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Tuscan sources and late medieval Libya: an exploration

المصادر التوسكانية وليبيا في أواخر العصر الوسيط: استكشاف

by Ingrid Houssaye Michienzi (English) and Sébastien Garnier (Arabic)

Tuscan sources and late medieval Libya: an exploration

المصادر التوسكانية وليبيا في أواخر العصر الوسيط: استكشاف

Ingrid Houssaye Michienzi (CNRS/Orient&Méditerranée UMR 8167)

https://cnrs.academia.edu/IngridHoussayeMichienzi

Tuscan sources and Late Medieval Libya: an exploration

What do we mean by Late Medieval Tuscany?

Until the Middle Ages, the history of Tuscany as a whole region can be evoked, starting with Etruria of the Etruscans. But in the Middle Ages, the rise of towns dissolved the notion of regionalism. The medieval Commune was the main political organization of the towns in northern and central Italy which, although theoretically part of the Holy Roman Empire, were de facto independent, and controlled the surrounding countryside. The first objective of this Communes was to give themselves autonomous rules by directly exercising the functions of government in a context of a strong economic development from the 11th century on. The most powerful ones could have an army, elect a local government, mint money, and exercise internal and external policies independently. The emperor was willing to concede extensive autonomy in exchange for the support of the communes in his fight against the pope. Some of the Communes expanded and became states. This was the case of Florence.

The marquisate of Tuscany, in which Florence was located, belonged to the kingdom of Italy, itself a constituent part of the Germanic Roman Empire, and the Florentines were under the influence of the emperor’s representatives. They enjoyed the weakness of the empire through the conflicts with the papacy, to emancipate themselves in the twelfth century and, like many other cities in Tuscany such as Siena, Lucca or Pisa citizens, they took their affairs into their own hands. So the history of Tuscany became the history of its city-states, and progressively Florence ensured its domination over its neighbors.

Florence’s territorial expansion increased greatly during the last two thirds of the 14th century. The Florentine Republic changed from a classical city-state to a regional state, controlling a vast territory, which it sought to expand and consolidate further. By 1420, the Florentine state had tripled in size and the new conquests represented more than 60% of its territory.

The most important septs for our purpose were the annexation of Pisa in 1406, and then the acquisition of two ports that gave finally to Florence a direct access to the sea in 1421: the port of Pisa (Porto Pisano) and the port of Leghorn (Livorno). If before Florence relied on Pisan infrastructures to trade in the Mediterranean area, after 1421 it became autonomous and began its own maritime expansion. In 1434, the Medici family became master of the city.

In 1532, Alexander of Medici was appointed first Duke of the Republic of Florence by the Pope. Then his cousin, Cosimo, undertook the development of a powerful navy and increased the territories of the duchy, with the annexation of the Republic of Siena in 1554. Cosimo was elevated to the status of Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1569 by the Pope, unofficially ending the duchy of Florence to make way for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which extended progressively its sovereignty over the whole Tuscany, a territory roughly corresponding to the current Italian region of the same name.

What about Tuscany and Libya ?

From the 12th century onwards, despite persistent signs of mutual aggression, the merchant cities of northern Italy and the Maghreb developed their relations in the direction of their economic interests. The rise of those trading cities as Genoa, Pisa, Venice and Florence had brought them to the position of centers of naval, military and economic power, in a position to intervene extensively in the Mediterranean area. The development of shipbuilding and trading fleets offered means of transport to connect more distant coasts. For Florence, it relied mostly on the Pisan fleet. At the same time, commercial techniques were developed through trade associations (that allowed to share the costs and profits of large-scale maritime trade), through insurance systems (to limit the risks of navigation on the most dangerous routes) and through the appearing of large merchant companies, mostly for Florence, which were established through representatives in the major European and Mediterranean trading centers.

The sources we have for Tuscany regarding Libya are thus mainly linked to this commercial boom and expansion in the Mediterranean. They come from the merchant circles that dominated the political structures of the various communes and republics. I will mainly focus on sources concerning the cities of Pisa, Florence and Prato. I will offer you a non-exhaustive overview of the sources we have, presented in a typological manner: first the official documents, then merchant ones and finally more literary sources. I will sometimes go away from Tuscany to compare with documents from other merchant cities of the Italian peninsula.

OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS – PEACE AND TRADE AGREEMENTS

The peace and trade treaties that were negotiated between Muslim states and merchant cities interrupted the existence of a permanent state of war by declaring a truce limited only to a certain number of years. They provided a legal framework for activities. For Latin merchants, trading within Muslim states was only really possible under the banner of a “nation”, through negotiations, embassies and mutually agreed regulations. 

