we mean the pledges of the Corsican leaders, who for the most part believed in the importance of their word and would not lightly renounce solemn oaths they had made at Alesani. Even honor, however, would mean little if Theodore did not also have money. If he ever were to be broke, he would be truly worthless; at least in the present circumstances he could pay his soldiers, which was more than most of the provincial colonels and caporali could say of their irregular bands, bound to them more by local pride and family ties than the promise of regular remuneration. Yet managing money had never been Theodore's strong suit, and although he yet had funds to draw upon he was continually scrambling for more. Smuggling into Livorno alone could not pay the bills, and there was only so much Genoese property that could be seized. Certainly arms were needed too, but if he could not pay the men who bore them, he would not retain his throne for long.

Theodore knew he needed a victory, and where he needed a victory most was the Nebbio, which was the island's second richest agricultural region (after the Balagna). Yet while the Genoese Colonel Marchelli had utterly lost the will to go on the offensive, his defensive position in the northern Nebbio seemed strong, and the rebel advantage in numbers was not great. To address the concerns of the rebel leaders and hopefully gin up support for a new campaign, Theodore announced that a new consulta would be convened by royal authority at the Convent of St. Francis at Morosaglia on the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14th.

For the second time, King Theodore sat enthroned before the national assembly, wearing his coronation robe of crimson brocade and his long peruke.[1] The mood was less joyous than before; the delegates were respectful, but they were wary of unfilled promises and some were certainly being courted by the indifferenti to renounce the king. Theodore began with matters of state, announcing the twenty-four members of the constitutionally mandated Diet. The members were all distinguished men, most of whom were not actively serving as his military officers. They included Filippo Antionio Gaffori, the podesta of Corti and father of his secretary of state Giampietro Gaffori, as well as Decia Ciavaldini, a good friend of Count Anton-Francesco Giappiconi. The latter was chosen, perhaps, as it was rumored that Giappiconi had been considering a defection to the indifferenti. In theory, Theodore could make no decision on levying taxes or making war without them, but in practice the Diet did little of consequence at this point in the revolution, serving primarily as a sinecure for the grey-haired "elites" of the kingdom who were not useful or physically vital enough to make ministers or officers.

He then fulfilled another of his constitutionally mandated duties, that of constituting an "order of true nobility." This, he announced, was the Order of Deliverance.[2] Its knights would wear a sky-blue mantle, and Theodore presented a proof of the medal itself, presumably struck with at least moderately more artfulness than his currency. Worn upon a green ribbon, it was a fourteen-pointed star upon a cross, seven points black and seven gold, upon which was the nude figure of Justice; in one hand she held a sword, and in the other a scale holding a drop of blood and a ball of lead (or iron) above a triangle inscribed with a "T." He gave no reasons for this particular emblem, and we can only imagine it came directly from his own head; some European observers wondered if the triangle was an allusion to the Freemasons, who used similar symbols. Theodore himself never explained it. Notably, the order was explicitly non-denominational, unlike most knightly orders of Catholic monarchs which were open only to Catholics; as part of the induction ceremony involved swearing upon the gospels, however, Theodore's ecumenism was evidently not so radical as to encompass Jewish or Mohammedan knights. Knights of the order were exempt from taxation, allowed access to the royal palace "as far as the forechamber," and could use the title of "illustrious" (It: illustrissimo). Always conscious of money, however, Theodore added that knights would be required to loan the state (that is, Theodore) 250 pounds sterling. The king promised that the order would swiftly be recognized by the Pope.

The king then launched into a speech. He directly acknowledged the lack of foreign support thus far, but explained that had been delayed only by the machinations of the Genoese and the divisions of the Corsicans themselves. He implicated the indifferenti, albeit not by name, saying that no power would easily see Corsica as a peer so long as the Corsicans were divided and bickering. A new spirit of unity and a demonstration of resolve was necessary, and as such the kingdom should at once endeavor at once to drive Marchelli and his army from San Fiorenzo. He called upon the delegates to muster all strength for this endeavor, which he would lead personally for the honor and salvation of the nation.

Theodore the traveling salesman always knew how to work a crowd. Costa wrote that the mood of the consulta was entirely transformed by the end of his speech; the quiet skepticism had been replaced by delegates cheering and shouting "Evviva u Rè!" The Wizard of Westphalia had worked one more miracle, but he knew well that his spell would be short-lived. If he could not best Marchelli and finally deliver what he had promised, he would not be able to dissolve the skepticism of the Corsicans with rousing words alone.

