Britain and Corsica 1728-1796 : political intervention and the myth of liberty
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Britain’s foreign relations formed a crucial component of the political nation during the eighteenth century. Foreign affairs were a key issue of state, and perceived failure within European power politics could cause the fall of government ministries. Britain’s foreign relations with the main European powers, and especially France and Spain, have been extensively recorded. Britain’s unique relationship with Corsica has been neglected. Corsica can appear to be insignificant compared to other European states. Many British writers, however, government officials, naval and military officers, considered Corsica to be of the highest importance within eighteenth-century foreign affairs. Corsica was especially important within the larger sphere of Anglo-French rivalry. Corsica was one of the few territories that was ruled by both nations during the eighteenth century. This thesis reveals that Britain’s relations with Corsica were far more significant than has been previously realised. Britain’s relations and interactions with Corsica remained relatively consistent throughout the period from 1728 up until 1796. The two main developments to occur between Britain and Corsica during the eighteenth century were, firstly, the ‘Corsican crisis’ (1768-1769) and, secondly, the establishment of an Anglo-Corsican Kingdom (1794-1796). These are discussed in chapter 2 and chapter 4 of the thesis respectively. Both of these ‘events’ have been studied as being separate from each other and as confined to their respective periods of time. This thesis aims to link and to compare these two key developments for the first time, and to show that the Corsican crisis directly influenced the Anglo-Corsican constitution in 1794.Corsica was the largest European territory to be ruled by Britain during the eighteenth century. The Anglo-Corsican Kingdom provides a unique insight into how Britain might rule conquered territories in Europe. The thesis charts and explains Britain’s relations with Corsica against the background of the second hundred years war against France.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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