The Queen of Corsica
The Queen of Corsica


The Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary at Bastia

Despite the timing of his proposal, which was made just as he was being pestered by his ministers to designate an heir, it remains a matter of debate as to whether Theodore believed a marriage to Maria Eleonora Katharina, duchessa di Guastalla was an alternative to naming a successor. There was, after all, no certainty that the union would result in issue; now 35 years of age, Maria Eleonora was still potentially capable of conceiving but the most fertile years of her life were well behind her. She had bore no children yet, although this was likely due to her (probably) never-consummated marriage with a lunatic whom she detested rather than any evident physical disability. Given the financial situation of his kingdom and the debt incurred to France, the king may have been more interested in her fortune than her reproductive potential.

Or perhaps he was just lonely. After more than fifteen years of struggle and sacrifice, Theodore's wildest dream had become true: he had gained a royal crown, one of an elect few in Europe. If his goal was to win fame, that was certainly accomplished; whatever might happen subsequently, the baron had made his indelible mark on history. But actually being king - and the king of Corsica, at that - was both more difficult and less rewarding than being prince of some picturesque fiefdom in Germany where the people were obedient, the threat of conquest was remote, and an income was always assured. Corsica no longer needed a magician, a fast-talking salesman, or even an intrepid general; it required a statesman, possessed of more wisdom than wit, who could stand betwixt rival factions and feuding personalities and keep the nation together. Though at the pinnacle of his popularity and renown, Theodore was also under an obligation to live up to the larger-than-life reputation he had created. He was now surrounded by men who expected the world of him, and in such company he could never let down the proverbial mask. Since the death of Grand Chancellor Sebastiano Costa he had nobody in his inner circle who might really be considered his friend. Perhaps the Duchess of Guastalla was not the ideal royal consort from the perspective of producing an heir of his body, but she was an intelligent, independent-minded woman who shared Theodore’s social background, his native tongues, and his experience of being a foreign ruler in an alien land.

Of course, it was by no means certain that the duchess would accept this proposal. As tempting as it was to be made a queen, she would be queen of Corsica. Retiring into well-heeled spinsterhood in Brno, a city with a population several times larger than all of Corsica’s major “cities” put together, promised considerably greater comfort. But she was unquestionably drawn to Theodore - to his personality, his mind, and his great adventure - and while the fire of her ardor may have cooled since their rumored “rendezvous” in 1747, she had remained in close contact with him since then. Three years later her letters still reflected her friendship and admiration. She decided to take the plunge.

Being a widow with no living male relations, the choice was hers alone. Nevertheless, Theodore felt it was important to gain the approval of Empress Maria Theresa, and hoped that seeking her blessing would help repair his relationship with Vienna which had broken off rather coldly after the Treaty of Monaco. Don Federico, Principe di Capraia was chosen for this task for several reasons. Theodore needed a man of high rank to approach the Austrians, and of his “nephews” the Prince of Capraia was the most amenable to the king’s marriage. As he was a recent arrival without much of a local following, his position depended even more on Theodore than that of Don Matteo or Don Giovan, and it seemed unlikely that he would be selected as heir (as while Theodore could do it, there would be great pressure on him to choose one of the other cousins better known to the Corsicans).

Don Federico’s proposal was quite the surprise to the empress, but it did not seem harmful. On the contrary, it was an obvious way to pull Corsica back towards Vienna’s orbit, for although the Duchess of Guastalla was distantly descended from Danish royalty she was by any reasonable standard an Austrian. She had been born and raised in Vienna, her principal family estates were chiefly in Moravia, and her father and grandfather had both been important imperial officials.[1] The new queen’s desire to protect her imperial estates would offer Vienna some leverage in Corsica which it did not presently enjoy; at the very least, the confiscation of the Hungarian lands of the Duke of Modena for waging war against her was an effective cautionary tale. And even if she had disapproved, it was not as if she could stop the marriage, as there was no legal or canonical impediment to it. The empress thus decided to give her consent and blessing.

