Corsica, Napoleon’s island


Corsica, île de beauté (beauty island*) which is located a hundred miles from the French coast, has a complicated and tumultuous history. Often invaded, its identity resisted external influences.

The Middles Ages were a difficult period for the small Mediterranean island. While being attacked and pillaged, Corsican’s defend themselves using violent methods. In fact, they became famous for displaying their enemies’ decapitated heads on pikes. This is why we see the Maure’s head on the Corsican flag.

Later on, they are invaded by the Pisans, then by the Genoese. During this period the big cities of the island such as Bastia, Porto-Vecchio, Calvi, Ajaccio and Saint Florent were developed..

Then, supported by the French, the revolution of Sampiero Corso aims to expel the Genoese from the island. They had no success.

It will finally be through politics that Pascal Paoli manages to free Corsica without kicking the Genoese out of the territory. After 14 years of independence, the Genoese (who had been worn down) give up the island to the French.

Pascal Paoli starts a war against Louis XV’s army, but is defeated during the Battle of “Ponte Novu” in 1979. He then goes into exile to England. This ends “the War of the Corsicans”.

Napoleon is born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio. From a independentist family, he admires Paoli during his youth. It is only after his military training in Brienne, France, that he sways in favor of a annexation of Corsica to France.

It is with that wish and love for his island that he climbs up the ranks in the French Army. He will later become the Emperor known to all.

In 1940, during the Second World War, the island is invaded by the Germano-Italian troops breaking the armistice with Petain’s France. The Corsicans decide to defend themselves and create a anti-fascist movement. The island will be the first territory to be liberated in 1943.

Pisans = People from Pisa, Italy
Genoese = People from Genoa, Italy

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