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Venice Notes Ss

In: Historical Events

Submitted By sofiatwinkles
Words 2856
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Rise of Venice
Leadership, Reforms in government, Trade developments and expansion, Industrial development & Innovative practices

Leadership: Venice had capable leaders that contributed to the rise of Venice. An example is the three doges, Pietro II Orselo, Enrico Dandolo and Pietro Ziani. Together they subdued piracy in the region, captured the Byzantine capital of Constantinople and established important trade routes for Venice. All these led to the rise of Venice as it helped the trade industry flourish and also gained recognition from major powers. Reforms in government: The Venetians adapted their system of government to meet the demands of the people and the growing city-state. An example is the creation of the Great Council. The Great Council consisted of nobles and was able to elect members to all councils in the government. It also settled disputes between members of different councils. This ensured the efficient running of the Venetian government as capable people were allowed a say on Venice’s policies. Another example is preventing the concentration of power in the government. The Nominating Committee was added to the election process to nominate capable candidates for positions. Nobles were not allowed to campaign for support in the election. This ensured that all positions of responsibility were filled up by capable who could run Venice properly. These led to the rise of Venice. Trade developments: Venice generated most of its income and fame through its trade industry. Its strategic position in the Adriatic Sea made it an important port for many trade routes. Thus trade developments were important for Venice to prosper. An example is their attitude towards trade. They were willing to explore new trade routes, supplies and markets by traveling to unknown lands like China. This adventurous spirit allowed the Venetians to stay ahead of the competition for trade. Another example is its trade monopoly. The Venetians were able to use their position to their advantage as they had sole control of trade routes from the Middle East to Central and Southern Europe. This allowed them to sell goods like spices at high prices as they were the only distributors. All this led to the rise of Venice as they generated a lot of wealth from trade through these developments which led to an increase in the standard of living for Venetians. Industrial development: The expansion of trade in Venice resulted in many economic developments. Venice was renowned for two industries, shipbuilding and glassmaking. Improvements in these industries contributed to Venice’s success. An example of such development is the Arsenal. The Arsenal concentrated all of the shipbuilders at one location. This prevented overcrowding and minimized noise pollution from the market and allowed the shipbuilders to concentrate on their work. Another example is also the creation of new industries. Trade expansion led to an increase in the demand for goods which promoted the creation of manufacturing industries like the printing industry. With new industries, more jobs were created which led to increase in the standard of living in Venice. All this led to the rise of Venice. Innovative practices: The Venetians developed and introduced the use of many innovative practices in trade and business. An example of this is Giro-banking. This made it easier for traders to conduct transactions as they need not worry about carrying large sums of money or carrying different currencies. With these innovative practices, trade was further facilitated which contributed to the rise of Venice as many traders came to Venice for its convenience and efficiency. This generated revenue for Venice and gave it prestige. Trade>Reforms + Leadership: Trade development and expansion is more important based on effectiveness. Trade development and expansion was able to specifically improve the trade industry which was the main source of income for most Venetians. Leadership and reforms in government were only able to make general policies which would not have as much effect without developments in trade. For example, even if leadership managed to secure trade routes, Venice would not have been able to benefit as much from it without its innovations in maritime technology. On the other hand, even if bad leadership imposed unfair policies on Venetians, Venice would still prosper if the traders could generate a profit from their trade. Thus trade developments and expansion is more important than reforms in government or leadership. Trade>Industrial development and innovation: Trade development and expansion is more important as it is the root cause. Venice’s prestige from its trade development resulted in the creation of industries and provided work for other industries like shipbuilding. In addition, Venice’s trade development resulted in innovative practices as their attitude towards trade prompted them to think of innovations to help maximize their profit. Thus trade developments and expansion is more important than industrial developments or innovative practices.

