Kingdom of Corsica (1794-1796)


July 3, 2022

The Kingdom of Corsica or Anglo-Corsican kingdom is the political regime in force in Corsica from June 15, 1794 to October 19, 1796. It was established after Pascal Paoli and his supporters chose to proclaim their independence from France. in the face of the atrocities of the Terror. It draws heavily from British and Irish constitutional monarchy. Corsica becomes a dominion of Great Britain, the head of state being King George III, his representative on the island being Viceroy Gilbert Elliot. This attempt at independence by the Corsicans is the third and last in the history of the island, after those of 1735 and 1755. It is also the most ephemeral independence.


When the French Revolution broke out, Corsica only joined the kingdom of France in 1769 after the defeat at the Battle of Ponte-Novo. Pascal Paoli and the soldiers who managed to escape the French troops embarked at Porto-Vecchio for exile, sometimes permanent. The general was invited by the Constituent Assembly to come to France and was enthusiastic about the revolutionary project, steeped in the ideas of the Enlightenment which he had studied extensively during his stay in Italy. Corsica is very enthusiastic at the beginning of the revolution. On November 30, 1789, the Constituent Assembly decided to vote for the reunion of Corsica with France at the request of the Corsican deputies, despite the protests of the Republic of Genoa. Finally, the citizens of the island benefit from the same rights as the citizens of mainland France. Pascal Paoli returned to Corsica after twenty years of exile in Great Britain, landing on July 14, 1790. He adhered to revolutionary ideals, swore obedience and loyalty to the people and was appointed by Louis XVI commander of the island with the rank of lieutenant -general,. He wants the recognition of a specific status for Corsica. However, the situation becomes tense on the island when the Civil Constitution of the Clergy comes into force. Supporters of the clergy fight against the laity, which drags the island into a virtual civil war. Paoli gradually moves away from the Jacobins, whose radicalism he already criticizes, and fears for the future of the island. He manages to dismiss his main opponents, in this case the Bonaparte family and Christophe Saliceti, to take control of the island. The execution of Louis XVI and the failure of the expedition to Sardinia made him take the step of breaking with the Jacobins. On April 2, 1793, he was declared "enemy of the people" by the National Convention on the denunciation of Lucien Bonaparte. He gathered his supporters in Corte and came into contact with Great Britain, which joined the First Coalition after the execution of Louis XVI. The envoys of the Convention are driven out of the island, which loses government subsidies. Napoleon Bonaparte is chased by Paoli's supporters, who burn his house, but manages to flee and reach the metropolis. On July 17, 1793, Pascal Paoli was declared an outlaw and a "traitor to the Republic". He sets up an army and sends delegates to the British representatives present in Italy. After several months of negotiations, Gilbert Elliot landed in Saint-Florent on January 14, 1794 with the instructions of Samuel Hood and the agreement of William Pitt the Younger. Meanwhile, the British lost their rear base of Toulon, taken over by the Republicans during the siege of the city. The British and 7,000 royalists had to leave the city in haste and take refuge in the harbor of Hyères. It was from there that Hood became interested in Corsica, seeking a rear base in the Ligurian Sea. Gilbert Elliot, very imbued with the principles of Edmund Burke and hating France, sees in this landing "the prospect of a universal Empire"