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.



















and broader competition for political power in the Casinca between the Bianchi and the Nevi. The Petrignani were Nevi and formed the larger and more important party locally, while the Bianchi were led by the important Casabianca family, to whom the Filippi were allied. It is clear that blood had been shed around 1815, for Luigi and Giacomo Sanguinetti were prosecuted for homicide in 1816, while Antono Petrignani was still wanted in 1823 for a homicide committed in 1819. The murder of the poet

Antonmarchi, called Giametti, of Porri, who were acting as 'the hired agents' of the Frediani. Meanwhile, in May 1790, a group of supporters of the Frediani from outside the canton went to Penta and occupied the house of Venturino Suzzarini. He was a partisan of the Viterbi and his house was situated opposite theirs. The intruders mounted an attack on the Viterbi house, which was repulsed by force. Suzzarini and others were wounded in the fighting, and two of the opposing party were killed. At

straw ricks belonging to Mayor Guerrini of Venzolasca were burned in 1854, suspicion fell first on the Albertini, herdsmen who had been prosecuted by him in the village court and who had made vague threats against him.58 In most of these cases, herdsmen were deliberately using land for pasture that was contested, but it was also extremely common for animals to stray accidentally on to cultivated and other land, although in practice the two categories cannot always be distinguished. Animals were

envy of Negroni, who could not stand seeing an outsider dictating to the inhabitants of his village'.125 We have seen, moreover, that the mercantile Balanini were the object of hostile stereotyping as well as of actual attack. In this context, Filippi cites a more general proverb: 'Merchants and pigs are weighed when they are dead', which, while implying again that merchants are not fully men, seems also 86 Feuding, conflict and banditry in Corsica to carry an implicit threat of violence

agreed not to harm them if they left the village and if Cesarini brought up the child. Cesarini was later ambushed and killed, however, in 1840, and it seems that Giovan-Battiste was responsible. The obligation of a brother to avenge a sister's honour overrode promises made to a friend. In a case at Lecci, Maria-Antonietta Marchi lived with Bastiano Guidicelli and became pregnant, while her husband Paolo was serving a five-year prison sentence for homicide. Paolo's brother Paolo-Matteo reported

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