Bread and Falcons: The View from Crete in 1501

Medieval Venice 2Bread and Falcons: The View from Crete in 1501

Diana Gilliland Wright

The Greek Correspondence of Bartolomeo Minio, Vol. 2: Dispacci from Crete, 1500-1502 [with John Melville-Jones] Archivio del Litorale Adriatico, Padua (2012)


This paper introduces a collection of sixty previously unknown letters written between August 1500 and July 1502 by Bartolomeo Minio, capitanio e consigliere in Candia. The manuscript, a copy of the original letters, is kept in the Biblioteca Correr as BCMV Codici Cicogna 2681: Dal 1500 fino 1502 registro dei dispacci di Bartolomeo Minio. I am publishing this manu- script with John Melville-Jones of the University of Western Australia with whom I have completed a forthcoming edition of Minio’s earlier collection of ninety letters from Nauplion (1479-1483). Several of this present collection of letters are summarized in volumes 3 and 4 of Sanudo’s Diarii. The Diarii supplement and explain many of the references in the letters, while the letters provide a check on Sanudo’s accuracy. In addition, Sanudo sum- marizes other letters not in this collection. The Priuli Diarii parallel both, often with a slightly different view and more dramatic language. Further supplementary primary sources are provided in the parallel registers of the Senato Secreta and Senato Mar.

A striking feature of the letters, reinforced by these other sources, is theview of what it meant to be on the front line of defence in a major warwhen a letter and response could easily take two months. In the summerof 1500, Venice was fighting the Ottomans at Modon, Coron, and Nauplion. Modon fell on 10 August. Minio learned of this on 26 August and of the loss of Coron on the 31st . His letter to the Signoria about the sur-renders was read in Venice on 18 October . A letter of early July reportingMinio’s arrival in Crete was read in Venice on 23 September. To deal withthe problems inherent in such delays, the Venetian administrative system provided for an overseas administrator, with the aid of two consiglieri , to make ad hoc decisions. This guaranteed, not only an authority in place, but mutual oversight with a shared understanding of Venetian goals and local practicalities.

Click here to read this article from The Greek Correspondence of Bartolomeo Minio

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