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Genoese Trade with Syria in the Twelfth Century

Author(s): Eugene H. Byrne


Reviewed work(s):
Source: The American Historical Review, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Jan., 1920), pp. 191-219
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical Association
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GENOESE

TRADE WITH SYRIA IN THE TWELFTH


CENTURY

THE economicsignificance
of the medievalItalian citieshas received less attentionfromhistoriansthan it has deserved,perhaps
because theirpoliticaland artisticimportancehas been so striking.
But the bonds of medievalismwere materialas well as spiritual.
Life in the later Middle Ages was freerand richernot onlybecause
the spiritualbonds were being shatteredbut because physicallymen
were morecomfortable;because thenew tastescould the moreeasily
be gratifiedthroughthe possession of greatermaterialmeans. In
the increasinginterchangeof commoditiesthroughoutthe Mediterof the Middle
ranean that assisted so much in this transformation
Ages, Florence,Venice, and Genoa playedthe dominantroles. The
firsttwo, as centresof medievalcivilizationand trade,have justifiably receivedthe greatestattention;withthemGenoa failedto compete in any but the commercialfield. The Genoese have not thought
deeplynor builtgrandly. They never achieved the politicalcoherence of Venice or the solidnativeindustrialfoundationof Florentine
life. Yet in commercialand colonial exploitationno shore of the
and in a largemeasurethe
Mediterraneanescaped Genoese influence,
peoples on its westernshores for centurieswere dependenton the
Genoese merchantsfor mostluxuriesand manynecessities. To the
historian,moreover,Genoa should be particularlyinteresting,because the preservationof the archival records has been so nearly
completefromthe twelfthto the sixteenthcenturythatthe economic
phenomenaof the changingworldcan best be observedtherein fine
detail.
Perhaps never sincethe ancientPhoenicianshas a people been so
exclusivelymaritimeas the Genoese. About themon the east and
north,behindthemas it were, rose a mountain-wallas an obstacle
to landwardgrowth. To the south lay the whole Mediterranean,a
fieldof activitypromisingthe richestrewards,limitedonlyby their
own energyand perseverance. The physicalsituationpredestined
them to a maritimecareer. Their restlessactivitymade that sea
theirown,not indisputably,
but upon it no rival could withimpunity
disregardtheirwill. With admirablerestrainttheyextendedtheir
hegemonyover Liguria but onlywithinthe safest of limits,so that
no rival to sea power mightarise near by. To the maritimeand
( 9'I

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E. H. Byrne

I92

mercantilemotiveall the hard strengthof the folk was directed;


even the factionalrivalriesthat ravaged the internallife as in no
other medieval Italian city,were hushed when the sea power was
threatened,when the nerves of the commune,its commerce,were
assailed, or when some great maritimeenterprisewas in prospect.'
It is not the purposeof this paper to trace this spiritthroughoutits
coursebut to treattheperiodin whichit firstreachedself-consciousness, looked intothe future,formulateda plan, triedvarious experidegreesof success,and at last enteredupon its
ments,withdifferent
own. The timeroughlywas the twelfthcentury,fromthe beginning
of the Crusades to the captureof Constantinopleby the men of the
Fourth Crusade. The fieldwas the whole Mediterranean,and the
great success came in Syria. Withinthatperiod the communewas
and at theclose began itsgreatercareer.
born,triedits strength,
All the foundationsof Genoa's later triumphswere laid in the
twelfthcentury. Once a Roman municipium,long under Byzantine
rule, reducedby the Lombards in the seventhcenturyto a defenseless village, pillaged again and again by the Saracens in the ninth
and tenth,it was not until the eleventhcenturythat the city was
free and strongenough,in momentaryalliance with Pisa, to attack
the Saracens with some success,to disputewithher occasional ally
theirrespectiverightsin Sardinia and Corsica,2and to look far afield
for the realization of her destiny. As early as I087-Io93 the
Genoese dreamed of conquestsin Africa and Spain,3but the strife
of internalfactions,grapplingfor the controlof the government,
thenjust escapingfromthe feudal dominationof the Ligurian margraves, was not stilled until Urban II. gave the summonsto the.
Crusade. The Genoese heardthatcall whichso stirredChristendom
and seized upon it as a means toward unityand power. At once
theywere launchedon a career in the Levant thatwas to make their
citythe great emporium.of the westernMediterranean,a point of
exchangebetweenEast and West formanycenturies.4
1

i886),

E. Heyck, Genua und seine Marine im Zeitalter der Kreuzziige (Innsbruck,


pp. i-4.

H. J. Sieveking, " Genueser Finanzwesen mit besonderer Berficksichtigungw


Abhandlungen der Badischen
der Casa di S. Giorgio", in Volkswirtschaftliche
Hochschulen, I. 3 (Freiburg i. B., I898), pp. I-2; A. Schaube, Handelsgeschichte
der Romanischen Volker des Mittelmeergebietsbis zum Ende der Kreuzzfge
(Munich, I906), pp. 63-64.
3 Annales lanuenses, in Fonti per la Storia d'Italia pubblicate dali' Istituto
Storico Italiano, vols. XI., XII. (Rome, I890), I. Q3.
4 The belief in a thrivingGenoese trade in the Levant previous to the First
Crusade, founded almost entirelyon fable and forgery,has persisted curiously.
See W. Heyd, Histoire du Commerce du Levant au Moyen-Age (Leipzig, I885),
2

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Genoese Trade with Syria

I93

In viewof thelackof locallymanufactured


goodsof highvalue,
food and materialsfor home
of the failureto producesufficient
gained
Genoesetradecouldonlybe builtuponprofits
consumption,
the
of theLevant,theneedof whichthroughout
fromrareproducts
to theattainment,
Westwouldfurnish
theeconomicforcenecessary
To this
of economic
predominance.
secondly
firstof independence,
as
ignorant they
of thepeoplewas directed,
end the fullstrength
their
law behindtheirefforts.To accomplish
wereof theeconomic
objectseveralthingswereessential.Firstof all politicalindependof the Empire;this
of the margraves,
secondarily
ence,primarily
leadershipof the
was achievedin II62. Next,the unquestioned
Liguriancoast,and controlof thepassesintoLombardy;thisalso
the
longafterit had beenusurped. Thirdly,
Barbarossarecognized
in theWest;
markets
of varied,numerous
acquisition
and retention
thisnecessitywas the basic cause of the Pisan wars whichhave
seemedtobe thecentralthreadofearlyGenoesehistory.Thatwarbut it was
fare persistedintermittently
for nearlytwo centuries,
of
expression
onlya singlefeatureof thegeneralplan,theconstant
inotherways. Thecrushing
ofLigurian
an ideafrequently
disclosed
of souththatwonthemarkets
theshrewddiplomacy
independence,
ernFranceand northern
Africa,thebolddaringthatsoughta perin MoslemSpainbytheconquestof Almeriaand
manentfoothold
to erecta Sardinianpuppetking,thehaunting
Tortosa,theattempt
of
dreamof the mastery
of Sicily-all thesewerebutexpressions
thewestern,
theireconomicdestiny
bysecuring
theattempt
to fulfill
to theirLevantineprizes,not the futilestrugglesof
complement
hatredand politicalincompetence.
unreasonable
impulsewithwhichtheCrusades
religious
andromantic
Fromthe
wereso freethatto themthe Crubegan,theGenoeseapparently
sadersweremerelymento be carriedto the East " certonaulo',
thereby Genoeseaid, in returnforrewardsand privimaintained
legesof deepimport.5It wouldalmostseemthatto them,as later
of indifference
exceptas
to theVenetians,
theCrusadewas a matter
in the
theirmaterialprosperity.A footholdsomewhere
it affected
essentialto theirmercantile
life; in ConstanLevantwas absolutely
outstripped
theywereunsuccessful,
efforts,
tinople,despitemighty
I24;
Schaube, op. cit., p. 65; C. R. Beazley, The Dawn of Modern Geography
The only basis for assuming a Genoese connectionwith
(London, I90), II. 422.
the Levant earlier than the Crusade, is that Caffarothe annalist, a participantin
the First Crusade, accepts the possibilityof a Genoese ship having gone to Alexandria some time earlier. Liberatio Orientis,in Fonti, XI. 99.
5 Heyck, op. cit., p. 2.

I.

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I94

E. H. Byrne

by the Venetians;6 in Alexandria theirtrade prosperedperiodically


as circumstancesover which they had little controlallowed.7 In
Syria theirfootholdwas secure,not so assured as to be free from
caused eitherby their over-exertionin the West, or
interruptions,
of Christiandominionin Syria,but secureenough
bythemisfortunes
to supplythe real basis of theirgrowingcommerce. By the fall of
Constantinoplein the Fourth Crusade the Genoese effortswere perforceconcentratedin Syria,wherea new epoch of commercialprosperitywas opened to them. By that time the marketsof the West
had been acquired, and Genoa had become the leading centre of
exchange west of the Adriatic. The era of experimentand transition was ended.
Viewing the centuryof Genoese effortfromI097 to I205 as a
whole,one may observeseveral distinctstages throughall of which
the Levantinetrade runs as a dominantmotiveimpellingthe young
communeto thoughtand activity,meetingadvances and checkscontingentupon the successesand failuresto whichit gave the impulse.
The firststage, fromI097 to I154, is characterizedby the exuberance of the firstenthusiasm,producingmost of the main lines of
later development,but closing with fiveyears of serious economic
depression,the resultof over-exertion. The second stage, II54 to
II64, is that in which the revived trade with Syria prospered in
accordancewiththe highestexpectationand enabled the Genoese to
throw their commercelike a great net over all the western sea.
Like the earlier period it ended in a catastrophe,owing to a mad
effortin Sardinia, whichthrewthe communeinto debt,a civil war,
and a long strugglewith Pisa. From those disordersGenoa had
not yet recoveredwhen the Lombard wars stilledall thoughtof extensionabroad,to be followedby the collapse of the Christianpower
in Syria beforethe strengthof Saladin. With the Third Crusade.
into which the Genoese plunged with their full strength,that the
source of their commercialprosperitymightbe regained and rebuilt, began the last stage, characterizedby expansive tendencies
century.
whichclearlyforetoldthe triumphsof the thirteenth
While the notarialarchives enable us to observe details best in
the second and last stages, those of greatestactivity,one may say
that the firststage, fromI097 to II54, was formative,a period of
political organizationat home, of conquest abroad. The period
begins,underthe stimulusof the First Crusade, withthe formation
of all thearmsof thecommuneitselfjust before1097-a comnpagna
6 Schaube, op. cit., p. 228 ff.
7 Ibid., p. 148.