The next step was to draw up a marriage contract. Notwithstanding her “fascination” with Theodore (as related by one of her Guastallan courtiers), she proved a shrewd and self-interested negotiator. She was more financially savvy than Theodore (or, for that matter, Don Federico) and had more to lose; she held estates worth more than two million livres, and did not wish to see her revenues siphoned off to service the debts of Theodore and his government. The final document was very favorable to her, stipulating that for the most part there was to be no “community of properties:” in other words, the majority of her lands and revenues would remain under her own control, inviolable either by Theodore or the Corsican state (and thus by their creditors as well). Excluded from this protection was approximately 250,000 livres worth of property in the Milanese which, along with 120,000 livres in cash and other movables, constituted her dowry. For the first time in his life, Theodore was to be a landowner.

King Theodore also sought the approval of King Frederik V of Denmark, who had never met the duchess but was the the dynastic head of the House of Oldenburg, and thus the Oldenburg cadet line of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Wiesenburg to which Maria Eleonora belonged. Theodore's intermediary was his old friend and admirer Georg Ludwig Albrecht, Reichsgraf von Rantzau, a nobleman of Holstein. The young Danish king readily agreed, thinking it most amusing that his distant cousin was to marry the famous Theodore of Corsica.[2] Although intended only as a means to burnish his international recognition, the Danish approach proved lucrative; surprising even Theodore, King Frederik decided that the honor of the extended Oldenburg dynasty required more than mere assent to what was, after all, a royal marriage, and sent his own wedding gift of 30,000 thalers (about 130,000 livres). Frederik, however, may not have been acting wholly out of a vague sense of dynastic obligation. The second half of the 18th century saw a considerable expansion of the Danish merchant marine and an increasing involvement of Danish ships in Mediterranean trade, and thirty thousand thalers was a fairly small price to pay for influence with the ruler of a small but strategically placed Mediterranean kingdom and his genealogically (if not culturally) Danish wife.


King Frederik V of Denmark

Theodore’s ministers reacted with some surprise to the announcement that he was to be married, for most had given that up as a lost cause. The bride was not particularly controversial: the duchess was a German, but so then was their king, and as Germans went they could do worse than one who had spent 15 years in Italy and knew the language as well as anyone. The main objection was her age and her relative unsuitability to perform the primary duty of a royal consort - to wit, the production of children. Since it had been widely assumed that Theodore would never marry, however, Maria Eleonora was in that regard still a step up from having a bachelor-king, and since the announcement was only made to the cabinet after the marriage contract had already been agreed to (by Don Federico, the Corsicans really had little say in the matter. Theodore was willing to involve the ministry in some of his affairs, but his marriage was not one of them.

Maria Eleonora arrived at Bastia on the 18th of September, where Theodore had already traveled. After the finalization of the marriage contract, they were married six days later at the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary at Bastia. It was a scrupulously Catholic ceremony, bearing no resemblance to a “traditional” Corsican wedding.[3] The officiating clergyman was the chapter vicar of Aleria, Giovan Paolo Gaffori - the cousin of Marquis Gianpietro Gaffori and Theodore’s nominee for the vacant see of Aleria (presently a matter of dispute between Corsica, Genoa, and Rome). The mood in the city seemed much changed from just a year before, when Theodore had been received rather coolly by the Bastiacci. As royal weddings went it was not particularly grand, but it was nevertheless the first royal wedding ever held on Corsica, and not an event to be missed. Crowds gathered outside the cathedral, and the city notables and their wives turned out in their best clothes to catch a glimpse and pay homage to the king and queen.[4]

Eleonora found Bastia to be a quaint little city, but she was dismayed at the state of the “royal palace” - the old palace of the Genoese governor - which had been long since stripped of most of its furnishings and had most recently been used as a barracks for the Corsican army. Even tiny Guastalla had a state residence far more suitable than this. It only got worse from there, for after spending a week in Bastia the royal couple made their way to Corti. With the road totally unsuitable for carriages, she had to make the journey on muleback with the rest of the party. Upon arriving at Corti, the queen immediately found it to be a gloomy, uncultured, and lifeless place that made Bastia look like Vienna, and whose impromptu “royal residence” made the governor’s palace of Bastia look like Schönbrunn. She never did warm to the city, which she referred to disparagingly as la roche (“the rock”).

