The Rise of the Italian City-States: The Example of Genoa

Given their economic and military impact on large parts of the Mediterranean and its periphery, the late medieval Arabic-Islamic world was unable to ignore the rise of the Italian maritime republics. The late seventh to the ninth centuries witnessed frequent Muslim raids against Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, and Pantelleria. The Muslim conquest of Sicily in the ninth century, the establishment of raider bases in Bari around 847, at the river Garigliano around 883 and in Fraxinetum in the late 880s, entailed various kinds of interaction with the local population. Nonetheless, Arabic-Islamic records on the early medieval Apennine Peninsula are scarce. 173 Middle Eastern historiographers of the Muslim expansion to the west such as Ibn Abd al-Hakam (d. 257/871), Ibn Qutayba (d. 276/889), and al-Baladhur! (d. 278/892) mention early raids against Sardinia and Sicily, whereas their conquest receives due attention in numerous later worksTh4 Descriptions of Romem and occasional references to Muslims on terra firma, e.g. Aghlabid raids on the mainland (al-ard al-kabira), or the quest of the Muslims of Bari (Barah) to receive recognition in Baghdad,[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] show that the Apennine Peninsula did not completely escape the notice of ninth-century historiographers. Events in the tenth century also caught the attention of contemporaries. Al-Mas'udi (d. 345/956), for example, comments on the successful efforts to drive off the Muslims from southern Italy in the late ninth and tenth centuries:

The Muslims who were their [the Langobards’] neighbours in al-Andalus and the Maghreb had conquered a number of their cities such as Bari (Bari), Tarent (Tarniyyu), Salerno (Shabarama) and other important cities. The Muslims lived there for a certain period. Then, however, the Langobards (al-Nawkubard) regained courage and retook some of these cities from the Muslims, evicting them after long wars. The cities we have mentioned are currently in the hands of the Langobards.177

Geographical works written between the middle of the ninth and the end of the tenth centuries allow us to trace how their authors accumulated data on the Apennine Peninsula. Al-Ya'qubi’s (d. after 292/905) kitab al-buldan still lacks data on the Apennine PeninsulaTh8 Ibn Khurdadhbah (d. 300/912) mentions Sicily (Siqil- liya), but ignores the mainland apart from Rome (Rumiyya)179 and a reference to imported ‘Lombard slaves’ (al-khadam al-Lu bardiyyUn)}^ Al-Istakhri (4th/10th cent.) refers to Sicily (Siqilliyya), Rome (Rumiyya), and the ‘raider colony’ Fraxinetum (jabal al-Qilal).i8i His contemporary Ibn Rustah (d. after 300/913), however, mentions Rome (Rumiyya), Sardinia (Sardaniyya), Sicily (Siqiliyya),m and a ‘city of the Langobards’ (madinat al-Ankubardiyyin), whose lifestyle he compares with that of the nomad Kurds (al-Akrad). His work also contains one of the earliest Arabic-Islamic references to ‘a village called Venice’ (qarya tud‘a al-Bandaqis) that seems to reflect the early beginnings of a city built on unfavourable ground:

They dwell in a plane of wasteland devoid of villages and cities. Their buildings are made of planed wooden boards and they adhere to the Christian religionV3

During his visit to Sicily in 362/973, Ibn Hawqal (d. after 378/988) was able to draw a more accurate picture of the peninsula’s geography, in particular its southern parts. In addition to Sicily and Rome, Ibn Hawqal mentions the ‘Gulf of the Venetians’ (jun al-Banadiqin), Calabria (ard Quluriyah), Rome (ard Rumiyah), and Lombardy (ard al-Ankubardhah). His description of Lombardy includes cities in Campania, i.e. Salerno (ardShalura), Amalfi (madinatMilaf), Gaeta (ard Ghaytah), and Naples (ard Nabul). He praises the latter for its friendly relations with the Muslims, as well as for its high quality linen.[9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] Due to their economic contact with the Arabic-Islamic world,m these Campanian cities also feature in other sources of the eleventh century. Ibn Hayyan (d. 469/1076) mentions traders from Amalfi who brought their wares to Cordoba in 330/942.m The Arabic-Christian author Yahya b. Sa'id of Antioch even mentions more than 160 Amalfitan traders (al-Rum al-Malafita) in connection with a pogrom in Cairo in 386/996.187

Cities that were to become active players in the high and late medieval Mediterranean do not yet feature, as such, in early Arabic-Islamic sources. Venice is not yet defined as a trading partner, even though Latin sources from the eighth century onwards attest to its commerce with the Islamic world.m Pisa and Genoa are not even mentioned.