Treaties allowed relations that remained fragile due to the long distance between the signatories, mutual aggression through warlike expeditions or piracy, or disrespect for local customs. However, maintaining a climate of good understanding was essential for the smooth running of business. Embassies were thus multiplied not only for the purpose of negotiating new agreements, but also in the context of incidents. The embassy initiative, as the commercial initiative, was almost exclusively taken by the Latin powers.

The treaties granted to merchants they covered numerous advantages. A key aspect was the security and protection of goods and people. The guarantees extended to the entire stay on land and during the travel in African waters. Freedom of transaction was granted, with Latin merchants remaining masters of their commercial operations. 

A second aspect dealt more with franchises and exemptions through the setting of customs taxes, jurisdiction over shipwrecks, damage, the property of deceased Christians and general police regulations. Finally, a third aspect concerned the conditions of residence. The granting of a peace and trade treaty implied also the assignment of a fondouk in which Christian merchants could reside, an implicit recognition of the consular institution under whose authority the Christian community was placed. Over these community structures, the Latins exercised full authority, controlling the entries. Treaties were regularly repeated on this basis.

Not all Christian nations enjoyed the same trading conditions, nor the same history of relations with the Maghreb countries. Italians and Catalans formed groups, often rivalling each other. Relations between the Italian states and the Maghreb were the earliest and most regular with Pisa, since they lasted from 1133 to 1397; but the North African sultanates also established lasting relations with the Venetians, Genoese, people from Provence, Catalans and Majorcans.

What about Libya?

Four documents concerning Pisa refer to Tripoli.

1 => In the first one, dated 23rd April 1181, Ubaldo, archbishop of Pisa, the consuls, the councilors and the people of Pisa ask the Almohad caliph Abu Ya`qub Yusuf for the release of the Pisans captured in Tripoli and the return of their ship.  

[Michele Amari, I diplomi arabi del R. Archivio fiorentino, Florence, Le Monnier, 1863, p. 8 and 269]

Hinc est utique, quod magnificentiae vestrae aperimus, quod cum quidam nostri cari cives de Sicilia cum carico frumenti ad Tripolim venirent, tempestate maris et vi ventorum compulsi, ad portum dictum Macri devenerunt; ibique, aqua deficiente, et cum pro ea aurienda irent, Barbarosi non permiserunt eos aquam aurire, neque deportare, nisi prius eis de frumento venderent. Cumque inviti eis de frumento venderent, galea vestra de Tripoli armata nocturno tempore venit: quod nostri cives videntes, et timentes et excogitantes eam esse galeam maelefactorum, in barcam se receperunt, et Tripolim devenerunt. Galea vero, cum navi civium nostrorum capta, ad Tripolim rediit; et predicti cives nostri abubec sceca Tripolis rectore, in carcere missi sunt; ibique, ut audimus, fame et siti et nuditate pereunt.

“We write to you, God help you, and secondly, from the city of Pisa, God preserve you, how a ship of our merchants and people of our territory and jurisdiction, having loaded grain on the island of Sicily and sailed to the city of Tripoli, which God defend, was driven by the winds onto the shores of that city, and (the sailors) being short of water, disembarked to draw some; but the local people would not allow it until after they had sold a little grain. In the midst of this, a corvette, armed by the captain and prefect of the city, came from Tripoli, took and robbed the sailors and seized all the goods that were in the ship. Some of those who survived on the usciara [barge] and reached Tripoli by dint of rowing, presented themselves to the governor, who had them all seized and stole as much grain and money as they had left.”

This document provides information at three different levels:

– first: on maritime dangers. We are at the end of the 12th century and relations between the Latin states and the Maghreb are not yet fully framed by the treaties that will develop massively in the 13th century. So, Acts of piracy were still numerous on both sides.

– second : the naval capacity of the Governor of Tripoli, able to send a ship against the Pisans

– third : the wheat trade from Sicily to Tripoli. Pisan merchants transported indeed wheat and intended to sell it on the Tripoli market.

2 => The second document, dated end of August 1234 is a peace and trade treaty granted to Pisa by the Hafside sultan Abû Zakariyâ Yahyâ. We only have the Latin version, which says that Pisans will have fondouks on different commercial places of the Sultanate, like they have in Tunis. It will in Bugia, Mahdia, Gabes, Sfax and Tripoli.

