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Title: Malta and Genoa 1150-1375
Authors: Fiorini, Stanley
Keywords: Malta -- Relations -- Genoa
Malta -- History -- Aragonese and Castillians, 1283-1530
Malta -- History -- Normans, Angevins, & Swabians, 1090-1283
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Pontificio Istituto Orientale
Citation: Fiorini, S. (2016). Malta and Genoa 1150-1375. Dies Amalphitana, 4, 29-40.
Abstract: In the years around 1100 Genoa and Pisa expanded their mercantile empire at the expense of other Central European maritime republics like Amalfi and Gaeta which diversified their mercantile operations in other directions at the time. Like Venice on the Adriatic, the dominant republics on the Tyrrhenian «found themselves able to supply consumers with whom the older generation of merchants from Amalfi had not been able to make close and regular contacts». But the Genoese, Pisans and Venetians were not the only contenders for supremacy. Just as they had «gained control of the elongated routes carrying goods and pilgrims between West and East, the Sicilians established control over the vital passage-ways between the Tyrrhenian and the East, and between the Adriatic and the East. Sicilian naval supremacy in these waters presented the North Italians with a dilemma. Unless they wished their ships to be at the mercy of the Sicilian navy, they had to make friends with the court in Palermo. In 1156 the Genoese made a treaty with King William I [whereby they] were granted reduced taxes on cargoes carried from Alexandria and the Holy Land through Messina, for the treaty was concerned with the security of the routes to the East as much as it was with the right to take certain goods out of Sicily. Equally, the Genoese needed the produce of Sicily. The city had to feed itself as it grew, and Sicilian wheat was more plentiful and of higher quality than Sardinian, for which, in any case, the Genoese competed with the Pisan. The Treaty describes how the Genoese would require wheat, salted pork, wool, lambskins and cotton, mainly from the area around Agrigento. By bringing large quantities of raw cotton from Sicily to Northern Italy, the Genoese laid the basis for a cotton industry that would flourish throughout the Middle Ages. Some of the best cotton came from Malta and Maltese cotton is already recorded in Genoa in 1164». This is the earliest association of Malta with Genoa that can be detected in existing documentation but it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to contacts between Malta and the North Italian maritime republics.
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