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rrrade, cfipfomacy andstateformation in the earfy modern :Jvlecfiterranean:

paRlir af-(Dïn II, tlie Su6Cime (Porte andtlie court ofrruscany

Alessandro Olsaretti

Institue ofIslamic Studies, McGill University, Montreal October 2005

A thesis submitted to McGill University in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts.

©Alessandro Olsaretti, 2005


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The Medieval Legacy: the Importance and Peculiarities of Florence's Mediterranean Trade 23

The Fifteenth Century: the Florentine Republic and the Rise of Ottoman Power


The Sixteenth Century: the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Zenith of Ottoman Power





The Mamluk Legacy and the Beginnings of Ottoman Rule in Syria


Fakhr al-Dln's Rise and his Escape to Tuscany: 1585-1614


The Zenith of Fakhr al-Dln's Power and his Demise: 1614-1632






Primary Sources


Secondary Sources



Figure 1: Portrait of the Druze emir Fakhr al-Dln Ma 'n II


Figure 2: Routes of the Florentine Galleys


Figure 3: Trade Routes of Balkan Wooi


Figure 4:Syrian eyaJets and sanjaks in the 16th & 17th centuries


Figure 5: Mount Lebanon


Figure 6: Fortresses under Ma'nid control




Table 1: Annual revenues as muqata'a from Sidon according to Tapu Defters (akçes)





of Fakhr al-Dln revenues from 1614 (in piasters)


Table 3: Ottoman Treasury Revenues from Five Highest Paying Regions (in akçes)



Author: Alessandro Olsaretti

Title: Trade, diplomacy and state formation in the early modem Mediterranean: Fakhr al-DIn II, the Sublime Porte and the court ofTuscany

Department: Institute ofIslamic Studies, McGill University

Degree: Master of Arts

This thesis explores the relations between the Druze emir Fakhr al-Dln II Ma'n and three successive Medici Grand Dukes between 1605 and 1633. Eschewing traditional historiographie al concems with the origins of Lebanese nationalism and the cultural encounter between East and West, 1 have sought first and above aIl to locate relations between this powerful emir and the Court of Tuscany within the broader context of Mediterranean history.

1 suggest that the actions of Fakhr al-Dln and of the Medici Grand Dukes have to be understood in relation to broad, long-term trends in the economic and social history of the Mediterranean. 1 explore two of these trends in detail: the breakdown in commercial and diplomatie relations between Florence (and then Tuscany) and the Ottoman empire during the course of the sixteenth century; the bargaining between the Porte and provincial power-holders in the Syrian provinces in the century following the Ottoman conquest.


Auteur: Alessandro Olsaretti

Titre: La commerce, la diplomatie, et la formation de l'état dans la Méditerranée du début de l'époque moderne: Fakhr al-Din II, le Sublime Porte et la cour de Toscane

Faculté: Institut d'Études Islamique, Université McGill

Grade : Maîtrise es Arts

Ce mémoire étudie les relations entre l'émir druze Fakhr al-Din II Ma'n et trois grands- ducs de Médicis qui se sont succédé entre 1605 et 1633. Afin d'éviter les préoccupations historiographiques traditionnelles des origines du nationalisme libanais et de la rencontre culturelle entre l'Est et l'Ouest, j'ai cherché tout d'abord et avant tout à situer les relations entre ce puissant émir et la cour de Toscane dans le contexte plus large de l'histoire de la Méditerranée.

Je suggère que les agissements de Fakhr al-Din et des grands-ducs de Médicis sont à comprendre dans le cadre des tendances générales de l'histoire économique et sociale de la Méditerranée, qui se sont manifestées sur une plus longue période. J'explore deux de ces tendances en détail: l'échec des relations commerciales et diplomatiques entre Florence (puis par la suite la Toscane) et l'Empire ottoman dans le courant du 16ème siècle; et le marchandage qui a eu lieu durant les siècles suivant la conquête ottomane entre le Sublime Porte et les hommes détenant le pouvoir dans les provinces syriennes.


1 wish to thank Professor Üner Turgay for his kind and generous support throughout my stay at McGill, as well as for his careful readings ofthis thesis.

1 also wish to thank Salwa Ferahian, who has been instrumental in obtaining many ofthe less common works cited in this thesis and has also been enthusiastic and encouraging about my project.

Michelle Hartman, as always ungrudgingly support ive, has given me invaluable feedback on countless points, including the style, legibility and coherence of the overall argument. She has also helped me with sorne of the most obscure points in the Arabic passages, sometime unmarked, that 1 cite.


1 have transliterated from the Arabic according to the conventions of the Institute of Islamic Studies. For a number of words, however, when there is an option, 1 have used the simpler spelling. In partieular, if a word is eommonly used in English and has an English eounterpart, 1 have preferred the latter. AIso, for Ottoman terms and names, 1 have followed the eommon spelling from modem Turkish prevalent in the literature.

For city names, for example, 1 have used Damaseus, Tripoli, Beirut and Safed instead of Dimashq, Trablus, Bayrut and Safad. For loealities or villages sueh as 'Abayh, whieh do not have a (eommon) English name, 1 have transliterated from the Arabie.

AIso, note that 1 have referred to the city on the Golden Hom as Istanbul, not Constatinople, for the most part, exeept when referenees are to the city from before the Ottoman eonquest. Similarly, 1 have referred to Jubayl, not Biblos and to SUr, not Tyre, when talking about the modem city. (Contemporary Tuscan documents refer to it as "Sur").

For personal names, 1 have followed the Arabie spelling and transliterated from the Arabie for the most part. Thus all personal names whieh appear in the Arabie sources that 1 have eonsulted are transliterated below, whether they have an Arabie origin or otherwise. Thus 1 write Fakhr al-Dln Ma'n and Altmad al-Khalidi al-Safadi, but 1 have also used Murad, Na~ult and Janbulad, because these are the spellings used in the sources. The names of famous sultans, however, follow the Turkish spelling whieh is most eommon in the literature, sueh as Mehmet II, Selim or Djem Sultan, as well as the Mamluk sultan Qaytbay.

1 have likewise used the simpler spelling whieh is prevalent in the literature for common Ottoman administrative terms, suitably italicized. Thus 1 refer to sanjak and sanjakbey, nahiye and sekban. Vizier and pasha, having entered English usage, 1 have left as is.

Figure 1: Portrait of the Druze emir Fakhr al-DIn Ma'n nI

1 Engraving probably based upon a contemporary portrait. Hafez Chehab, "Reconstructing the Medici Portrait of Fakhr AI-Din AI-Ma'ani," Muqarnas 11 (1994): 121-122.


Cosimo II was on his way to the theatre on the 4 th of November 1613 when news reached him that the night before a Dutch vessel carrying the Druze emir Fakhr al-Dln II had moored at Livomo. 2 The Grand Duke would have known the emir through diplomatie correspondence. A few years before, his father Ferdinand 1 had started negotiations to establish an alliance against the Ottoman Sultan and had granted the emir a safe-conduct to come to Tuscany should he need to do SO.3 But the arrivaI, several years later, of Fakhr al-Dln and part of his retinue in Tuscany must have seemed like a boit from the blue. The Grand Duchess immediately despatched secretary Lorenzo Usimbardi to escort the emir to the Medici palace. For several days he would anxiously wait in Livomo, however, for the arrivaI of two other ships carrying the rest of his retinue and his favourite wife. 4 Over the next few weeks it transpired that relations between the Druze and the Ottomans had deteriorated and that the Grand Vizier had moved against Fakhr al-Dln with vast forces. Hemmed between an Ottoman army occupying the key roads around Mount Lebanon and Ottoman naval forces cruising the sea just in front of it, the emir had bribed the commander of the naval squadron which blockaded Sidon and hired merchant vessels to take him to safety. He apparently announced that he was sailing for Istanbul to obtain the pardon of the Sultan, but changed course as soon as the opportunity presented itself. 5 The trip took two months. Endless diplomatie wrangling would keep him in Tuscany, and then in the Kingdom of Naples, for the next four years. It was not untillate in 1617 (at the earliest) that he was finally free to retum to Sidon and resume his rule. Fakhr al-Dln's stay in Tuscany and in southem Italy has been the subject of two recent article-Iength studies. 6 Both have focused on cultural aspects of the trip, whether

2 Documents XIX andXXI, Paolo Carali, Fakhr Ad-D"in II Principe dei Libano e la Corte di Toscana, 1605- 1635,2 vols. (Roma: Reale Accademia d'Italia, 1936),166, 169. 3 Document IX, section 5, Ibid., 150. 4 Documents XXII and XXVI, Ibid., 170, 181. S Document XXIV, section 4, Ibid., 176. 6 Cf. Richard van Leeuwen, "The Origin of an Image: Fakhr AI-Din Ma'n's Exile in Tuscany (1613-1618)," in The Power of Imagery: Essays on Rome, ltaly and Imagination, ed. Peter van Kessel (Rome: Apeiron Editori, 1992). Albrecht Fuess, "An Instructive Experience: Fakhr Al-Din's Joumey to Italy, 1613-18," in

the cultural encounter that can be gleaned from a surviving account by a member of Fakhr al-Dln's retinue, or the place that the episode acquired in the imagery and mythology of modem Lebanese nationalism. 7 l will focus, by contrast, on the implications of the episode for broad trends in trade, diplomacy and state formation between the sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries. The historical impact of the episode itself, l will argue, was neither great nor lasting. However, its unfolding and the context surrounding it reveal much about sorne important dynamics shaping the economic and diplomatie landscape of the early modem Mediterranean. It is especially useful for the light it shines on adynamie first pointed out by Fernand Braudel. The early sixteenth century had witnessed the unchecked rise of the Habsburgs and the Ottomans to the status ofworldempires, vast formations that at this point in time seem to have been "the political enterprise of optimum dimensions.,,8 Yet by the end of the sixteenth century it seemed as if the wheel had tumed. These great leviathans did not dominate Mediterranean waters as comfortably as they had done in previous decades. Exhausted by warfare, inflation and internaI crises produced by demographic pressure, both the Habsburgs and the Ottomans saw themselves surpassed by smaller states which had weathered the crisis more swiftly. Their "massive hulls were not refloated as quickly as their lighter rivaIs by the rising tide.,,9 This is indeed the period which saw the ascendant fortunes of France, ofEngland and of the Dutch Republic, but Braudel pointed also to the revival experienced by Morocco, by the Regency of Algiers, by Venice and by Tuscany under Grand Duke Ferdinand LlO l propose that the history of the Ma'nid emirate be considered alongside that of polities such as Tuscany and Algiers in the late sixteenth cent ury and that Fakhr al-Dln

Les Européens Vus par les Libanais à l'Époque Ottomane, ed. Bernard Heyberger and Carsten-Michael Walbiner (Beirut: Ergon Verlag, 2002). 7 Fuess reviews arguments that the account may be (at least in part) by the Druze emir himself. Fuess seems to accept the myth of Fakhr al-Dïn's '"Europeanism''' and the notion that the Druze emir's interest in commerce, agriculture and development more in general was spurred by what he saw during his exile. Fuess, "An Instructive Experience," 27-28, 31-32, 39,41. Van Leeuwen, by contrast, suggests that common economic interests were the driving force behind contacts between Tuscany and the Druze emirate, while the cultural "impact" of the trip was part and parcel of later nationalist (and colonialist) imagery. van Leeuwen, "The Origin ofan Image," 60-61.

8 Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip Il, 2 vols., vol. 2 (1973), 702.

9 Ibid., 703. 10 Ibid., 702-703.

II's fortunes and his relations with the Grand Dukes Ferdinand l, Cosimo II (and later with Ferdinand II too) should be studied as an example of the rising fortunes of smaIl political entities at the turn of the cent ury. In developing this interpretation of the Ma'nid emirate and of its relations with Tuscany, 1 will specificaIly address and nuance two major contributions to the history of Tuscan-Levantine relations and of the Ma'nid emirate itself. Halil lnalcik has written on Ottoman-Florentine relations, beginning to fiIl a gap in an historiography which has focused so much on Venice and Genoa, then on England and the Dutch Republic, neglecting the peculiar paths and experiences of even smaIler players in Mediterranean trade and diplomacy such as Florence. Il The first section below, on the evolution of Florentine involvement in the eastern Mediterranean, addresses and seeks to complete lnalcik's portrait of Ottoman-Florentine relations by showing how they changed over time. 1 will suggest that the dealings between Fakhr al- DIn and the Grand Dukes of Tuscany hold a peculiar place as a closing chapter in a long history. The second contribution 1 wish to address is more localized. Abdul-Rahim Abu- Husayn has written on Fakhr al-Dln within the context of the Ottoman conquest ofSyria and the relationship between the Porte and the provincial leadership in this strategic area. 12 The second section below addresses chiefly his interpretation of Fakhr al-Dln's rise, as weIl as sorne remarks on this made by lnalcik. 1 focus especiaIly on economic developments which the region shared with many other areas in the Mediterranean to explain the accumulation of power in the hands of the Druze emir. Having established that the framework of state formation and the dynamics affecting the rise and fortunes of small polities are applicable to the Ma'nid emirate, as weIl as to Tuscany, 1 hope to contribute to a broader debate about the early modem Mediterranean. The manoeuvring by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and by the Druze emir represent, in my view, the attempt by small political entities/local power centres to carve out a role for themselves in a changing international arena which was actually

Il Cf. Halil inalcik, An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire. Volume 1: 1300-1600,2 vols., vol. 1 (1994). Halil inalcik, "Ottoman Galata, 1453-1553," in Essays in Ottoman History (Beyoglu, istanbul: Eren, 1998). 12 Cf. Abdul-Rahim Abu-Husayn, Provincial Leaderships in Syria, 1575-1650 (Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1985). Abdul-Rahim Abu-Husayn, "Problems in the Ottoman Administration in Syria During the 16th and 17th Centuries: the Case of the Sanjak of Sidon-Beirut," International Journal of

Middle East Studies 24, no. iv (1992).


increasingly hostile to their endeavours. In their very different ways, Tuscany and the Ma'nid emirate illustrate sorne of the difficulties experienced by smaUer political entities at this point in history. In the long run, it was territorial states (the precursors of modem nation-states), that emerged as the political enterprise of optimum dimensions. 13 Out of the bewildering mosaic of city-states, regional states, kingdoms and empires which dotted the lands aU around the Mediterranean (and beyond) for most of the Middle Ages and the Early Modem period, it was entities such as the Dutch Republic and especiaUy the kingdoms of France and England which gave rise to the most successful state forms. 14 Venice, Tuscany, Aigiers and the Druze emirate were as much casualties of ongoing changes in the world system as were the Habsburg and the Ottoman empires. Their brief apparent success between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth cent ury, for a few decades, was ephemeral. As l will argue below for Tuscany and the Druze emirate, the difficulties that these polities faced in the long run were as striking as the limited room for manoeuvre that they enjoyed at a specifie conjunct ure. The prosperity of Florentine trade in the eastern Mediterranean was dependent upon the pax Ottomanica which sheltered it against Venetian interference in the west and maintained Central Asian caravan routes open in the east (at least until the early sixteenth century). Similarly, the political viability of the Druze emirate is unthinkable outside the framework of Ottoman provincial politics and the pattern of bargaining with central authority which saw the rise and faU of the Ma'ns.

Theoretical Perspective, Sources and Originality

The originality of this paper rests in part upon the integration of sources from ltalian archives with the main Arabie and Ottoman sources. It also rests upon the theoretical perspective brought to bear upon these disparate sources. My reference to Braudel and to the history of the Mediterranean should have already made clear that my approach is

13 Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, 657-658. Braudel used the term "territorial state" and deliberately avoided "nation-state" (see his footnote 2). Indeed, it would be anachronistic to describe these political entities as nation-states. What was most distinctive about them, as implied by Braudel's chosen term, was that they covered a contiguous and relatively compact territory including several cities. 14 Cf. Charles Tilly, Coercion, Capital and European States (Cambridge MA and Oxford UK: Blackwell,


driven by the framework ofworld history. 1 see the encounter between Fakhr al-Dln and the Tusean Grand Dukes as one of countless instances in which the histories of diverse political agents crossed paths in the early modem Mediterranean. It is one piece of a puzzle representing the history of a sea and its peoples in an era which preceded nation- states and in which even the divisions of civilization (Christianity/Islam) were more porous than official propaganda suggested. The world of smaller states like Venice was characterized by adaptation and symbiosis, caught as they were between the Ottomans and western Europe. 15 The world of pirates and renegadoes presents an unwieldy phenomenon which straddles this allegedly dichotomous division into two camps. Fakhr

al-Dln's temporary exile and his subsequent return to Sidon offers yet another example of the crossing of the religious/civilizational divide. His was only one of many, as we will see, for the Druze emir had been preceded by Djem Sultan and, closer to his own time, by Yal}.ya Sultan; just as, conversely, Florentine exiles had sought refuge in Ottoman domains. Most importantly, the criss-crossing of lives and histories in the early modem Mediterranean took place against a single backdrop of trade and diplomacy which tied together aIl the merchants who sailed this sea and aIl the states touched by it. The two sections below, as already mentioned, each address one historiographie al question in the current scholarship on Tuscan-Ottoman relations. They also each portray the two distinct historical trajectories followed by Florence and then Tuscany and by the province of Damascus and the Levantine coast within the system of exehange which tied together the early modem Mediterranean. These two trajectories were always related through direct mutual ties as weIl as by participation in the greater system, but they happened to beeome especially entangled at one moment in time. My approach to this system of exchange is informed by world systems theory.16 Therefore, 1 focus on the interaction of trade and diplomacy in creating a system which helped shape the economies and politics of disparate states or political agents. This is addressed chiefly in

15 Daniel Goffman, The Ottoman Empire and Early Modern Europe, New Approaches to European History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002),137-164.

