A Struggle for Survival: Genoese Diplomacy with the Sublime Porte in the Face of Spanish and French Opposition

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Mercan F. Ö.

Journal of Early Modern History, vol.23, no.6, pp.542-565, 2019 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1163/15700658-12342649
  • Journal Name: Journal of Early Modern History
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.542-565
  • Keywords: diplomacy, Early Modern Alliances, France, Ottoman Empire, Republic of Genoa, Spain
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


During the sixteenth century Genoa became a significant ally of the Habsburg Empire. Shared political, commercial, financial, and strategic factors tied the Genoese patricians firmly to Spain. However, their alliance was by no means permanent. The relations between the Genoese and the Spanish crown were not without tensions and conflict. In the mid-sixteenth century, the combination of various factors set the stage for Genoa to reconfigure its alliances in the Mediterranean. Having fallen victim to the Habsburg and Valois conflict and being torn between the two, Genoa was forced to resort to an alternative imperial power, the Ottoman Empire, to protect its integrity and independence, as well as to engage in the Levant trade. This article focuses on this moment of crisis in Genoa and analyzes how it led the Genoese to consider shifting their alliance from the Habsburgs to the Ottomans, who were the former's most compelling rival in the Mediterranean. Although the Genoese endeavor ultimately ended in failure, the idea of a potential alliance with the Ottomans and the efforts Genoa invested in its diplomatic negotiations provides insight into the strategies a small state used to survive at a time when imperial rivalry over the Mediterranean was escalating. Keywords