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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

—  Region of France  —


Country France
Prefecture Ajaccio
 - President Ange Santini (UMP)
 - Total 8,680 km2 (3,351.4 sq mi)
Population (2008-01-01)
 - Total 302,000
 Density 34.8/km2 (90.1/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
GDP/ Nominal € 7 billion (2006)[1]
GDP per capita € 20,300 ({{{GDP_cap_year}}})[1]
NUTS Region FR8

Corsica (French: Corse; Corsican and Italian: Corsica) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia.

Corsica is one of the 26 régions of France, although strictly speaking Corsica is designated as a "territorial collectivity" (collectivité territoriale) by law. As a territorial collectivity, it enjoys greater powers than other French régions, but for the most part its status is quite similar. Corsica is referred to as a "région" in common speech, and is almost always listed among the other régions of France. Although the island is separated from the continental mainland by the Ligurian Sea and is much closer to the Italian than to the French mainland, politically Corsica is part of Metropolitan France. It was once briefly an independent Corsican Republic, until being incorporated into France in 1769.

Corsica is famed as the birthplace of Napoléon Bonaparte. His ancestral home, Casa Buonaparte, is located there.



Coastal boulevard in Ajaccio, the island's capital and Napoleon's birthplace.

Corsica has been occupied continuously since the Mesolithic era. It acquired an indigenous population that was influential in the Mediterranean during its long prehistory. After a brief by Carthaginian , colonization by the ancient Greeks and an only slightly longer occupation by the Etruscans it was preempted by the Roman Republic and became with Sardinia a province of the Roman Empire. In the Vth century, the Roman Empire collapsed and the island was invaded by the Vandals, the Visigoths, the Saracens and the Lombards. Pépin le Bref, king of the Franks and Charlemagne's father, expelled the invaders and granted Corsica to pope Stephen II through the exarchate of Ravenna (756), which was the starting point of the temporal power of the papacy.

Corsica was occupied by a Franco-Ottoman alliance force in the Invasion of Corsica (1553). Historic map of Corsica by Piri Reis.

The Genoese again took possession of the island in 1347, and governed it until 1729 - interrupted only by a brief occupation by forces of a Franco-Ottoman alliance in the Invasion of Corsica (1553).

In Corsica, vendetta was a social code that required Corsicans to kill anyone who wronged the family honor. It has been estimated that between 1683 and 1715, nearly 30,000 out of 120,000 Corsicans lost their lives to vendetta.[2]

In 1729 the Corsican Revolution for independence began. After 26 years of struggle the independent Corsican Republic was formed in 1755 under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli and remained sovereign until 1769. The first Corsican Constitution was written in Italian (the language of culture in Corsica until the end of the 19th century) by Paoli. He proclaimed that Italian was the official language of Corsica.

The Corsican Republic was unable to eject the Genoese from the major coastal cities. Following French losses in the Seven Years War, Corsica was purchased secretly by France from the Republic of Genoa in 1764. After an announcement and brief war in 1768-69 Corsican resistance was largely ended at the Battle of Punto Novo. Despite triggering the Corsican Crisis in Britain, no foreign military support came for the Corsicans. Corsica was incorporated into France in 1770, marking the end of Corsican sovereignty. However, national feelings still run high.


The Bay of Calvi: Corsica is the most mountainous Mediterranean island.

Corsica was formed as an island through volcanic explosions.

Native name: Corsica
Sobriquet: L’Île de Beauté
The Isle of Beauty
Corse region relief location map.jpg
Topography of Corsica
Corsica is located in France
Corsica (France)
Location Mediterranean Sea
Area 8,680 km2 (3,350 sq mi)
Length 184 km (114 mi)
Width 83 km (52 mi)
Coastline 1,000 km (620 mi)
Highest point Monte Cinto (2,706 m (8,878 ft))
Région Corsica
Largest city Ajaccio (pop. 63,723)
Population 302,000 (as of Jan. 2008)
Density 35 /km2 (91 /sq mi)


The island is 183 kilometres (114 mi) long at longest, 83 kilometres (52 mi) wide at widest, has 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) of coastline, more than 200 beaches, and is very mountainous, with Monte Cinto as the highest peak at 2,706 metres (8,878 ft) and 20 other summits of more than 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). Mountains comprise two-thirds of the island, forming a single chain. Forest comprises 20% of the island. Approximately 3,500 km2 (1,400 sq mi) of the total surface area of 8,680 km2 (3,350 sq mi) are dedicated to nature reserves (Parc Naturel Régional de Corse), mainly in the interior.[3]

The island is 90 kilometres (56 mi) from Tuscany in Italy and 170 kilometres (110 mi) from the Côte d'Azur in France. It is separated from Sardinia to the south by the Strait of Bonifacio, a minimum of 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) wide.[3]

Major communities

In 2005 the population of Corsica was settled in approximately 360 communities.[4]


Corsica contains the GR20, one of Europe's most famous hiking trails.


Zones by altitude

The island is divided into three major ecological zones by altitude.[5] Below 2,000 feet (610 m) is the coastal zone, which features a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The natural vegetation is Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and shrubs. The coastal lowlands are part of the Tyrrhenian-Adriatic sclerophyllous and mixed forests ecoregion, in which forests and woodlands of evergreen sclerophyll oaks predominate, chiefly Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) and Cork Oak (Quercus suber). Much of the coastal lowlands have been cleared for agriculture, grazing and logging, which have reduced the forests considerably.

There is considerable birdlife in Corsica. In some cases Corsica is a delimited part of the species range. For example, the subspecies of Hooded Crow, Corvus cornix ssp cornix occurs in Corsica, but no further south.[6]

From 2,000 to 6,000 feet (610 to 1,800 m) is a temperate montane zone. The mountains are cooler and wetter, and home to the Corsican montane broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregion, which supports diverse forests of oak, pine, and broadleaf deciduous trees, with vegetation more typical of northern Europe. The population lives predominantly below 3,000 feet (910 m), with only shepherds and hikers at 2,000 to 3,000 feet (610 to 910 m).

From 6,000 to 9,000 feet (1,800 to 2,700 m) is a high alpine zone. Vegetation is sparse. In spite of the southern location, the highest elevations are snow-capped with small glaciers. This zone is uninhabited.

Zones by region

Parc Naturel Régional de Corse

The island has a natural park (Parc Naturel Régional de Corse, Parcu di Corsica), which protects thousands of rare animal and plant species. The park was created in 1972 and includes the Golfe de Porto, the Scandola Nature Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and some of the highest mountains on the island. This park is protected and cannot be reached on foot, but people can gain access by boat from the village of Galéria. Two endangered subspecies of hoofed mammals, the mouflon (Ovis aries musimon) and Corsican red deer (Cervus elaphus corsicanus) inhabit the island; the Corsican red deer is endemic.

Extinct animals

Corsica, like all the other Mediterranean islands, was home to indigenous animals of the Pleistocene, some endemic to it and some to it and Sardinia (as Sardinia was joined to Corsica for much of the Pleistocene). After the proliferation of man in the Mesolithic, these began to disappear, partly from extinction of the species, and partly from eradication only from Corsica. Blaming the extinctions on Mesolithic man is now known to be in error, as many survived well into historical times.[7]

The totally extinct species are Cynotherium sardous, Megaloceros cazioti, Soriculus corsicanus, Prolagus sardus, Bubo insularis and Athene angelis. Birds were especially hard-hit. Some that were eradicated from the vicinity are Haliaeetos albicilla and Aquila heliaca.




