views updated May 08 2018


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 .


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


views updated May 29 2018


GENOA , seaport in N. Italy. There were Jews living in Genoa before 511, since in that year Theodoric the Ostrogoth confirmed through his minister Cassiodorus the Jewish privilege of restoring, but not enlarging, the synagogue, which had been destroyed by Christian fanatics. From 1134 Jews who came to Genoa had to pay toward the illumination of the cathedral – this obviously discouraging their settlement. *Benjamin of Tudela (c. 1165) found only two Jews (brothers) in Genoa, dyers from North Africa. Notarial documents of 1250–74 show a number of Jews established there or in transit. In 1492 refugees from Spain arriving in Genoa in overcrowded ships were allowed to land for three days, but on Jan. 31, 1493, this concession was withdrawn through fear that the Jews had introduced the plague. In following years some well-to-do Jews were allowed to stay in Genoa under the supervision of an "Office of the Jews."

The policy of the Genoese doges and senate toward the Jews subsequently varied, alternately influenced by fear of competition and the need to exploit Jewish experience in overseas trade. The Jews were expelled from the city in 1515, readmitted a year later, and again expelled in 1550. In 1567 the expulsion was extended to the whole territory of the republic. However, between 1570 and 1586, permission to engage in moneylending and to open shops in Genoa was granted four times to the Jews. In 1598 a further decree of expulsion was issued, but many Jews succeeded in evading it. In 1660 the 200 Jews living in Genoa were confined to a ghetto, although two years later many were still living outside it. What is possibly the first polyglot Bible (or part of it) was published here in 1516: the Psalter in the Hebrew original, with the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, the Aramaic Targum and its Latin translation, and an Arabic version together with some notes by Bishop Agostino Giustiniani, to whose scholarly initiative this magnificent edition was due. The last decree of expulsion was issued in 1737 but was not rigorously enforced. Finally, in 1752 a more liberal statute was issued, but owing to the uncertain conditions the Jewish population remained small, numbering only 70 in 1763. The number increased during the 19th century, after Genoa's development as Italy's major port, especially after full equality was granted to the Jews in 1848. The community numbered about 1,000 in the middle of the 19th century.

[Attilio Milano]

Holocaust Period

Because of its location and its large and active port, Genoa was an important center for the assistance of Jews in Italy. Until the very last minute, some Jews managed to find boats and escape from the city.

One hundred fifty-three Jews were arrested and deported from the Province of Genoa during the German occupation of Italy. They included many refugees who had fled from Italian-occupied southeastern France at the time of the Italian armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943, on their way to Switzerland or to the regions of Italy under the Allies.

Many Jewish refugees gathered in Genoa because the city was the headquarters of the Delegazione Assistenza Emigrati Ebrei (delasem), which coordinated assistance and rescue programs. The Genovese office of delasem was headed initially by Lelio Vittorio Valobra, who later fled to Switzerland and continued to work from there, with Raffaele *Cantoni, to support the organization's activities. Massimo Teglio, a particularly courageous Genovese Jew, remained on the scene and had a central role in helping both Italian and foreign Jews in danger of arrest. Teglio worked closely with Cardinal Pietro Boetto (1871–1946), the archbishop of Genoa, and his secretary, Don Francesco Repetto. Don Repetto recruited local priests and also created a regional rescue network, with help from the archbishop of Turin and priests from other northern Italian cities.

The hunt for Jews began on November 2, 1943, when two German police agents entered the offices of the Jewish community and forced the custodians, Linda and Bino Polacco, to turn over membership lists and summon members to a meeting at the synagogue the following morning. Many members had already left the city, but a majority of those arrested in Genoa were seized at this time. Only a few members who received the summons were able to escape, thanks to a warning received from Teglio. Rabbi Riccardo Pacifici, who until the last moment tried to help refugee Jews, was captured in the Galleria Mazzini, also on November 3. He died at Auschwitz, probably gassed upon arrival on December 11.

[Alberto Cavaglion (2nd ed.)]

Contemporary Period

At the end of World War ii, 1,108 Jews were left in Genoa. Subsequently, the Jewish population maintained its size, notwithstanding a constant outnumbering of deaths over births, and in 1965 it numbered 1,036 persons out of a total of 840,000 inhabitants. The port of Genoa was the transit center for various groups of Jewish emigrants who came mainly from Eastern Europe and were heading for Israel. In early 2000s the community numbered a few hundred, operating a synagogue and a Jewish school. The review La Fiamma ("The Flame") was published monthly.