Judging from later Arabic-Islamic texts, Genoa came into view around 323/934, when it was raided by Fatimid forces from North AfricaV9 The earliest Arabic source on this event is the so-called Chronicle of Cambridge, an originally Greek text that was translated into Arabic after 965.190 Later Arabic-Islamic historiographers of the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries also frequently cover this event.191 In connection with events that predate the eleventh century, Genoa thus only features as a target of Muslim aggression. In terms of a commercial and military power, Genoa is first mentioned by al-Idrlsl (d. c.559/1165). In his detailed description of the Apennine Peninsula, he claims that

its population is made up of very rich merchants who travel by land and by sea and

who penetrate easy and difficult terrain. They possess a frightening navy, have knowledge of the ruses of warfare and of powerful [?] equipment (al-alat al-sultaniyya) and enjoy respect among al-Rum.[17]

From this time onwards, several works deal with the city.[18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] In connection with events that post-date the early eleventh century, these reports often address Genoese expansionism and aggression. Ibn al-Khaub (d. 776/1375) and Ibn Khaldun (d. 808/1406) mention an attack of the people of Genoa and Pisa (ahl Janawa wa-Bisha) against al-Mahdiyya in 480/1087.m According to Ibn Khaldun, the Zirid ruler Tamim b. al-Mu‘izz (ruled 454-501/1062-1108), had

repeatedly sent squadrons (buuth) to the Abode of War (dar al-harb) until the Christian nations on the other side of the sea, that is from the lands of the Franks (bilad al-Faranja), of Genoa and Sardinia, retaliated.^5

The same work also deals with the Genoese attack on Mallorca (Barqa/Mayurqa) in 509/1115 and its recapture at the hands of the AlmoravidsTh6 as well as a Genoese attack on Ceuta in 633/1235,197 which is described in more detail in an Arabic codex of Copenhagen. 19® Al-Yunlnl (d. 726/1326) explains the Genoese involvement in Louis IX’s crusade against Tunis in 669/1271. He claims that Frankish traders had coined false dirhams (darahim maghshusha) in the style also used by the ruler of Tunis (sahib Tunis). When this became apparent, the local Muslim authorities accused the Genoese (ahl Janawa) of forgery, confiscated their capital (isti’sal amwalihim), and put the local representatives of Genoa into jail (habasahum). In reaction to this, the Genoese complained to the French king (bi-raydafarans), provided him with money, and thus forged a Christian alliance that attacked Tunis.199 Probably confounding the Knights Hospitallers’ conquest of Rhodes in 1309 with the temporary Genoese occupation in 1249, Ibn Khaldun erroneously claims that the Genoese took over Rhodes in 708/1308:

In this period, the Frankish people of Genoa (ahl Janawa min al-Ifranj) conquered the island of Rhodes (Rudus), wresting it from the hands of Laskaris, the ruler of Constantinople, in the year 708/1308, thus having power over it.[25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30]

Ibn Battuta (d. 770/1368-69 or 779/1377) mentions that the amir of Smyrna (Yazmir), 'Umar Bak or Umur Aydinoglu, son of the sultan Muhammad b. Aydin, regularly waged jihad against Constantinople and the Byzantines (al-Rum). In consequence,

they brought their problem before the pope who ordered the Christians of Genoa and France to raid him.201

The army that set out from Rome (Rumiyya) eventually took the harbour and the city in 1344 in this campaign known as the Smyrna Crusade.202 Some Arabic- Islamic sources falsely believe that the early Ottoman expansion to the Balkans also affected Genoa. Ibn Khaldun and al-Qalqashandi claim that the Ottoman ruler Murad (ruled 761-91/1360-89) frequently raided Christian territory near the Gulf ofVenice (khalij al-Banadiqa) and the mountains of Genoa (jibal Janawa)}03 The toponym Genoa is misplaced here, however, given that Murad was never active beyond the Balkans.204

Ibn Khaldun also mentions a joint raid of Christian forces involving the fleets of Genoa and Barcelona (asatil Janawa wa-Barshaluna) against al-Mahdiyya in 792/1390. According to Ibn Khaldun, this event, commonly known as the Mahdian Crusade, had been provoked by constant attacks of the people of Bejaia (ahl Bijaya) on Christian ships,

until the western coasts around Bejaia filled up with the prisoners taken, and the roads of the lands sounded with the noise made by the chains and shackles while they set out on their daily errands. The price for their redemption is set so high that redemption is almost impossible. This became unbearable for the Frankish peoples, their hearts filled with humiliation and pain, and they were unable to do anything against it. So they complained from a distance to the sultan of Ifrlqiya but he refused to hear them, so they communicated their concerns to each other and called upon each other to descend upon the Muslims and to take their revenge.205

Not all Arabic-Islamic scholars of the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries describe Genoese acts of aggression. Some simply note the Genoese presence in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Returning from his pilgrimage to Mecca via the crusader states, the Andalusian traveller Ibn Jubayr (d. 614/1217) boarded a ship in Acre (Akka) whose captain was a Genoese.'206 According to the history of Mallorca by Ibn 'Amira al-Makhzumi (d. 656/1258 or 658/1260) as reproduced by al-Maqqari (d. 1041/1632), the son of the local Almohad governor, Muhammad b. 'All b. Musa, confiscated a large Genoese ship in the harbour of Ibiza (Yabisa), thus triggering a chain of events that eventually led to the Aragonese conquest of Mallorca in 627/1230.207 Ibn Battuta (d. 770/1368-69 or 779/1377) claims to have travelled on a Genoese ship commanded by a captain called ‘Bartolomeo’ (Martalamin) from al-Ladhiqiyya in Syria to the Anatolian coast.'o8 He asserts that the city of Caffa in Crimea, ‘a great city stretching along the coast’, is

populated by Christians, most of whom are Genoese (aktharuhum al-Janawiyyun). They have a ruler known as Demetrio (al-Damadir)?®^

