Genoese Merchant Networks in Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean (ca. 1450–1530)
Carlo Taviani is a fellow at the Deutsches Historisches Institut in Rome. He received his PhD from the University of Perugia. He has been a fellow at the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici, Villa I Tatti, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, the Italian-German Historical Institute in Trent, a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago and at the MacMillan Center at Yale and a visiting lecturer at the University of Cape Town. He taught at the Università degli Studi di Teramo, the Università degli Studi di Trento and, the University of Cape Town.
From the middle of the 15th century, Genoese merchants settled in southern Spain and Portugal, trading southwards with Africa and northwards with Flanders and England. The islands around West Africa were also important areas for their trading activities. Madeira was crucial for the production of sugar as were the Canaries, inhabited by many Genoese families. Cape Verde was important for the slave trade. Most scholarship on the topic of the Genoese presence in these areas and in North Africa has focused on famous explorers and adventurers (such as Vandino and Ugolino Vivaldi, Lanzarotto Malocello, Antonio Da Noli, Antonio Malfante and Christopher Columbus). This project aims to develop a cohesive set of data to study the Genoese merchant networks which financed the so-called explorers and adventurers. How wide were their networks? What kind of information did these families have about West Africa and what goods were they trading in? Which institutions did they use or transplant? This project as a whole will shed new light on the relationships between Europe and Africa during the Renaissance period, and it will show that there was a reciprocity in the creation of fundamental economic institutions.