[Michele Amari, I diplomi arabi del R. Archivio fiorentino, Florence, Le Monnier, 1863, p. 293]

Et debent aptari fonticum eorum de Buzia (Bejaia), et quando volunt facere rationem, sit eis factan et debent habere fonticum unum bonum, et debet fieri eis secundum usum Tunis, similiter in Africa (Mahdia), et Capsi (Gabes), et Farsi (Sfax), et Tripoli.

3 => The third document, dated 9th August 1264, is a peace and trade treaty granted to Pisa by the Hafside sultan Abû `Abd Allah Muhammad al-Mustansir. We only have the Italian version, which says almost the same, as this treaty aims to renew the agreements of the previous one. So Pisans, as in Tunis, will have same privileges in Bona, Mahdia, Gabes, Sfax, Tripoli, and elsewhere. 

[Michele Amari, I diplomi arabi del R. Archivio fiorentino, Florence, Le Monnier, 1863, p. 299]

De lo uso come in Tunithi (Tunis).

Et che a Buona si debbia tenere et fare a voi quello uso che este in Tunithi, et in quello medesmo modo. Et similiantemente si debbia fare ad voi in Affricha (Mahdia), et in Cappisi (Gabes), et in Isfacchixi (Sfax), et in Tripoli, et in tucte l’altre terre, secondo che in Tunithi (Tunis).

4 => The fourth document, still the same kind, dated 14th September 1313, is a peace and trade treaty granted to Pisa by the Hafside sultan Abd al-Wahid Zakariya ibn al-Lihyani. We have the arabic version. The article 20 says that Pisans shall have in Bona, a fondouk specially appointed for their lodging, in which no other Christians shall dwell with them. The same customs shall be in force the same as in Tunis, and likewise in Gabes, Sfax and Tripoli.

[Michele Amari, I diplomi arabi del R. Archivio fiorentino, Florence, Le Monnier, 1863, p. 91]

If we have a quick look on treaties granted to Genoese, Catalans and Venetians, we find more or less the same king of references to Tripoli, as a dynamic trading place inside the Hafside sultanate, where Latin merchants were established and were conducting their businesses, with the same advantages they had in Tunis.

But for Venice, we have more.

On the 9th of June 1356, Venetians concluded special agreements with the emir of Tripoli and Djerba, Ahmed Ibn-Mekki. Preserved in Latin in the Venetian archives. This agreement contains traditional clauses found in most treaties. 

[Louis de Mas Latrie, Traités de paix et de commerce et documents divers concernant les relations des chrétiens avec les Arabes de l’Afrique septentrionale au moyen âge: recueillis par ordre de l’empereur et publiés avec une introduction historique, 1865, p. 222-228]

What else does it tell us?

The major object of the treaty concerns the salt trade and the exploitation of the sebkhas of Rā’s al-Makhbaz. The treaty settled the equivalence of the measures of salt between the two states, the price of the exploitation of the salt lakes and the various operations (transport by camels to the port, load on the ships). The treaty provide also information on the customs tariffs applicable in the ports of Tripoli, Gabes, Sfax and the islands of Djerba and Kerkennah. We were in the middle of the 14th century just after the reauthorization by the papacy of the trade with Mamluk Egypt, which gave Tripoli an important role on the road to Alexandria.

The diplomatic correspondence between Venice and the emir of Tripoli in the following years shows a notable interest in this destination but also difficult relationships. 

In a letter of 1358, we learn that a shipowner from Venice wanted to obtain the return of his goods arbitrarily seized by the emir. He threatened to take reprisals against his subjects, despite the existence of a treaty [Mas Latrie, p. 228-230]

In 1362, the Doge of Venice sent a messenger to the Emir to complain about the repeated denials of justice against the Venetians and to buy back several subjects of the Republic held captives despite the treaty [Mas Latrie, p. 230-231]

OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS – ITINERARIES OF GALLEYS

I will go on with the official documentation and focus now on another kind: the itineraries of galleys.

As I said in the introduction, Florence had a direct access to the sea in 1421 through the acquisition of the port of Pisa (Porto Pisano) and the port of Leghorn (Livorno). Then the Republic began its own maritime expansion. On the model of the Venetians mude, Florence set up convoys of merchant ships with fixed itineraries. 

The Florentine government was also keen to establish a shipping line to serve the Maghreb ports. Concessions were granted by the Sultan of Tunis as early as the negotiations of 1421, with the aim of making a stop in Tunis on the way to Alexandria. In 1442, the conductors of Florentine galleys frequenting Catalonia and Sicily were allowed to travel to Barbary. However, it was not until 1447 that the Barbary lines were really established.

=> itinerary of the 1447 deliberations

Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Consoli del Mare, 3, f° 78v. to 79v.

Barberia alta. 