Sub-points: Attitude towards trade: The Venetians possessed an enterprising spirit. They were willing to explore new trade routes, supplies and markets by traveling to unknown lands. This adventurous spirit allowed the Venetians to stay ahead of the competition for trade. An example is the Polo family who took calculated risks and extended their trade route to as far as China. This extension of the overland trade route enables Venice to expand its trade. Thus attitude towards trade is an important factor in establishing Venice’s trade developments and expansion. Innovations: The Venetians had an extensive knowledge of shipbuilding. Using their expertise, they were able to innovate and invent superior vessels to meet their sailing needs. An example of this is the invention of the Venetian great galley. The great galley was a combination of a merchant and war vessel. This discouraged pirates from attacking Venetian trading ships. This advantage over their competitors allowed them to sail more frequently as well as sail with more stock as the Venetians were no longer afraid of piracy. Thus innovations in maritime technology are an important factor in establishing Venice’s trade developments and expansion. Efficiency: The Venetian traders were efficient in managing their voyages. An efficient system was in place to regulate voyages. For example, the management system grouped the traders and ordered them to travel in convoys. This allowed the traders to maximize their profits as it was more profitable to trade in larger quantities. The efficiency of the system meant that Venice was able to expand its trade into many regions. Thus efficiency in managing voyages is an important factor in establishing Venice’s trade developments and expansion. Overcoming competition: The Venetians faced stiff competition from its rival Genoa. Genoa took measures to suppress the trading of Venetian goods at Genoese ports such as confiscation and looting. These measures adversely affected Venetian trade. By defeating Genoa in the late 14th century, the Venetians were able to repeal these measures and expand their trade without fear of opposition from the Genoese. Thus, overcoming trade competition is an important factor in establishing Venice’s trade developments and expansion. Trade Monopoly: Venice was strategically located at the northern tip of the Adriatic Sea. The Venetians were able to use this position to their advantage as they had sole control of trade routes from the Middle East to Central and Southern Europe. For example, goods from the East such as spices and sugar were only available from the Venetians. These goods were sold at high prices, enabling the Venetian traders to reap large profits. Thus, trade monopoly is an important factor in establishing Venice’s trade developments and expansion.
Fall of Venice – Political Challenges
Incapable leadership, Corruption in the government & Dependence on mercenaries

Incapable leadership: Venice faced the challenge of a shrinking number of the nobility as older families died. A plague that struck Venice in the 17th century also led to the alarming decline of the population of the nobility. This affected their appointment to the highest offices. In order to retain their family wealth and property, noble families arranged marriages among themselves. This caused wealth to be concentrated in the hands of a few families. Most policies were meant to preserve the power, prestige and wealth of the nobles rather than for the good of the city-state. From the 16thcentury, a small group of nobles dominated the government thus making renewal of leadership a challenge. With power in the hands of a few, corruption was inevitable in the higher offices. The rotation of duties ensured that no individual or family could dominate the government. However, this also meant that competent officers would have to leave office after one term. In some cases, incompetent ones were selected in their place. In later times, the nobles regarded their office as a matter of personal glory rather than as a service to the state. Many nobles who were previously scholars competed to serve as naval commanders in the wars against the Ottomans have neither adequate expertise nor military skills. Consequently, Venice suffered heavy losses in battles. All these contributed to the gradual but severe weakening of Venice in almost all critical aspects ranging from administration to Defence. Therefore, one of the challenges which resulted in Venice’s decline was the existence of incapable leadership. However, there were other challenges which also led to the fall of Venice. Corruption in government: The heavy cost of financing a war against the Ottomans and the neighboring states had Venice to suspend the salaries of civil servants. Together with the disruption of trade in times of wars, some members of the nobility lost their source of income. This caused division in the nobility class as some nobles became poorer. Since nobles voted for those selected to fill high posts, many poor nobles were willing to sell their votes at high prices. This meant that leadership was now determined by how much the nobles could afford to pay to be elected. Corrupt practices resulted in incompetent leaders taking positions in government. The government became increasingly inefficient as it served the nobility’s interest. Decisions made were not in the interest of the country. Therefore, corruption in the government has contributed to the fall of Venice. However, there was still another factor which led to the fall of Venice. Overdependence on mercenaries: The Venetian army employed soldiers from its Mediterranean territories. There were also French and Dutch mercenaries employed for the wars with Genoa and the Ottomans. With its small population reduced significantly from the outbreak of the deadly plague, it was necessary for Venice to maintain a large mercenary army to protect its territories and fight its wars. However, Venice’s over-dependence on mercenaries was a very costly decision. Some of these paid soldiers did not remain loyal to Venice as they could always be offered better salaries from other states. In 1619 for instance, following the end of the War of Gradisca, a large number of French mercenaries plotted within Venice to seize the Ducal palace and kill the Senate members. They also planned to rob the nobles’ palaces. Although the plan was discovered by the Council of Ten, it showed that Venice could no longer fully trust the mercenary army. Therefore, over dependence on mercenaries was another challenge which led to the fall of Venice. No single challenges can contributed solely to the fall of Venice. Venice inability to face several challenges ultimately led to it downfall. Because Venice could not provide capable leadership in the later 15 century, the government becomes weak and corrupt. Together with the overdependence on mercenaries, in time of crisis, Venice could not handle them effectively which ultimately led to it downfall. Fall of Venice – Maritime Competition
Discovery of new sea routes & new trade rivals