Rectifying this situation was one of the major projects of Queen Eleonora’s reign. Theodore was more than happy to give her free rein over the royal properties, and the queen oversaw every aspect of their repair and renovation. When she arrived in Corsica, only the Governor’s Palace might charitably be called a royal residence. By the time of her death, the kingdom had three: The Palazzo dei Governatori in Bastia; the Palazzo Agostiniano in Ajaccio, a seaside residence originally built as an Augustinian seminary; and the Villetta Reale in Corti, a small residence for the royal family in Corti when they were in residence there. While unimpressive by continental standards - a British visitor to Ajaccio some years later described the Augustinian Palace as “befitting an English country squire” - they were certainly the most stately homes in Corsica, and a compromise between royal dignity and royal means. Although sometimes criticized for spending a poor country’s money too freely on frivolities - not altogether fairly, as a great deal of the money she spent was her own - Eleonora understood better than Theodore that the monarchy consisted of more than just a monarch. For building its palaces, arranging its household, and supervising its finances, Eleonora deserves more credit than anyone - including her husband - for making the Corsican monarchy into an institution.

Eleonora’s place in Corsican politics remains a topic of debate. Constitutionally, of course, she had no place in government, and seldom interfered overtly in matters of national policy. More subtly, however, she wielded significant influence on the basis of her proximity to Theodore and her ability to control access to the king through her control over the royal household. While the queen did not choose Theodore’s ministers, she personally selected most of the grooms, valets, and other servants and staff who attended upon the royal family, and she was not ignorant of the political import of this position. Although not a frequent meddler in Corsican politics, she was not afraid to make her positions known on matters which related to the royal family and state finances. More controversially, she also held - or at least was perceived to hold - a pro-Austrian position on foreign policy, which was to play a part in the deterioration of relations between Corsica and France in the kingdom's early years.

Theodore had pledged to various southern potentates that he would make his first “official” tour with his new bride to the Dila as a means of smoothing feathers ruffled by his decision to cut his royal tour short the previous spring. Before that could occur, however, he had to preside over the consulta generale at Corti, the first legislative session of the independent Corsican government.[A]

[1] Indeed, the duchess never set foot in Denmark or Schleswig-Holstein; she had only ever lived in Vienna and Brno before being sent off to Guastalla as a 16 year old bride.
[2] Some have also suggested that Frederik’s status as a Freemason may have also played a role; that was a world Theodore was quite familiar with.
[3] Despite their notionally staunch Catholicism, marriage rites were one of many areas in which the Corsicans strayed rather far from Roman teachings. Weddings, particularly among the peoples of the interior, had few religious trappings and no officiating priest. The bride and groom and their families would convene in the house of the bride’s family, the engaged couple would kiss in the presence of their relatives, and the bride would then take a plate of fritelli (chestnut fritters), share one with the groom, and then pass them out to the rest of the family members in attendance. The symbolism of the bride uniting the two families with food was unmistakable - and, for the Corsicans, much more important than any religious ritual. After the sharing of the fritelli, the couple would then proceed to the bride’s room for the consummation of the union. A religious ceremony to consecrate the marriage would sometimes follow later, but typically not until after the birth of the couple’s first child, and sometimes the sacrament was skipped altogether.
[4] Maria Eleonora was colloquially known as Donna Eleonora throughout her reign in Corsica, and thus she is often referred to in English sources, both contemporary and modern, as “Queen Eleanor.” Her first given name of “Maria” was rarely used.

Timeline Notes
[A] A short update ahead of schedule. Happy New Year!
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Interesting. If a pro-Austrian stance is detrimental to Franco-Corsican relations, does that mean no diplomatic revolution? Austria had to give up a little less land at the war's end, Britain is possibly not quite as dissatisfied with Austrian performance given how the Austrians had better commanders in play during the campaigns in Italy...

Happy new year!
Good stuff :) Happy New Years! She's overseeing the construction of stately manors and here is that short passage where Maria Eleonora ends up on Mule back does she concern herself with infrastructure/roads?
The Land and its Owners
The Land and its Owners


A flock of Corsican sheep

18th century Corsica was an agricultural society based largely on small-scale subsistence farming. The primary crops were cereals, chiefly wheat, rye, barley, oats, and millet. Crop rotation was simple and primitive, with fields usually left fallow on alternate years (less often in good soil). When additional land was needed, farmers would burn the macchia (shrubland) and plant crops there. Such land was marginal, and after being used for a few years it would be abandoned and left to recover for years, sometimes for a decade. Chestnut culture was widespread, but only in the Castagniccia did it largely displace cereals; in this district more than half the available land was used for chestnut production, but in most other regions of Corsica chestnuts were a complement to grains rather than a primary source of calories. Small-scale production of wine and olive oil was spread throughout the island, typically intended for consumption or local trade rather than sale abroad. Only in the far north - particularly in the Balagna, Nebbio, and Capo Corso - were there large estates geared to the production of wine and oil for export, which prior to independence serviced the Genoese market exclusively.