Allo andare può fare queste schale :

Parte di Porto Pisano,

Gaeta

Napoli

Salerno

Palermo

Trapani

Tunizi

Tripoli

Di ritorno può fare le medesime schale excepto Salerno, et più queste : Civitavechia, Talamone.

=> itinerary of the 1467 deliberations 

Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Consoli del Mare, 4, fascicule 5, fol. 2v. & fol. 3r 

Barberia alta. 

All’andare può fare queste schale :

Parte di Porto Pisano,

Ghaeta

Napoli

Salerno

Palermo

Trapani

Tunizi

Tripoli

Di ritorno possino fare le medesime schale excepto Salerno, e più Civitavechia, Thalamone.

Then this system of fixed lines was progressively abandoned at the end of the 15th century.

On the Venetian side, the muda di Barberia was created to increase and stabilise trade relations between Venice and the port cities of the African coast, the Sultanate of Granada and the Crown of Aragon. Departing from Venice, the muda headed for the ports of Aragonese Sicily and once it had stopped at Syracuse it sailed to Tripoli, Gerba, Tunis, Bejaia, Algiers and Oran, then from here it sailed to Malaga in the Sultanate of Grenada and then stopped in Spain in Valencia and Tortosa. Established on 10 December 1436, it was decommissioned in 1533, remaining operational for almost a century.

The Trafego muda also made a stop in Tripoli. It was established in 1460, stopped in Tunis  and skirted Africa as far as Alexandria, arriving in Beirut and Modone.

[V. Baby-Collin, S. Bouffier, S. Mourlane éd., Atlas des migrations en Méditerranée. De l’Antiquité à nos jours, Arles, Actes Sud, 2021, p. 30.]

MERCHANT DOCUMENTATION

Merchant manuals

They were called pratica di mercatura and aimed to describe markets. So they are an inexhaustible source of information on the various trading places and their relative goods, measures, weights and currencies, on the distances to be travelled from one to another and on the routes connecting them, on the taxes and duties to be paid, and they were full of advice on navigation and travel. 

The best known is that of the Florentine Francesco Pegolotti, which he wrote in the 1340s. His work is based on his own experience as a merchant and on various local documents (price lists, regulations) that he had at his disposal. No autograph copies of the book have survived. The oldest copy dates from 1472 and was reproduced by another Florentine merchant, Filippo Frescobaldi, which shows how much these books circulated in merchant circles. This type of document is attested for other European commercial places outside Tuscany such as Venice, Barcelona or Ragusa (nowadays Dubrovnik) in the sixteenth century; it was most certainly a document produced and kept within companies engaged in long-distance trade on multiple markets.

Link to Pegolotti’s manual

https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.medievalacademy.org/resource/resmgr/maa_books_online/evans_0024.htm

What kind of information may we find about Libya?

Pegolotti wrote a very small chapter on Tripoli, after the one on Tunis. It also contains information on Djerba.

The Tripoli chapter is linked to the wheat trade. Wheat is in fact the only product mentioned in the paragraphs devoted to the Tripolitan market, which Pegolotti also relates to Sicily and gives the taxes on this cereal. All the evidence points to the fact that this was an export from the south of Italy to supply the Tripolitan market.

We find first references to units of weight in Tripoli, to measure wheat (grano).

Then the taxes on wheat. Diritto di mercantia che si paga a Tripoli

Then equivalences with the measures of different places in Sicily. Come il peso e la misura di Tripoli torna in più terre, e quelle con Tripoli, e prima con Messina, con Palermo e colle piaggie

In the vision of the different writers of manuals, there is unitary conception of the region from Tripoli to Bugia which is also found in the Venetian manuals. A vision that we find in the treaties and that is also present in literary sources. If Pegolotti does not give a lot of measures for that region, a venetian manual, the one of Zibaldone da Canal specifies that the measure of weight of Collo, Jijel, Bugia is the same, and that the cantara of Susa, Mahdia, Kabes, Sfax and Tunis od the same as the one of Tunis. Zibaldone also write that in Tunis and in the whole Barbary, that is to say from Tripoli of Barbary to Bougie are spent and circulate these currencies which are made in Tunis. It thus links the geographical definition of the region to this unitary monetary space, confirming that the monetary system is an important element in the merchant representation of space.

[Alfredo Stussi ed., Zibaldone da Canal. Manoscritto mercantile del sec. XIV, Venice, 1967]

Another manual, written by Florentine merchants later in the 14th century, does not have a chapter on Tripoli, but give interesting equivalences, that are going in the same way. It is again about wheat and the equivalences that are given are between the weight of Tripoli and that of the wheat-sending markets in Sicily and Puglia, in southern Italy. It is the same in Pegolotti’s manual which include also equivalences with Tunis, Bugia and Tripoli in chapters dedicated to Puglia, and to the market of Barletta in Puglia.

