First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Genoa (Genua), mistress and queen of the Ligurians, and also called Janua, is a very renowned city in Italy, situated on the shores of the Ligurian Gulf.[Gulf of Genoa. Liguria is an ancient district in Italy between the Po and the Gulf; now Genoa and Porto Maurizio provinces. The Ligurians served as mercenaries in the Carthaginian armies, and later became engaged in war with the Romans; but it was many years after the second Punic War before they were finally defeated.] It was built by Genuo, son of King Saturn, and was named after him. Paulus Perusinus says that the city derived its name from Genuinus, the associate of Phetontis. Others write that it was built by Janus, the Italian king, and was enlarged after (the fall of) Troy, and that the image of Janus was there first reverenced. However, some state that no mention of the city occurs before the time of the African War.[Probably the Punic Wars.] Livy says that the rule of Lucretius was postponed until he had rebuilt the city of Genoa, which Mago, the Poeni,[Synonymous with Carthaginian; root of the word Punic.] had destroyed. Thereafter the Romans availed themselves of the friendship of the Ligurians and Genoese, who aided them with men and material useful in their wars. From this it appears that Genoa was well favored by its natural position and its wealth in shipping. Charlemagne and his son Pepin, a king of Italy, and their Frankish successors, ruled this and other Italian cities with great righteousness and goodness, appointing dukes (called counts) to administer their affairs. Genoa was also a market for this entire region; and it prospered so tremendously that by reason of its attainment of great power and strength in ships, and its tall buildings and various adornments, it now excels all other Italian maritime cities except Venice. Genoa became so proficient in naval warfare that for many years it ruled the seas and protected them against murderous pirates. But after the time of Charlemagne the city suffered under such gross tyranny that it was obliged to invoke foreign masters; while on account of internal dissension it lost its maritime power. Both East and West were so astounded by its frequent transformations, that Genoa remained helpless and without counsel or advice; and the power which she had exercised far and wide became exhausted. It lost the city of Pera,[A suburb of Constantinople, north of the Golden Horn; what used to be known after the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Turks as the Christian part of the city.] near Constantinople; also Mytiline;[The name given to the ancient island of Lesbos by Greek writers, from its chief city of that name. It is the largest and most important island in the Aegean Sea along the coast of Asia Minor. The ancient capital of Mytilene is in ruins, and near the old site sprang up the modern chief city of Kastro or Castro.] Famagusta, capital of the island of Cyprus; the island of Chios, and other Greek islands and places that she had captured from the Turks and other peoples, or had compelled to pay tribute. But this city is blessed by the ashes of the forerunner of the Lord, and with the precious smaragdine Sacro Catino, a bowl or basin from which (as they say) the Lord Jesus Christ and his disciples partook of the Paschal Lamb at the Last Supper.

Genoa (Italian Genova) was from earliest times the chief maritime city of Liguria, situated on the Gulf of Genoa, known as the Ligurian Sea, but in ancient times called Sinus Ligusticus. Its situation, rising above the sea in a wide semicircle, and its numerous palaces have earned it the name of La Superba. The old town is a network of narrow and steep streets, lined with many-storied buildings. At a very early period Genoa was the chief city on the Ligurian coast, and the principal emporium of trade in this region of the Mediterranean, an advantage which it naturally owed to the excellence of its port, combined with the facility of communication with the interior through the valley of the Portiere. Its name is not mentioned until the second Punic War, but it then appears at once as a place of considerable importance. Hence, when the consul P. Scipio abandoned the pursuit of Hannibal up the Rhone, he at once returned with his fleet to Genoa, with the view of proceeding from thence to oppose the Carthaginian general in the valley of the Po. At a later period of the war, when Mago (son of Hamilcar Barca, and youngest brother of Hannibal) sought to renew the contest in Liguria and Cisalpine Gaul, it was at Genoa that he landed, making himself master of that city in the first instance. After holding the town for two years he destroyed it and quit the country, and on this account we find the Roman praetor Sp. Lucretius charged with the duty of rebuilding it. From this time Genoa is rarely mentioned, and its name only occurs incidentally during the wars of the Romans with the Ligurians and Spaniards. It afterward became a Roman municipum, and Strabo speaks of it as a flourishing town.

No ancient authority supports the orthography of Janua, or Genua, which appears to have come into vogue in the Middle Ages for the purpose of supporting the fabulous tradition that ascribed the foundation of the city to Janus. This form of the name is first found in Liutprand, a Lombard writer of the tenth century. It is believed by some to have derived its name from the fact that the shape of the coast here resembles that of a knee (genu).

