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The Most Serene Republic of Genoa ( , Ligurian: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state in Liguria on the northwestern Italianmarker coast from 1005 to 1797, when it was invaded by armies of Revolutionary France under Napoleon. It was then succeeded by the Ligurian Republic, which existed until 1805 before being annexed by the French Empire. Its restoration was briefly proclaimed in 1814, following the defeat of Napoleon, but it was short-lived, and the Republic was ultimately annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia.

Today Genoamarker is the name of the capital city of Liguria, a northwestern region of Italymarker.


When the Republic of Genoa was established in the early 11th century, it consisted of the city of Genoamarker and the surrounding areas. As the commerce of the city increased, so did the territory of the Republic. In 1015, the entirety of Liguria was part of the Republic of Genoa. After the First Crusade in 1098, Genoa gained settlements in Syria. The majority of them were lost during the campaigns of Saladin In 1261 the city of Izmirmarker became Genoese territory. In 1255 Genoa established the colony of Caffamarker in Crimeamarker. In the following years the Genoese established the colonies of Soldiamarker, Chercomarker and Cembalomarker. In 1275 the islands of Chiosmarker, Samosmarker were granted by the Byzantine Empire to Genoa. Between 1316 and 1332 Genoa established the colonies of La Tanamarker and Samsunmarker in the Black Seamarker. In 1355 Lesbosmarker was granted to Genoa. In the end of the 14th century the colony of Samastri was established in the Black Sea and Cyprusmarker was granted to the Republic. At that period the Republic of Genoa also controlled one quarter of Constantinoplemarker, capital of the Byzantine Empire, and Trebizondmarker, capital of the Empire of Trebizond. Most Genoese territories were conquered by the Ottoman Empire during the 15th century.



Siege of Antioch
The Republic was established in the early 11th century, when Genoamarker became a self-governing commune within the Regnum Italicum. At that period Muslim raiders were attacking coastal cities in Tyrrhenian Seamarker. Pisamarker was raided in 1004 and the attacks were escalated in 1015 when Luni was raided and Mujahid al-Siqlabi, Emir of the Taifa of Denia attacked Sardinia with a fleet consisting of 125 ships. In 1016 the allied troops of Genoa and Pisa defended Sardinia. In 1066 war erupted between Genoa and Pisa possibly for the control of Sardinia. In 1087, Genoese and Pisan fleets led by Hugh of Pisa and accompanied by troops from Pantaleone of Amalfimarker, Salernomarker and Gaetamarker, attacked the North African city of Mahdiamarker, which was the capital of the Fatimid Caliphate. The attack, which was supported by Pope Victor III, became known as the Mahdia campaign. The attackers captured the city, but couldn't hold it against Arab forces. After the burning of the Arab fleet at the city's harbor, the Genoese and Pisan troops retreated. However, the destruction of the Arab fleet gave control of the Western Mediterranean to Genoa, Venicemarker, and Pisa. This enabled the troops of the First Crusade to be supplied by sea. In 1092 Genoa and Pisa in collaboration with Alfonso VI of León and Castile attacked the Muslim Taifa of Valencia and besieged Tortosamarker with support from troops of Sancho Ramírez, King of Aragon unsuccessfully. In its early centuries, Genoa was an important trading city and its power began to rise.

Genoa started expanding during the First Crusade. In 1097 Hugh of Châteauneuf, Bishop of Grenoble and William went to Genoa and preached in the church of San Siro, in order to gather troops for the First Crusade. At that period the city had a population of about 10,000. Twelve galleys, one ship and 1200 soldiers from Genoa joined the crusade. The Genoese troops led by noblemen de Insula and Avvocato, set sail on July 1097. The Genoese fleet transported and supported navally the crusaders, mainly during the siege of Antioch in 1098, when the Genoese fleet blockaded the city while the troops provided support during the siege. In the siege of Jerusalem in 1099 Genoese crossbowmen led by Guglielmo Embriaco acted as support units against the defenders of the city.