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Genoese Trade with Syria

195

bearingmen,and a body of electiveconsuls.8 In the next thirteen


years Genoa sent forthsix armed fleetsto Syria, varyingin size
fromtwo to sixtygalleys.9 More than eitherPisa or Venice, Genoa
sharedin the conquestand occupationof the townsalong the Syrian
riviera; the colonial and commercialprivilegesgiven as rewards
were magnificent.Churches,warehouses,dwellings,ovens,gardens,
orchards,freedomfromdues, shares in the taxes, in everytown of
importanceexcept Tyre, fell to their lot, with the whole town of
Gibilet.10All were grantedin commonto the communeand to the
cathedralof San Lorenzo, whose bishopwas stillone of the powers
in Genoa to whom the communelooked for leadershipbefore the
worldand forprotectionat home againstthe remnantsof the feudal
powers of the margraves. These possessionswere not all held permanently,for the crusadingpowers made promisesand brokethem
easily,yet enoughwas retainedof what was grantedin the charters
for colonial experimentsand to furnisha
to affordthe opportunity
commercialbase demandingcomplementaryeffortsin the West.
For that,the youngcommune'sambitiousleaders were ready,but as
eventsprovednot always judiciouslyrestrained.
Their operationsin the West were variedbut coherent. In Syria
the Genoese had co-operatedwiththe leaders of the crusadersfrom
southernFrance. The friendlyrelationsthereestablishedwere continued in the West. In IIO9 an advantageous commercialtreaty
was arranged with Bertramof St. Gilles, followedby a series of
similaragreementswhich threwopen to the Genoese the trade of
Narbonne,Marseilles,and Montpellier.1' Armed expeditionswere
sent to northernAfrica; Tunis, Bougie, and Ceuta were opened to
Genoese traders.12 Fifteenyears of warfare with Pisa, iii8-II33,
were a costlyeffort,with half of Corsica and the erectionof the
Genoese archbishopricas the ends achieved.13 The subjectionof the
Riviera from Portovenereto Monaco was carried forward,partly
by arms,partlyby diplomacy. The margravesand countsof Liguria
were forcedto join the cornpagna. The mountainpasses intoLombardy were secured,and an advantageous commercialtreatywith
Pavia was signed. An agreementwas enteredinto withLucca that
Annales, I. 5; Heyck, op. cit., p. 2I ff.; Sieveking,op. cit., pp. I4-2 I.
9 Annales, I. 5, I3, 14, I5, I02, II0, II2.
10 Heyd, op. cit., I. I33 ff.; Schaube, op. cit., pP. I27-I29.
"1Liber JuriumReipublicae Genuensis (Historiae Patriae Monumenta,VII.,
Turin, I854), I., nos. 12, 31, 45.
12 Annales, 1. 28, 29;
Schaube, op. cit., pp. 278, 280.
13 M. G. Canale, Nuova Istoria della Repubblica di Genova (Florence, I858),
I. I08-II7.
8

AM. HIST.

REV., VOL. XXV.--I4.

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E. H. Byrne

i96

the carryingtrade betweenLucca and the fairs of the North might


rest profitablyin Genoese hands.'4 The climax to this westward
expansion in the search for marketscame between II46 and II49,
in Spain. Valencia was successfullypenetratedby Genoese diplomacy,and attackswere made on the Saracen power in the Balearic
Islands, but only as a prelude to the expeditionwhich conquered
Almeriain II47 underthe leadershipof the consulsthemselves,and
fromwhich the booty was immense. Part of the expeditionwinteredin Spain, so thatwithfurtheraid fromGenoa and thenew ally,
the Count of Barcelona, a most disastrouslyexpensive attackupon
Tortosa was made.'5 The resources of the commune,long overtaxed, were at last exhausted; for fiveyears it groaned under the
burdenof enormousdebts. The brilliantleaders who had directeda
remarkableseries of expansive thrustswere driven from office.
Over eight thousand lire were borrowedin Piacenza."' Incomes,
castles,colonies were mortgagedfor fractionsof theirreal value.'7
Five years of depression,and of failureon the part of the new consuls, ensued,untilsome of the formerleaders were inducedin II54
to reassume the directionof the government,under popular compulsion,real or inspired,and withthe archiepiscopalpromiseof absolutionfor theirpast mismanagement.'8
In the course of the period sketchedabove a definitecommercial
policy was being formulated. The Genoese sought to make their
city the staple town of the northernhalf of the westernMediterranean,a mare clausumof theirown like the Adriaticof the Venetians. Ligurian ships betweenApril and Octobermustdepart from
and returnto Genoa, if engaged in any but the coastal trade.'9 In
this way the precioustrade withthe East, the real basis of all their
commerce,was assured to the Genoese alone. Naturally,in the
search for markets,exclusive privilegeswere obtainedby treatyas
protectionagainst Pisan competition.20Thus did the directorsof
Genoese affairssucceed in clearingthe way for a westernoutletto
the productsof the easterntrade.
G. Caro, Die V'erfassungGenuas zur Zeit des Podestat (Strasburg, I89I),
Lib. Jur.,I., nos. 47, 63, 64, 93, I88.
15 Annales, I. 33-36, 79-89; Lib. Jur.,I., nos. I24, I52.
16Annales, I. 37-38; Sieveking,op. cit., p. 39.

14

pp.

I2-14;

17

I62,

"In

I78,

maxima necessitate communis ".


I84,

I96,

I98,

I97,

Lib. Jur., I., nos. I35,

I46, 150, I59,

200.

18 Annales, I. 37-38. For the five years of depression, 1149 to I I53, the
chroniclergives no informationbeyond the names of the consuls.
19 Lib. Jur., I., no. 187; Caro, op. cit., pp. I4-I5.
20

Lib. Jur., I., nos.

189-192,

298-299,

3I2,

324.

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Genoese Trade with Syria

197

The ten years II54-II64


constitutethe most prosperousdecade
commerciallyand in many ways the most significantpoliticallyin
the historyof Genoa in the twelfthcentury. The financeswere reorganized by the group of men who were gradually restored to

powerafterII54.

Havingpaid morethanI5,0oo lirein II54 to the

creditorsof the commune,chieflybankersof Piacenza, by i I6o the


consuls had freedthe city fromdebt.2' The castles,customs,mint,
weightsand measures,and other sources of revenue were for the
mostpart redeemed;the consulspledgedthemselvessolemnlyin the
or assemblyof the people, not to mortgagethe revParlawtentum,
enues again beyondthe year of theirtermof office.22New agreementswere made with the Embriaco familyfor the administration
of the Syrian colonies for twenty-nine
years.23 Barbarossa was so
of the citywhile the conskillfullydealt withby the representatives
structionof the new wall was hastened,that in II62 he not onlv
legalized the rightsof autonomyand of controlover Liguria which
the cityhad usurped,but enteredinto an agreementwith them for
the conquest of Sicily24-a temptingproject,the collapse of which
was shortlyto lead the prosperouscommuneonce more to disaster,

as in II49.

It was in this decade that the Genoese reaped richlythe first


reward of theireffortsin Syria and of the openingof the western
markets. Six mercantileventureswere sent fromGenoa to Syria in
as manyyears,25witha totalinvestmentof over I0,000 lire in money
and wares.26 From Genoa the proceeds were shipped to France,
2l Annales, I. 38, 6o; Lib. Jur.,I., nos. 195,
22Annales, I. 41; Lib. Jur.,I., no. 2I2.
23 Lib. Jur., I., nos. I96-I98.
24 Ibid., nOS.236-238.
25In

Ii56,

1I57,

II58,

ii6o,

ii6i,

202-208.

and ii64.

E. H1. Byrne, "Commercial

Contracts of the Genoese in the Syrian Trade of the Twelfth Century", in


XXXI. I32.
QuarterlyJournalof Economizics,
26 This amount, 10,075
lire, is the sum of the investmentsfor the Syrian
trade given by the acts of the notary Giovanni Scriba, Historiae Patriae MonuIn makingthe total, only such amounts
menta,VI., ChartaruntII., nos. 240-15I3.
were used as are there specifiedfor Syria. It is thereforea minimum,but undoubtedlyfairlyaccurate since the investorswere careful to stipulate the destination in most eastern enterprises. It would be futile to attemptto compute the
value of this sum in modernterms. For the value and fluctuationof the Genoese
lira or libra, of 20 uncoined soldi or 240 denarii, see C. Desimoni, " Le Prime
", in Atti
Monete d'Argento della Zecca di Genova ed il loro Valore, II39-1493
della Societd Ligure di Storia Patria, XIX. I98. More significantfor the purpose
of this article is the purchasingpower of the lira in the twelfthcentury,of which
some idea is conveyedby the followingillustrations. In ii58, the annual interest
on i6 lire provided the food and clothingof a young boy for a year. Chart. II.,

