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Professor Maria Fusaro




01392 724456

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

My 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). Until 2022, together with 4 doctoral candidates, 1 post-doctoral Research Fellow and 7 Visiting Senior Researchers we worked on a large comparative project focused on economic institutions and their impact on economic development. The focus was 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

Recent Project:

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

See more details at:

Completed Projects

Together with Andrea Addobbati (Università di Pisa), thanks to the Small Grants Scheme of the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust, we investigated the international political implications descending from the differences in maritime law between the North and South of Europe in the seventeenth century. A workshop took place in Exeter in November 2015, and the article  “The Grand Tour of Mercantilism: Lord Fauconberg and his Italian mission (1669-1671)” is forthcoming with the English Historical Review

ERC Starting Grant - Sailing into ModernityBetween 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 have also been published, 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 2023.

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 the monograph associated to the project will be published.

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,


Recent seminar and conference papers:

  • Organised a double session for the 2022 World Economic History Congress (Paris, 25-30 July 2022) on  Risk Management, Mutual Protection and Transaction Costs in Maritime Trade (16th-18th Centuries)
  • Organised two sessions for the 8th International Maritime History Association Conference (Porto, 29 June – 3  July 2022), one on the economic implications of jettison, and the other on conflict management and maritime risk. 
  • At the international conference ‘Migrazioni, contatti e confini musicali tra Medioevo e Prima Età Moderna/Migrationen, Kontakte und Grenzen in der Musik vom Spätmittelalter bis zur Frühen Neuzeit’, at Villa Vigoni Centro italo-tedesco per il dialogo europeo (29 March/1 April 2021) I delivered a keynote lecture on ‘Persone e cose in viaggio: reti commerciali e vie di comunicazione (1300-1650)'
  • ‘The Legal Framework of Long-Distance Trade: Ius Commune, Common Law and Islamic Laws in the Early Modern Mediterranean’, was the keynote lecture at the international conference Soldiers, prisoners and converts between permeable borders in the Mare Nostrum (16th-18th centuries), part of the EU-COST project Islamic Legacy: Narratives East, West, South, North of the Mediterranean (1350-1750) 13-14 January 2021 [postponed due to Covid-10]
  • in December 2020 I delivered the Reuter Lecture: ‘An Ocean of Laws: the Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean and Global Economic History’, Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture, University of Southampton 
  • Round Table discussant on the special supplement of Past and Present on ‘Microhistory and Global history’ (John-Paul Ghobrial ed.), at the IHR Early Modern Europe seminar (25 November 2019)
  • Organiser of the major conference of my ERC-funded project AveTransRisk: "Sharing Risk: General Average, 6th-21st Centuries", (Genoa, 16-18 May 2019)
  • Organiser of the international workshop “Comparative Methodologies: Microhistory, Global History and the Social Sciences”, where I spoke on Microhistories on the Global Stage: Seamen and the Making of a Global Labour Market, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata (India) (18-19 March 2019)
  • At the international conference “Italy and the Origins of Capitalism”, I discussed The Burden of Risk: Early Modern Maritime Enterprise and Varieties of Capitalism at the Harvard Business School, Boston (US) (1 March 2019)


Research collaborations

I was part of the team of ConfigMed – ‘La reconfiguration de l’espace méditerranéen: échanges interculturels et pragmatique du droit en Méditerranée, XVe-début XIXe siècle an interdisciplinary research project chaired by Wolfgang Kaiser (Paris 1/EHESS, Paris), funded through the ERC Advanced Grant Scheme (2012-2018). See:

Together with Nandini Chatterjee in 2017 I have set up a collaboration project with the Centre for the Study of Social History in Kolkata (India). I then co-organised (with Dr. Prachi Deshpande) the first joint activity in the form of an international workshop on Comparative Methodologies: Microhistory, Global History and the Social Sciences (18-19 March 2019).

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


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: 

Sarah Spencer (with Fabrizio Nevola), 'The Impact of the Venetian Republic on the piazze of its subject towns on the Terraferma and the Stato da Mar' 

Sümeyye Havuz, ‘An Unexplored Turning Point in Mediterranean Maritime Relations: The Preveza Battle and Changing Power Balance Between Ottomans, Habsburgs and Venice’


Recently completed doctorates under my supervision:

Antonio Iodice (with Luisa Piccinno, Genoa), 'Average and Seaborne Trade in Early Modern Genoa (1590-1700) (2021)

Gijs Dreijer (with Dave De ruysscher, VUB), 'The Power and Pains of Polysemy: General Average, Maritime Trade, and Normative Practices in the Southern Low Countries (15th-16th Centuries) (2021)

Jake Dyble (with Andrea Addobbati, Pisa), 'The Development of General Average in Livorno (17-18C)' (2021)  Winner of the 2022 Boydell and Brewer Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis in Maritime History in a UK University

Lewis Wade, 'Privilege at a Premium: Insurance, Maritime Law and Political Economy in Early Modern France, 1664-c.1710'  (2021) - Winner of the 2020-21 Boydell and Brewer Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis in Maritime History in a UK University

Teresa Tinsley, 'Hernando de Baeza and the end of Muslim Spain' (2018)

Edward Fox, 'The social history of pirates in the eighteenth century' (2015)

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.


Contribution to discipline

  • (2022- ) member of the ‘UKRI Talent’ Peer Review College
  • (2016-...) Member of the Scientific Committee of the Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica ‘Francesco Datini’
  • (2014-2021) Member of the Peer Review College of the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • (2012-2016) Vice-chair of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Maritime History
  • (2011-   ) Honorary Research Fellow of the Centre de la Mediterranee Moderne et Contemporaine at the Universite de Nice - Sophia Antipolis (France)
  • (2007-   ) Director of the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies
  • (2006-   ) Member of the Board of the British Commission for Maritime History
  • (2004-   ) Member of the International Maritime History Association
  • Member of the Mediterranean Maritime History Network
  • Member of the Scientific Board of the Fondazione Mansutti (see:



For the podcast series 'What is wrong with maritime trade?I discussed the importance of the mutual element underpinning GA in the context of ‘Solidarity in Trade?’, available at

I have acted as a consultant for production companies (e.g. October Films), and historical documentaries on maritime and naval topics (e.g. BBC series 'Ruling the Waves')

I am one of the experts appearing on screen in the documentary of the Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT) on the documentary series Republika (The Republic of Dubrovnik).

Contributed to the Institute of Policy Research (University of Bath) lecture series on 'Our oceans: a deep dive', which resulted in a report presenting a collection of insights and perspectives on the state of our oceans, for further details see:, or you can hotlink to the report itself which is downloadable from


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.

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