Originally an autonomous commune within the old Kingdom of Italy (the successor of the Lombard kingdom which sprang up after the end of Imperial Roman rule). The Republic of Genoa began to establish itself during the height of the Islamic expansion, starting with raids against the Fatimid Caliphate in North Africa. A number of victories broke Muslim rule over the Mediterranean and allowed maritime powers like Genoa and Venice to rise rapidly in importance, particularly as the Crusades were launched and Italian merchants were needed to transport knights, supply them and, sometimes most importantly, to fund them. Genoa itself contributed a great deal in these campaigns, even supplying warships and soldiers to participate in the fighting and in return the republic was given colonies and advantageous commercial treaties with the Crusader states. For the most part though, although Genoa gained some colonial footholds in certain ports, her real influence was in her economic power, through trade and commerce and not by direct rule.
|Genoese galleys, upon which the state was built|
|Doge of Genoa Giovanni Giacomo Grimaldi|
The branch of the family that eventually became the Lords and Princes of Monaco started out like most of the Genoese patricians, as fighting sailors and intrepid entrepreneurs. In charge of their Genoese galleys they had brought the King of Jerusalem and the King of Hungary to Egypt in the Fifth Crusade, they raided Venetian galleys in the intermittent war with that state, grow in wealth and status and finally fight the forces of Genoa itself on a number of occasions as the republic tried to reassert her claim to Monaco or when a rival political family gained power in the ‘serene republic’. The history of Genoa is a fascinating one, growing from a tiny, overlooked port to a commercial empire with merchant ships and war galleys operating from the Black Sea to the Pillars of Hercules, from the African coast to the English Channel. When eclipsed by Venice the city-state came back as the banking center for the Spanish empire and their colonial adventures in the Americas when the famous Andrea Doria was admiral-in-chief to the Hapsburg monarchs. Even today, traces of the maritime empire of Genoa can still be seen even in such far removed places as the fortress in Sudak, Ukraine to the famous Galata Tower in what is now Istanbul.