Pascal Paoli
Pascal Paoli

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 occupation by the Carthaginians, colonization by the ancient Greeks, and an only slightly longer occupation by the Etruscans, it was incorporated by the Roman Republic and became with Sardinia a province of the Roman Empire.

In the 5th century, the Roman Empire collapsed and the island was invaded by the Vandals, the Visigoths, the Saracens, and the Lombards. Pepin the Short, 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.

The Genoese 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 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 when it was conquered by France. 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 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 Ponte Novu. Despite triggering the Corsican Crisis in Britain, whose government gave secret aid, no foreign military support came for the Corsicans. Corsica was incorporated into France in 1770, marking the end of Corsican sovereignty. However, nationalist feelings still ran high.

Following the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Pasquale Paoli was able to return to Corsica from exile in Britain. In 1794 he invited British forces under Lord Hood to intervene to free Corsica from French rule. Anglo-Corsican forces drove the French from the island and established an Anglo-Corsican Kingdom. Following Spain's entry into the war the British decided to withdraw from Corsica in 1796. Corsica then returned to French rule.

In 1814, near the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the island was briefly occupied again by British troops. The Treaty of Bastia gave the British crown sovereignty over the island, but it was later repudiated by Lord Castelreagh who insisted that the island should be returned to a restored French monarchy.

In Corsica, vendetta was a social code that required Corsicans to kill anyone who wronged the family honor. Between 1821 and 1852, no fewer than 4,300 murders were perpetrated in Corsica.

After the collapse of France to the German Wehrmacht in 1940, it came under the rule of the Vichy French regime, which was collaborating with the Nazis. Prior to its use as an aircraft base to attack German-occupied Italy, it was liberated by Italian and Free French Forces shortly after the Italian armistice in 1943.

During World War II, the island was nicknamed "USS Corsica", as the United States military established 17 airfields on Corsica for American tactical bomber groups attacking targets in Italy. One of the pilots stationed there was Joseph Heller, who would use his wartime experience in the creation of his novel Catch-22.

During the May 1958 crisis, French paratroopers from the Algerian corps landed on Corsica on May 24, taking the French island in a bloodless action called "Operation Corse."

 

 

 

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