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Genoa

GENOA

GENOA. Genoa, the major port city of northwestern Italy, is situated at the center of the Ligurian coast and protected by a rugged mountain range and an easily defensible harbor. In the early modern period, Genoa's territory stretched from La Spezia in the east to Ventimiglia in the west, and included portions of the Lombard plain north of the coastal range. The Genoese also controlled the island of Corsica, which they administered as a colony.

The early modern Genoese state emerged in 1528, following an aristocratic revolt that put an end to the medieval regime that had endured since the early tenth century. The revolt, backed by the Spanish and led by the Genoese admiral Andrea Doria (14661560), established a republican constitution in which eligibility for political office was predicated on membership in one of twenty-eight alberghi extended aristocratic kinship networks based on clientage rather than strict consanguinity. The 1528 constitution expanded the opportunity to hold office to newer aristocratic families whose wealth was based on commerce instead of banking. Strife between the new families and the older established aristocrats became one of the defining features of the Genoese republic, and led to a pair of constitutional reforms. The first, in 1547, was designed to ensure that the older families maintained control of the higher councils of government by filling key positions through appointment rather than election. The second, occasioned by the threat of civil war in 1576, resulted in the abolition of the alberghi as formally recognized groups, and the declaration that all aristocrats were equal in status and privilege before the law.

Despite the waning of the republic's naval power in the sixteenth century, the city remained an important economic center. To maintain their hold on goods carried by northern European ships, the Genoese declared themselves a free port in 1669. No longer actively involved in maritime trade, the city's oligarchs turned their attention to other commercial opportunities. The Genoese were among the European leaders in banking, at one point in the late sixteenth century holding most of the Spanish crown's public debt. The sparse population and difficult terrain of the Ligurian coast did not permit the agricultural speculation that other Italian cities engaged in, but the rural population was put to work as wage laborers for traditionally urban industries, especially textile manufacturing. Moving urban industries to the countryside created a large class of indigent poor in the city. In 1656, to combat what was increasingly seen as a threat to public order, the city created the Albergo dei Poveri, a combination prison and workhouse. The Albergo was the first of its kind in Europe, and the institution was widely imitated in the coming centuries.

Despite the fact that the Genoese oligarchs found new avenues for investment, the republic's military and political power steadily declined. Both the Spanish and French crowns had designs on Genoa's port, forcing the Genoese to play the two rivals against each other in an effort to retain their own liberty. In the end, however, the lack of a standing army or large fleet meant that the Genoese were unable to resist a gradual loss of their territory. In 1746 the city was briefly occupied by an Austrian army, but a popular revolt reestablished the republic. In 1768 financial problems forced the Genoese to sell Corsica to the French. It was a sign of things to come, as in 1797 the French army under the command of a Corsican general, Napoléon Bonaparte, put an end to Genoa's tenuous independence.

See also Italy .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Costantini, Claudio. La repubblica di Genova nell'età moderna. Vol. 9 of Storia D'Italia, edited by Giuseppe Galasso. Turin, 1978.

Epstein, Steven A. Genoa and the Genoese, 9581528. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1996.

Grendi, Edoardo. La repubblica arsitocratica dei genovesi: Politica, carità e commèrcio fra Cinque e Seicento. Bologna, 1987.

Karl Appuhn

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Genoa

Genoa (jĕn´ōwə), Ital. Genova, city (1991 pop. 678,771), capital of Genoa prov. and of Liguria, NW Italy, on the Ligurian Sea. Beautifully situated on the Italian Riviera, it is the chief seaport of Italy and rivals Marseilles, France, as the leading Mediterranean port. It is an outlet for the Po Valley and for central Europe and handles extensive passenger and freight traffic. Genoa's harbor facilities, badly damaged in World War II and by storms in 1954–55, have been rebuilt and greatly modernized. The city is also a commercial and industrial center. Such manufactures as iron and steel, chemicals, petroleum, airplanes, ships, locomotives, motor vehicles, and textiles long led the economy, but the service sector is increasingly important while industry has slowly and steadily declined.

Points of Interest

Among Genoa's notable buildings are the Cathedral of San Lorenzo (rebuilt in 1100 and frequently restored), the palace of the doges, the richly decorated churches of the Annunciation and of St. Ambrose (both 16th cent.), the medieval Church of San Donato, many Renaissance palaces, and the Carlo Felice opera house (19th cent.). The city is surrounded by old walls and forts, and the steep and narrow streets of the harbor section are very picturesque. The 16th-century Lanterna [lighthouse] is an emblem of Genoa. The Old Port was redesigned in 1992 by Renzo Piano; a modern aquarium and tropical greenhouse (the Bolla) are there. Genoa has several museums and a university (founded 1243).

History

An ancient town of the Ligures, Genoa flourished under Roman rule. Around the 10th cent. it became a free commune governed by consuls. Its maritime power increased steadily. Helped by Pisa, Genoa drove (11th cent.) the Arabs from Corsica and Sardinia. Rivalry over control of Sardinia resulted in long wars with Pisa; Genoa finally triumphed in the naval battle of Meloria (1284).

The Crusades brought Genoa great wealth, and the republic acquired possessions and trading privileges in areas from Spain to the Crimea. Genoa's expansion and its military defense were largely financed by a group of merchants who in 1408 organized a powerful bank, the Banco San Giorgio. Genoese policy in the eastern Mediterranean clashed with the ambitions of Venice, and long wars resulted, ending with the Peace of Turin (1381), which slightly favored Venice. Meanwhile, the Genoese republic was weakened by factional strife between Guelphs and Ghibellines, between nobles and the popular party. In 1339 the first doge (chief magistrate) for life was elected.

As Genoa gradually gained control of the cities of Liguria, it lost its outlying possessions. Rival factions in the city resorted to foreign aid. From the late 14th to the 16th cent., France and Milan in turn controlled the city, although nominal independence was preserved.

The power of Genoa was revived by the seaman and statesman Andrea Doria, who wrote a new constitution in 1528; the conspiracy (1547) of the Fieschi family against his dictatorship failed. Later the city came under Spanish, French, and Austrian control. The Austrians were expelled by a popular uprising in 1746, but in 1768 Genoa had to cede Corsica, its last outlying possession, to France. In 1797, French military pressure resulted in the end of aristocratic rule and the formation of the Ligurian Republic, which Napoleon I formally annexed to France in 1805. The Congress of Vienna united (1814) Genoa and Liguria with the kingdom of Sardinia. In 1922 a major European economic conference (see Genoa, Conference of) was held in the city.

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Genoa

Genoa (Genova) Seaport on the Gulf of Genoa, nw Italy; capital of Liguria region. An influential trading power during the Middle Ages, its fortunes declined in the 15th century and it came under foreign control. It has a university (1471) and an Academy of Fine Arts (1751). Industries: oil refining, motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals, paper. Pop. (2001) 632,366.

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genoa

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