French conquest of Corsica

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French Conquest of Corsica
Date 1768–1769
Location Corsica
Result French victory. Corsica annexed.
Belligerents
Corsica Corsican Republic  France
Commanders and leaders
Corsica Pasquale Paoli Kingdom of France Comte de Vaux
Kingdom of France Comte de Chauvelin
Strength
24,000 168,000

The French conquest of Corsica took place during 1768 and 1769 when the Corsican Republic was occupied by French forces under the command of the Comte de Vaux.

France received de jure control of the island of Corsica as a pledge from the Genoese Republic via the Treaty of Versailles in 1768. Genoa still claimed ownership of the island, although since 1755, Corsicans had achieved virtual independence and had written a Corsican Constitution (in Italian). After abandoning any hope of recovering Corsica by force, the Genoese chose to sell their rights over the island to France who were keen to gain new territory to replace territory lost during the Seven Years' War.

France's initial offensive failed after a significant defeat was suffered at the Battle of Borgo in October 1768. France dispatched large numbers of reinforcements, swelling the size of their army there to 24,000. The Corsican army suffered a major setback at the Battle of Ponte Novu and the French forces soon overran the island although Corsican forces were not completely subdued until the following year and sporadic outbreaks of rebellion continued.

The French invasion triggered the Corsican Crisis in British politics. Although they sent secret aid to the Corsicans, the British government chose not to act to prevent the island's occupation. The leader of the Corsican Republic, Pasquale Paoli, went into exile in Britain where he remained until the French Revolution allowed him to return to Corsica. British troops subsequently intervened in Corsica between 1794–1796, where they created the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom, and in 1814 when they agreed the Treaty of Bastia. Following the Congress of Vienna control of the islands were returned to the restored French monarchs.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Black, Jeremy. European Warfare, 1660-1815. UCL Press, 1994.
  • Englund, Steven. Napoleon: A Political Life. Harvard University Press, 2005.
  • Gregory, Desmond. The Ungovernable Rock: The Anglo-Corsican Kingdom. Associated University Press, 1985.