Editor: C. E. Beneš

This book provides the first English translation of the Chronicle of the city of Genoa by the thirteenth-century Dominican Jacopo da Varagine (also known as Jacobus de Voragine). While Jacopo is better known for his monumental compilation of saints’ lives, the Golden legend, his lesser known Chronicle of Genoa exemplifies the important medieval genre of the civic chronicle. The work mixes scholarly research about the city’s origins with narrative accounts based on Genoese archival sources, more didactic and moral reflections on the proper conduct of public and private life, and personal accounts of Jacopo’s own experience as archbishop of Genoa from 1292 until his death in 1298. Divided into twelve parts, the work covers the history of Genoa from its ancient origins up to Jacopo’s own day. Jacopo’s first-hand accounts of events in which he himself participated—such as the great civic reconciliation of 1295, over which he himself presided—provide a valuable contrast to the more scholarly and didactic sections of the work. Together they form an integrated, coherent approach to urban history, which illustrates some of the most important styles of historiography in the Middle Ages.

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C. E. Beneš

This introduction contextualises the thirteenth-century Dominican Jacopo da Varagine (also known as Jacobus de Voragine) as a historical figure and author, introducing the history and urban culture of medieval northern Italy as well as the genre of the civic chronicle. It outlines the history of medieval Genoa, an Italian city-state developing in ways that were both typical (in struggling with factional conflict) and atypical (as a hub of international trade). Finally, the introduction provides a short biography of Jacopo, reviews his vast scholarly output, and introduces his Chronicle: its transmission tradition, methodologies, main sources, and chief themes.

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
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C. E. Beneš

Jacopo da Varagine’s prologue to his Chronicle of the city of Genoa explains his reasons for undertaking the work and provides a summary of the work’s contents.

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
C. E. Beneš

Part one describes Genoa’s origins. It has four chapters. Chapter one explains who the first founders and builders of the city were. Chapter two relates how Janus, first king of Italy, constructed and built Genoa. Chapter three relates how Janus, a citizen of Troy, expanded and improved the original foundation. Chapter four relates how the god Janus, an idol of the Romans, was once venerated in Genoa.

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
C. E. Beneš

Part two deals with the era in which Genoa was first built. This part has three chapters: the first discusses the era in which the city was founded; the second details the era in which it was expanded; and the third describes how Genoa was destroyed by the Carthaginians but rebuilt by the Romans, and in what era that occurred.

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
C. E. Beneš

Part three has four chapters. The first presents the etymologies regarding the Italic king Janus and a Trojan refugee named Janus. Chapter two gives an etymology based on the Roman god Janus. Chapter three gives an etymology based on the Latin word ianua (‘door’ or ‘portal’). Chapter four seeks to explain why the Latin word for Genoa was different in Jacopo’s time (Ianua) than it was in classical sources (Genua).

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
C. E. Beneš

Part four describes Genoa’s conversion to Christianity in late antiquity. This part has three chapters: chapter one introduces Roman polytheism (‘idolatry’ or ‘paganism’); chapter two claims that Genoa was the first city in Italy, or one of the first, to be converted to Christianity. Chapter three uses logic to make the same claim.

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
C. E. Beneš

Part five reviews some highlights of medieval Genoese history by teleologically addressing the city’s nature and size (qualis et quanta) at the time of its foundation, in the time of its growth, and in Jacopo’s own day (‘at the time of its perfection’).

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
C. E. Beneš

Part six describes the secular government of the city of Genoa. In three chapters, this part recounts the various regimes by which the city of Genoa has been ruled, presents basic principles of good governance, and explains their benefits.

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa
C. E. Beneš

Part seven presents moral advice for civic magistrates in four chapters, asserting that they should be powerful and magnanimous so that they can govern without fear; that they ought to be God-fearing men; that they ought to be truthful in all things; and that they ought to hate all avarice and cupidity.

in Jacopo Da Varagine’s Chronicle of the city of Genoa