Part 40: Venice Part 4: Upon the Sea (1515-1540)Venice Part 4: Upon the Sea (1515-1540)
Michele Magno is elected Doge by a narrow margin. He is an unpleasant person, but is widely known to be a brilliant mind and a seasoned veteran of war. His leadership will help to return Venice to a position of prominence in the Mediterranean. Doge Magno gathers some of his allies from within the bureaucracy and forms a Naval Reform Committee to be charged with the task of elevating Venice's navy above any other Mediterranean nation. With their generous budget at hand, they immediately see to decommissioning some of the older galleys and commissioning the design of several new caravels every year.
Since Burgundy's conversion to Protestantism, they have become less and less receptive to Venetian diplomacy. They refuse to even consider a renewal of their old alliances. The Doge decides instead to form military ties with their neighbor of Switzerland.
Shortly afterwards, Burgundy removes itself from the Venetian Trade League and instead returns to trading in the more local markets of Paris and Liguria.
Doge Magno refuses to accept this news in any way, shape, or form. Venice's new navy is not yet in fighting order, but a land war is something that could be managed. Venice declares war on Burgundy and their allies over this trade dispute.
Bavaria and Styria join Venice in its struggle and launch themselves into Burgundy's allies of Lorraine and The Palatinate.
The two smaller powers are unable to withstand such a large attack and quickly submit to Venice's generous terms - peace in return for joining the Venetian Trade League.
With their allies out of the war, there is nothing to prevent the armies of Bavaria and Venice from spilling over into Burgundy. They've been weakened by struggles with Champagne and aren't able to resist an attack of this magnitude.
Before Burgundy's armies are completely wiped out, a peace is made in return for their return to the League.
Only the Hansa can claim to have more trade passing through their capital than Venice.
Doge Magno passes away suddenly in 1520, shortly after his re-election to a second term.
Andrea Barilla is elected in a special election to replace the deceased Magno. Doge Barilla was formerly an official appointed by Magno to his naval committee, and Barilla is more than happy to continue the policies of his predecessor. He isn't known as a person of any particular talents, but his skills are adequate enough to see some success at following established policy.
The drydocks in the port cities of the Gulf of Venice continue to work night and day on the construction of new caravels and flytes for the Venetian navy, but but 1521 the existing fleet has grown large enough to put to use. Half of Venice's army is transported to Sicily to begin the conquest of the Mediterranean.
Sicily has been weakened by revolution. Its cities are occupied by peasants and rebels with little training or morale. The Venetian army is capable of putting down these revolts and occupying the troubled nation in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Sicily is annexed, and the first of Venice's Mediterranean conquests is complete.
Doge Barilla's term ends, and the voting council is not eager to extend to extend his rule. A dynamic individual named Jacopo Erizzo rises during this time, and the enamored council votes him into power in 1524. Erizzo is a state official who was involved with the planning of both the Sicilian and Burgundian invasions in recent years and has great experience in the workings of government and the running of wars.
Erizzo is determined to combat the religious strife that has festered in Venice. The Doge takes advantage of a newly formed religious order to aid in the conversion of the heretics in western Venice as well as the heathens in Sicily.
Burgundy tosses aside its league membership once again, but Doge Erizzo is not so easily distracted. He focuses on expanding Venetian power in the Mediterranean instead of involving the country in another time consuming land war into Burgundy.
The Knights of Malta and Rhodes hold strongholds that are vital to a strong Venetian grip on the sea. Venice declares war with the intention of seizing both.
Malta suffers from the same affliction as Sicily did before our conquest. The island was in the grip of widespread unrest, but luckily for them we've saved them from themselves.
The bravest naval officer Rhodes has ever known sails a single galley out to face dozens of approaching Venetian warships. He isn't able to prevent the landing of troops on the shores of Rhodes, bold as he may have been.
The Knights are conquered and the islands of Rhodes and Malta are added to Venice's overseas holdings. The Venetian army is transported back to Treviso to rearm and resupply before another offensive begins.
As the troops recover, a messenger arrives from Bavaria requesting aid against Poland. This is a distraction from Venice's quest to rule the waves, but Erizzo recognizes this as an opportunity to weaken an ally and member of the rival Hanseatic League.
By the time Venetian troops arrive, the Bavarians and Bohemians have already occupied western Poland. It is interesting to see Bohemia fighting against an ally of the Hansa - they've been a member of the Hanseatic League for over a century. Venetian troops occupy central Poland, including the capital of Warsaw.
