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Professor Maria Fusaro




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My research and teaching interests lie in the social and economic history, interpreted in its broadest sense, of Early Modern Europe.

A primary area of expertise is the history of Italy (especially the Venetian Republic) and the Mediterranean between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. My research has focused on commercial networks and the role they played in the early phases of globalization; on the economic, social and cultural analysis of late medieval and early modern empires and on the early modern development of legal institutions supporting trade. I have also published on commercial litigation and the status of foreigners in civil courts in the medieval and early modern period, the trade between the Mediterranean and the north of Europe, the history of the Venetian dominions in Greece, and on the dialogue between different national historiographies.


ERC Consolidator Grant - Average - Transaction Costs and Risk Management during the First Globalization (Sixteenth-Eighteenth Centuries). For 5 years starting in the summer of 2017, together with 4 doctoral candidates, 1 post-doctoral Research Fellow and 7 Visiting Senior Researchers I shall be working on on a large comparative project focused on economic institutions and their impact on economic development. We shall work on a legal instrument – general average (GA) – which underpins maritime trade by redistributing extraordinary costs across all parties engaged in the business venture. See more details at:

You can hear more details on this project at:

ERC Starting Grant - Sailing into Modernity: Comparative Perspectives on the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century European Economic Transition'. Between 2012 and 2014, together with my team - Bernard Allaire, Richard Blakemore and Tijl Vanneste - we worked on the comparative study of contractual conditions and economic treatment of sailors across Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. 

During 2015 I worked  within the project ‘La reconfiguration de l’espace méditerranéen: échanges interculturels et pragmatique du droit en Méditerranée, XVe-début XIXe siècle, interdisciplinary research project chaired by W. Kaiser (Paris 1/EHESS, Paris), funded through the  ERC Advanced Grant Scheme (2012-2017). Within that project I have investigated the legal frameworks for managing issues related to ab intestato inheritance across Europe during the early modern period, and the role these played in fostering economic development.

Research interests

Current Project:

ERC Consolidator Grant - Average - Transaction Costs and Risk Management during the First Globalization (Sixteenth-Eighteenth Centuries)

See more details at:

Completed Project

Financed thanks to the Small Grants Scheme of the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust I worked on “The Grand Tour of Mercantilism: Lord Fauconberg and his Italian mission (1669-1671)”. This project investigated the international political implications descending from the differences in maritime law between the North and South of Europe in the seventeenth century. Within this project I organised an international workshop on 'general average' (27-28 November 2015), and an article of the same title with Andrea Addobbati (Università di Pisa) has just been completed.


Past Projects:

ERC Starting Grant - Sailing into Modernity:

Between 2012 and 2014, under the aegis of an ERC Starting Grant, I worked on ‘Sailing into Modernity: Comparative Perspectives on the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century European Economic Transition’, which involved 3 post-doctoral Research Assistants: Bernard Allaire working on France, Richard Blakemore on England and Tijl Vanneste on the Netherlands.

Together we edited the volume Labour, Law and Empire: Comparative Perspectives on Seafarers, c. 1500-1800, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2015. See:,-labour,-and-empire-maria-fusaro/?K=9781137447456

Several other essays presenting its results are currently in press, and my monograph The Making of a Global Labour Market, 1573-1729: Maritime Law and the Political Economy of the Early Modern Mediterranean, is under contract with Cambridge University Press for delivery in 2018.

In the course of the project we developed several resources related to early modern maritime labour, these are available here:

There is also a podcast where I discuss the relevance of the issues at play and the central points investigated by the project, you can find it here:

* all these resources are still a work in progress, and the site is regularly updated. More material shall be uploaded once all the essays/monograph associated to the project will have been published.


Other projects:

My book Political Economies of Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Decline of Venice and the Rise of England 1450-1700, was published in May 2015 with Cambridge University Press. See:

You can see some reviews here:

History Today:

Global Intellectual History: 

International Journal of Maritime History,

The Mariner's Mirror,

The Journal of Modern History,



Other Completed projects:

I have co-organised the official session of the International Maritime Economic History Association at the 2009 World Economic History Congress in Utrecht (Netherlands). A selection of the paper presented has been published as Maritime History as Global History, co-edited with A. Polónia (St. John’s (Newfoundland): IMEHA ‘Researches in Maritime History’ 43, 2010)

I was awarded an AHRC grant for a research workshop on Intercultural Contacts, Multiple Identities and Shifting Allegiances: the Caravane Maritime and its Protagonists in the Early Modern Mediterranean, in collaboration with Colin Heywood (University of Hull) and Mohamed-Salah Omri (University of Exeter). The workshop took place in Exeter in December 2007. Further details at:

A selection of the papers presented at the workshop was published in the volume: Trade and Cultural Exchange in the Early Modern Mediterranean: Braudel’s Maritime Legacy, London: I.B.Tauris, 2010


