3-1-2010 A powerful research document about Livorno's rich past
For many years now Matteo Giunti has been putting together an archive of material regarding merchants in Livorno and the Mediterranean. On several occasions he has provided me with information regarding people from Livorno's past, allowing me to answer emails that I receive from people tracing the histories of families linked in some way with Livorno, or Leghorn, families such as the Gowers, for example.
In October 2009, Matteo started his own blog, Leghorn Merchant Networks. The blog is in English, and aims to provide an interactive tool for researchers and historians which can be continually added to and perfected.
As Matteo explains:
"The idea came up while I was trying to reconstruct my family tree on the computer with my grand-mother helping me to fill up information and data she recalled from memory.
She remembered lots of things, names, families, stories about our past and I wanted to contribute as well, so I began searching the internet… maybe it is possible to find some more information I told her.
Well, it was indeed possible as I have never stopped since! The project of simply filling up some of our family tree became something much bigger as I began discovering incredible links between people, families, commercial networks…
I realized that I was born in a very special place that seemed to have forgotten almost all of its history and complex community of foreign merchants that animated this port since the 16th century. This place is named Livorno, or Leghorn as Englishmen used to call it.
With meticulous research, the “secret” patterns linking families, towns, trades all over the Mediterranean and well beyond became more clear and they started to form a striking portrait of the strategies of our merchant forefathers.
I followed these people through their family relations, their travels,their business contacts, their escapes from their countries looking for freedom of religion and freedom of commerce. I reconstructed their ancestors and their descendants discovering unsuspected relations which could be interpreted by historians to unveil the origins and consequences of their choices.
A great part of these people are protestants, huguenots, walloons, anglicans, lutherans… and they built one of the most stunning merchant networks of history. Many were forced to flee from their countries during religious persecutions; they crossed borders, seas and mountains to find freedom and radically changed the history of commerce."
As well as compiling this databank, Matteo has also contributed several articles to Wikipedia. One of these concerns the Old English Cemetery in Livorno, and another a member of the Gower family, Abel Gower.
Matteo is also the President of the Livorno delle Nazioni cultural association, which aims to protect, restore and promote all those sites connected to Livorno's multi-national history, including the English cemeteries.
Anyone interested in Livorno's merchant history can visit Matteo's Leghorn Merchant Network blog, and can contact him directly for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org