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E. H. Byrne

198

Spain, the Balearics, Ceuta, Bougie, Tunis, Sicily, Salerno, Naples,


Rome, Sardinia, and Corsica.27 The conditionsunder which this
wide-spreadcommercewas conductedare of highimportancein the
studyof the rise to maturityof a medievalcommercialcity.
One of the most interestingfeaturesof the Levant trade in this
decade, as I have elsewhereshown,was that at just this point the
controllinginterestin it was passing fromthe hands of the Syrians
and Jews who had been the purveyorsof easterngoods throughout
the West for centuries,into the hands of the Genoese capitalists.28
This same changemusthave occurredelsewherein the course of the
twelfthcentury,but it can onlybe tracedin Genoa wherethe records
for the period are fairlycomplete. It would seem that the small
but importantcolony of easternersdomiciled and naturalized in
Genoa, familiarwith all the intricaciesof the trade to which the
Genoese were new, continuedto act as directorsof the exchange
afterthe appearance of the Genoese as tradersin the wake of the
Crusade, until, by the middle of the century,the Genoese were
steadilypushing them aside for their own greater profit. In the
decade under reviewthistransitionwas just completed,and a small
group of fiveGenoese families-della Volta, Burone, Mallone,Usodimare,and Vento,associated withwhomwere an able and wealthy
no. 777. Two and a half lire furnishedthe food of an adult man for a year.
Ibid., no. 679. The wages of seamen for the voyage to the Levant and return,
about nine months,varied from 3I/2 to 5 lire; the wages of a captain for the
same voyage were about Io lire. Chart. II., no. 795; Archiviodi Stato di Genova,
Attidel Notaio Lanfranco,Registro I., f. 59; Notaio Guglielmo Cassinense,ff.10 V.,
I I.
It cost 8'/2 lire to hire three men to calk a ship, preparatoryto the eastern voyage in one instance; 13 denarii (.054 lire) a day for three men to do
the same work,furnishingall the materials,in another. Chart. II., no. 795; Not.
Lanfr., I. f. i67. The expenses of a factorgoing to Syria in II90 were estimated
at one-half to one lira a month. Not. Lanfr., I. f. gi v. The price of Saracen
slaves varied from about 3 to 8 lire, according to age and sex. Chart. II., nos.
I051 ; Not. Lanfr., I. ff. 45 v., 46, 6o, etc.; Not. Gugl. Cass., f. 86.
294, 1005,
Mules ranged in price from4 to I5 lire. Chart. II., no. 772; Not. Lanfr., I. ff.
Not. Ignoti, f. 112 v. A mule could be hired for the journey from
52 v., 53, 134;
Genoa to Santiago di Compostella and returnfor 3 lire. Ferretto,Doc. Gen. di
A horse was worthabout I2 lire.
Novi e Valle Scrivia (Asti, i909), I., doc. 220.
Not. Lanfr., reg. II., pt. I., f. 6 v. A hundred lire would purchase iooo goat
The man
skins, and I50 lire a galley. Not. Ign., f. 20; Not. Gugl. Cass., f. I77.
of legal trainingand of noble birth sent to Syria by the Embriachi in I200 to
manage their concessions in Acre, was given a salary of about 75 lire per annum.
Not. Ign., f. i6o. These illustrationsare interestingwhen comparedwithSchaube's
estimatein i9o6 that the Genoese lira was the equivalent of 20 to 24 Reichsmark.
Handelsgeschichte,appendix.
27 Chart. II., passim.
28 " Easterners in Genoa ", Journal of the American Oriental Society,

XXXVIII.

176-i87.

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Genoese Trade with Syria

I99

Syrian,Ribaldo di Saraphia, and a Jew, Blancardo,finetypesof the


Syrian and Jewishmerchantsof the previous epoch29-practically
monopolizedthe trade with Syria. These families,representedin
most cases by a single individual,so dominatedthe six venturesto
and those
Syria in theseten years that aside fromtheirinvestments
of the two men mentionedabove, less than twentyother persons
were able to invest in the trade. Of these only three investedin
more than one voyage;30 the others,two of whomwere womenand
one a priest,each investedonce.3' The sum of these scatteredinvestmentswas about 2IO0 lire out of a total of about io,ooo lire, a
fair share in appearance,but all of whichwas investedthroughthe
great leaders or their factorsin such a manneras to contributeto
the profitsof the mastersof the trade by reducingtheiroperating
expenses per lira.
These fivefamilieswere enabled to assert and to maintaintheir
dominationover Genoa's richesttrade througha combinationof
economicand politicalconditionsin Genoa whichthrowan interesting lighton twelfth-century
trade.
In the stage of developmentwhich Genoa had reached by the
middle of the twelfthcentury,moneywas not plentiful;dowries,
purchases,and even communalloans were stillbeingdrawnin terms
of articles of trade, principallyspices and dye-materialsfromthe
Levant.'2 These wares could only be obtained fromthe East by
exportsof gold and silver. The onlyclasses in Genoa whichhad a
large ready surplus for investmentwere: first,the landed nobility,
who were able to turntheirrevenuesfromland intomoneyby sales
of theirproduce,or possessed the rightto collectin moneyas well
29 For the detailed careers of Saraphia and Blancardo, ibid., pp. I8I-I84.

30 Guglielmo Filardo invested in two voyages, possibly in


three, mainly
throughthe Malloni and delle Volte, and at this time he arranged a marriage for
his niece with one of the Usodimare family. Chart. II., nos. 457, 472, 677, 752,
822.
Guglielmo Aradello made two Syrian investmentsthroughthe delle Volte.
Ibid., nos. 424, 664. The third of these investors was Eustachio, an agent and
associate of the delle Volte. Ibid., nos. 44I, 663, 104.
All threewere of the nonnoble class, and thoughlong establishedin Genoa, where they were closely associated with Syrians,Jews, and Greeks,they failed to increase their wealth in this
period and cannot be traced after ii64.
31 Five were men of the consular nobility,Grillo, Picamiglio, Elia, Nebulone,
and di Castello. Chart. II., nos. 468, III0, III3, I504.
Three were fromfamilies
of later prominence,Malfiliastro,di Sauro, and Capo di Gallo. Ibid., nos. 484,
487, 673. The others are all obscure, except Stabile, a non-Christianbroker and
confidentialagent for Saraphia, the Syrian. Ibid., nos. 674, io8o, I082, 1102,

II04,

iio6,

iio8,

14I8.

Chart. II., passim. Especially interestingis the paymentto the bankers


of Piacenza by the communein I154.
Lib. Jfr.,I., no. 202.
32

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E. H. Byrne

200

as in kind thetolls,duties,and taxes at the harbor,gates,and passes


leading to the interior;and secondly,the small merchantclass of
the previous epoch, mainlySyrians and Jews. The landed classes
were constantlyincreasingtheir propertyby purchases, especially
in years of economicdistress,fromthe smaller landed proprietors
in Genoa and the vicinity.33 A thirdclass of men was beginningto
appear, engaged in a smallerway in the westerndistributionof the
wares fromthe Genoese market,but theywere unable at this time
to competewith the great capitalistsin the easterntrade. The insignificantindustrialclass in Genoa apparentlydid not yet produce
a surplus beyond the needs of local consumption,nor were their
productssuch as were demandedin Syria and could be exportedin
exchange forthe preciousgoods fromthe sale of whichin the West
comgreaterwealthcould be produced. This economicphenomenon,
mon throughoutsouthernEurope at the beginningof the Crusades,
explains why,in general,participationin the Levant trade was limited to the landed classes.
However, this does not explain how so narrowa group of families, fivein number,maintaineda grasp on all but twentyper cent.
of the bulk of the trade. The explanationfor this lies in the peculiarly favorable position occupied by the larger group of families
known as Visconti,to which three of the five familiesabove mentionedbelongedeitherby ancientrightor by marriage.34The Viscontiwere those families,onlyone of whichstillbore thatname,who
were descended from Ido Vicecomnesof the tenth century; the
vicecomitesor viscontiwere formerlythe officialsof the margraves
of Liguria, to whom theyowed feudal allegiance in returnfor the
enjoymentof the militaryand financialrightsover the cityand over
Chart. II., passim.
For the Visconti and their privileges,see Desimoni, Atti della Soc. Lig., I.
and tab. XIX. ff.,in app.
128 ff.; L. T. Belgrano, ibid., vol. II., pt. I., p. 3I4,
113,
to pt. I.; Sieveking, op. cit.,pp. 3 ff. The Usodimariwere Visconti in origin. Belgrano, tab. XXVI. Two of Ingo della Volta's daughters were married to the
heads of the importantVisconti families, Spinula and di Castello. Chart. II.,
Guglielmo Burone was a brotherof Ingo della Volta.
no. 349; Antnales,I. 2I4.
Belgrano, tab. XXXIX. The Venti were associated with the delle Volte as collectors of the archiepiscopal revenues in the Bisagno valley, and Guglielmo
Vento's son was married to the daughter of the head of the Pevere family,one
of the most powerful Visconti. Belgrano, "Registrum Curiae Archiepiscopalis
Januae", in Atti della Soc. Lig., vol. II., pt. II., pp. 2I, 24; Chart. II., no. 364.
The daughter of Ugo Mallone was married to a Visconti, di Castello, while Ido
Mallone, more active in the Syrian trade, but whose relationshipto the head of
the familyis not clear, was able to invest only as factor for Guglielmo Burone.
Chart. II., no. 799. Ibid., nos. 329, 6I9, 923, I013, III5.
33

34

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GenoeseTrade withSyria

201

Liguria. These feudal rightsthe Visconti convertedinto private


possessions in the late eleventhand early twelfthcenturiesby alliance of theirpersonal strengthwiththe bishop and the risingcommunal spirit,of whichthe crusadingexpeditionswere the firstsuccessful expression. The Viscontiprivilegesconsistedmainlyof the
rightto collectthe taxes and tolls,at the harbor,gates, passes, and
at the citymarkets,importantincomesin kind and in moneywhich
were hereditableamong them. These incomes were apportioned
amongthe Visconti families,on what basis is not clear. It was unquestionablyowingto theirmembershipin this privilegedclass that
the Embriaco familyhad secured the administrationof the Syrian
coloniesand the collectionof colonial revenuespatternedafterthose
of the Visconti in Genoa itself; whetheror not the Embriachisurrenderedprivilegesin Genoa cannot be said.
Thus at both ends of the Syrian trade the Visconti were in a
position of great influenceand power, economic and political. It
would be quite possibleforthe Viscontito affordspecial commercial
opportunitiesto theirrelativesand adherentsboth in Genoa and in
Syria, of such a characteras to exclude those commercialrivals
whom the Usodimari,delle Volte, etc., desired to shut out; just as
theleadingViscontiwere able to abrogatethe rightsof certainother
Visconti,35 and to utilize the growingstrengthof the communefor
the maintenanceof their privilegesagainst the margraves. That
had
some such divisionof thecommercialand financialopportunities
been made is furtherattestedby the factthatthe otherViscontirefrained generallyfrom engagingin the Syrian trade. Syria was
left to the group led in Syria by the Embriachi,in Genoa by the
delle Volte. Even the Embriachidid not activelyparticipatein the
Syrian trade as investorsuntiltoward the close of the twelfthcentury,36when their special rightshad begun to wane and when the
Viscontiprivilegeswere beinggenerallyattacked. The richestand
steadiest source of supply upon which Genoese commercialpros.
peritywas based, the trade with Syria, was in this way limitedto a
narrowgroup of feudal families,benton maintainingtheircommercial supremacythroughpolitical dominationin Genoa and in the
colonies. The trade with Alexandria, on the otherhand, although
decreasingin volume as the Syrian trade increased,was open to all
able to investmoneyabroad, for upon it the great familieswere not
able to fasten their hold since they could not controlthe eastern
35

Lib. Jur., I., no. 239.