16 1 draw particularly from Janet Abu-Lughod, whose work 1 discuss in the tirst section below and from Eric Wolf. Cf. Eric Wolf, Europe and the People without History (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of Califomia Press, 1997).

the first section, in which 1 have relied on several important collections of documents, as weIl as on the vast body of secondary literature available, in order to chart the evolution of commercial and diplomatie relations between Florence and the Ottoman empire. 17

and Italian), in

1 have drawn from a variety of different sources (Arabie, Ottoman

order to reconstruct the history of relations between Fakhr al-Dln and the Sublime Porte, which is the central focus of the second section. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries

have bequeathed us a number of Arabie chronicles for the history of the province of

Damascus. 18 The area

local historical writing. This was thanks both to Maronite and to Druze and other chroniclers. 19 For the purposes ofthis thesis 1 have drawn exc1usively from the two most important local chronicles for the history of the Ma'nid emirate and of Fakhr al-Dln in particular. 2o Altmad al-Khalidi al-$afadi was an 'iilim from Safed, which Fakhr al-Dln

of Mount Lebanon, in particular, has had a strong tradition of

17 Cf. Michele Amari, 1 Diplomi Arabi deI R. Archivio Fiorentino (Firenze: Felice le Monnier, 1863). Giuseppe Müller, Documenti sulle Relazioni delle Città Toscane coll 'Oriente Cristiano e coi Turchi jino all'Anno MDXXXI ([Roma]: Società multigrafica editrice, 1966). Wansbrough's documents on Florentine- Mamluk relations have also proven useful: cf. John Wansbrough, "A Mamliik Commercial Treaty Concluded with the Republic of Florence 894/1489," in Documents from Islamic Chanceries, ed. S. M. Stem (Oxford: Bruno Cassirer, 1965). John Wansbrough, "Venice and Florence in the Mamluk Commercial Privileges," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 28, no. 3 (1965). For a comprehensive list, see the primary sources section in the bibliography.

18 An overview of the chronieles and biographical dietionaries for a history of the province of Damascus after the Ottoman conquest is provided by: Astrid Meier, "Perceptions of a New Era? Historical Writing in Early Ottoman Damascus," Arabica 51, no. 4 (2004). Meier also touches upon the contentious issue of Arab historians' feelings towards the Ottoman conquest, suggesting that especially in later centuries there might have been a sense of detachment akin to nostalgia and melancholia among Damascene intellectual groups. Rafeq, by contrast, has proposed a far more sanguine view of the role of the 'ulama' in maintaining a local identity vis-à-vis the Ottomans. See partieularly his article: Abdul-Karim Rafeq, "Relations between the Syrian 'Ulama' and the Ottoman State in the Eighteenth Century," Oriente Moderno 18, no. 1 (1999).

19 An overview of early Maronite historiography covering the sixteenth century and beyond can be found in: Kamal S. Salibi, "The Traditional Historiography of the Maronites," in Historians of the Middle East, ed. Bernard Lewis and P. M. Holt (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1962). Salibi also used Druze chronicles extensively in his work on the Bu4turids, which 1 cite below.

20 Abu-Husayn's comprehensive work, by contrast, is an exhaustive and unsurpassable study of al! Arabie sources for the history of the province of Damascus during the period under consideration. For a review of the sources he used, from chronicles to biographical dietionaries, see: Abu-Husayn, Provincial Leaderships, 3-5. The court registers of Damascus are particularly important to reconstruct the economic and social history of the province. Cf. Abdul-Karim Rafeq, "The Law-Court Registers and Their Importance for a Socio-Economie and Urban Study of Ottoman Syria," in L'Espace Social de la Ville Arabe, ed. Dominique Chevallier (Paris: G.P. Maisonneuve et Larose, 1979). Rafeq himselfhas used them to describe landholding after the Ottoman conquest. Cf. Abdul-Karim Rafeq, "Aspects of Land Tenure in Syria in the Early 1580s," in Actes du Vie Congrès du C.l.E.P.o. Tenu à Cambridge sur: Les Provinces Arabes à l'Époque Ottomane. Etudes Réunies et Présentées par Abdeijelil Temimi, ed. Comité international d'études pré-ottomanes et ottomanes (Zaghouan: Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Ottomanes et Morisco-Andalouses, 1987). The

controlled from the year 1602. 21 His Tiirikh al-AmIr Fakhr al-DIn al-Ma'nlwas probably

commissioned by the emir himself when, at the height of his power in the 1620s, he felt

the need both to celebrate his own achievements and, most importantly, to justify his

actions to Ottoman authorities. 22 It is essentially an apology for the Druze emir,

reviewing the political and military events in which he took part between 1612 (when he

first fell fouI of the Ottomans), until 1624 (when al-Khiïlidi died). It is nevertheless a

reliable account, since many important details that he provided can be verified against

other sources, proving the author to be accurate and scrupulous. 23 Several different

manuscripts have survived and have been published in a recent edition?4 The second

Arabic source that 1 consulted is from IstiIan al-Duwayhl, a Maronite patriarch from a

distinguished clan in the town oflhdin, in northern Lebanon. He was close to the Ma'ns,

being a friend of AJ:}.mad Ma'n's, Fakhr al-Dln's grand-nephew, who still ruled over the

region?5 His TiirIkh al-Azminah was completed in 1699 and has also been re-printed in a

more recent edition. 26 ln spite of its focus on ecclesiastical affairs, it is particularly

important both because it provides a long-term view of local history (including the

whole of the sixteenth century) and because it offers a comprehensive sweep of the

provmce 0


't 27

amascus as a UnI .


Both Khiïlidi and Duwayhl were close to the Ma'ns, and hence their accounts

sought to portray the latter in a positive light. Their chronicles are signally silent on the

shortcomings and insubordination of Fakhr al-Dln and his predecessors towards

Ottoman authorities. As Abu-Husayn has pointed out, it is necessary to consult Ottoman

work of both Abu-Husayn and Rafeq has provided the indispensable broader background to this paper, which is necessarily far more restricted.

21 Abdul-Rahim Abu-Husayn, "Khalidi on Fakhr AI-Din: Apology as History," Al-Abhath, no. 41 (1993): 5-


22 Ibid.: 8-13.

23 Ibid.: 14. This does not mean, however, that Khiilidi would not have willingly omitted things that put the emir in a very bad light with the Ottomans. His crusading plans are one example.

24 Al)mad ibn Mul)ammad Khâlidï, Lubnan FI 'Ahd AI-Amïr Fakhr AI-Dïn A/-Ma'nïAI-ThSnï: Wa-Huwa Kitab Tarikh AI-Amïr Fakhr A/-Dïn AI-Ma'nï, Qism AI-Dirasat A/-Tarikhïyah; 16 (Beirut: Manshürat al-Jami'ah al- Lubnanïyah, 1969).

25 Abdul-Rahim Abu-Husayn, "Duwayhi as a Historian of Ottoman Syria," Bulletin of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies l, no. i (1999): 2-3, Il.

26 Istifan Duwayhï, Tan"kh A/-Azminah, A/-Khizanah AI- Tan"khïyah. 3 (Beirut: Dar al-I:fadd Khatir, 1900).

27 Abu-Husayn, "Duwayhi," 5.

sources in order to get a better picture of Ottoman-Druze relations in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 1 have relied heavily on his recently published collection of Ottoman documents on this very subject, supplementing it with other similar collections

of Ottoman documents. 28 Most importantly, 1 have integrated the sources

Husayn used (and made available) with documents preserved in the Tuscan and Vatican archives. The published collection 1 relied upon was assembled by a Maronite priest, Bulus Qar'afi (or Paolo Carali) in the 1930s, at the height of Lebanese nation-building. 29 While Carali's own bias has to be taken into account and the collection itself is necessarily only a partial selection from Tuscan and Vatican archives, we have here an ideal complement to Ottoman documents in order to paint a fuller picture of Fakhr al- Dln's schemes and insubordination. 30 ln the first place, it contains full reproductions of letters sent to Fakhr al-Dln by the Porte and by his aides while he was himself in Tuscany, as weIl as letters that he later exchanged with the Medicis. Secondly, it contains numerous letters and despatches by Tuscan administrators and diplomats which shed light on Medicean plans in their contacts with the Druze emir. Finally, it inc1udes full reports on the economic potential and revenues of Druze-controlled areas, written by Tuscan agents who had been sent to Lebanon especially for this purpose. Most significantly, these reports also offer assessments of the emir's forces and fortifications

which Abu-

28 Cf. Abdul-Rahim Abu-Husayn, The View from Istanbul: Lebanon and the Druze Emirate in the Ottoman Chancery Documents, 1546-1711 (London and New Nork: Centre for Lebanese Studies and l.B. Tauris Publishers, 2004). Heyd's old collection of Ottoman documents is also useful, both for the light it shines on developments in the province of Damascus at large, and because it covers Safed, one of Fakhr al-Dïn's

Sa/yaks. Cf. Uriel Heyd, Ottoman

the Mühimme Defier; (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1960). For other Ottoman documents see the bibliography.

29 Cf. Carali, Fakhr Ad-Din. For Carali's place in the historiography ofthis period and for his commitment to a specific nationalist view, see: Albert H. Hourani, "Historians of Lebanon," in Historians of the Middle East, ed. Bernard Lewis and P. M. Holt (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1962), 234, 236. Carali viewed Fakhr al-Dïn as the founding-father of an independent Lebanon and also insisted on his "Europeanism"-an idea that gave weight to a specific view of Lebanese particularism. In this sense, his own portrait of the Druze emir is as anachronistic as the portraits of ail mythological founding fathers of nineteenth and early twentieth century nationalisms.

30 Abu-Husayn himself regretted not having integrated Tuscan and Vatican documents in his work: "The present study, in full awareness of their possible value, does not take them into consideration." Abu- Husayn, Provincial Leaderships, 10. See footnote 19 on this page for Abu-Husayn's critique of the shortcomings ofCarali's collection (chiefly, its incompleteness). 1 concur with this critique, but as will be cIear, the documents in the collection are still extremely valuable and Carali's own bias is not necessarily a hindrance to using his work.

Documents on Palestine, 1552-1615: A Study of the Firman According to

by military agents of foreign powers interested in an alliance with the emir, who were thus particularly keen to evaluate his military potential. The shortcomings of Carali's collection can be partially addressed by taking recourse to other publications. A short collection of Tuscan documents has made available sorne important papers missing from Carali's?! Most of all, 1 have supplemented Tuscan with Venetian documents-more specifically, reports written by Venetian ambassadors and consuls in Istanbul and Syria (Aleppo or Tripoli).32 Venetian diplomats had long been required to present to the Senate an account of their activities abroad soon after they returned to their city. These accounts developed a specific, yet flexible, format during the sixteenth century which included distinctive tropes of Renaissance humanism, such as literary portraits of the ruler. 33 Their main purpose, however, was to provide an informed and up-to-date overview of matters of state or of the conditions of trade. 34 Many of these reports have survived and provide a wealth of information about disparate facets of life in Istanbul and in the Syrian provinces, including, of course, trade and diplomacy between the Ottoman and other states?5 Venetian ambassadors and consuls rarely addressed specific issues such as the insubordination of a single provincial govemor like Fakhr al-Dln. Yet, they are still useful to a history of Florentine-Ottoman relations and do shed sorne light on the Fakhr al-Dln affair. In the first place, precisely because they assessed matters of state and

31 Cf. Martiniano Roncaglia, "Fabr Ad-Din AI-Ma'nï e la Corte di Toscana, Nuovi Documenti," AI-Machriq 57, no. 4,5 (1963).

32 Cf. Luigi Firpo, Relazioni di Ambasciatori Veneti al Senato, vol. XIII, Costantinopoli (1590-1793) (Turin: Bottega d'Erasmo, 1984). A number of previously unpublished reports have recently been made available in: Maria Pia Pedani Fabris, Relazioni di Ambasciatori Veneti al Senato, vol. XIV, Costantinopoli, Relazioni Inedite (1512-1789) (Padua: Bottega d'Erasmo, 1996). For reports from Syria 1 have used the old and widely quoted collection: Guglielmo Berchet, Relazioni dei Consoli Veneti ne/la Siria (Turin: Paravia,


33 Donald E. Queller, "The Development of Ambassadorial Relazioni," in Renaissance Venice, ed. J. R.

Hale (London: FaberandFaber, 1973), 177-178, 180-181, 187-188.

34 Ibid., 176. The reports of Consuls who had been stationed in Syria had a similar purpose and also delved into the state of the provinces, Ottoman revenues from each eyalet etc. They naturally focused more on the state oftrade, describing the competition brought to Venetians in Aleppo by other trading nations. 35 Cf. Paolo Preto, "Le Relazioni dei Baili Veneziani a Costantinopoli," Il Veltro 23, no. 2-4 (1979). Pedani has recently pointed both to the previously unsuspected number of reports which have survived and to the usefulness ofthese well-known documents as historical sources for topics little explored so far. The history of women at the Ottoman court and its portrayal by Venetians, for example. Cf. Maria Pia Pedani Fabris, "Satiye's Household and Venetian Diplomacy," Turcica, no. 32 (2000). For a brief overview of available collections and their history, see the tirst two pages ofthis article and the lengthy tirst footnote.

prospects for trade, they provide broad vistas which help put the Fakhr al-Dln affair and Tuscan meddling in the Levant into perspective. 36 Secondly, when thoroughly combed for specifie references to Fakhr al-Din, they do provide interesting pieces of information. Finally, Venetian reports and especially reports from consuls stationed in Syria, are essential in order to assess the role of the region in international trade. Venice was, after aU, the dominant trading partner first of the Mamluks and then of the Ottomans in Syria until the second decade of the seventeenth century. In this role it was unrivalled by any other ltalian city and was only displaced by the rising star of the Atlantic economies.

36 The importance of Tuscan meddling in Levantine affairs, which underpins Carali's approach, is much reduced by these reports.


The diplomatie and commercial contacts between the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and Fakhr al-Dln were embroiled in plans for a new crusade. Therefore, one of the main historiographical perspectives applied to the contacts between Fakhr al-Dln and the court of Tuscany has been that of ChristianlMuslim confrontation in the early modem Mediterranean. Indeed, the Druze emir on several occasions discussed schemes to

capture the coast of SyrialPalestine from the Ottomans with the Medicis, the Papacy and

the Habsburgs. 37 Thus, it is only natural that historians should have been

view Fakhr al-Dln's contacts with the Court of Tuscany in the light of the crusading zeal and rhetoric fostered by the Ottoman-Habsburg confrontation of the sixteenth century, particularly after the Christian victory at Lepanto in 1571. 38 The alliance between unruly Ottoman subjects and expansionist Christian powers, Tuscany included, has also been

presented as the out come of an age-long, almost "natural" enmity. Sorne contemporaries certainly tried to portray it in this light, not only by invoking the crusades, but by floating the myth that the Druze were the descendants of those Franks who had settled in the region at that time. 39 Yet, if we do take a long-term approach and look beyond Lepanto, Tuscan involvement in such schemes is far from obvious and caUs for an explanation. This different perspective reveals that at one point Florentine-Ottoman relations were buttressed by solid common interests. As Inalcik suggested, "political and economic circumstances created a natural alliance between the Sultan and Florence

tempted to

37 See, for example, documents XVII (letter of the bishop of Cyprus, 1611), XXVII (Usimbardi report of conversation with the emir in November 1613), XCII (letter by Monsignor Maronio, 1627) in: Carali, Fakhr Ad-Din, 1:163, 1:187, 1:300.