The number of recorded episodes of diplomatic contact between Genoese and Muslim rulers is high. These instances of contact are frequently mentioned by Mamluk historiographers, in particular al-Nuwayri (d. 733/1333) and al-MaqrlzI (d. 845/1442). Both record that Genoese envoys to al-Malik al-Zahir Baybars arrived in 674/1275 without providing further details.'^ In 767/1366, one year after the sack of Alexandria at the hands of Peter I of Cyprus,'11 Genoese envoys (rusul mutamallik Janawa) brought a present for the ruling sultan and the amir Yalbugha as well as sixty Alexandrian captives who had been given to the ruler of Genoa (mutamallik Janawa) by the ruler of Cyprus (mutamallik Qubrus).2i2 It is against this background, al-MaqrlzI explains, that, in 768/1367,

envoys of the ruler of Genoa from the Frankish lands arrived, who asked for the permission to land in Alexandria as they had always done (‘ala ‘adatihim). They [the Mamluk authorities] granted this request.21

fa-shaqqa dhalika 'ala umam al-Faranja wa-mala'a qulubihim dhullan wa-hasaratan wa-'ajazu 'an al-tha'r bihi, wa-sarakhu 'ala l-bu'd bi-l-shakwa ila l-sultan bi-IfrIqiya fa-samma 'an sama'iha wa-tatarahu sahmahum wa-nakalahum flma baynahum wa-tada'u al-nuzul al-muslimln wa-l-akhdh bi-l-tha'r minhum.’ Cf. Ibn Khaldoun, Histoire des Berberes, trans. de Slane, vol. 3. pp. 117—18, who reads ‘sultan qui habitait la France’ instead of ‘sultan of IfrIqiya’.

  • 206 Ibn Jubayr, rihla, s. ed., p. 285: ‘ra'Isuhu wa-mudabbiruhu al-rumI al-janawl . . .’.
  • 207 al-Maqqarl, nafh al-tib, ed. 'Abbas, vol. 4, p. 469, trans. de Gayangos, vol. 2, pp. 329—30.
  • 208 Ibn Battuta, rihla, ed./trans. Defremery and Sanguinetti, vol. 2, pp. 254—5: ‘rakabna al-bahr fl qurqura kablra al-JanawiyyIn yusamma sahibuha bi-Martalamln [Bartolomeo?]’. See Ibn Battuta, Wunder, trans. Elger, pp. 216—40, for doubts concerning the authenticity of this travel account.
  • 209 Ibn Battuta, rihla, ed./trans. Defremery and Sanguinetti, vol. 2, p. 357: ‘yaskunuha al-nasara wa-aktharuhum al-Janawiyyun wa-lahum amir yu'raf bi-l-Damadlr . . .’.
  • 210 al-Nuwayri, nihayat al-arab, ed. ed, Fawwaz and Fawwaz, vol. 30, p. 142; al-Maqrizi, al-suluk, ed. 'Ata, vol. 2, AH 674, p. 94.
  • 211 Setton, Papacy (1976), vol. 1, pp. 265—72; Edbury, ‘Policy’ (1977), pp. 90—105; Steenbergen, ‘Crusade’ (2003), pp. 123—38.
  • 212 al-Maqrizi, al-suluk, ed. 'Ata, vol. 4, AH 767, p. 294.
  • 213 Ibid., vol. 4, AH 768, p. 305: ‘wa-fi thamin 'asharihi: qadamat rusul mutamallik Janawa min bilad al-Faranj, yas'al in tamakkana tujjaruhum fi l-qudum ila l-Iskandariyya 'ala 'adatihim, fa-ujibu ila dhalika.’
  • 1

Al-Maqrlzl and Ibn H ajar al-'Asqalanl (d. 852/1449) both report on the arrival of Genoese envoys on 19 Muharram 791/18 January 1389 who brought a certain foreigner (al-khawaja) named 'All as well as relatives of the sultan (aqarib al-sultan) with them. Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalanl claims that Franks had attacked 'All’s brother 'Uthman, had stolen his ship, and had taken his sister Qujmas, the sultan’s cousin, prisoner. The Genoese envoys returned the ship and its contents and brought a present from their ruler (hadiyyat malikihim) that was accepted graciously.214 Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalanl also relates that, in 832/1429, a group of ‘Genoese Franks residing in Alexandria’ (al-Faranj al-janawiyya al-muqimin f l-Iskandariyya) made off with 20,000 dinar belonging to Muslim merchants.215

