History of Giustiniani From Genova (Italy)
In the XVIIIth century the East India Companies of England, France and the Netherlands
ruled over many coastal towns and their neighbouring territories in India, Indochina and
Indonesia. An early example of such a mixture of trade and politics can be found in the
Maona Giustiniani which ruled over the island of Scio (Chios), in the Aegean Sea for more
than two centuries, from 1347 to 1566. The name "maona" is of uncertain origin,
maybe from the genovese voice "mobba" equivalent to union, or also from the name
of one ship or also a word most likely of Arab origin Maounach (=trading company). The
origin therefore is tied more families combined in rising of partnership
("lodges"). Such "societies" were of the true ones and own Lordships
with a lot of armies, soldiers and fiscal autonomy and too times their politics were in
contrast with that one of the same Republic that had originated to them. The history of
the island of Chios from the fourteenth century to sixteenth closely is tied to that one
of the family Giustiniani, noble from Genoa that assumed the control of the island in that
time. It is only a legend that one that sees the two lineages Genoa and Venice to come
down from the progeny of Giustiniano, Roman emperor of east, Mark and Angelo lived on 720
d.C. Probably "Giustiniani", but the news is not sure, would derive from the
Giustiniani Palace of Genoa the seat of the company was, already possessed from homonymous
family from Venice, in that age, in good relationships trades with the Genovese Republic.
This palace, dominate still in quarter Giustiniani in Genoa, adorned of the coat-of-arms
of the family and from several trophies gained in the war of Chioggia (Venice). In the
XIVth century the Genovese were competing with the Venetians for the control of the
trading routes in the Levant and in the Black Sea. Venice had a firm hold on Negroponte
and Candia and Genoa needed a secure trading post along the route to Constantinople (for a
page on Genoese trading routes click here
These Lords Giustiniani started a collegiate system of government. Each of the twelve partner having his own part of duty: equal was their fortune and equal were their titles. An example (probably the only) that a noble title pass one to the other not by blood, but to sell a share in a society. The island is famous for its scenery and good climate. Its chief export is mastic a gum exuding from the bark of a tree grown up in the southern part of the island. Unlike many other Greek towns, Chios was not built on high ground providing a natural defence; it did not have an acropolis, a citadel where the inhabitants could oppose an effective resistance to the assaults of the enemy. The Genoese found some Byzantine fortifications, but eventually decided to build a new set of walls, which would protect their new acquisition. Maona Giustiniani promoted farming in Scio and in particular in Kampos, a plain to the south of the town. Each farm was surrounded by walls, often rather high, having the objective to minimize the erosion of the soil due to the meltemi the strong wind which blows on the Aegean. The walls and the buildings were erected making use of Thymiana, a local stone with warm yellow and red tones. Each farm had a deep well to intercept the flow of abundant underground waters. Overall the texture of buildings, gates, boundary walls, etc. is still very consistent and the majority of the modern additions respect the old architectural patterns. The farms of Kampos could be easily protected from corsar raids by the Genoese ships in the harbour of Scio, but the southern tip of the island was exposed to this risk. For this reason the peasants lived in fortified villages, which have retained their peculiar layout. The villages did not have walls, but the external houses were lined up to form a barrier. They did not have doors or windows on this side (now they have been opened). At each corner of the village there was a tower and there was only one gate giving access to the village. This structure is still very well preserved in Mesta. The defence of Mesta was entrusted to the villagers themselves. The corsairs who had managed to penetrate inside the village found themselves in a maze of very narrow alleys covered by archways through which the villagers could easily move and repel the assailants. This layout is impressively similar, although the buildings of Mesta are not so high, to the carrugi, the very narrow streets of the medieval quarter of Genoa. The fortifications of the villages were completed by a large tower at the centre of the village. It could be reached only through very narrow streets and it did not have openings at the ground floor. The tower of Mesta has been pulled down to provide the village with at least one open space, but nearby Pirgi has retained much of its pirgos (tower). In the XIVth century several powers were competing with Genoa for the supremacy in the Aegean Sea (
