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Venice : A Maritime Republic. !!HOT!!

The maritime republics (Italian: repubbliche marinare), also called merchant republics (Italian: repubbliche mercantili), were thalassocratic city-states of the Mediterranean Basin during the Middle Ages. Being a significant presence in Italy in the Middle Ages, four of them have had their coats of arms inserted in the flag of the Italian Navy since 1947: Venice, Genoa, Pisa, and Amalfi; the other republics are: Ragusa (now Dubrovnik), Gaeta,[1] Ancona,[2][3] and the little Noli.[4][5]

Venice : a maritime republic.

The expression "maritime republics" refers to the Italian city-states which, since the Middle Ages, enjoyed political autonomy and economic prosperity, thanks to their maritime activities. The economic growth of Europe around the year 1000, together with the hazards of the mainland trading routes, made possible the development of major commercial routes along the Mediterranean coast. The growing independence acquired by some coastal cities gave them a leading role in this development. These cities, exposed to pirate raids (mostly Saracen), organized their own defence, providing themselves substantial war fleets. Thus, in the 10th and 11th centuries they were able to switch to an offensive stance, taking advantage of the rivalry between the Byzantine and Islamic maritime powers and competing with them for control over commerce and trade routes to Asia and Africa.[6]

Venice, Genoa and Pisa became regional states: they had dominion over vast lands of their region and over different overseas lands, including many Mediterranean islands (especially Sardinia and Corsica), lands on the Adriatic, Aegean, and Black Sea (Crimea); Venice stands out from the rest in that it maintained enormous tracts of land in Greece, Cyprus, Istria, and Dalmatia until as late as the mid-17th century. Amalfi, Ancona, Gaeta and Ragusa instead extended their domain only to a part of the territory of their region, configuring themselves as a city-state throughout the period of their history. All maritime republics, had commercial colonies in the Near East and in North Africa; an exception is Noli, who used the Genoese ones.

The history of the various maritime republics is quite varied, reflecting their different lifespans. Venice, Genoa, Noli, and Ragusa had very long lives, with an independence that outlasted the medieval period and continued up to the threshold of the contemporary era, when the Italian and European states were devastated by the Napoleonic Wars. Other republics kept their independence until the Renaissance: Pisa came under the dominion of the Republic of Florence in 1406, and Ancona came under control of the Papal States in 1532.[3] Amalfi and Gaeta, though, lost their independence very soon: the first in 1131 and the second in 1140, both having passed into the hands of the Normans.

The maritime republics formed autonomous republican governments, an expression of the merchant class that constituted the backbone of their power. The history of the maritime republics intertwines both with the launch of European expansion to the East and with the origins of modern capitalism as a mercantile and financial system. Using gold coins, the merchants of the Italian maritime republics began to develop new foreign exchange transactions and accounting. Technological advances in navigation provided essential support for the growth of mercantile wealth.[8] Nautical charts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries all belong to the schools of Genoa, Venice and Ancona.[9]

The Crusades offered opportunities for expansion. They increasingly relied on Italian sea transport, for which the republics extracted concessions of colonies as well as a cash price. Venice, Amalfi, Ancona,[3] and Ragusa were already engaged in trade with the Levant, but the phenomenon increased with the Crusades: thousands of Italians from the maritime republics poured into the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, creating bases, ports and commercial establishments known as "colonies". These were small gated enclaves within a city, often just a single street, where the laws of the Italian city were administered by a governor appointed from home, and there would be a church under home jurisdiction and shops with Italian styles of food. These Italian mercantile centers also exerted significant political influence locally: the Italian merchants formed guild-like associations in their business centers, aiming to obtain legal, tax and customs privileges from foreign governments. Several personal dominions arose. Pera in Constantinople, first Genoese and later (under the Ottomans) Venetian, was the largest and best known Italian trading base.

Amalfi, perhaps the first of the maritime republics to play a major role, had developed extensive trade with Byzantium and Egypt. Amalfitan merchants wrested the Mediterranean trade monopoly from the Arabs and founded mercantile bases in Southern Italy and the Middle East in the 10th century. Amalfitans were the first to create a colony in Constantinople.