Presumably, Theodore had chosen Morosaglia for the consulta not only because of the village's history as a revolutionary stronghold but because it was fairly close to San Fiorenzo, only seventeen miles as the crow flies.[A] The militia companies in the Nebbio alone, under Ceccaldi, had proven insufficient to match the Genoese defenders, and the king needed the same sort of swell of volunteers and irregulars which, after his coronation, he had marched forth with to defeat the Genoese at Furiani and lay siege to Bastia. While a crowd of the same magnitude was not quite within his reach in September, he nonetheless succeeded in attracting a large force in the Castagniccia who were willing to follow the king, who had thus far been personally undefeated in battle. For his own sake, he needed to remain so.

Footnotes
[1] A peruke being a wig. He brought three to Corsica, described as "one long, one short, and one with a pigtail." Theodore's wardrobe was rather limited given the difficulty of finding wigs and silk in Corsica; his "coronation robe" had been made from brocade which Francesco dell'Agata happened to have on hand shortly before his voyage to Corsica.
[2] The order's original name in Italian was l'Ordine della Liberazione ("The Order of the Liberation"), but "deliverance" is also a reasonable synonym for liberazione and that is what stuck, perhaps because "deliverance" was favored by the contemporary English-language press. Occasionally "Order of [the] Redemption" is also seen. Theodore later referred to it as specifically a Military Order (l'Ordine Militare della Liberazione).

Timeline Notes
[A] It's also the birthplace of Pasquale Paoli, and there's a museum devoted to him in Morosaglia today. As mentioned, ITTL Pasquale is currently only 11 years old and a non-entity, although his (much) older brother Clemente is 25 years old and already a rebel officer. It was Clemente who IOTL suggested that Pasquale, then abroad in Naples, would make a good leader following the assassination of Gaffori, and laid the groundwork for his brother's swift rise to leadership over the rebel movement.
 
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Subscribed. I know nothing about this time period, but your excellent writing and attention to detail make this an excellent timeline nonetheless.

Theodore as a con-artist-cum-king is a fascinating figure, especially in the context of his later impact on the enlightenment - rather than a growth of constitutional monarchies, might a not insubstantial faction of enlightenment philosophers (and perhaps even certain members of the revolution in exile) ultimately see this as the subversion of a national revolution, no matter how enlightened a despot Theodore seems? At the very least his legacy, even in victory, would be very mixed depending on your political leanings, especially outside of Corsica.

My biggest question is this: based on the sources you have available, what do you think Theodore's motivation for starting this whole endeavor was - or even for aligning himself with the Corsican independence movement in the first place? That was one thing that seemed somewhat absent from the timeline - do you have any theories?
 
I kinda presumed it was quixotic romanticism but I am a materialist, so it would be interesting to see if Theodore had other motivations...
 
My biggest question is this: based on the sources you have available, what do you think Theodore's motivation for starting this whole endeavor was - or even for aligning himself with the Corsican independence movement in the first place? That was one thing that seemed somewhat absent from the timeline - do you have any theories?

This is a difficult question to answer, in part because the usual money and/or power explanations don't fit Theodore all that well.

Theodore certainly cared about money, but not as much as his contemporary detractors alleged. Throughout his career, there were many times when he amassed arms, munitions, supplies, even cash for the rebels, and yet as far as we know he never redirected or "skimmed" those shipments to enrich himself. He certainly did questionable things for money - sold information on his patron in France, stole from his stepfather, used his position in Spain to get money from those interested in reaching the court, hawked quack medicines in Prussia, and so on - but in every case this seems to have been done to keep food on the table and meet the expectations of others. For instance, he "borrowed" (and did not return) a carriage, silver cane, and other accessories from a family acquaintance in Vienna for his audience with Prince Eugene; many years later, he offered to return them, but as far as I know that never happened (they were probably sold or lost long before then). That wasn't a good thing, but it's understandable that he saw it as necessary; you couldn't just go meet Prince Eugene in rags.

