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1836 Genoa.

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Date: 1836 (published) London

Dimensions: 12 x 15 inches (33 x 38.1 cm)

This interesting map of Genoa was published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, also referred to as SDUK. The map shows the brilliant fortification of the port city of Genoa, whose history can be traced back at least 26 centuries to settlements of Etruscans, and after them, Romans.  Situated on the Ligurian Sea, the Gulf of Genoa is the northernmost point of the Sea.

The map depicts a city whose seaside regions would be fairly easy to defend as the walls are built very far around the Bay and to the southeast of the city proper. The inland regions of the city are well protected with walled fortifications and bastions interspersed for added protection.  There are large garden areas, and a number of wooded areas within the city proper. A note in the upper right provides translations for some Italian terms. An inset in the Ligurian Sea displays the topography of the regions surrounding the city. The map is embellished with miniature drawings of the city’s important architectural edifices, all named, just below the plan of the city. The map is embellished with miniature drawings of the city’s most important architectural edifices, including a large lighthouse, all named, just below the plan of the city.

The port city of Genoa was used to fight off the invasion of Hannibal and his forces in 218 BCE, but destroyed by the Carthaginians a short time later in 209 BCE. The city was rapidly rebuilt and within a century had received municipal rights. Its importance as commerce increased, with products such as furs, timber and honey being traded and exported. During the Byzantine era, the Emperor Justinian I sent his most trusted and ruthless general, Flavius Belisarius, to conquer the city as part of his quest to rebuild the Roman Empire to its former glory. Following the final fall of the Western Empire, the city was controlled by the Lombards, then the Francks before finally being sacked by the Islamic Fatimid Caliphate and perhaps abandoned. Once again it was rebuilt and by about 1100 CE had emerged as an independent city state. Trade, shipbuilding and banking helped the Genoese to build one of the strongest fleets in the Mediterranean.

For some centuries the city thrived, then the Black Death began to sweep across Europe and its impact on the city led to a reorganization of its governance, to adopt the Venetian style of government and a Genoese Doge was named. In the 15th century Genoa founded two of the world’s first banks. Christopher Colombus was born in the city, and famed violinist Nicolo Paganini is a native. Many famous cartographers and explorers were sons of the city and Genoa founded colonies in many parts of the world. By the time this map was drawn, Genoa was consolidating its position as a major seaport and shipbuilding centre.

The SDUK was founded in 1828 by Henry Peter Brougham, an idealistic British nobleman. The aim of the society was to promote self-education and egalitarian sharing of knowledge by providing instruments of learning such as maps and various other publications. Despite being affiliated with London University and various major publishing houses, the Society ultimately failed to achieve its goal as the publications were too costly for the targeted middle to lower class echelons of British society. At the same time, its publications were not grand or fine enough to appeal to the aristocracy.

Condition: This map is in A condition with original hand coloring.  

Inventory #12336

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