Founded ex novo by the grand duke of Tuscany in 1566, Livorno quickly became one of the most dynamic ports in the Mediterranean thanks to low customs duties and generous privileges of toleration that welcomed merchants of all nations, including Jews and Muslims. Assistant professor of history Corey Tazzara examines the origins and fate of the “free port” as both a set of practices and a concept. He identifies the efforts of merchants to win government favor as the driving force behind the development of policies in Livorno, arguing that economic life was deeply embedded in social and political practices.
A thorough examination of these contexts illuminates both the real economy and the policies rulers instituted to harness it. Ultimately, the study of free ports such as Livorno provides a more nuanced account of the elaboration of programs of free trade.