Theodore also doesn't seem to have cared all that much about power, or at least not supreme power. Being King of Corsica, as I mentioned in an earlier update, appears to have been Ripperda's idea, not his. Around 1737, despite the fact that the Corsicans still acknowledged him as king, he proposed to one of his Jacobite friends that perhaps Corsica would make a good kingdom for the exiled Stuarts and offered his own assistance in making that happen. A few years later, he was in the pay of Charles Emmanuel III, and if Horace Mann had not interfered it might have been Theodore who led the Anglo-Sardinian intervention in Corsica instead of Rivarola, the intention of which was to annex Corsica to the Savoyard monarchy. Clearly, Theodore didn't really need to be king - he was perfectly willing to be a viceroy, general, minister, or some other figure of importance even if it meant giving up the royal title. Sovereignty was nice but being sovereign was not why he did what he did.

I think when it comes down to it, Theodore's motivator was respectability. As a child, he had literally nothing to his name except a noble birth, and in fact even that had been legally stolen from him by the heartlessness of his grandfather. He didn't need to be rich, he didn't need to be all-powerful, he was certainly no megalomaniac, but he wanted to be respected; he wanted people to look at him and be impressed, to say "there is a worthy man, a man of consequence." He was an intelligent, talented, well-educated man who wanted other people to see him as he felt he ought to be seen. This is why, I think, that he was such a devoted meritocrat as king, even when it offended the Corsican nobility; Theodore knew exactly what it was like to be a man of promise who was kept from achievement by poverty, birth, or just bad luck. Even when, later in life, he was flat broke, in and out of debtor's prison, he still wrote and acted as if he were king, never dropping the act; I don't think he was delusional, rather I think he was clinging to his last bit of dignity, something which made people look at him as something other than a pauper and a joke.

As for how his desire for respectability ended him up in Corsica, that's also difficult to say, because his exact reasons for being in Italy c. 1732 aren't that clear. According to some he was some kind of imperial agent, but that seems unlikely; if he was employed by anyone at that time it was probably Gian Gastone. It may be that Theodore's first involvement with the Corsicans, concerning the "Prisoners of Savona," was actually conducted in his official capacity as an imperial or Tuscan diplomat/spy/agent. That's only conjecture, but it would make a certain amount of sense: Theodore, seeking employment, gains some minor diplomatic assignment for the Grand Duke, becomes involved in the matter of the Prisoners of Savona, and in the process of dealing with this meets a variety of Corsican patriots in Genoa and Livorno. Here, for once, he meets people that actually treat him with honor and respect - these Corsican provincials, easily impressed and not knowing anything of his past, see an intelligent, articulate, cultured, well-traveled nobleman and take him to be exactly the kind of worthy figure that he's always tried to be. His brocade robe and plumed hat probably would have gotten him laughed out of Versailles, but on Corsica people immediately accepted him as a Prince and a Great Man without a second thought.

I do think that Theodore legitimately sympathized with the Corsicans and wanted them to have freedom, but I also think that he saw in the Corsican crisis an opportunity to be someone, to do something important and be regarded as important. His career had constantly been derailed by the downfall of his various unfortunate patrons - von Goertz, Alberoni, and finally Ripperda, all of whom fell into disgrace and took Theodore's career with them each time. He was willing to hitch himself to Ripperda's coattails once more if it meant finally attaining success as his right hand man, but when Ripperda backed out - he was too infirm and had too much baggage - Theodore didn't want to throw away the opportunity, nor did he want to abandon the people who legitimately liked and respected him. So he took up the mantle of king.

After that, Theodore's life became swallowed up by Corsica. It's worth remembering that he was an international celebrity within months - he was in all the papers, there were people writing semi-fictionalized books about him, and in October of 1736 an English distillery began selling a brand of gin called "King Theodore of Corsica." There really wasn't a way to come back from that, particularly since his "dirty laundry" was aired for everyone to see by the Genoese. The Corsicans, who had largely internalized the notion that everything the Genoese said was a lie, didn't care that much about propaganda, but on the continent the Genoese falsely accused him of murder, treason, rape, witchcraft, heresy, bigamy, larceny, and pretty much anything else you can think of (alongside the rather shady things he actually did). There really wasn't any way after 1736 that Theodore could simply return to the continent and say "well, that was fun, anyone have a diplomatic post or colonelcy to give me?" He was so famous, so controversial, so covered in adventure and scandal and romance, that there was really nothing he could do with his life other than to keep fighting the Corsican struggle or fade into obscurity. He wasn't prepared to do the latter, so he did the former, and kept doing it until he died.

That's my amateur psychoanalysis, anyway. I suspect that if Theodore had been luckier in life, he would probably have ended up as a diplomat or colonel/general and would have been quite happy in either career. Given his charisma and mastery of language, I think he would have been particularly suited for diplomacy. I'd absolutely love to see "Ambassador von Neuhoff" mentioned in some 18th century timeline as as result of a random butterfly; it could easily have happened with a slight change in fortune.

