Napoleon and the Corsican Dilemma – part 2

Author(s) : KRAJEWSKA Barbara
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His first political document

On the 31st October 1789 in Ajaccio, Napoleon drafts a letter to the National Assembly. This will be his very first political document. In the letter, he questions the legitimacy of the Corsican deputies (62)  to represent the people of the island (63)  and denounces the manipulations of the “zealous royalists” who, bribed by the monarchy, do not carry out the decrees of the Assembly. The vein of the letter is radically different from the utopian dreams he nourished in Brienne. The political reality in Corsica suddenly reveals to him all its harshness. In his text, at the beat of bombastic lyrics, Napoleon decries the corruption, the servitude of the governments, the sham reports, and the political manipulations of the Corsican traitors who protect the Court's interests, rewarded by pensions, decorations and other favours.
As history reaches a turning point, Napoleon catches its wind in his sails. He unfolds his maps and, on a Saturday, in November 1789, he arrives in Bastia – the then capital of Corsica – to pursue his mission of a tribune. He lavishes tricolor cockards on the people and by his illegal actions he triggers an upheaval which pulls the system out of its torpor.
By doing so, Napoleon shows his republican card, but also remains faithful to the Corsican ways: threat, warning, action. At night, posters are put up by patriots. Governor Barrin has to face deputations sent to him to make him authorize the gathering of the militia. Two different Frances face each other: the monarchist of the Judases, stagnant, the revolutionary of the citizens, moving on. The political substance having shifted, great were the stakes in this confrontation. It was essential to have the decrees of the National Assembly carried out in Corsica.
The storm of the Revolution lashing its coasts, the island tests the wind. Wherever he goes, Napoleon, defender of freedom, is greeted by ovations. He feels he will write a page in history. Even several. He puts on a combative look, hardens his speech, and announces dynamic reforms. He creates a management committee. Between distrust and ardour, the Bastians feel that their long established insular logic is tumbling. The hope for independence is burning in everyone's mind. On the 5th of November 1789, the insurrection crushes headlong into the local order. Barrin orders Napoleon to leave Bastia.
The blade falls on the 30th November 1789. Napoleon delights in the perfume of his first victory. The Assembly declares Corsica part of the French Empire. “Its inhabitants will be governed by the same Constitution” as the continental French and “from now on the King is implored to send all the decrees of the National Assembly to the Island of Corsica”. (64) The shock reveals an unexpected conflict between Napoleon and Paoli. (65)  In Corsica, they call it “the clash of envies”. Accomplices yesterday, opponents today, they meet again to find they are now in complete disagreement. (66)  The small island can accommodate only one hero. Personality clashes? Rather a competition for power and, above all, an incompatibility of visions for Corsica's future, the island having been considered for years as an outcast for the archaism of its politico-social structures.
A separatist, Paoli – considered by the National Assembly as the “moral dictator” of the Corsicans (67)  – had wished for the independence of the island. Having navigated other shores, Napoleon, doped by the opium of the Revolution, wanted a federative tie linking it to France, (68)  with a guarantee of some autonomy. He dreamt of “the Corsicans being masters in their house, self-governed, the ones given the jobs and free from all reminders of the conquest”. (69)
The split between the two men has the power of a symbol. On the one hand, Napoleon: political messianism colored by innovative and revolutionary tints, a Frenchified apostle of modernity and a passion for square analyses and far-reaching horizons. On the other, Paoli: a misfit by his vision of the historical trends, a monolith entrenched in his convictions, stagnant in his affiliations and attracted by the British political approach. A world in the making facing the departing one. Youth reaching far and wide, eye to eye with age getting out of breath. The future against the past. Glowing enthusiasm against the gloom of autocracy.

Yet, this enthusiasm will not succeed in tempering the Corsicans' attachment to the past, deeply anchored in the decay of their clannish existence, saturated with its confused nationalist passion, its parochial intrigues, its twitches of fanatical and uncompromising politics.
1791, a key date. The prelude to disgrace. At the end of September, during the legislative elections, in Corte, this mythical separatists' city where the nationalist gatherings are held even today, two men challenge each other. Paoli, totally devoted to his ambition of independence, (70) and Napoleon, a red-hot republican dreaming of a more advantageous future for the island and a dazzling one for himself. He needs political conditions, profitable to him. The establishment of the French State could provide him with such conditions. He wants to build bridges because he feels that the future – his own and that of the island – lies on the other side of the sea. The rivalry of the two men becomes irreversible. Paoli decides to confront the Bonaparte brothers.