To the fourth level all the given over persons of Greek origin to the jobs you serve them, in the hollow ones of mastic and agriculture. To the fifth level the Hebrew, given over for more to the usury, forced living in the ghetto (could only exit during the Saint week), and to carry a yellow hat, beyond making in sure moments of the year action of subjection and submission to the Giustiniani. To the sixth level the foreigns not resident in the island. In 1453 when the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II launched his attack against the walls of Constantinople, a Genoese contingent of volunteers from Chios went to Constantinople to join the limited forces of the Emperor. They were led by a gallant young soldier called Giovanni Giustiniani Longo, who played a crucial role in the siege of the city, until his being wounded during the final Ottoman assault signalled the forthcoming defeat. The Genoese fortifications of Scio included a very deep moat, now a dusty parking-lot, which isolated the town with the exception of one point of access. After the fall of Constantinople, Genoa had to come to terms with the Sultan. Because he rightly saw that only Venice could actually challenge his expansion aims, he preferred to establish a good relationship with Genoa and Scio was not threatened by the Ottomans. However, Maona Giustiniani had to agree to yearly pay the Sultan a large amount of gold and to grant him a supply of mastic, a gum exuding from the bark of a tree grown up in the southern part of the island. The Ottomans, at all costs tried to take the definitive control on the islands. On the pretext of militarily support the credit pretension of the Genovese nobleman Francisco Drapperio, in the comparisons of the Maona for one left of Alum, in the spring of 1455, one powerful Ottoman fleet berths to wide of Chios. Turkish admiral Hansabeg saw the good fortification of the island, estimated that it was not the case to risk an attack. The Genovese Republic engaged in the war with Alfonso of Aragon, very not being able to help its far colonies was limited to arm two Galee with 800 men to the commando with Peter Giustiniani (still major of Soverein of Malta during Lepanto battle against Turks october 1571) and invoke the aid of the Pope and the King of England Henry VI. In autumn 1455, 20 Turkish trireme commant from Junusberg, move towards Chios, although that a storm from there disperses the greater part, the Turks conquer without to fight New Focea on 24 December 1455 and the island of Lesbos. In the 1481 the Giustiniani abandons the island of Samo and leaves Nicaria the Knights of S.Giovanni, which already before they had left Cos. These islands lacking in ports and nearly desert, were already of insufficient interest are to the Giustiniani that to the Turks. Also Genoa begins to fear the power of the Giustiniani, 2 March 1558, to Costantinopoli a plenipotentiary one of the Doge, Francisco de Franchi Torturino negotiates in order to yield the rights of the exploitation of Chios to the Turks. Maona Giustiniani continued to rule Scio until 1566, when a delay in the payment of the yearly tax gave Sultan Suleyman the Great the pretext to make his last conquest. The 14 avril 1566 a fleet of 80 galley, commandant from Kapudanpascià Pialì arrive to the port of Chios that in short succeeds to occupy without to fight in spite of the intercession of the podestà Vincenzo Giustiniani. That did not prevent that the island endured a violent pillage, the Churches was all destroyed or converted in Mosques, very soon all that of beautiful, works them and useful to Chios it was depredated or had. Vincenzo Giustiniani with the others 12 governors and the other Giustiniani more in sight were made and capacities to Costantinopoli captive. 