Theodore as a con-artist-cum-king is a fascinating figure, especially in the context of his later impact on the enlightenment - rather than a growth of constitutional monarchies, might a not insubstantial faction of enlightenment philosophers (and perhaps even certain members of the revolution in exile) ultimately see this as the subversion of a national revolution, no matter how enlightened a despot Theodore seems? At the very least his legacy, even in victory, would be very mixed depending on your political leanings, especially outside of Corsica.

I think it depends a great deal on what happens after the Revolution. The 1736 Constitution isn't a very comprehensive outline for governance; it doesn't even bother to say how the Diet should be constituted, and while everyone is at the moment quite satisfied that it can be a basically toothless bunch of old men hand-picked by the king while the war is ongoing, it could very well gain more teeth once the national emergency is over and the Corsicans start to realize that there's more to politics than armed rebellion against oppression.

The Corsican monarchy also has little recourse to despotism. It possesses no significant outside source of resources or troops, and the country can hardly afford more than a token standing army. The post-revolutionary Corsicans, meanwhile, will be a heavily-armed, independent-minded people accustomed to local rule who have only just overthrown a master far more powerful than their own king by force of arms. Even if the monarchy possesses no democratic element, it has to at least compromise with a broad base of the native Corsican influential families or it's sunk. Furthermore, the monarchy knows from the start that it exists because of popular will - Theodore's full title, as he wrote it, was "Theodore, by the Grace of God and Unanimous Consent Elected King of Corsica." Foreigners might claim that a German monarchy is in some way subverting the "true" national aspirations of the people, but there's no way around the fact that the government itself will have to be conducted in harmony with what the Corsicans - or at least their influential families - actually want. And Theodore, being the meritocrat that he is, seems unlikely to turn the government into an elite clique, although his successors may be another matter altogether.

Someone more well-versed in the 19th century than me might be able to draw a comparison with the "exported" German princes of that era, e.g. the German-born kings of Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece, who were likewise foreign aristocrats chosen to rule over newly-emerged nations in southern Europe. At least Theodore has the benefit of being elected by the people without being foisted upon them by outside powers - and even more importantly, he's a hero of the revolution rather than a new ruler arriving after independence has already been won.
 
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It's probably worth adding, by the way, that the 1735 Constitution was not much loved anywhere. It was certainly in the papers and Voltaire remarked on it (he thought it was humorous because of the supposed declaration of the Holy Virgin as sovereign), but the "commonwealth" it established lasted for less than a year and, as far as I can tell, was not seen elsewhere as some kind of innovation as I suppose the American founding documents were in their time. In form, the government was basically a needlessly complicated and obtuse formalization of what already existed, which is to say a small group of elected generals/caporali directing the course of the rebellion. It was "democratic" in the sense that it recognized a General Assembly with one representative from each village, but it recognized no procedure for electing these representatives, and as such represented not a democratic innovation but exactly the same process by which the consulta was already gathered and continued to be gathered after Theodore's election, albeit on an irregular basis. It was more democratic than the 1736 monarchy only in the sense that, in theory, this General Assembly could change the ghjunta every three months, while a king was obviously forever. That said, however, I'm not even sure if the 1735 government ever convened itself and discharged its duties as it was supposed to, seeing as in late 1735/early 1736 the rebellion was practically on the verge of falling apart.

Furthermore, that constitution was established in the year after the rebels sent a delegation to the King of Spain to ask (unsuccessfully) that the infante Charles become their king. In other words, they were by no means averse to monarchy, and arguably made themselves a Commonwealth only because they could not find a king to take them.

When IOTL people looked back wistfully on the Corsican Republic, lamenting that it was a beautiful Enlightenment flower that was plucked by the domineering French before it could grow into a true blossom of Reason and Good Government, they were talking about Paoli's republic, not Costa's short-lived commonwealth. I doubt that, in the event of Theodore's success, there are going to be many people looking back at 1735 and bemoaning that Theodore crushed the democratic impulse of the people.
 
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Thanks! That's very interesting. It's a shame too, as far as respectability goes, I imagine being an Ambassador would be rather easier and less controversial. :D

And that's a fair series of points. I do think it will be very interesting to see what becomes of this initial, rather haphazard constitution. I suppose they can either write a new one or continue making laws/amendments until its a functioning government, but it will be interesting to see what path they take.