Between II79 and 1200 they are found engaged in exports of cloth and
moneyto Syria for the firsttime. Not. Ign., ff.5, i6o, i6o v.
36

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202

end, as in Syria, throughthe Visconti.7 In Constantinoplethe


Genoese footingwas so insecureas to affordno such opportunities.38
Here lies one explanationforthe growthof the politicalfactions
in Genoa in the twelfthcentury,factionswhose deadly feuds at
timesof crisisthrewthe cityinto terrificdisorder. The attemptto
apportion a commercialand financialsupremacyled to economic
rivalryand to the formationof politicalmachinesforthe purposeof
securingcontrolover the consular elections. It would be the aim
of all the factionsto develop the economicpossibilitiesof the commune to the highestdegreeand to reap the chiefrewardsforthemselves. The massof thepeoplewouldbenefitfromthegeneralincrease
in trade,withoutbeing allowed to share equally in the most profitable branch,the Syriantrade. In the years I154-1I64 the dominant
politicalfactionwas led by the man whose Syrian investments
were
the largestof the period-Ingo della Volta, the head of the family
of that name, a man of great wealth and energy,father-in-lawto
the heads of two leadingVisconti families. This group,whichmay
be called the della Volta faction,had led the Spanish expeditionsof
as thepenaltyof theirfailure,and
I147-1 I49, was drivenfromoffice
had been restoredto consularpower afterthe serious depressionsof
theyears I I49-I I 54.9 In theten succeedingyears,Ingo della Volta,
whose wealth increasedenormouslythroughthe Syrian trade,built
37 The acts of the notary Giovanni Scriba, Chart. Ir., disclose nearly a hundred individuals engaged in the Alexandrian trade between ii5.6 and II64; most
of themare of families of lesser prominence,investingsmaller sums, althoughthe
great families also participated. The relative importanceof the two streams of
trade in these years, indicative of the increasing significanceof that with Syria,
will be seen from the followingtable, compiled fromthe acts of Scriba. I have
been unable as yet to follow the Alexandrian trade after II64.

Anno
II56
I157
I

158

Syria(lire)
545

Alexandria(lire)
I,87I

2,074

I,804

2,394

I,307

ii6o,

3,550

I,395

II6i

I,988

I,770

II64

I,524
I0,075

884
9,033

lire. The trade ceased


38 The total volume from Scriba's acts is only 2007
completelyin II62 after the Pisan attack upon the Genoese there, except for
what Stabile, and Blancardo the Jew's brother,Raimondo Capellano, were-able to
invest there. Chart. II., nos. I468, I469, I5o6. Cf. Heyd, op. Cit., I. 204;
Schaube, op. cit., p. 229.
39 The names of the men holding consular officein II47-II48
do not again
appear in the lists of consuls until II54, except that of the annalist, Oberto
Cancellario. After I354 they rapidlyre-establishedtheir power. See the lists of
consuls in the Annalcs for each year and in Canale, op. cit., I. 412 ff.

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203

up a machinewhichdominated
theconsulship,
restoredthe cityto
unusualprosperity,
sentcommercial
embassiesfarandwide,asserted
successfully
Genoeseindependence
of the Emperor,and in I163
extendeditsinfluence
fieldthrough
intotheecclesiastical
theelection
of Ugo dellaVoltaas archbishop.40
The downfallof thisfactionin
I I64 was oneof thedramatic
eventsin Genoesetwelfth-century
historyand was broughtabout,as oncebefore,in II50, by excessive
whichagainstrained
theeconoambition
forcommercial
expansion,
micresourcesof thecommune
to thebreaking-point
and ruinedthe
Levantinetradeformanyyears.
Della Volta was by traditionand experiencean expansionist.
on theFirstCrusadehad sharedthecreditforthe
One of hisfamily
Genoesevictoriesin Syria;41 he himselfhad beenone of thechief
in theSpanishexpeditions.42
BetweenI I54 andI I64 he
participants
reachedtheheightof his commercial
and politicalpower.43At the
head of the Genoeseembassyto Barbarossain II62, he negotiated
thetreatyof alliancewiththeEmperorfortheconquestof Sicily.44
To thatprojecthis factionsacrificed
theirrichesttrade;no voyages
to theLevantweremadein II62 or II63, and all efforts
wereconon theSicilianpreparations.In II64, whenall was ready,
centrated
Barbarossatwicepostponeda decisiveanswerto the importunate
Genoese,45The della Volta factionwas in a precarious.
position:
the Syriantradehad beensacrificed,
thenew colonyin Constantinoplehad beendestroyed
bythePisansin II62 withgreatfinancial
losses,a briefwar withPisa had resulted
and nowthe
therefrom,46
of discontent
Siciliandreamwas fading. Rumblings
wereheardin
thecity. In despairtheygraspedwildlyat a schemefortheadditionof Sardiniato theircommercial
to erect
empirein theattempt
thereunderGenoesetutelagea kingdomfromwhichPisan trade
shouldbe excluded,the Genoeseto be mastersof thewholeisland
withthe craftyBarisone,one of the fourjudges who ruledthe
island,as king.47The preliminary
plansand bribeswerearranged
in the cameraof the archbishop
Ugo della Volta,withIngo and
40 Annales, I. 75; Canale, op. cit., I. 41.
41Annales, I. i i8.
42 Ibid., I. 35, 8o; Canale, op. cit., I. I35.
43 For the della Volta-Spinula control over the consulate, see Canale's consuIlar lists, op. cit., I. 4I4-4I5.
In i6i, when Ingo's son and son-in-law were
consuls, the houses and towers of their opponentswere destroyed.Annales, I. 6I.
44 Annales, I. 65-66; Lib. Jur.,I., no. 238.
45 Annales, I. I 5 7 f.
46 Ibid., I. 67 ff47 Canale, op. cit., I. i68 ff.

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E. H. Byrne

204

and were continuedat the courtof


anotherof the familypresent,48
the Emperorin Lombardy,where Barisone's agent was seekingthe
crown of Sardinia. The consuls lent Barisone 4000 marks to pay
the Emperor for the crown; to raise this sum theymortgagedthe
communal revenues and possessions at usurious rates. Barisone
borrowed vast sums from individuals in Genoa. The expedition
sentto Sardinia was a failureand led to a renewalof the war with
Pisa. Barisone, fetchedfromSardinia, was placed in the charge of
the nobles to whom he was indebted,to lingerin Genoa for many
years as a hostage,a hopelessdebtorand embarrassingguest.49
In Genoa the anger at the della Volta faction was profound.
They had grown rich in a trade in which all were not allowed to
share. They had restoredthe communeto prosperityafter the
Spanish troublesfor whichtheyhad been held responsible,only to
involve it in elaboratelyexpensive schemes for the conquest of
Sicily and Sardinia, the failure of which had broughtcommercial
ruinand enormousdebts. In September,I I64, Marchio della Volta,
consul and son of Ingo, was murdered;civil war followedand for
fiveyears absorbed all the energyof the commune.50The consuls
lest the people should rise in arms.
dared not call the Parlamnentum
the Consilium,theycontemplated
to
convoke
againstthem; unwilling
retentionof officeand of powerby force,the erectionof a despotism.
The della Volta archbishopwas at last forcedto intervene;elections
were held and the della Volta factionwas once more overthrown.
The Consiliumdecreed that consuls should never hold officelonger
than one year, and that on leaving officethey should rank merely
as privatecitizens. The delle Volte were ruined,theirtowers and
houses seized, and soldiersquarteredupon them. With them suffered the Venti, Buroni, Malloni, and others whose wealth had
grownon the Syrian trade. Five years of civil war, and war with
Pisa prolongedto I175, nearlydestroyedthe Levantinecommerce.51
of Genoese prosperitytook place under other
The reconstruction
conditions.
auspices and under different
In the decade of their political and commercialsupremacythe
familiesof the della Volta factionpoured the revenuesfromtheir
Chart. II., no. 1466.
Canale, loc. cit.
50 Annales, I. i68 ff.
51 No records of voyages to the Levant have been found in the archives for
The Annales however,I. 200, 206, 214, 229, state for the
the years II65-II78.
the civil troubles,"naves laboratumiuverunt". Not
that
despite
I69,
years iI66-i
until II77 were peace and prosperityrestored and the normal commercial life
possible again. Ibid., II. II-I2.
48
49

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Genoese Trade with Syria

205

landed possessions and their shares in the feudal privilegesinto


the Syrian trade. The profitsfromthe sales of eastern wares in
Genoa and throughoutthe West were in turnused to increasetheir
in Syria and also theirlanded holdingsin Genoa. They
investments
became wholesale importersand exportersoperatingthroughmen
-oflesser rank and means. Their activitiesillustratethe early use
alike of landed income and of feudal privilegesas economiccommodities,and disclose the importanceof the wholesale trade as a
means of'makingmoneywithmoney,for mostof themwere growing richerveryfastin theseyears. An illustrationfromeach of the
great familieswill make these pointsclear.
of the salt monopoly,his
Ingo della Volta owned one-eighteenth
meadows,pastures,mills,etc., in Sturla alone in II57 were valued
at iooo lire. He regularlymaintainedas his agents in voyages to
Syria two associates,Opizo Amico Clericoand Ingo Nocenzio. Possessed of his full confidence,theyoccasionallytransferredportions
of his capital to other factorsand shipowners. As many as-three
subordinateswere thus employed in ii6o in the distributionof
Syrian wares in the West. In the absence of his regular agents
abroad, della Volta used o.therfactorsgoing to Syria, thoughhis
withClericoand Nocenzio were so stableand sufficient
arrangements
for his purposes that he seldom entered into other partnerships'
The partnershipwithNocenzio originallyamountedto 300 lire,just
previous to i i56; in II57, della Volta's share alone was 4I0 lire,
while in i i6o it was 689 lire in a total of ii99 lire,the largestfund
of its kind in Genoa. The associationwith Clerico mountedfrom
484 lire in II56 to 753 lire in ii6o. In both cases expenses were
paid and profitswithdrawnat intervalsaccordingto the needs or
desiresof the associates. In I i6o della Volta's foreigninvestments,
all foundedon his Syrian interests,amountedto I562 lire as compared with 623 lire in II56. Throughoutthe period he supported
his son Marchio,a shipownerwithcasual Syrian interests,in trade
to Alexandria,Byzantium,and Spain, and his own agentswere selling eastern wares in Sicily, Provence, and northernAfrica. The
elder della Volta did not noticeablyincreasehis landed holdings,but
utilizedhis commercialgains for politicalends. His son Marchio,
on.the otherhand,boughthouses in Genoa in this period worth379
lire and lent 200 lire in pepper to the commune. The delle Volte
retrenchedmarkedlyafter the negotiationof the treatywith Barbarossa in II62 for the conquest of Sicily, where theirtrade had
long been important. From this project,as fromthe ill-fatedSardinian scheme of II64, theyhad doubtlessexpected handsome re-

