Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Larry J. Simon

Second Advisor

Dr. Dimiter Anjelov

Third Advisor

Dr. James Palmitessa

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Steven A. Epstein


This dissertation combines a comparative analysis of the colonial administrations of Genoese Chios (1346-1566) and Venetian Crete (1211-1669) with an examination of the internal dynamics of Chian society under Genoese rule. It asks how society functioned on Chios and what role the ruling Genoese Mahona, or association of ship owners involved in the conquest, played in its construction. This study demonstrates, on the one hand, how often a colonial administration lacking strong direction from its home state, as was the case with the Mahona, crossed various constructed boundaries to establish mixed relationships with other states and also the island's indigenous Greek and Jewish inhabitants. These relationships were then used to sustain Genoese rule and to govern the island more effectively, which is in sharp contrast to the colonial government of Venetian Crete, whose institutions were established in emulation of Venice itself. This different approach to colonial administration, in which Venice frequently intervened and also closely supervised, resulted in a much less flexible, integrative and adaptive regime on Crete. The dissertation also demonstrates, however, that in the private sphere of life on Chios the only way to maintain authority was to avoid the transgression of certain boundaries. The preservation of strong bonds, both within and between core Genoese family units on the island, not only facilitated the Mahona's governance of Chios, but was also symptomatic of Genoa's almost complete absence from the processes of administration there. Considering that the elite Genoese families were responsible for the governance of the island, it was important to keep these household units as strong and distinct as possible.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access