38 Angelo Tamborra is one such scholar who belonged to the generation ofhistorians for whom the battle of Lepanto marked a decisive tuming point. He studied Tuscan involvement in Syria, including contacts with Fakhr al-Dïn, in this context: Angelo Tamborra, Gli Stati Italiani, l'Europa e il Problema Turco Dopo Lepanto (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki - Editore, 1961),69-85. Braudel pointed out that the effects of the battle should not be dismissed too easily. Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, 1103-1106. The point has recently been taken up by Abu-Husayn. Abu-Husayn, The View from


39 This myth was presented, for example, by a Tuscan agent in the service of the Medicis in 1614. Document XLI (Santi's report), Carali, Fakhr Ad-Din, 212-213. It was also mentioned by the Venetian consul Alessandro Malipiero in 1596. Berchet, Relazioni, 90.

against Venice.,,40 In fact, when we look back in time, instead of finding an age-old enmity, we discover that a close relationship had existed between Florence and the Porte which is aptly described as a natural alliance. Both this relationship and the state of affairs which underpinned it had been particularly strong for several decades during the fifteenth century, but they continued, at least in part, during later times. Their presence can be clearly detected in the sixteenth century, when they only slowly gave way to the enmity which fuelled the crusading rhetoric. This section will provide a survey of Florentine trade and diplomacy in the Eastern Mediterranean that takes into account both of the perspectives that I have just outlined. Its purpose is to chart shifts in Florence's diplomatic and commercial position in the Levant and the Balkans, describing the way in which the natural alliance between Florence and the Sultan came into being and subsequently unravelled. It deliberately takes a long-term approach in order to encompass both the golden age of Florentine- Ottoman relations in the fifteenth century and the more troubled and antagonistic dealings of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. A long-term approach is also justified by the fact that these relations were part of an evolving system of exchange which came into being during the Fourteenth Century Crisis and eventually unravelled at the dawn of another momentous crisis in world trade, in the seventeenth century. The date of 1350 is a convenient starting point, approximately coinciding with the arrivaI of the Black Death to Europe and the beginnings of the Hundred Years War. 41 Ultimately, the disruption caused to French overland trade, together with the difficulties suffered by Central Asian inland routes, paved the way for a profound restructuring of trade patterns that was to last until the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War in 1618 (which was to last until 1648).42 As with its fourteenth century equivalent, the Seventeenth Century Crisis

40 Ïnalcik, "Ottoman Galata," 318.

41 Abu-Lughod pointed out that by the mid-fourteenth century many of the areas active in the trade across Asia and into Europe showed signs of economic difficulties and suggested that these difficulties were due in part to the strains that the entire system suffered. Janet L. Abu-Lughod, Belore European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350 (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 37. Hence she chose 1350 as the closing date for her inquiry.

42 Herman van der Wee, "Structural Changes in European Long-Distance Trade, and Particularly in the Re- Export Trade from South to North, 1350-1750," in The Rise olMerchant Empires: Long Distance Trade in the Early Modern World, 1350-1750, ed. James D. Tracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990),


in its turn coincided with a time of profound strains in the world system. 43 It heralded yet another restructuring of trade patterns from which the modern world economy eventually emerged. The Florentine-Ottoman trade was a specific part of this overarching exchange system and it foIlowed a weIl-defined pattern so long as the overaIl system remained in place. The guiding theme of this section, therefore, will be the interaction of trade and diplomacy in creating and maintaining a specific pattern of trade between Florence and the Ottoman empire. This pattern of trade was at the heart of the natural alliance between described by lnalcik. When it feIl apart, the Florentine-Ottoman alliance coIlapsed with it. But for this to happen, sorne very profound changes in trading patterns and in the balance of power among aIl the states around the Mediterranean had to alter Florence's position towards the Ottoman state and towards the eastern half of this inland sea in genera1. 44 The first chapter below considers the antiquity and importance of Florentine involvement in Mediterranean trade, as weIl as its peculiarities compared to the involvement of seafaring cities like Venice and Genoa. The strength of Florentine trade consisted in its merchant networks and in its ability to use different carriers and to redirect its trade as needed. As we will see, this ability helped Florence to weather the Fourteenth Century Crisis, when the commercial importance of the Levant for the Florentine economy increased. For Florence, in fact, the late fourteenth century coincided with a significant change in its involvement in Mediterranean markets (including Levantine markets, particularly in Mamluk Egypt), which became especiaIly important for its wool industry.

43 A brief overview of the different interpretations of the Seventeenth Century Crisis was provided by Steensgaard. He emphasized that the crisis in trade with Asia was brief (1590-1600, followed by recovery and then stagnation in 1621-1650), but it coincided with the rise of state power and with what he described as a "circulation crisis." Niels Steensgaard, "The Seventeenth-Century Crisis," in The General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century, ed. Geoffrey Parker and Leslie Smith (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978), 35- 36, 48. More recently, the interaction of state-formation (and rising state expenditures) with the rapid population expansion ofthe sixteenth century aIl across the Eurasian continent has been highlighted in: Jack A. Goldstone, "East and West in the Seventeenth Century: Political Crises in Stuart England, Ottoman Turkey, and Ming China," Comparative Studies in Society and History 30, no. 1 (1988).

44 For the importance of Ottoman expansion and particularly the conquest of Mamluk domains in changing this balance of power and ultimately trade patterns: Palmira Brummett, Ottoman Seapower and Levantine Diplomacy in the Age of Discovery, Suny Series in the Social and Economic History of the Middle East (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994), 6-8, 21, 144. The Ottoman state, Brummett emphasizes, was very interested and active in trade as much as in conquest and tribute-taking.

Strong commercial ties with the eastern Mediterranean contributed to the successive recovery of Florentine manufacturing and Florence actively sought to promote them in the early fifteenth century. The second chapter in this section considers the growing competition between Florence and Venice in .Levantine markets and the changes brought about by the rise of Ottoman power. Florence found a new prosperity after the faH of Constantinople, with the development of close ties with the Porte. A two-way trade then flourished which was based on the exchange of fini shed wool cloth for Persian raw silk, tying the fortunes of the Florentine wool industry to eastern Mediterranean markets even more. 45 It was the golden age of Florentine-Ottoman relations under Mehmet II, when Ottoman favour helped shield Florence from growing competition with Venice in the Levantine trade. The final chapter in this section considers the unraveling of the diplomatic and commercial links which had tied Florence and the Ottoman empire. The first half of the sixteenth century saw the pattern of trade established in the previous century soldier on in spite of diplomatic difficulties and of the rising price of raw silk. The first signs of its demise were already there, however. Continued Ottoman expansion eventuaHy led to conflict with Persia and to periodic interruptions of the caravan routes through Central Asia. The rise of Valois and most of aH of Habsburg power engulfed the Italian peninsula in conflict. EventuaHy, Florence was to faH squarely into the Habsburg camp. This political realignment accompanied and compounded the undoing of the profitable trade which had underpinned Florentine-Ottoman relations in previous times. The Fakhr al-Dln affair belongs to this last period. 46 It was a coda, one could justly say, to a previously beneficial and then increasingly troubled relationship between Florence and the Ottomans which by the end of the sixteenth century had been fundamentally altered by changes in patterns oftrade and in the state system in which the two operated. 47

45 This trade in many ways anticipated the two-way trade that the Levant company would carry out with the Ottoman empire. It is particularly interesting here because, as Abu-Lughod observed, many elements of a

given world-economy often existed in previous ones. Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony, 365-368.

46 Diaz completely dismissed Florence's involvement in the Levant at this stage. Furio Diaz, Il Grandueato di Toseana: 1 Medici (Torino: UTET, 1976),373. Tamborra saw it as the last of the crusading efforts (and a belated one, at that), with the Medicis acting only reluctantly. Tamborra, Gli Stati Italiani, 82.

Ina\cik mentioned the decline of the Florentine-Ottoman trade under Selim 1 and tentatively

attributed it to foreign competition and the discovery of the New World. ina\cik, Economie and Social

47 By contrast,

Tuscan involvement in various anti-Ottoman schemes in the Balkans and the

Levant also betrays signs of a weakening of the Tuscan economy and of Tuscan foreign poHcy. If Tuscan agents schemed with local rulers like Fakhr al-Dln and Tuscan pirates

plied the eastern Mediterranean in search of booty, it was largely because they had lost their lucrative position as one of the main trading partners of the Porte to others, chief among whom were the Venetians (and the latter were about to lose it to the French, the English and the Dutch). The Medicis' aggressive stance towards the Ottomans at this specifie conjuncture, therefore, should not obscure the profound limitations of Tuscan

foreign policy at this stage. The very changes which enabled a less conciliatory attitude on the part of Tuscan policy-makers also worked to undermine the prosperity of the Tuscan economy and ultimately to deprive those same policy-makers of the wealth that gave weight to their foreign policy. When looked at in the context of wider trade patterns and diplomacy, the apparent daring of granducal policy shows itself rather more clearly for what it really was: the foolish and forlorn gamble of a player largely excluded from the ongoing game. The Eastern Mediterranean trade had been an integral part of a

web oftrade links that had made Florence rich during the fifteenth century. The relative

decline of the Florentine economy between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, complex though it was as an historical phenomenon, was inextricably linked to changes in patterns of trade around the Mediterranean which included the demise of Florence's economic interests in the Balkans and the Levant. Ultimately, Medicean scheming against the Ottomans during the sixteenth century and especially after Lepanto, was

both a symptom and a secondary cause ofthe decline of Florence.

The Medieval Legacy: the Importance and Peculiarities of Florence 's Mediterranean Trade

Throughout the Middle Ages, Tuscany found itself at the centre of trading newtorks that criss-crossed the Mediterranean. Pisa and then Florence had dealings with Catalonia and Tunis, as weIl as the Levant. They thus actively participated in trade crossing the sea from east to west, which for most of the Middle Ages outweighed trade occurring on the

His/ory, 233. The undoing of this trade, as we will see below, actually happened later (after Suleiman the Magnificent's reign) and was linked more to interstate rivalry and a changed balance of power.

north-south axis. 48 Tuscan and especially Florentine merchants also became active in parts of France, Flanders and in England, coming to play a key role in the movement of goods and capital from the shores of the Mediterranean to northem Europe. This involvement in far-flung trade networks left a lasting legacy to the Florentine economy. In the first place, as we will see, Tuscany-and Florence within it-were deeply involved in the exchange of goods which tied the economy of the medieval Mediterranean to the Near and Far East. This can be seen clearly in the material culture linked to the long-distance trade in luxury items. It is also evident, cruciaIly, in the expanding trade in commodities and in the marketing of textiles of a manufacturing centre such as Florence. For aIl its importance, Florence's participation in this exchange of goods had sorne marked peculiarities which will be addressed in the appropriate chapter section below. Chief among these was the fact that it took place by proxy, through the navies and consulates of other cities such as Pisa, Genoa or Venice. While at times this could be a weakness, it was also an integral part of the characteristic strength of Florentine trade, namely its ability to use different carriers and different trade routes, as needed. Finally, with the Fourteenth Century Crisis, Florence's textile exports to the Mediterranean, Levant included, grew in importance. However, many of the largest Florentine companies disappeared at this stage, while Florence had not yet gained a foothold of its own in the region beyond the diffuse merchant networks that it had previously built.

Florence and the Exchange ofGoods in the Medieval Mediterranean

The trade in luxury goods had a centuries-long history in drawing together city-states and principalities along routes which spanned the whole Eurasian continent. 49 From these beginnings, the increasing intensity of exchange among the cities and courts

48 Paolo Malanima, "Pisa and the Trade Routes to the near East in the Late Middle Ages," Journal of European Economic History 16 (1987): 343. Malanima suggests that Pisan success in Mediterranean trade occurred precisely thanks to their involvement in the east-west trade routes.

49 Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony, 327-330. The antiquity of the pattern of exchange taken over by the Mongols, as weIl as the importance of textiles within it, is discussed in: Thomas T. Allsen, Commodity and Exchange in the Mongol Empire: A Cultural History of Islamic Textiles (Cambridge:

Cambrdige University Press, 1997).

around the Mediterranean would engender in the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth

centuries a culture of conspicuous consumption shared by the cosmopolitan mercantile and ruling classes aIl around this inland sea. 50 There are numerous scattered references to the importing of metalwork, furniture, glass and ceramics, carpets and precious textiles in Florentine as much as in Venetian documents. 51 Ifby the sixteenth century the sheer volume ofthese imports from the east seems to have declined, their continuing influence on consumption patterns and tastes are witnessed by the rise of a "veneto-saraceno" handicraft style and by the production, in Tuscany as elsewhere, of metalwork and

domaschina" la Damascene).52 During the fifteenth cent ury Mamluk

furniture "alla

ceramics from both Egypt and Syria were being exported to Europe (and into Medici collections), both as individual items and as containers for the most expensive drugs and spices. 53 Chinese porcelains, long appreciated in Mamluk Egypt, where they were also reproduced on a large scale, were purchased for the Medici Grand Dukes in Alexandria and Damascus. 54 Islamic met al crafts were even more appreciated and of greater

monetary value, witness the many specimens preserved in Tuscan museums and the numerous references to ornate inlaid "Damascene vases" or vases "alla domaschina" in

inventories of the

time. 55

50 Michael J. Rogers, "To and Fro: Aspects of Mediterranean Trade and Consumption in the 15th and 16th Centuries," Revue du Monde Musulman et de la Méditerranée 55-56, no. 1-2 (1990): 57-61. 51 Marco Spallanzani, "Fonti Archivistiche per 10 Studio dei Rapporti fra l'Italia e l'Islam: Le Arti Minori nei Secoli XIV-XVI," in Arte Venéziana e Arte Islamica: Alti dei Primo Simposio Internazionale Sull'arte Veneziana e L'arte Islamica, ed. Ernst J. Grube (Venezia: L'Altra Riva, 1989),83. Metalwork, ceramics and glass were an important export from the eastern Mediterranean since the Middle Ages: David Abulafia, "Industrial Products: The Middle Ages," in Prodolti e Tecniche d'Oltremare nelle Economie Europee, Secc. XliI-XVIII: Alti Della Ventinovesima Settimana di Studi, [Prato] 14-19 Aprile 1997, ed. Simonetta Cavaciocchi (Firenze: Le Monnier, 1998), 356. Note in particular Abulafia's reference to "hispano- moresque" tableware in Medicean Florence.

52 Spallanzani, "Fonti Archivistiche," 86-7. Marco Spallanzani, "Metalli Islamici nelle Collezioni Medicee dei Secoli XV-XVI," in Le Arti dei Principato Mediceo, ed. Candace Adelson (Firenze: SPES, 1980), 106,


53 Marcus Milwright, "Pottery in the Written Sources of the Ayyubid-Mamluk Period (c. 567-923/1171- 1517)," Bulletin ofthe School ofOriental and African Studies 62, no. 3 (1999): 506-7, 511, 517.

54 Marco Spallanzani, "Ceramiche neIle Raccolte Medicee da Cosimo 1 a Ferdinando 1," in Le Arti dei Principato Mediceo, ed. Candace AdeIson (Firenze: SPES, 1980),74,81,91. Spallanzani also reports a gift in the late sixteenth century of a large vase from Istanbul, presumably a Turkish manufacture. Spallanzani, "Ceramiche nelIe Raccolte Medicee," 85.

55 Giovanni Curatola, "Metalli Siriani al Museo Nazionale di Firenze," Il Veltro 28, no. 3-4 (1984): 300.

Spallanzani, "Metalli Islamici," 98, 99, 100, 102, 106. Note the substantial monetary value of these collections, greatly superior to that of porcelains: 10-20 florins for a piece of metalwork against 0.5-2

The Oriental, and also more specifically Islamic, influence is clearest in the consumption and later in the production of luxury fabrics. Islamic textiles and their geometric patterns gained such currency that they were often depicted in medieval Tuscan painting, from Guido da Siena's work (1270s), through Giotto's and Duccio di Buoninsegna's (BOOs), to Filippo Lippi's (1430s), often complete with Arabic inscriptions. 56 Lucca's luxurious silks are almost indistinguishable in design from Sicilian and Egyptian Ayyubid models. 57 Only accurate technical analysis can confirm the attribution of gold and silver brocades to specific production areas in the Iberian or Italian peninsula, the Middle East or Central Asia. 58 Between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, in fact, an international repertoire of silk designs was developed which had wide currency from Central Asia to the Atlantic and mixed Chinoiserie elements with Islamic motifs from before and after the Mongol conquest. 59 Pomegranate motifs, with their origin in Middle Eastern and Persian iconography, were fully incorporated in Lucchese and then Florentine silk production. 6o Specific pomegranate motifs with their symbolism (regality and sacredness, but also resurrection and fertility) were also incorporated in Tuscan and in Christian culture more in general, as witnessed by Fra Angelico's and Botticelli's paintings of the "Madonna and Child with a pomegranate."61 By the fourteenth century this repertoire also began to include sorne motifs first developed in the Italian peninsula, particularly floral and vine leaf motifs, as textiles produced there entered commercial circuits and began to reach into Central

florins for a ceramie vase. Note also that the importing of Islamic metalwork did not suffer as much of a decline in the sixteenth century as that of ceramics. Spallanzani, "Metalli Islamiei," 108-9.

56 Cf. Alessandra Bagnera, "Tessuti Islamici nella Pittura Medievale Toscana," Islam - Storia e Civiltà 7, no. 4 (1988). The paintings had, of course, mostly religious subjects. Therefore the issue has been raised of the meaning of the numerous representations of the Virgin Mary wearing Islamic textiles with Arabie inscriptions. Partly, this was related to the pietorial realism ofthese representations (the textiles reproduced commonly bore epigraphic bands with Arabie inscriptions); but it was also partly related to the meaning ascribed to Arabie (decorative? or perhaps with other meanings?), hence its reproduction in a number of crafts: Curatola, "Metalli Siriani," 296-7.

