Non ex unica natione sed ex plurimis: Genoa, the Catalans and the Knights of St John in the fifteenth century
By Christopher Wright
Mediterranea – Ricerche Storiche, Volume 13, 2016
Abstract: In the fifteenth century, the hitherto usually close relations between the Genoese community and the Order of the Knights of St John were threatened by an increase in tension and incidents of violence.
The difficulties between them in this period were due less to their contrasting approaches to relations with Muslim powers than to the Order’s increasingly strong ties to Genoa’s traditional enemies, the Catalan subjects of the Crown of Aragon. These arose from the growing importance of Catalan and Aragonese knights in the Order, of Catalan merchants and financiers in the Knights’ base at Rhodes, and of the Aragonese Crown to the interests of the Order.
Combined with the intensification of hostilities between Genoese and Catalans in the same period, this development produced recurrent antagonism between Genoa and the Hospitallers, manifested primarily in acts of piracy and the resulting reprisals. Such difficulties reflected the nature of the Order as a political power which was also a multinational association, and the tendency for violence between communities to impinge on other groups with whom their membership overlapped or was closely associated. This article examines this process of contagious recrimination, but also the ways in which it was contained by the enduring mutual connections, internal subdivisions and policies of the Order and the Genoese community.