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E. H. Brne

206

turnsto which their easternprofitswere to be momentarilysacrificed. Marchio's murderand his father'sdownfallput an end for
manyyears to the power of this familywhose career in politicsand
effort.52
commerceembracedso muchof Genoese twelfth-century
Second only to della Volta in the importanceof his Syrian investmentswas Baldissone Usodimare. He was one of della Volta's
associates in the Spanish events of Ii 46-I149, came into political
power withhis factionas consul in II54, and participatedin all the
negotiationswiththe Emperorin the followingyears,as in the plans
for the conquest of Sicily and Sardinia. His chief interestwas in
the triangulartrade betweenGenoa, Syria, and Provence. Oberto
of Lucca, domiciledin Genoa, was his agent in this trade for many
years. Their original partnershipof 264 lire amounted to more
than750 lirein II59-I i6o, and reached950 lirein II64, whenmore
than700 lire were takento Syria by Oberto,beyondstocksin Genoa
worth240 lire and profitsdeducted at intervalsthroughall these
years: Not only had Usodimare's wealth greatlyincreased,but he
had enabled a youngerman as his agent to acquire means and exto raise himto the consulshipin II82.53
periencesufficient
The careerof an olderman in thisgroup of investors,Guglielmo
Burone, a brotherof della Volta, is interesting. He had been a
youthfulcrusader in iI27, and sixteenyears later served in Syria
as Genoese legate. A slave-owner,marriedto a wealthywoman,he
was manytimesconsul,and co-operatedwithIngo della Volta in the
His first-hand
critical negotiationswith the Emperor in II62.
knowledgeof conditionsin the Levant was unique amonghis friends
of the della Volta faction. He investedin fourout of the six Syrian

voyagesof the decadeII54--I64,

to theamountof I233. lire,and

sent lesser sums to Alexandria and Constantinople. Agents were


maintainedby him in Syria fortwo and threeyears at a time,while
otherswere sentto France, Spain, Bougie, and Ceuta withthe proceeds. From the profitshe enlarged his holdingsin Genoa regularly; in II58 alone he boughteighthouses for 250 lire. He must
have sufferedfromthe collapse of the factionin iI64, since he was
in
so closely identifiedwith its interestsas to representit officially
In the same year, after fortythe famous reconciliationof i170.
threeyearsof publiclifeand a singularlyactiveshare in the erection
52

nos.

The importantreferencesfor Ingo are: Lib. Jur., I., no. I78; Chart. II.,
955, 958, among many others. For Marchio, Chart. II., nos.
530,
424,

304,

563, 66i, io8i, II55, I325.


53

Importantreferences: Lib. Jur., I., no.

Chart. II., nos. 775, 957, II89,


II97.

Annales,II.

I473.

I24;

Annales, I. 37, 49,

71,

Oberto di Lucca was consul in II82,

17, I9, 71.

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I57;
II84,

Genoese Trade with Syria

207

of Genoese power in Syria, he was one of the Genoese chosen to


escortthe Byzantineambassador fromTerracina to Genoa when it
was vainly hoped that the Byzantinetrade mightbe reopened-a
last tributeto his knowledgeof the Levant.54
The active memberof the wealthyVento family,later important
international
bankers,who held the lease of the Genoesemint,shared
in the salt monoplyand in the collectionof taxes, was Guglielmo,
manytimesconsuland ambassador. His interestswere about evenly
divided between Syria and Alexandria. In II56 he sent an agent
to Syria with 300 lire; the results of this investmentcannot be
followeddirectly,since the agent apparentlyremainedin Syria,possibly actingunder the directionof Vento's grandnephew,who representedhim in the Levant at thistimeand to whomhe made remittances. As time went on he sent othersums to Syria, and factors
to Sardinia, Sicily, Spain, and Africa with exports of cinnamon,
pepper,and dye-woods. Year by year he boughtland, mills,aqueducts,and houses in Genoa. Regarded by his familyconnectionsas
financialadviser,his effortsmateriallyincreasedtheirimportance.55
The last of the great familieswith Syrian connectionsin this
period was the Malloni. In this instancethe head of the family,
Ansaldo, one of the old leaders of the della Volta faction,56took no
active part in the investmentsin this decade at least. He mav well
have done so in earlieryears,since of all these familiesthe younger
Malloni participatedmost oftenin the Syrian trade by journeysto
the Levant. The Malloni were clearlynot possessed of such great
means as their friends. They were associated in trade on the one
hand with GuglielmoBurone, on the otherwith GuglielmoFilardo,
a man of lower rank thanthey,but of considerablemeans and wide
knowledgeof the Levant, possiblya Syrian or Jew. In both relationshipsthe Malloni contributedthe smaller amounts of capital.
Ugo, son of Ansaldo Mallone, sent one son, Rubaldo, to Syria and
one to Sicily as agents for himselfand Filardo in II57; Rubaldo
remainedin Syria for two years and soon afterhis returndeparted
in the same service for two years more.57 By the time he was in
54

Lib. Jur., I., nos.

Chart. II., noS. 293,


893, 909, 923, 969,

322,

20,

95,

329,

33I,

I24;

Annales, I. 28, 35, 45, 64, 65,

355, 426, 474, 6I9,

668, 724,

725,

23I,

235;

846, 882, 892,

IOI3,
Testament of Alda, his wife, disposing of many
I115.
lire, silks, jewels, and a psalter. Ibid., no. 399.

iI;

55 Lib. Jur., I., nos. I44,


I50,
I54, I78; Annales, I. 32, 36, 46-47, 65; II. IOChart. II., nos. 328, 347, 354, 364, 404, 47I, 473, 505, 58o, 584, 6oo, 6I7, 636,

740, 794, 932,


I500,

939, 940,

Io85,

I093,

I098,

II02,

I2I9,

I354,

I355,

I375,

I410,

I436,

1502.

56Lib. Jur.,I., nos. I24, I62, I66.


He was 'eight times consul between II33
and II59, and legate to Byzantiumin II64. Annales, I. I67.
57 Chart. II., nos. 457, 486, 792.
822.

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208

Genoa again, the della Volta catastrophehad occurred,so it is impossibleto tracehis fortunes. Anotheryoungmemberof the family,
Ido, in partnershipwithBurone achieved more evident-success. In
I 156 he firstwentto the Levant forBurone,to be absenttwo years.
Soon afterhis reappearancein Genoa in II58 he set forthagain for
a similarperiod of tradingin Syria and northernAfrica. With the
proceeds of this voyage he went to France in January,i i6i, laden
with easterncloth and cinnamon; by August he was once more in
Genoa, wherea renewedpartnershipwithBurone fora thirdvoyage
to Syria and a commissionto collect a debt owed to Conrad of
Chiavari by the King of Jerusalem,furnishedhim with the means
for his most'prosperousventure. In five years his investmentin
this trade had increased from I341 tO 488 lire, aside fromhis expenses abroad forthe wholeperiod. Then he too is swallowedup in
the collapse of II64 and is heard of no morein the recordsuntilthe
house of his son was destroyedby the commune,and thegold,silver,
in i I96, in punishmentof an attempt
and jewels thereinconfiscated,
to violate the trade laws.58
It is evident from what has been said above that none of the
greatGenoesecapitalists,and onlyoccasionallytheirsons or nephews,
wentto Syria in a mercantilecapacity. For the mostpartthe actual
operationswere conductedby an interestingclass of professional
factorsor agents, men with first-handknowledgeof the East, its
customsand tongues,upon whomthe great familieswere dependent
for skill and guidance. Some of these agents were undoubtedly
Syriansand Jews; otherswere foreignersdomiciledin Genoa, whose
names and associates suggestthe existenceof a considerablecolony
of skilledtraders,such as had previouslyfurnishedthe commercial
link betweenEast and West.59 Some were itinerantpeddlers who
flitacross the scene but once in a decade. Many were Genoese engaged in masteringthe detailsof thetrade,acquiringwealththrough
theirassociationswiththe landed capitalists,makingfrequenttrips,
and slowly buildingup a middle class of the pure merchanttype.
Considerablewealth was acquired by some of these factorsin this
period. An agent of the della Volta family,Ingo Nocenzio, is a
good example. Nocenzio made at least two voyagesto Syria, spent
several years there,and also directedfor della Volta the sale in the
West of the importsfromSyria. His trade capital increasedtenfold in these prosperousyears, quite aside from such profitsand
Annales, II. 6I.
Chart. II., nos. 329, 6I9, 9I4, 9I5, 923, 01O3, II08, iii5;
Easterners in Genoa ", loc. cit. Maiomono, Merlo of Lucca, Ugo di
Pavia, Suplicio di Verdun, Ogerio Ascherio Aguxino, etc. Chart. II., nos. iio8,
58

59

907,

'

II02,

1499,

44I.

