Feuding, Conflict and Banditry in Nineteenth-Century Corsica

Feuding, Conflict and Banditry in Nineteenth-Century Corsica

Stephen Wilson

Language: English

Pages: 576

ISBN: 0521522641

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Corsica is associated in many people's minds with vendetta and banditry, but these phenomena have not been studied systematically. Using accounts by visitors and officials and particularly judicial records, this book provides such a study for the nineteenth century. Accounts of specific feuds lasting over many generations are given, including that which inspired Mérimée's Colomba, and the whole phenomenon is set in its proper context of competition for scarce material resources and power in a traditional agro-pastoral society. Attitudes to death and the dead are examined, and reveal a divergence between local practice and belief and official Christianity, and the persistence of the notion that the spirit of the slain requires to be placated with blood. A general theme is the impact upon an isolated traditional society, and its system of sanctions, of incorporation into a modern state with courts and police.

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Bianchi, to lands on the coast, which the people of Frasseto regarded as their communal property. This was probably the beginning of the Antona's downfall. The bandits also intervened in another matter involving Bianchi. The latter's nephew, Domenico Canavaggio, coveted a girl who was being courted by a Lanfranchi, a relative of the Franceschi. Fiaccone kidnapped the girl and forced her to change prospective marriage partners. This roused the Franceschi to their first reported act of violence. In

Quilici, his brother-in-law and cousin respectively. In October 1841, as Cotoni had just opened the entrance to the enclosure in order to cross it with a mule loaded with must from one of his vines, he was shot at by the Quilici and slightly injured. They were prosecuted and convicted of attempted homicide but received only light sentences in view of the fact that the right of way in question was contested, which implies that the situation was fairly typical.31 Some cases of disputed rights of

the ability and the will to defend and promote one's family's interests by force, if need be. For a crucial element in the cultural imperative not to let any insult or attack pass was to ensure protection by deterrence. As Brogger has written in a similar context, what is involved is the 'communication of readiness to fight' by fighting or other means. A reputation for swift and firm retaliation was the ultimate basis of power, and revenge was undertaken at all levels 'in order that other men may

adjoint removed from his post. A more violent outcome to Carnival 96 Feuding, conflict and banditry in Corsica quarrels was not infrequent. 'During the Carnival of 1835 at Castirla', we learn, the young men took sides. Each side wanted to organize a more brilliant dance than the other. Taddeo Taddei was the leader of one side, while Domenico Grimaldi headed the other. Taddei was angry with Grimaldi when he managed to get hold of the only person in the village who could play the violin and, as

attacked when they went into the country together 'to see to the last stages of the harvesting'. Francesco Coti of Bastelica was robbed one night in October 1845 a s n e w a s sleeping in a cabin at Campidiloro with his nephews Servi and Padovani, who were presumably helping him with seasonal work on the plain. Again, Giovan-Michele Fieschi went to a dance at Oletta in February 1852 with his uncle Simone and was fatally stabbed in the course of defending him from ridicule. Uncles aided nephews in

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