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A combination of geographic and historical factors has made Trieste a city unique. Because of the different ethnic groups who have lived in the area, it is not the typical Italian city.

Italy. 1898. Bartholomew, Cartographer.

Trieste flourished as part of Austria, from 1382 (which became the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867) until 1918, when it was considered one of the most prosperous Mediterranean seaports as well as a capital of literature and music. However, the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Trieste's annexation to Italy after World War I, led to a decline in its economic and cultural importance. Hence, the city lost its strategic and commercial influence.

The area of what is now Trieste was settled by the Carni, an Indo-European tribe (hence the name Carso) as early as the 3rd millennium BC. Subsequently, the area was populated by the Histri and Illyrian people, who remained the main civilization until 2000 BC, when the Paleo-Veneti arrived.

By 177 BC, the city was under the governance of the Roman Republic. Trieste was granted the status of a colony under Julius Caesar, who recorded its name as Tergeste in his "Commentarii de bello Gallico" (51 BC ). After the end of the Western Roman Empire in 476, Trieste remained a Byzantine military centre. In 788 it became part of the Frank kingdom under the authority of the count-bishop. From the year 1081 the city came loosely under the Aquileia patiarchy, developing into a free commune at the end of the 12th century.

Ships. Trieste, 1850. Meyer.

After two centuries of wars against the nearby major power, the Republic of Venice (who occupied it briefly from 1369 to 1372), the burghers of Trieste petitioned Leopold III von Habsburg, Duke of Austria, to become part of his domains. The agreement of cessation was signed in October 1382, at St Bartholomew's church in the village of Siska, today one of the quarters of Ljubljana.The citizens, however, maintained a certain degree of autonomy well into the 17th century.

Peasants at Trieste.

Trieste grew into an important port and trade hub in the 17th and 18th century when Emperor Charles VI declared the city a duty and tax-free port . The reign of his successor, Maria Theresa of Austria, marked the beginning of a particularly flourishing era.The construction of a deeper port made Trieste the only sea port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and led to the influx of entrepreneurs and merchants from all over the Mediterranean. Maria Teresa's policy of religious tolerance allowed the different religious communities to practice openly and build their own places of worship.

However, the city was occupied by French troops three times during the Napoleonic Wars, in 1787, 1805 and 1809. In the latter occasion it was annexed to the Illyrian Provinces by Napoleon. During this period Trieste lost its autonomy and the status of free port was interrupted.

Trieste, Italy, 1840

Following the Napoleonic Wars, Trieste returned to the Austrian Empire in 1813 and continued to prosper as the "Imperial Free City of Trieste" (Reichsunmittelbare Stadt Triest). It became the capital of the Austrian Littoral region, the so-called "Kustenland". The city's role as the main Austrian commercial port and shipbuilding center was later emphasized by the foundation of the Austrian Lloyd merchant shipping line in 1836, whose headquarters stood at the corner of Piazza Grande.

The opening of the Suez canal in 1869, brought the city closer to the Indies and the Far East. By 1913 Austrian Lloyd had a fleet of 62 ships. The modern Austro-Hungarian navy used Trieste as a military base and it's shipbuilding. The construction of the first major trunk railway in the Empire, the Vienna-Trieste Austrian Southern Railway, was completed in 1857, and was a valuable asset for trade and the supply of coal.

Ship from the Lloyd Triestino Company.
Arrival of a Ship from the Lloyd Triestino Company, Trieste

April 5, 1890, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

A Large Quantity of Bogus Spanish end Italian Bonds Disposed Of.

London, April 4. A gang of forgers of Spanish and Italian bonds has been caught at Trieste. Their forgeries amount to 25,000,000 francs. It is stated that many well-known men in London and Paris helped to dispose of the bonds.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Trieste was a cosmopolitan city frequented by artists such as James Joyce, Italo Svevo and Umberto Saba to mention a few and they regularly visited its literary caf s hence making it the cultural and literary center of the so-called "Austrian Riviera." The particular Friuli dialect, called Tergestino, spoken until the beginning of the 19th century, had been gradually supplanted by Triestine and other languages including Italian, German and Slovenian. While Triestine was the dialect of the majority of the population, German was the language of the Austrian bureaucracy and Slovenian was the language of the surrounding villages.

August 27, 1891, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

No Longer a Free Port

Washington-, Aug. 26. The Department of State has been officially notified that on the 1st of July last the city of Triests, Austria, ceased to be a free port, and is now on the same footing with regard to customs duties as other ports of the Austro-Hungary Empire.

July 23, 1899, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

He Gives a Banquet on Board the Olympia

Trieste, July 22. This morning Admiral Dewey, accompanied by Flag Lieutenant Brumby, took Addlson C. Harris, the United States minister to Austria-Hungary, and his staff in a steam launch to the Chateau of Miramir.

Austria and Western Hungary.
Trieste, Vienna. 1907

Austria and Western Hungary. Triests, Vienna. 1907.

This evening a banquet was given on board the Olympia in honor ot Mr. Harris, at which twenty-five guests were present, including the staff of the United states embassy and the consuls of Trieste and Relchenburg and England. Only personal toasts and President McKinley's health were given. Tomorrow Captain Lamberton of the Olympia and some of the cruiser's officers will go to Venice for a few days' visit. Mr. Harris will go to Vienna, but will return at the end or the week to bid farewell to Admiral Dewey, who will go on the Olympia to Naples and Genoa.

August 2, 1899, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, Caliofrnia, U.S.A.

While at Trieste He Did Not Conceal His Displeasure at Manila Events.

Special Dispatch to The Call. LONDON, Aug. I.

The Daily News' correspondent at Vienna says that while few people there credit the statement attributed to Admiral Dewey, in which he made warlike remarks about the Germans at Manila, the admiral, while at Trieste, did not conceal his displeasure at the attitude of German naval officers at Manila. He repeated the statement that they gave themselves the airs of being masters there. Among all the naval officers before Manila they alone refused to respect the regulations imposed by the American admiral.

TRIESTE, Aug. I. The Olympia left Trieste at 4:15 o'clock this afternoon. When she began to move slowly from among the shipping and boats, some containing those who had gone out to say good-by to Admiral Dewey, Captain Lambertoni and other officers, she gradually increased her speed to about ten knot's, until the two white figures on the bridge were no longer recognizable. The Olympia was watched from the shore until she disappeared on the horizon. To-day was spent on board making final preparations for the voyage. Naples is the next port of call.

Admiral Dewey returned on board at 1:30 o'clock. There was not a ripple on the sea. which reflected the brilliant sunshine, as the famous cruiser started to make the four days' run to Naples. She may be expected in that port by Saturday evening or Sunday morning. The Olympia did not salute on leaving Trieste, nor did Admiral Dewey make any official calls, as naval or diplomatic etiquette did not require either. Cards, however, were sent.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Trieste and the city of Trento (in the Centre North of Italy) became the main seat of the "irredentdist "movement which aimed to annex to Italy all the lands that were historically inhabited by Italian people. At the end of WWI when Austria-Hungary disintegrated, Trieste was transferred to Italy (1920) along with the whole Julian March (the Venezia Giulia).

View of Trieste, Italy

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 (Early Modern History)publications

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters.This study digs deeply into an "other" slavery, the bondage of Europeans by north-African Muslims that flourished during the same centuries as the heyday of the trans-Atlantic trade from sub-Saharan Africa to the Americas. Here are explored--perhaps for the first time--the actual extent of Barbary Coast slavery, the dynamic relationship between master and slave, and the effects of this slaving on Italy, one of the slave takers' primary targets and victims.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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