10 Corsicans who stood out in history, and why

Pascal PaoliPasquale Paoli : (1725-1807)
– A prominent figure who fought physically and intellectually for the independence of the island. A leader and patriot. When the island was reoccupied by mainland France, he went into exile to England, where he died in 1807.
Undoubtedly, the one who best defended the Corsican interests.

Cardinal Joseph Fesch : (1763-1839)
– renowned art collector and founder of the Fesch Museum in Ajaccio, diplomat for Napoleon. Banished from France and spent the remainder of his life in Rome.

Napoleon Bonaparte : (1769-1821)
– First Consul, becoming  Emperor, military leader who fought a series of Napoleonic Wars. Exiled by the British to the Island of St Helena, where he died. Known for his strategic and military genius                                                                                                                                                                            Napoleon

Fred Scamaroni : (1914-1943)
– Resistant, his short life dedicated to the search for freedom. In charge of the mission ‘Sea Urchin’ hero and martyr. Arrested by the Italian police, he committed suicide in his cell in the citadel of Ajaccio.

Giuseppe Sisco : (1748-1830)
– A native of Bastia, and an eminent surgeon, Giuseppe Sisco was principal surgeon to Pope Pius VII and at his death he bequeathed his whole inheritance to the town of Bastia (1000 volumes of works). Also donating 80.000frs to future students from Bastia, desiring to further their studies in Rome (art, architecture, medicine, literature etc.).

Jean Nicoli : (1899-1943)
– Teacher and resistant. Taught in Bamako, and became director of the school there. Later on to teach in Propriano (becoming director) and Olmeto. Journalist, actively writing against fascism. Imprisoned and decapitated.

Sampieru Corsu : (1498-1567)
– Courageous soldier and precursor of Corsican nationalism. His head was exposed by the Genoese in Ajaccio. Henri Tomasi wrote an opera about his dramatic life with his wife.

Danielle Casanova Historia di CorsicaDanielle Casanova : (1909-1943)
– Activist and resistant, organising meetings for women and intellectuals, along with the first armed groups. Captured and sent to Auschwitz, where she died of typhus.

François Coty : (1874-1934)
– Businessman and perfumer.
Emmanuel Arène, politician and writer, was his mentor in Paris.
Founder of Coty perfumes, which are known worldwide. He was also known to be a brilliant marketer.

Count Charles André Pozzo di Borgo (1764-1842)
– Once a friend of Napoleon, later becoming an enemy. Elected chief of the civil government, whilst Paoli was in charge of the army. A politician who became a diplomat in Russia, also having spent some time in London. Later life spent in Paris.


“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.”

Photo credit: Storia di Corsica Copyright ©


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