Theodore Stephen, Baron Von Neuhof - Encyclopedia

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THEODORE STEPHEN NEUHOF, BARON VON (c. 1690-1756), German adventurer and for a short time nominal king of Corsica, was a son of a Westphalian nobleman and was born at Metz. Educated at the court of France, he served first in the French army and then in that of Sweden. Baron de Goertz, minister to Charles XII., realizing Neuhof's capacity for intrigue, sent him to England and Spain to negotiate with Cardinal Alberoni. Having failed in this mission he returned to Sweden and then went to Spain, where he was made colonel and married one of the queen's ladies-in-waiting. Deserting his wife soon afterwards he repaired to France and became mixed up in Law's financial affairs; then he wandered about Portugal, Holland and Italy, and at Genoa he made the acquaintance of some Corsican prisoners and exiles, whom he persuaded that he could free their country from Genoese tyranny if they made him king of the island. With their help and that of the bey of Tunis he landed in Corsica in March 1736, where the islanders, believing his statement that he had the support of several of the great powers, proclaimed him king. He assumed the style of Theodore I., issued edicts, instituted an order of knighthood, and waged war on the Genoese, at first with some success. But he was eventually defeated, and civil broils soon broke out in the island; the Genoese having put a price on his head and published an account of his antecedents, he left Corsica in November 1736, ostensibly to seek foreign assistance. After trying in vain to induce the grand duke of Tuscany to recognize him, he started off on his wanderings once more until he was arrested for debt in Amsterdam. On regaining his freedom he sent his nephew to Corsica with a supply of arms; he himself returned to the island in 1 73 8, 1 739 and 1743, but the combined Genoese and French forces and the growing strength of the party opposed to him again drove him to wandering about Europe. Arrested for debt in London he regained his freedom by mortgaging his "kingdom" of Corsica, and subsisted on the charity of Horace Walpole and some other friends until his death in London on the 11th of December 1756. His only son, Frederick (c. 1725-1797), served in the army of Frederick the Great and afterwards acted as agent in London for the grand-duke of Wurttemberg.

Frederick wrote an account of his father's life, Memoires pour servir a l'histoire de la Corse, and also an English translation, both published in London in 1768. In 1795 he published a new edition on Description of Corsica with an account of its union to the crown of Great Britain. See also Fitzgerald, King Theodore of Corsica (London, 1890).

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