Despite the singular importance of agricultural production, agricultural technology was extremely primitive. The farmers used light plows which only scratched the soil, milled grain with inefficient horizontal waterwheels, and produced oil in simple lever and twist presses. Although the Early Modern period had brought new crops to Corsica—a Genoese agricultural development plan in the 16th century forced the locals to adopt not only the chestnut, but figs, grapes, olives, and mulberry—the modes of production and cultivation practiced in Theodore’s day had hardly changed since the Middle Ages.

The Farmers

Of the farmers who made up the vast bulk of the Corsican population, the highest stratum was that of the so-called proprietari, the “propertied” class. This term, however, was not synonymous with “property owner.” Rather, to be a proprietario meant that a man lived exclusively off his own property and did not need to supplement his income with sharecropping, wage labor, or the exploitation of common land. The majority of Corsican farmers, known as lavatori or paesani, did not possess enough land to meet this ideal and were compelled to seek other sources of income in addition to farming their own property. Even at the lowest levels of this class, however, to be truly without property was rare—even the poorest lavatore typically possessed some property, even if it was just a garden plot and a cottage (or even a share of a cottage). Dedicated shepherds, known as pastori or caprai, occupied a comparable social tier to the lavatori despite the fact that their property was predominantly in livestock rather than in land.

Property ownership, no matter how minor, was considered the sine qua non of citizenship and social respectability in Corsica. The Marquis de Crussol commented that “the Corsican would rather starve than sell land.” Property anchored a person in a community; a man without property was little better than a vagrant, and thus could neither participate in political life nor enjoy any rights to the village commons. A man without property was considered to be servile and fully dependent upon others, a position too horrible to contemplate for most Corsicans.

At the very bottom of the social ladder were the so-called lucchesi, seasonal workers from mainland Italy, who despite their name were from many places besides Lucca. The typical lucchese sailed from Livorno to Corsica in the early autumn to perform hard labor or agricultural work (primarily in the Genoese plantations in northeast Corsica) and returned to Italy in the spring. They were held in utter contempt by the Corsicans, not just because of their foreign origin but because their nature as landless contract workers suggested a contemptible servile status. They were men without family and without property, and thus not really men at all. The Corsicans accordingly treated them as the scum of the earth, used lucchese as an insult to mean an insignificant and honorless man, and joked that even a very ugly or dishonored woman could, as a last resort, always marry a lucchese.

The Commons

The most notable feature of Corsican agricultural and pastoral society was the great extent of lands held in common. While common ownership was hardly unique to Corsica, it was particularly widespread on the island, with approximately a third of all arable land being held in common. The modes of common land ownership and exploitation varied from place to place. Most commons were owned by villages, some were shared between several villages, controlled by a pieve, shared among several pievi, or—in the case of some small parcels—shared among just a few families. Some commons, particularly at the village level, were essentially corporate property of the village and could be leased by the village leaders.

Even private land was not fully private. “Private” lands were often possessed by a family (which could be quite large) rather than an individual landowner, and private ownership did not abrogate all communal ties and obligations. Cottage gardens, for instance, were privately owned, but often watered by irrigation systems built and maintained collectively by the village. Villagers enjoyed the pascolatico, or right of grazing, which gave them the right to graze their animals on the village’s fields after the harvest regardless of whether those fields were held in common or privately owned.