The food of Corsica can best be defined as a fusion of the French and Italian cuisines, due to its close geographical positions with the two countries. Popular foods such as pizza, pasta, cured meats and sheep's milk cheeses can be found. Each region within the island has its own take on recipes. In the mountains, wild meat like boar, rabbit, and trout from the many rivers offer variety according to the seasons.


Map of Corsica

The capital of Corsica is Ajaccio (Corsican: Aiacciu). The ruling body is the Corsican Assembly. The territorial collectivity is divided in two départements: Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse. These two départements were created on September 15, 1975 by splitting the hitherto united département of Corse.

Recent attempts to gain greater autonomy for the territorial collectivity of Corsica have failed. A local referendum held in 2003, aimed at disbanding the départements and leaving only the territorial collectivity with extended powers, was voted down by a narrow margin.


Corsica's coastline is a major drive for tourism (here by the town of Propriano).

Corsica is the least economically developed region in Metropolitan France.[1] Tourism plays a big part in the Corsican economy. The island's climate, mountains and coastlines make it popular among tourists. The island has not had the same level of intensive development as other parts of the Mediterranean and is thus mainly unspoiled. Tourism is particularly concentrated in the area around Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio in the south of the island and Calvi in the northwest.

In 1584 the Genoese governor ordered all farmers and landowners to plant four trees yearly, including a chestnut tree (plus an olive-, fig- and mulberry-tree). Many communities owe their origin and former richness to the ensuing chestnut woods.[8] Chestnut bread keeps fresh for as long as two weeks.[9] Corsica produces gourmet cheese, wine, sausages, and honey for sale in mainland France and for export. Corsican honey, of which there are six official varietals, is certified as to its origin (Appellation d'origine contrôlée) by the French National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO).



Corsica has 232 kilometres (144 mi) of narrow-gauge railway. The main line runs between Bastia and Ajaccio and there is a branch line from Ponte-Leccia to Calvi. The trains are operated by Chemins de fer de Corse (CFC).

There is also a third line along the east coast that is no longer in use due to heavy damage during World War II. There has been talk of restoring it but as yet nothing has happened.


Corsica is currently governed in almost the same way as any other région of France. There are several nationalist movements on the island calling for some degree of Corsican autonomy from France or even full independence. Generally speaking, autonomist proposals focus on the promotion of the Corsican language, more power for local governments, and some exemptions from national taxes in addition to those already applying to Corsica.

The French government is opposed to full independence but has at times shown support for some level of autonomy. There is support on the island for proposals of greater autonomy, but polls show that a large majority of Corsicans are opposed to full independence.[citation needed]

The influence of Pisa in Corsica can be seen in the Romanesque-Pisan style of the Church of Aregno

In 1972, the Italian company Montedison was dumping toxic waste off the Corsican coast, creating what looked like red mud in waters around the island with the poisoning of the sea, the most visible effects being cetaceans found dead on the shores.

At that time the Corsican people felt that the French government did not support them since it did not complain to Italy to make this situation change. To stop the poisoning, Corsicans decided to bomb one of the ships carrying the toxic wastes from Italy.

Organisations started to seek money, acting like the Mafia, to fund violence. Some groups that claim to support Corsican independence, such as the National Liberation Front of Corsica, have carried out a violent campaign since the 1970s that includes bombings and assassination, usually targeting buildings and officials representing the French government or Corsicans themselves for political reasons. A war between two rival independence groups led to several deaths in the 1990s. The peaceful occupation of a pied-noir vineyard in Aléria in 1975 marked a turning point when the French government responded with overwhelming force, generating sympathy for the independence groups among the Corsican population. However, events such as the murder of préfet Claude Erignac on February 6, 1998 (for which Yvan Colonna was arrested five years later) have only served to convince many in Corsica, as well as in the French government and the general French public, that Corsican nationalists cannot be trusted with more autonomy.[citation needed]

Some of the independence groups are known to practice extortion and other intimidatory tactics, not dissimilar from Mafia activity in Sicily and southern Italy. Non-Corsican homeowners may be threatened with the destruction of their homes, which may be avoided only through paying a ransom. Journalists writing articles critical of the armed groups have sometimes been threatened. Prosecutions are made difficult by a pervasive "law of silence" (see Omertà).

In 2000, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin agreed to grant increased autonomy to Corsica. The proposed autonomy for Corsica would have included greater protection for the Corsican language (Corsu), the island's traditional language (similar to Italian), whose practice and teaching, like other regional or minority languages in France, had in the past been discouraged. According to the UNESCO classification, the Corsican language is currently in danger of becoming extinct. However, plans for increased autonomy were opposed by the Gaullist opposition in the French National Assembly, who feared that they would lead to calls for autonomy from other régions (such as Brittany, Alsace, or Roussillon), eventually threatening France's unity as a country.

In a referendum on July 6, 2003, a narrow majority of Corsican voters opposed a project from the government of Jean-Pierre Raffarin and then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy that would have suppressed the two départements of the island and granted greater autonomy to the territorial collectivity of Corsica.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "GDP per inhabitant in 2006 ranged from 25% of the EU27 average in Nord-Est in Romania to 336% in Inner London". Eurostat. 
  2. ^ "Corsican Soup and Pulp Fiction"
  3. ^ a b Price, Gillian. Walking on Corsica: Long-Distance and Short Walks. Cicerone Press Limited. p. 9. ISBN 1-85284-387-x. 
  4. ^ Keyser, William (2005). "Corsican Villages and Towns" (pdf). Corsica Isula. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  5. ^ Gregory, Desmond (1985). The ungovernable rock: a history of the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom and its role in Britain's Mediterranean strategy during the Revolutionary War, 1793-1797. London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 16. ISBN 0838632254. 
  6. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Hooded Crow: Corvus cornix,, ed, N. Stromberg
  7. ^ MacPhee, R.D.E.; Hans-Dieter Sues (1999). Extinctions in Near Time: Causes, Contexts, and Consequences. Springer. p. 179. ISBN 0306460920. 
  8. ^ The Chestnut Tree in terracorsa.
  9. ^ The Grocer's Encyclopedia - Encyclopedia of Foods and Beverages. By Artemas Ward. New York. 1911.


  • Loughlin, John. 1989. "Regionalism and Ethnic Nationalism in France: A Case-study of Corsica". Thesis. San Domenico, Italy: European University Institute.
  • Loughlin, John, and Claude Olivesi (eds.). 1999. Autonomies insulaires: vers une politique de différence pour la Corse. Ajaccio: Editions Albiana. ISBN 2905124474
  • Saul, John Ralston. 1992. Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West. New York: Free Press; Maxwell Macmillan International. ISBN 0029277256

See also

External links

Coordinates: 42°9′N 9°5′E / 42.15°N 9.083°E / 42.15; 9.083

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Corsica article)

From Wikitravel

Map of Corsica
Map of Corsica

Corsica (French: Corse) is an island and region of France in the Mediterranean Sea, southeast of France and west of Italy.


The region is divided in two départements:

Other destinations

Cap Corse peninsula

Corsica mountains
Corsica mountains

An animated island, past and present, Corsica "always conquered, never subdued" has been successively Pisan and Genovese and has been French since 1768. It enjoys a special constitutional status.

Mountain in the sea, Corsica is also called Island of beauty, not without reason. The diversity of its scenery, and its preservation from the aggressions of development and tourism, makes it one of the pearls of the Mediterranean sea.

The places of interest to tourists in Corsica are various: Sea (beach, scuba diving, sailing), mountain (hiking, with the famous GR 20).

