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Genoa's Freedom

Entrepreneurship, Republicanism, and the Spanish Atlantic

Matteo Salonia

This book investigates the economic, intellectual and political history of late medieval and early modern Genoa and the historical origins of the Genoese presence in the Spanish Atlantic. Salonia describes Genoa’s late medieval economic expansion and commercial networks through several case studies, from the Black Sea to southern England, and briefly compares it to the state-run military expansion of Venice’s empire. The author links the adaptability and entrepreneurial skills of Genoese merchants and businessmen to the constitutional history of the Genoese commune and to the specific idea of freedom progressively protected by its constitutions and embodied by institutions like the Bank of St. George. Moreover, this book offers an unprecedented account of the actions with which Ferdinand the Catholic protected Genoese merchants in his dominions and of the later, mutual understanding between the Genoese community and emperor Charles V during the Italian Wars, and in particular during the 1520s. These developments in Hispanic-Genoese diplomatic and economic relations are of great significance. The sixteenth-century Hispanic-Genoese alliance is important to understand the characteristics of Habsburg governance and the resilience of Genoa’s republican conservatism. Genoa’s republicanism (based on private wealth and private arms) contradicts historiographical narratives that assume the inevitability of the emergence of the modern, militarized and centralized state. It also shows the inadequacy of Tuscan-centric historical accounts of Renaissance republicanism. The last chapter of the book reveals the consequences of the 1528 Hispanic-Genoese alliance by considering case studies that illustrate the Genoese presence in the Spanish Americas, from Chile to Mexico, since the early stages of conquest and settlement. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 214Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-3421-5 • Hardback • February 2017 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-4985-3422-2 • eBook • February 2017 • $94.99 • (£65.00)
Matteo Salonia teaches at the University of Liverpool.
Part I: Entrepreneurship and Libertà
Chapter 1: Economy, Everyday Life, and the Expansion of Genoa's Colonies
Chapter 2: The Business Network of Giovanni da Pontremoli and Genoa's Anti-Tyrannical Institutions
Chapter 3: Self-Government and Self-Perception: Foreign Protectors, Cosmopolitanism, and the Genoese Identity
Part II: Spain’s “Diabolical” Friends
Chapter 4: Ferdinand the Catholic's Perception of the Genoese and of Their Role in His Economic Policy
Chapter 5: Rejecting the "Machiavellian" State: Genoa's Regimes from the French Fury to the Second Hispanic–Genoese Alliance
Chapter 6: Beginnings of a "Genoese Atlantic"? Tracing the Genoese Experience in Sixteenth-Century Spanish America
This scholarly but readable book is a welcome addition to our knowledge of the extraordinary Italian city-states of the late middle ages and the early Renaissance and their contributions to Western ideas of republicanism and political and economic freedom.
Darío Fernández-Morera, Northwestern University

Matteo Salonia elegantly and persuasively recasts the history of Genoa by showing the deep roots of Genoese enterprise in the Atlantic and as far away as Chile, roots that he traces back to Genoese colonists halfway across the world, on the shores of the Black Sea and in Tunis in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Underlying his approach is a subtle appreciation of the distinctive entrepreneurial outlook of the Genoese, compared to their Venetian rivals.
David Abulafia, University of Cambridge