[Sergio DellaPergola]


Milano, Bibliotheca, index, s.v.Genova; Roth, Italy, index; idem, in: Speculum, 25 (1950), 190–7; idem, Jews in the Renaissance (1959), 155; R. Pacifici, Nuovo Tempio di Genova con illustrazioni e notizie storiche nella comunità nei secoli xvii e xviii (1939); Perreau, in: Vessillo Israelitico, 29 (1881), 12–14, 37–40, 70–73; D.W. Amram, Makers of Hebrew Books in Italy (1909), 266ff.; A. Marx, Studies in Jewish History and Booklore (1944), 312; S. Jona, Persecuzione degli ebrei a Genova (1965); Musso, G.G., "Documenti su Genova e gli ebrei tra il 'Quattro e il 'Cinquecento," rmi, 36 (1970) 426–435. add. bibliography: G.G. Musso, "Per la storia degli ebrei in Genova nella seconda meta del cinquecento: Le vicende genovesi di R. Josef Hakohen," in: Carpi (1967), 101–11; C. Brizzolari, Gli ebrei nella storia di Genova (1971); G.N. Zazzu, "Genova e gli ebrei nel basso Medio Evo," rmi, 40 (1974), 248–302; G.N. Zazzu, "Juifs dans le territoire génois au bas moyen-âge," in: wcjs, 6 (1975), 143–51; A. Agosto, "L'Archivio di stato di Genova e le fonti relative alla storia degli Ebrei genovesi dal xv al xviii secolo," in: Italia Judaica, 2 (1986), 91–98; M. Balard, "Les transports maritimes génois vers la Terre Sainte," in: I comuni italiani (1986), 141–74; M.L. Favreau-Lilie, "Friedenssicherung und Konfliktbegrenzung; Genua, Pisa und Venedig in Akkon, ca. 1200–1224," in: I comuni italiani (1986), 429–47; B.Z. Kedar, "Genoa's Golden Inscription in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; a Case for the Defence," in: I comuni italiani (1986), 317–35; S. Origone, "Genova, Costantinopoli e il Regno di Gerusalemme (prima metà sec. xiii)," in: I comuni italiani (1986), 281–316; G. Pistarino, "Genova e il Vicino Oriente nell'epoca del Regno Latino di Gerusalemme," in: I comuni italiani (1986), 57–139; R. Urbani, "Nuovi documenti sulla formazione della "Nazione ebrea" nel Genovesato durante il xvii secolo," in: Italia Judaica, 2 (1986), 193–209; R. Urbani, "Gli Eccellentissimi Protettori della nazione ebrea a Genova (1658–1797)," in: Italia Judaica, 3 (1989), 197–201; R. Urbani, "Considerazioni sull'insediamento ebraico genovese (1600–1750)," in: Atti della Società Ligure di Storia Patria, 29:1 (1989), 305–37; O. Limor, "Missionary Merchants; Three Medieval Anti-Jewish Works from Genoa," in: Journal of Medieval History 17:1 (1991), 35–51; G.N. Zazzu, Sepharad addio, 1492: I profughi ebrei dalla spagna al "ghetto" di Genova, Genova 1991; R. Urbani, "Indizi documentari sulla figura di Joseph Ha Cohen e della sua famiglia nella Genova del xvi secolo," in: E andammo dove il vento ci spines (1992), 59–67; R. Urbani, "La riammissione degli ebrei in Genova del 1752; il carteggio tra la Repubblica e la Curia Romana," in: Wezo't le-Angelo (1993), 573–91; C. Bricarelli, Una gioventù offesa: ebrei genovesi ricordano (1995); G. Jehel, "Jews and Muslims in Medieval Genoa; from the Twelfth to the Fourteenth Century," in: Mediterranean Historical Review, 10:1–2 (1995), 120–32; B.Z. Kedar, "A Vaulted East-West Street in Acre's Genoese Quarter?," in: Atiqot, 26 (1995), 105–11; G.N. Zazzu, Una gioventù offesa: ebrei genovesi ricordano (1995); E. Parma, "Il parato pontificale seicentesco di Genova in San Salvatore di Gerusalemme," in: Le vie del Mediterraneo (1996), 35–43; S. Ravera, "Jacopo da Varagine, San Giovanni Battista e le crociate," in: Le vie del Mediterraneo (1996), 13–17; R. Urbani, The Jews in Genoa (1999). holocaust period: C. Brizzolari, Genova nella seconda guerra mondiale. Una città in guerra (1938–1943), 2 vols (1977–78); G.B. Varnier, "Un vescovo per la guerra: L'azione pastorale di Pietro Boetto, arcivescovo di Genova (1938–1946)," in: B. Gariglio (ed.), Cattolici e Resistenza nell'Italia settentrionale (1997), 33–57; S. Antonini, Delasem. Storia della più grande organizzazione ebraica italiana di soccorso (2000).