57 Curatola, "Metalli Siriani," 298.

58 Anne E. Wardwell, "Panni Tartarici: Eastern Silks Woven with Gold and Silver (l3th and 14th Centuries)," Islamic Art 3 (1988-89): 95-6, 107-8.

59 Ibid.: 98-100,107,110,113. 60 Rosalia Bonito Fanelli, "The Pomegranate Motif in Italian Renaissance Silks: A Semiologieal

Interpretation of Pattern and Color," in La Seta in Europa, Sec. XII-XX: Atti Della 'Ventiquattresima

Settimana di Studi', 4-9 Maggio 1992, ed. Simonetta Cavaciocchi (Florence: Le Monnier, 1993),509-14. 61 Ibid., 521.

Asia. 62 This exchange continued in the following centuries. Thus the ambassador of Henry III of Castile reported in 1400 that sorne Florentine scarlet cloth had been received as a gift at the court of Tamerlane. 63 During the sixteenth century Florentine luxury silks found favour at the Ottoman court and they began to be influenced by Turkish motifs. 64 The exchange of textiles was not limited to luxury items but included increasingly larger quantities of more humble fabrics for mass consumption. The manufacture of textiles became especially important to the medieval economy because

of the increasing volume of the exchange involved. 65

exchange in commodities and manufactures which included grains, wool, silk, cotton, linen, potash, alum, metals, coral and skins, variously used in the manufacture of different varieties of textiles, of paper, of glass and of leather artefacts. This traffic was complex and by no means just in one direction. If increasingly larger amounts of textiles

were brought from western Europe to the eastern Mediterranean, raw materials and specie continued to flow to Levantine and North African markets. 66 For Florence, however, the exchange of textiles for raw materials with the eastern Mediterranean (as weIl as with southern Italy, the Iberian peninsula and northern Europe), acquired great significance already in the Middle Ages. Textiles would indeed become the mainstay of the Florentine economy. Unlike Venice, which controlled the market in spices and could pay cash for them, Florence developed important trade interests in Levantine markets as an outlet for its textile production from a relatively early time. The volume and

It was part of a broader pattern of

62 WardwelI, "Panni Tartarici," 102, 108, 113-5. 63 Hidetoshi Hoshino, L'arte Della Lana in Firenze nel Basso Medioevo: Il Commercio Della Lana e Il Mercato dei Panni Fiorentini nei Seco/i XIII-XV (Firenze: L.S. Olschki, 1980), 189. 64 Louise W. Mackie, "Itatian Silks for the Ottoman Sultans," EJOS: Electronic Journal of Oriental Studies 31 (2001): 4, 6-9. Mackie distinguishes between two groups of these silks: those that exactly reproduced Turkish patterns and those that showed a clear influence of Ottoman on Florentine patterns. Both show a strong Turkish influence and a remarkable adaptation to the market for which they were destined. 65 Abulafia suggested, following Abu-Lughod, that the trade of the medieval Mediterranean showed a growing mutual interdependence based on the common enterprise of textile production. Abulafia, "Industrial Products," 358. Clothing and shelter, corresponding to very basic human needs, continued to create a large demand and to sustain a corresponding industry. Domenico Sella, "European Industries 1500- 1700," in The Fontana Economie History of Europe: The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, ed. Carlo M. Cipolla ([London]: Collins/Fontana, 1974),355-356.

66 Grain, cheese, honey, saffron, wine, coral were an integral part of the trade carried out by lesser cities David Abulafia, "The Levant Trade of the Minor Cities in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries:

Strengths and Weaknesses," Asian and African Studies (Tel Aviv) 22 (1988): 196-9.

significance of these trade interests, which were to grow over time, ultimately tied the Florentine economy as much as the Venetian to the fortunes of other Mediterranean economies.

The Peculiarities ofFlorence's Participation in Mediterranean Trade

Apart from Florence's heavy reliance on textile production (and banking) compared to Venice, there were other profound differences in the manner in which they participated in the Levantine trade. While not a "minor trading city," Florence lacked a full-fledged navy of its own, as weIl as independent treaties and consular representation, hence it ultimately faced many of the same challenges that cities like Marseilles, Messina and Ancona did. 67 Their merchants could only trade in Levantine ports under the flag and consular protection of Pisa, Venice or Genoa. Florence, moreover, was landlocked and even lacked its own port and vessels. Throughout the Middle Ages it only had access to the sea through the ports of other cities. Pisa, just downstream on the Arno river at its estuary on the Tyrrhenian sea (on the west coast of ltaly), would have been in many ways the obvious choice for Florentine merchants. Yet relations between the two cities were notoriously strained before Florence's eventual conquest of Pisa. 68 Florentine companies weathered these periods of hostility using other, much smaller, Tuscan ports to ship their goods from the west coast of Italy.69 Ancona's port provided access to the Adriatic sea (on the east coast of Italy). Therefore, in spite of sorne Florentine participation in the crusades, its presence in the Levant and its involvement in Levantine trade were fundamentally different from those of seafaring port cities such as Pisa, Genoa or Venice. From the beginning, and in spite of subsequent changes, Florence's influence upon the seas was indirect and was exerted through its manufacturing weight,

67 For this reason, Abulafia included Florence among the "minor cities" in the Levantine trade. Ibid.: 187.

68 The two cities fought numerous wars and skirmished throughout the Middle Ages. Their enmity took an ideological dimension as Pisa was in the Ghibelline (pro-emperor) camp, while Florence was in the Guelph (papal) camp in the conflict which opposed Holy Roman emperors to the Vatican on the issue of the primacy of spiritual over temporal power and also, more specifically, overlordship of the Italian peninsula. For a brief overview, together with reference to Pisan-Florentine wars, see John Lamer, Italy in the Age of Dante and Petrarch, 1216-1380 (London and New York: Longman, 1980),38-58.

69 Chiefamong these ports were Talamone (controlled by Siena), Piombino (with its own ruling family) and Motrone (controlled by Lucca). Federigo Melis, "Firenze è Stata Potenza Marittima?" Rivista dei Diritto della Navigazione 35, no. 1 (1969): 113-119.

institutions and diplomatic and mercantile networks. 70 Its ability to utilize

different routes and different carriers as the need arose proved crucial to its success within the Medieval economy. Initially, Florentine presence in the eastern Mediterranean was modest. Florence's trade was bound to be conducted through Pisan intermediaries, who were powerfully entrenched in the region. Pisan supremacy in Levantine trade had been achieved during the twelfth cent ury, when it had gained an important advantage in the crusader states and a decisive presence in Acre. 71 It also managed to achieve an enviable position in Ayyübid Egypt, through several treaties which granted it substantial trading privileges. 72 Alone of aIl western merchants, Pisans had a funduq in Cairo as weIl as in Alexandria, a clear testament to their integration in the commercial life of Egypt. 73 During the course of the thirteenth century, however, they lost this privileged position. The shifting of Central Asian trade routes towards the north which led to a vigorous revival of the Black Sea trade favoured the Genoese, who were stronger in that area. 74 Part of the reason for Pisa's decline might also have rested in its failure to capitalize on the growing importance of the textile trade. While Genoa and Venice thrived by marketing French, Flemish and Lombard fabrics, the expanding Tuscan textile industry, centred chiefly around Lucca and Florence, did not always use Pisan ships.75 English wool came to Florence on Genoese ships. Florentine textiles could be exported to the kingdom of Naples on land routes. Transportation of c10th by sea was provided by Genoa, Venice and Ancona, as weIl as by Pisa. The Tuscan textile industry, moreover, was not as yet so important. The thirteenth cent ury saw the rise to prominence of the Flemish, northern French and Lombard towns, with Tuscany as yet only in a subsidiary position. For most of the thirteenth century, the Tuscan-inc1uding Florentine- production of woollen textiles was still of low quality and their sales were mostly


70 Melis suggested that Florence could, paradoxically, be counted as a naval power in the sense that it indirectly controlled several ports and was able to mobilize commercial and occasionally war vessels as the need arose. Ibid.: 111-112.

71 Malanima, "Pisa and the Trade Routes," 340-1, 343.

72 Ibid.: 339-40. See documents l, II and III in the second series, Amari, Diplomi Arabi, 239-249.

73 The comparison with other merchants is made by Malanima. Malanima, "Pisa and the Trade Routes,"


74 Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony, 109-121, Malanima, "Pisa and the Trade Routes," 345, 349.

75 Malanima, "Pisa and the Trade Routes," 350-6.

limited to the ltalian peninsula. The high-end markets throughout the Mediterranean were dominated by the Flemish and Northern French textiles of the "Old Drapery" industry, coIlectively known as panni fTanceschi. 76 By the time ofits defeat at the hands of the Genoese at the battle of the Meloria in 1283, followed by its ousting from Acre in 1291, Pisa's decline was sealed. Florence's continued success, both against Pisa and vis-à-vis other trading centres, testifies both to its rising manufacturing primacy and to its ability to mobilize merchant networks to redirect its trade as needed. While completely lacking a navy of its own, as weIl as its own funduqs or colonies in the eastern Mediterranean, Florence had begun establishing its presence in the form of a dense network of agents for merchant houses engaged in commerce and money lending. Pisan attempts to establish permanent and secure trade routes via Ancona and Dubrovnik into the Balkans during the twelfth century had faHed because of Venetian opposition. 77 However, trade with Ancona continued because of the accessibility of its port from Tuscany. Florentine goods to be shipped to the Levant by Venice, bypassing Pisa, would have had to go through Ancona. Florence also continued ties with Dubrovnik, solidifying its merchant networks in the Balkans. Already during the first half of the thirteenth century important Florentine companies such as the Bardi, Peruzzi, Acciaiuoli and Buonaccorsi aIl had representatives there. 78 By the late thirteenth century Florentine merchants were also active in the Eastern Mediterranean, mostly in surviving crusading states such as Lesser Armenia or Cyprus, but also thanks to links with local Christian churches. 79 Thus we find that many of the same important companies were active in the Levant too. Francesco Balducci- Pegolotti, the author of the weIl-known merchant manual, was stationed in Cyprus for

76 Hoshino, L'arte della Lana, 37-41, 46-9. Sergio Tognetti, "Attività lndustriali e Commercio di Manufatti nelle Città Toscane deI Tardo Medioevo (1250 Ca. - 1530 Ca.)," Archivio Storico Italiano 159, no. 2 (2001): 428-9.

77 Abulafia, "The Levant Trade," 195. Krekié mentions in passing the 1169 trade pact between Pisa and Dubrovnik. BarH~a Krekié, "1 Mercanti e Produttori Toscani di Panni di Lana a Dubrovnik (Ragusa) nella Prima Metà deI Quattrocento," in Produzione, Commercio e Consumo dei Panni di Lana (nei Seco/i XII- XVIII), ed. Marco Spallanzani (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1971), 708. 78 Krekié, "Mercanti e Produttori Toscani," 708. 79 At this time a number of trading cities, Florence included, were able to gain privileges in the area. Abulafia, "The Levant Trade," 192-3. See also Silvano Borsari, "L'espansione Economica Fiorentina nell'Oriente Cristiano Sino alla Metà deI Trecento," Rivista Storica Italiana 70, no. 4 (1958): 486.

several years as a representative of the Bardi company, for example. 8o From the Bardi and the Peruzzi, to the Acciaiuoli, the Alfani and the Alberti, most of the major Florentine companies of the thirteenth and early fourteenth century had subsidiaries in Cyprus, Rhodes and sorne also in Constantinople, from where they engaged in banking and trade. 81 Banking involved chiefly lending to ecclesiastical authorities (both to the papacy itself in its dealings with the Levant and to local authorities in the eastern churches), as weIl as to local rulers such as the king of CypruS. 82 Trade involved a variety of commodities (grain, for example) and manufactures, especially textiles. Levantine textiles continued to be exported to the west. For example, in the early fourteenth century the Peruzzi were purchasing textiles in Cyprus for sale at the Neapolitan court and in Sicily.83 They also traded in Florentine products and in cloth from northern Europe. Woollens were central to this trade and it was on these markets


Florentine prosperity would be built. 84

The Fourteenth Century Crisis and Florence's ChangedPosition in Mediterranean Trade

Further changes in international trade created more opportunities for Florence. The outbreak of the Hundred Years War and the subsequent end of the Champagne fairs had momentous consequences. It was at this time that Florentine commercial interests in the Levant took the basic shape that they were to preserve, through ups and downs, over the next two centuries. The Flemish textile industry ran into difficulties at the beginning of the fourteenth century, also because of the reduction in supplies of English wool. The Florentine economy-with its financial, commercial and textile interests-did not escape the Fourteenth Century Crisis. The collapse of the Bardi and Peruzzi houses in the 1340s, both huge international companies with interests in trade as weIl as in banking, showed the strains under which the two companies operated and had profound

80 Francesco Pagnini deI Ventura, Della Decima e di Varie A/tre Grandezze Imposte da/ Comune di

Firenze. Della Moneta e della Mercatura de' Fiorentini Fino al Sec%

Editore, 1967), III:71.

81 Borsari, "L'espansione Fiorentina in Oriente," 488, 490-500. Note, however, that penetration into Byzantine markets was limited by Venice. Borsari, "L'espansione Fiorentina in Oriente," 504-5.

82 Borsari, "L'espansione Fiorentina in Oriente," 494-504.

83 Ibid.: 491.

84 Hoshino highlighted the importance of Mediterranean outlets for the Florentine woollen industry. Hoshino, L'arte della Lana, 34, 46, 65-6, 80-1.

XVI, 2 vols. (Bologna: Fomi

repercussions on the Florentine economy as a whole. 85 Like aIl other producers, Florence was affected by the devastations of the 1348 plague and oflater outbreaks of the disease. It was also profoundly shaken by the "Tumulto dei Ciompi," the wool-workers uprising of 1378. But during the course of the fourteenth century, like some other towns in Tuscany and northern Italy, Florence found itself in a position to shore up its economy by import substitution. 86 How was this position achieved? An advantageous position in trade routes, together with wide merchant networks, enabled Florence to gain from the crisis. More and more of the expensive silks that had been bought in the Middle East for re-sale in northern Europe, for example, were substituted by locally-made fabrics, mostly from Lucca. 87 Florence did not have at this time a significant silk industry capable of competing on international markets. 88 The Florentine woollen industry, on the other hand, found itself in an ideal position to substitute its product for that of the northern French and Flemish industries in the re-export trade from north to south. The "Tumulto dei Ciompi" might weIl have added to rising labor costs after the plague. Changing conditions of trade and an advantageous position in trade routes then favoured one particular solution to escape this impasse. 89 Florentine commercial houses, in fact, played a major role in the export of English wool to Flanders and of Flemish cloth to Mediterranean markets. 90 Sometime this cloth was exported unfinished to Florence,

85 Edwin Hunt suggested that the traditional explanation, default by the English king, who was one of their main creditors, is only a partial explanation. Both companies were facing financial troubles of their own. Cf. Edwin S. Hunt, "A New Look at the Dealings of the Bardi and Peruzzi with Edward III," The Journal of Economie History 50, no. 1 (1990).

86 Tognetti, "Attività Industriali e Commercio," 431-3. Increased competition on international markets thus added to the already very highly competitive conditions within Tuscany itself, leaving fewer prosperous and fully autonomous towns. Florence was already on its way to become the paramount centre in Tuscany

87 van der Wee, "Structural Changes," 24-5.

88 Bruno Dini, "L'industria Serica in Italia. Secc.XIII-XV," in La Seta in Europa, Sec. XII-XX: Atti Della 'Ventiquattresima Settimana di Studi', 4-9 Maggio 1992, ed. Simonetta Cavaciocchi (Florence: Le Monnier, 1993), 69-70, 72. Florence was a latecomer to silk cloth production in the Italian peninsula, lagging behind Lucca, Bologna and Veniee.

89 High labour costs alone do not explain why Florence moved into the production of expensive luxury textiles, that is. The industry could have gone into total decline at this stage. Simmering social conflict could have continued with the same intensity it took at the time of the uprising. An opportunity to move into this market must have existed, as weIl as a practical necessity. 90 Balducci-Pegolotti's career in the service of the Bardi company is telling. We have seen above that he had been stationed in Cyprus. We also know that in l317-21 he was based in England, where he dealt in raw wool from English monasteries, much ofwhich was re-sold in Flanders (many of the priees for English

where local artisans dyed it. Florentine merchants were therefore in an ideal position to ship the wool directly to Florence and encourage the production of cloth for export in their city.91 During the fourteenth century, then, Florentine woollens progressively increased in both quality and price and displaced the Flemish product first and chiefly on Italian and especially south Italian markets (Naples), but also to sorne extent in the lberian peninsula and in the Levant (Damascus and Alexandria).92 AIso, by the end of the fourteenth cent ury, we increasingly find Florentine merchants directly marketing their products in Alexandria, whereas in previous times this market had been a secondary concern compared to their activities in Tunis, Rhodes or CypruS. 93 Florence entered the fifteenth cent ury, therefore, with an improved position on Mediterranean, including Levantine, markets. Between the second half of the fourteenth century and the 1430s there was a contraction in the total quantity of textiles produced in Florence. 94 However, its product range shifted up market and for the first time Florence gained a leading position in luxury woollen textiles. 95 The Florentine industry, however, did not stop the production of cheaper fabrics altogether. A whole range of fabrics, in fact, were exported to the Levantine markets of Alexandria, Damascus, Tripoli and Aleppo during the fifteenth century.96 Florence too continued to export a

wool that he quoted in his manual, though accurate, were relative to the Flemish market). Cf. John Paul Bischoff, "Pegolotti: An Honest Merchant?" Journal of European Economic History 6, no. 1 (1977). He was also in Bruges, dealing in this trade. Hoshino, L 'arte Della Lana, 121. 91 Tognetti, "Attività Industriali e Commercio," 433-434.

