European History | History
In November 1644, the ship captain Sebastiane Ferro arrived at the Tuscan port of Livomo with a cargo of wine. Even before requesting the pratica of the portentry for the purpose of trade-he asked to receive the exemptions of Livomo, "to be sure that in corning onto land he not be molested either in his person or in his goods for civil debts contracted in foreign states." Technically, these exemptions were restricted to inhabitants of the city. Nonetheless, the Customs Office routinely granted them even to temporary visitors of what was Europe's premier free port, and in this case Customs Director Pandolfo Attavanti was happy to oblige Ferro. What happened next was therefore quite unexpected. While the regular governor was out roving the Mediterranean with the grand duke's ships, several creditors of Ferro persuaded the acting governor to clap the captain into prison, disable his vessel, and seize his cargo.
© 2014 University of Chicago. Posted with permission.
“Managing Free Trade in Early Modern Europe: Institutions, Information, and the Free Port of Livorno.” The Journal of Modern History, 86(3): 493-529 (September, 2014).