History of the Jews of Livorno
The history of the Jews in Livorno, Italy has been documented to 1583, as immigrants from the expulsions from Spain and Portugal settled in the city. The Jewish community of Livorno, although the youngest among the historic Jewish communities of Italy, was for some time the foremost because its members achieved political rights and wealth, and contributed to scholarship in the successful port city.
At the end of the 16th century, the Medici Family, working to promote the growth of the city and of the harbor, recruited many new settlers; and Spanish Marranos also found a refuge there in 1590. In 1591, and again in 1593, Ferdinando I de Medici issued a charter to assure all persons desiring to settle at Livorno, including Jews, the most extensive rights and privileges. Many Jews were attracted by this promise. The Jewish community of Pisa received the privilege of founding a branch at Livorno with a synagogue and cemetery. In 1597, the Jews of Livorno received autonomous rights as a community, and they built a synagogue in 1603.
The Jews of Livorno suffered no persecussions
Their industry and ambition as well as their connections with the East contributed to the development of commerce and industry. Thus Livorno grew from a small fishing-village into a rich and powerful commercial center. The Jews dominated part of the commerce. A traveler of the seventeenth century says that the Christians had to keep holiday on the Sabbath on the Jews' account. The community, which consisted mainly of Spanish and Portuguese immigrants, retained its ancient traditions.
Many merchants maintained a presence in both Livorno and countries such as Tunisia, and even those who settled permanently in the Ottoman Empire retained their Tuscan or Italian nationality, so as to have the benefit of the Ottoman Capitulations. Thus in Tunisia there was a community of Juifs Portugais, or L'Grana (Livornese), separate from, and regarding itself as superior to, the native Tunisian Jews (Tuansa). They kept speaking Italian, dressed in the Italian style, and kept their customs and traditions.
A community of L'Granas, mostly of Spanish descent, settles in Algeria in the 17th century. They are primarily merchants and bankers. Some families became the bankers of the Deys or Algiers. Some become even advisors and secretaries of the Deys.