As some people have opined, I very much hope that this timeline remains about Corisca in particular rather than the broader history of this alternate Europe. Broadening the scope too much runs the risk of making this timeline rather less unique, in my opinion - as it stands it's a very microscopic look at a very strange and little known aspect of Italian history.
 
I think it depends a great deal on what happens after the Revolution. The 1736 Constitution isn't a very comprehensive outline for governance; it doesn't even bother to say how the Diet should be constituted, and while everyone is at the moment quite satisfied that it can be a basically toothless bunch of old men hand-picked by the king while the war is ongoing, it could very well gain more teeth once the national emergency is over and the Corsicans start to realize that there's more to politics than armed rebellion against oppression.

The Corsican monarchy also has little recourse to despotism. It possesses no significant outside source of resources or troops, and the country can hardly afford more than a token standing army. The post-revolutionary Corsicans, meanwhile, will be a heavily-armed, independent-minded people accustomed to local rule who have only just overthrown a master far more powerful than their own king by force of arms. Even if the monarchy possesses no democratic element, it has to at least compromise with a broad base of the native Corsican influential families or it's sunk. Furthermore, the monarchy knows from the start that it exists because of popular will - Theodore's full title, as he wrote it, was "Theodore, by the Grace of God and Unanimous Consent Elected King of Corsica." Foreigners might claim that a German monarchy is in some way subverting the "true" national aspirations of the people, but there's no way around the fact that the government itself will have to be conducted in harmony with what the Corsicans - or at least their influential families - actually want. And Theodore, being the meritocrat that he is, seems unlikely to turn the government into an elite clique, although his successors may be another matter altogether.

Someone more well-versed in the 19th century than me might be able to draw a comparison with the "exported" German princes of that era, e.g. the German-born kings of Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece, who were likewise foreign aristocrats chosen to rule over newly-emerged nations in southern Europe. At least Theodore has the benefit of being elected by the people without being foisted upon them by outside powers - and even more importantly, he's a hero of the revolution rather than a new ruler arriving after independence has already been won.

I think a Corsican monarchy are likely to be quite successful, as you said it have limited ability to force despotism down over the Cortsican, through I expect the royal power to grow over the generations, as the urban and coastal population grows versus the backwood farmers. As these gives the king a easier sources of capital. But absolutism will never happen. Also when Corsica have been recognised, I don't think it will ever be conquered, simply because every major player except a future Italy have a interest in the island staying independent. I expect the early marriage partners of the Corsican royal family will be small German princely houses, but after a few generation they will likely marry into the major families (like the Spanish and Italian Bourbons and Habsburgs). They will likely have dropped German as the family's language before 1800. I expect the country it will have most in common with from OTL will be Luxembourg.
 
As some people have opined, I very much hope that this timeline remains about Corisca in particular rather than the broader history of this alternate Europe. Broadening the scope too much runs the risk of making this timeline rather less unique, in my opinion - as it stands it's a very microscopic look at a very strange and little known aspect of Italian history.

That's certainly my intent. Even if I do decide to extend the TL past 1790 or so, the rest of European alt-history will remain in the background. Nevertheless, I would have to at least figure out a framework for how things are going elsewhere in this sans-Napoleon world if I did decide to take it there, as even Corsica can't simply be taken in isolation. Again, that's a problem to be dealt with when it comes.

Also when Corsica have been recognised, I don't think it will ever be conquered, simply because every major player except a future Italy have a interest in the island staying independent. I expect the early marriage partners of the Corsican royal family will be small German princely houses, but after a few generation they will likely marry into the major families (like the Spanish and Italian Bourbons and Habsburgs). They will likely have dropped German as the family's language before 1800. I expect the country it will have most in common with from OTL will be Luxembourg.

For the moment the monarchy's language is Italian, as Theodore is quite fluent in Italian and there are literally no other German-speakers in the government. His successors will presumably either be German-speaking (if it goes to one of his German cousins like Matthew von Drost, Johann Friedrich von Neuhoff zu Rauschenburg, or Friedrich Wilhelm von Neuhoff zu Pungelscheid) or French-speaking (if it goes to his nephew Charles-Philippe, Count of Trevou), and even if one of the Germans wins it and marries a German princess it's very likely he'll have to learn Italian right quick. Unlike, say, the Hanoverians in Britain, who could import a whole gaggle of courtiers and nobles from Hanover, none of the Neuhoffs have an alternate royal court full of German-speakers - and in any case, the constitution specifically forbids "dignities, offices, and honors" in the kingdom being given to a foreigner, which makes importing a ministry from Westphalia impossible.
 