A number of documents on Genoese-Mamluk relations second this historiographical material. Muhi al-Din b. 'Abd al-Zahir (d. 692/1292), author of two biographies of the Mamluk sultans Baybars and Qalawun, reproduces two treaties concluded in the aftermath of the so-called Sicilian Vespers (1282). The first treaty, concluded 13 Rabi' al-akhir 689/25 April 1290 between representatives of the Crown of Aragon and the Mamluk sultan, mentions the Genoese among potential ‘Frankish’ aggressors against the Mamluk realm.216 The second treaty, concluded 13 May 1290 between the representatives of Genoa and the Mamluk sultan, obliged the Genoese to guarantee the safety and security of all Muslims subject to the sultan.217 The Mamluk secretary al-Qalqashandi (d. 821/1418), in turn, reproduces an undated letter from the Mamluk sultan to the commander of the Genoese fleet in Cyprus (muqaddam al-shawani al-janawiyya bi-Qubrus),21& as well as a letter to the Genoese capitano of Famagusta (kabtan al-Maghusa), dated 814/1411.219

In addition, the archives of a number of Italian maritime republics have preserved several treaties and letters written between the twelfth and the sixteenth century that have been collected by Silvestre de Sacy, Michele Amari, and Louis de Mas Latrie. Listed in Table 8.1., these documents prove that the Genoese were also present in the minds of the Muslim rulers of al-Andalus, Ifriqiya, and the Maghreb.

Given the frequency and intensity of relations that both the number and the content of these documents prove, Arabic-Islamic scholars also took note of Genoa’s constitutional structure and internal affairs, e.g. in three Middle Eastern sources of the fourteenth century.

Abu l-Fida’ (d. 732/1331) mentions serious infighting (qitalshadid) among ‘the Genoese Franks’ (al-Faranj al-Janawiyyin) at the end of the year 719/1319 between



Parties involved

Remarkable content


Safar 544/June 1149

Treaty of peace and commerce

Genoese ambassador Guillelmus Lucius—Abu Abd Allah Muhammad b. Said, lord of Valencia

Secures Genoese commercial rights and facilitates the foundation of two fondacos in Valencia and Denia.

de Sacy, ‘Pieces’ (1827), pp. 3-5 (LAT); no Arabic version.

1160 or 1161

15-year peace treaty

Genoa—Almohad caliph Abd al-Mumin

Guarantees mobility and security to all Genoese merchants in the Almohad realm and defines the taxes due to the caliph.

Cafaro, Annales, ed. Pertz (MGH SS in fol. 18), a. 1161, p. 31; Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, p. 108; no Arabic version.

Safar 577/June 1181

10-year treaty of non-aggression

Genoa—Abu Ibrahim Ishaq b. Muhammad, ruler of the Balearic Islands

The treaty mentions that the cities of Nizza (Anisah) and Corvo (Kurbuh) are under Genoese suzerainty.

de Sacy, ‘Pieces’ (1827), pp. 7-13 (AR/ LAT); Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 109-13 (LAT); Amari, Nuovo ricordi (1873), pp. 1-5, esp. p. 2 (AR), pp. 46-52, esp. p. 48 (IT).

Jumada al-akhira

584/August 1188


Genoa—Abd Allah b. Ishaq, son of Confirms the former treaty and deals the aforementioned ruler of the with the rights of the Genoese on Balearic Islands the Balearics.

de Sacy, ‘Pieces’ (1827), pp. 14-18 (AR/ LAT); Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 113-15 (LAT); Amari, Nuovo ricordi (1873), pp. 6-10 (AR), pp. 52-58 (IT).

10 June 1236

Treaty of non-aggression and commerce

Genoa—Almohad sultan Abu Zakariya Yahya

Stipulates mutual support in situations of need.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, p. 116-18 (LAT); no Arabic version.

18 Oct. 1250

Treaty of peace and commerce

Genoa—Almohad ruler Abu Abd Allah al-Mustansi r bi-llah

Contains detailed provisions

concerning commercial relations.

de Sacy, ‘Pieces’ (1827), pp. 22-25 (LAT); Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 118-21 (LAT), no Arabic version.

11 July 1251

Legal document

Group of Genoese—Genoese podesta—Muslim merchant (Saracenus et negotiator de Tunexis)

A group of Genoese had been

banned by the podesta for having pillaged the ship of a Muslim merchant. The latter promised to accept the ban’s abolishment, if he received compensation for his

losses within the next two weeks.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, p. 121, no Arabic version.




Parties involved

Remarkable content


6 Nov. 1272

Peacy treaty

Genoa—Almohad caliph Abu Abd Allah al-Mustansi r billah

Regulates commercial relations.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 122-25; no Arabic version.

24 Dhu al-Qa da 676/18 April 1278

Peace treaty

Genoese ambassadors Samuel Spinola and Boniface Embriaci—ambassador Abu l-Abbas b. Abd al-Rahman representing the sultan of Granada, Abu Abd Allah Muhammad

Secures the rights of Genoese under the sultan’s suzerainty, establishes fondacos and Genoese consuls in the realm of Granada.

de Sacy, ‘Pieces’ (1827), pp. 26-32 (LAT), no Arabic version.

9 June 1287

Mutual agreement

Genoese ambassador—officials representing the Hafsid ruler of Tunis, Umar b. Yahya Abu Hafs

The agreement reacts to complaints put forward by Genoese merchants.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 125-27; no Arabic version.

17 Oct. 1391

Peace treaty

Genoa—Marinid ruler Abu l-Abbas Abu Bakr

Stipulates the redemption of Christian captives.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 130-3; no Arabic version.

