The first seven rooms on the first floor are given over to the various factors which allowed Bastia to play a decisive role in the political and economic development of the island until the beginning of the 20th century.
Being the seat of the governor, Bastia was the political capital of Corsica from the 15th to the 18th century and played a central role in the management of island affairs for the whole of this period. The visitor will find out about the main institutions in Bastia and how they became part of the Dominion of Genoa, before being initiated to the complexities of the notability of the town.
The elite of the town had a particular profile compared to those of other Genoese colonies such as Bonifacio and Calvi. The opening of the town to local populations and the presence of noble families of Genoese origin gave rise to a quite original model of urban notability in the island. But the Genoese Republic mostly excluded the Corsican elite from the most important political positions. Without breaking their links with the island, the great families of Bastia sometimes found it necessary to go into exile in the service of other states and kingdoms in the Italian peninsula.
The 18th century was a troubled time for Bastia. From 1755 to 1769, the town remained a Genoese enclave in an independent Corsica. It retained some of its prerogatives as capital during the Anglo-Corsican Kingdom, before losing them finally under the Empire. The local notability adapted perfectly to the new situation, strengthening its position by skilful marriage alliances and political strategy.
From its foundation, the Genoese gave Bastia the central economic role in the management and operation of the island economy. One room is devoted to the port activities which were in continual development. From the 19th century Bastia imposed itself as the hub of island trade. This economic domination was based on the investment made in business by local notables as from the 16th century. The town thus became the principal financial and industrial centre of the island.