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Ajaccio, cathedral of Nôtre–Dame de l’Assomption, the façade prior to restoration
Ajaccio, cathedral of Nôtre–Dame de l’Assomption, the façade prior to restoration

Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio on 15 August 1769. In that same year, the short period of Corsican independence ended, liberated from Genoese domination in 1755 by Pasquale Paoli. U babbu di a Patria (The Father of the Homeland), as Paoli is remembered in the Corsican dialect, had given the island state a democratic and modern constitution and also founded a university in Corte. In 1769, independence came to an end with the Battle of the Ponte Nuovo, which took place from 8 to 9 May 1769, won by the French troops. Napoleon’s father, Carlo Maria Buonaparte, fought in the battle at Pasquale Paoli’s side. Just over one month later, and two months before the birth of the future emperor, Pasquale Paoli took refuge in Great Britain.
Corsica thus became French, at a time in which the international political scene was destined to become inexorably complicated. Between 1775 and 1783, the thirteen British colonies in North America rebelled against their mother country, supported by, among others, France. Responding to the seeds planted by the Enlightenment, many European states instead set themselves to apply more or less marked processes of internal reform: this was the case with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which was profoundly modernized during the reign of Leopold II.

1765. Leopold II succeeds his father to become Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Relations are improved between the Grand Duchy and the small republic of Lucca, which had always been independent.

1769. The period of Corsican independence comes to an end, with the island passing under the dominion of France. In the same year, Napoleon Buonaparte is born in Ajaccio.

1785. Napoleon’s father, Carlo Maria Buonaparte dies.