During his stays in Corsica between 1791 and 1793, the mood of Napoleon's texts takes on new accents. We are far from his speculative writings of yesteryear. His interests now become more pragmatic. He writes as a man of action in search of  strategies and solutions. He drafts regulations, writes apologetic memoranda and draws up military projects, all related to Corsica. (71)  These are the last echoes of his infinite ravishment for his island.
The rivalry between Paoli and Napoleon extends between 1791 and 1793. It came to an end with Napoleon's definitive departure from Corsica. (72)  “Questo paese non è per noi”, his mother Letizia would have said when packing. With her two youngest sons, Jérôme 9 and Louis 14, she is fleeing Ajaccio, suddenly turned into a nest of vipers. Having failed to seize Napoleon and thirsting for revenge, his fellows of the anti-partitù will hit hard in a truly Corsican way: first by looting his house to the last nail, and then burning it. “The betrayals (…) prepare the triumphs”, Napoleon wrote to the Reverend Raynal, “(but) they don't last” . (73) Paoli's downfall was near.
Arriving in Toulon on 13th June 1793, Napoleon turned his back on his island once and for all, without ever looking back. Totally committed to action and responding to a mysterious call that nothing and nobody could silence, he embarked on his odyssey to the stars.
It is a culmination of a definitive and redeeming awareness, the fruit of a slow and meticulous investigation. And of a painful experience of beings and things. We remember Napoleon's nostalgia and his idealistic vision of Corsica, inspired by his youth and the mirage seen from afar. We remember the unrealistic image he made of it in his first writings on Corsica, in 1786, among which is his letter to Necker. But between 1789 and 1790, his grasp of the island changes wholeheartedly. He still rejects French rule, but Corsican society itself is now depicted in more realistic colors. This is spelt out in his draft of the history of Corsica, the last remains of his intention to write a book on it: “Letters to the Reverend Raynal on Corsica” . (74)
In these letters, with a pathos glorifying his country, Napoleon reviews the Corsican heroes (75) who triumphed “by means of intrigues and assassinations” . (76) Through this dazzling parade, he brushes the history of the island. Here the evil is often taken for the good which shines with all its purity through blood and revenge. They eliminate each other by plotting and stabbing. They tear each other to pieces, spy on each other, and kill each other.  (77) The reading soon becomes hard to stomach. We remember that, according to the author himself, “it is with the speed of the river Rhône that his Southerner's blood was flowing in his veins” . (78) His Southerner's imagination as well.
In these “Letters”, Napoleon reveals a society established over a long time under the noxious influences of the colonizers, of these “people who kill one another for family quarrels” . (79) Genoa, for example, thought to have polluted Corsica with its spirit of disunion and intrigue, never-ending wars between parties, cabals and families, and with the supreme masterpiece of its politics to “arm son against father, nephew against uncle, brother against brother” . (80) The days of the Corsican “are obscured by the greed (…), suspicion and ignorance of those who, in the name of the King, hold the political forces” . (81) Corsica is thought to have been scarred by the perverse influence of the occupants successfully demoralizing the population through their crimes and punishments, and through the poison of their incendiary madness. “The island was divided into as many powers as there were families, (82) making war or peace depending on their mood and interests.”  (83) In these pages, one can feel Napoleon's desperate effort to keep his illusions intact, for he suspects the truth but dares not admit it. He strives to grasp a reason, a cause, whatever justification, or a good-sounding stylistic device, which would allow him not to condemn his island. But it is hard to put the pieces back together. He is too young to know that every alert reader will rather read between the lines. On his island, people are bargaining over their country, they are spreading calamitous gossip, hating, begrudging and plundering. It is a reality punctuated by intrigue and aggression and locked in the impossibility of uniting in lasting affiliations. We are in the eternal Corsica. “Corsica's people are extremely difficult to know; with their very lively imagination they have extremely assertive passions”, Napoleon wrote.  (84) Passions maybe, violence no doubt. Never old-fashioned in Corsica, accepted, honored and honoring, even ennobled, institutionalized in the name of reason of State. “Criminal justice” in Napoleon's words.  (85) An unacceptable conduct anywhere else but acknowledged by the Corsicans as theirs. They are used to it and they live by it. “In Corsica, feelings and resentments are suddenly exacerbated by a word, an image, or a symbol” . (86) Or by a water tank.  (87) Traditional as a result of fossilized customs, violence has become a syndrome which defines Corsica as an ethnic entity identified by the usu corsu where violence operates as a purely instinctive way to act, sharpened by a manic liking of discretion and a paranoiac cult of secrecy. Vendetta and brigandry perceived as virtues in all their splendor are an intimate part of the very nature of its people. It is said that Corsicans are greedy for power. To attain it or to fight the one imposed on them, they are able to commit the worst atrocities because it is by violence that they assert the fullness of their rights, and it is by gunshots or stabbing  (88) that they have chosen to preserve it. Violence is considered as a force performed in the name of the honour that constitutes the essential attribute of Corsican ethics and the ultimate affirmation of one's own freedom. Napoleon often refers to it in his writings. “Vengeance is a duty (…) imposed by heaven and by nature”.  (89) Insular individualism, egocentricity, unrestrained racing for promotion, envy and jealousy drive the Corsican to a continuous search of an enemy to defy. A parent, a lover, a neighbour, a friend of yesterday, a stranger, any of these will do in the infernal circle of Corsican honour: be it personal honour, family honour, tribal honour, the honour of the village, of the community or of the country. To a Corsican, a challenger is a need, a necessity, a promise of confrontation, a raison d'être. The challenger ratifies the affirmation of his choices and commits him to combat the choices of the other, the foreign State being the supreme challenger. It is the only one against whom the Corsican could enter an alliance – clearly temporary – with his countrymen.
