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Corsica (France, Traditional province)


Last modified: 2003-01-18 by ivan sache
Keywords: corse | corsica | moor's head | tortil | headband |
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[Flag of Corsica]by Pierre Gay

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Use of the flag

Dorling-Kindersley Pocket Book [udk97] claims that the flag is the emblem of the Corsican separatists, but this is erroneous. The flag is the emblem of ALL Corsicans. Most of the 250.000 inhabitants are nationalists in the sense they want the originality of the culture and language acknowledged and protected, but only a few of them are separatists claiming independence.

The Corsican flag is hoisted everywhere in Corsica, even on isolated mountain huts. On the building of the Chamber of Commerce in Ajaccio, it is even hoisted at the honour position and on a tallest pole than the French tricolour.

Ivan Sache, 24 September 1998

The flag is called in Corsican a bandiera testa mora, the flag with the Moor's head.

Source: Kyrnet

Ivan Sache, 13 April 2001

History of the flag

There is a legend (or a real story?) concerning the Moor's head. It is said that at the time of the kingdom of Corsica, a black man saved the king from being assassinated. As reward, the king ordered that the tortil (the white band) on the head of the Moor was not to cover his eyes anymore but to be worn above them. It was then said that Corsica had at last opened its eyes.

Pascal Vagnat, 24 May 1996

The flag of Corsica in use since the 14th century was based on the arms of the period when the Catalan King Jaume II was king of Corsica - Jaume II used a design of his territory of Aragon. It was used for the national rebellions of 1732-1736 and 1755-1766, but not by King Theodore (who, I think, used a flag of green over yellow).

Corsica was annexated to France in 1766 and the national flag was prohibited in 1768. A new revolt used the white flag with a black Moor's head. In the 19th century it was used as a regional flag, and in the 20th century it was adopted by the nationalist movements.

Jaume Ollé, 22 March 1997

The coat of arms of Corsica is related to the arms of ancient Aragon. The Moor's head may have originated from war with Muslim people. On the Corsican coat of arms, the headband is not on the eyes. It is said that it was Pascal Paoli who put the headband out of the eyes.

Pascal Vagnat, 28 August 1997

The Moor's head has been since the Middle Ages the heraldic symbol of the victory of the Christians over the Muslims. Its first association with Corsican flag and arms dates from 1297. The Moor's head is from Aragonese origin, the cross of the Aragonese Kings being surrounded with four Moor's heads. Its first apparition on the flag occurred under king Theodore (1) in 1736. The flag was officially adopted as ensign under Pascuale Paoli (2) in 1755.

Source: Poster seen in the railway station of Vizzavona.

(1) Theodor von Neuhof, a baron of German origin, was 'King' of Corsica from15 April to November 1736, when he run out of money and international support, and left Corsica.

(2) Pascuale Paoli fought for the independence of Corsica from 1755 to 1769, when he escaped to Britain. He wrote a project of egalitarian Constitution which was known by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and possibly inspired Thomas Jefferson. He also promoted the social and economical development of the island and is still considered as the National Corsican hero.

Ivan Sache, 24 September 1998

The black represented on the flags was probably St. Maurice, a black priest/soldier who was the patron saint of the Holy Roman Empire and revered to this day by Catholics throughout the world. He was massacred with a number of other black Christians near Lake Geneva.
This and other information is much better explained by experts such as the Jesuit trained Mario de Valdes y Cocom, who wrote so brilliantly about the saint and the imagery of the moor's head in a special article for PBS' Frontline.

S. Gerald, 16 December 2000

Another historical hypothesis says that the Moor's head appeared on the island flag in the XVIth century, following the drawing of a map of the possessions of Philipp II, king of Spain, by an Italian geographer. Corsica had then no official emblem, and the geographer used the Moor's head because of the proximity to Sardinia, whose flag bears four Moor's heads.

Source: Corsica Guide

Ivan Sache, 31 March 2000

Sport flags

Unusual Tricolore with the Moor's head

[Unusual Tricolore]by Ivan Sache & Pierre Gay

I saw recently on TV a flash-back about the football European Championship 1984, hold in France. One of the semi-final was played in Marseilles and opposed France to Portugal. Among the several flags waved by supporters was this strange "Corsican tricolor". I suppose it was used by a "Continental Corsican" to present himself as a Corsican supporter of the French national team. There is in Marseilles a large Corsican community (Marseilles is the main harbour linking continent to Corsica)

Ivan Sache, 31 July 1999