Common lands formed an important component of the livelihood of the average farmer, as unless he was among the proprietari his private lands alone were insufficient for subsistence. Even the poorest lavatore, so long as he owned some property, enjoyed rights to common land which were not afforded to outsiders or landless farm laborers. These rights, along with various lease relationships, constituted the surprisingly diverse economic activity of the lavatori. Village common lands would be leased to individual villagers for a fee, usually on an annual basis. To plow their lands, farmers relied on oxen, which they leased from neighboring herders if they were not prosperous enough to have their own. Farmers could usually thresh their grain for free at a village-owned threshing floor and could pay a small fee to use a private watermill. If a peasant lived in an area where chestnut culture dominated, he might possess a grove on his own private land, but more typically he would own one or more trees on common land. Most farmers owned some livestock, and grazed their dairy goats (or, less commonly, cattle) on common pasture while poultry foraged in the garden. Pigs were turned loose in common forests of oak and chestnut to feast on fallen nuts and acorns. Farmers would supplement all this, as needed, with sharecropping or wage labor on a private farm or orchard, usually owned by a local notabile.

Thus, despite their notorious love of independence and hatred of servility, Corsican farmers were highly dependent on a wide array of common rights and lease agreements which were only occasionally committed to writing. Particularly in the interior, many leases were paid in kind, and some villages in the mountains scarcely ever used money except to pay their taxes.


A village chestnut mill in the Castagniccia

Common lands were even more important for the dedicated pastoralists who lived in the mountains of central Corsica, for whom livestock were not merely a supplement to farming but the sum total of their livelihood. Such shepherds generally practiced seasonal transhumance, in which they moved between mountain pastures in the summer and coastal pastures in the winter. Rarely was any of this land privately owned by individual shepherds. The mountain pastures were typically commons held as corporate property by a pastoral village or several villages together. In the villages of the Niolo, in which the pastoral economy was dominant, the proportion of land held in common frequently exceeded two thirds and sometimes approached 80%, and what private land did exist was generally used for agriculture, horticulture, and chestnut groves rather than pasture. On the coast, pastureland might constitute a free commons in some lightly-inhabited areas or a commons owned by the mountaineers themselves (despite being absent from it most of the year), but more typically the shepherds leased land belonging to coastal villagers and landowners.

Change and Resistance

Since at least the 17th century, common lands had come under threat from steady encroachment on the part of great landowners who were encouraged and abetted by the Genoese government. This was most prevalent in the Dila, which had a tradition of powerful signori and lacked the strong communal organization of the Terra di Commune, as well as in the rich agricultural provinces of the far north where Genoese landowners had consolidated properties to produce cash crops for export. In the jurisdiction of Calvi, the proportion of common land was only about 10%; in the jurisdiction of Bastia it was less than 5%.

Predictably, the most ardent foes of the loss of common lands were those who were most dependent on them, the shepherds of the interior. Large landowners fenced in their lands to prevent degradation from swarming herds of livestock, or converted fields of wheat and rye to more lucrative plantations of vines and olive trees which made the land useless to the shepherds. Other landowners kept their fields open but steadily raised the fees they demanded for grazing rights. For the shepherds, who had been using the same coastal grazing lands for generations, these developments were perceived as an attack on their way of life motivated by greed. “If Jesus Christ had been born in the Balagna,” went one Niolesi proverb, “he too would have been a robber.” Even before the outbreak of rebellion, disputes over the enclosure of common land had sometimes led to trouble, with shepherds tearing down fences and confronting landowners with loaded muskets. Not without cause had the Niolesi and other highland pastoralists rallied early on to the banner of the Revolution, which they perceived as an uprising against a rotten system of greedy landowners, corrupt courts, and callous officials who trampled upon the shepherds’ traditional rights and destroyed their livelihoods.


Niolesi shepherd, early 19th century

The view of the Corsica’s farmers was more varied and nuanced. As mentioned, the loss of common lands was geographically uneven. In the Castagniccia, the strength of communal governance and the unsuitability of the land for cash crops meant that privatization and enclosure gained relatively little headway, and Genoese taxation was far more galling than the rather remote threat of expropriation. The effects were more strongly felt in the Dila and the far north, but the means of expropriation differed; in the Dila the class of lavatori had been substantially converted into sharecroppers on consolidated estates owned by local notables and absentee Genoese landlords, while in the north the shift in emphasis to vineyards and orchards meant that wage labor was more prevalent than sharecropping. One Corsican writer lamented the state of certain peasants in the jurisdiction of Bastia, who picked grapes in Capo Corso in the summer and in winter subsisted on a “thin soup of wild herbs.” With little or no property of their own and no common land to take advantage of (as it had largely vanished from that region), they were hardly better than the lucchesi, a source of real indignity.