Forthcoming and Recent seminar and conference papers:

Invited to the international symposium on Early Modern Mercantile Culture, where I shall present a paper on ‘Mercantile Practice and Legal Culture: the Mediterranean Experience in Global Perspective’ (King's College London, 22-23 June 2018)

Keynote speaker at the 2nd international meeting of the Atlantic Italies Network, on ‘Connecting Mediterranean and Atlantic History’, Nice (France), 8-10 November 2018

At the international workshop organised by the Indian-European Advanced Research Network on ‘The Social Life of Commercial Trust: Comparative Historical Perspectives from Asia, Africa and Europe, 1600-1950, I was ivited to deliver the keynote public lecture Global History and Maritime History: the Entanglement of Legal and Economic Perspectives. I also delivered a paper on ‘Risk and Trust in Maritime Trade, New Research Perspectives’, (Nantes Institute of Advanced Study, 20/22 February 2018)

At the conference The Practice of Global History I was invited to deliver a paper on “The Global Relevance of the European ‘Ocean’: the Early Modern Mediterranean Legal World’ (Oxford 29-30 September 2017)

I spoke at the International Conference on Migrating Words, Migrating Merchants: Migrating Law, the 4th meeting of the international research project The Making of Commercial Law: Common Practices and National Legal Rules from the Early Modern to the Modern Period, Frankfurt am Mein (19-21 September 2016), where I delivered a paper on “‘Seamen’s Employment and States’ Jurisdiction, the View from the Early Modern Mediterranean’

I contributed to the panel "Connected Oceans" for the Seventh International Congress of Maritime History (ICMH7), Murdoch University (Perth, Western Australia, 27 June-1 July 2016), with a paper titled: ‘Connecting Oceans and Seas: Maritime Laws and Customs in the Early Modern Globalization’.

I delivered the lecture Global History and Mediterranean History: Considerations on an Uneasy but Necessary Dialogue at Yale University (2 March 2016)

At the international Conference Global Maritime History sponsored by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute (Huntington Library, Los Angeles (4-5 March 2016)) I spoke on 'The Global Relevance of the European ‘Ocean’: A Historiographical Reassessment of the Early Modern Mediterranean'.

Invited keynote speaker (‘Between Micro and Macro: Considerations on Trade Networks in the Early Modern Mediterranean’) at the international conference: Shaping Networks from the Antiquity till the Modern Era (National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens, 11-12th December 2015)

I was invited to contribute to the workshop on "Law and Economy in Shakespeare", part of the activites of the ERC-funded project Crossraods of Knowledge: Early Modern Drama, Law and Economics (Cambridge, Oct 2015)
I organised the panel ‘Entrepreneurs at sea: sailors' trading practices and legal opportunities in the first globalization (15th-19th centuries)’ and delivered a paper on the same topic at the XVII World Economic History Congress (Kyoto, 3-8 August 2015), see the published version at: 


Research supervision

I am happy to supervise research on any of my research interests, especially on:

- Late Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean social and economic history

- Late Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean Maritime history

- Late Medieval and Early Modern Italy

- History of the Republic of Venice and of its Eastern Mediterranean empire

- Early modern European social and economic history, especially history of trade and trading networks and the development of legal institutions connected with the economy

Research students

Currently I am supervising the following doctoral candidates: 

Joanna Thomas, 'Britain’s seafaring men and women: an analysis of the maritime labour force 1850 – 1911'

Teresa Tinsley, 'Hernando de Baeza and the end of Muslim Spain'

Gijs Dreijer (with Dave De ruysscher, VUB), 'The Development of General Average in Bruges and Antwerp (15-16C)'

Jake Dyble (with Andrea Addobbati, Pisa), 'The Development of General Average in Livorno (17-18C)'

Antonio Iodice (with Luisa Piccinno, Genoa), 'The Development of General Average in Genoa (16-18C)'

Lewis Wade, 'The Development of General Average in France (17C)'


Recently completed doctorate under my supervision:

Joan Abela, 'The impact of the arrival of the Knights of the Order of St. John on the commercial economy of Malta, 1530-1565' - Winner of the 2012-3 Boydell and Brewer Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis in Maritime History in a UK University.

Edward Fox, 'The social history of pirates in the eighteenth century'

Other information

Director of the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies

Member of the International Maritime Economic History Association

Member of the Board of the British Commission for Maritime History

Honorary Research Fellow of the Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine at the Universitè de Nice - Sophia Antipolis (France)

Vice-chair of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Maritime History


I graduated from the Universita' di Venezia Ca' Foscari, and then moved to Cambridge where I completed my PhD in 2002. After a Junior Research Fellowship at St. Hugh's College at Oxford, I was Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago before moving to Exeter in 2006.