21 young Giustiniani between the 12 and 16 years they were separates to you from the parents, forced to abjure the catholic faith and to enlist themselves in the body of the janissarys 3 of they were folded to the Ottoman will, the others 18 were were slaughtered after atrocious tortures the 6 September 1566. in what was called the massacre of Scio. These last ones were canonized from the Church. A painting* about this martyrdom is in the palace of "dogi" to Genoa. The heads of the Maona were imprisoned in Crimea, where many died, to the survivors, for intercession of the French ambassador, in the 1567 it was granted to it to return to Genoa, with the vain hope to look at itself recognized an indemnification for the loss of the island. Most of them returned to Chios, their fatherland. There was still a bishop of Chios in the XIX century: Ignazio in a 1830 and other with the same name in 1879. Now there arent people with this surname in Chios. The old dominions of the Giustiniani in the Dodecaneso, under the Turkish game, went very soon in ruin. Chios was reduced in a den of thieves and pirates. The few Latins remained were imprison by Ottomans. The greater part of the remained population was plebeians. All the Churches of the island were destroyed excepting the Dominican' s convent and the Chapel of Franciscans. The wealthiest Giustiniani families who chose to leave the island, also to Genoa, escaped to Rome, Ancona, Amatrice, Messina, Palermo, Caprarica of Lecce, Smirne, Alessandria, and generally all around the Mediterraneo area. One on these Giustiniani survived was Giuseppe Giustiniani that moved to Rome. where his brother in law Cardinal Vincenzo Giustiniani introduced him to the papal court. He married his three daughters to members of the Roman aristocracy and his son Benedetto became a cardinal in 1586. In 1590 he bought what today is known as Palazzo Giustiniani (now siege of Senate of the Italian Republic) and in 1595 the fief of Bassano Romano (the old name was Bassano di Sutri). He increased the fame and celebrity of Giustinianis family, being the patron of Caravaggio finest artist painter. The renowned prestigious and fabulous collections of Caravaggio master pieces are today scattered in museums and private collections around the world (Giustiniani collection of antiquities by Christina Strunck). When his highness the Prince of Bassano Romano, Marquees Vincenzo Giustiniani died, he decided (by testament to bequeath) and left a part of his riches to his descendants Giustiniani. Its usual that in the testaments of lords Giustiniani a part of the riches went to all Giustiniani, also if their arent direct descendents. In particular in the Marquees Vincenzo Giustinianis testament, after a very long contentious lasted (along) 1631 to 1953, a judgement decided that who can prove to be a descendant of the first twelve Giustiniani and to have a ancestor in the gold book of the nobles of Genoa, it was heir and Genovese patrician and lords of Chios. At the end, there were 288 heirs and heiresses divided in 12 lines. But most of heirs didnt participate in this contentious and probably dont know still today to be heirs of this family. Its import to emphasize that the genovese nobility is a republican nobility, nobles as persons who participated to the city government not as feudal nobility as like we are accustoms to mean. Now, Im engaging in maintaining the attention lives on the history of this family. You can find a lot of information on my web site in Italian (www.giustiniani.info
The story of a noble Genoese family that formed a dynasty in the island of Chios in the Aegean by Enrico Giustiniani on Levantine Heritage The story of a community
Un a video-clip about Giustiniani family designed built and installed by P.Papacosta.
Its recently done by the French transmission "Horizons" (May 2008),
produced by Vision International and France 3 directed by Andrè Waksman the
movie "Les Giustiniani une saga Mediterranean" (one hour, in French language).
The movie director start from the personal history of Fanny Giustiniani who lives in a
little village in Corse, who tries to find its "roots", touching the places
where the presence of Giustiniani was important : Chios, Genoa, Rome, Corse and Bassano
Romano. In the documentary, various interventions of historians and university professors.
In Chios island location in: Chios harbour, Korais library, Sklavia, Dotia, Vessa, Kampos,
with some interviews in greek language with subtitles in French.
The film, is online and fully visible on the site of France 3 in this link:
"I Giustiniani, une saga méditerranéenne" (100508)
Latin family from Chios to Costantinopoli and Smyrna
When the island of Chios was conquered from the Ottomans in 1566, many families moved to Constantinople and Smyrna. A new current of exchanges trades and relations begin between the Latins from Chios and Genoa and those of Constantinople. From the study of the Chios parochial registries, now conserved in the island of Tinos, and an unknown manuscript, dated between 1825 and 1830, of Giovanni Isidoro catholic vicarious of Chios, on the dispersion of documents after of the Turkish repression of 1822, we found the names of some old still present Latin families in the island: de Portu, Ferando, dAndria, Castelli, Corpi, Marcopoli, Guglielmi, Giustiniani, Palassurò, Giuducci (Giudici), Reggio, Roustan.