19 Oct. 1433

Peace treaty

Genoa—Hafsid ruler Abu Faris al-Mutawakkil of Tunis, Buna and Bejai'a

Confirms previous treaty, stipulates measures to maintain peaceful commercial relations.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 134-42, no Arabic version.

29 Dec. 1445

Peace treaty

Genoa—Hafsid sultan Abu Umar Uthman

Confirms and prolongs previous treaty for another 12 years with slight modifications.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 142-45; no Arabic version.

6 Feb. 1452


Hafsid sultan Abu Umar Uthman to doge of Venice about Genoese merchants

The sultan’s letter is followed by a note containing accusations against several Genoese merchants active in Tunis.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 145-47; no Arabic version.

17 Muharram 856/5 Feb. 1452


Hafsid sultan al-Mutawwakil ala llah to ‘doge and commune of Genoa’ (dujj Janawa wa-kumuniha)

Deals with commercial and related juridical affairs.

Amari, Nuovo ricordi (1873), pp. 23-29 (AR), pp. 69-75 (IT).

5 Jan. 1456


Doge of Genoa to ruler of Tunis

Demand that the ruler of Tunis free ten inhabitants of Corsica who had been arrested by Muslims in retaliation against the aggression of one of their compatriots, charged with piracy by the Hafsids and the Genoese.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, pp. 147-49; no Arabic version.

6 Oct. 1456


Genoa to ruler of Tunis

Demand to free all prisoners from Corsica held in Tunis, since the newly acquired province Corsica should also benefit from the privileges granted to the Genoese.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, p. 150; no Arabic version.

15 March 1465


Genoa—Hafsid ruler

Confirms the previous peace treaty for another 30 years with slight modifications.

Mas Latrie, Traites (1866), vol. 1, p. 151; no Arabic version.

30 Muharram 923/22 Feb. 1517


Hafsid ruler Abu Abd Allah Muhammad to the ruler of Genoa (ilacazim al-nasara bi-madinat Janawa wa-malikiha wa-shanyuriha wa-rayyisiha wa-kabiriha wa-za imiha) Ottaviano di Campofregoso (Tubiyanu Kalbu Afarkuz Kubarnadhur or Tubiyan min Kalbu Farkun Kubarnadur)

Deals with the enmity between Genoese and Turks, criticizes the Genoese for having attacked Bizerte, and proposes a pacification of relations.

Amari, Nuovo ricordi (1873), pp. 30-38 (AR), pp. 75-84 (IT).

two groups (qabilatayn) called ‘Isbinya’ and ‘Durya, i.e. the families Spinola and Doria involved in the great conflict opposing Guelphs and Ghibellines.220 In this context, it seems noteworthy that, according to the same Abu l-Fida’ and the later al-Qalqashandi, Genoese houses had the appearance of fortresses.221

Al-'Umarl’s (d. 749/1349) description of the Genoese reproduces the testimony of his Genoese informant ‘Bilban’ but is also based on his own impressions. It shows that an administrator in the service of the Mamluk dynasty had knowledge of the infrastructure backing Genoese military and commercial expansion in the Mediterranean.

As concerns the people of Genoa: Their [system of] government is communal (hukmuhum kumun), neither did they nor will they have a king. Currently, power is in the hands of two houses (baytayn). One man of each house rules for the period of one year and then assumes custody of maritime affairs. Then the man from the other house rules a year as well. Then he assumes custody of maritime affairs. The first is the house of the Doria (bayt Durya)—and this Bilban, my informant, is one of them—the second is the house of the Spinola (bayt Isbinya). He [Bilban] stated that apart from these two houses, there is the house of the Grimaldi (bayt Ghurmadi), the house of the Mallono (baytMalun), the house of the De Mari (bayt Dama), the house of San Tortore (jjLjhjW) and the house of the Fieschi (bayt Dafishki). The members of these houses form a council of advisers (ahlmashura) to the person who rules [temporarily]. All of them are of noble descent and have only been submitted to the rule of the two houses by the force of arms. For in ancient times, they were alternatively ruled by the house of the Grimaldi and the house of the Mallono. Apart from these houses, there are the house of the Grillo (baytAgharli), the house of the Pignolo/Pinello (bayt Fantilu) and the house of the Dall’Orto (bayt Dilurt).

The realm of Genoa is scattered. Theirs is Galata (Ghalaza) next to Constantinople (al-Qustantiniyya) as well as Caffa (Kaffa) at the shore of the Black Sea (bahr Nitsh). If their territories were united, it would take about three months to walk around them. However, they are scattered. Neither does a [common] system (nizam) unite them, nor does a superordinate ruler (malik humam) bind them together.

If their armies were united, which actually never happens, they would reach the number of 60,000 cavalry. As concerns the infantry, it is made up of various peoples. Their naval capacity is greater than on land. Every family from among these houses owns a galley, and if they would draw together in cooperation, they would be able to raise 500 galleys. The troops of Genoa are remunerated neither by land granted through feudal tenure (iqtaat) nor by money (nuqud). Rather, every one of them disposes of landed property (amlak) and means of subsistence (asbab) which provide for an established number of fighters who, in times of need, enter action on land or on sea.