[Cesare Ciano ed., La Pratica di mercatura datiniana (secolo XIV), Milan, 1964]

            These various pieces of information suggest that Tripoli was represented as an important hub of the grain trade for the Florentines, a suggestion confirmed by business company sources.

Business company sources

The interest of the Tuscan archives lies in the wealth of private writings, mainly account books and correspondence. These documents, which are very numerous, are scattered in different collections, mainly family collections.

In the 14th century, the three most important Florentine companies were the Bardi, Peruzzi and Acciaioli. All three had a branch in Tunis. The Bardi and the Peruzzi, from Tunis, had expanded their business to Tripoli in the 1330s. 

[Ingrid Houssaye Michienzi]

Davidsohn specifies that the Peruzzi had already a subsidiary in Tunis in 1326, managed by Lamberto Velluti, then then years later by Dato del Neri who began to expand the activities in Tripoli [Robert Davidsohn, Storia di Firenze, Florence, 1977, vol. VI, 781-804]. David Abulafia recalls that the Florentine merchant Giovanni Forzetti represented the Peruzzi company in Tripoli in 1337 [David Abulafia, « Sul commercio del grano siciliano nel tardo Duecento », dans La società mediterranea all’epoca del Vespro, XI Congresso della Corona d’Aragona (Palerme-Trapani-Erice, avril 1982), Palerme, 1983, p. 5-22]

Why going to Tripoli?

Tripoli did not offer different commodities as other ports of this area, mainly hides and skins. The only market specialization was the slave trade, which only really developed from the 15th century onwards. The presence of a representative of the Peruzzi on this market was certainly be linked to the wheat trade. The Florentines were particularly involved in the wheat trade from South Italy. Tripoli represented a market of exportation.

And it seems to go on, as revealed in a document from the Datini collection of Prato. 

http://datini.archiviodistato.prato.it/en/

The archives of Francesco Datini’s business company cover the late 14th and early 15th centuries. They include about 650 account books and 150,000 merchant letters. Only 42 letters were written from North Africa and none from Tripoli. Information on the Maghreb is also found in the correspondence and account books kept in Majorca. The island of Majorca was indeed an essential relay for Latin merchants wishing to trade in the Maghreb. But for Tripoli, I just found two occurrences in letters written from Tunis, showing again that Tripoli was linked to Tunis and a secondary place.

The first one is a letter written in February 1400 in Tunis by a Florentine merchant working with the Consul of Venice, to another Florentine merchant, telling : 

« And there are outside of here in these days 2 galleys and 2 small ones, and they will meet together with 8 armed fuste (ships) between Bona (Annaba) and Bejaia; they say that they intend to go to Tripoli » [E si son fuori di qui questi dì 2 ghalee e 2 ghaleotte, e debonsi trovare insieme con 8 fuste armate tra Buona e Buggea ; dicòsi andrano a Tripoli]

[Archivio di Stato di Prato, Datini, 10172, Tunis-Florence, Giovanni di Bartolo Carocci to Manno d’Albizo degli Agli, 24/02/1400 : http://datini.archiviodistato.prato.it/la-ricerca/archivio/search#n

The second one is a letter still writtent in Tunis, but two years later, by a pisan merchant to the director of the Datini company in Majorca telling : « There is nothing new here about merchandises, if not that in Tripoli the cafisso of grain is worth 5 golden dinars » [Altro di nuovo qui non ci è di merchantie, se non che a Tripoli vi vale lo chafisso del formento vi vale dob. 5 d’oro]

[Archivio di Stato di Prato, Datini, 121233, Tunis-Majorca, Antonio Fauglia (Pisan) to the director of the Majorcan Company Cristofano di Bartolo, 26/10/1402 : http://datini.archiviodistato.prato.it/la-ricerca/carteggio/search#n

LITERARY SOURCES

For Florence there are many accounts of ambassadors’ travels to Egypt or to the Mediterranean Levant and travels stories of pilgrimages, but no reference concerning Tripoli or the Tripolitan or Cyrenaica area. There are also chronicles which are historical account of events arranged in chronological order. Typically, equal weight is given for historically important events and local events, the purpose being the recording of events that occurred, seen from the perspective of the chronicler, so in a very subjective way. The author interprets and analyze events, and also excludes events that he does not consider relevant.  

