Genoa History

A Brief History of Medieval Genoa

Genoa has a long history, going back to the Romans – where it was known as Repubblic di Genova. For over 800 years the republic was known by many nicknames La Dominante (The Dominant One), la Dominante dei mari (the Dominant of the Seas), and La Repubblica dei magnifici (Republic of the Magnificents). Genoa grew in wealth and importance over the centuries and became one of the most dominant trading port cities in Medieval Europe and was known as one of the so-called Maritime Republics.

During the 13th and 14th Century, Genoa was in a Trading War with Venice, the other dominant maritime Republic at the time. After 1261 Genoa was again in control of the trade routes, recieving ports and way stations in many Mediterranean Islands and settlements in the Aegean Sea. The Islands of Chios and Lesbos became commercial stations of Genoa. During this period, Genoa also conquered many settlements in Crimea, battled and defeated the Pisans and gained control of Corsica. The Sardinian town of Sassari became a free municipality controlle by Genoa at this time.

In 1396, Genoa came under complete control of a foreign power, the French, due to its decline in naval supremacy after its long war with Venice. After a period of successive Milanese, French and Spanish intrusions, in 1528 a new constitution was pushed thriough which restored the city to orderly government and Genoa became a satellite of Spain.

The 15th Century saw Genoa rise in power and influence again during the ‘Golden Age of Banking’. It did however lose many territories during the early part of this period. Genoa itself came undeer the rule of the Visconti of Milan. Sardinia was lost to Aragom, Corsica to internal revolt and the Middle East, Eastern European and Asia Minor colonies to the Ottoman Empire.

From around 1520, Genoa controlled the port of Panama – the first Pacific port founded by the conquests of the Americas.


Genoa was a major trading port and thus traded in many goods and services through the centuries. these include:

  • Wine
  • Olive oil
  • Wool
  • Furs
  • Corn
  • Drugs and Spices from the Middle East
  • Silk textiles, from imported threads, following Byzantine and Sassanian Silk styles
  • Gold
  • Goods from the Americas


The following regions had some influence over Genoa’s culture and cuisine.

Italian, Byzantine, Middle Eastern, Greek, lower Mediterranean, Asia Minor, French, Milanese, Spanish and Early American exploration