A Corsican's life is all dissension, antagonism, rivalry, a permanent conflict of elements that can and must surely undermine and destroy each other. The practice of hostilities that defines the belligerent soul of Corsican susceptibility, (90) the vendetta –  practiced as a primary form of justice – is the most articulate affirmation of the origin and exploitation of hatred. What Corsicans call “mother violence” is the expression of this hatred, but it is also a weapon in the service of honour and justice. The ambivalence of values is entire.
The tone is set. At first, it is with the ink of his quill that Napoleon will reveal his shock of having grasped a reality too dark and too heavy to bear. His education is completed. His emancipation from Corsica as well. He is 24 years old.

As a republican turned towards renewal, he finds himself in Corsica in the middle of dogmas of another age, surrounded by the idle gallery turning its back on history on the move. Spurred on by the breath of God, with a radiant vision of the future, his judgments in place and the ambition to rescue and rebuild the world, Napoleon suddenly becomes a stranger at home, in this Corsica caught in the twilight. His political genius determines his solid and clear-cut individuality, which will bring forth immediate consequences and remote outcomes. With his admiration for Paoli crushed, their split is consummated by his definitive political convictions. Too republican, too rousseauean and too modernistic, (91) they are perceived as suspect, as is Napoleon himself who suddenly is seen as an evil genius due to his education completed in France, to the political alliances of his father and to his mother's social circle. We remember that she received Marbeuf.  (92) Napoleon becomes the target of snubs, slags and slanders.  (93) A pariah, a stranger, a Saracen. In the eyes of the hard-liners, his corsicanism is definitely broken. He himself feels his faith in the Revolution strengthened. It will soon get radical. This growth must be seen as his will to exercise his mimetic faculty when faced with the transformations enforced by the Revolution with its institutions, its democracy and the sovereignty of the people of which the 1793 Constitution is the ultimate expression.  (94)
The paper on the “Political and military situation of the Department of Corsica on the 1st of July 1793” is the very last of Napoleon's texts on Corsica, written in the heat of running away, sails already hoisted. Trapped in the web of political havoc, threatened by arrest by the independentist paolists, his text is the last blow of his pen against Paoli who, “his soul imbued with spite”, threatens, storms and burns. “The old master who wanted people to see only through his eyes and to judge only through his conscience” . (95) And who – the supreme dishonour – could not even ride!
Like a wildcat smelling the forest, from now on, Napoleon will follow his own path. Clutching his ambitions and bewitched by other ethics, he will take no risks other than those vital to his social rise. Because, although disgusted with Corsica – and the wording is not too strong – Napoleon, born of its plebeian womb, will forever be subject to the influence of his origin.
Frantic career hunting, passion for power, rivalry, egocentrism, opportunism, a taste for confrontation, nepotism and the obsession to succeed, such was, according to some, his Corsican craft. These typically Corsican attributes may have determined Napoleon's virtuosity which made him one of the greatest characters in French history. Supported by some, attacked by others, Napoleon had a career fuelled by perils and failures turning into surprising rebounds. His deeply Corsican nature would come to the surface to inspire his diplomatic talks, arrangements and alliances allowing him to always remain in the limelight.
Some have reproached the Bonapartes for their cupidity. It is notorious that in Corsica the relation to money is not condescending. “Too much stake in big cash”.  (96) It often stays in the first line of priorities and constitutes the primary reason for great civil catastrophes. It is thought that it is the expectation of prosperity in France that may have made the Bonapartes lose their interest in Corsica. A letter of 10th November 1790 from Joseph Bonaparte to his friend James could be seen as proof of this. “There is no wealth in Corsica”, he wrote.  (97) Thus, it has been said, they decided to seek it elsewhere.