Yet despite the threat posed to some agriculturalists by the loss of the commons, the farmers were not necessarily allies of the pastoralists. While farming and grazing had traditionally been complementary activities in Corsica, the traditional rights of shepherds impinged upon the full exercise of a farmer’s control over his property. The customary rights of pastoralists, whether dedicated shepherds or merely other farmers with their own flocks, often prevented a farmer from fencing his land to keep out potentially destructive free-roaming herds, gleaning from his own fields after the harvest, or converting his grain fields to orchards or vineyards that might potentially yield more profit. Moreover, the lavatori were not necessarily opposed to privatization. While farmers universally opposed the expropriation of common lands by large landowners, some advocated for the partition of common lands among smallholders like themselves in the hope that this additional land would allow them to ascend to the ranks of the self-sufficient proprietari.

This conflict between the landowning notables, the middling farmers, and the mountain shepherds over land in general and common land in particular would remain one of the defining issues of Corsican politics long after Theodore’s reign. The king knew the value of his support among the farmers and shepherds who together made up the vast majority of Corsica’s population, and had often stated his intent to drive out the Genoese exploiters and institute land reform that would benefit the people. None could forget that in the darkest days of the rebellion, when Theodore had been driven from the kingdom by the French, it was the Niolesi and their fellow pastoralists in the mountains who alone continued to bear the torch of resistance.

Theodore, however, was also an enthusiast of modernization and commerce. His vision for Corsica was not a romantic idyll of rustic shepherds and peasants frozen in time, but a booming commercial hub fueled by exports of cash crops that would fund national development. Thus, while he desired to improve the lot of the common Corsican farmer, the efficient production of wine, oil, citrus, and other such exportable commodities required capital, labor, and land which small farmers simply could not provide. The Genoese had meant to exploit Corsica rather than enrich it, but their methods of consolidation and enclosure (however fitfully they were attempted) were not without economic merit. Moreover, a government policy of protecting the commons and curbing the ability of great landowners to further expand their holdings was unlikely to gain the support of the important landowning notabili who had directly benefited from Genoese policy.
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If Theodore is smart and lucky, he uses the communal associations of the north to privatize common land but set up producer cooperatives in the northern cash crop zone, and compensates some of the more important shepherd clans with other, abandoned Genoese land, but leaves the rest out to hang, with a few Whiskey Rebellion equivalents but nothing insurmountable. If he tries to do this aristocratically, then the shepherds and small farmers will combine against him and congrats-he's almost mirrored the social conditions that kicked off the Revolution in the first place.
How much abandoned land formerly under Genoese proprietorship is there on Corsica? Of course it's now occupied, but is there still a lot of land that doesn't have clear title?

Deleted member 67076

I wonder if Theodore could try to start an agricultural revolution. Certainly, at least some of his international friends could provide start up costs on select areas to improve productivity via new tools and methods which would later spread and improve the general well being of the economy.
If Theodore is smart and lucky, he uses the communal associations of the north to privatize common land but set up producer cooperatives in the northern cash crop zone, and compensates some of the more important shepherd clans with other, abandoned Genoese land, but leaves the rest out to hang, with a few Whiskey Rebellion equivalents but nothing insurmountable. If he tries to do this aristocratically, then the shepherds and small farmers will combine against him and congrats-he's almost mirrored the social conditions that kicked off the Revolution in the first place.
How much abandoned land formerly under Genoese proprietorship is there on Corsica? Of course it's now occupied, but is there still a lot of land that doesn't have clear title?

Producer coops make sense but I'm not sure if that's the sort of thing Theodore would consider as an option.

Right now the food crops are mostly grown by small farmers while the cash crops (mostly olive oil) are mostly grown by small plantations. Would it be economically viable for small farmers to grow olives or do you need economies of scale for that?

Also we should see Corsican fishing increase with independence which should help a bit with economic development and encouraging sailing skills.
Eleonora’s lands would indeed pass to her (hypothetical) child; IOTL, they were inherited by her nieces, who became very desirable heiresses as a consequence. Unlike the Britain-Hanover situation, however, Eleonora’s imperial lands do not constitute a sovereign state. Although they held substantial lands within the empire, the dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Wiesenburg did not possess landeshoheit (sovereignty, literally "land-highness"). Their title of "duke" was bestowed by the Danish crown, not acquired from the possession of a sovereign duchy in the empire. Thus, despite being noble Eleonora is really just a landowner, and her (hypothetical) child would inherit that land without any special rights or titles within the empire.