The only one with a real universal purpose, trying to place the history of Florence in a broader chronological and geographical context is the one of Giovanni Villani, from the middle of the 14th century. Giovanni Villani was a Florentine stateman from a merchant family. He served time in prison as a result of the bankruptcy of a trading and banking company. But he is really famous for his Nuova Cronica or New Chronicles. It is 14th-century history of Florence created in a year-by-year linear format. In his Cronica, Villani described in detail the many building projects of the city, statistical information on population, ordinances, trade, education, and religious facilities. He also described several disasters such as famines, floods, fires. He died of the Black Death in 1348. Villani’s work on the Nuova Cronica was continued by his brother Matteo (from April 1348 until July 1363) and his nephew Filippo (until 1364) after his death.

The Nuova Cronica by Villani stands as a milestone achievement in the history of European chronicles.

His work is divided into twelve books. It starts with Biblical times all the way up to 1346. 

http://www.bibliotecaitaliana.it/testo/bibit000293

In his first book, at chapter 4, he describes the second part of the world, said Africa, and of its limits.

What is interesting ?

The second part is named Africa and goes from East, from the Nile to West, to the strait of Seville and Ceuta. Africa is surrounded by what he names Uziano’s sea, which is named the Libian sea, and by the Mediterranean. Africa is divided in different parts and what is particularly interesting is the division of the Maghreb into two parts, more or less the same as described above through the merchants’ manuals : Barberia, Garbo and here, the kingdom of Ceuta.

The second occurrence that is interesting for our purpose is about an event of 1319. Villani tells that the king of Bejaia, which was previously king of Tunis before being chased out, came back to Tunis and became king again, and the one who was king of Tunis, went to Tripoli di Barberia were he made an agreement with Frederic of Sicily to help him in his war against a considerable amount of money. 

Those are the only references to Libya in his cronicle.

CONCLUSION

The focus of the sources is only on Tripoli, sometimes named Tripoli di Barberia, in order to make the difference with the other Tripoli, on eastern mediterranean coasts, named Tripoli of Syria.

There are very few information and Tripoli appears as a secondary centre

There is a consistency of the information over three centuries, on piracy and onwheat trade.

Tripoli was nevertheless integrated into the Mediterranean networks in two ways:

– for the Florentines in particular, through the wheat trade

– the Tripolitan port was also a base for navigation between Tunis and Alexandria. Tripoli took advantage of its distance from Tunis and its position on the eastern route, which made it possible to reach Egypt without necessarily passing through Tunis.

Tripoli has a common destiny with Tunis and more generally speaking Ifriqiya, of which it is an integral part in the Florentine vision of the time.

تأطير

ا. توسكانا القروسطية

على منوال مدن متجاورة مثل سيينا ولُكّة أو بيزا في شمال ووسط إيطاليا تطورت فلورنسا كبلدية ذاتية الحكم خلال القرن ال 12 وأضحت شبه مستقلة بفضل دعمها للإمبراطورية [الرومانية المقدسة] في كفاحها ضد البابوية. اعتمدت لذلك على قوتها الاقتصادية التي ازدهرت انطلاقا من القرن السابق فسيطرت على أريافها. هكذا استطاعت هذه المدن أن تتحرر وتبني جيشا وتكوّن حكومة محلية وتصبح دولة في نهاية المطاف 

وهذا كان مصير فلورنسا التي شيئا فشيئا هيمنت على جاراتها. أما توسعها الإقليمي فكان ملحوظا في الثلثين الأخيرين من القرن ال 14 بحيث مساحتها ازدادت بثلاثة أضعاف إلى عام 1420 كما ترون على الخريطة ودامت الفتوحات حتى وفاة لورنزو دي ميديتشي الرائع سنة 1492

من أجل موضوعنا اليوم نذكر أخذ بيزا في 1406 ثم ضم مرسى بيزا ومرسى ليفورنو في 1421. غلب آل ميديتشي على فلورنسا عام 1434.تولى السلطة ألسندرو الأسمر “المورو” سنة 1532 كأول دوق لجمهورية فلورنسا فتابع كوزيمو سياسة الانتشار بأخذ جمهورية سيينا سنة 1554 وتحول فعلا النظام الفلورنسي إلى دوقية توسكانا الكبرى في 1569

ب. توسكانا وليبيا

كما فهمنا فيما سبق صعود تلك المدن – جنوة، بيزا، البندقية وفلورنسا – جعلها مراكز بحرية وعسكرية الأمر الذي سمح لها بالتدخل المكثف في الفضاء المتوسطي. نضيف إلى ذلك منشآت سفن وتوفر مراكب تنقل البضائع لإنماء الاتصالات بين سواحل متباعدة. في نفس الوقت تم تعزيز الأنشطة التجارية من خلال تشاركيات كالقراض وظهور شبكات واسعة وتأمينات لمواجهة الأخطار في السفر