92 Hidetoshi Hoshino, "The Rise of the Florentine Woollen Industry in the Fourteenth Century," in Cloth and Clothing in Medieval Europe, ed. N. B. Harte and K. G. Ponting (London: Heinemann Educational, 1983), 184-9, 197-204. Hoshino, L 'arte Della Lana, 176, 186-8,202.

93 Hidetoshi Hoshino, "1 Mercanti Fiorentini ad Alessandria d'Egitto nella Seconda Metà deI Trecento," in Industria Tessile e Commercio Internazionale nella Firenze dei Tardo Medioevo, ed. Franco Franceschi and Sergio Tognetti (Firenze: Leo S. OIschki, 2001), 104-5.

94 Exact figures are controversial. Hoshino suggested the figure of 20,000 to 30,000 pieces per year for the decades before the plague (down from the often quoted figure of 75,000 based on the chronicIer Giovanni VilIani's estimate). Production then would have further shrunk to 11,000 to 12,000 pieces by the 1430s. Hoshino, L'arte della Lana, 203-6. See also the lengthy footnote 37 in Tognetti, "Attività Industriali e Commercio," 435.

95 Hoshino discounted the idea that Florentine textiles were involved in the process of dumping on Levantine markets in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries suggested by Ashtor. Hoshino, L'arte della Lana, 187-8. See especially the lengthy footnote 115, where he also questions sorne of the prices arrived at by Ashtor.

96 Cf. Eliyahu Ashtor, "L'exportation de Textiles Occidentaux dans le Proche Orient Musulman Au Bas Moyen Age," in Studi in Memoria di Federigo MeUs (Napoli: Giannini, 1978). This is a detailed compilation ofsurviving records of transactions involving western textiles on Levantine markets and of the prices fetched by the different types oftextiles.

range of textiles. 97 It was also during this period that Florentine production became standardized on two lines: the top-quality San Martino cloth (panni di San Martino) and the cheaper, medium-quality Garbo cloth (panni dei garbo).98 At this time, however, demographic factors conspired with geographical ones to set limits to the amount of woollens that could be sold on Mediterranean-as opposed to North European, Anatolian and Balkan-markets. 99 Another set of limitations, as far as the Levant was concemed, had to do with the exchange that Florence and Mamluk domains could actually effect to their mutual profit. The few complete records of business transactions that have survived give us an idea of the kind of exchange taking place. Florentine merchants took metal (silver, tin) but most of all wool cloth to Alexandria. They came back with spices (pepper, but also sugar), raw materials (dyes, linen) and jewels (mostly pearls, but also rubies).IOO For foreign merchants, spices reaching Egypt via the Red Sea were indeed the main item to be had at Alexandria. The great challenge Florentines faced was in marketing those spices in Europe in the face ofVenetian competition.

The Fifteenth Centwy: the Florentine Republic and the Rise of Ottoman Power

During the course of the fifteenth century Florentine involvement in the Levant continued to expand. There was, at the same time, a concerted attempt on the part of Florence to gain full control of its trade: it began to negotiate its own commercial

privileges and also attempted to develop its own navy.101 It was a typical case of state

involvement in merchant capitalism which characterized

the high middle ages. 102 But

97 Ibid., 312-7.

98 Hoshino, L'arte della Lana, 206-11. The panni di garbo used western Mediterranean, chiefly Spanish wool. Only the panni di San Martino used by statute English wool, and high-grade English wool in particular. For the important distinctions in quality in English wool, see Hoshino, "Rise of the Florentine Woollen Industry," 191-7.

99 Full recovery from the demographic and economic slump caused by the Black Death would not be achieved until the middle of the fifteenth century. These broad demographic and economic trends are dealt with in the second section below, with a particular focus on the Balkans and the Levant.

100 Hoshino computed that the value of goods purchased in Alexandria by one Michele di Francesco Chele was distributed thus: spices 45%, raw materials 31%, jewels 24%. Hoshino, "1 Mercanti Fiorentini ad Alessandria," 103-4, 110. lOI It moved, that is, one step further than the third phase of the trajectory outlined by Abulafia whereby "minor trading cities" moved from partnership to trading under a flag of convenience, and then began to negotiate their own privileges. Abulafia, "The Levant Trade," 185.

102 Abu-Lughod, Belore European Hegemony, 113 and 128.

Florence was a latecomer to this game and it had to contend with sorne very powerful established players, Venice above aIl. Venetian domination of eastern Mediterranean trade routes, it has been recognized, was never complete. Indeed, Catalans and most of aIl the Genoese challenged it whenever they could, with Mamluk encouragement. It left, however, little room for minor contenders such as Florence. I03 The first chapter sub- section below deals with the growing competition between Florence and Venice in the Levantine trade and with the situation that developed soon after the fall of Constantinople. While Venice maintained a strong grip on trade with the Mamluk domains, Florence enjoyed a period of cooperation with the rising Ottoman empire for a while, satisfying a common need to keep the Venetians at bay. Florence then gained access to expanding markets which it could reach through Balkan land routes (after only a brief sea crossing) which were relatively safer from Venetian interference. 1 describe in sorne detail the pattern of trade established between Florence and the Ottomans in the second chapter sub-section below. The Ottoman trade became crucially important for the Florentine economy as it moved beyond the impasse observed above. By the end of the fifteenth century, under Ottoman auspices, Florence was at the centre of a two-way trade between north-western Europe and the eastern Mediterranean based on the exchange of wool and woollen cloth for raw silk and silk clotho Florentine companies imported wool from northern and western Europe (England and the Iberian peninsula) and manufactured woollen cloth which they then exported around the Mediterranean, particularly to Ottoman domains. There they were paid chiefly in raw silk (as well as in dyes, carpets and camelots). Raw silk was used in Florence to manufacture silk cloth which was then sold in northwestern and central Europe (but also locally and on Ottoman markets). This pattern of trade conveniently bypassed the need to sell spices on the retum journey from Alexandria and gave Florentine companies an opportunity to realize double profits. Finally, 1 consider the diplomatie wrangling at the

103 Cf. Eliyahu Ashtor, "The Venetian Supremacy in Levantine Trade: Monopoly or Pre-Colonialism?" Journal of European Economic His/ory 3, no. 1 (1974). The idea of Venetian supremacy was tirst suggested by Scammel and this paper argues that it should be toned down, pointing to the limitations, as weIl as the strength, of Venetian presence in the Levant. For Catalan trade see Eliyahu Ashtor, "Catalan Cloth on the Late Medieval Mediterranean Markets," Journal of European Economic His/ory 17, no. 2


end of the century which involved the fugitive Djem Sultan. While revealing the fickleness of diplomatie alliances, including the Florentine-Ottoman one, the Djem Sultan affair suggests that so long as the balance of power around the Mediterranean remained unaltered and trade continued, episodes such as these were less likely to spiral into an open confrontation.

Florence and Venice between Mamluk and Ottoman Alliances

At the beginning of the century, Florence was stilliargely dependent upon other cities for its trade with the Levant. The extent of this dependence is borne out by the statistics about vessels unloading goods in the port of Beirut which can be assembled from Tuscan archives. In the fifteen years between 1394 and 1408, Venice and Genoa dominated this trade with approximately 270 deliveries each. They were followed closely by Catalan carriers, with approximately 220 visits, and only distantly by Tuscan and by Provençal cities, whose own vessels reached Beirut only 30 times during the same period. 104 Venetian domination over Levantine trade routes was only to grow in the course of the century. So was the importance of Levantine markets for Florence and hence its dependence upon Venice. In 1423 the Doge Tommaso Mocenigo reminded Venetians that every year Florence forwarded to their city 16,000 pieces of wool cloth for distribution aIl around the Mediterranean: to North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Cyprus and to the Balkans. lOs Slowly but steadily, Venice had also began to marginalize the Genoese in the Levantine trade, leaving Florence ever more dependent upon Venetian vessels and merchants alone to carry its goods. Just how problematic this dependence was felt to be in Florence becomes clear when we consider the effort and expense that was lavished on the development of independent trade links and vessels.

104 Federigo Melis, "Note Sur le Mouvement du Port de Beyrouth d'après la Documentation Florentine aux Environs de 1400," in Sociétés et Compagnies de Commerce en Orient et dans l'Ocean Indien: Actes du Huitème Colloque International D'histoire Maritime (Beyrouth - 5-10 Septembre 1966), ed. Michel MoHat (Paris: S.E.V.P.E.N., 1970),372.

105 Franz Babinger, "Lorenzo De' Medici e la Corte Ottomana," Archivio Storico Italiano 121, no. 3 (1963):

306. Strangely, Inalcik quoted the same source as reporting that 15,000 pieces of cloth were sent from Florence to Venice. inalcik, Economic and Social His/ory, 230. Babinger based this statement on work by S. Romanin. This is a high number in any case. It is not, however, totally incompatible with Hoshino's estimates (see above). It might simply suggest that the recovery in the output of woollens was weil underway by the 1420s. In the second half of the century it would eventuaHy reach the 18,000/20,000 mark (see below).

Florentine access to the sea improved dramatically with the conquest of Pisa in 1406, followed in 1421 by the purchase ofPisa's ports (Porto Pisano and Livomo) from the Genoese for the staggering sum of 100,000 florins. That same year the office of the "Consoli deI Mare" (the Sea Consuls) was instituted. Their task consisted in the

administration of the maritime infrastructure and, more broadly, in furthering foreign trade. Work had already begun on the restoration of Pisa's naval arsenal. In 1421 the construction began of a galley fleet with the aim of establishing a state-run system of commercial freight based on the Venetian model. It was the beginning of a "commercial offensive" aimed at aggressively furthering Florentine trade. 106 ln 1421 Florence

Mamluks the transfer of Pisan commercial privileges to itself. 107

Between 1422 and 1424, aIl the initial trips of the gaIleys were to Alexandria. 108 The very focus on this destination clearly shows the importance attached by Florentines to the Egyptian market at this time. From the beginning, two routes were planned which were meant to be complementary-westward, towards the Iberian peninsula and past Gibraltar, with its ultimate destination England; and eastward, towards southem Italy and Sicily, with its ultimate destination the Levant. 109 ln the late fourteenth century there had been a clear need to market Egyptian spices obtained in exchange for cloth by Florentine merchants. 11O The gaIley system answered this need: in their westward joumeys they brought spices to northem Europe and retumed with wool and clotho

obtained from the

106 Michael E. Mallett, The Florentine Galleys in the Fifteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967); 22. Vedovato also commented on the daring of Florentine efforts to gain access to distant markets:

Giuseppe Vedovato, "Note sui Privilegi Capitolari Fiorentini deI Secolo XV," Arehivio Storieo ltaliano 97, no. 1 (1939): 174. 107 See document XXXVI, tirst series and document XXXVI second series in Amari, Diplomi Arabi, 151- 164, 326-330. The treatise was signed in October 1421. It mentions Bartolomeo di Giacomo de Galea as Florentine ambassador. The tirst and second articles of the treaty specitically mention "Florentines and Pisans" (in that order), while subsequent ones only mention Pisans, suggesting this was a text adapted from previous treatises.

108 Mallett, The Florentine Galleys, 38. A letter of instructions to the Florentine ambassadors bound for Alexandria (Carlo di Francesco di Federighi and Felice di Michele Brancacci) told them to announce the

intention to ship goods directly to Alexandria in Florentine ships ("intentione nostra di navigare con galee,

et che insino a qui non s'è navicato, è per non avere avuto marina: ma che ora

et portare delle nostre cose

l'abbiamo per l'acquisto di Pisa"). Document XXXVII, second series Amari, Diplomi Arabi, 331-335. This tirst embassy did not obtain much. However, trips continued and so did negotiations. Note also the instruction in this letter to present the Florentines as friends of the Venetians and to try and obtain any benefits which the Venetians enjoyed over and above Pisan privileges.

109 Mallett, The Florentine Galleys, 62.

110 Hoshino, "1 Mercanti Fiorentini ad Alessandria," 101, 105.

Figure 2: Routes of the Florentine Galleys lll

111 Mallett, The Florentine Galleys, 282-283, map2.

They thus formed an essential complement to the Levantine trade. They had sorne

commercial success, but most of aIl they served as a diplomatie tool and carried

ambassadors back and forth from Alexandria

Trade negotiations were also opened in 1422 with the Byzantine emperor. They dragged on for many years and would not come to fruition until after the Council of Florence in 1439. This was at least in part because the Florentines had failed to respond to a Byzantine request for aid against Bayezid 1. ll3 lndeed, the fortunes of Florence's Levantine trade were to rise with the strengthening of Ottoman power. Already in 1455, only two years after the fall of Constantinople, formaI negotiations were underway between Florence and Mehmet II. Florence soon obtained a commercial treatise from him. 114 But Florence also found itself in an increasingly difficult diplomatie position in the Italian peninsula as cries for a crusade against the Ottomans were raised by the Papacy and the Venetians. We can see here the importance of Florence's peculiar position in the eastem Mediterranean for its relationship with the rising Ottoman empire and with Venice. While Venice had numerous scattered territories and ports to safeguard-and was naturally alarmed by Ottoman expansionism-Florence had exclusively commercial interests in the region and could only benefit from good diplomatie relations with the new rulers in Constantinople. IIS Mehmet II might weIl have been aware of these differences and have kept up his overtures to the Florentines in

and later from Istanbul. 1 12

112 Armando Sapori, "1 Primi Viaggi di Levante e di Ponente Delle Galere Fiorentine," Archivio Storico Italiano 114, no. 1 (1956): 73-87. Mallett, by contrast, played up both the diplomatie importance of the galleys and their commercial use, at least in guaranteeing supplies of key raw materials such as wool and dyes. Mallett, The Florentine Galleys, 19,61,63, 113.

113 The request had come in 1401 and would have soured relations for many years thereafter.Vedovato, "Note sui Privilegi Capitolari Fiorentini dei Secolo XV," 176-8. Venetian opposition might weil have played a part too, since Venice was strongly entrenched in Constantinople. A letter sent to emperor Manuel Paleologus in 1401 stated that war with the ruler of Milan prevented Florence from intervening elsewhere. Document C, MUller, Documenti, 148.

114 This treatise has not survived. MUller suggested that a treatise re-published by Pagnini dei Ventura in his well-known manual could be a copy of the treatise granted by Mehmet II. MUller, Documenti, 496-7. However, this attribution was challenged by Camerani, who has suggested a later date (1513) for the treatise published by Pagnini. Sergio Camerani, "Contributo alla Storia dei Trattati Commerciali fra la Toscana e i Turchi," Archivio Storico [taliano 97, no. 2 (1939): 85-7.

115 Vedovato, "Note sui Privilegi Capitolari Fiorentini dei Secolo XV," 180. Camerani, "Contributo alla Storia dei Trattati," 83. Sapori, "1 Primi Viaggi," 71-2. This point was first made by Wilhelm Heyd:

Hidetoshi Hoshino, "Il Commercio Fiorentino nell'Impero Ottomano: Costi e Pofitti Negli Anni 1484-

1488," in Industria Tessi/e e Commercio Internazionale ne/la Firenze dei Tardo Medioevo, ed. Franco

Franceschi and Sergio Tognetti (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 2001), 115.

order to undermine Venetian plans. If this was the case, the plan seems to have worked. The idea of a crusade had its followers in Florence, sorne as highly placed as First Chancellor Benedetto Accolti. 116 However, already in the late 1450s expanding trade was reducing their sway.1l7 Through most of the sultanate of Mehmet II both economic and diplomatic relations between Florence and the Ottoman empire were consolidated, with profound implications for Florence's position in Mediterranean affairs. Ignoring papal requests was difficult, given the business that many Florentine banks, not just the Medici's, conducted with the Papacy (and in later years, the contract for the alum mines at Tolfa). Therefore, during the pontificate of Pius II and beyond, Florence maintained a careful balance between paying Hp service to a new crusade against "infidels" and its commercial interests in the lands of these same "infidels." But it proved increasingly difficult to toe the line with Venice too. For aIl intents and purposes, the two cities were becoming rivaIs in certain branches of Levantine trade. Already in 1451 disputes between them had led to the expulsion of Florentine merchants from Venice and from the 1450s there are hardly any records of shipments of Florentine cloth to Venice for re-export. 118 Tension continued to rise after the fall of Constantinople, as Venice denounced Florentine reluctance to cooperate against the Ottomans. The Florentine galleys were put to good use at this juncture. While Venetian state galleys were banned from Istanbul for 25 years after 1453, the Florentine galleys kept up their visits as best as they could. 119 Over the next years the number of galleys regularly departing from Florence bound for Istanbul increased from one to three. 120 The state galleys also proved invaluable at this time as a diplomatic too1. In 1460 Francesco

1\6 This is Robert Black's main contention in interpreting Acccolti's history of the First Crusade, written in the 1460s. Robert Black, "La Storia della Prima Crociata di Benedetto Accolti e la Diplomazia Fiorentina Rispetto ail'Oriente," Archivio Storico Italiano 131 (1973): 20-1. Black's argument offers a counterbalance to the picture provided by other authors, who have exclusively focused on Florentine commercial interests and pragmatism. Vedovato, "Note sui Privilegi Capitolari Fiorentini dei Secolo XV," 180-1. Camerani, "Contributo alla Storia dei Trattati," 83. 117 Black, "La Storia della Prima Crociata," 10-1. 118 Hoshino, L'arte della Lana, 245-246.

