Part 41: Venice Part 5: The Last of the Leagues (1540-1579)Venice Part 5: The Last of the Leagues (1540-1579)
Venice's new holdings struggle with unrest. