History of Corsica
History of Corsica, chronology of key moments from the history of Corsica
HISTORY OF CORSICA - CHRONOLOGY
The Mesolithic Period in Corsica (10’000 to 6’000 BC)
The excavated burial sites and rock shelters are evidence of prehistoric habitation dating back to 7000 BC.
The skeleton of the «Dame de Bonifacio» (Lady of Bonifacio) dates back to 6’500 BC.
In 2010, a grave with eight human skeletons, dating back 7’000 years, was discovered not far from Filitosa.
The Neolithic Period in Corsica (6’000 to 2’000 BC)
4’000 BC: the Megaliths characterise this period. The first, non-anthropomorphic menhirs are erected.
Clusters of huts form villages, agriculture and animal breeding are mastered.
The Bronze Age in Corsica (2’000 to 700 BC)
Thanks to the discovery of bronze, tools and weapons are made. The villages are fortified. Casteddi (circular enclosures) and Torri are built. The menhirs are given traits of humans and warriors; these are the statue-menhirs.
The Iron Age in Corsica (700 BC)
Metallurgy is at its peak in Corsica. The villages grow and new villages are built. The population increases all over the island. Corsica is part of the Mediterranean trade route, and for the “Isle of Beauty” the period of classical antiquity begins.
Corsica at about 560 BC.
The Phoenicians open a commercial outpost in Corsica. This is Alalia (now Aléria), which, under the Etruscans, Carthaginians, Phoenicians and Romans, will be the economic capital of Corsica for almost two centuries.
From 259 BC: Corsica is Roman
Alalia becomes Roman and obtains its current name: Aléria. Corsica and Sardinia constitute a Roman province.
Seneca is exiled to Cape Corse in 41 AD.
Beginning of the Christianization of Corsica in the 3rd century.
In 202 BC Saint Devota is martyrised by Quintus Gabinius Barbarus.
The Vandal invasions start at the beginning of the 5th century after the collapse of the Roman Empire.
There are several invasions by the Byzantines, Ostrogoths and Lombards throughout the 5th and 6th centuries.
The Middle Ages in Corsica
In 774, Charlemagne hands Corsica to the Pope.
Moors from Spain and North Africa frequently raid the Corsican coasts.
The Corsicans entrench themselves in the mountains. The Holy Seat sends an army to liberate Corsica from the Saracen invaders.
From 1077 to 1284 Corsica will enjoy the benefits of a considerable economic and social development under Pisan rule. Roman art and culture will spread with the construction of chapels and churches.
The Pisans favour the creation of a feudal system on the island;
Giudice de Cinarca (Sinucello della Rocca), lord and master of the island and an ally of the Pisans, will die in a Genovese prison at the age of 91.
Corsica under Genovese rule: from 1284 to 1768
The powerful Republic of Genoa, unable to manage its internal conflicts, shows little interest in Corsica. During this period the inhabitants of Corsica have to endure a lot of unrest and anarchy.
In 1348 the population is decimated by the plague.
In 1358 there is a popular revolt, led by Sambucucciu d’Alandu, against the Corsican lords. For a while the Aragons take interest in Corsica. They have an ally in Vincentello d’Istria, Count of Corsica, who will have the citadel of Corte built. (1420).
In 1453 Genoa will temporarily hand over the management of Corsica to the Bank of Saint Georges, a financial institution established by the Republic of Genoa.
In 1553 Samperu Corsu de Bastelica becomes a mercenary in the army of the French king. He lands on the island with French troops.
Corsica remains under French protectorate until 1559.
In April 1559 the French king signs the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, which will restore Corsica to Genoa (who had asked Charles V for support).
Samperu Corsu continues his war against the Genovese gaining several victories, until he is assassinated in January 1567.
THE CORSICAN PERIOD
Unfair taxation by the Genovese gives rise to a popular revolt in 1729, which will lead to the independence of the island.
Advisory assemblies (cunsulte) are created. A Corsican government is installed.
Théodore de Neuhoff is elected King of Corsica and reigns for seven months (from April to November 1736).
In 1738 Genoa asks Louis XV for help. He accepts and the first French intervention in Corsica lasts until 1741.
Another revolt of the Corsicans and in 1748 the Republic of Genoa once again asks the French for help.
July 1755 :
The Corsicans proclaim Pasquale Paoli general of the Corsican Nation.
Corsica becomes independent.
Pasquale Paoli will boost the development of the island :
-he writes the first democratic constitution
-he develops agriculture and tries to re-establish a judicial system that was totally disregarded by Genoa.
Corte becomes the capital of the island, in 1765 the university in Corte is opened, a currency is coined in Muratu, a printing house is opened, the port of Isola Rossa (l’ile rousse) is built with a fleet of merchant vessels, etc.
The independent Corsica is marked by strong growth and development.
THE FRENCH PERIOD
In 1768 a bankrupted Genoa is forced to sell Corsica to France.
On May 8, 1769 Corsican troops are defeated by the French army at Ponte Novu after several days of heavy fighting in Cap Corse, Nebbiu and Rustinu.
First exile of Pasquale Paoli in June 1769.
The resistance movement on the island is crushed by French troops in 1774.
In 1789 the brand new French government declares Corsica an integral part of France.
In 1790 Pasquale Paoli returns to Corsica and with the help of the English tries to resume power.
The Anglo-Corsican kingdom in 1794 is a short-lived state.
In 1796 French troops occupy Corsica again.
The department of Corsica is created in 1811.
Corsica is neglected during the 19th century.
Industry and agriculture decline, the standard of life decreases.
Many Corsicans leave to go to the continent, but also to far-away French colonies or the American continent.
The First World War will bring to an end the era of herding and farming in Corsica.