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Venice: Rise and Fall of a Great City State

History of Venice Rise of Venice Fall of Venice Lessons Learnt

History of Venice

Group of islands made Venice Venetians were expert sailors and shipbuilders Venetians monopolized in salt trading by capturing salt producing areas (Adriatic Sea)

Rise of Venice: 9th 15th century

Political Factors

Exemplary political system Fair electoral system Capable and committed leadership Effective system of checks on power Practical policies Strong navy Citizens involvement in ensuring public peace

Rise of Venice: 9th 15th century

Economic Factors

Trade monopoly An adventurous spirit Provision of trade services Diversifying into manufacturing

Rise of Venice: 9th 15th century

Social Factors

Attracting foreign talents Loyalty to Venice

Rise of Venice: 9th 15th century

Political Factors

Exemplary political system

Strong government Aristocratic Republic (leaders elected from nobles) No dominance of power by families Pyramidal structure (see pg 152)

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Political Factors

Fair electoral system


Nominating committee formed by Great Council (balloting) Prevented dominance of power by a family/ individual No election campaigns = no rivalries Voting by Great Council to prevent incompetent officers from holding office Short term (6 mths 2 yrs) = no individual has too much power No more than one member allowed from a noble family in the Ducal Council = spread power, prevent nepotism

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Political Factors

Capable and Committed Leadership


Forward looking, capable Fine those who refused to take up office

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Political Factors

Effective system of checks on power


Signoria made crucial decisions Close checks on election process and officers performance Council of Ten looked out for any possible attempts at monopolizing power Membership at the council limited to 1 yr; no more than 1 member from the same family Elected leaders could not abuse their power

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Political Factors

Practical Policies

Paid pirates to stop harassing trading ships until navy was strong enough Establish friendly relations with Muslim traders despite war (preserve trading opportunities) Captured weak trading ports in Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea, captured important ports like Cyprus and Crete

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Political Factors

Strong Navy

Captured trading ports Enforce maritime laws Protected Venice from attacks Forced ships to call at Venice ports = collect taxes Control trade routes Different ships for different purpose

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Political Factors

Citizens involvement in ensuring public peace


Mandatory service in the navy Close checks on foreigners Serve the district District Head Sense of belonging to Venice

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Economic Factors Trade Monopoly


Hanseatic League** unable to compete with Venice in the eastern trade Venice dominated the Mediterranean Sea, used Arab ports where spices can be found (using land and sea routes) Brought variety of goods from East and sold them to European states at large profits. Venetians acted as middlemen Central and Southern Europe dependant on Venice for goods (spices, fragrant woods, sugar, diamonds, iron, glassware, wool) from the East Controlled Adriatic Sea and monopolized the salt trade **Association of trading states in Northern Europe using overland route (cumbersome) through Russia**

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Economic Factors

An adventurous Spirit

Sailed and traveled over land in search of business, fortune and adventure (Eg. Polo Family, Marco Polo) Went as far as China, east of Indian Ocean, south of Africa, Arab states and the Far East to trade

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Economic Factors

Provision of Trade Services


Banking, insurance, money exchange services Credit banking facilities, use of cheques, charged interest for lending money Insurers to bear risks involved in shipping Government established state bank to guarantee stability and reliability of banking system Provides confidence to foreign traders

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Economic Factors

Diversify into Manufacturing

Set up factories to manufacture goods for export (glass, soap, textiles, book-printing) at affordable prices Many foreigners came to look for jobs Skilled craftsmen not allowed to leave the city state Government controlled export of raw materials

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Social Factors

Attracting Foreign Talents


Greeks, Jews, Turks considered Venice their homeland Freedom of faith, respecting one another Welcomed competitors as they contributed to centre of arts and trade (artisans, scholars) Privileged memberships at guild houses for skilled artisans (to attract them to Venice) Equal opportunities given to foreigners

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Social Factors

Loyalty to Venice

Personal sacrifices to raise funds for defense Rallied to Venices defense when Genoa threatened Venices existence in the late 14th century

Rise of Venice:

th 9

th 15

century

Venice as a Centre of the Arts

Wealth from trade led to development and flourishing of the arts Famous for architecture, paintings and mosaic

Decline of Venice

External Factors

Wars with the Ottoman Empire Rise of Large States Discovery of new sea route Competition from trade rivals
Corruption in the government Complacency of Venetian society Imcompetent military leaders Over-dependence on mercenaries Insensitivity towards neighbouring states

Internal Factors

Decline of Venice

External Factors

Wars with the Ottoman Empire

Ottomans captured many overseas colonies and sea routes from Venice Controlled many coastal territories along the trade routes

Decline of Venice

External Factors

Rise of Large States

France, Spain, England had more resources and manpower than Venice Venice sandwiched and had no overlord left to defend itself Northern Italy threatened by France in 15th century; coastal territories attacked by Ottoman Empire Venice safeguarded mainland territories and was defeated by the Ottoman Empire Peace treaty 1503

Decline of Venice

External Factors

Discovery of new sea route


Short cut to India via Cape of Good Hope Bypass Venetian traders and traded directly with the East Destroyed Venice monopoly and reduced profits Portuguese captured Malacca in 1511 shipped spices from SEA to Portugal Venetians must stop at Portugal port on the way to the East in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean Wanted to cut a canal through Suez but too costly

Decline of Venice

External Factors

Competition from New Trade Rivals


More interest from other states to trade in the East Traveled directly to the East to trade 1600, EIC (East India Company) specialized in trading of tea and porcelain from China, cotton and pepper from India => bypassing Venice 1602, Dutch EIC formed

richer and better ships than Portugual and Venice Well-organized system

30 years War in Europe saw greater involvement from Netherlands in trading activities

Destroyed trading centres States preferred trading with Netherlands than Venice

Decline of Venice

Internal Factors

Corruption in the Government

High taxes imposed; salaries of civil servants suspended to finance the Ottoman war

Led to unhappiness

Senate chose candidate who paid highest price for the post; candidate bribed the Great Council to vote for him Small group of nobles controlling major political posts

Moved from one office to another (not allowed to hold the same office for more than a year) Poor and not well-educated nobles were not given a chance to hold important post => Vote for candidates who paid them well Abuse their power, share no common goal

Decline of Venice

Internal Factors

Complacency of Venetian Society

Distracted from duties because of indulgence in gambling and parties (despite laws) By 16th century, not enough volunteers to serve the navy

Decline of Venice

Internal Factors

Incompetent Military Leaders