Bavaria and Bohemia completely outnumber and outclass the Polish army even without our aid. The Polish are happy to remove us from the war by agreeing to join our trade league.
Bohemia severs its relationship with the Hanseatic League, and Venetian diplomats are quick to take advantage of this. Bohemia agrees to join the Venetian League.
As the war with Poland ends, Switzerland requests our aid against Burgundy. Erizzo doesn't want to lose the benefit of the barrier that Switzerland provides to Venice from western powers. He lends aid to the Swiss and sends both Venetian main armies as assistance.
Once again, the Burgundian allies are dealt with first. This was the same strategy employed by the Venetians against Burgundy when Erizzo was merely a low ranking military official under Doge Magno. Not only are the minor nations forced to rejoin the Venetian League, but they are required to convert their state religions back to Catholicism.
Burgundy is overwhelmed by sheer numbers. It appears that they've made many enemies.
Burgundy is made to agree to the same terms as its lesser allies by the end of the war.
With these recent wars, the Venetian League has grown larger than it has ever been. The extent of this influence is likely only temporary, as the majority of these league memberships have been enforced through war, but it is good to see the Hansa struggling to keep up if even for a short time.
Venice overtakes Lubeck as the busiest center of trade known to the western world.
Crete is invaded, occupied, and annexed in the course of a week. Only one major obstacle now remains to Venice's domination of the eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus is held by the large nation of Seville. While Cyprus is unoccupied, they are certain to have a vast number of troops in Iberia. In fact, while the Venetian navy is landing troops on Cyprus, Seville quickly lands its own invasion force just outside of Venice.
Seville's navy is intercepted by Admiral Michele Contarini off of the coast of Africa. The Venetian navy is smaller, but Admiral Contarini is a skilled officer and should more than make up for any difference in numbers this small.
Admiral Conrarini is victorious. Seville loses over a third of its transport capacity, making it unable to retrieve the troops they just landed on our shores and lessening the size of future landings.
The main Venetian army marches on Ferrara to meet Seville's landing forces.
A harsh battle batters both sides, and Venice's army retreats back across the river to recover.
As battles rage on Lombardi soil, Admiral Contarini corners the remnants Seville's navy and delivers a terrible blow to them. Seville's entire navy is sent to the bottom of the sea.
A skilled officer is found to lead the Venetian troops at home and he wins a great victory against the invading force.
Once Venice's home provinces are safe and secure, the navy transports General Ruzzini's army to any island strongholds that Seville had managed to land forces near before losing their transports.
Finally, all that is left is Seville's Iberian home provinces. The Doge is unwilling to commit to a unilateral land invasion against this large Sultanate, so instead a blockade is initiated against all of Seville's ports to prevent any trade or troop movement.
The bottled-up Seville finally gives in and surrenders the island of Cyprus to Venice after a few months of suffering from the blockade.
Sicily, Malta, Crete, Rhodes, and Cyprus are all in Venetian hands, now. With Seville's navy crippled, Venice is by far the most formidable naval power on this sea.
A Decision for the Doge
Doge Jacopo Erizzo has won re-election session after session from his inauguration in 1524 through today - 1540. His term is nearly up once again, and its almost certain that he will win re-election with wide support once again. There are factions within the bureaucracy though that pull him in different directions. Erizzo needs to decide which faction's ideas to support, or whether any of the current desires within the government are in the best interests of the republic.
The Erizzo Supporters have backed the Doge's expansionistic wars for years. They believe that Venice's current capabilities put it in a perfect position to continue this policy into the western Mediterranean and they propose the annexation of Sardinia, Corsica, and The Baleares. With these 3 islands under Venetian control, there would be safe ports for Venetian admirals within a few day's sail from anywhere within the Mediterranean.
The Lombardi Nationalists desire a single thing: all of the Lombard people under a single banner. The Lombardi Nationalists would propose the capture of Rogmagna and Parma to begin with, but the unification of northern Italy is their ultimate goal. This faction detests Burgundy for their annexation of the Lombardi population of Savoy, which Burgundy has held for decades.
The Plutocratic Faction begs for the Doge to consider the effects that his conquests have had on Venetian business and trade. Venice's tarnished reputation has begun to weaken its economy. This faction calls for an era of peace and stability so that the nation can stabilize and recover economically. They also support the integration of Venice's long-time vassal states of Albania, Montenegro, Corfu, and Naxos into direct Venetian rule so that their business and trade can be governed under a unified code.
Choose a faction for the Doge to appease!