The history of the city during the Dark Ages is but the repetition of the general history of the Italian communes. The patriotic spirit and naval prowess of the Genoese, developed in their defensive wars against the Saracens, led to the foundation of a popular constitution and to the growth of a powerful marine. From the necessity of joining an alliance against the common Saracen foe. Genoa united with Pisa early in the eleventh century in expelling the Moslems from the island of Sardinia. But this island soon furnished occasions of jealousy to the conquering allies, and there commenced between the two republics the long naval wars that terminated fatally for Pisa in the battle of Meloria, in 1284. From this disaster Pisa never recovered, and Genoa now obtained the supremacy over the western islands, Corsica, and nominally over Sardinia also. At a still earlier period Genoa had participated in the Crusades, and secured to herself great trade advantages with the Levant. The seaports wrested at the same period from the Saracens, along the Spanish and Barbary coasts, became important Genoese colonies, while in the Levant, on the shores of the Black Sea, and along the banks of the Euphrates were erected Genoese fortresses of great strength. She also possessed settlements at Constantinople and in the Crimea, in Syria and Cyprus, at Tunis and Majorca. Her commercial and naval successes during the Middle Ages are the more remarkable, because unlike her rival, Venice, she suffered unceasingly from internal discord – the Genoese commons and nobles fighting against each other, rival factions among the nobles striving to grasp the supreme power of the state, nobles and commons alike invoking the arbitration and rule of some foreign prince as the sole means of obtaining a temporary truce. And so Genoa was soon drawn into the vortex of the Guelph and Ghibelline factions; but its recognition of foreign authority – German, Neapolitan, and Milanese – gave way to greater independence in 1339, when the government assumed a permanent form with the appointment of the first doge, an office held at Genoa for life, in the person of Simone Boccanegra. Alternate victories and defeats of the Genoese and Venetians were at length terminated by a decisive victory gained by the Venetians in 1380.

The internal history of the city was no less checkered than the external. The admiral of Emperor Charles V., Andrea Doria, at length restored peace by the establishment of a new oligarchic constitution in 1528. But the power of Genoa was on the wane. The Turks conquered its eastern possessions one after another. In 1684 Genoa was taken by the French. In 1805 it was formally annexed to the empire of France, and in 1815 to the Kingdom of Sardinia. Its later history is beyond the scope of our subject.

Although the city of Genoa possesses a number of celebrated ecclesiastical edifices such as the cathedral of San Lorenzo, dating back to the tenth century, and the venerable church of San Matteo, to which Oberto in 1266 brought the bell from Canea, and in which the seal and great standard of Pisa were placed after the battle of Meloria, the chronicler does not mention either one of these buildings, nor any other of the structures in existence during his time. He does state that the city is blessed with "the ashes of the forerunner of the Lord, and with the precious smaragdine Sacro Catino, a bowl or basin from which (as they say) the Lord Jesus Christ and his disciples partook of the Paschal Lamb at the Last Supper." The first reference is to John the Baptist, in whose chapel, erected in 1451-96, is a stone chest of the thirteenth century containing relics of John the Baptist, brought from Palestine during the Crusades. In the sacristy is the Cathedral Treasury, containing the Sacro Catino, the vessel out of which Jesus and his disciples are said to have partaken of the Paschal Lamb, and in which Joseph of Arimathea is said to have caught some drops of the blood of the crucified Jesus. It is said to have been captured by the Genoese at Caesarea in 1101, and was supposed to have been made of a large emerald (smaragd). For centuries the Genoese pretended to believe that it was cut of a single emerald. It is an octagonal basin of dark green Venetian glass, very transparent, and about which a collection of mysterious tales have gathered. Not only is it said to have been hollowed out of an emerald of the purest water, but it was held to have formed part of the treasure given by Solomon to the Queen of Sheba. Some said also that it was the dish of the Holy Grail, and it was guarded with the utmost care by twelve clavigeri, each of whom had to be a knight, and was bound to watch over the catino for a month in each year. Napoleon I came to Genoa and carried the catino off to Paris. In the course of the journey it was broken, and the fragments came back – no longer emerald, but glass – to lie decked with fine goldsmith's work in San Lorenzo. William of Tyre, who was contemporary with the taking of Caesarea, remarks that the catino was just a piece of glass.

It is disappointing also that the chronicler makes no reference to the Palazzo Ducale, the grand old residence of the doges, originally a building of the thirteenth century, to which the tower on the left belonged.


Genoa is represented by a special woodcut. The city is depicted as situated on the Gulf of Genoa, or old Ligurian Sea. True to topographical conditions, the artist has left only a small space of level ground along the shore, from which the city has been obliged to climb the lower hills of the Ligurian Alps. The original nucleus of the town is that portion which lies to the east of the port in the neighborhood of the old pier (Molo Vecchio). In addition to the fortifications, the main architectural features of the city are its medieval palaces and churches. To indicate the maritime nature of the town, a sailing vessel with a full complement of oarsmen is entering or leaving the harbor. A number of wharves projecting into the harbor are another characteristic. The flag of Genoa floats over several structures.