Geographic Location

Name: Pisa

Description: Located just a few miles from the Tuscan coastline, Pisa was one of the most economically and politically important maritime cities of the medieval world. Founded by the Romans at the intersection of two important roads, Pisa had developed by the eleventh century into the dominant city of Tuscany. Its magistracy of the consulate in 1085 was the earliest in Italy. Pisan commercial success derived primarily from its involvement with long-distance trade, its establishment of colonies, and its association with the crusades. In the course of the thirteenth century, however, Pisa entered a period of economic decline. Its defeat at the hands of the Genoese at Meloria in 1284 marked the end of Pisan supremacy of the seas. Under the signory (signoria) of its Ghibelline despot (signore), Uguccione della Faggiuola (1314-1316), Pisa challenged Florentine power in western Tuscany, defeating them at Montecatini in 1315. The stronger signory of the Donoratico followed shortly thereafter, ruling the city until the middle of the century. Signories (signorie) continued to rule Pisa for most of the next hundred years. Pisa fell under the direct control of Florence in 1406.