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The Siege of San Fiorenzo
The Siege of San Fiorenzo

"The discredit of the officers of the Republic and their troops is here [in Turin] great and is aggravated by the last affair of the Nebbio, as I had the opportunity to learn it. The condition of the Genoese troops is deplorable, and their morale is also at their lowest."
- Letter of Jacques de Campredon, French Minister to Genoa, to the Comte de Maurepas, November 1736

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San Fiorenzo viewed from the Cima del Buttogio to the southwest

The strategy of the Genoese government up to this point had been primarily one of isolation, both political and economic; if the islanders could be prevented from receiving arms or money from the outside world, surely they would be forced to capitulate. Although this led incidentally to famine on account of the inability of those Corsicans outside Genoese-controlled areas to trade for food, famine was not then a purposeful aim of the Republic. By the autumn of 1736, however, it had become evident that this strategy was not working. Although the Genoese blockade did cause difficulties for the Corsicans, it did not accomplish complete isolation, and smugglers continued to slip through to Bastia, Isola Rossa, San Pellegrino, and various isolated coves and rivers up and down the eastern coast. A new strategy was called for, and the one which the Genoese adopted was one of scorched earth. If the rebels could not be cut off from arms, it was reasoned, then it was necessary that they should be starving and destitute; and so the commandants were ordered to do all in their power to undermine the food security of the islanders. This would be done by chopping down olive, almond, and chestnut trees, and stealing or killing sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs.

Such a policy of "small war," requiring only raids rather than confrontations, appealed to the Republic which still stung from the defeat of Colonel Marchelli at Rutali. Yet the Corsicans, too, could raid, and the "campaigns" in late summer and autumn of 1736 often look more like local feuds than actual war, with a group of Genoese soldiers stealing a few dozen goats and a band of rebels replying a few days later by burning fields near a Genoese fortress. Marchelli, who had somewhat mitigated his earlier failure at the Battle of Conca d'Oro but had no particular desire to risk his career further, exemplified the new strategy and took every opportunity to devastate the Nebbio. The royalist Colonel Giovan Natali, a Nebbian native, responded by stepping up reprisals against filogenovesi in the region, while Colonel Castinetta—the rebel military governor of Bastia—led his troops north into the generally pro-Genoese Capo Corso and razed acre after acre of vineyards.

With several thousand men under his command, Marchelli could do quite a bit of damage in the Nebbio, but as a fighting force his detachment was weaker than it looked. He complained that his soldiers did not have enough food and lacked adequate clothing. Sickness was rife; the Germans and Swiss, his best soldiers, seem to have been particularly vulnerable to the local malarial fever ("the air of these countries does not suit them"), and Marchelli informed the Commissioner-General that many of his soldiers were so afflicted with scabies that they were unable to grasp their muskets. Hundreds of men had to be returned to Genoa for health and hygienic issues. His regular companies, whose strength on paper ranged between 80 and 100 men each, by September had on average 50 to 60 combat-effective troops. Problems with recruiting made it difficult to reinforce them from the mainland. A decree by the Archbishop Nicolò Maria de' Franchi which permitted those who signed up for military service to eat meat during Lent failed to move the needle much, and stories of the hardship of the troops in Corsica and the ferocity of the Corsicans led to a phenomenon in which prospective new recruits for the regular army started demanding written contracts from the War Office promising that they would not be posted in Corsica. The Ligurian peasantry plainly had no interest in their government's desperate war to retain the last vestige of their colonial empire, and the French minister to Genoa Jacques de Campredon reported that some Genoese were alleged to be trading with the rebels themselves.

All this made Marchelli (as well as Genoese commandants elsewhere in Corsica) increasingly dependent on Corsican auxiliaries, but the Genoese command was suspicious of these soldiers and was downsizing their regular Corsican companies at the same time that Marchelli was desperately trying to raise more Corsicans locally. Genoese plundering and razing in Corsica further alienated Corsicans who might otherwise have been sympathetic to the Republic, and Marchelli's shortages of supplies caused further problems, as the filogenovesi irregulars were the last to receive scanty supplies and payment and correspondingly the first to desert.