It is not possible to justify everything by the doubtful logic of behavioural tendencies determined by ethnic-specific mentality. There are also the circumstances and the ideological trends of the epoch. One would like to think that – until the campaign in Spain – although never really liberated from his insular tuning, Napoleon was able to make truly Cartesian syntheses revealing a phenomenal political flair, the skill of a strategist, and the imagination of a rainbow-chaser.  (98) It was strength combined with a taste for order that prompted him to build instead of stagnate and contemplate the decaying and chaotic energy. He found anarchy abominable.  (99)
It was in France that he learnt honour and military discipline. Napoleon's individualism, this very Corsican attribute, drove him to distance himself from the ambient ideological immobility and to construct his own destiny. This proves that the same circumstances do not necessarily produce the same attitudes within the same community. From this point of view, Napoleon is an emblematic figure. What gave rise to his greatness is this composite of native qualities and deficiencies enriched by experience gained overseas. Knowledge was liberating for him. Corsica would need today the same open-mindedness and the same learning process. Above all, a new practice of honor. “Without morals, no Republic”, Napoleon wrote in “Republic and Monarchy”.  (100)
The Corsican problem, insoluble as it seems today, (101) could diminish and benefit the building of a new future, provided the Corsicans manifest lucidity and liberate themselves from the savage passions of suicidal politics and dangerous utopias.
The nationalist Corsican movement today demands a great deal of independence, but this demand seems somewhat clouded. Against the familiar backdrop – violence, clannishness, corruption, omertà (often accomplice), freemasonry  (102) – the politicians preach in the desert, and instead of having a mobilizing influence, they rather boost the hatred. Their sinuous speeches  (103) reflect the ambient disarray and the maximalist and therefore irrational trends. In a climate of intertwined settling of scores, tensions are created and well looked after by the turmoil of factions torn apart by ruthless quarrels between the ambitions some have to become a new Che or a new Stalin. The Corsican devil and the Corsican method perpetuate authoritarian, conservative and deviant ideologies, fanned by politicians who imagine themselves beyond rules, norms or limits. The old tribal game of hostilities imposes elective alliances, each partitù countered by a contra-partitù. Napoleon in irony: “One has to belong to a party, rather to the one which prevails, destroys, plunders, burns; alternatively, it is better to eat than to be eaten”.  (104)

In recent history,  (105) the Corsican imbroglio began for France on the 22nd August 1975, in Aléria, with the murder of two mobile guards, by demonstrators for autonomy.  (106) It was an eruption of absurd and damaging violence leading to permanent social unrest.  (107) Since then, under the pressure of that event, other more or less successful attempts to pacify relations with the island have been gambled, among which two general amnesties were proclaimed in 1981 and in 1988, as well as statutes of autonomy that the Corsicans have hardly acknowledged.  (108) Between 1986 and 1988, during the political cohabitation in France, Charles Pasqua, the then Minister of the Interior, pursued a policy of firmness against Corsica and, between 1993 and 1995, he embarked on negotiations with the nationalists including François Santoni. Similarly, another Minister of the Interior appointed in 1995, Jean-Louis Debré, also transacted with members of the FLNC  (109) and tolerated its armed gatherings. After 1988, France even contemplated a legal procedure – aborted – which would have led to the recognition of the “Corsican people” within the Republic. The Franco-Corsican past rests on too many compromises, dealings, misunderstandings, suppressions of conspiracies (the old Corsican proverb: “keep the silence and the silence will keep you”), official lies, dubious arrangements, scandals and non-elucidated deaths. “These things from Corsica, hardly comprehensible to continentals”, dixit Napoleon.  (110) The clouds are low and heavy: the inner corruption of the minds, the plots of the cartels, the worm-eaten trials, the real estate rust, the rot of the electoral system,  (111) the gangrene of filthy lucre.  (112) All accompanied by great religious ardour.

