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Italy, and the Duchy of Amalfi (a small state in bright yellow), at the close of the tenth century.

The Republic or Duchy of Amalfi was a de facto independent state centred on the south Italian city of the same name during the tenth and eleventh 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 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a commercial centre whose merchants dominated Mediterranean and Italian trade for a century before being surpassed and superseded by the city-states of the North, such as Pisa and Genoa.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.

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.

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

. . . la più prospera città di Longobardia, la più nobile, la più illustre per le sue condizioni, la più agiata ed opulenta. Il territorio di Amalfi confina con quello di Napoli; la quale è bella città, ma meno importante di Amalfi.

. . . the most prosperous Lombard city, the most noble, the most illustrious for its conditions, the most wealthy and opulent. The territory of Amalfi borders that of Naples; a beautiful city, but less important than Amalfi.

See also

Sources

  • Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. Rome, 1960–Present.
  • Skinner, Patricia. Family Power in Southern Italy: The Duchy of Gaeta and its Neighbours, 850-1139. Cambridge University Press: 1995.
  • Norwich, John Julius. The Normans in the South 1016-1130. London: Longmans, 1967.
  • Norwich, John Julius. The Kingdom in the Sun 1130-1194. London: Longmans, 1970.
  • Curtis, Edmund. Roger of Sicily and the Normans in Lower Italy 1016–1154. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1912.
  • Matthew, Donald. The Norman Kingdom of Sicily (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks). Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  • Houben, Hubert (translated by Graham A. Loud and Diane Milburn). Roger II of Sicily: Ruler between East and West. Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Chalandon, Ferdinand. Histoire de la domination normande en Italie et en Sicile. Paris, 1907.
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