The Foreign Nations of Livorno

Formerly the Scottish Presbyterian church of St Andrew, now home to the WaldensiansFormerly the Scottish Presbyterian church of St Andrew, now home to the WaldensiansIn order to populate his new city, in 1591-2 Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando de’ Medici passed a series of laws, known as the Leggi Livornine, primarily intended to invite Sephardi Jews fleeing persecution in Spain and Portugal to settle in the city. The laws guaranteed religious tolerance, as well as financial benefits to those who set up business in Livorno, thus encouraging foreign merchants from all over Europe to settle here.

Livorno and the Medici

The Fortezza Vecchia and the old port of LivornoThe Fortezza Vecchia and the old port of LivornoLivorno's foundation as a city and the important role of its foreign communities

Although the port of Livorno was already well-established in medieval times, the small settlement numbered only around 700 inhabitants when the town was bought by Florence from Genoa in 1421. Livorno represented a strategic point for the Florentines, especially since their port of Pisa, a short distance to the north, had begun to silt up.

Livorno in the 18th Century - from the Medici to the Lorraines and Napoleon

Pietro Leopoldo, Grand Duke of Tuscany 1765-1790Pietro Leopoldo, Grand Duke of Tuscany 1765-1790The Medici ruled over Florence and most of Tuscany for more than three centuries, but their dynasty finally came to an end with the death of Gian Gastone in 1737.

Following the Medici came the Dukes of Lorraine from Austria who ruled until Napoleon came on the scene in 1796.

Livorno in the 19th Century - the return of the Lorraines and the Unification of Italy

Church of St George, built for Livorno's Anglican community in 1844Church of St George, built for Livorno's Anglican community in 1844Napoleon occupied Livorno three times between 1796 and 1800, with the intention of ruining the port’s chances of competing with Marseilles, and of seizing the wealth belonging to the British community in the city.

After the French occupation, the Lorraines were returned to power and under their rule the city of Livorno was extended, with the building of new gateways and squares, public buildings such as the Goldoni Theatre (originally called the Teatro Leopoldo) in 1847, and churches such as San Benedetto in 1819, the Anglican church of St George in 1844, the Presbyterian St Andrew's in 1849, and the Dutch-German Church in 1864.

The Turn of the Century - from commerce to industry

The Orlando Shipyards and monument to Luigi Orlando in LivornoThe Orlando Shipyards and monument to Luigi Orlando in LivornoIn 1865 a man called Luigi Orlando founded what was to form the basis of Livorno’s economy well into the 20th century. The Luigi Orlando Shipyards marked a turning point for the city, transforming its identity from a commercial to an industrial one. By the beginning of the 1900s the shipyard already employed around 2000 people and was to achieve worldwide fame as a builder of military and commercial vessels. Other industries also grew up in Livorno, and the port adapted to the new industrial century.

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