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GenoeseTrade withSyria

209

expenses as were paid to him in the meantime.60Oberto of Lucca's


of 86 lire withUsodimare in tenyears increased
originalinvestment
to morethan 300 lire,thoughhe had withdrawn383 lire in profits.61
Alvernacio,a skipperand factor in Genoa for short intervalsbetweenhis Levantinevoyages,had 75 lire investedin a ship in II56.
and paid
By II64 he owned a millin Genoa,land on the water-front,
a dowryof I40 lire for his daughter,a handsomedot in that age.62
The methodsby which the Syrian,Ribaldo di Saraphia, built up a
capital fund of more than 700 lire in the Syrian trade,throughhis
personalknowledgeof Syria and his shrewdnessas an administrator
of the estates of minors,I have elsewhere describedin detail, as
also thecareerof Blancardo theJew,second onlyto Ingo della Volta
in capital investedabroad.63 Often enough,on the otherhand, the
factorsdepartfor Syria,are heard of no morein Genoa, but remain
in the East as Genoese colonists. It is probablethat manyof them
tookthisway of earningtheirpassage eastwardand enoughto begin
life therein a congenialfield.
Betweenthe collapse of II64 and the Third Crusade in II87, the
Syrian trade must have sufferedseverely.64The debts incurredin
II64, the resultanttaxation, the war with Pisa, the disturbances
created by the strife between the Emperor and the Lombard
to meetby theterriblestruggle
League-all were made moredifficult
betweenfactionsforthe controlof the governmentand by the gatheringwrathof the wider ranks of the landed and tradingclasses.65
thatcontrol
In the course of thesetroublesit was onlywithdifficulty
of the Syrian colonies was maintained.66No sooner was financial
and politicalorder partiallyrestoredthan the successes of Saladin
wiped out the Genoese colonies in the Christiandisastersin Syria.
60 Chart.II., nos. 359, 424-425, 790, 805, 955, 963, I364-1365,
I406,
I4I2.
Sibilia, nee Nocenzio, in II56 made a will leaving handsome bequests, and making
Saraphia the Syrian her executor instead of her husband, suggestinga possible
Syrian origin of the family. Ibid., no. 283. In II9I Rogerio Nocenzio sent 402
lire to Syria; his widow Mabilia in I203 was still interestedin the trade. Not.
With patience and time the careers of dozens of these
Gugl. Cass., ff.53, 2I2.
factors and their families can be followed for generations. The accumulationof
a mass of such material will throw valuable light on the social changes of the
twelfthand thirteenthcenturies.
61 See above, note 53.
62 Chart. II., nos. 345, 359, 955, II49,
I398.
63 " Easterners in Genoa ", loc. cit.
64 The archives disclose records of voyages in I I79,
I I82,
I I 84, II86.
Not.
Ign., ff.3, 6, I2, I5, 17, 20, 2I; Not. Lanfr., I. ff.I, 130 ff.,95 ff.
65 Canale, op. cit., I. I9I ff.
66 Letters of Alexander III. and Urban III. on behalf of the Genoese in Syria.
345-356.
Lib. Jur.,I., nos. 320-322,

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E. H. Byrne

210

The permanentdownfallof the Christianpower in Syria would have


spelledthe ruinof Genoese prosperity.All the forceof the Genoese
leaders was thrownintothe Third Crusade,67and fromthe rebuilding of the crusaders'statesthe Genoese profitedrichlythroughconcessions more liberal than before.68 But in these eventfulyears
great changesbecome visiblein Genoa. The absence of the former
leaders on the Crusade was utilizedby the wider ranks of the nobilityto overthrowthe consulatein iigo in favor of a Podesta who
should govern in the communalspirit,not in the interestof a faction.69 In Syria the new chartersto the Genoese were drawn in the
name of the communealone, not in that of the archbishopand commune. Althoughthe Embriachiwere allowed to continueas administratorsof the Syrianpossessions,theywere supervisedby consuls
residentin Syria, appointedby the home governand vicecomtites
ment.70 As early as i i68, foreseeingthe possible trend of events
after the quasi-revolutionof II64, the Embriachihad solemnlydeclared the trade of Gibilet,probablyof the othercolonies,freeto all
Genoese citizens,and also to all residentsof the entire archbishopric.71 They were readyto meetthe demandsof the communethat
the Syrian trade shouldbe free,if theymightbe allowed to remain
in controlof the colonieseven under supervision.
In the Podesta the people had a leader in the fightagainstfeudal
and commercialprivilege. The feudal families,engaged in a desperate struggleto maintaintheir political grasp, led now by the
son-in-lawof Ingo della Volta, Fulco di Castello, were forced to
sacrificetheirtradinginterests. Except when departingfor Syria
in the large crusadingexpeditions,theywere henceforthnot often
able to participatein the Syrian investments.72 The great bulk of
67

Annales, I.

29,

30-3I,

32-33,

36.

ff.; Schaube,op. cit., p. I69 ff.


69Annales, I. 33, 36-37; Caro, VerfassungGenuas, p. 33 ff.; Heyck, op. cit.,
P. 46.
70 Heyd, op. cit., I. 332-333.
71 Lib. Jur.,I., no. 256.
72 The delle Volte invested only three times-in ii86 (amounts illegible),
lI9I
(50 lire). Not. Lanfr., I. f. 96; Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. 57,
(23 lire), I205
Not. Gugl. Cass.,
273 v. Adalesia, widow of Simone Vento, sent 50 lire in 1205.
Mallone investments,as a half-centurypreviously,carried by younger
f. 250.
while
members,not by otherfactors,are found in I I90 in amountsindeterminable,
in 1205 four membersof the familysent 247 lire, by a fifth. Not. Lanfr., I. f.
The di Castelli, so closely identified
93 v.; Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. 258, 267, 270.
with the delle Volte, sent amountsvaryingfrom 50 to 334 lire. Not. Lanfr., I. f.
95; Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. 55, 2I2, 224, 269. The Embriachi, for the firsttime
active investors,take or send sums of from I00 to 460 lire. Not. Ign., ff.3, I6o,
i6o v., I6I; Not. Gugl. Cass., f. 99. A single investmentof the Buroni in I I90,
68

Heyd,op. cit., I.

3I0

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Genoese Trade with Syria

211

this rich trade passed into the hands of all Genoese with means to
invest,regardlessof rankor privilege. This significant
change,first
seen in the Embriaco agreementof Ii68, is clearlyvisible in II79
in the firstvoyage on recordafter the troublesbegun in 1164, and
is strikinglyevidentin all the voyages fromthat time on, particularlyafterthe revolutionof II9o. Hundreds of new names appear
in the contracts-names of dozens of familiesof the lesser nobility,
of scores of individualswhose statuscannotnow be fixed,men from
the Ligurian riviera,fromLombardyand elsewhere,immigrantsto
Genoa, the foundersof a new industriallife.73 The deep social significanceof this opportunityfor the increase of wealth among the
masses of the people was not fully felt until a half-centurylater
whenthemasses rose in strengthagainstthe aristocracyas a whole.74
It is not entirelypossibleto trace year by year the growthof the

tradein theperiodfromII79 to I206.

Yet somecomparisons
with

the earlier epoch will disclose the importantchanges. The total


volume of the Syrian trade conductedin six voyages between II56
and I I64 was slightlymorethan Io,o00 lire. In singleyearsof prosperityand peace in the laterperiod,theyearlyaverage for ii56-I i64
was frequentlysurpassed,and in two instancesthe total for II56II64 was nearly reached in a singleyear: in I19I the sum of two
ventures,springand fall,was 690o lire,and for a singleventurein
I205 the amountinvolvedwas Sow lire.75 In the earlierperiod four
or five factorswent to Syria on each voyage, representingbarely
more than a score of individualinvestmentsof the great families.
For theautumnvoyageof I I9I thirty-seven
contractsinvolvingover
eightyindividuals survive; for the autumn voyage of I203 there
the interestsof about two hundred
are eightycontractsrepresenting
investors. The largestventureof all, in the springof I205, is cOVthe amount unknown,completes the list of the old group, with the Usodimari
missing. Not. Lanfr., I. f. 58. These figuresare not quite complete,since some
of the photographssent me since I9I4 are defective; other photographsof documents noted in I9I4 have failed to arrive. Moreover, there may be a few documentsdated between II79 and I205 in the records of other notaries which I have
not been able to examine as yet. Even so, the point is clear that the old families
had lost their controlof the trade.
73 It is impossible here to give any evidence of the sweeping character of
this change withoutciting long lists of names. Only eventual publication of all
the Syrian documents can make it clear to readers unfamiliar with Genoese
families of the Middle Ages.
74

ch. I.

Caro, Genua und die Machte am Mittelmeer,


1257-131I

(Halle,

I895),

75 These are the totals for these years from the acts of Not. Gugl. Cass.
They are the minima for reasons given above in note 72. The difficulties
there
cited forbidan estimateat present of the total volume for the later period.

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E. H. BAirne

212

ered by I32 contractscontainingthe names of over threehundred


participants.76Sixteen voyages are recorded between I I79 and
in II9I and I20I voyages took place both in the springand
I205;
autumn.7 The fleetsof threeor four ships required for the trade
were regularlymet on the returnvoyage, laden as theywere with
the preciouswares upon whichGenoese trade foranotheryear must
largely depend, by armed galleys sent to convoy them homeward
fromas far east as Crete.78 In the great venturesmen and women,
the latter in ever-increasingnumbers,from every rank in society
were interested. Even the sailors about to depart on the Syrian
voyage investedthereinthe half of theirwages for the journey,the
portioncustomarilypaid them in Genoa before departure.79The
fromthe returningmerchantsand their
revenuesof the comnmune
goods were so reckonedupon by the governmentthat,in 120I, 450
lire were borrowed for the equipmentof the navy, to be repaid
eleven days afterthe arrival of the fleetfromthe Levant.80 These
are some of the evidencesof the growingsignificanceof the trade
to the Genoese at large,of the economicshiftthatled to the popular
century.
uprisingsof thethirteenth
In some ways the most strikingcontrastbetweenthe conditions
surroundingthe trade in the middle and in the last quarter of the
centuryis the greater facilitywith which it was conducted. The
later dates on whichthe fleetsfoundit necessaryto leave Genoa in
orderto reach Syria in timeforthe Christmasfestivitiessuggestimprovementsin ships and navigation.8' The wider latitudeof movement and judgment,especiallyin loaning moneyin Syria, allowed
the factorsby theirassociates in Genoa, discloses increasedtrustin
the abilityof the agentsand greaterknowledgeof the opportunities
of the trade. Much earlierthan has heretoforebeen supposed,the
Genoese penetratedthe rich marketsof the interior,Aleppo and
Damascus; by I203 the factorswere regularlypermittedand directed
to send or carrythe investmentsthroughthe Syrian rivieraby sea
or by land as far as Aleppo and Damascus.82 The factorsoften
Not. Gugl. Cass., ff.35 36, 37, 46, 47, 48, 52-58; anno
76 Anno i i9I,
anno I205, ibid., ff. 242-273.
ibid., ff. I95--225;
77 "Commercial
Contracts", p. I32, note i.
78