The Republic of Venice expanded strongly on the mainland, too. It became the largest of the maritime republics and was the most powerful state of Italy until 1797, when Napoleon invaded the Venetian lagoon and conquered Venice. The city passed between French and Austrian control over the next half-century, before briefly regaining its independence during the revolutions of 1848. Austrian rule resumed a year later, and continued until 1866, when Veneto passed into the Kingdom of Italy.

Included in the Papal States since 774, Ancona came under the influence of the Holy Roman Empire around 1000, but gradually gained independence to become fully independent with the coming of the communes in the 12th century. Its motto was Ancon dorica civitas fidei ('Dorian Ancona, city of faith'); its coin was the agontano.[11][12] Although somewhat confined by Venetian supremacy on the sea, Ancona was a notable maritime republic for its economic development and its preferential trade, particularly with the Byzantine Empire. Despite a series of expeditions, trade wars and naval blockades, Venice never succeeded in subduing Ancona.[13]

In art, Ancona was one of the centers of so-called Adriatic Renaissance, that particular kind of renaissance that spread between Dalmatia, Venice and the Marches, characterized by a rediscovery of classical art and a certain continuity with Gothic art. The maritime cartographer Grazioso Benincasa was born in Ancona, as was the navigator-archaeologist Cyriacus of Ancona, named by his fellow humanists "father of the antiquities", who made his contemporaries aware of the existence of the Parthenon, the Pyramids, the Sphinx and other famous ancient monuments believed destroyed.

Ancona always had to guard itself against the designs of both the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy. It never attacked other maritime cities, but was always forced to defend itself. It succeeded until 1532, when it lost its independence after Pope Clement VII took possession of it by political means.

In the first half of the 7th century, Ragusa began to develop an active trade in the East Mediterranean. From the 11th century, it emerged as a maritime and mercantile city, especially in the Adriatic. The first known commercial contract goes back to 1148 and was signed with the city of Molfetta, but other cities came along in the following decades, including Pisa, Termoli and Naples.

Basing its prosperity on maritime trade, Ragusa became the major power of the southern Adriatic and came to rival the Republic of Venice. For centuries Ragusa was an ally of Ancona, Venice's other rival in the Adriatic. This alliance enabled the two towns on opposite sides of the Adriatic to resist attempts by the Venetians to make the Adriatic a "Venetian bay", which would have given Venice direct or indirect control over all the Adriatic ports. The Venetian trade route went via Germany and Austria; Ancona and Ragusa developed an alternative route going west from Ragusa through Ancona to Florence and finally to Flanders.

Relationships between the maritime republics were governed by their commercial interests, and were often expressed as political or economic agreements aimed at shared profit from a trade route or mutual non-interference. But competition for control of the trade routes to the East and in the Mediterranean sparked rivalries that could not be settled diplomatically, and there were several clashes among the maritime republics.

Just one year later, the three maritime powers fought an uneven conflict in the waters facing Saint-Jean d'Acre. Almost all the Genoese galleys were sunk and 1,700 fighters and sailors were killed. The Genoese replied with new alliances. The Nicaean throne was usurped by Michael VIII Palaiologos, that aimed at reconquest of the lands once owned by the Byzantine Empire. His expansionist project suited the Genoese. The Nicaean fleet and army conquered and occupied Constantinople, causing the collapse of the Latin Empire of Constantinople less than sixty years after its creation. Genoa replaced Venice in the monopoly of commerce with the Black Sea territories.

Towards the end of the 14th century, Cyprus was occupied by the Genoese and ruled by the signoria of Pietro II of Lusignano, while the smaller island of Tenedos, an important port of call on the Bosphorous and Black Sea route, was conceded by Andronikos IV Palaiologos to Genoa in place of the concession of his father John V Palaiologos to Venice. These two events fuelled the resumption of hostilities between the two maritime Republics, which were expanding from the east to the west of the Mediterranean.

While Popes Callistus II and Pius II tried to progress their predecessor's idea and were canvassing the states of the Italic League and other European powers to interest them in a crusade, the Ottomans defeated many Genoese and Venetian colonies. These events showed the superiority of the new great naval and military Ottoman power in the eastern Mediterranean and forced the two Italian maritime republics to seek a new destiny. Genoa found it the growth of international finance, Venice in land expansion. 041b061a72


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