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Middle Ages

Amalfi Maritime Code

During the early Middle Ages, Italian ties with the “New Rome” of the East (Constantinople) were first threatened and later severed after a series of invasions from the west and north into Italy.

The severing of ties with the East was confirmed by the emergence of the PAPACY and the Italian cities as powers in their own right.

Medieval Italy evolved over several centuries and manifested itself through eight powerful maritime republics, i.e. Amalfi (839-1131), Genova (958-1797), Pisa (11th cent.-1406), Venezia (697-1797), Ancona (11th cent.-1532), Gaeta (839-1140), Noli (1192-1797), Ragusa (11th cent.-1808). Amalfi, Genova, Pisa, Venice were considered the “direct bridge between the Continent and the Arab/Byzantine Mediterranean” *1).

Amalfi was the first maritime city to gain significant economic power, as the Amalfian merchants succeeded stealing the Mediterranean trade monopoly from the Arabs. Amalfians are also credited with the development of the first maritime code (law), expressed in the “Tabula Amalphitana”, entitled :

Capitula et Ordinationes Curiae Maritimae Nobilis Civitatis Amalphe.

The code consists of 66 chapters, with the first 21, the most ancient section dating back to the 11th century, written in Latin, and the remaining 45 written in common (local) language and added subsequently during the 13th century. The original table no longer exists and the code was committed to handmade paper, commissioned by the Amalfi nobles of the time.

This Tabula Amalphitana undoubtedly represents one of the most significant milestones in the history of maritime law. *2)


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