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  • Caffaro, Genoa and the Twelfth-Century Crusades trans. by Martin Hall and Jonathan Phillips
  • Brian A. Catlos
Caffaro, Genoa and the Twelfth-Century Crusades, trans. Martin Hall and Jonathan Phillips, Crusade Texts in Translation 24 (Farnham/Burlington: Ashgate 2013) xx + 258 pp.

In Caffaro, Genoa and the Twelfth-Century Crusades, Hall and Philips bring together the first translations into English of the historical works of Caffaro di Rustico da Caschifellone, the twelfth-century Genoese consul, naval captain, and annalist, together with continuation of his Genoese Annals, and a selection of complimentary documents taken from the city’s archives. Born around 1080, Caffaro was a participant in the later phases of the first Crusade, when Genoa was providing crucial logistical support to the Franks as they conquered the Levantine coast. Later, in the spill-over from the Second Crusade, he took part in and memorialized Genoa’s participation in Castile’s conquest of Muslim Almería in 1147, and Barcelona’s conquest of Muslim Tortosa in 1148. Through this time and to his death in 1166 he served the republic as an envoy, to the court of Calixtus II, Frederick I, Alfonso VII of Castile, Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona, and to Islamic Menorca. His career witnessed the installation of the Embriaco family in the Crusader Levant, the city’s bitter conflict with rival Pisa, and clashes with Kingdom of Jerusalem. Consequently his career and his writings offer a unique window onto the Mediterranean world in the era of the Crusades, and a rare example of secular Latin literature produced in an urban milieu.

The book begins with a comprehensive introduction to the life and times of Caffaro, and a contextualization critical overview of his oeuvre. The Annals, translated here as “Caffaro’s ‘Annals’ of Genoa, 1099–1163” (49–101), was a work intended to show Genoese history, and specifically her victories in the context of the Crusades and her various Mediterranean rivals in the most positive light, and to portray the city as both a protagonist in the struggle against Islam and a major diplomatic force. Caffaro himself was involved, often in leading role in many of the episodes he recounted. Later the Annales were continued by a series of Genoese notables; extracts of these are translated in this volume’s sixth section, “Extracts from the Genoese ‘Annals’ after Caffaro” (137–150). Hall and Phillips also included the ‘Confidential Account of the Genese Delegation to Rome, 1121” (103–105), a document relating to an episode in the Annals, in which the Genoese succeeded in convincing Calixtus II to detach the Corsican see from Pisan oversight. The next text, Caffaro’s “The Liberation of the Cities of the East” (107–126) accounts Genoa’s role in the first Crusade and its aftermath; episodes in which the author personally participated. It is here that story of the Embriaci, the Genoese who became Lords of Jebayl, is recounted, but the primary motive for composing this was a reaction to Baldwin III of Jerusalem’s removal of the “Golden Inscription” from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This tablet had confirmed the Genoa’s considerable financial privileges in the Kingdom, which the king was now eager to rescind. Next is Caffaro’s “The History of the Capture of Almería and Tortosa” (127–136), which again recounts an episode in which the author not only participated [End Page 218] but took a leading role. Here the intent is evidently to show the city’s role as champion of Christendom against Islam, but the mercenary aspects of the expeditions also clearly come to light. The last piece, “A Short History of the Kingdom of Jerusalem” (151–168), is a composite work that evidently drew on Caffaro’s work, but was finished by Jacopo Doria and traced the history of the Crusader kingdom up to 1291, the year of the Mameluke’s conquest of Tyre. Again the thrust of the work is that Genoa faithfully served the Christian cause and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, especially after 1187’s debacle of Hattin and the Muslim conquest of the Holy City. The book concludes with a section of “Selected Documents” (169–225)—a variety of charters...


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