All the measures taken up to this day by the Government – left or right – have not prevented the political and social impasse that the relations with Corsica have suffered for a quarter of a century,  (113) in spite of the great internal autonomy it has been granted. The island keeps vampirising France while whingeing and pestering. The demands oscillate between independence,  (114) aid, adherence to Europe and insularity. Destiny is torn between Samaritans and Judases of all creeds: Mafia-style outlaws, independentist desperados, parliamentarians of all social strata, separatists of all trends, big names of modernity, seasoned nationalists.  (115) The insular diaspora pretending to be enlightened.  The debate, often verbalized by kalachnikovs, is paralyzed by the inability the Corsicans show to determine the future of the island. It is known that, due to their history, Corsicans have no experience of holding power. We are confronted with a repertoire of polymorphic ambitions and contradicting claims rather than with a univocal and limpid project for the island's future, elaborated in harmony with the sensitivity proper to its inhabitants, shaped by their culture, their memory, their ancestry and their alienation. The heritage of the past that could be mobilizing. Napoleon: “There are no anterior laws that the people (…) cannot abrogate”.  (116)

Corsica needs to intimately embody the problems of its community in order to avoid an ethnic crisis. It needs the same lucidity and determination that Napoleon showed in 1793 when, sure of his knowledge and power, he chose his destiny giving it sense and substance.

Corsica languishes in the decadence of clannic abstractions, in the abuses and failures of the administration, which impose on it a double denial: of truth and of freedom. Napoleon: “…always defeated by its disunity, betrayed by its sons”.  (117) Set in its immoderate folklore – odiu, sangue et lagni (hatred, blood and tears) – it capitulates to its own brutality, which leads to the destruction of a society whose members find themselves reduced to the state of victims or martyrs. They keep trusting and trembling, hoping and hating. And secreting bad adrenaline. All in the name of a doubtful narcissistic satisfaction of preserving its ethnic singularity. We can see it as a certain political refinement far away from the historic and economic realities, and also as an evident hypocrisy of regret the killings at the flamboyant funerals and, at the same time, to defend them as so-called altruistic necessities to safeguard the ethnicity in danger, in the name of tribal solidarity. Corsicans take brutality for strength when it is only cowardice. They take obscurantism for ideology when it is only fleeing away from the truth.
Yet, we witness today the decline of this mentality guided by ancestral cults, rites and passions. We witness a desire to abandon it in favour of peace and growth. But, this desire should be accompanied by a program which would become a unifying energy. The Matignon agreements  (118) could be a warning signal to anarchy and mark a true turning point, but their success depends unconditionally on a renewal within the political establishment. Napoleon: “It is the unanimity of interests that constitutes the legitimate strength of a government”.  (119) Of a government and of its laws. These, again quoting Napoleon, “should be aimed at the objectives of the government which are the peace and happiness of the people (…). If it does not (…) the people remain in their primitive nature and (…) the government (…) dissolves from within” . (120) It is a matter of laying the foundations for the cultural, political and social conditions of the pacifist Corsica, the one the adolescent Napoleon dreamt of. It is a vast project for a society, which, until now, had nothing to propose but the practice of crime and the strategy of tension.  (121) The ambiguous relations between politics and violence  (122) make Corsica ungovernable. Violence sterilizes collective ideals. To kill to be avenged.  (123) Everyday in Corsica is an impressive chain of homicides and of chronic extortions. It is a quasi affectionate resort to arbitration carried out with arms and in the open.  (124) For centuries, everybody on the island has been carrying weapons.  (125) A complete Corsican outfit includes a stiletto, a pistol and a gun. To be prepared for any eventuality. Reluctantly, on this point, we accede to quote yet another thought by Napoleon: “To kill oneself in order not to live dishonoured is a weakness” . (126) To kill somebody else, a strength? 
Corsica, the cradle of Napoleon the Great, should face up to its ills and open a window to the fresh air in order to reconstruct reality and give it a new architecture. It is the law guaranteed by the State that is able to eradicate anarchy, to bring civil peace and to unite people under the aegis of a great leader incarnating the conquering force of strong political power. Corsica thus will need a new demiurge  (127) since, without the solid moral support of an enlightened and enlightening master, it will sink further into its fatalistic phobia of being an island surrounded by threats, locked in its obsession with mourning and misery. Napoleon again: “The social order of a nation depends on the choice of those destined to maintain it”.  (128)
In 1793, having banished one-sided approaches, Napoleon envisaged a different itinerary for himself. Until his first errors in Spain, he marked it out methodically: order, restless work, resort to expert competence, clarity of analyses, well-thought-out decisions, permanent reign of the Cartesian spirit, criticism of his own limitations, self-control. Having found in Napoleon a source of pride,  (129) the Corsicans should find in his method a light that might help them to modify their perennial ways. A mimetic approach could bring them to abandon their bloodstained odyssey and to envisage another social ideal, the one whose members would no longer be guided and conditioned by their “primitive nature”, but by the ambition to strangle terrorism and to prevent tragic waste. To replace the spirit of fission by initiatives for fusion. To find a shared language and to believe in a real merger of interests.  (130) To desert a haughty isolation of anarchic colors for the benefit of republican assimilation and more subtle judgments. Our planet does not end at Cape Corse. To stop the shootings in the midst of villages, burying the population in mourning to the sound of heartbreaking lament of voceri intoned to weep the dead. In doing this, to leave behind the colony of rats to join the human community.