The people of Genoa are in a state of peace with our sultans and they frequently visit Egypt and Syria in their commercial affairs. They take the money and kill those [31] [32]

whom they overpower from among the people of their religion. If the respective person is a Muslim, they keep and sell him after having taken his money. Because of this, one should neither open the door immediately to the Genoese nor be too friendly with them.

They conduct their trade using Venetian silver coinage (darahim al-bunduqiyya), Florentine gold coinage (al-dhahab al-afluri) as well as another dinar called qaratir (j-J), which is equal to four Venetian dirhams. Their [smaller] weight (ratluhum) called lira is equivalent to its Egyptian analogue. Their [higher] weight (qintar) is equal to 150 ratl and is called qintar [quintale]. It serves to buy grain (ghallat), and if not, the one who buys great quantities buys per kayl. This kayl called muzra is a bit heavier than the Egyptian ardab.[33]

Al-Qalqashandi’s (d. 821/1418) manual for secretaries, in turn, proves that Mamluk functionaries responsible for communicating with the Genoese also had knowledge about the republic’s political organization.

Addressing the rulers of Genoa (hukkam Janawa): This community features different administrative ranks. These are the Podesta (al-budishta), the Capitano (al-kabtan) and the Elders (al-mashayikh). The model of how to address them according to the tathqif is tripartite. “This written document has been issued to His Presence, the Podesta and the Capitano, both illustrious, exalted, dignified, grave, So-and-so and So-and-so, as well as to the great and respected Elders, the holders of opinion and counsel, the communal authority of Genoa (al-kumunun bi-Janawa), most glorious Christian nation, grand representative of the Christian religion, friends of kings and sultans, may God most high inspire them to reason, couple their intentions with what is good, and let good counsel reign among them.” Their banner contains this and this, and they are addressed as the rulers of Genoa (hukkam Janawa).223

Thus, at the end of the period of investigation, the maritime republic of Genoa, known mainly as the object of a tenth-century Fatimid raid to most Arabic-Islamic scholars until the twelfth century, was perceived as one of the great maritime powers of the late medieval Mediterranean. Although Arabic-Islamic historiographers did not fully record the actual frequency and intensity of diplomatic and commercial contact between Genoa and different parts of the Arabic-Islamic sphere, their works corroborate that another new player had entered the Mediterranean scene.