Most visitors come to Corsica in the summer months, and particularly in August, when the number of tourists double or triple from the already large populations in July. If you can only go to Corsica in August, planning ahead is essential, as hotels, campsites, car rental agencies, and ferries are all likely to be pre-booked.


The official language is French, but Corsican, a Romance language close to Italian is spoken widely. Visitors will also find that many Corsicans speak Italian, especially in major tourist destinations.

Get in

By boat

From France, the simplest and fastest solution is the NGV (High Speed Boat, Navire à Grande Vitesse): it takes 2:45 to 3:30 to go from Nice to Calvi, l'Ile-Rousse, Ajaccio and Bastia, and you can enjoy the view of the Corsican seashore and arrive practically downtown. It is also possible to take regular ferries from Marseille, Nice and Toulon. You can also get to Corsica from Italy, leaving Genoa, Livorno, Savona, Naples or Sardinia.

By plane

There are four airports on the island: Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi and Figari (next to Porto-Vecchio). There is unfortunately not much available for getting into the big cities from the airport, other than renting a car or hitching, though Bastia airport has an almost-every hour bus service to town for €8, except in the evening where the interval is bigger. The last bus leaves at 2245. British Airways fly to Corsica from England and Scotland.

Ponte Leccia Station, Corsica. Looking towards Corte/Ajaccio (south). Junction for the Calvi branch.
Ponte Leccia Station, Corsica. Looking towards Corte/Ajaccio (south). Junction for the Calvi branch.
  • A metre gauge railway links Ajaccio and Bastia with a branch to Calvi. New railcars are due in 2007 which will speed up journey times, but remove the unforgetable experience of travelling on the vehicles currently in use. The scenery and the ambience of the railway would not be out of place in South America.

It's advisable to rent a car when in Corsica, as the public transportation is very poor. There are only 3 train lines connecting the major cities, the rest is by bus - which at most leaves twice a day!


Long Distance Walking

Corsica has many walking trails, including the GR 20, perhaps the best known and most difficult of all the Grande Randonnée trails. The trail takes approximately 17 days if using the traditional waypoints, though may take more or less time depending on your experience and needs. The trail is particularly crowded in August, many people suggest the best time is in late spring or early fall. The greatest danger on the GR 20 are the intense summer storms, with lightning claiming the most fatalities.

All walks will need topographical maps, despite usually excellent trail marks. The IGN maps may be found in many of the bigger cities, and at the airports, including Bastia airport. Additionally, you can purchase these maps (more expensively) from the internet ahead of time.

Other Corsican Trails

Other trails include the two Mare e Mare (Sea to Sea) trails which cross the island, and the Mare e Monti trails (Sea and Mountain).

Mare e Mare Nord: Cargése to Moriani la Plage. Suggested time - 11 days. This trail intersects with the one of the Mare e Monti Trails. The trail is only lightly traveled from Corte to Moriani, as this is perhaps the less interesting half, with uniform scenery, and Gites that may not be open unless you call first.

Mare e Mare Sud: Porto-Vecchio to Propriano. Suggested time - 5 days. Considered an easier trail than the other trails on the island.

Mare e Monti: Calenza to Cargèse. Suggested time - 10 days. This trail includes the beautiful fishing village of Girolatta, unnusual in that it is only accessable by boat (from Calvi) or on foot.

There are additional Mare e Monti trails.


Corsica has excellent beaches and if you, like most of Corsica's visitors, are there in the summer many of your activities will center around the beach. Beside sunbathing and swimming almost every beach offers opportunities to snorkel. Some more popular beaches will rent windsurf boards and kite-surfing boards. Scuba diving is available, particularly at popular beaches near islands and in major towns. Expect to pay around €45-60 euros for a one hour dive.

Once the sun goes down, many people stay on or near the beach, enjoying gelato or one of the many beachside bars and restaurants.

Sightseeing in Corsica's major towns is also an excellent activity, though those who wait to do this on cloudy/rainy days may find the roads in and out of town completely overwhelmed by summer traffic, with traffic jams up to 2 hours in August. On cloudy days, your best bet is to avoid the centers and head into the mountains, for a walk along a marked trail or a meal in a small village.


Corsica food has French and Italian influences, but has many unique dishes. The chestnut was one of the ancient (and even current) Corsican's mainstay foods, and many meals and even desserts are prepared with this. Also, most of the domesticated pigs on the island are semi-wild, released to forage for food much of the year, and the charcuterie reflects this excellent flavor. Typical corsican charcuterie include lonzu, coppa, ham, figatellu and saucisson made from pig or boar meat. Canistrelli are typical corsican pastries which come in many different flavors. Corsica also produces a uniquely flavored olive oil made from ripe fruits collected under trees. Many villages have small shops where locally produced food is sold. That said, it may be difficult to find a restaurant that prepares truly Corsican dishes, and you may find yourself eating at a tourist oriented Pizzeria, which nonetheless serves excellent food.


Corsican brew a wide selection of local beers, have their own coke and make their own wine, reflecting their independent ways. Don't be surprised if you are asked "Américain ou Corse" when ordering a coke. It's highly recommended to try the beers "Colomba", "Pietra" or "Bière Torre" when visiting - a very distinct taste, you won't find anywhere else in France.

Stay safe

Corsica is usually a very safe place especially for tourists. Spending the night outdoors in the towns or villages will not be a problem. Be polite and respectful, and there is nothing else to worry.

Get out

From here, you can go to Sardinia, an Italian Island just to the south. Ferries leave from Bonifacio every few hours for San Teresa during the summer, and cost approximately €15 per foot passenger and can easily accommodate cars, light trucks and motorcycles. The ferry ride is approximately one hour. A weekly ferry also leaves Porto Vechio for Palau, Sardinia once a week.

You can also leave the ports of Ajaccio, Calvi, L'île Rousse. or Bastia for mainland France (Nice, Toulon, Marseille) or Genova. However, it is essential to book far ahead on these ferries, even if you are on foot, as they tend to fill up very fast in the high season--especially those leaving for Nice! It is rather pricy as well so do nt be surprised to pay €50 or more, even without a car. Book with Corsica Ferries or SNCM.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CORSICA (Fr. Corse), a large island of the Mediterranean, forming a department of France. It is situated immediately to the north of Sardinia (from which it is separated by the narrow strait of Bonifacio), between 41° 21' and 43° N. and 8° 30' and 9° 30' E. Area, 3367 sq.m. Pop. (1906) 291,160. Corsica lies within 54 m. W. of the coast of Tuscany, 98 m. S. of Genoa and 106 m. S.E. of the French coast at Nice. The extreme length of the island is 114 m. and its breadth 52 m. The greater part of the surface of Corsica is occupied by forest-clad mountains, whose central ridge describes a curve from N.W. to S.W., presenting its convexity towards the E. Secondary chains diverge in all directions from this main range, enclosing small basins both geographically and socially isolated; on the west and south of the island they either terminate abruptly on the shore or run out to a great distance into the sea, forming picturesque bays and gulfs, some of which afford excellent harbours. The highest peaks are the Monts Cinto (8881 ft.), Rotondo (8612), Paglia Orba (8284), Padro (7851) and d'Oro (7845). On the eastern side of the island, between Bastia and Porto Vecchio, there intervenes between the mountains and the sea a considerable tract of low and unhealthy, but fertile country, and the coast is fringed in places by lagoons.