(62) Named “the Commission of the Twelve”.
(63) Above all, the Count Buttafoco, who represented the nobility at the Assembly. He was regarded as the worst traitor by the Corsicans because he consorted with the French. His house was devastated and burnt, a price was put on his life. In 1768, he had to seek the protection of the French army. Ironically, it was he who represented the Corsicans at the Etats généraux (States General), after the 14th July 1789. There is a very violent letter from Napoleon to Matteo Buttafoco (Manuscript XXVIII), dated 23rd January 1793, in which the latter is considered to be a traitor and accused of showing the “avidity of a valet”. The man “dripping with the blood of his brothers, spattered with crimes of all sorts”. Buttafoco treated Paoli as a “political charlatan” (Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.124) in a manifest widely spread on the island. See also the letter of 2.4.1791 from Paoli to Napoleon, in which we read in relation to Buttafoco: “… this man can have no credence with a people who has always valued honor” (Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.199). It is interesting to note that Paoli wrote only in Italian (he did his studies in Naples) or in French, never in Corsican.
(64) Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.I, p.100.
(65) He returned to Corsica from his first exile in London. He had left Corsica for 20 years, on the 11th June 1769, together with other Corsican resistance fighters, hostile to France. Before coming back to Corsica in 1790, Paoli was received by the King and Queen in Paris and, on the 22nd April, by the National Assembly which appointed him President of the Corsican Assembly and Lieutenant-General commander in Corsica.
(66) In 1854, a statue of Paoli was erected in Corte, and one of Napoleon I in Bastia.
(67) Manuscrits Inédits, op.cit., p.105.
(68) In 1919, Clémenceau also wanted to transform France into a federation with independence given to regions. Léon Blum also preferred a federal France on the model of the USA (see his book, “On a human scale”).
(69) Manuscrits Inédits, op.cit., p.105. The corsication of employment that Napoleon demanded is an entirely modern concept. Today, 80% of the jobs created on the island are said to be given to the continental French. There are 11.1% unemployed in Corsica and, according to the nationalists, we witness an unrestrained decorsication of public employment.
(70) Paoli was ready to tolerate France's presence and to accept a status of French Region for Corsica provided he could exercise undivided power on the island. A green light for French subsidiaries, for remuneration of civil servants, weapons and ammunition, but a categorical veto against French hegemony, language and customs. To assure his unquestioned local authority, emanating exclusively from him, he supported Bastia against Ajaccio. The rivalry between the two cities is ancient: the puritan “High Corse” against the more tolerant south Corsica.
(71) A few titles: “Regulations for the police and the service of the Battalion of the voluntary National Guards”, “Memorandum justifying the Battalion of Volunteers at the April riots”, “Project for a new attack on the Magdelaine”, “Project for the defense of the gulf of Ajaccio”, “A protest of the Volunteers on the subject of the abandonment of the counterattack of Sardinia”, “Memorandum on the necessity to take control of the islands of the Magdelaine”, “Project for the defence of the gulf of Saint-Florent”, Manuscrits Inédits, 1786-1792, op.cit.
(72) Paoli set off on his road to exile towards London for the second time, in 1796. He died in London in 1807, at the age of 82, his remains were repatriated to Corsica in 1889. Those of Napoleon from St. Helena in 1840. Two destinies intertwined even after death.
(73) Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.161.
(74) Napoléon Inconnu, 1789-1790, op.cit., t.II, p.127. Paoli found them “too partial” (his letter to Joseph, 15.8.1791).
(75) Among others Sinuello della Rossa, who in 1248 took to the bush fighting against Genoa, Vincentello d'Istria (1405), Pollo della Rocca (1438), Raffaello da Leca (1455), to mention only those who marked the very troubled history of Corsica in the 15th century.
(76) “Letters to the Reverend Raynal”, op.cit., t.II, p.163.
(77) Sometimes a married couple. Sampiero was assassinated in 1567 by Corsicans commanded by the family of his wife whom he had killed in 1563.
(78) Letter from Napoleon to a friend, Naudin, 27.7.1791.
(79) Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.129.
(80) Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.139.
(81) Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.131.
(82) The great dynasties of Corsica of which the present and past leaders of the party were born: Bonaparte, Pietri, Roccaserra, Peretti, Ortoli, Giacobbi, Ornano, Rossi, Bozzi, Zuccarelli, Rocca-Serra, Colonna.