  • [1] al-Baladhuri, futuh, ed. de Goeje, fol. 274—75, pp. 234—5 (AR), trans. Hitti, pp. 371—2.
  • [2] al-Mas'udi, muruj, ed./trans. Pellat, § 921, p. 151 (AR): ‘wa-qad kana al-muslimun mimmanjawarahum min bilad al-Andalus wa-l-Maghrib ghalabahum ala mudun kathira min mudunihimmithla madinat Bari wa-madinat Tarniyyu wa-madinat Shabarama wa-ghayriha min mudunihimal-kibar wa-sakanaha al-muslimun muddatan min al-zaman thumma inna l-Nawkubard thabuwa-raja u ala man fi tilka al-mudun min al-muslimin fa-akhrajuhum anha ba da hurub tawila wa-madhakarna min al-mudun fi waqtina hadha fi aydi al-Nawkubard’, p. 347 (FR). al-Mas'udi claims thattheir capital is Benevento (Banabant). The editor, ibid., p. 151 n. 5 (AR), suggests that their ruler’s title‘Adakls’ or Adnakbis’ represents an Arabic plural of the Latin term ‘dux’. Since al-Mas'udi refers toMuslim raids, the creation of Muslim Bari and hostilities between Langobards and Muslims, we couldalso be dealing with a distorted form of the anthroponyms ‘Radelchis’ or Adelchis’, two dukes of theninth century in touch with the emirate of Bari.
  • [3] al-Ya qubi, al-buldan, ed. de Goeje.
  • [4] Ibn Khurdadhbah, al-masalik, ed. de Goeje, pp. 104, 112, 113—15.
  • [5] 18° Ibid., p. 92. 181 al-Istakhri, al-masalik, ed. de Goeje, pp. 68—71.
  • [6] 182 Ibn Rustah, al-a4aq al-nafisa, ed. de Goeje, pp. 79, 85, 98, 128—32.
  • [7] 183 Ibid., p. 128: ‘wa-hum nuzul fi sahra5 malsa laysa lahum qura wa-la madain innama buyutuhum
  • [8] min khashab manhut safaih wa-hum ' ala din al-nasraniyya’.
  • [9] Ibn Hawqal, surat al-ard, ed. Kramers, pp. 110, 201—3.
  • [10] Citarella, ‘Relations’ (1967), pp. 299—312; Citarella, ‘Patterns’ (1968), pp. 531—55; Schwarz,Amalfi (1978), pp. 15—45; Kreutz, Normans (1996), pp. 75—93.
  • [11] Ibn Hayyan, al-muqtabis V, ed. Chalmeta and Corriente, fol. 327, AH 330, p. 485: ‘tujjar ahlal-Malfat al-ma'rufun bi-l-Andalus bi-l-Malfataniyym.
  • [12] Yahya b. Sa'ld, Histoire, ed./trans. Kratchkovsky and Vasiliev (Patrologia Orientalis, 23/2),pp. 447—8.
  • [13] Hoffmann, ‘Adriakuste’ (1968), pp. 165—81; Jehel, L’ltalie (2001), p. 105. Further Arabic-Islamic references to Venice in Nallino, ‘Venezia’ (1963), pp. 111—20.
  • [14] 189 Jehel, LItalie (2001), pp. 28—31.
  • [15] tarikh jazirat Siqilliya, ed. Amari (BAS), p. 170; Kedar, ‘Fonte’ (1997), pp. 606—16.
  • [16] Ibn al-Athir, al-kamil, ed. Tornberg, vol. 4, AH 92, p. 450 (Leiden), p. 568 (Beirut); vol. 8, AH322, p. 213 (Leiden), p. 285 (Beirut); vol. 8, AH 323, p. 232 (Leiden), p. 310 (Beirut); Ibn 'Idhari,al-bayan, ed. Colin and Levi-Proven^al, vol. 1, p. 209; Abu l-Fida’, al-mukhtasar, ed. Zaynuhum 'Azabet al., vol. 2, AH 323, p. 121; al-Nuwayri, nihayat al-arab, ed. al-Tarhini, vol. 24, p. 201; nihayatal-arab, ed. Fawwaz and Fawwaz, vol. 28, p. 72; al-Dhahabi, tarikh, ed. al-Tadmuri, vol. 24, p. 30; Ibnal-Khatib, ainalalalam III, ed. al-'Ayyadi and al-Kattani, p. 53; Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar andShahada, vol. 1, p. 315; vol. 3, p. 577; vol. 4, pp. 52, 265; Ibn Taghribirdi, al-nujum al-zahira, ed.Shams al-Din, vol. 3, AH 323, p. 285.
  • [17] al-Idrisi, Opus geographicum, ed. Bombaci et al., fasc. VII, p. 750: wa-ahluha tujjar amli’amayasir yusafiruna barran wa-bahran wa-yaqtahimuna sahlan wa-wa ran wa-lahum ustul mukhif wa-lahum marifa bi-l-hiyal al-harbiyya wa-l-alat al-sultaniyya wa-lahum bayna l-Rum izzat anfus.’ Copied by al-Himyarl, rawd al-mi'tar, ed. Abbas, lemma ‘Janawa’, p. 173.
  • [18] Ibn Said, al-jughrafiya, ed. al-Arabi, pp. 168—9, 182; al-Himyarl, rawd al-mitar, ed. Abbas,lemma ‘Janawa’, p. 173; Abu l-Fida, taqwim, ed. Reinaud and de Slane, pp. 30, 189, 208; Abu l-Fida,al-mukhtasar, ed. Zaynuhum Azab et al., vol. 1, pp. 119—20; Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar andShahada, vol. 1, p. 92; vol. 2, p. 277; al-Qalqashandi, subh al-aesha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 3, p. 239; vol. 5,pp. 374-5, 405-6, 416.
  • [19] Ibn al-Khatlb, acmal al-a‘lam III, ed. al- Ayyadi and al-Kattani, p. 78; Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed.Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 6, p. 213. Cf. Cowdrey, ‘Campaign’ (1977), pp. 1-29.
  • [20] Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 6, p. 213: ‘wa-raddada al-bu ‘ uth ila daral-harb fiha hatta ittaqathu umam al-nasraniyya bi-l-jizi min wara al-bahr min bilad Ifriqiya [in note2: MS Tunis: min bilad al-Faranja] wa-Janawa wa-Sardinya’.
  • [21] 196 Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 6, p. 251. Lomax, Reconquest (1978), p. 83,claims that Pisa and Genoa captured Mallorca together in 1115. According to Orvietani Busch, Ports(2001), pp. 21, 174, the Genoese refused to participate in the attack on the Balearics in 1113-14.