119 According to Mallett the galleys were instrumental in ousting the Venetians as the predominant trading colony in Constantinople. Mallett, The Florentine Galleys, 19, 151.

120 inalcik, "Ottoman Galata," 318. lnalcik notes that between 1454 and 1461 there were three yearly trips.

Vettori, the commander of the galley fleet, entertained Mehmet II on board his ship.12l Most importantly, the pacification and expansion of land routes crossing the Balkans facilitated the Florentine-Ottoman trade more than Florence's own galleys or those of other navies. In fact, with the consolidation of Ottoman power in the Balkans and with the granting of special commercial privileges to Dubrovnik, the latter city became a hub for caravans traveling throughout the Balkans, reaching as far as Adrianople and Istanbul. The old trade route from Tuscany to Ancona and to Dubrovnik could thus lead aIl the way to Istanbul, with only a brief sea crossing between Ancona and Dubrovnik. The increased cost of land travel was compensated for by savings on maritime insurance. As Ottoman naval power grew, the safety of even the brief crossing of the Adriatic between Ancona and Dubrovnik increased. FormaI diplomatic and commercial ties between Florence and the Ottoman empire were instituted during the 1460s and included a permanent Florentine consulate in Istanbul. 122 More important still, informaI ties were particularly strong at this juncture. 123 Benedetto Dei, the chronicler who was active as informaI ambassador and spy in Istanbul until at least 1466, was on the rise as a confidant of Mehmet 11. 124 The trust put in him by the Conqueror might weIl have been due to the help he provided against Venice. Rumours were circulated that the Florentines sold weapons to the Ottomans and even that they helped them by providing information about the Venetians after the outbreak of hostilities between Venice and the Sultan in 1463. 125 Benedetto

121 Mallett, The Florentine Galleys, 68-9. The episode was related by Benedetto Dei and the relative section ofhis chronicle is reported by Pagnini deI Ventura: Pagnini deI Ventura, Della Decima, II:253.

122 Inalcik, building on work by Wilhelm Heyd, thought that the Florentines only obtained a bailo or consul

in the Ottoman capital under Bayezid II, in the 1480s. inalcik, "Ottoman Galata," 322. However, there are indications that Florentines had a consul much earlier. According to Benedetto Dei, the Sultan requested from the "Chonsolo de Fiorentini" that Florentines should take part in victory celebrations in 1462. Pagnini deI Ventura, Della Decima, II:255. A copy of a letter has survived in Florentine archives addressed to Mainardo Ubaldino, "consuli Perae." It is dated 29 th April 1469 and commends previous work done by the same Ubaldino, asking him to put an end to disorders among Florentines in Pera. Document CLXIII Müller, Documenti, 210. From these references it is not clear, however, whether this consul was fully recognized by Ottoman authorities or else only held an informaI appointment.

123 According to Babinger, Florentine consuls only dealt with commercial affairs, while diplomatic issues were left to special embassies or informaI contacts such as Benedetto Dei (until 1466) and a certain Pagolo da Colle, who Babinger argues acted as a spy after 1466. Babinger, "Lorenzo De' Medici," 359.

124 Inalcik suggests that Dei was in close relations with Mehmet II until 1472. inalcik, "Ottoman Galata,"


125 Black, "La Storia Della Prima Crociata," 16-7. Camerani, "Contributo alla Storia dei Trattati," 83.

Dei's own chronicle would later claim as much. 126 As Florence moved closer to the Ottomans, its relations with Venice continued to sour. In 1467 Venice intercepted and looted Florentine vessels returning from Istanbul. I27 Florence continued to trade using a combination of other commercial carriers, both her own and from other cities. 128 The growing animosity was compounded by conflict over Italian affairs, culminating in the brief war waged by Florence against Venice and the mercenary commander Colleoni in 1468. 129 The Ottoman alliance resulted in sorne positive diplomatic gains too. The Medicis reaped the benefits of close diplomatic ties with the Ottomans in 1479, when the assassin of Giuliano de' Medici sought refuge in Istanbul after the "Congiura dei Pazzi," the botched attempt by a rival faction to oust the Medicis from power. The Ottoman authorities had him arrested and sent to Florence. 130

The Florentine-Ottoman Trade

The greatest benefits of Florence's close ties with the Ottoman empire, however, were economic. It was the strength of these shared trade interests that tied Florentine to Ottoman politics. During the second half of the century, in fact, we see a reorientation of Florentine commercial interests in the eastem Mediterranean. For a variety ofreasons- including continuing Venetian influence in the region-Florentine commerce did not expand significantly in Mamluk domains. The most important changes that took place in the manufacture and trade of Florentine textiles at this time developed out of Florentine- Ottoman relations. The Florentine textile industry, as we have seen above, found a way to weather the Fourteenth Century Crisis. However, it is crucial to note that the

126 Babinger, "Lorenzo De' Medici," 311-2. See, for example, Dei's claim that in 1464 Florentine spies warned the Sultan against a naval raid planned by the Venetians and that in 1466 sorne letters fell in the hands of the "Chonsolo de' Fiorentini" (incidentally, another mention of a Florentine consul) about Venetian plans against the Levant, which he duly forwarded to the Sultan. Pagnini deI Ventura, Della Decima, II:257, 259.

127 inalcik, "Ottoman Galata," 319.

128 Between 1467 and 1469, for example, Florentines continued to trade thanks to the Genoese. Ibid.

129 Mallett, The Florentine Gal/eys, 34. Florence mobilized fifteen war galleys against Venice. 130 Document CLXXXIX, part A. Müller, Documenti, 225. This is a letter dated June-July 1479 to the Consul in Pera. It states that a letter by Berbardo Peruzzi had informed the Signoria in Florence that the Sultan had arrested Bernardo Bandini, the murderer of Giuliano de' Medici, and that it was immediately despatching Antonio de' Medici to express gratitude to the Sultan and to bring Bandini back to Florence. It also expresses displeasure at the fact that news of the arrest had not come from the consul himself. It continues for several pages with detailed instructions regarding the affairs of the community of Florentine merchants in Pera.

quantitative (as opposed to qualitative) output of the Florentine textile industry would only fully recover from the 1450s onwards, approaching pre-plague levels by the end of the fifteenth century.131 The quantitative recovery achieved by the Florentine woollen industry in the second half of the fifteenth century happened in large part thanks to an expansion into Ottoman markets, which became the main consumers for Florentine

Garbo cloth. 132 The Guanti company, which had Bartolomeo di Piero di Simone di Guanti as its agent in Bursa between 1484 and 1488, was typical of the 50 to 60 small woollen cloth firms from Florence which were active in the Ottoman empire at the close of the century.133 The relatively small size of the firm and its low profit margins point to a significant departure from the thirteenth and early fourteenth century world of Florentine capitalism, which had been dominated by giant firms such as the Bardi or the Peruzzi. 134 The success of the Ottoman trade was also due to the fact that it bypassed another central problem of the Florentine-Mamluk trade. This was the marketing of spices which for Florentines were the main good to be had in Alexandria in exchange for woollen clotho It added, also, a new element of profitability. Part of the reason why companies such as the Guanti managed to stay in business was that they could easily realize profits twice. This was thanks to developments in the Florentine silk industry which created a demand for raw silk in Florence. In fact, the Florentine silk industry too was significantly affected by Florentine-Ottoman relations. Both the differences in its evolution compared to the wool industry and the complementary relationship that these two industries had with each other are worthy of notice.

131 Hoshino estimates at least 17,000 pieces were produced in 1488 and quotes an estimate by Benedetto Varchi for 20,000 to 23,000 pieces per year for the second half of the fifteenth century. By the end of the century, that is, output was approaching once more the pre-plague levels, which Hoshino estimated amounted to between 20,000 and 30,000 pieces per year Hoshino, L'arle della Lana, 238-40.

132 Ibid., 240-3. Until the end of the century, most "San Martino" c\oth went to Mamluk markets, while most "Garbo" cloth went to Ottoman markets. Hoshino, "Il Commercio Fiorentino," 115. \33 Hidetoshi Hoshino and Maureen Fennell Mazzaoui, "Ottoman Markets for Florentine Woollen Cloth in the Late Fifteenth Century," International Journal ofTurkish Studies 3 (1985-6): 17,24.

134 This is contrary to what was assumed by Ashtor. See E\iyahu Ashtor, "Les Lainages dans l'Orient Médiéval: Emploi, Production, Commerce," in Produzione, Commercio e Consumo dei Panni di Lana (nei Seco/i XI/-XVII/), ed. Marco Spallanzani (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1971),683. Hence Ashtor's suggestion that small Levantine firms succumbed to competition by vast capitalist enterprises from the "west" is also doubtful.

Though Florence had had a silk guild since the twelfth century, it was only in the fifteenth century that Florentine silk c10th production started to gather pace. 135 The link with Ottoman trade came first and foremost through the exchange of wool fabrics for a variety of raw materials, especially silk. 136 This kind of exchange was a very old practice, dating back to the Middle Ages. 137 For Ottoman and Florentine merchants a felicitous conjuncture in international trade and diplomacy consolidated mutual interests. With Ottoman expansion, in fact, Bursa was given a significant boost as a centre for the silk trade, at the very same time as Florentine merchants began to reach Istanbul and its environs with their cargoes of woollen clotho The most valuable part of the cargo of state galleys on the return trip from Istanbul (and occasionally from Syria) consisted of bundles of silk and various quantities of expensive dyes such as indigo and crimson. 138 The representatives of wool cloth producers such as the Guanti company were always paid at least in part in raw materials, including dyes like indigo and crimson which were used in the manufacture of both wool and silk fabrics. 139 They also included Persian raw silk. 140 This last fact is especially significant because these manufacturers of woollens had no use for raw silk, but they could resell it in Florence to silk companies and thus realize an additional profit. We also find the reverse trade taking place: a silk- cloth manufacturer like Andrea Banchi, for example, sent his agents to Bursa with loads of woollen cloth, to be exchanged for the raw silk he needed to run his renowned silk company. 141 Caspian Sea silks were especially important to Banchi's company, but represented a significant share of the raw material purchases of aIl Florentine enterprises

135 Bruno Dini, "L'industria Serica in Italia. Secc XII-XV," in Saggi su una Economia-Mondo. Firenze e L 'italiafra Mediterraneo ed Europa (Secc. XIII-XVI) (Pisa: Pacini, 1995),69-70.

136 It must be emphasized, however, that significant amounts of raw silk were also imported from Spain.

Southem Italy and Bologna also fumished Florence with raw silk in srnall quantities (the first offered sorne

of the cheapest silk, while the second offered sorne of the most expensive one).

137 inalcik, Economic and Social History, 219.

138 Mallett, The Florentine Galleys, 118-20. From Egypt the retum cargo tended to include mostly spices. Mallett, The Florentine Galleys, 115-6, 120-1.

139 For dyes used in the silk industry and by the Banchi company especially: Florence Edler De Roover, "Andrea Banchi, Florentine Silk Manufacturer and Merchant in the Fifteenth Century," Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History 3 (1966): 243-4. Banchi seems to have bought most ofhis dyes from importers.

140 Hoshino and Mazzaoui, "Ottoman Markets," 21, 23.

141 De Roover, "Andrea Banchi," 271-2.

dealing with silk. 142 The main point is that, for these relatively small companies with tight profit margins, the ability to realize double profits was crucial. Indeed, given the cost of transportation, the sale of Garbo cloth in Florence itself could well have yie1ded profits of the same order as its sale in Istanbul. 143 In the latter case, however, a second profit, comparable in size, could be made by the sale of silk in Florence. 144 The most important export markets for Florentine silk cloth at this time seem to have been in the ltalian peninsula and in central and northem Europe. What Florence achieved in the course of the fifteenth century was the ability to substitute its own product for that of Levantine or other producers, such as Lucca, in markets in Europe. Already in the 1420s the galleys were forbidden from loading silk cloth (as opposed to raw silk) on their retum voyages from the Levant. 145 Close study ofwell-established silk companies such as Andrea Banchi's or Tommaso Spinelli's, for which detailed account books have survived, reveal where their regular markets were. 146 The Geneva fairs, with which Florence had a positive balance of trade for a long time, seem to have been especially important for the marketing of Florentine silk clotho Certainly, they were the main export market outside the Italian peninsula for Banchi's company, but they were also very important for Spinelli's.147 The latter's company dominated in Rome, and in ecclesiastical circles in general, thanks to his relations with the papacy.148 Spinelli was also very successful in selling his silk cloth in Lübeck, while Banchi had some success in Barcelona for a while. 149 Neither one did regular business with Naples, where the sale of silk cloth was dominated by the Strozzi company, with its ties to the Aragonese court,

142 Ibid.: 237-8. Banchi used Caspian silk the most (one third or more ofhis raw silk purchases), foIlowed by Spanish silk, then silks from Chios and several regions in Italy. These relative proportions seem representative of the Florentine industry as a whole. William Caferro, "The Silk Business of Tommaso Spinelli, Fifteenth-Century Florentine Merchant and Papal Banker," Renaissance Studies 10, no. 4 (1996):

425. However, Spinelli's company employed many more throwers for Spanish silk than for Caspian silk (21 and 12 respectively). Caferro, "The Silk Business," 426. Thus the relative importance of the two sources might weIl have been reversed.

143 Hoshino, "Il Commercio Fiorentino," 118.

144 Hoshino, based on records for the Guanti company, suggested that the net profit of around 10% from the sale of "Garbo" cloth in Istanbul could be doubled by the sale ofstravai silk in Florence. Ibid., 117.

145 MaIlett, The Florentine Galleys, 58.

146 The two companies were active in 1421-1463 and 1454-1478 respectively De Roover, "Andrea Banchi," 225-34. Caferro, "The Silk Business," 422-5.

147 Caferro, "The Silk Business," 436-7. De Roover, "Andrea Banchi," 264-7.

148 Caferro, "The Silk Business," 434-5. De Roover, "Andrea Banchi," 263.

149 Caferro, "The Silk Business," 437-8. De Roover, "Andrea Banchi," 268-9.

followed by the Medicis. 150 Significantly, they did not do much regular business with

Bursa or Istanbul either. Banchi sold sorne of his silks there, but only in relative1y small quantities. 151 Other companies might have been more successfu1. 152 There were, undoubtedly, sorne very large shipments of silk cloth and large orders which came from the Porte. 153 Markets under the Mamluks also continued to absorb a variety of products, silks included. 154 But these seem to have been occasional and not part of regular business



sus ame year a er year.




Florentine-Ottoman Diplomacyand Trade at the Time ofthe Djem Sultan Affair

The success of the Ottoman trade was partly responsible for the demise of the Florentine galley system. As a commercial enterprise for the ferrying of goods the state galleys had never been as successful as their Venetian and Genoese counterparts. With the expansion of Ottoman trade, the need to market spices in northem Europe, which might indeed have been felt more acute1y at the beginning of the cent ury, was gone. As we have seen, Florentine-Ottoman trade was based chiefly on the exchange of woollen cloth for raw silk (as well as dyes, carpets and camelots). Moreover, much of the trade conducted with the Ottoman empire could take land routes, with only a brief crossing of

the Adriatic. 156 By 1480, the Florentine authorities suspended the

galleys and threw their ports fully open to unregulated commercial enterprise from any carriers who might care to take Florentine goods to their markets. 157

regular trips of the

150 Caferro, "The Silk Business," 437. De Roover, "Andrea Banchi," 262.

151 De Roover, "Andrea Banchi," 272, 274.

152 The Medicis, perhaps, thanks to their political contacts.

153 A letter dated 28 th February 1482 to the Florentine consul in Pera requested that he bring to account a Florentine agent sent to the Porte with a very valuable charge of gold brocades ("drappi con oro e sanza") who had failed to contact his masters in Florence after the sale (!). Müller, Documenti, 235, document CXCVII, part B.

drappi, ciambellotti,


155 MaIIett mentions a shipment worth 60,000 ducats in 1474. However, his conclusion that the Levant was "the principal market for the Florentine silk industry" seems based on an extrapolation from this episode alone. MaIIett, The Florentine Galleys, 122.