فبالتالي المصادر التوسكانية التي تعني المناطق الليبية هي فعلا متعلقة بهذا الانتعاش. سوف تعرض حسب تقسيم تصنيفي

أولا وثائق رسمية

ثانيا وثائق تجارية

ثالثا مصادر أدبية

الوثائق الرسمية

ا. معاهدات هدنة وتبادل

أتاحت تلك الاتفاقيات فترات صلح لمدة محددة وأيضا إطارا قانونيا للنشاطات وذلك تحت مظلة الأنظمة السياسية وهكذا استطاع التجار النصارى أن يعملوا في الأوطان المسلمة. فبادر البلدان اللاتينية إلى إبرامها لإبقاء علاقات تفاهم في بيئة لا زالت حربية وبعثت هذه البلدان سفارات لتحقيق هذا الغرض.

ما كانت فوائد الاتفاقيات؟ نذكر أهمها مع أنها تختلف وفقا للظروف

تأمين الأنفار والبضائع وحرية التبادل؛

قضية الضرائب وضمان حقوق الملكية؛

شروط الإقامة وتنظيم الفندق وسلطة القنصل الذي يترأسه.

هناك 4 وثائق تخص بيزا وطرابلس 

الوثيقة الأولى مؤرخة بيوم 23 أبريل 1181 وهي عبارة عن طلب رسمي موجه إلى الخليفة الموحدي أبو يعقوب يوسف للإفراج عن بيزانيين قبض عليهم في طرابلس وأيضا لإرجاع سفينتهم 

يستخرج من قراءتها تواجد القرصنة ومقدرة والي طرابلس على إرسال مركب أو أسطول وأخيرا تصدير قمح من صقلية إلى طرابلس

الوثيقة الثانية مؤرخة بنهاية أغسطس 1234 وهي عبارة عن معاهدة بين بيزا والسلطان الحفصي أبو زكرياء يحيى وينص فتح فنادق بيزانية في بجاية، المهدية، قابس، صفاقس وطرابلس

الوثيقة الثالثة مؤرخة بيوم 9 أغسطس 1264 وهي مبدئيا عبارة عن تجديد وتثبيت المعاهدة السابقة تحت حكم المستنصر

الوثيقة الرابعة مؤرخة بيوم 14 سبتمبر 1313 وهي أيضا عبارة عن تجديد المعاهدتين السابقتين في حكم السلطان الحفصي ابن اللحياني ويذكر فيها أن فندق بونة/عنابة مخصص لهم فقط.

تقريبا نفس الملاخظات تنطبق على جنوة، كاتالونيا أو البندقية بحيث طرابلس كانت نشيطة ضمن السلطنة الحفصية

أما بالنسبة إلى البندقية فنجد وثيقة خاصة مؤرخة بيوم 9 يونيو 1356 مع أمير طرابلس وجربة، أحمد بن مكي. فضلا عن المحتوى العادي تؤطّر تجارة الملح وتفاصيل عن سبخة رأس المخبز. تعطي أيضا معلومات عن الضرائب الجارية في طرابلس، قابس، صفاقس، جربة وكركنة. هذا يقع بعد إعادة تصريح التجارة بين البندقية ومصر المملوكية فكانت طرابلس مرحلة هامة إذن وإن ظلت صعوبات بين الطرفين

ب. المسالك البحرية

كما قيل من قبل كان لفلورنسا وصول مباشر إلى البحر منذ 1421 مع السيطرة على بيزا وليفورنو. على غرار البندقية وال”مودى” خططت قوافل سفن تتبع طرقا ثابتة في مواسم محددة ومنتظمة

سنة 1421 أصبحت تونس مرحلة في السفر إلى الإسكندرية ثم سنة 1442 أُذن للمراكب الرسو في إفريقية وأخيرا سنة 1447 فُتح الخط الأول إلى بربرية كما نقرأه في القائمة المعروضة. تلاشى نظام المودى في أواخر القرن ال 15

لدينا وثيقتان: واحدة تصف المودى سنة 1447 والأخرى سنة 1467.أما المودى للبندقية (ترافيقو و بربرية) فبدأت قي ديسمبر 1436 واستمرت حتى 1533. الطريق الترافيقة أُنشئ عام 1460 وكان في مسيرته وقفة في تونس ووقفة في طرابلس

الوثائق التجارية

ا. كتب أدلاء تجار

كانت تسمى براتيكا دي مركاتورا وتوفر أوصافا غنية، دقيقة ومستوعبة للأسواق والطرق. ربما أشهرها هو دليل للفلورنسي فرانشيسكو بيقولوتي الذي ألفه بين 1335 و1343 والنسخة التي بين أيدينا لتاجر فلورنسي آخر فيليبو فريسكوبلدي وتعود إلى عام 1472 فهذا يشير إلى تداول الكتاب وقيمة النوع في المسافات الطويلة.

