The article examines banditry and rural crime in the context of the State of Genoa between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, relying primarily on the correspondence of magistrates and on anonymous letters sent to Senate. In spite of purposeful and repeated legislative action and of the adoption of particular punitive strategies, this social evil persisted throughout the ancien régime. The agents of Justice (bargelli, cavaleri, famigli etc.) often created more problems than they solved; the experimental use of "civilians" did not produce the desired effects; and the contribution of Army units (coming especially from Corsica) brought only temporary relief. Thus failures were more frequent than successes, but the author argues that the State managed to maintain overall control of its territory by coming to terms with patricians and local notables, and to present itself as a legitimate authority in the eyes of his subjects, thanks to its armed forces.
Keywords: Genoa, Dominion, banditry, armed forces, magistrates, communities