(83) Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.175.
(84) Opinions et Jugements, op.cit., p.315.
(85) “Letters on Corsica to the Reverend Raynal”, Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.174.
(86) Marie-Hélène Mattei, Le Nouvel Observateur, 20-26.7.2000, p.25.
(87) The grandfather of François Santoni (ex nationalist leader) was assassinated for this reason.
(88) For example the savage killings of Marcel Lorenzoni (one of the leaders of the Cuncolta) and his son Pierre, who killed each other by stabbing.
(89) “Letters to the Reverend Raynal”, op.cit., t.II, p.157.
(90) There is a work entirely on this theme, José Gil, Corsica between freedom and terror, Paris, La différence, 1991.
(91) It is true that Paoli also admired the liberal ideas of J.-J. Rousseau.
(92) Louis Charles-René, Count, General (1712-1786). The same person who entered Nebbio in Corsica at the head of 5000 French soldiers on the 30th July 1768. (93) Pozzo di Borgo, an ardent Paolist, launched a vendetta without mercy against the Bonapartes.
(94) Paoli, on the other hand, admired the British constitution and wanted a political union between Corsica and England under the protection of the King George III. See his declaration to the Corsicans of the 1.5.1794 in: Corsica Boswell, op.cit., p.202.
(95) Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.462.
(96) Marie-Hélène Mattei, Paris Match, the interview, 1.2.2001, p.97.
(97) Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.122.
(98) There are three works of interest in this context: Baron Fain, Mémoires, Arléa, 2000; J. Tulard, Les Vingt Jours, Louis XVIII ou Napoléon?, Fayard, 2001; D. de Villepin, Les Cent-Jours ou l'esprit de sacrifice, Perrin, 2001.
(99) Chevènement, speaking of Corsica: “The only valid theory in Corsica is the theory of chaos” (Le Nouvel Observateur, 2.8.2000, p.29).
(100) Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.276.
(101) See the dossier on Corsica in the Temps Modernes, October 1981.
(102) Corsica is freemasonry country. There are 35 very powerful lodges.
(103) See U Ribumbu, the weekly journal of the nationalist Cuncolta.
(104) “The political and military position of the Department of Corsica on 1st June 1793”, Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.469.
(105) All along the 19th and 20th centuries, the Corsican problem has emerged periodically but continuously on the French political scene: bonapartist nostalgia, terrorism, nationalistic resurgences, clannism, corruption.
(106) They occupied the property of an Algerian repatriate. The murderers, including Dr Simeoni, were liberated after 17 months and left the prison as heroes of the island. This liberation was not the first mistake of the Corsican policy of the French Government. De Gaulle and Pompidou proposed indemnities and loans for the pieds-noirs from Algeria in order to encourage them to choose Corsica as their new country, to the anger of the locals.
(107) Embittered, it is true, by the known xenophobic actions: racist manifestations during the match Bastia-Lens in 1972, the indifference of the French Government to the pollution of the Corsican coast by Italy (Montedisson) – the “Red muds” (Boues rouges, 1973) -, nuclear tests at Argentella (1962).
(108) The first special statute is of the 28th October 1814. We must also mention “The Castellare appeal” of 1973, the decentralization law of G. Defferre of 1982, and the Joxe statute of 1991.
(109) A clandestine organization created the 4/5 May 1976, the night when its commandos claimed 21 bomb attacks. Dissolved by the Government in 1983. Since then, in 1991, it split into two fractions, Canal habituel and Canal historique. The FLNC (National Liberation Front of Corsica) maintains the popular aura of the tradition of the “bandits d'honneur”.
(110) 1792, Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.357.
(111) The absence of polling booths is particularly symptomatic.
(112) For example the famous “revolutionary tax” which is a trace of the patriotic taxation created by Paoli in 1790. The influence of the Sicilian Mafia in Corsica dates from the beginning of the 19th century. All through the history of Corsica, the clannish practices have distorted and corrupted Corsican society.
(113) One should add some other efforts made by France, for example the economic aid, fiscal privileges and other budgetary extras (201 million francs paid by the European Union in 1999, 3.4 billion francs paid by France in 1999) as well as assistance to Corsican individuals, and dispensatory statutes granted to Corsica in an incomparably more generous way than to other French provinces.
(114) Today, 83% Corsicans wish to remain with the Republic, 10% would prefer autonomy.