Curious is that until XIX century, there wasnt the problem of what kind of nationality had the Latins of Chios under the Ottoman government, because there wasnt a particular capitulation signed after 1566, as it was made in Constantinople after 1453 between Mahomet II and Genovese colony. We suppose that these Latins conserved the own nationality, otherwise as we could explain that Latins from Chios, after migrated to Smyrna, still at the beginning of the past century (XIX century), were considered with a foreign nationality that, often, like in the case of the Giustiniani, was the nationality form their origin country in particular they come from Genoa, therefore: Italian.
After the Conquest of Constantinople on 1453, some Latin families that had found shelter in the Greek islands (Chios, Tinos, Syra, Naxos, Santorini), When in the city returned the calm and the order, decided to re-enter in Constantinople. These cases isolate to became most frequent from 1537, when these islands, one after the other, was conquered from the Turks. According to the registries of the deaths of Saint Maria Draperis, important parish of Constantinople, from 1800 to 1855, 33.09% of the deceased persons were constituted from immigrate from three islands (Tinos 17,48%; Syra 13,43%; Chios 2.18%). We notice that those already established to Constantinople represent only 9.92% of the deaths. The Latins was re-united under a civil and religious body called Magnificent Community. When this Community, about on 1840, was placed under the jurisdiction of the Turkish ministry of the Foreign countries, taken the name of Ottoman Latin chancery and its activity continued until 1927. According to the registries of the deaths of Saint Maria Draperis, we have found from 1800 to 1855, the names of the Latins family from Chios emigrated to Costantinopoli: Braggiotti, Bragiotti, Carco, Caro, Castelli, Charo, Cochino, Coresi, Coressi, Corpi, Doria, Gaidani, Gallizi, Giro, Giustiniani, Isidoro, Jobini, Jobiori, Justiniani, Magnifico, Marcopoli, Marcopolo, Massoni, Nomico, Petier, Piperi, Renaccio, Tubini, Vegeti, Xenopoulo, Zoratelli. The foreign Latin Community lived its golden age from 1839, given of the emanation of the reforms of modernization of the Ottoman Empire, until the abolition of the capitulations with the Peace treaty signed to Losanna the 24 July 1923. In each case, the new Republic of Turkey did not delay to apply a certain number of measures to liberalize the commerce from the foreign dominion to that exercising from the minorities.
The Giustiniani branch in the city of Smyrna, come from of the family Giustiniani-De' Fornetti (Conte Palatino on 1413), marquises, decree ministerial by Italian Rein on 22 February 1893, Noble and patricians Genovese recognized decree ministerial by Italian Rein on 20 June 1891) present also in Chios, Genoa, Spain and Sicily. The last descendent was Marquis Francisco-Brizio-Edmondo Giustiniani-De' Fornetti born in Smirne on 13 January 1840, son of Marquis Niccolò Giustiniani-De' Fornetti born in Chios on 1798, died in Smirne in 1872. Francisco-Brizio-Edmondo Giustiniani-De' Fornetti married Maria Giustiniani-De' Fornetti born in Smirne on 13 December 1842. They had nine sons: Maria (Smirne on 1842, married to Emilio Levante I.R. Vice Consul of Austria-Hungary Empire in Alessandretta), Emilia (married Ernesto Guillois), Edmondo (Smirne on 1869 married Maria Baroness Aliotti), Anna (Smirne on 1870, nun), Laura (married to Pietro Filippucci), Giovanna, Niccolò (Smirne on 1875), Margherita and Cristina.
The presence of the Giustiniani to Smyrna was confirmed from a lists (1786) of not Muslim merchants operating to Smyrna
sito in Italiano
Giustiniani - Version Française
Giustiniani - Versión española
Giustiniani - Deutsche kurze Version
Bassano Romano, the old fief of Giustiniani homepage
some pictures of Palace Giustiniani Odescalchi