Corsica may be divided into two parts, which are geologically distinct, by a line drawn from Belgodere through Corte to the east coast near Favone. West of this line the island is composed chiefly of granite, with a large mass of granophyres, quartz porphyries and similar rocks forming the high mountains around Mt. Cinto; but between the Gulfs of Porto and Galeria, schists, limestones and anthracite, containing fossils of Upper Carboniferous age, occur. The famous orbicular diorite of Corsica is found near Sta. Lucia-di-Tallano in the arrondissement of Sartene. In the eastern part of the island the predominant rocks are schists of unknown age, with intrusive masses of serpentine and euphotide. Folded amongst the schists are strips of Upper Carboniferous beds similar to those of the west coast. Overlying these more ancient rocks are limestones with Rhaetic and Liassic fossils, occurring in small patches at Oletta, Morosaglia, &c. Nummulitic limestone of Eocene age is found near St Florent, and occupies several large basins near the boundary between the granite and the schist. Miocene molasse with Clypeaster, &c., forms the plain of Aleria on the east coast, and occurs also at St Florent in the north and Bonifacio in the south. A small patch of Pliocene has been found near Aleria. The caves of Corsica, especially in the neighbourhood of Bastia, contain numerous mammalian remains, the commonest of which belong to Lagomys corsicanus, Cuv.

See Hollande, "Geologie de la Corse," Ann. sci. geol., vol. ix. (1877); Nentien, "Etudes sur les gites mineraux de la Corse," Ann. Mines Paris, ser. 9, vol. xii. pp. 231-296, pl. v. (1897).

Corsica is well watered by rivers and torrents, which, though short in their course, bring down large volumes of water from the mountains. The longest is the Golo, which rises in the pastoral region of Niolo, isolated among the mountains to the west of Corte and inhabited by a distinct population of obscure origin. It enters the sea on the east coast to the south of the salt-water lake of Biguglia; farther south, on the same side of the island, is the Tavignano, while on the west there are the Liamone, the Gravone and the Taravo. The other streams are all comparatively small. Owing to the rugged and indented outline of the western coast there are an unusual number of bays and harbours. Of the bays the most important are Porto, Sagone, Ajaccio and. Valinco; of the ports, St Florent (San Fiorenzo), Ile Rousse (Isola Rossa), Calvi, Ajaccio and Propriano. On the eastern side, which is much less rugged and broken, the only harbours worth mentioning are those of Bastia and Porto Vecchio (the Portus Syracusanus of the ancients), and the only gulfs those of Porto Vecchio and Santa Manza. At the extreme south are the harbour and town of Bonifacio, giving name to the strait which separates Corsica from Sardinia.

The climate of the island ranges from warmth in the lowlands to extreme rigour in the mountains. The intermediate region is the most temperate and healthy. The mean annual temperature at Ajaccio is 63° F. The dominant winds are those from the south-west and south-east.

There are mines of anthracite, antimony and copper; the island produces granite, building stone, marble, and amianthus, and there are salt marshes. Among other places Guagno, Pardina Guitera, and Orezza have mineral springs.

The agriculture of Corsica suffers from scarcity of labour, due partly to the apathy of the inhabitants, and from scarcity of capital. The cultivation of cereals, despite the fertility of the soil, is neglected; wheat is grown to some extent, but in this respect, the population is dependent to a large degree on outside supplies. The culture of fruit, especially of the vine, cedrates, citrons and olives (for which the Balagne region, in the northwest, is noted), of vegetables and of tobacco, and sheep and goat rearing are the main rural industries, to which may be added the rearing of silk-worms. The exploitation of the fine forests, which contain the well-known Corsican pine, beeches, oaks and chestnuts, is also an important resource, but tends to proceed too rapidly. Chestnuts are exported, and, ground into flour. are used as food by the mountaineers. Most of the inhabitants are proprietors of land, but often the properties are so split up that many hours, or even a whole day, are spent in going from the vineyard or olive plantation to the arable land in the plain or the chestnut-wood in the mountain. A great part of the agricultural labour is performed by labourers from Tuscany and Lucca, who periodically visit the island for that purpose. Sheep of a peculiar breed, resembling chamois and known as mouflons, inhabit the more inaccessible parts of the mountains. The uncultivated districts are generally overgrown with a thick tangled underwood, consisting of arbutus, myrtle, thorn, laurel broom and other fragrant shrubs, and known as the maquis, the fragrance of which can be distinguished even from the sea.

Fishing and shooting are allowed almost everywhere to the possessor of a government licence; special permission, where it is necessary, is easily obtained. Wild boars, stags, in the eastern districts, and hares as well as the mouflon are found, while partridges, quail, woodcock, wild duck and water-fowl are abundant. Trout and eels are the chief fish. The flesh of the Corsican blackbird is considered a delicacy. The fisheries of tunny, pilchard and anchovy are extensively prosecuted for the supply of the Italian markets; but comparatively few of the natives are engaged in this industry.

The Corsican is simple and sober but unenterprising; dignified and proud, he is possessed of a native courtesy, manifested in his hospitality to strangers, the refusal of which is much resented. He is, however, implacable towards his own countrymen when his enmity is once aroused, and the practice of the blood-feud or vendetta has not died out. Each individual is attached to some powerful family, and the influence of this usage is specially marked in politics, the individual voting with his clan on pain of arousing the vindictiveness of his fellow-members. Another dominant factor in social life in Corsica is the almost universal ambition on the part of the natives towards an official career, a tendency from which commerce and agriculture inevitably suffer.

The manufactures of the island are of small importance. They include the extraction of gallic acid from chestnut-bark, the preparation of preserved citrons and other delicacies, and of macaroni and similar foods and the manufacture of fancy goods and cigars.

The chief ports are Bastia, Ajaccio and Ile Rousse. A railway runs from Bastia to Ajaccio with branches to Calvi and Ghisonaccia, but, in general, lack of means of communication as well as of capital are a barrier to commercial activity. In 1905 imports reached a value of r r3,000. The chief were tobacco, furniture and wooden goods, wine, cereals, coal, cheese and bran. Exports were valued at £336,000, and included chestnut-extract, charcoal, timber, citrons and other fruits, seeds, casks, skins, chestnuts and tanning bark.

Corsica is divided into five arrondissements (chief townsAjaccio, Bastia, Calvi, Corte and Sartene), with 62 cantons and 364 communes. It forms part of the acadernie (educational circumscription) and archiepiscopal province of Aix (Bouches-duRhone) and of the region of the XV. army corps. The principal towns are Ajaccio, the capital and the seat of the bishop of the island and of the prefect; Bastia, the seat of the court of appeal and of the military commander; Calvi, Corte and Bonifacio. Other places of interest are St Florent, near which stand the ruins of the cathedral (12th century) of the vanished town of Nebbio; Murato, which has a church (12th or 13th century) of Pisan architecture, which is exemplified in other Corsican churches; and Cargese, where there is a Greek colony, dating from the 17th century. Near Lucciana are the ruins of a fine Romanesque church called La Canonica. Megalithic monuments are numerous, chief among them being the dolmen of Fontanaccia in the arrondissement of Sartene.


The earliest inhabitants of Corsica were probably Ligurian. The Phocaeans of Ionia were the first civilized people to establish settlements there. About 560 B.C. they landed in the island and founded the town of Alalia. By the end of the 6th century, however, their power had dwindled before that of the Etruscans, who were in their turn driven out by the Carthaginians. The latter were followed by the Romans, who gained a footing in the island at the time of the First Punic War, but did not establish themselves there till the middle of the 2nd century B.C. Both Marius and Sulla founded colonies - the one at Mariana (near Lucciana) in 104, the second at Aleria in 88. In the early centuries of the Christian era Corsica formed one of the senatorial provinces of the Empire, but though it was in continuous commercial communication with Italy, it was better known as a place of banishment for political offenders. One of the most distinguished of those was the younger Seneca, who spent in exile there the eight years ending A.D. 49.