Genoa after the capture of Antioch on May 3, 1098 forged an alliance with Bohemond of Taranto, who became the ruler of the Principality of Antioch. As a result he granted them a headquarters, the church of San Giovanni, and 30 houses in Antioch. On May 6, 1098 a part of the Genoese army returned to Genoa with the relics of Saint John the Baptist, which were given to the Republic of Genoa as part of the reward for supporting with troops the First Crusade. Many settlements on the Middle East were given to Genoa as well as favorable commercial treaties. Genoa later forged an alliance with Baldwin I of Jerusalem. In order to secure the alliance Baldwin gave Genoa one-third of the Lordship of Arsuf, one-third of Caesareamarker, and one-third of Acre, Israelmarker and its port's income. Additionally the Republic of Genoa would receive 300 bezants every year, and one-third of Baldwin's conquest every time, 50 or more Genoese soldiers joined his troops. The Republic's role as a maritime power in the region secured many favorable commercial treaties for Genoese merchants. A large portion of the trade of the Byzantine Empire, Tripolimarker, the Principality of Antioch, Armenia, and Egypt was controlled by Genoese merchants. Although Genoa maintained free trading rights in Egypt and Syria, it lost a part of its territorial possessions after Saladin's campaigns in those areas.

In the Fourth Crusade the Republic of Venicemarker played a significant role. As a result, Venetian trading rights were enforced, and Venice gained control of large portion of the commerce. The Republic of Genoa in order to regain control of the commerce, allied with Michael VIII Palaiologos Emperor of Nicaea, who wanted to restore the Byzantine Empire by recapturing Constantinoplemarker. In March 1261 the treaty of the alliance was signed in Nymphaeummarker. On July 25, 1261, Nicaean troops with support from Genoa, captured Istanbul. As a result, Genoa was granted free trade rights on the Empire, which gave control of commerce to Genoese merchants and also the control of many islands and settlements on the Aegean Seamarker. The islands of Chiosmarker and Lesbosmarker became commercial stations of Genoa as well as the city of Smyrnamarker (which today is called Izmir). Genoa and Pisa became the only states, which had trading rights in the Black Seamarker.

In the same century the Republic conquered many settlements in Crimeamarker, where the Genoese colony of Caffamarker was established. The alliance with the restored Byzantine Empire increased the wealth and power of Genoa, and simultaneously decreased Venetian and Pisan commerce. The Byzantine Empire had granted the majority of free trading rights to Genoa. In 1282 Pisa tried to gain control of the commerce and administration of Corsicamarker, after being called for support by the judge Sinucello who revolted against Genoa. In August 1282, part of the Genoese fleet blockaded Pisan commerce near the river Arnomarker. During 1283 both Genoa and Pisan made war preparations. Genoa built 120 galleys, 60 of which belonged to the Republic, while the other 60 galleys were rented to individuals. More than 15,000 mercenaries were hired as rowmen and soldiers. The Pisan fleet avoided combat, and tried to wear out the Genoese fleet during 1283. On August 5, 1284, in the naval Battle of Meloriamarker the Genoese fleet, consisting of 93 ships led by Oberto Doria and Benedetto I Zaccaria, defeated the Pisan fleet, which consisted of 72 ships and was led by Alberto Morosini and Ugolino della Gherardesca. Genoa captured 30 Pisan ships, and sank seven. About 8,000 Pisans were killed during the battle, more than half of the Pisan troops, which were about 14,000. The defeat of Pisa resulted in gain of control of the commerce of Corsica by Genoa. The Sardinian town of Sassarimarker, which was under Pisan control, became a commune which was controlled by Genoa.

In 1283 the population of the Kingdom of Sicily revolted against the Angevin rule. The revolt became known as the Sicilian Vespers. As a result the Aragonesemarker rule was established on the Kingdom. Genoa, which had supported the Aragonese, was granted free trading and export rights in the Kingdom of Sicily. Genoese bankers also profited from loans to the new nobility of Sicily.


Territories of the Republic of Genoa (shown in light red) around the Black Sea coast, 1400.
Territories of the Republic of Genoa (shown in orange) in eastern Medditerranean, 1450.
As a result of the economic retrenchment Europe in the late 14th century, as well as its long war with Venice, which culminated in its defeat at Chioggia (1380), Genoa went into a decline. The rising Ottoman power cut into the Genoese emporia in the Aegean, and the Black Sea trade was squeezed off..