Annales,

1203,

II. 77, 79, 8o, gi, 96.

CommercialContracts", p. I50.
80 Not. Ign., f. 192.
81The date of departure can always be fixed within a day or two from the
notaries' books. " CommercialContracts", p. I32, note 2.
82 For example, Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. 20I,
267, etc. Cf. Heyd, op.
225,
207,
where the dates are placed later
and Schaube, op. cit., pp. 2I4-215,
cit., I. 176-177,
in the thirteenthcenturyfor the Pisans and Venetians, and no mentionmade of
79 "

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Genoese Trade with Syria

2I3

spent long periods in the East,83 some permanentlyas colonists,


otherslong enough to returnto Genoa with Syrian appellations.84
To these agents, sons, nephews,Orientals,goods and monev were
consigned,at times in response to orders; from them goods and
withouttheiraccomprofitswere receivedin Genoa by consignment
panyingthe shipment. To themletterswere sentfromGenoa directing their movementsand investmentsin accordance with the demands of the western markets.85 Youths were taken by more
experiencedmen to learn the trade in detail.86
The improvedconditionsof trade and the freer participation
thereinby the masses of the people, toward the close of the period
under discussion,are excellentlyillustratedby the displacementof
the rigid form of partnershipknown as the societas mncaris
bv the
much more flexibleaccommendatio,as I have elsewhereshown in
detail.87 Anotherformof investment,the amplifieduse of whicl
stands forthas evidence of the expansion of the trade, of its increasing securityas a means of using capital for speculativepurposes, was the medieval variationsof the ancientfoenus nauticumi
or sea-loan.88 The sea-loan was in fairlycommonuse in the Genoese trade in the West in the middleof the centuryand in the Alexandrian.trade,but in the Syriantrade onlyfiveinstancesare found
In the later period it was frequently
in the decade II54-II64.89
utilizedfor manypurposes-making remittancesto agents in Syria,
raisingmoneyon goods to be exportedand given as securityforthe
loan, on stockowned in vessels,and as a methodof securinginvestmentcapital beyond the means of the merchantdepartingfor the
East.
In the sea-loan the lenderassumedthe entirerisk,since payment
was contingentupon the safe arrival of the ship and goods or the
83 " Si autem Ianuam non redirem", " si moraborultramare", are expressions
found. Not. Ign., f. I62; Not. Lanfr., I. f. 96. Men rent their propertyor leave
it in charge of a servant,takingtheir wives with them to Syria. Not. Lanfr., I.
f. I36 v.; Not. Gugl. Cass., f. 250 v.
84 " Bertramodi Syria ", " Giovanni Andrea di Tripoli ", "Giovanni di Acri"
" Bonvassallo di Antioch", consul. Annales, II. 5.
etc. Not. Ign., ff. io8, I28.
85 Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. 53 v., 56 v., 207,
2I9
v.; Not. Lanfr., I. f. 96. The
factors often stipulatedthat theybe allowed to send to Genoa the profitsof their
transactions. 'Not. Lanfr., I. ff.59, 9I v., 95, etc.
86 Not. Gugl. Cass., f. 2I2;
Not. Ign., f. i6 v.
87 See my detailed study of the associations, " Commercial Contracts", loc..
cit., for analysis and bibliographyof the societas and accom'mendatio.
88 For the sea-loan, see W. Ashburner, The Rhodian Sea Law (Oxford,.
I909), p. ccxxiv ff.; Goldschmidt,Handbuch des Handelsrechts (Stuttgart,i8pi),
p. 345 ff.; Schaube, op. cit., p. II2.
89 Chart. II., nos. 4I9,
66i, 907, 963, 1450.

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214

E. H. Byrne

greaterpart thereofat the destination. The usual termset for the


paymentof the loan was one monthafterthe arrivalin Syria. The
moneywas eitherrepaid to the lender,who was oftena memberof
the expedition,or to his agent in Syria, or was investedin goods
to be sentor broughtto Genoa, or else was retainedby the borrower
of the sum withinterestbeforea notaryin Syria,
aftercertification
and used by him in accommendatio. The advantagesto bothparties
are apparent: remittancesto Syria and sums beingcarriedtherefor
investmentdrew interestduringthe voyage; merchandiseto be exported could be realized upon in Genoa, or boughton creditto be
sold in Syria at a price high enoughto cover interestand expenses
and to afforda comfortableprofit. Shipownersand share-holders
in shippingsecured what amountedto insuranceor bottomry. The
rates charged are a direct index to the margin of profitin the
Syrian trade. In II57 and ii6o, moneywas loaned for the Syrian
voyage to bringthe same rate of interestas of profitobtained on
merchandisecarriedby the factor. In II58, 33Aper cent.was asked
for the round trip (about nine months),and in ii6o, 62 per cent.
was demanded for the outward voyage alone, but with the use of
the money in trade and a share in the profitsand interestas an
offsetto the excessive rate. In the period of greatermobilityafter
I179, the rates,all for the eastward voyage (about three months),
rose noticeably. In II84, when the recentfinancialstringencyin
Genoa was beginningvisiblyto lessen, the rate stood at 4I.2 per
cent.90 Just after the Third Crusade, when the trade was being
rebuiltafter several years of cessation,it rose to 50 per cent. for
small sums, and to 621 per cent. for a large loan of 400 lire with
inadequate securityY91In 1200 a single loan is found at 45.7 per
cent.; the rate varied from34, 41, and 43 to 46 per cent. in I203
and rose in I205 to 50 per cent.92 The sea-loan was forbiddenas
90 Not. Lanfr., I. ff. I V., I39, I4I V., I42.
91 Ibid., ff.9I v., 93 v.; Not. Gugl. Cass., f. 48 v.

The borrowerof the 400


lire was able to give as securityin ship and cargo only I35 lire. Ibid., f. 37 V.
V.,
92 Not. Ign., f. I62;
Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. 206 V., 207, 2I8 V., 222 V., 224-225
of
lira
silver
uncoined
the
in
made
are
loans
The
265.
26I,
255,
V.,
252
V.,
248
Genoa, to be paid in Syria in gold besants often designated as " b. sarracinales",
"b. di Acri ", "b. di Sulie ", all of which were apparentlyaccepted by Genoese
tradersas of equal value, and were Christianimitationsof the Saracen gold besant
of the pre-Crusade period. Cf. G. L. Schlumberger,Numismatique de l'Orient
In this connectionit
and supplement,pp. 9-II.
Latin (Paris, I882), pp. I30-I35,
may be noted that Schlumberger,followingL. Blanchard, Le Besant d'Or Sarrazina,spendantles Croisades (Marseilles, i88o), places the gold besant of Acre only
as early as I201, whereas referenceto it is foundas early as II79 in the notarial
documents. Not Ign., f. 3. The interestrates here given are all based on the

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Genoese Trade with Syria

215

usurious by GregoryIX. and continuedin practicethereafterdespite papal prohibition.93


A reviewof the articlesof commercein the Syriantrade emphasizes the economicdifficulties
of the trade in its beginningsand the
gradual expansion as these disadvantageswere overcome. In the
middleof the century(II54-II64)
one is forcedto conclude,from
the few referencesto merchandise,that the great bulk of the investmentscarried to Syria was in gold and silver. For gold and
silver alone could the preciouswares of the East be exchangedby
an as yet non-industrialfolk tradingamong a people with whose
needs theywere unfamiliar,and for whomthe West in the twelfth
centurycould have producedfew necessitiesand no luxuries. Even
the western Christiansin the crusaders' states must have found
most of their wants more than satisfiedwithoutdependence on
Europe.
This conclusion,based on recognized economic conditions,is
well supported in the period after II79, when the more widely
differentiated
classes of investorsand factorsdrew theircontracts
with specificreferenceto the nature of the investment,whether
gold or merchandise. In that period large amounts of gold and
silverwere stillsentto Syria. Individualsexportedit in sums varying in value from I2 soldi to ioo lire, and Simon de Bulgaro in
I200 carried to Syria I004 lire 6 soldi, apparentlyall in gold or
silver; of this 700 lire was his own, and the balance was entrusted
to him by three female relativesand three male associates.94 The
formin which the exportswere made varied-bullion, rings,cups,
thread,chains,or expressedin termsof thegold tareniof Sicilyand
the silvermelgoriensesof southernFrance.95 Aside fromthe need
for gold as a purchasingagent,it was a lucrativeformof investmentin Syria as loans. The Syrian powers must oftenhave been
in need of money; but such loans were not alWays favorablyrenormal exchange of one lira for two besants found in a documentof II9I where
no interestwas involved. Not. Gugl. Cass., f. I7 v. Could the normal rate of exchange be found for each year, the interestrates here given mightbe subject to
correction.
93Decretal., GregoryIX., lib. V., tit. xix., c. xix.; Schaube, op. cit., p. I12.
94 Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. i i8, 272;
Not. Ign., f. I62.
95 For example, Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. 217,
268 V., 27I V., 272, 273, 293 v.;
Not. Lanfr., I. f. I43 v. In the great majorityof cases the investmentis simply
stated to be "in auro ". The growthof this method of trade in the thirteenth
centuryin Genoa may be inferredfromthe fact that in 1277 a Genoese merchant
who died in Armenia left,with a store of many kinds of cloth, i6 sacks of silver
bars weighing 592i libre, bearing a Genoese stamp. Ferretto, Codice Diplomatico, II. (Genoa, 1903), p. I78, note i.