During the break-up of the Roman empire in the West the possession of Corsica was for a while disputed between the Vandals and the Gothic allies of the Roman emperors, until in 469 Genseric finally made himself master of the island. For 65 years the Vandals maintained their domination, the Corsican forests supplying the wood for the fleets with which they terrorized the Mediterranean. After the destruction of the Vandal power in Africa by Bel.isarius, his lieutenant Cyril conquered Corsica (534) which now, under the exarchate of Africa, became part of the East Roman empire. The succeeding period was one of great misery. Goths and Lombards in turn ravaged the island, which in spite of the prayers of Pope Gregory the Great the exarch of Africa did nothing to defend; the rule of the Byzantines was effective only in grinding excessive taxes out of the wretched population; and, to crown all, in 713 the Mussulmans from the northern coast of Africa made their first descent upon the island. Corsica remained nominally attached to the East Roman empire until Charlemagne, having overthrown the Lombard power in Italy (774), proceeded to the conquest of the island, which now passed into the hands of the Franks. In 806, however, occurred the first of a series of Moorish incursions from Spain. Several times defeated by the emperor's lieutenants, the Moors continually returned, and in 810 gained temporary possession of the island. They were crushed and exterminated by an expedition under the emperor's son Charles, but none the less returned again and again. In 828 the defence of Corsica was entrusted to Boniface II., count of the Tuscan march, who conducted a successful expedition against the African Mussulmans, and returning to Corsica built a fortress in the south of the island which formed the nucleus of the town (Bonifacio) that bears his name. Boniface's war against the Saracens was continued by his son Adalbert, after he had been restored to his father's dignities in 846; but, in spite of all efforts, the Mussulmans seem to have remained in possession of part of the island until about 930. Corsica, of which Berengar II., king of Italy, had made himself master, became in 962, after his dethronement by Otto the Great, a place of refuge for his son Adalbert, who succeeded in holding the island and in passing it on to his son, another Adalbert. This latter was, however, defeated by the forces of Otto II., and Corsica was once more attached to the marquisate of Tuscany, of which Adalbert was allowed to hold part of the island in fee.

The period of feudal anarchy now began, a general mellay of petty lords each eager to expand his domain. The counts of Cinarca, especially, said to be descended from Adalbert, aimed at establishing their supremacy over the whole island. To counteract this and similar ambitions, in the i r th century, a sort of national diet was held, and Sambucuccio, lord of Alando, put himself at the head of a movement which resulted in confining the feudal lords to less than half of the island to the south, and in establishing in the rest, henceforth known as the Terra di Comune, a sort of republic composed of autonomous parishes. This system, which survived till the Revolution, is thus described by Jacobi (tom. i. p. 1 37). "Each parish or commune nominated a certain number of councillors who, under the name of ` fathers of the commune,' were charged with the administration of justice under the direction of a podestd, who was as it were their president. The podestas of each of the states or enfranchised districts chose a member of the supreme council charged with the making of laws and regulations for the Terra di Comune. This council or magistracy was called the Twelve, from the number of districts taking a share in its nomination. Finally, in each district the fathers of the commune elected a magistrate who, under the name of caporale, was entrusted with the defence of the interests of the poor and weak, with seeing that justice was done to them, and that they were not made the victims of the powerful and rich." Meanwhile the south remained under the sway of the counts of Cinarca, while in the north feudal barons maintained their independence in the promontory of Cape Corso. Internal feuds continued; William, marquis of Massa, of the family known later as the Malaspina, was called in by the communies (1020), drove out the count of Cinarca, reduced the barons to order, and in harmony with the communes established a dominion which he was able to hand on to his son. Towards the end of the 11th century, however, the popes laid claim to the island in virtue of the donation of Charlemagne, though the Frankish conqueror had promised at most the reversion of the lands of the Church. The Corsican clergy supported the claim, and in 1077 the Corsicans declared themselves subjects of the Holy See in the presence of the apostolic legate Landolfo, bishop of Pisa. Pope Gregory VII. thereupon invested the bishop and his successors with the island, an investiture confirmed by Urban II. in 1190 and extended into a concession of the full sovereignty. The Pisans now took solemn possession of the island and their "grand judges" (judices) took the place of the papal legates. Corsica, valued by the Pisans as by for their fleet, flourished exceedingly under the en lightened rule of the great commercial republic. Causes of dissension remained, however, abundant. The Corsican bishops repented their subjection to the Pisan archbishop; the Genoese intrigued at Rome to obtain a reversal of the papal gift to the rivals with whom they were disputing the supremacy of the seas. Successive popes followed conflicting policies in this respect; until in 1138 Innocent II., by way of compromise, divided the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the island between the archbishops of Pisa and Genoa. This gave the Genoese great influence in Corsica, and the contest between the Pisans and Genoese began to distract the island. It was not, however, till 11 9 5 that the Genoese, by capturing Bonifacio - a nest of pirates preying on the the Vandals as an inexhaustible storehouse of materials Pisa. feudal barons of the south and the hereditary caporali o f the north alike resisted the authority of the Genoese Y governors; and King Peter of Aragon took advantage of their feuds to reassert his claims. In 1372 Arrigo, count of La Rocca, with the assistance of Aragonese troops, made himself master of the island; but his very success stirred up against him the barons of Cape Corso, who once more appealed to Genoa. The republic, busied with other affairs, hit upon the luckless expedient of investing with the governorship of the island a sort of chartered company, consisting of five persons, known as the Maona. They attempted to restore order by taking Arrigo della Rocca into partnership, with disastrous results. In 1380 four of the "governors of the Maona" resigned their rights to the Genoese republic, and Leonello Lomellino was left as sole governor. It was he who, in 1383, built Bastia on the north coast, which became the bulwark of the Genoese power in the island. It was not till 1401, after the death of Count Arrigo, that the Genoese domination was temporarily re-established.

Meanwhile Genoa itself had fallen into the hands of the French, and in 1407 Leonello Lomellino returned as governor with the title of count of Corsica bestowed on him by Charles VI. of France. But Vincentello d'Istria, who had gained distinction in the service of the king of Aragon, had captured Cinarca, rallied round him all the communes of the Terra di Comune, proclaimed himself count of Corsica at Biguglia and even seized Bastia. Lomellino was unable to make headway against him, and by 1410 all Corsica, with the exception of Bonifacio and Calvi, was lost to Genoa, now once more independent of ' France. A feud of Vincentello with the bishop of Mariana, however, led to the loss of his authority in the Terra di Comune; he was compelled to go to Spain in search of assistance, and in his absence the Genoese reconquered the island. Not, however, for long. The Great Schism was too obvious an opportunity for quarrelling for the Corsicans to neglect; and the Corsican bishops and clergy were more ready with the carnal than with spiritual weapons. The suffragans of Genoa fought for Benedict XIII., those of Pisa for John XXIII.; and when Vincentello returned with an Aragonese force he was able to fish profitably in troubled waters. He easily captured Cinarca and Ajaccio, came to terms with the Pisan bishops, mastered the Terra di Comune and built a strong castle at Corte; by 1419 the Genoese possessions in Corsica were again reduced to Calvi and Bonifacio.

