In European languages, a nation (nazione in modern Italian) is a people sharing a sense of common origins, history, language, or culture. To the vernacular poet of the Middle Ages (above), the Genoese were a people (a natio, he might have called them). 2 Genoa had its own language that resembled Catalan (of northern Spain) as much as modern Italian. It had its own government, too - a republic. Genoa was a city state, a political form typical of the European late Middle Ages and much smaller than the larger nation (or national) states that developed later. Thus, most English speakers today would call the Genoese an ethnic or regional group. But in other languages, and in Balkan Europe today, groups no larger or culturally more distinct than the Genoese assert claims as nations to their own states.