  • [22] Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 6, p. 385.
  • [23] 19® Amari, Nuovo ricordi (1873), pp. 20-2 (AR), pp. 67-9 (IT); ibid., pp. 11-28 (Introduction) onthe context.
  • [24] al-Yunini, dhayl, s. ed., vol. 2, AH 669, pp. 454-5; cf. Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar andShahada, vol. 6, pp. 427-9; al-Maqrizi, al-suluk, ed. ‘Ata, vol. 1, AH 648, pp. 660-1.
  • [25] Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 5, p. 517: ‘thumma ghalaba li-hadhihial-'usur ahl Janawa min al-Ifranj 'ala jazirat Rudus hazataha min yad Lashkari sahib al-Qustantiniyyasanat thamanin wa-saba'ami'a wa-akhadhu bi-makhnaqiha . . .’. The ruler of Constantinople in 1308was actually Andronikos II Palaiologos, not John IV Laskaris, who died in prison around 1305 afterMichael VIII Palaiologos had deposed him in 1261. Ibn Khaldun seems to have confounded two different occupations of Rhodes, i.e. the short-term Genoese occupation in 1249, when a member of theLaskarid dynasty had in fact ruled the island, and the occupation by the Knights Hospitallers in 1309.Cf. Balard, ‘Genoese’ (1989), p. 159.
  • [26] Ibn Battuta, rihla, ed./trans. Defremery and Sanguinetti, vol. 2, pp. 311—12: ‘fa-rafa'u amra-hum ila l-baba fa-amara nasara Janawa wa-Ifransa bi-ghazwihi’.
  • [27] On the Smyrna Crusade, see Setton, Papacy, vol. 1 (1976), pp. 181—93.
  • [28] Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 5, p. 635; al-Qalqashandi, subh al-a'ha, ed.Ibrahim, vol. 5, p. 368.
  • [29] 204 Cf. Kissling, ‘Empire’ (1996), pp. 7—9.
  • [30] Ibn Khaldun, tarikh, ed. Zakkar and Shahada, vol. 6, pp. 578—9: ‘hatta im tala’at sawahilal-thughur al-gharbiyya min Bijaya bi-asrahim tadujju turuq al-bilad bi-dajjat al-salasil wa-l-aghlal'indama yantashirun fi hajatihim wa-yughalun fi fida’ihim bi-ma yata'adhdhar minhu aw yakad,
  • [31] Abu l-Fida’, al-mukhtasar, ed. Zaynuhum Azab et al., vol. 4, AH 719, p. 106. Cf. Leo,Geschichte, vol. 3 (1829), pp. 472—3, with a chronological overview of events in Genoa in this and theneighbouring years.
  • [32] al-Qalqashandi, subh al-aiha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, p. 406, cites Abu l-Fida’, taqwim, ed. Rein-aud and de Slane, p. 209: ‘kull dar bi-manzilat qal'a, wa-li-dhalika ightanu 'an 'amal sur 'alayha . . .’.
  • [33] al- Umari, Condizioni, ed./trans. Amari, pp. 9—11 (AR), pp. 17—19 (IT): wa-amma ahl Janawafa-hukmuhum kumun wa-la malik lahum kana wa-la yakun wa-hukmuhum al-an fi ahl baytayn[tahkum al-rajul min kulli bayt minhuma muddat sana thumma yakun lahu sitarat al-bahr wa-tahkumal-rajul alladhi min al-bayt al-akhar hakadha sana thumma yakun lahu sitarat al-bahr hum] al-wahidbayt Durya wa-hadha Bilban al-mukhabbir li minhum wa-l-bayt al-thani bayt Isbinya qala wa-dunhadhayn al-baytayn fi Janawa bayt Ghurmadi wa-bayt Malun wa-bayt Dama wa-bayt Santutartaru(jJ^J^J--^) wa-bayt Dafishki wa-ahl hadhihi al-buyut ahl al-mashura inda man yahkum wa-lahumnasab ariq fihim wa-ma dakhalu tahta hukm dhalik al-baytayn illa qahran bi-l-sayf wa-qad kana li-l-hukm fihim qadiman fi bayt Ghurmadi wa-bayt Malun yadur baynahuma ala hukm al-kumunwa-dun hadhihi al-buyut fihim bayt Agharli wa-bayt Fantilu wa-bayt Dilwart wa-mamlakat Janawamufarraqa lahum Ghalaza janbi al-Qustantiniyya wa-Kaffa ala bahr Nitsh wa-law ijtamaat biladuhumjaa dawruha qarib talathat [sic] ashhur wa-lakinnaha mufarraqa la yajtami uha nizam wa-layadummuha malik humam wa-asakiruhum idha ijtamaat wa-la takad tajtamic nahwa sittin alif farisfa-amma al-rijjala fa-umam wa-qudratuhum fi l-bahr akthar min al-barr wa-li-kull min ahl hadhihial-buyut ghurban wa-law ijtamau ala l-ittifaq laqadaru ala imarat khamsa miat ghurab wa-laysali-asakir Janawa iqtaat wa-la nuqud bal li-kull minhum amlak wa-asbab alayha fursan muqarraratarkabu fi waqt hajatihim barran wa-bahran wa-ahl Janawa sulh maa salatinina wa-lahum taraddudila Misr wa-l-Sham fi l-tijarat wa-man zafaru bihi min a dayihim min ahl dinihim akhadhu malahuwa-qataluhu fa-amma in kana min al-muslimin fa-innahum idha akhadhu malahu abquhu wa-bauhuwa-li-hadha li-l-Janawiyya la yurfac al-bab lahum rasan wa-la yabsut lahum inasan wa-muamalatuhumbi-l-darahim al-bunduqiyya wa-l-dhahab al-afluri wa-dinar yusamma qaratir (j-'j^) wa-huwa arba atdarahim bunduqiyya wa-ratluhum yusamma lira wa-huwa nazir al-misri sawa wa-qintaruhum miawa-khamsun ratlan wa-yusamma qintaran wa-bihi tushtara al-ghalat illa man yashtari al-kathirfa-innahu yashtari bi-l-kayl wa-hadha al-kayl yusamma muzra wa-huwa arjah min al-ardab al-misribi-qalil . . .’. Note: the phrase in square brackets does not appear in Amari’s edition and only featuresin the Italian translation (p. 17). The Arabic phrase is reproduced in al- Umari, masalik al-absar, ed.facs. Sezgin, vol. 2, p. 119.
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