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Michel Balard (2001)

L'amministrazione genovese e veneziana nel Mediterraneo orientale

In: Genova, Venezia, il Levante nei secoli XII-XIV. Atti del convegno internazionale di studi Genova - Venezia, 10-14 marzo 2000, ed. by Gherardo Ortalli & Dino Puncuh, pp. 201-212, Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Venice. Atti della Società ligure di storia patria n.s. 41 = 115/1.

Balard questions the neat difference, established by R.S. Lopez, between Genoese and Venetian administration in their colonies in the Levant. Lopez had argued that in the three sectors of colonization (political, economical, and cultural control) the Venetian policy was marked by centralism while Genoa’s colonies had a certain independence. The article shows that this assumption has to be reviewed as in many points Genoa’s and Venice’s colonies presented rather similar characteristics.

The first settlements (e.g. in the Aegean) had been established by merchants without the involvement of the Republic, but in agreement with the local (Greek or Latin) rulers. Thus the Italian hometowns had only limited influence.
The structures of colonial administration were similar: Both Genoa and Venice had a system of elected representatives who got clear directions concerning the policy they were supposed to follow in the colonies. In both cases, the local administration resembled that of the hometown.
The fiscal administration was nearly the same for both the Venetian and the Genoese colonies, even if the terminology varied: the function of the Genoese massarii and that of the Venetian camerarii was the same. So is the fact that the revenues from the colonies went to Italy and only a part of it returned to the overseas administration, so that the colonies always had a deficit which they tried to balance using the same measures of indirect taxes on the trade. The problem of control was the same for both Genoa and Venice, as the distances from Italy to the colonies, but also between the colonies, were too long to assure a continued control.
The only real difference between Venetian and Genoese administration in the Mediterranean concerned the religious sector: While the latter showed a certain tolerance to the orthodox population on Chio and in the Black Sea where both confessions coexisted, the orthodox hierarchy was completely removed from Venetian Crete.

All in all, Lopez’ sharp distinction between Venetian centralism and Genoese decentralism has to be reconsidered as the colonies of both cities present a rather high degree of resemblance.

Genoa Venice Colonies Administration
by Annika Stello last modified 2009-02-09 16:49

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