- See also
Duchy of Amalfi
First mentioned in the 6th century, Amalfi soon afterwards acquired importance as a maritime power, trading grain from its neighbours, salt from Sardinia and slaves from the interior, and even timber, in exchange for the
dinars minted in
Syria, in order to buy the
Byzantine silks that it resold in the West. Grain-bearing Amalfi traders enjoyed privileged positions in the Islamic ports,
Fernand Braudel notes. The Amalfi tables (
Tavole amalfitane) provided a maritime code that was widely used by the Christian port cities. Merchants of Amalfi were using gold coins to purchase land in the 9th century, while most of Italy worked in a
barter economy. In the 8th and 9th century, when Mediterranean trade revived it shared with
Gaeta the Italian trade with the East, while
Venice was in its infancy, and in 848 its fleet went to the assistance of
Pope Leo IV against the
An independent republic from the 7th century until 1075, Amalfi extracted itself from Byzantine vassalage in 839
 and first elected a duke in 958; it rivalled
Genoa in its domestic prosperity and maritime importance before the rise of
Venice. In spite of some devastating setbacks it had a population of some 70,000 to 80,000 reaching a peak about the turn of the millennium, during the reign of
Duke Manso (966–1004).
 Under his line of dukes, Amalfi remained independent, except for a brief period of
Salernitan dependency under
In 1073 the republic fell to the
Norman countship of
Apulia, but was granted many rights. A prey to the Normans who encamped in the south of Italy, it became one of their principal posts. However, in 1131, it was reduced by King
Roger II of Sicily, who had been refused the keys to its citadel. The
Holy Roman Emperor
Lothair, fighting in favour of Pope
Innocent II against Roger, who sided with the
Antipope Anacletus, took him prisoner in 1133, assisted by forty-six Pisan ships. The Pisans, commercial rivals of the Amalfitani, sacked the city; Lothair claimed as part of the booty a copy of the
Pandects of Justinian which was found there.
In 1135 and 1137, it was taken by the
Pisans and rapidly declined in importance, though its maritime code, known as the
Tavole amalfitane, was recognized in the
Mediterranean until 1570. A
tsunami in 1343 destroyed the port and lower town,
 and Amalfi never recovered to anything more than local importance.
In medieval culture Amalfi was famous for its flourishing schools of law and mathematics.
Flavio Gioia, traditionally considered the first to introduce the
mariner's compass to Europe, is said to have been a native of Amalfi.
Amalfi has a long history of catering for visitors, with two former monasteries being converted to hotels at a relatively early date, the Luna Convento in the second decade of the 19th century and the Cappuccini Convento in the 1880s. Celebrated visitors to Amalfi included the composer
Richard Wagner and the playwright
Henrik Ibsen, both of whom completed works whilst staying in Amalfi. Author
Gore Vidal was a long time resident.