views updated May 18 2018


The coastal city of Genoa in northwestern Italy was a leading European port during the Renaissance. For many years, the city struggled for political stability as various powers inside and outside the city competed for control. However, after establishing a republican* government in 1528, Genoa entered a golden age of art and culture.

A Troubled Period. With rugged mountains on one side and the sea on the other, Genoa enjoyed significant natural advantages. It was easy to defend and had a natural harbor. During the Middle Ages, Genoa dominated trade in the eastern Mediterranean. In the mid-1300s, however, Venice emerged as the region's leading commercial power after conquering many of Genoa's bases in the Aegean Sea. Genoese traders then turned their attention to the Black Sea and the western Mediterranean, particularly Spain. Meanwhile, Genoese industries expanded, and wool and silk manufacturing became important elements in the city's economy.

Between 1339 and 1528, Genoa suffered from constant political conflict and civil war. Nobles and other wealthy families controlled the city's government and struggled to promote their own political and economic interests. The city had no system for restricting the activities of these warring factions*. This period of turmoil included 46 attempts to overthrow Genoa's government, 41 of them successful. Several times the city fell into the hands of foreign rulers, usually the king of France or the duke of Milan. These continual conflicts eventually left the city in terrible debt.

In the early 1500s two powerful European families—the Habsburgs, who dominated the Holy Roman Empire*, and the Valois, who ruled France—fought for control of Italy. Genoa's port became an important prize in this rivalry between the Habsburg and the Valois dynasties, and the city passed back and forth between the two powers.

A New Era. The combination of financial and political troubles stirred up a reform movement in Genoa. In 1528 a group of reformers, led by the admiral Andrea Doria, overthrew French rule and established an independent republic. This revolution benefited the city in two major ways. First, it created a stable government, which had never existed under the old system. Second, by overthrowing the French, Genoa established itself as an ally of the Habsburgs, who ruled Spain. As a result, the city received the protection of Spain without falling under its control.

Doria's personal strength and popularity helped hold together the new government and control the rivalries that had divided the city in the past. Although he never took a noble title, Doria effectively ruled Genoa as a prince* from 1528 until his death in 1560. But he also made a series of reforms in 1547 to ensure that all the noble families of Genoa would have a voice in government.

The arts flourished under the new regime. Doria's luxurious home by the sea is a striking example. Built in the style of ancient Rome, this impressive villa* reflected the city's new ties to Rome and Spain and its freedom from French rule. Decorated with formal gardens, sculptures, and tapestries, Doria's villa became a symbol of the new, glorious city Genoa had become. It also served as the cultural, military, political, and economic center of the Renaissance in Genoa.

Much of the art from this period focused on the heroic figure of Doria. Portraits and other works linked Doria with the ancient defenders of the Roman republic. A series of frescoes* in Doria's villa featured portraits of his ancestors, presenting Doria as the descendant of a long line of Roman-style military heroes. The leader also appeared in several pieces in the guise of a Roman god.

(See alsoHoly Roman Empire; Italy; Spain. )

* republican

refers to a form of Renaissance government dominated by leading merchants with limited participation by others

* faction

party or interest group within a larger group

* Holy Roman Empire

political body in central Europe composed of several states; existed until 1806

* prince

Renaissance term for the ruler of an independent state

* villa

luxurious country home and the land surrounding it

* fresco

mural painted on a plaster wall


views updated May 21 2018

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.