Duchy of Amalfi

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Duchy of Amalfi
Independent state

958–1137
Italy, and the Duchy of Amalfi (a small state in bright yellow), at the close of the tenth century.
Capital Amalfi
Languages Greek, Neapolitan
Government Duchy
Duke
 -  966-1004 Manso I of Amalfi
Historical era Middle Ages
 -  Duke elected 958
 -  Sacked by Pisa 1137
Population
 -  1131 est. 70,000 
Today part of  Italy

The Duchy of Amalfi (Italian: Ducato di Amalfi) or the Republic of Amalfi (Italian: Repubblica di Amalfi) was a de facto independent state centred on the Southern Italian city of Amalfi during the 10th and 11th centuries. The city and its territory were originally part of the larger ducatus Neapolitanus, governed by a patrician, but it extracted itself from Byzantine vassalage and first elected a duke (or doge) in 958. It rose to become an economic powerhouse, a commercial centre whose merchants dominated Mediterranean and Italian trade for a century before being surpassed and superseded by the other maritime republics of the North, like Pisa, Venice, and Genoa. In 1073, Amalfi lost its independence and fell to the Normans, from whose yoke it failed in two separate attempts to free itself.

History[edit]

The city of Amalfi was founded as a trading post in 339. Its first bishop was appointed in 596. In 838, the city was captured by Sicard of Benevento with help from traitors within the city, who led him in through the waterward defences. The many of the Amalfitans in Salerno sacked that city and left. In 839, Amalfi freed itself from Lombard domination and elected a prefect. Nearby Atrani participated in these early prefectural elections. Subsequently, Amalfi helped to free Siconulf to oppose the ruling Prince of Benevento. In 897, the self-governing republic, still nominally tied to the Byzantine empire, was defeated in a war with Sorrento, supported by Naples, in which her prefect was captured, later ransomed. In 914, the prefect Mastalus I was appointed first judge. In 958, Mastalus II was assassinated and Sergius I was elected first duke (or doge). From 981 to 983, Amalfi ruled the Principality of Salerno. In 987, the Amalfitan bishopric was raised to archiepiscopal status.

From 1034, Amalfi came under the control of the Principality of Capua and, in 1039, that of Salerno. In 1073, Robert Guiscard conquered the city and took the title dux Amalfitanorum: "duke of the Amalfitans." In 1096, Amalfi revolted, but this was put down in 1101. It revolted again in 1130 and was finally subdued in 1131, when the Emir John marched on Amalfi by land and George of Antioch blockaded the town by sea and set up a base on Capri. In 1135 and 1137, Pisa sacked the city and the glory of Amalfi was past.

The Arab traveller Ibn Hawqal, writing in 977 during the great reign of Manso I, described Amalfi as:

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]