The low-level skirmishing and devastation which had characterized the war since mid-August was succeeded suddenly by a royalist assault on Oletta in the wake of the Morosaglia consulta. This attack found the Genoese quite off-balance. The Oletta garrison, under Captain Trinchieri, offered respectable resistance but was overwhelmed by superior numbers and withdrew. Why Marchelli allowed this key town to fall without coming to its rescue as he had done at Conca d'Oro is an open question; certainly Theodore possessed a larger army in September than Ceccaldi had been leading in August, but his failure to show up may have also been an indication of the deteriorating quality of his troops, who were enduring a wave of malaria, and the miserable status of Trinchieri's garrison, which was constantly menaced by Natali's guerrillas.

The fall of Oletta collapsed Marchelli's defensive triangle. By the 30th of September, the rebels captured Patrimonio; the Genoese did not try hard to defend it, as it was now caught in a pincer between the main rebel force to the south and the Bastian detachment under Captain Giovan Lucca Poggi. Marchelli now fell back on San Fiorenzo itself, which was protected by an arc of steep hills and cliffs. The town's own defenses, however, were lacking, consisting only of a formidable-looking but wholly obsolete 15th century citadel at the harbor and a few coastal defense towers on either side of the bay.

These towers were the first targets of the rebels, as Theodore had resolved to starve the Genoese out of San Fiorenzo. By this time the rebels had been joined by a company of Balagnese under Captain Paolo-Maria Paoli, as well as a battalion of rough-looking maquisards from Canale and Caccia under Colonel Carlo Felice Giuseppe and some 200 mountaineers of Niolo, who enjoyed a reputation among the Genoese as the fiercest and most formidable of the Corsican rebels. These troops were assigned to invest San Fiorenzo from the west, and captured the tower of Mortella on the western coast of the gulf's entrance. The Genoese defenders fled, leaving the rebels in possession of its artillery, two seaward-pointing heavy guns and a light landward-facing gun.[A]

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The Torre Mortella, at the entrance to the Bay of San Fiorenzo

With the loss of the interior Nebbio, Marchelli had to rely entirely on naval shipping for his supplies. The guns at Mortella being in rebel hands complicated that, but the bay's entrance was wide enough that Mortella alone could not close the noose. Theodore instructed Major Antone Nobile Battisti, the former engineer in the Venetian army who now commanded the artillery in the north, to construct a battery at Fornali that could bombard the harbor of San Fiorenzo itself. Marchelli did not strongly oppose the rebels taking this position, but he was at least careful to remove all guns and military stores from Fornali before withdrawing. By the 10th, Battisti had moved his guns into position. Two batteries were constructed, one at Fornali proper and one at Ochinese half a mile to the south. Around 2,000 and 1,600 yards from the harbor, respectively, these guns were at extreme range; the Fornali battery was probably unable to reach the harbor at all, while the Ochinese battery could only do so well past the distance at which its gunners could reliably hit anything. Both batteries, however, could fire at ships coming down the channel, and even the incredibly inaccurate bombardment from Ochinese made operations at the port at least seem hazardous.

To complete the investment, Poggi's men captured the Tower of Vecchiaja on the east shore opposite Mortella, and two light guns were eventually moved to that position. This position seemed an afterthought but soon proved its importance. A Genoese relief convoy—which had already been delayed for a week by rough seas—attempted to make the passage down the bay on October 12th, braving the continuing poor weather to bear much-needed supplies to Marchelli. In their attempt to give the western shore a wide berth, however, they ventured too far east, and when the wind picked up a galley and a felucca were driven aground and captured by Poggi's men. Several other feluccas and tartanes[1] foundered, and the remainder of the fleet turned around rather than continue on to San Fiorenzo. The rebels captured munitions, clothing, and flour, and freed dozens of galley slaves in accordance with Theodore's will.

Marchelli was not totally inactive. A raid was made against Battisti's batteries in the west that succeeded in overrunning the Ochinese battery and killing several dozen rebels, but it was soon recaptured by Colonel Giuseppe's battalion and the men of Niolo. While the Genoese succeeded in liberating some powder and supplies and spiking or otherwise damaging some of the guns, the artillery was brought back into action within a few days. Thereafter the siege of San Fiorenzo settled into a series of small and inconclusive skirmishes and raids. Theodore, fearing that his largely irregular army would suffer heavily against the Genoese defensive position, hesistated to attack, while the deteriorating health and morale of his troops convinced Marchelli not to attempt a major breakout.

