The Journal of Economic History


Manuel and the Genoese: A Reappraisal of Byzantine Commercial Policy in the Late Twelfth Century

Gerald W. Daya1

a1 University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


The study attempts to rehabilitate the reputation of the Byzantine emperor, Manuel I Comnenus, by considering often overlooked evidence of the Genoese experience in Constantinople during his reign. Manuel's alleged ill-treatment of Italian merchants is seen to have resulted not from greed but from his concern with maintaining peace in Constantinople. The Genoese, who remained peaceful and loyal to their agreements with Manuel, prospered under his goodwill in spite of Genoa's refusal to commit itself to a Byzantine offensive alliance. It is concluded that Manuel's commercial policy was equitable to the Italians and beneficial to his empire's economic health.