Thursday, October 16, 2014
Genoa and the Genoese, 958-1528 by Steven A. Epstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a solid book on the Medieval history of one of the greatest naval powers of the Mediterranean in the 11-13th centuries. I read it as part of preparation for the trip to the region of Italy Liguria and did not regret it. I particularly liked the economic analysis of how Genoese managed to have quite a large scope of merchant and military activities despite coming from rather limited geographical area. Co-financing ship voyages, spreading the risks, issuing and selling shares in overseas enterprises - all these traits of the modern capitalism were already present in Medieval Genoese Republic.
It was also interesting to follow how the internal strife among various noble clans have ultimately led to demise of the Republic. At times, it was tiresome to follow all the feuds and family names involved - especially towards the end of the book. But otherwise, the book is based on a substantial research of the preserved documents of that time, is quite well-written and sets the right focus in the analysis of Genoa's history.