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Corsican Revolution (Corsican Independence)

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Corsican Revolution
Beginning:

1729

End:

1772

Place:

Europe, Mediterranean region

Outcome:
Combatants

Corsica
Great Britain
Russia
Prussia
Spain
Sardinia
Naples
Sicily
Hanover
Poland

Genoa
France
Ottoman Empire
Austria
Crimean Khanate
Bar Confederation

Commanders
Strength
Casualties and Losses

The Corsican Revolution was a war in which Corsican separatists attempted to free Corsica from centuries of Genoese rule. The war began in 1729, and the Corsicans were initially successful. In 1755, the Corsican Republic was created. The Republic of Genoa then turned to France in order to crush the rebellion. In 1764, France joined the war on the side of Genoa. In 1768, Genoa ceded Corsica to France.

Onset

After France invaded Corsica, Great Britain was able to obtain an anti-France alliance with Spain and the Kingdom of Sardinia and declared war on France in order to free Corsica. Spain also used its influence to push the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily into the war on Britain's side. France then used the Franco-Austrian Alliance and the Hapsburg's rivalry with the House of Savoy as leverage to convince the Austrian Empire to take its side in the conflict. Prussia then declared war on Austria in order to benefit from a possible British victory.

Meantime, the Bar Confederation conspired to bring Poland and Russia into the war in order to gain French and possibly Austrian support. The Confederates lured a Russian detachment into Balta, which was in Ottoman territory. This incident led to the Ottoman Empire's declaration of war against Russia. Austria then allied itself with the Bar Confederation in order to curb Russian expansion. Britain then used this opportunity to form an alliance with Russia.

A conflict on an Mediterranean island now developed into a full-blown European war.

Combat

France realized that that it couldn't defeat the combined British and Spanish navies, so it wished to hold the British and Spaniards at Minorca while it invaded Savoy, Piedmont, and Corsica with the aid of Genoese and Austrian forces. Due to their alliance with Spain, Britain didn't have to worry about defending Gibraltar, so it fought an offensive war. Britain sought to gain a foothold on Corsica in order to help the revolts. Britain and Spain also sought to attack French colonies in the Americas and India.

The first military engagement occurred between French and British forces at Minorca as French and Austrian forces gathered to invade Savoy and Piedmont. After defeating the French at Minorca, the Royal Navy began drawing plans to invade Corsica.

After Russia and the Ottoman Empire entered the war, Austrian troops entered Poland in order to aid the Bar Confederation. Not wishing to lose influence in Poland, Russia decided to focus on Poland rather than the Ottoman Empire. The Austrian and Bar Confederates were able to capture Kraków and southern Poland.

By the end of 1768, France captured Savoy, Nice, and Piedmont. Meanwhile, the British, Spaniards, and Sardinians began to besiege Ajaccio.

Lublin and Lwów fall to Austria, which gave the Bar Confederation control of Lesser Poland, but the Prussian secure Warsaw along with Northern Poland. Russia then launch a siege on Vilnius in order to secure the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Austrian and French forces then prepared to attack Warsaw. If successful, the Austrian hoped to have enough momentum to move West and reconquer Silesia.

Great Britain and Spain finally captured Ajaccio and began to move Northward toward the Corsican capital of Corte. Austrian, French, and Confederate forces attacked the royal capital of Warsaw, while Vilnius fell to Russian forces. The British secured central Corsica and move on to Southern Corsica.

The main Russian army reaches Warsaw, and the Austrian-led forces are pushed back. Austria abandoned its plans to invade Silesia in order to defend Kraków. The Poland front is stalemated.

The British capture Southern and Central Corsica and begin to be besiege the French-held northern citadels. One-by-one, Saint-Florent, Algajola, and Calvi fall, until only Bastia was left.

Peace

In order to gain favorable terms, France sued for peace before Bastia could be taken. Britain, however, wishes for an absolute victory and continues the fight. Britain captures Bastia and declares the end of major combat. France and Britain then agree to a truce.

Realizing that it couldn't take Warsaw, the Austrian diplomats convinced the Bar Confederates to drop their goal of overthrowing the Polish monarchy and to instead secede Lesser Poland from the Polish kingdom. The Confederates declared their independence and proclaimed the new Kingdom of Kraków. Austria, Russian, Poland, and the Ottoman Empire then agreed to a truce in order to work down a settlement for the end of the war.

Treaty of Barcelona

'

In 1772, Great Britain, France, Austria, Poland, Prussia, Russia, Genoa, Sardinia, Naples, Sicily, the Ottoman Empire, and the Bar Confederation then sent delegates to Barcelona in order to organize a peace. They then crafted the Treaty of Barcelona. The terms of the treaty include:

  • France and Genoa agreed to recognize the independence of Corsica and abandon their claims to the island.
  • Savoy, Nice and Piedmont would be returned to the House of Savoy. In exchange, Sardinia would be given to a Hapsburg prince, and British would return France's oversea colonies captured during the war to France.
  • The Kingdom of Poland would be divided into the Kingdom of Warsaw and the Kingdom of Kraków.
  • Poland was to be granted economic privileges in the Kingdom of Warsaw.
  • The British Navy and Spanish Navy would have rights to Corsican harbors.

Impact

Corsica was now an independent nation recognized by the major powers of Europe. For the first time since 1729, Corsica had peace, but the war still left its marks. Corsican industry was ruined, and cities had to be rebuilt. The Corsicans were also concerned with their relation with the British.

Although they realized that the couldn't a won the war without the British Navy, the native Corsicans were worried about being a British pawn. Corsica position between France, Sardinia, and Italy would be strategic in any conflict involving Britain, France, or any Italian state. Nevertheless, the Corsica benefited from their relationship with Britain. The British didn't wish for Corsica to fall into French or Spanish hands, so British officers were sent to set up military schools on the island.

The war was deemed a victory for Britain. They accomplished their goal of liberating Corsica and gained influence in the Mediterranean region. The war boosted Augustus FitzRoy's popularity, so they remained in power. Spain also accomplished their goals in the war and prevented the increase pf French power in Italy.

Although France lose, Corsica was the only possession that they lost. Nevertheless, France still wished to avenge their losses from the Seven Years' War.

Poland was severely weakening and it was divided into the Kingdom of Warsaw and the Kingdom of Kraków. Both kingdoms were depended on foreign aid. Warsaw was under Russian influence, while Kraków was under Austrian influence.

Prussia succeeded in defending Warsaw, but they failed to keep Southern Poland out of Austrian hands. Prussia now had a new enemy to their Southwest.

Behind the scenes

This war is based on several historical conflicts:

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