154 A draft of the 1489 Mamluk treaty refers to a whole range of products: "


" Amari, Diplomi Arabi, 364, article Ill.

156 Hoshino, "Il Commercio Fiorentino," 114. inalcik, Economie and Social History, 232.

157 Mallett, The Florentine Galleys, 145. Sapori, "1 Primi Viaggi," 73. Sapori points out that this was a return to a policy tirst tried in 1419, when aIl duties were suspended on goods exported from Pisa to the Levant or to north-western Europe. There was a provision also that goods exported to Rome and Genoa would also be exempted, so long as they would re-exported within a year.


!\ .' 1





~~ i

Figure 3: Trade Routes of Balkan WOOl 158

158 F. W. Carter, "The Commerce of the Dubrovnik Republic, 1500-1700," Economic History Review 24, no. 3 (1971): 381, map 1.

During the 1480s, however, another event (or rather set of events) highlighted the potentially dangerous spiral in which diplomatie and commercial relations with the Ottomans could be caught. Relations between the Republic of Florence and Mehmet II had been very good indeed, in spite of a cooling offtowards the end of the Conqueror's sultanate. 159 The renewal of Florentine capitulations by his successor Bayezid II, however, was long delayed because of the diplomatie wrangle created by Djem Sultan's exile. After the death of Mehmet II in 1481, the young Djem Sultan had for a time occupied Bursa and struck coin. After his ousting by his eIder brother Bayezid II, he retained a daim to the Sultanate and a following in several parts of the empire. 160 His escape to the knights of Rhodes and from there to France and eventually to Rome, made him aIl the more dangerous as a pawn in the hands of foreign powers. Florence found itself embroiled in this affair. It was not unti11488 that the Florentines sought a renewal from Bayezid II, and even then negotiations came to naught for several years. 161 Bayezid II neutralized the threat posed by his younger brother's alliance with Christian powers by a mixture of aggressive diplomacy and military posturing.1 62 Djem Sultan was first transferred to papal custody, where he was kept in retum for a large yearly payment from the Porte and an undertaking from the latter not to invade any Christian country. But many rulers aIl around the Mediterranean eyed Djem Sultan as an instrument in a planned assault against the Ottomans. Chief among them were Matthias Corvinus, the king of Hungary, Charles VIII of France and, significantly, the Mamluk Sultan Qaytbay. Florence was approached by both the Ottomans and the Mamluks in their attempts to have the contender to the Istanbul throne handed over to them. Trade

159 Hoshino, "Il Commercio Fiorentino," 113.

160 Halil inalcik, "A Case Study in Renaissance Diplomacy: The Agreement between Innocent VIII and Bayezid II Regarding Djem Sultan," in The Middle East and the Balkans under the Ottoman Empire:

Essays on Economy and Society (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Turkish Studies, 1993),344-5.

161 Document CCIV in Müller, Documenti, 238. This is a letter to Andrea de' Medici, who had been nominated ambassador to Bayezid II, dated 2 nd June 1488. It instructs him to congratulate Bayezid II on his accession to the throne (which had actually taken place in 1481, seven years before !!); to excuse Florence for the delay in sending an embassy, since the city had been very busy due to "the circumstances of the times" (?!) and to ask for a renewal of the capitulations. This belated embassy and the rather lame excuses made by Florentines are difficult to interpret. Babinger says it is cIear evidence that relations had been terribly strained. Babinger, "Lorenzo De' Medici," 357-358. The long delay in formally acknowledging Bayezid II as the new Sultan would seem to indicate that Florentines had hoped that Djem would eventually be recognized as the rightful heir.

162 inalcik, "A Case Study in Renaissance Diplomacy," 348.

negotiations with both were caught up in this more delicate affair. In 1483 Bayezid II had sent an ambassador to Florence offering to purchase 5,000 pieces of cloth a year. 163

But Florentines were also concerned at this time with relaunching their trade with

Egypt, as demonstrated by the negotiations of 1486_9. 164 There is strong evidence that at

least for a time Lorenzo de' Medici acted on behalf of Qaytbay in the matter of Djem

Sultan. 165 This was probably the cause for a temporary breakdown in the relationship

with the Ottomans. 166

The entire affair carne to a head in 1494 when Charles VIII invaded Italy to lay claim to the Neapolitan throne and from there to launch a crusade against the Ottomans. Re got hold of Djem Sultan but the latter died during the march south. 167 By then, Florence itself had entered a period of turrnoil and lost its previous usefulness to the Ottomans as a diplomatic interlocutor and as a balance against Venice. For a while, Bayezid II entertained close ties with Francesco II Gonzaga, the ruler of the Lombard town of Mantua and also rnilitary commander of the Roly League, set up to counter French forces in the Italian peninsula. These ties had been initiated at the time of the Djem Sultan affair and were continued following Francesco II's victory against Charles

VIII and the hasty return of his forces to France, which removed the immediate threat of

invasion of Ottoman lands. 168 Soon, however, a far bigger military/diplomatic and economic game was initiated in which neither Francesco Gonzaga nor Florence could hope to play a major role. During the next century, in fact, fundarnental changes would

take place in the state system and in patterns of international trade which would

163 Hoshino, "Il Commercio Fiorentino," 113. The embassy was probably linked to negotiations over Djem Sultan: Babinger, "Lorenzo De' Medici," 329.

164 Wansbrough, "A Mamlük Commercial Treaty," 42. Amari published a letter which he dated from 1481 by Florentine merchants suggesting items for inclusion in a new commercial treaty with Mamluk Egypt.

Given the contents (many of these suggestions did find their way into the 1489 treaty) it would seem that Florentine interest in the new treaty was almost a decade old. Amari, Diplomi Arabi, 361-2. The treaty of 1497 addressed also access to the Syrian market, witness the references to tol1s in Beirut, Damascus and

Acre. See articles XIV and XIX: Wansbrough, "Venice and Florence," 502, 503, 514, 517

linked to Florentine desire to re-launch their trade in Syria, as weIl as in Egypt.

Arguably, it is

165 Babinger, "Lorenzo De' Medici," 348-9, 354. inalcik, "A Case Study in Renaissance Diplomacy," 346.

166 Babinger, "Lorenzo De' Medici," 357-8.

167 Inalcik, contra Babinger, gives credit to rumours that he had been assassinated on Ottoman orders:

inalcik, "A Case Study in Renaissance Diplomacy," 344, 350-1.

168 Cf. H. 1. Kissling, "Francesco II Gonzaga ed Il Sultano Bâyezîd II,'' Archivio Storico ltaliano 125, no. 1


eventuaIly relegate Florentine diplomacy and trade in the eastem Mediterranean to a

minor role.

The Sixteenth Century: the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Zenith of Ottoman Power

It has long been known that the discovery of the Cape route did not immediately bring about an end to the Red Sea trade. After an initial setback, the spice trade via Alexandria resumed. 169 For Florence, the discovery of new trade routes per se mattered even less. As we have seen above, the spice trade had never been as important for Florence as it was for Venice. Florentine prosperity in the Levantine trade was built over and above aIl upon the exchange of raw materials for finished textiles. 170 Florence, moreover, was not as closely tied to the routes of Levantine trade as Venice was. Florentines had been a significant presence in Portugal aIready in the previous century.17I In the early sixteenth century we find them boarding Portuguese vessels and actively trading aIl along Portuguese routes to Asia. 172 This is arguably yet another example of the flexibility of Florentine merchant networks and of the remarkable ability exhibited by Florence in using different carriers and/or redirecting its trade, which had benefited the city so much during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This characteristic strength of Florentine trade continued to pay off in the sixteenth century. Between the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, for example, we find Florentine merchants redirecting their trade into new markets in central and eastem Europe, particularly in Germany and in Poland.173 Within the Mediterranean itself, however,

169 Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age ofPhilip II, 2 vols., vol. 1


170 Portuguese attempts to capture the trade in Persian silk were never as successful as the temporary diversion they achieved in the spice trade.

171 Cf. Marcello Berti, "Le Aziende da Colle: Una Finestra Sulle Relazioni Comerciali tra la Toscana ed Il Portogallo a Metà dei Quattrocento," in Nel Mediterraneo ed Oltre: Temi di Storia e Storiografia Toscana (Secou XIII-XVIII) (Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2000). 172 Cf. Marco Spallanzani, Mercanti Fiorentini nell'Asia Portoghese (1500-1525) (Firenze: S.P.E.S., 1997).

173 In the early sixteenth century these trade links had still been relatively weak. Cf. Bruno Dini, "L'economia Fiorentina e l'Europa Centro-Orientale neIle Fonti Toscane," in Saggi su una Economia- Mondo. Firenze e l'ItaUa fra Mediterraneo ed Europa (Secc. XIII-XVI) (Pisa: Pacini, 1995). However, central Europe and particularly Poland would become especially important later in the century. Domenico Sella, Italy in the Seventeenth Century (London and New York: Longman, 1997), 42. This point will be addressed below in the discussion of outlets for the Florentine silk industry.

Florence had to deal with the expansion of Ottoman and Habsburg power, which eventually engulfed the entire region in conflict, reaching the very walls of Florence itself. Its position in the state system was fundamentally altered. This fact, rather than the discovery of new trade routes, spelled the doom of Florentine profits in Mediterranean trade. Florentine merchants were eventually barred from or severely restricted in their access to Ottoman markets. The lucrative Florentine-Ottoman trade, in particular, could not continue indefinitely under the new circumstances. It was left for the French, followed by the English and then by the Dutch, to take over Florence's role both as trade partner to the Ottomans and as diplomatie counterweight to their enemies (now the Habsburgs, even more than the Venetians). The French had engaged in trade negotiations already early in the century and received an important treaty in 1569, renewed in 158l. 174 The English obtained their capitulations in 1580 and the Dutch received their own trade treatise in 1612. 175 By then profound changes were on the horizon. 176 However, through many vicissitudes, the pattern of trade established between the Florentines and the Ottomans in the fifteenth century had lasted for a good part of the sixteenth century. The first chapter sub-section below deals with the survival of this pattern of trade in the first decades of the century and considers the weaknesses it exhibited. The next chapter sub- section focuses on the turbulent half century between the 1530s and the 1580s. With the establishment of a Medici principality closely tied to the Habsburg camp, the Florentine- Ottoman trade went into its final decline (however, this was not before it enjoyed a brief period of revival after the mid-century). Political circumstances, in fact, compounded the weaknesses of the Florentine-Ottoman trade, bringing about its end. As we will see, by the 1530s the relative position of Venice and Florence vis-à-vis the Ottomans was reversed. At this time, moreover, France emerged as an important ally to the Porte.

174 Alexander H. De Groot, "The Historical Development of the Capitulatory Regime of the Ottoman Middle East from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries," Oriente Maderno 22, no. 3 (2003): 595-596.

175 Ibid.: 600-601. De Groot puts forward the controversial suggestion that with the French and then the English and Dutch capitulations a principle of mutuality was introduced. For the purposes of my argument, the relevant point in De Groot's thesis is only that the Porte initiated negotiations and was thus actively using commercial interests to cement political alliances.

176 Cf. Mehmet Bulut, "The Role of the Ottomans and the Dutch in the Commercial Integration between the Levant and Atlantic in the Seventeenth Century," Journal of the Economie and Social History of the Orient 45, no. 2 (2002).

During the course of the sixteenth century, therefore, the natural alliance pointed out by Inalcik between Ottomans and Florentines at the expense of the Venetians progressively lost aIl its meaning. In some ways the situation had been precisely reversed, as Venice (closely followed by France) became the most important trading partner to the Ottomans in Aleppo, a position it kept throughout the century. Florentine politics towards the eastern Mediterranean after Lepanto, and particularly from the 1590s onwards, reflected the lack of shared commercial and diplomatie interests after the final demise of the trade pattern which had previously bound them together. The final chapter sub-section focuses on this peculiar last phase in Florentine-Ottoman relations, which culminated in the Fakhr al-Dln affair-the last ofa string ofultimately unsuccessful schemes concocted by the Medicis to revive their flagging trade and waning influence in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Florentine-Ottoman Trade in the Barly Sixteenth Centmy

In spite ofthe uncertainties of the late fifteenth century, trade between Florence and the Ottoman empire continued to follow the pattern it had taken in previous decades. l77 Florentine commercial privileges in Istanbul were finally renewed in 1500, after the long, inconclusive negotiations which had followed the accession of Bayezid II. 178 Even though trade continued as usual, the Sultan might have wanted to signify a downgrading of Florence's diplomatie status at this stage. For the time being, in fact, the Florentines were not allowed to keep a consul, but only an emin-a generic term for short-term

177 Cf. See Giovanni Maringhi's correspondence from Istanbul. Gertrude R. B. Richards, ed., Florentine Merchants in the Age of the Medici: Letters and Documents from the Selfridge Collection of Medici Manuscripts (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1932). These documents were used extensively by Inalcik in his reconstruction of Ottoman-Florentine trade: inalcik, Economic and Social His/ory, 234-236. 178 ln 1499 another ambassador, Geri Risaliti, was sent to ask for new capitulations from Bayezid II after the failure of the 1488 embassy. Document CCIX. Müller, Documenti, 242-244. The instructions to the ambassador mention that he should first consult with the Florentine consul and that he should thank the Sultan for the kindness used towards Florentine merchants recently. Clearly, trade had continued and there had also been a thaw in relations. A copy of the 1500 treaty has not survived, but Camerani suggested that an undated copy he found might be the 1500 treaty Camerani, "Contributo alla Storia dei Trattati," 87, 93- 95. (See also footnote above). We do have, however, a document sent from Istanbul to the Sea Consuls informing them that the treaty had been renewed, with a few modifications. Document III. Gino Masi, Statuti Delle Colonie Fiorentine All'estero (Secc. XV-XVI) (Milan: Giuffrè, 1941),97-102. (also in MUller's collection) The document specifies the differences with previous capitulations, also listing the articles left unchanged.

administrators in the Ottoman empire. 179 The renewal of capitulary privileges after Bayezid II's death and the accession of Selim II in 1512 went rather more smoothly. Florence received a new treaty in 1513. 180 However, if Florentine-Ottoman trade continued essentially unchanged in the first decades of the sixteenth century, there were also sorne minor changes which pointed to its future demise. Florentine trade continued to be heavily centred upon the exchange of fini shed woollen cloth for Persian silk and it involved few other products (these included dyes, jewels and also finished products such as camelots and carpets). To provide a contrast, the merchants of Genoa and Venice also participated in the trade from the Black Sea and the Red Sea and dealt in a wider variety of products. Florentine merchants were instead heavily dependent upon a particular exchange tied to the caravan routes which brought Persian silk to the Mediterranean. When in 1499 a Florentine agent in Istanbul, Zello di Alberto Zelli, wrote home to warn that aIl further transactions had to await the arrivaI of the great Persian silk caravan, his comments exposed a significant weakness of Florentine-Ottoman trade, namely its specialization. 181 Anything that adversely affected this flow of goods would immediately impact the Florentine economy. One important change that affected Florentine profits at this time was the progressive increase in the priee of the Persian silk that they purchased in Bursa: 24.6% between the 1480s and 1512-1513. 182 At the same time, Florentine woollen cloth sold on Ottoman markets began to increase in price and in quality, using only the best Spanish wool for the production of a variety of Garbo cloth known as "sopramani.,,183 Perhaps this trend, reflecting a change in demand, was also necessitated by the squeeze on profit margins due to the increased prize of raw silk.

179 Masi, Statuti, 99.

180 Document CCXXXIX. Müller, Documenti, 267. This is a letter from Selim 1 simply acknowledging the renewal of previous capitulations following an embassy by Francesco Antonio Nori. See also, Camerani, "Contributo alla Storia dei Trattati," 87.

181 Hidetoshi Hoshino, "Alcuni Aspetti dei Commercio dei Panni Fiorentini nell'Impero Ottomano Ai Primi dei '500," in Industria Tessi/e e Commercio Internazionale nella Firenze dei Tardo Medioevo, ed. Franco Franceschi and Sergio Tognetti (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 2001), 127. This point is also highlighted by Dini:

Bruno Dini, "Aspetti dei Commercio di Esportazione dei Panni di Lana e dei Drappi di Seta Fiorentini in Constantinopoli, Negli Anni 1522-1531," in Saggi Su Una Economia-Mondo. Firenze e L'italia Ira Mediterraneo ed Europa (Secc. XIII-XVI) (Pisa: Pacini, 1995),269.

