Introduction: Caffaro of Genoa and the Crusades
The city of Genoa lies at the top of the western ‘half’ of the Mediterranean. Hemmed in by the Ligurian hills and with limited natural resources in its hinterland, the sea offers a more obvious source of prosperity. In the course of the eleventh century Genoa began to emerge as an important trading centre and by the middle of the century it was engaged in commerce across the Mediterranean.1 Technically the city was subject to the distant authority of the German Empire but in reality there was a tradition of self-government and during the twelfth century it blossomed into a powerhouse of commercial and civic advancement; trade, travel and holy war came, largely via the sea, to the citizens of Genoa. Contact with the Provençal ports, Pisa, Amalfi, Salerno, Sicily, Iberia, North Africa, Byzantium, Egypt and the Latin East meant a multi-layered and, on occasion, contradictory web of political and commercial agreements, some of which are covered here. The city also experienced moments of serious tension with the German Empire while relations with the Pisans, their neighbours and greatest commercial rival, veered between occasional alliances and (the more customary) ferocious hostility. In the course of the twelfth century – a period of Europe-wide economic, political and cultural progress – the city also secured two notable markers of status; its own coinage and an archbishopric. In the person of Caffaro it acquired that rarest of creatures for the age, a secular commentator. Through the eyes of Caffaro and his successors, as well as a rich collection of charter material, we have a vivid testimony of this complex and, at times, unsteady evolution; revealing this to a wider audience is the main purpose of this volume.