The Contribution of Venice’s Colonies to its Naval Warfare in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Fifteenth Century
By Ruth Gertwagen
Mediterraneo in armi (secc. XV-XVIII) – Tomo I, ed. Rossella Cancila (Palermo, 2007)
Introduction: Venice was a maritime economic power that was based on its maritime transportation, commercial routes and on its colonies. In the fifteenth century the Venetian Empire included Dalmatia and the Islands along its coast in the central Adriatic Sea and Albany further to the south, and consisted of Islands in the Ionian Sea at the entrance of the Adriatic, as well as of islands in the Aegean and territories in the Peloponnese. Notwithstanding the loss of Negroponte in 1470, the most important colony in the northern Aegean, the Venetian Empire extended to its maximum in this period.
Venice’s territorial expansion began, as we shall see below, in the late fourteenth century, not by conquests but as a consequence of the annexation with the local inhabitants’ consent, or by the request of the local rulers. Due to defensive motives Venice answered positively, preventing the fall of these territories to the hands of her rivals. The trigger to Venice’s territorial expansion came from the War of Tenedos/ Chioggia (1377-1381) that had a direct bearing on Venice’s geopolitical and commercial policy till the end of the first half of the fifteenth century on one hand, and on the other, the Venice’s naval power and warfare in this century.