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This book deals with the relations between Tuscany and the Central and Eastern Mediterranean during the so-called “Central Middle Ages”, that is in the centuries comprised between 1000 and 1300 A.D.. Traditionally, for what concerns Mediterranean relations, historians have paid attention to the great maritime cities – Genoa, Pisa, Venice, Amalfi – and their naval and commercial expansion, while inland Italian cities have been studied almost exclusively from the viewpoint of their commercial relations on land and along river waterways. Yet, through the big maritime centres, also inland cities of the Italian peninsula have often kept an important link with the Mediterranean and the Levant, either directly or indirectly. The current reserch aims precisely at analyzing on the whole the nature and the evolution of those relations between Tuscany and the Levantine world.
The volume is organized by topics, but at the same time following also a chronological principle, yet intended with certain elasticity. The first two chapters are devoted to some general considerations about the form and the reasons of Genoa, Pisa and Venice’s maritime expansion in the 11th and 12th centuries and to a concise analysis of the military factors which favoured and prompted that expansion. The third chapter tackles a comparative exam of the commercial growth experienced by Tyrrhenian maritime centres (plus Venice) and by inland Tuscan cities in the course of the 12th century and during the firs half of the 13th century. Chapter 4 dwells upon the binomial “crusades-trade”, the importance that this couple had in fostering relations between Tuscany and the Levant starting from the late 11th century and upon the traces which participation in the crusades left in the collective memory and therefore in the civic consciousness of Tuscan communes, particularly Florence, in the Late Middle Ages. The following chapter looks into a specific case: that of the Sangimignanese who travelled to the Eastern Mediterranean in the 13th century. Their travels are documented by an exceptionally interesting source: the records of trials discussed in the local podestà court, actions brought for by heirs of Sangimignanese merchants who had died in the course of their business trips across the Mediterranean. Chapters 6 deals with the changes occured in Southern Italy in the second half of the Duecento due to the Angevine conquest and its effects upon the structure of trade and the financial relations linking Tuscan cities with the kingdom of Sicily and the Mediterranean. Finally, the last chapter is entirely devoted to the subject of Florentine expansion in the Levant between the last decades of the 13th and the early 14th century.