Bombardment of Genoa
The Republic of Genova, was a strategically very important ally of the Spanish Empire, as the Spanish Duchy of Milan was landlocked. All transport between Spain and Milan went over the port of Genoa. Furthermore, the financing of the Spanish crown by the Genovan bankers had made both countries natural allies ever since 1557, when the state bankruptcy of Philip II had ended the reign of the German Fuggers as Spanish financiers.
After the War of Devolution and the Franco-Dutch War, it was clear that France had replaced Spain as the most powerful country in Europe. In October 1683 France annexed some territory in the Spanish Netherlands, starting the War of the Reunions. When Spain sent reinforcements via the port of Genoa, the French decided to punish the city.
Without a formal declaration of war a French fleet, commanded by Abraham Duquesne, bombarded the city of Genova between May 18 and May 22, 1684. About 13,000 cannonballs were shot at the city in ten days time with a pause from May 21–22. The bombardment was terrible for the city and all the Genoan people because it was the first time in history in which explosive bombs were used, although of stone or iron. The French tried to land troops at Albaro (as a diversion) and Sampierdarena (as main attack) but they were defeated by Genoan troops and volunteers from Polcevera valley.
In 1682, François Pidou de Saint Olon became the first French resident envoy to the Republic of Genoa, following the bombardment, he was actively involved in the bombardment: indeed he communicated precious information to the French about the defence of Genoa and the position of the batteries of guns, being practically a spy.
The Republic of Genoa came under French influence for the next 100 years, although it remained independent and became neutral. The Genoan bankers and traders made new economic and financial links with France.
- Federico Donavier "Storia di Genova"
- Europa triumphans: court and civic festivals in early modern Europe J. R. Mulryne p.240 Note 14