At this juncture Alphonso of Aragon arrived, with a large fleet, to take possession of the island. Calvi fell to him; but Bonifacio held out, and its resistance gave time for the Corsicans, aroused by the tyranny and exactions of the Aragonese, to organize revolt. In the end the siege of Bonifacio was raised, and the town, confirmed in its became practically an independent republic privileges, P Y P P under Genoese protection. As for Vincentello he managed to hold his own for a while; but ultimately the country rose against him, and in 1435 he was executed as a rebel by the Genoese, who had captured him by surprise in the port of Bastia.

The anarchy continued, while rival factions, nominal adherents of the Aragonese and Genoese, contended for the mastery. Profiting by the disturbed situation, the Genoese doge, Janus da Fregoso, succeeded in reducing the island, his artillery securing him an easy victory over the forces of Count Paolo della Rocca (1441). To secure his authority he built and fortified the new city of San Fiorenzo, near the ruins of Nebbio. But again the Aragonese intervened, and the anarchy reached its height. An appeal to Pope Eugenius IV. resulted in the despatch of a pontifical army of 14,000 men (1444), which was destroyed in detail by a league of some of the caporali and most of the barons under the bold leadership of Rinuccio da Leca. A second expedition was more fortunate, and Rinuccio was killed before Biguglia. In 1447 Eugenius was succeeded on the papal throne by Nicholas V., a Genoese, who promptly made over his rights in Corsica, with all the strong places held by his troops, to Genoa. The island was now, in effect, divided between the Genoese republic; the lords of Cinarca, who held their lands in the south under the nominal suzerainty of Aragon; and Galeazzo da Campo Fregoso, who was supreme in the Terra di Comune.

An assembly of the chiefs of the Terra di Comune now decided to offer the government of the island to the Company or Bank of San Giorgio, a powerful commercial corporation established at Genoa in the 14th century. 1 The bank accepted; the Spaniards were driven from the country; and a government was organized. But the bank soon fell foul of the barons, and began a war of extermination against them. Their resistance was finally broken in 1460, when the survivors took refuge in Tuscany. But order had scarcely been established when the Genoese Tommasinoda Campo Fregoso, whose mother was a Corsican, revived the claims of his family and succeeded in mastering the interior of the island (1462). Two years later the duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, overthrew the power of the Fregoso family at Genoa, and promptly proceeded to lay claim to Corsica. His lieutenant had no difficulty in making the island accept the overlordship of the duke of Milan; but when, in 1466, Francesco Sforza died, a quarrel broke out, and Milanese suzerainty became purely nominal save in the coast towns. Finally, in 1484, Tommasino da Campo Fregoso persuaded the duke to grant him the government of the island. The strong places were handed over to him; he entered into marriage relations with Gian Paolo da Leca, the most powerful of the barons, and was soon supreme in the island.

Within three years the Corsicans were up in arms again. A descendant of the Malaspinas who had once ruled in Corsica, Jacopo IV. (d'Appiano), was now prince of Piombino, and to him the malcontents applied. His brother Gherardo, count of Montagnano, accepted the call, proclaimed himself count of Corsica, and, landing in the island, captured Biguglia and San Fiorenzo; whereupon Tommasino da Campo Fregoso discreetly sold his rights to the bank of San Giorgio. No sooner, however, had the bank - with the assistance of the count of Leca - beaten Count Gherardo than the Fregoso family tried to repudiate their bargain. Their claims were supported by the count of Leca, and it cost the agents of the bank some hard fighting before the turbulent baron was beaten and exiled to Sardinia. Twice he returned, and he was not finally expelled from the country till 150r; it was not till 1511 that the other barons were crushed and 1 See "Conventions entre quelques seigneurs Corses et l'office de St Georges (1453)," in Bulletin soc. scientif. Corse (1881-1882), pp. 286, 3 0 5, 4 1 3, 5 or, 549 and (1883) 147; also the report of the, deputies sent by the bank to Pope Nicholas V. in 1453, ib. p. 141.

via. 7 a commerce of both republics - actually gained a footing in the country. For twenty years the Pisans fought to recover the fortress for themselves, until in 1217 the pope settled the matter by taking it into his own hands.

Throughout the 13th century the struggle between Pisans and Genoese continued, reproducing in the island the feud of Ghibellines and Guelphs that was desolating Italy. In order to put a stop to the ruinous anarchy the chiefs of the Terra di Comune called in the marquis Isnard Malaspina; the Pisans set up the count of Cinarca once more; and the war between the marquis, the Pisans and Genoese dragged on with varying fortunes, neither succeeding in gaining the mastery. Then, in 1298, Pope Boniface VIII. added to the complication by investing King James of Aragon with the sovereignty of Corsica and of Sardinia. In 1325, after long delay, the Aragonese attacked and reduced Sardinia, with the result that the Pisans, their sea-power shattered, were unable to hold their own in Corsica. A fresh period of anarchy followed until, in 1347, a great assembly of caporali and barons decided to offer the sovereignty of the island to Genoa. A regular tribute was to be paid to the republic; the Corsicans were to preserve their laws and customs, under the council of Twelve in the north and a council of Six in the south; Corsican interests were to be represented at Genoa by an orator. The Genoese domination, which began under evil auspices - for the Black Death killed off some two-thirds of the population - was not destined to bring peace to the island. The that the bank could consider itself in secure possession of the island.

If the character of the Corsicans has been distinguished in modern times for a certain wild intractableness and ferocity, the cause lies in their unhappy past, and not least in the character of the rule established by the bank of San Giorgio. The power which the bank had won by ruthless cruelty, it exercised in the spirit of the narrowest and most short-sighted selfishness. Only a shadow of the native institutions was suffered to survive, and no adequate system of administration was set up in the place of that which had been suppressed. In the absence of justice the blood-feud or vendetta grew and took root in Corsica just at the time when, elsewhere in Europe, the progress of civilization was making an end of private war. The agents of the bank, so far from discouraging these internecine quarrels, looked on them as the surest means for preventing a general rising. Concerned, moreover, only with squeezing taxes out of a recalcitrant population, they neglected the defence of the coast, along which the Barbary pirates harried and looted at will; and to all these woes were added, in the 16th century, pestilences and disastrous floods, which tended still further to impoverish and barbarize the country.

In these circumstances King Henry II. of France conceived the project of conquering the island. From Corsican mercenaries in First French service, men embittered by wrongs suffered at French the hands of the Genoese, he obtained all the necessary information; by a treaty of alliance concluded at Constantinople (February I, 1553) with Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent he secured the co-operation of the Turkish Beet. The combined forces attacked the island the same year; the citadel of Bastia fell almost without a blow, and siege was at once laid simultaneously to all the other fortresses. The capitulation of Bonifacio to the Turks, after an obstinate resistance, was followed by the treacherous massacre of the garrison; soon, of all the strong places, the Genoese held Calvi alone. At this juncture the emperor Charles V. intervened; a strong force of imperial troops and Genoese was poured into the island, and the tide of war turned. The details of the struggle that followed, in which the Corsican national hero Sampiero da Bastelica gained his first laurels, are of little general importance. Fortresses were captured and recaptured; and for three years French, Germans, Spaniards, Genoese and .Corsicans indulged in a carnival of mutual slaughter and outrage. The outcome of all this was a futile reversion to the status quo. In 1556, indeed, the conclusion of a truce left Corsica - with the exception of Bastia - in the hands of the French, who proceeded to set up a tolerable government; but in 1559, by the treaty of Cateau-Cambresis, the island was restored to the bank of San Giorgio, from which it was at once taken over by the Genoese republic.