182 Hoshino, "Aspetti dei Commercio dei Panni," 134.

183 Ibid., 131-3. The average value of Garbo c\oth increased by about 20% in real terms.

During the 1520s, the decreased availability and rising price of Persian silk on Ottoman markets became an even bigger problem than it had previously been, with an increasingly adverse effect on Florentine trade. Indeed, throughout the century, Ottoman-Persian hostilities periodically halted the silk trade. The Ottoman embargo of 1514-18 on Persian silk did not eliminate the trade altogether but dramatically reduced it for a time. 184 Florentine insurance documents show a dwindling in imports of Persian silk and a growing reliance on products which previously had figured only in a secondary role in shipments from Istanbul to Florence: leather, camelots and carpets. 185 Increasingly, but not always successfully, Florentine merchants sought to be paid in currency.186 This suggests that none of the other products they found on Ottoman markets were as useful and profitable to them as raw silk. They also continued to export their silk and wool c10th to Alexandria and Beirut (where they also sent soap, alum, oil, cash and foreign c1oth), endeavouring to sell the spices they obtained in return on the markets of Venice, Naples and Lyons. 187 But the bulk of Florence's Levantine trade at this time went through the Ottoman capital and suffered the strains, just mentioned. 188 Therefore, with the first signs of future difficulties in the supply of Persian raw silk, a painful process of adaptation to new terms of trade began at this stage. By 1534, Florentine commerce in Istanbul had declined so much that the percent age tribute levied on Florentine merchandise was no longer sufficient to pay all consular expenses. 189 In later years, the consul would be granted a fixed salary.190

184 inalcik, Economic and Social History, 229. There was, at the same time, an increase in the priee of Spanish wool which further reduced Florentine profits. Dini, "Aspetti dei Commercio," 238-239.

185 Dini, "Aspetti dei Commercio," 229-30. Dini based his study upon the set of insurance documents by Raggio di Nofero Raggi.

186 Ibid., 227.

187 Ibid., 218.

188 Ibid., 218-9. For the set of insurance documents studied by Dini, 84.52% of the goods by value were bound for Istanbul. There seems to have been a lot of smuggling in Tripoli, involving also expensive cloth, whieh attracted the attention of Mamluk authorities around 1507 because of the loss of revenue it caused. Cf. D. S. Richards, "A Late Mamluk Document Conceming Frankish Commercial Practice at Tripoli," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 62, no. 1 (1999). Sorne ofthis smuggling could weil have involved Florentine goods (see second section below for remarks made by Venetian ambassadors).

189 A one-off payment of 150 ducats was allowed to the consul himself, while the rest of the "cottimo" (percentage tribute) was destined for general expenses. Document XI in: Masi, Statuti, 149.

190 Documents XII and XIII (dated 1544 and 1546 respectively) in: Ibid., 150-153. The emin, however, had been given a fixed salary.

A very sharp decline in the Florentine-Ottoman trade had undoubtedly taken place, but it was not quite as catastrophic as it would seem. If fewer and fewer Florentines were taking their products to Istanbul and Bursa, their textiles were still reaching Ottoman markets. During the course of the sixteenth cent ury, in fact, we increasingly find Ottoman merchants active in the Italian peninsula. Historians have long been aware that a thriving Ottoman merchant community was established in Venice by the second half of the century.191 ln other cities such as Ancona and Florence, which in the Levantine trade had never had as strong a merchant class as Venice, a significant Ottoman presence was already clear at the beginning of the century. Thanks to Ottoman protection, merchants based in DubrovnikIRagusa and in Avlona had become especially active on Adriatic routes and partially displaced Venetians from the carrying trade in the region. 192 Already in 1514 Ottoman merchants had obtained a fondaco (funduq) and trading privileges in Ancona, motivated in good part by the role

Ancona played in the Florentine-Ottoman trade. 193 During the

1520s and 1540s we find

them purchasing, directly in Florence, between 42% and 12.5% of the total sales ofsome Florentine producers of woollens, a steadily decreasing but always significant amount. 194 1 emphasize that it was still significant because this shows that in spite of aIl difficulties Florentine textiles still found a market in the Ottoman domains and this continuity explains the rapid recovery of sales later in the century.195 Ragusans were also active in

191 Cf. Giorgio Vercellin, "Mercanti Turchi a Venezia alla Fine dei Cinquecento," Il Veltro 23, no. 2-4 (1979). Cemal Kafadar, "A Death in Venice: Anatolian Muslim Merchants Trading in the Serenissima," Journal of Turkish Studies 10 (1986). Many were specifically engaged in the textile trade. Cf. Giovanni Curatola, "Ebrei, Turchi e Veneziani a Rialto. Qualche Documento sui Tessili," in Islam and the Italian Renaissance, ed. Charles Burnett and Anna Contadini (London: The Warburg Institute, 1999). An overview of scholarship dealing with the activities of Ottoman merchants in international trade, and sorne additional examples of Ottoman Muslim merchants in particular who were active in Venice, can be found in: Eric Dursteler, "Commerce and Coexistence: Veneto-Ottoman Trade in the Early Modem Era," Turcica, no. 34


192 inaJcik, Economic and Social History, 262-269. For the importance ofthese routes to Florence, both the old route through Ancona and Dubrovnik and the new route via Puglia and Valona, see: Dini, "Aspetti dei Commercio," 228-9.

193 inalcik, Economic and Social History, 243.

194 For the company of Francesco da Sommaia, in 1518-22, sales to Ottoman merchants amounted to 31.53%; for the company of Piero di Alamanno Salviati, in 1525-32, they represented 42.32%; for Francesco and Giuliano de' Medici's company, in 1534-42, these sales were 22.82%; for the company of Alessandro Siaviati, in 1538-44, they were worth 12.52%. Dini, "Aspetti dei Commercio," 235-41.

195 Dini, by hisemphasis on this declining series alone, concluded that the Florentine-Ottoman trade was dead by the 1540s. But as we will see, it enjoyed a briefrevival in the 1550s-1570s.

the sea trade through Livomo, on the Tyrrhenian coast, which at this stage was centred upon agricultural goods. Between 1549 and 1568 most ships carrying goods between Livomo and the Levant (chiefly Alexandria) belonged to Ragusans and imported grain, chick peas, lentils, as well as flax and small quantities of spices. 196 The more sizeable trade with the Balkans and with Istanbul, however, continued to go mostly through Ancona.

Political events at home compounded the difficulties that Florence experienced in its commercial transactions. Hostility with Venice continued. In 1510, for example, Anconitan ships carrying a very large consignment of Florentine woollens bound for Istanbul were seized by the Venetians, sparking a diplomatie roW. 197 The sack of Rome in 1527 had profound consequences for the many Florentines with large investments

there. The last years of the Florentine Republic were characterized by continued turmoil both in the city itself and in the ltalian peninsula. 198 At one point in 1529, as noted by a

had come to a virtual standstilL I99

This proved to be a golden opportunity for Venice to further its own textile industry, taking advantage of the difficulties that Florence and other producers experienced at this time. Venetian production of woollen textiles had been negligible during the fifteenth century and Venetian merchants had mostly re-exported woollens produced elsewhere, chiefly in Lombard cities and in Florence. Between 1520 and 1569, however, the Venetian yearly output of woollen cloth expanded from some 3,600 to around 26,500 pieces of cloth (1), at a staggering 9% average annual growth. 200 lt used large quantities of Balkan wool and was destined mostly to Ottoman markets. 201

Venetian ambassador, Florentine textile


196 Fernand Braudel and Ruggiero Romano, Navires et Marchandises à L'entrée du Port de Livourne (1547-1611) (Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1951),33,36-7,38. The grain trade between the eastern and

western Mediterranean was more important at this stage than often assumed by historians, but it was still

mostly in the hands of Venetian and Genoese merchants. Brummett, Ottoman Seapower,


197 Document CCXXXII. Müller, Documenti, 260-262.

198 For the social conflict and differing visions between oligarchie and popular factions which plagued the

second Florentine Republic, Diaz, Il Granducato, 21-37.

199 Domenico Sella, "The Rise and Fall of the Venetian Woollen Industry," in Crisis and Change in the Venetian Economy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, ed. Brian Pullan (London: Methuen, 1968),


200 Ibid., 108-10.

201 Carter, "The Commerce of the Dubrovnik Republic, 1500-1700," 380, 382.

Florence and the Medici-Habsburg Alliance

The political turmoil experienced by Florence in the early decades of the century had another more profound and long lasting consequence: the creation of a Medici principality closely tied to the papacy and to the Habsburgs. The Medicis had built their banking fortunes at least in part thanks to their ties to the papacy. From 1512 onwards these ties took a new meaning. That year a joint Spanish-papal army defeated the

the Medicis to power. 202 Then a

year later, in 1513, Lorenzo de' Medici's second son was elected as Pope Leo X. The renewal of Medicean ascendancy over Florence at this time took place thanks to his power and influence. The Florentine elite once again flocked to Rome in large numbers to receive papal patronage and a period of Medicean govemment by proxy, from Rome, began. 203 The family was headed by another Medici pope, Clement VII, when they retumed to power in Florence after the republican experiment of 1527-30. During the rest of the century, in spite of occasional conflict (with Paul III and Paul IV, for example), the Medicis cultivated a close alliance with the papacy. Relations with the Habsburgs were just as close but not quite as cosy. The Medicis had retumed to Florence in 1530 in the trail of a Spanish army which had laid siege to the city.204 For a time, the Habsburgs retained troops on the isle of Elba and a right to occupy all Florentine fortresses should the Medici line fail. When the latter were granted the title of dukes, it was as vassals of the Habsburgs. Ultimately, the Habsburg-Medici alliance was an uneasy relationship of dependence and it vitiated Medicean policy at home and abroad over the next decades. 205 Having relied on the Habsburgs for their retum, the new rulers found their protectors' tutelage difficult to shrug off. In spite of occasional Florentine overtures to


Republic and their French allies, restoring

202 Diaz, Il Granducato, 11-14.

203 J. R. Hale, Florence and the Medici: The Pattern of Control ([London]: Thames and Hudson, 1977),83-


204 Ibid., 118-122. Although there was a Spanish promise that the Republican constitution would be preserved, soon Clement VII found a way to set up one of his nephews Alessandro de' Medici as the first duke. Florentine republican institutions and the social forces behind them might well have been fundamentally weakened by this stage, making sorne kind of aristocratic/princely govemment inevitable. Diaz, Il Granducato, 31-37. What is important here is that Florence (like much of ltaly) fell into the Spanish and not the French sphere of influence.

205 Giorgio Spini, "Il Principato dei Medici e il Sistema degli Stati Europei dei Cinquecento," in Firenze e la Toscana dei Medici nell'Europa dei '500 (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1983), 177-9.

the French crown, relations with both France and the Ottomans deteriorated. The latter had already found in France a more useful ally against the Spanish than Florence could ever hope to be. 206 In 1536 trade negotiations were opened between France and the Porte, with the granting of sorne trade privileges which in due time were to lead to comprehensive capitulations.z° 7 More important still, after the Ottomans had overrun sorne of the last remaining possessions of the Venetians (besides the islands of Cyprus and Crete) in the war of 1537-39, the centre of conflict moved to the western Mediterranean and focused around the Habsburg-Ottoman confrontation. The disastrous expedition against Algiers led by Charles V in 1541 escalated conflict in this new phase. The Ottomans reciprocated by striking at trade along the Tyrrhenian (west) coast of ltaly, which linked the kingdom of Naples, now in Habsburg hands, to Genoa. Tuscan ports inc1uding Piombino, which remained outside ofMedici control unti11552, stood at the middle of this trade. For at least a decade, a power struggle was waged for the control of Piombino, from where a Franco-Turkish force would have caused serious damage to Habsburg trade. 208 In 1543 and again in 1544 Khayr al-Dln Barbarossa appeared on the Tuscan coast, in agreement with the French, and attacked sorne strongholds with a view to establishing a bridgehead. 209 In 1553 a joint Franco-Turkish fleet led by the ruler of Tripoli appeared on the coast ofTuscany.z1O Remarkably, neither the Florentine woollen industry nor Florentine-Ottoman relations had yet been damaged beyond repair at this stage. During the 1550s the

206 For an overview of the rise of the Franco-Ottoman alliance see: Dorothy Margaret Vaughan, Europe and the Turk: A Pattern of Alliances, 1350-1700 (New York: AMS Press, 1976), 104-134. As observed also by Venetian ambassadors, this was an alliance of convenience needed by both sides and especially by the French against the increasing might of the Habsburgs in Europe. Pedani Fabris, Relazioni Inedite, 446-447, 614. Firpo, Relazioni, 556. French lack of commitment at times frustrated the Ottomans and eventually led to the demise of the alliance.

207 Vaughan, Europe and the Turk, 121. The comprehensive plans for capitulary privileges of 1536 did not come to fruition. inalcik, Economic and Social His/ory, 194. France continued to trade with the partial privileges of 1517 until the capitulations of 1569, renewed in 1581. De Groot, "The Historical DeveJopment of the Capitulatory Regime of the Ottoman Middle East from the Fifteenth to the Nineteenth Centuries,"


208 The western (or Tyrrhenian) coast of Italy, though less well-known to Ottoman admiraIs than the eastern (or Adriatic) coast had seen its share ofnaval activity since the beginning of the century. Piri Reis described the Tuscan coast and its defences and also reported an earlier assault on the coast around Piombino. Laura Galoppini, "Isole e Città Toscane nel Kitâb-Ï-Bahriyye di Piri Reis," Archivio Storico Italiano 151, no. 1 (1993): 10-11.

209 Spini, "Il Principato," 181. 210 Ibid., 188.

Medicis enjoyed a period of relative independence vis-à-vis the Habsburgs. 211 Cosimo 1 pursued at this juncture a more assertive policy both at home and abroad, inc1uding commercial and industrial initiatives?12 This often put him at loggerheads with the Habsburgs. He eventually obtained the title of Grand Duke in 1569 (he had previously only held the title .of duke). His territorial and commercial successes were equally striking and are more directly important for my argument. The annexation to the Grand Duchy in 1557 of the large territory of Siena, in the south of Tuscany, occurred in the teeth of Spanish opposition. 213 Whether as part of a deliberate development plan or otherwise, Florence also obtained a new commercial treaty with the Ottomans in 1557 which guaranteed it the same rights enjoyed by Venice?14 The recovery of the Florentine output of woollens at this stage was swift and remarkable: 30,000 pieces were produced in 1560 and 33,000 in 1561. 215 Part ofthis output went to European markets, which were undersupplied because of the rebellion of the Netherlands and because of the religious wars in France. 216 But Florentine production ofwoollen c10th was still buoyant in 1572, when it reached its peak of over 33,300 pieces, and much of it went to the Levant, causing sorne alarm amongst the Venetians?17 There is evidence of a positive outlook among Florentine wool c10th producers in the early 1570s, an outlook derived largely from hopes offurther expansion in Ottoman markets. 2lS Florentine-Ottoman diplomatie relations, however, remained preearious during this rapprochement. A latent conflict persisted as the Medicis failed to find a balance

211 Diaz, li Granducato, 116-21, 183-8.

212 Spini, "Il Principato," 190-191. Judith Brown has recently argued that these activities, while similar to those of many absolutist states, also exhibited a remarkably modem conception of political economy and expressly sought to encourage industrial development, particularly in textiles. Cf. Judith C. Brown, "Concepts ofPolitical Economy: Cosimo 1 De' Medici in a Comparative European Perspective," in Firenze e ia Toscana dei Medici nell'Europa dei '500 (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1983).

213 Diaz, Il Granducato, 110-123. The Habsburgs considered Siena part of their sphere of influence. Its territory in central Italy was strategically important for control of the peninsu1a. 214 Sella, "Ri se and Fall," 116. Notice that this agreement came at the height of conflict between the Habsburgs and the Medicis over the latter's annexation of Siena, which the Spanish crown contrasted


215 Diaz, li Granducato, 140.

216 Ibid., 141.

217 Sella quotes the figure of 20,000 pieces for 1560, thus giving even more significance to the 1572 peak. Sella, "Rise and Fall," 115-7. See also Paolo Malanima, La Decadenza di un 'Economia Cittadina:

i'lndustria di Firenze nei Seco/i XVI-XVIII (Bo10gna: Il Mulino, 1982),256. According to Malanima more than half of the total production of woollens in 1572 was destined for the Levant

218 Ma1anima, Decadenza di un 'Economia, 257. Sella, "Rise and Fall," 116.

between the Ottoman and the Habsburg camps. Cosimo l founded in 1562 a latter-day crusading order known as the "Cavalieri di Santo Stefano" (the Order of Saint Stephen). They were equipped as a naval force, with galleys, galleons and bertontJS. 219 In the hostile climate of the mid-sixteenth century they could have provided a much-needed policy instrument-a more aggressive equivalent of the galley fleet of the fifteenth cent ury. But in many ways this naval force was an expensive failure. Sorne of their armed galleys were charted to carry expensive merchandise such as silk cloth (but occasionally also woollens) along the increasingly dangerous trade routes. 220 It was a mutually beneficial agreement between the Medicean state and the Florentine economy, whereby the first saw its war fleet subsidized by commercial enterprise and Florentine merchants had a means of delivering their goods safely in the face of growing piracy and rising insurance costs. The Order of Saint Stephen, however, failed in the crucial task of controlling piracy along trade routes even in the Tyrrhenian sea (close to Florentine ports) and aH too often itself indulged rather unscrupulously in acts of piracy when it came across opportunities for a quick profit. 221 Worst of aH, the Order was misused by the Grand Dukes themselves in their policies towards the Ottomans. The Order's role in the defence of Malta in 1565 did not yet cause a