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E. H. Byrne

2i6

garded by those who did-not maintainpermanentagents in Syria.


at Acre forthe years
The Embriachiauthorizedtheiradministrator
to I202 to loan money to knights or governmentsas he
I200
pleased,96but the average investoroften stipulatedthat his money
should be loaned only to merchantson good security,not in usury,
nor for the equipmentof warships,nor to the crusaders' governments.7 Returningpilgrimsand crusaders,as well as merchants,
mustoccasionallyhave had to be financed:one of the largestsingle
loans made in this period was 200 marks of finesilver to Bishop
Ralph of Liege in I i9i, returningfromSyriawitha suitemade up of
his nephew,archdeacon,chaplain,seneschal,butler,and secretary.98
in the trade between II54 and
One interestingtransformation
1205, iS the gradual displacementof gold and silverbv cloth as the
most importantarticle of export. The position of Genoa at the
most northernpoint of the TyrrhenianSea, nearest to Lombardy,
Germany,and France, enabled the Genoese to make their city a
of cloth. Familiar withthe clothfairsof
centreforthe distribution
southernFrance fromthe beginningof theircommercialexpansion,
as withthose of Champagneby the thirdquarterof the century,in
the Genoese were already importantagents
the decade II54-1I64
for the sale of clothin the West, and had begun to findit a profitable articleof commercein Syria. As earlyas I149 the introitusde
canna was one of the most importantrevenuesof the commune.99
Not only did the export of cloth to Syria increase enormouslyin
volume toward the end of the period, but an equally significant
change in the diversityof quality,color, and value took place. In
the middleof the centurythe onlyclothexportedto Syria regularly
and in large quantitieswas the common fustian. A cotton cloth
known as baldinellis,small quantitiesof finers6rts as serge,green
and scarlet cloth of still highervalue, French cloth,and cloth of
or color were also senteast.100
undescribedqualityNot. Ign., f. i6o v.
The loaning of moneyby factorsto Syrian powers was regardedas dangerwere
ous in the middle of the centuryby some Genoese investors,and difficulties
met in collections. Chart. II., nos. iIo6, 1107, iIo8. For the period II79-I205,
similar loans are eitherexpresslyforbidden(Not. Gugl. Cass., ff.53, 58, 9I, 2I2),
or more often the investmentis entrusted" causa mercandi", which might be
construedas excludingloans. Ibid., ff.262-266, etc. Cf. Schaube, op. cit., p. i68.
98 Not. Gugl. Cass., f. 38.
99Lib. Jur., I., nos. I46, 147, 2I2.
The canna was the standard measure of
cloth. The developmentof the Genoese cloth-tradefromthe notaries' acts would
repay careful study. There can be given here only a brief statementof the
importantphases of it with referenceto Syria.
100 Chart. II., nos. 414, 4I9, 457, 486, 963, I504.
96
97

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Genoese Trade with Syria

217

When the Syrian marketsfor westernclothhad been developed,


not only did fustianof Lombard weave maintainits hold in black,
white,and stripes,10'serge in black and blue,'02baldinellisin larger
shipments,'03
but two new and exceedinglyimportantlines of trade
in clothwere opened,namely,clothof English wool, and linen. As
early as II9I an English merchantis found in Genoa sellingcloth
of Stamfordwool; the presenceof threeEnglish merchantsin 1205
in the same trade enables one to assume a profitableconnectionwith
England thus early.'04 The Stamfordcloth, in white and colors,
sometimesdyed after its arrival in Genoa, was exportedto Syria
in large quantitiesand, like the more valuable cloths,in pieces, not
in bales.105The linenin demandin Syria came mainlyfromFrance,
especiallyfromRheims,and fromGermany;it was shipped in lots
worthup to I831 lire.106Beyond these staple cloths,are mentioned
great quantitiesof other sorts,cloth of Liege and Ypres; Corbeil,
Mers, Vogue, and Neris in France; Caparica, near Lisbon; Garbo in
Africa, Lombard cloth, blue, green, brown, black, and vermilion
cloth,or simplypanniis.'0' The Genoese cloth-tradein the twelfth
century,disclosed in the Syrian commerce,is of economicsignificance in view of thevista opened by glimpsesintothe recordsof the
thirteenthcentury,when there developed in Genoa a thrivingindustryin weaving,dyeing,and finishing,
accompaniedby a complementarydevelopmentof Genoa as the wool market for northern
Italy.108

In additionto the staple exportsof gold and cloth,the Genoese


occasionallyexportedlead, copper,steel, and nails; helmets,chestarmor, and shields; furs, sometimesin large quantities,coats of
lamb, cony, and squirrel; cloaks and mantles of gray or scarlet,
101 Not.Ign.,ff. 20,

2I, 87 V.,-2I3
V., 2I9 V.; Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. 2I2, 256.
Not. Gugl. Cass., ff.53, 26I.
103 Ibid., f. 53; Not. Lanfr., I. f. 96.
104 Colin, Simon, and Robin of Stamford. Not. Gugl.
Cass., ff.43, I28, I75,
252
V., 255 v.
In ii88 Rubeo della Volta was sent to England to arrange for
Richard's aid in the Crusade. Annales, II. 29. The commercialconnectionbetween England and Genoa was apparentlythe result of the Crusade. It could be
traced throughoutfrom the notaries' acts.
105 For example, Not. Gugl. Cass., ff.43, 2I2, 225, 252, 26I,
264 V., 265, 272.
106 Ibid., ff.207, 2I2, 2I6 V., 225 V., 26I V., 269.
107 For example,in addition to the referencesin the two notes
previous,Not.
Ign., f. i6o v.; Not. Gugl. Cass., ff.54, 252 V., 256, 268; Not. Lanfr., I. ff.9I V.,

102

I 39.
108 Pending a satisfactorystudyof the Genoese wool market,some idea of its
importancemay be gleaned from the miscellaneous collections of extracts from
the acts of the notaries, for referenceto which, see ' Commercial Contracts

p. I30,

note

I.

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E. H. BArne

2I8

of silk,
clericalvestments
withfur; garments,
lined or trimmed
in goldand in colors,mostlyarticlesintendedforthe
embroidered
Genoesecolonistsin theEast. Sharesin shipswereused as comarose. In addition
to be soldabroadif goodopportunities
modities
listof wares,hundredsof lirewereexported
to thismiscellaneous
invested in merchandise (imtplicatasin mlercibus),impossible to
of the same generalcharacteras the
but unquestionably
identify
wares specificallymentioned.109
The wares importedfromSyria, as fromAlexandria,are those

withtheLevanttrade. In themiddleof thecentury


longidentified
alum,and cottonwerethe stapleimportsand
pepper,brazil-wood,
in Genoaby individuals
and by thegovernwereused as currency

ment,evidence of their high value. Next to these in importance


came miscellaneous spices-cinnamon, nutmegs,cloves; dye materials aside fromthe highlyprized brazil-woodand alum, such as
gall-nuts,saffron,mastic,and indigo; steel blades, of Damascene
workmanshipno doubt; lacquer, incense,and drugs; silk and cloth
of Bagdad; sugar and sugar confections;quantitiesof unspecified
merchandise. All these Levantine wares Genoese merchantsdistributedthroughoutthe West, in Africa, Spain, southernFrance,
and the fairs of Champagne. The foreignerswho frequented
numbers,Lombards,Arabs, French, GerGenoa in ever-increasing
mans, and English, found there a steady supplyof eastern goods.
The increased use of eastern luxuries in western Europe in the
twelfthcentury,largelyowing to Genoese traders,is apparent; the
centurywill disclose remarkableadvances
recordsof the thirteenth
in this respect.110
109 Chart. II., nos. II05,
ff. 36, 56 v., 222 V., 235-236,

i457;

Not. Ign., ff. I5,

243, 257 V., 266, 272;

22,

87 v.; Not. Gugl. Cass.,

Not. Lanfr., I. ff. I4I

v., 143.

records abound in referencesto armor,cutlery,etc.,


The later thirteenth-century
indicative of the growthof new industries.
I3I2,
110 Chart. II., nos. 335, 50I, 5o8, 597, 644, 652, 734, 988, IOI3, ii89,
I365;

Not. Gugl. Cass., ff. 50, 54, 79 v., 233 V., 234, 249, 265.

My investigations

do not throw a great amount of new light on the imports from Syria in the
twelfthcentury,as given by Heyd and Schaube. An interestingfact is the decreasing number of referencesto dye-woods at the beginningof the thirteenth
century,when the use of native dye-materials,grana, rozia, etc., was increasingas
developed. Here again the notaries' acts are fuli of rich
the Genoese dye-industry
promise. The lack of manyreferencesto silk importsis interestingin view of the
enormous importsI have noticed in casual glances into the records of the thirteenth century,when merchantsof Lucca and Florence frequentedthe Genoese
marketsfor silk as for wool. In this same connectiona study can and should be
made, fromthe archives,of the Genoese activityin the sale of wares to merchants
going to the great fairs.

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Genoese Trade with Syria

219

This review of Genoese commercialexpansion in the twelfth


centuryillustratesmany of the difficultconditionsunder which
Italian enterprisebegan to transformEuropean life in the Middle
Ages. For the Genoese it was a centuryof politicaland economic
experiment. They foundin Syria a source -ofwealththatcompensated themfor theirterritoriallimitations,for theirfailureto compete successfullywith the Venetians in Byzantium,to realize fully
theirambitionsin Spain, Sardinia, and Sicily. On theirSyrian experiencesof the twelfthcenturytheywere able in the next to submergePisa, to grapple on equal termswithVenice, and to founda
greatcommercialempirethroughoutthe Levant. The Syrianenterprises suppliedthe stimulusand the means throughwhich a young
and vigorousfolk discoveredtheiropportunities,
theirstrengthand
weakness. The seizure of controlof a rich trade by native capitalistsfromtheirLevantinepredecessors,the rise and overthrowof
feudal privilege,the growthof moneyeconomy,the ebb and flow
of economicadvance despitetemporaryretardationsresultingfrom
effortsbeyondthe strengthof youth,the impulseto an internalindustrial developmentthat should if possible keep pace with the
maritimetrade, the gradual advance in commercialmethods,the
near approach of creditoperations-all are outlinedor suggested.
It is a chapterin the storyof expansion fromthe stage of village
economyto that of internationaltrade, with wide social implications,a chapterduplicatedelsewherein Italy no doubt,but one that
can best be traced fromGenoese sources.
EUGENE H. BYRNE.

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