Entire Title: Mare nostrum - Genoese cog on the Corsican coast
Work’s Subject: Medieval History of Italy
- Premise –
The Latin phrase Mare Nostrum, literally translated, means: our sea. It was a way of speaking used by the ancient Romans and then by the Italians, until the Risorgimento, to name the Mediterranean Sea.
Heraldry I used to sail, has a precise purpose. In heraldry the dolphin, historically considered the noblest of fish (although in reality the animal is a mammal), symbolizes the naval victory, fidelity, protection disinterested, Prince compassionate and vigilant. The two characters in the first sail are: St John the Baptist and Santa Barbara. The first is the patron saint of Genoa, and therefore, he is who intercedes on her children. The second is a highly revered saint in Genoa and by the sailors in general, as well as to be considered, at present, the saint of firefighters, miners, the artillery, architects, masons, and the bell of umbrella, formerly , along with St. Nicholas of Bari was considered the protector of sailors and lightning and sudden deaths. This Genoese cog from the 12/13 th century; an Italian-style galley of the earlier Byzantine ships. Featuring both sails, this vessel was fast, maneuverable and robust, and the large forecastle and aftcastle provided platforms for missile troops to engage the enemy from a higher vantage point.
- Story -
The maritime republics (Italian: Repubbliche marinare) were a number of city-states which flourished in Italy and Dalmatia (present day Croatia) in the Middle Ages. The best known are the Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa, Ragusa and Venice. These states competed with each other both militarily and commercially. From the 10th to the 13th centuries these cities built fleets of ships both for their own protection and to support extensive trade networks across the Mediterranean, leading to an essential role in the Crusades. As they found themselves in competition, these republics engaged in shifting alliances and warfare.
Genoa was reborn at the dawn of the 10th century, when - after the destruction of the city by Saracens - its inhabitants took up the sea route. The importance of its fleet gained the recognition, by the Holy Roman Emperor, of the city's claims to legislative-common law and economic autonomy.
The alliance with Pisa allowed the liberation of the western sector of the Mediterranean from Saracens pirates, with the reconquest of Corsica, Balearic Islands and Provence.
The formation of the Compagna Communis, a meeting of all trade associations in the city (called Compagnie), comprising also the noble lords of the surrounding valleys and coasts, finally signalled the birth of Genoese government.
The fortunes of the town increased considerably by joining the First Crusade: their participation gave them the acquisition of great privileges for the Genoese communities who moved to many places in the Holy Land. The apex of Genoese fortune came in the 13th century with the conclusion of the Treaty of Nymphaeum (1261) with the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, which, in exchange for the aid to the Byzantine reconquest of Constantinople, actually ousted the Venetians from the straits leading to the Black Sea, which quickly became a Genoese sea. Shortly afterwards Pisa was finally defeated in the Battle of Meloria, in 1284.
In 1298, the Genoese also defeated the Venetian fleet at the Dalmatian island of Curzola: the confrontation led to the capture of the Venetian doge and Marco Polo, who during his imprisonment at Palazzo San Giorgio dictated to Rustichello da Pisa, his cellmate, the story of his travels. Genoa remained relatively powerful until the last major conflict with Venice, the War of Chioggia of 1379, which ended with the victory of the Venetians, who finally recaptured the dominance over trade to the East.
© Giosuè Tacconi illustrator