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Pasquale Paoli

Paoli, Pasquale (päskwäˈlā päˈōlē) [key], 1725–1807, Corsican patriot. He shared the exile (1739–55) of his father, Giacinto Paoli, who had fought against the Genoese rulers of the island. In 1755 he returned to Corsica, led a successful revolt against the Genoese, and was chosen president under a republican constitution. His capital was at Corte. He governed with wide powers, but respected the constitution. Material prosperity, public order, and education were greatly furthered. In 1768, Genoa, despairing of reducing the island to submission, sold Corsica to France. Paoli fought brilliantly against the superior forces of the French, but in 1769 he was decisively defeated and fled to England, where his popularity was great. James Boswell, who had corresponded with him and visited him in Corsica, introduced him into the circle of Samuel Johnson. After the outbreak of the French Revolution, Paoli was appointed (1791) governor of Corsica. He subscribed to the liberal revolutionary principles, but opposed the radical turn the French Revolution took and, especially, the centralizing policy of the Revolutionary government. Accused (1793) of counterrevolutionary activities and summoned to Paris, he proclaimed the independence of Corsica and solicited British aid. With the help of Admiral Hood the French were defeated (1794). The pro-French party was banished and the Corsican national assembly ( consulta ) declared the island a British protectorate and chose an English governor. Paoli, who favored independence and who had hoped to be appointed viceroy, was disappointed when Pozzo di Borgo became chief of the Corsican council of state. Paoli went to England in 1795 and remained there until his death. After his departure the islanders rose against the British and in 1796 drove them out with French help.

See J. Boswell, Boswell on the Grand Tour, ed. by F. Brady and F. A. Pottle (1955); P. A. Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli (1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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