الباب ال 25 قصير جدا. ينظر بيقولوتي في طرابلس وجربة أيضا وذلك يلي الحديث عن تونس في الباب ال 24. يتعلق أساسا بتجارة القمح كما رأينا آنفا.

في تلك الكتب تُرى وحدة الأراضي بين طرابلس وبجاية عبر منظور النقود المشتركة أي الفضاء في عيون التجار مرسوم على حسب العملات المسكوكة.

ب. مصادر شركات

تتكون تلك الوثائق المبعثرة بين مجموعات عدة، عائلية خاصة، من دفاتر للمحاسبة ومراسلات. في القرن ال 14 أبرز الشركات الفلورنسية كانت باردي،  بيرودزي و أتشيايولي ولها فروع في تونس. فمنها طورت ال باردي وال بيرودزي عملياتها إلى طرابلس في ال 1330s. كانت المدينة سوقا لتصدير القمح من جنوب إيطاليا و وجودهم فيها يُشرح بهذا السبب

في الرسائل المحفوظة داخل مجموعة داتيني في براتو [وعددها 150,000] لا نعثر على طرابلس إلا نادرا أي مرتين وفي تقارير مركزة على تونس الأمر الذي يُري مجددا ارتباط أو تَبَعية الأولى تجاه الثانية

المصادر الأدبية

لفلورنسا كتب رحلات متعددة منها على يد سفراء ذهبوا إلى مصر والشام وحجاج أيضا يسردون مسيرهم ولكن لا يوجد مرجع إلى طرابلس ولا إلى الأراضي الليبية

لا ننسى كتب التواريخ التي ترتّب الأحداث حسب التسلسل الزمني علما بأن المؤلف يختار مادته وفقا لآرائه. من أشملها ال نووفا كرونيكا ل جيوفاني فيلاني فهو يحكي تاريخ فلورنسا على المدى الطويل وفي حيّز أوسع وألّف ال كرونيكا تاجر فلورنسي في منتصف القرن ال 14 على شكل رواية سنة بعد سنة ثم أكملها أخوه وابن أخيه حتى عام 1364

في الكتاب الأول والتاريخ هذا يتضمن 12 كتابا يصف عند الباب الرابع أفريقيا وحدودها من النيل إلى المضيق ويحيطها بحران أما تقسيم المغرب فهو إلى جزئين بربرية و قربو من جهة ومملكة سبتة من جهة أخرى

وفي مقال سنة 1319 يذكر أن ملك بجاية كان سابقا ملك تونس فطُرد منها ثم أخذها من جديد والذي كان يحكم على تونس في غضون ذلك ارتحل إلى طرابلس حيث اتفق مع فريديريكو الثالث ملك صقلية آنذاك طالبا مؤازرته بمقابل أموال طائلة فهذه المعلومة عن السلطان ابن اللحياني

في الختام

ماذا نستخلص من تلك اللمحة العامة؟

لا يوجد في الوثائق المدروسة إلا مدينة طرابلس مع أن المعلومات عنها ضئيلة وربما هذا دليل على أنها ثانوية نسبيا. فلنتذكر ثلاث نقاط قد تشكل نتائج مؤقتة

أولا: تواجد مشكلة القرصنة باستمرار 

ثانيا: دور تجارة القمح

ثالثا: أهمية طرابلس كقاعدة بحرية للسير بين تونس والإسكندرية أي كحلقة في الشبكة متوسطية

A conference by Ingrid Houssaye Michienzi on Wednesday 15 June 2022.

Wednesday 15 June 2022 (18.00 CET and Tripoli Time) is Session 8 of our monthly webinar Revisiting the History of Medieval Libya.

On Zoom, Ingrid Houssaye Michienzi (CNRS-UMR 8167 Orient&Méditerranée, Paris, France) will deliver the following talk (in Arabic and English):

Tuscan sources and medieval Libya:

an exploration

Arabic and English will be available for summaries, chat and Q&A.

Webinar link on demand at : libyemedievale@gmail.com

Feel free to spread the news.

See you there!