Genoa was ultimately occupied by the French or the Milanese for much of the period. It should be noted that Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa during this period, but sought a career elsewhere. From 1499 to 1528, the Republic reached its nadir, being under nearly continual French occupation. The Spanish, with their intramural allies, the "old nobility" entrenched in the mountain fastnesses behind Genoa, captured the city on May 30, 1522, and subjected the city to a merciless pillage. When the great admiral Andrea Doria of the powerful Doria family allied with the Emperor Charles V to oust the French and restore Genoa's independence, a renewed prospect opened: 1528 marks the first loan from Genoese banks to Charles.

Golden age of Genoa

Thereafter, Genoa underwent something of a revival as a junior associate of the Spanish Empire, with Genoese bankers, in particular, financing many of the Spanish crown's foreign endeavors from their counting houses in Seville. Fernand Braudel has even called the period 1557 to 1627 the "age of the Genoese", "of a rule that was so discreet and sophisticated that historians for a long time failed to notice it" (Braudel 1984 p. 157), although the modern visitor passing brilliant Mannerist and Baroque palazzo facades along Genoa's Strada Nova (now Via Garibaldi) or via Balbi cannot fail to notice that there was conspicuous wealth, which in fact was not Genoese but concentrated in the hands of a tightly-knit circle of banker-financiers, true "venture capitalists". Genoa's trade, however, remained closely dependent on control of Mediterranean sealanes, and the loss of Chiosmarker to the turks (1566), struck a severe blow.

The opening for the Genoese banking consortium was the state bankruptcy of Philip II in 1557, which threw the German banking houses into chaos and ended the reign of the Fuggers as Spanish financiers. The Genoese bankers provided the unwieldy Habsburg system with fluid credit and a dependably regular income. In return the less dependable shipments of American silver were rapidly transferred from Seville to Genoa, to provide capital for further ventures. The Genoese banker Ambrogio Spinola, marqués de los Balbases, for instance, himself raised and led an army that fought in the Eighty Years' War in the Netherlands in the early 17th century. The decline of Spain in the 17th century brought also the renewed decline of Genoa, and the Spanish crown's frequent bankruptcies, in particular, ruined many of Genoa's merchant houses.

French conquest

Genoa continued its slow decline in the 18th century, and in 1768 was forced by endemic rebellion to sell Corsica to the French; however Genoa was considerably more prosperous than contemporary Venice, and remained a major trade center.

In 1742 the last possession of the Genoese in the Mediterraneanmarker, the island fortress of Tabarkamarker was lost to the Bey of Tunis. Genoa's reluctant entrance in 1745 into the War of the Austrian succession, on the side of Bourbon France and Spain, to prevent the Genoese mortal enemy Piedmont from annexing the Mark of Finale Liguremarker, which would cut the republic in half, resulted in a string of disasters— the capitulation to the Austrians, 6 September 1746, the great popular insurrection of December, the siege of Genoa in 1747—, though Genoa retained Finale in the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. An economic revival in the 1780s was not long lasting: in 1797 the Republic was occupied by the French revolutionary army of Napoleon Bonaparte, who overthrew the old elites who had ruled the city for all of its history, and replaced them with a popular republic known as the Ligurian Republic, under the watchful care of Napoleonic France.

After Bonaparte's seizure of power in France, a more conservative constitution was enacted, but the Ligurian Republic's life was short - in 1805 it was annexed by France, becoming the départements of Apennins, Gênes, and Montenotte. Following the defeat of Napoleon in the spring of 1814, local elites encouraged by the British agent Lord William Bentinck proclaimed the restoration of the old Republic, but it was decided at the Congress of Vienna that Genoa should be given to the Kingdom of Sardinia. British troops suppressed the republic in December 1814, and it was annexed by Sardinia on January 3, 1815.

See also


  1. Durant, Will. The Renaissance. pag.189
  2. Philip P. Argenti, Chius Vincta or the Occupation of Chios by the Turks (1566) and Their Administration of the Island (1566-1912), Described in Contemporary Diplomatic Reports and Official Dispatches (Cambridge, 1941), Part I.
  3. Alberti Russell, Janice. The Italian community in Tunisia, 1861-1961: a viable minority. pag. 142
  4. Outlined in Manlio Calegari, La società patria delle arti e manifatture: Iniziativa imprenditoriale e rinnovamento tecnologico nel reformismo genovese del Settecento (Florence, 1969).

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