The best comparison would not be Britain and Hanover, which were two sovereign states in personal union, but the estates of the Duke of Modena within Hungary (recently confiscated ITTL) from which he drew an income but not any title of note.

How much abandoned land formerly under Genoese proprietorship is there on Corsica? Of course it's now occupied, but is there still a lot of land that doesn't have clear title?

I'm not sure. I've tried very hard to answer this question with real facts and figures, but to no avail. There were certainly French "crown lands" in Corsica after the conquest, but these were not all lands inherited from Genoa; France took advantage of the fact that few property deeds were actually written down and "confiscated" a lot of Corsican land in the last decades of the Ancien Regime.

My impression is that actual Genoese state land was not particularly vast. Most of the lands seized would not be from the Republic as such but from private Genoese landowners, resident or absentee, who are obviously not getting them back. It's safe to assume that this was generally good land, as Genoese magnates would not concern themselves with the macchia. Because the chief interest of Genoese landowners in Corsica was to export their products, they would necessarily be coastal (as there is virtually no inland infrastructure), and especially on the northern coast which was the most convenient for shipping to Genoa. The Balagna, Nebbio, the Agriate, and Cap Corse meet those requirements the best, and indeed they seem to have been prominent areas of Genoese cultivation. Much of the land in Genoese hands was probably given over to grape and olive production. Thus, the Corsican government probably possesses some very good land (relatively speaking), but will be under pressure to privatize it for the benefit of farmers and/or local notabili.

@Carp What's the possibility of the knowledge of crop rotation spreading to Corsica?
Could the king himself play a role in that process?

The introduction of a summer nitrogen-fixing legume crop would probably be helpful. Certainly beans and peas were known in Corsica but from what I can tell they were small-scale garden crops rather than parts of the field rotation. The problem is that switching from fallow fields to off-season crops disrupts the traditional order. Shepherds (and farmers with livestock) are used to grazing their animals in unfenced fallow fields; goats and sheep are simply left to wander. If you're going to plant a crop on the off-season you'll have to fence your land, because otherwise your alfalfa will never get any further than alfalfa sprouts before the goats eat it all. Fencing is a direct attack on the traditional rights of your neighbors, on whom you also depend.

Certainly Theodore could do this - while he has no personal knowledge of agriculture, he's pretty widely read and grain-legume rotation is not exactly cutting edge technology - but whether he and his government really have the power to abrogate old customs and reorganize Corsican traditional society as befits their economic agenda is another question entirely.

Right now the food crops are mostly grown by small farmers while the cash crops (mostly olive oil) are mostly grown by small plantations. Would it be economically viable for small farmers to grow olives or do you need economies of scale for that?

The problem is not so much that small farmers can't grow olives (they can, and many do) but that transitioning to olives on a large scale is not feasible. An olive tree typically doesn't bear fruit for at least five years after planting, and subsistence farmers can't afford to just not produce for years. Planting a few trees on the edge of your land for private use is one thing; ripping up your wheat fields to make an orchard that won't give you a thing for at least five years is quite another. You need capital for this sort of thing, and most Corsican farmers are living on rather thin margins.

As a side note, I find it interesting that widespread property ownership was seen by the French as an impediment to development. The Chevalier de Pommereul wrote that "the most insurmountable obstacle which [Corsica] presents to civilization is perhaps the lack of a class of inhabitants who are not property owners." Because everyone had property, they reasoned, and because chestnut culture did not take much work (you don't have to plow your chestnut orchards every year), the Corsicans were accustomed to being indolent and lived in a state of idle barbarism, lacking any motivation or incentive to improve their land. Accordingly, when the French took over they set about confiscating commons and private lands alike, taking advantage of the fact that few people actually had written titles to their lands, so as to reduce the population to a state of landless tenancy that would require them to actually work for a living on the productive estates of the rich which had been cobbled together from their own seized lands.

When the French Revolution happened, the Corsicans were at first hopeful; they expected that the Assembly would give them back what had been taken from them. Instead the Paris government decided to auction them off like other crown lands - they really needed the money - which, predictably, ended up with all the land being bought up by the rich. The Corsican farmers did not take it well.
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