Despite the rebel batteries and the earlier disaster off Torre Vecchiaja, supplies continued to trickle into San Fiorenzo. As the harbor's approach was under Battisti's guns, Marchelli had directed supply ships to instead anchor of the beach of Tettola just north of the town. This complicated the unloading process, as there were no harbor facilities here and supplies had to be conveyed to the beach in rowboats, but it was well away from rebel interference.

Captain Poggi, observing these transits from his post at Torre Vecchiaja, determined to demonstrate that this security was an illusion. On the 22nd, after observing a group of four ships (presumably feluccas or tartanes) sailing towards Tettola, Poggi left a small watch at Vecchaija and with the rest of his men manned the Genoese galley which he had captured earlier that month which had been pulled onto the beach at Farinole. As the Genoese flotilla was unloading off the beach, the galley bore down on them; they seem to have been caught unaware at first, as Poggi approached under the banner of St. George, the Genoese flag which had been captured along with the galley. Poggi captured one vessel, and the defenseless crews of the other three ran their ships aground on the beach so they could flee. Anchoring within musket-shot of the shore, Poggi's men cleared the beach with cannon and musketry, and under cover of this fire a longboat full of men went ashore and managed to set two of the beached ships aflame before a large Genoese force arrived on the scene. Costa claims Poggi and his men withdrew having suffered not a single casualty.

This audacious stunt boosted morale in the rebel camp, but Theodore was now concerned about a lack of powder—Battisti's batteries were running through his limited supply very quickly. Costa informs us that the desertion of some filogenovesi militiamen inspired Theodore to his own creative approach. The handful of irregulars, dissatisfied with the poor conditions and prospects of the Genoese camp, had been captured by the rebels while attempting to sneak through the besiegers' cordon and return to their homes. Some of the rebels urged that they be hanged as an example. There was also, however, a group of local women who demanded to see the king: they had husbands, sons, and brothers either in Theodore's custody or in the Genoese army, and they wished to petition for their amnesty. The king, Costa says, proposed a trade to the women; for each "measure of gunpowder" they gave him, he would grant one man full amnesty. The women, who were apparently able to move with some freedom between within the camps, spread his message among the enemy militia. Very soon, Costa marvelled, there were deserters coming into the rebel camp every night with muskets and casks of powder in their hands, much of which had been stolen from the Genoese regulars or the citadel's arsenal. At no cost, the king was simultaneously bleeding the enemy of both troops and munitions, and they could spare neither.[B] Theodore the magician was not yet out of tricks up his sleeve.

Footnotes

[1] A tartane or tartan, like the felucca a vessel and term of Arabic derivation, was a small lateen-rigged ship used for fishing and transport. It is differentiated from the felucca that it is solely a sailing ship, possessing no oars, but otherwise the categories overlapped considerably.

Timeline Notes
[A] This, incidentally, is the "famous" Mortella tower that was widely copied (and mis-spelled) by the British in the form of the Martello towers, built for coastal defense all over the empire in the 19th century. It had impressed the British in 1794 after its 33 men and three guns held off a ship of the line and a frigate and forced the British to take it by a determined land assault. One result of this TL regarding military architecture is presumably that the Martello towers inspired by the 1794 incident are never built and British coastal fortification in the 19th century follows other examples.
[B] If this sounds outrageously stupid, all I can say is that Theodore IOTL allegedly did a very similar trick at the siege of Calvi, bargaining with local women whose husbands/brothers were in Theodore's custody to go get him powder from the Genoese-held citadel if they wanted them back. Somehow it worked; he got his powder, although the siege was overall a failure. On occasion, Corsican clan society actually works for Theodore—family, after all, is more important than loyalty to a government even for the filogenovesi, and there's nothing too wrong with sabotaging your masters for the sake of your kin.
 
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[A] This, incidentally, is the "famous" Mortella tower that was widely copied (and mis-spelled) by the British in the form of the Martello towers, built for coastal defense all over the empire in the 19th century. It had impressed the British in 1794 after its 33 men and three guns held off a ship of the line and a frigate and forced the British to take it by a determined land assault. One result of this TL regarding military architecture is presumably that the Martello towers inspired by the 1794 incident are never built and British coastal fortification in the 19th century follows other examples.

Well damn, Ulysses is butterflied for good. :D
 
Update, hurray!

The siege seems to be going on fairly well and Theodore is really a fox!

(I need to actually go to Corsica for a vacation someday, the pictures you attach to your posts always show very pictoresque landscapes)
 
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