Common Laws, AYLH edition:20 location:Cambridge University date:2-5 April 2014
The Isle of Corsica in European legal history:
Splendid isolation from the ius commune?
31st of January 2014
The image of Corsica is blurred with a lot of myths and commonplaces. The idea that the Corsican people is reclusive and brute dates already from the descriptions of Latin commentators like Pliny the Elder and lives on until today with the hallmark of inferiority in the French political and economic sphere. Actually, there is enough empirical evidence to prove some deficiency in the social organization of the Isle. For example, one fifth of the murders in France, take place in Corsica and only 5% of the murderers are persecuted. Another example is the bombing of luxurious vacation houses in recent years, fearing that the implantation by foreigners would disturb local culture and land. Only at very rare places in Europe, these circumstances are a daily reality. However, is Corsica for that matter really separated from the European legal tradition?
In our doctoral study, we present the history of Corsica as interwoven with the European dynasties expressed their political ties and their economic connections across the Mediterranean. For the early modern times, foreign interests shifted towards the western part of the Mediterranean Sea and later on towards the Atlantic Ocean. In that period the Republic of Genoa transferred the sovereign rights over Corsica to the Genoese Banco di San Giorgio, which held these from 1453 to 1562. As a private financial institution it tried to consolidate the state debt of Genoa, inter alia by lending money in exchange for public powers in dominions overseas. In that respect, the executive branch of the Banco, represented by the Protettori, had the competence to use military force, to collect fiscal revenues and to govern by jurisprudence.
In a first phase, we will investigate why the attempt to build a central state on the Isle of Corsica failed completely. Therefore, we tackle in a broader way the issue of sovereignty in Corsica’s legal history. In a second stage, we try to explain subsequently how the case law of the Banco di San Giorgio was related to the Roman ius commune of the Italian city states and to which extent this common legal tradition was intertwined with Corsican local customary law.
Namely, the application, whether or not, of these principles on which modern nation states were built, is a crucial indicator for the position of regions nowadays perceived as peripheral in the European integration process.