(115) The nationalist movement, supported by only 20% of the population, is subdivided into streams. A part of the nationalist movement rejects violence and advocates democracy (P.P.C.; M.C.S.), another – clandestine – (FLNC) has resumed violent attacks; the autonomists (UPC); CCN (self-determination); FPC (regionalist); the Fronte patriotu corsu and the armed revolutionary Corsican Front (two groups of extremists). There are clans acting in favor of the continental policy, members of which sit in the Assembly in order to control decisions related to Corsica. J-G Talamoni, nationalist leader of A Cuncolta and the spokesperson of Corsica Nazione (the most radical of the legal showcases of the FLNC-Canal historique), elected to the territorial Assembly; E. Zuccarelli of Bastia – a fierce defender of republican Corsica; J. Rossi of Ajaccio, president (DL) of the Assembly of Corsica; M. Marcangeli – bonapartist; Prince Charles-Napoléon; S. Renucci – president of social democratic Corsica; M-H Mattei – the ex-pasionaria devoted to nationalist ideals; F. Santoni, former leader of the Cuncolta and of the FLNC-canal historique, marginalized today. On the 13th May 2001, two days before the debate of the law project for Corsica, four nationalist parties merged. Following the last municipal elections, Corsica is ruled by the left.
(116) “On Corsica”, 26.4.1786, Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.I, p.143.
(117) “Memorandum on the riots of 25 June 1790 in Ajaccio”, Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.114.
(118) 20th July 2000. They are perceived as a promise of relief, a ground laying act of renewal and the ultimate attempt towards pacification. See the interview granted to Le Monde by Chevènement on the 18th July 2000 related to the debates at Matignon. According to a poll done by L. Harris, 91% of Corsicans approved of the initiated process.
(119) Pensées et Maximes, A. Philippe, 1844, p.50.
(120) “On Corsica”, 26th April 1786, Napoléon Inconnu, op.cit., t.II, p.141. Another idea on this subject: “To form a government, it is necessary that each individual consents to the change”(ibid.).
(121) One must exclude from this practice the Corsican women who, exasperated by the violence, in 1995 created the “Manifesto for life” with the motto “For Life against arms”. 12,000 Corsicans have signed their manifesto and 40,000 joined in the demonstrations in Ajaccio and Bastia. The SOS-Women victims of Violence and the Delegation for Women's Rights should also be mentioned.
(122) The presumed assassin of the Prefect Erignac (6.2.1998), Yvan Colonna, shepherd in the Cargèse mountains, is the son of Jean-Huges Colonna, former deputy of the Socialist Party of Alpes-Maritimes and a friend of Christian Vigouroux, head of the cabinet of Elisabeth Guigou, the then Lord Chancellor.
(123) On 7.8.2000, J.-M. Rossi (one of the founders of Armata Corsa, former leader of the FLNC, former chief editor of U Ribombu) and his body guard J.-C. Fratacci were murdered “for reason of State” at Île-Rousse by activists close to J.-G. Talamoni, the nationalist leader and Corsica's spokesman with the French Government during the Matignon agreements. Also, let us not forget the assassination of Guy Orsoni, the leader of FLNC-Canal habituel, killed by his rivals of Canal historique. Alain Orsoni never leaves behind his bullet-proof jacket even when he visits the Ministry of the Interior.
(124) The weapons of the 50 members of Armata Corsa (emerged from anonymity in June 1999) are impressive: AK47s made in China, Italian Benelli 12s,  American Mossbergs calibre 2, AR15s made in USA, Israeli Uzis and Swiss Sigs. At a search of the home of Charles Piéri, Santoni's successor as head of Cuncolta, loaded pistols and kalachnikovs were found as well as explosives, scanners, masks and forged documents. During village fairs, children play with combat weapons, and in night clubs they fire at the ceiling or at bottles. 
(125) Paoli would never leave behind his two pistols.
(126) Des Maximes et Pensées de Napoléon, Paris, Maréchal Gruat, s.d., p.4.
(127) Corsica experienced times of civil peace under Sampiero, Paoli and Napoléon III, who were all born of Corsican families and who achieved harmony among the people. Under this “high patronage”, the island knew order and prosperity.
(128) Pensées et Maximes, Paris, A. Philippe, 1844, p.44.
(129) The bonapartism keeps its nostalgia although it is Paoli who is in vogue today. A direct descendant of Jérôme, the younger brother of the Emperor, Charles-Napoléon, called the Prince, he is a politician in Ajaccio and was a candidate at the municipal elections in March 2001, admittedly with a modest score. He has just completed a book on the hybrid relations between his ancestor and Paoli.
(130) In this context, attention is drawn to a book by René Pétillon, L'Enquête Corse, published in April 2001, a mixture of comics with all the clichés about the Island of Beauty.
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