Trouble at once began again. The Genoese attempted to levy a tax which the Corsicans refused to pay; in violation of the terms of the treaty, which had stipulated for a universal amnesty, they confiscated the property of Sampiero da Bastelica. Hereupon Sam iero again put P P P? g P himself at the head of the national movement. The suzerainty of the Turk seemed preferable to that of Genoa, and, armed with letters from the king of France, he went to Constantinople to ask the aid of a fleet for the purpose of reducing Corsica to the status of an Ottoman province.' All his efforts to secure foreign help were, however, vain; he determined to act alone, and in June 1564 landed at Valinco with only fifty followers. His success was at first extraordinary, and he was soon at the head of 8000 men; but ultimate victory was rendered impossible by the indiscipline among the Corsicans and by the internecine feuds of which the Genoese well knew how to take advantage. For over two years a war was waged in which quarter was given on neither side; but after the assassination of Sampiero in 1567 the spirit of the insurgents was broken. In 1568 an honourable peace, including a general amnesty, was arranged with the Genoese commander Giorgio Doria by Sampiero's son Alphonso ' Hammer-Purgstall, Gesch. des Osmanischen Reichs (Pest. 1840), ii. 288.

d'Ornano, who with 300 of his friends emigrated to France, where he rose to be a marshal under Henry IV.

From this time until 1729 Corsica remained at peace under the government of Genoa. It was, however, a peace due to lassitude and despair rather than contentment. The settlement of 1568 had reserved a large measure of autonomy to the Corsicans; during the years that followed this was withdrawn piecemeal, until, disarmed and powerless, they were excluded from every office in the administration. Nor did the Genoese substitute any efficient system for that which they had destroyed. In the absence of an effective judiciary the vendetta increased; in the absence of effective protection the sea-board was exposed to the ravages of the Barbary pirates, so that the coast villages and towns were abandoned and the inhabitants withdrew into the interior, leaving the most fertile part of the country to fall into the condition of a malarious waste. To add to all this, in 1576 the population had been decimated by a pestilence. Emigration en masse continued, and an attempt to remedy this by introducing a colony of Greeks in 1688 only added one more element of discord to the luckless island. To the Genoese Corsica continued to be merely an area to be exploited for their profit; they monopolized its trade; they taxed it up to and beyond its capacity; they made the issue of licences to carry firearms a source of revenue, and studiously avoided interfering with the custom of the vendetta which made their fiscal expedient so profitable.2 In 1729 the Corsicans, irritated by a new hearth-tax known as the due semi, rose in revolt, their leaders being Andrea Colonna Ceccaldi and Luigi Giafferi. As usual, the Genoese were soon confined to a few coast towns; but the intervention of the emperor Charles VI. and the despatch of a large force of German mercenaries turned the tide of war, and in 1732 the authority of Genoa was re-established. Two years later, however, Giacinto Paoli once more raised the standard of revolt; and in 1735 an assembly at Corte proclaimed the independence of Corsica, set up a constitution, and entrusted the supreme leadership to Giafferi, Paoli and Ceccaldi. Though the Genoese were again driven into the fortresses, lack of arms and provisions made any decisive success of the insurgents impossible, and when, on the 12th of March 1736, the German adventurer Baron Theodor von Neuhof arrived with a shipload of muskets and stores and the assurance of further help King to come, leaders and people were glad to accept his aid on his own conditions, namely that he should be of acknowledged as king of Corsica. On the 15th of April, at Alesani, an assembly of clergy and of representatives of the communes, solemnly proclaimed Corsica an independent kingdom under the sovereignty of Theodore "I." and his heirs. The new king's reign was not fated to last long. The opera bouffe nature of his entry on the stage - he was clad in a scarlet caftan, Turkish trousers and a Spanish hat and feather, and girt with a scimitar - did not, indeed, offend the unsophisticated islanders; they were even ready to take seriously his lavish bestowal of titles and his knightly order "della Liberazione"; they appreciated his personal bravery; and the fact that the Genoese government denounced him as an impostor and set a price on his head could only confirm him in their affection. But it was otherwise when the European help that he had promised failed to arrive, and, still worse, the governments with which he had boasted his influence disclaimed him. In November he thought it expedient to proceed to the continent, ostensibly in search of aid, leaving Giafferi, Paoli and Luca d'Ornano as regents. In spite of several attempts, he never succeeded in returning to the island. The Corsicans, weary of the war, opened negotiations with the Genoese; but the refusal of the latter to regard the islanders as other than rebels made a mutual agreement impossible. Finally the republic decided to seek the aid of France, and in July 1737 a treaty was signed by which the French king bound himself to reduce the Corsicans to order.

2 Father Cancellotti, who visited every part of the island, estimated the number of murders committed in 20 years at 28,000 (quoted in the article on Corsica in La Grande Encyclopedie). Revolt of 1729. and began a vigorous onslaught on the Genoese strongholds. They were helped now by the sympathy and active aid of European powers, and in 1746 Count Domenico Rivarola, a Corsican in Sardinian service, succeeded in capturing Bastia and San Fiorenzo with the aid of a British squadron and Sardinian troops. The factious spirit of the Corsicans themselves was, however, their worst enemy. The British commander judged it inexpedient to intervene in the affairs of a country of which the leaders were at loggerheads; Rivarola, left to himself, was unable to hold Bastia - a place of Genoese sympathies - and in spite of the collapse of Genoa itself, now in Austrian hands, the Genoese governor succeeded in maintaining himself in the island. By the time of the signature of the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748, the situation of the island had again changed. Rivarola and Matra had departed, and Gaffori was left nominally supreme over a people torn by intestine feuds. Genoa, too, had expelled the Austrians with French aid, and, owing to a report that the king of Sardinia was meditating a fresh attempt to conquer the island, a strong French expedition under the marquis de Cursay had, at the request of the republic, occupied Calvi, Bonifacio, Ajaccio and Bastia. By the terms of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, Corsica was once more assigned to Genoa, but the French garrison remained, pending a settlement between the republic and the islanders. In view of the ntractable temper of the two parties no agreement could be reached; but Cursay's personal` popularity served to preserve the peace for a while. His withdrawal in 1752, however, was the signal for a general rising, and once more, at a diet held at Orezza, Gaffori was elected general and protector. In October of the following year, however, he fell victim to a vendetta and the nation was once more leaderless. His place was taken for a while by Clemente Paoli, son of Giacinto, who for a year or two succeeded, with the aid of other lieutenants of Gaffori, in holding the Genoese at bay. He was, however, by temperament unfitted to lead a turbulent and undisciplined people in time of stress, and in 1 755, at his suggestion, his brother Pasquale was invited to come from Naples and assume the command.

The first task of Pasquale Paoli, elected general in April at an assembly at San Antonio della Casabianca, was to suppress the rival faction led by Emanuele Matra, son of Gaffori's former colleague. By the spring of 1756 this was done, and the Corsicans were able to turn a united front against the Genoese. At this juncture the French, alarmed by a supposed understanding between Paoli and the British, once more intervened, and occupied Calvi, Ajaccio and San Fiorenzo until 1757, when their forces were once more called away by the wars on the continent. In 1758 Paoli renewed the attack on the Genoese, founding the new port of Isola Rossa as a centre whence the Corsican ships could attack the trading vessels of Genoa. The republic, indeed, was now too weak to attempt seriously to reassert its sway over the island, which, with the exception of the coast towns, Paoli ruled with absolute authority and with conspicuous wisdom. In the intervals of fighting he was occupied in reducing Corsican anarchy into some sort of civilized order. The vendetta was put down, partly by religious influence, partly with a stern hand; the surviving oppressive rights of the feudal signori were abolished; and the traditional institutions of the Terra di Comune were made the basis of a democratic constitution for the whole island.