Discovery of new sea routes: The new trade route meant that there was a short cut to India which is located to the east of Venice. Portuguese and other Europeans could bypass completely the Venetian traders and began to buy spices directly from India. This provided competition to the Venetians and destroyed their trade monopoly and greatly reduced the large profits they had enjoyed for centuries. In addition, the opening of the trade route also meant that more Europeans began to go on expeditions to the East. They became Venice’s new trade rivals. Therefore, the discovery of the new trade route to the east destroyed Venice’s trade as they now face competition with other traders and can no longer enjoy trade monopoly. New trade rivals: In the 17th century, when the Dutch East India Company was formed, they bypassed the Venetians to go to the East to get their supplies. Venice also faced competitions from the British when the English East India Company (EIC) was established. The EIC specialised in bringing cotton and pepper from India, and tea and porcelain from China. These developments affected Venice’s trade. The Dutch and the British had better designed ships. Furthermore, larger states such as England and Holland were more successful in negotiating for favorable trading rights in new ports. Therefore, the emergent of new trade rivals also destroyed Venice’s trade as they could trade directly with the trading partners which use to trade with Venice. There were several factors which together contributed to the destruction of Venice trade. The discovery of the new trade route to the east was one of the factors that destroy Venice trade but it is not the only factor. The new trade route allows the others traders to by-pass Venice to go directly to get the spices. However, without the rise of new trading companies like the Dutch East India Company and the East India Company, the traders would not be motivated to use the trade routes as these companies were the one that supplied the capital to build new and larger ships to trade. They were also the one who negotiated for the trading rights to the new ports found in the new trade routes. Fall of Venice – Foreign Threats
The Ottaman Empire, The League of Cambrai & Involvement in the mainland

The Ottaman Empire: The powerful empire repeatedly undertook efforts to expand into Europe. Between the 14th and 15th centuries, the Ottomans captured many overseas colonies and sea routes from the Venetians. These wars with the Ottoman Empire had caused many Venetian men and wealth to be lost. More importantly, Venetian trade was adversely affected because the Ottomans controlled many coastal territories along the trade routes. This eventually destroyed Venice trade. Therefore, the war with the Ottoman Empire also destroyed Venice’s trade as the Ottomans controlled many cities along the trade routes which broke Venice monopoly of the trade route. The League of Cambrai: Venice’s growing influence made it unpopular among mainland states. Mainland states became wary of Venice’s ambitions, jealous of its wealth and territories as Venice grew in power. In 1508, a military alliance, The league of Cambrai, was formed. There were massive threats as they aimed to reduce power of Venice and divide its territories among the larger states. Venice lost its territories to the League but managed to recapture some of its territories through renewed military campaigns as Venice managed to take advantage of changing conditions in the League and created new alliances with some states due to changing alliances among members in the league. But Venice had to raise taxes to finance employment of mercenary army as well as to replenish its supply of weapons. Cost of wars drained and weakened Venice’s resources leading to gradual decline in Venice. Involvement in the mainland: To protect its territories and commercial interests, Venice would take advantage of feuding rival states and offered to help one fight against the other. Venice’s act of switching alliances with different opposing states proved it was constantly treading on fragile relations with the larger states. Hey put the venetians at high risk of being attacked as there was no certainty which alliance would ultimately benefit Venice. They also drained their financial and manpower resources as they resort to recruiting mercenaries to equip themselves with a stronger army. Fall of Venice – Social Challenges
Complacency and Over-indulgence in affluent lifestyle

Complacency: The peace and stability that Venetians had enjoyed over the years made them complacent and less prepared for war. As the nobles became wealthier, they became less hard working and less involved in important matters such as administration and development of Venice. They ignored the commoners which resulted in the lack of support by the latter for the ruling noble. There were countless parades and celebrations which lasted for weeks and with the whole city stopped functioning. These distractions increased Venice’s vulnerability to external forces. As a result, complacent society was an important reason for Venice’s decline. Over-indulgence in affluent lifestyle: Nobles became richer and less interested. The venetians became less prepared for war as they shifted their focus away from war and security matters. When Venice was strong in economic growth, lifestyles of the nobles became better and they went in pursuit of entertainment and pleasures, with lavish parties and celebration. Nobles also became more distant from commoners and the gap between the rich and the poor widened. Eventually Venetians shifted their focus away from security matters and less prepared for war as they became more concern about wealth. This led to the decline of Venice.

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