As regarded the relations of Corsica all now depended on the attitude of France to which both Paoli and the republic made overtures. In 1764 a French expedition under the comte de Marbeuf arrived, and, by agreement with Genoa, garrisoned three of the Genoese fortresses. Though Genoese sovereignty had been expressly recognized in the agreement authorizing this, it was in effect non-existent. French and Corsicans remained on amicable terms, and the inhabitants of the nominally Genoese towns actually sent representatives to the national consulta or parliament. The climax came early in 1767 when the Corsicans captured the. Genoese island of Capraja, and occupied Ajaccio and other places,. evacuated by the French as a protest against the asylum given to the Jesuits exiled from France. Genoa now recognized that she had been worsted in the long contest, and on the 15th of May 1768& signed a treaty selling the sovereignty of the island to France. .4 The Corsicans, intent on independence, were now faced with a more formidable enemy than the decrepit republic of Genoa. A section of the people indeed, were in favour of submission; but Paoli himself declared for resistance; and among those who supported him at the consulta summoned to discuss the question was his secretary Carlo Buonaparte, father of Napoleon Bonaparte, the future emperor of the French. Into the details of the war that followed, it is impossible to enter here; in the absence of the hoped-for help from Great Britain its issue could not be doubtful; and, though the task of the French was a hard one, by the summer of 1769 they were masters of the island. On the 16th of June Pasquale and Clemente Paoli, with some 400 of their followers, embarked on a British ship for Leghorn. On the 15th of September 1770, a general assembly of the Corsicans was summoned and the deputies swore allegiance to King Louis XV.

For twenty years Corsica, while preserving many of its old institutions, remained a dependency of the French crown. Then came the Revolution, and the island, conformed to the new model, was incorporated in France as a separate department (see Renucci, ii. p. 271 seq.). Paoli, recalled from exile by the National Assembly on the motion of Mirabeau, after a visit to Paris, where he was acclaimed as "the hero and martyr of liberty" by the National Assembly and the Jacobin Club, returned in 1790 to Corsica, where he was received with immense enthusiasm and acclaimed as "father of the country." With the new order in the island, however, he was little in sympathy. In the towns branches of the Jacobin Club had been established, and these tended, as elsewhere, to usurp the functions of the regular organs of government and to introduce a new element of discord into a country which it had been Paoli's life's work to unify. Suspicions of his loyalty to revolutionary principles had already been spread at Paris by Bartolomeo Arena, a Corsican deputy and ardent Jacobin, so early as 1791; yet in 1792, after the fall of the monarchy, the French government, in its anxiety to secure Corsica, was rash enough to appoint him lieutenant-gene ral of the forces and governor (capo comandante) of the island. Paoli accepted an office which he had refused two years before at' the The object of the French in assisting the Genoese was not the acquisition of. the island for themselves so much as to obviate the danger, of which they had long been aware, of its of falling into the hands of another power, notably Great Britain. The Corsicans, on the other hand, though ready enough to come to terms with the French king, refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of Genoa even when backed by the power of France. A powerful French force, under the Comte de Boissieux, arrived in the spring of 1738, and for some months negotiations proceeded. But the effect of the French guarantee of Corsican liberties was nullified by the demand that the islanders should surrender their arms, and the attempt of Boissieux to enforce the order for disarmament was followed, in the winter of 1738-39, by his defeat at the hands of the Corsicans and by the cutting up of several isolated French detachments. In February 1739 Boissieux died. His successor, the marquis de Maillebois, arrived in March with strong reinforcements, and by a combination of severity and conciliation soon reduced the island to order. Its maintenance, however, depended on the presence of the French troops, and in October 1740 the death of the emperor Charles VI. and the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession necessitated their withdrawal. Genoese and Corsicans were once more left face to face, and the perennial struggle began anew.

In 1743 `` King Theodore,"supported by a British squadron, made a descent on the island, but finding that he no longer possessed a following, departed never to return. The Corsicans, assembled in diet at Casinca, now elected Giampietro Gaffori and Alerio Matra as generals and protectors of the fatherland" (protettori della patria), hands of Louis XVI. With the men and methods of the Terror, however, he was wholly out of sympathy. Suspected of throwing obstacles in the way of the expedition despatched in 1793 against Sardinia, he was summoned, with the procurator-general Pozzo di Borgo, to the bar of the Convention. Paoli now openly defied the Convention by summoning the representatives of the com munes to meet in diet at Corte on the 27th of May. To the remonstrances of Saliceti, who attended the meeting, he replied that he was rebelling, not against France, but against the dominant faction of whose actions the majority of Frenchmen disapproved. Saliceti thereupon hurried to Paris, and on his motion Paoli and his sympathizers were declared by the Convention hors la loi (June 26) .

Paoli had already made up his mind to raise the standard of revolt against France. But though the consulta at Corte elected him president, Corsican opinion was by no occupa- means united. Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Paoli had expected to win over to his views, indignantly rejected 1796. the idea of a breach with France, and the Bonapartes were henceforth ranked with his enemies. Paoli now appealed for assistance to the British government, which despatched a considerable force. By the summer of 1794, after hard fighting, the island was reduced, and in June the Corsican assembly formally offered the sovereignty to King George III. The British occupation lasted two years, the island being administered by Sir Gilbert Elliot. Paoli, whose presence was considered inexpedient, was invited to return to England, where he remained till his death. In 1796 Bonaparte, after his victorious Italian campaign, sent an expedition against Corsica. The British, weary of a somewhat thankless task, made no great resistance, and in October the island was once more in French hands. It was again occupied by Great Britain for a short time in 1814, but in the settlement of 1815 was restored to the French crown. Its history henceforth is part of that of France.

See F. Girolami-Cortona, Geographie generale de la Corse (Ajaccio, 1893); A. Andrei, A travers la Corse (Paris, 1893); Forcioli-Conti, Notre Corse (Ajaccio, 1897); R. Le Joindre, La Corse et les Corses (Paris, 1904); F. O. Renucci, Storia di Corsica (2 vols., Bastia, 1833), fervidly Corsican, but useful; Antonio Pietro Filippini, Istoria di Corsica (1st ed., 1594; 2nd ed., corrected and illustrated with unpublished documents by G. C. Gregori, 5 vols., Pisa, 1827-1832); J. M. Jacobi, Hist. gen. de la Corse, 2 vols., Paris, 1833-1835), with many unpublished documents; L. H. Caird, History of Corsica (London, 1899). Further works and references to articles in reviews, &c., are given in Ulysse Chevalier's Repertoire des sources, fec., Topo-bibliographie, t. ii. S.V.

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From Latin Corsica

Proper noun




  1. An island in the Mediterranean to the north of Sardinia; it is currently part of France

Derived terms




Proper noun


  1. Corsica f.



Proper noun

Corsica (genitive Corsicae); f, first declension

  1. Corsica


nominative Corsica
genitive Corsicae
dative Corsicae
accusative Corsicam
ablative Corsicā
vocative Corsica
locative Corsicae

Related terms

  • Corsicānus
  • Corsicus
  • Corsus



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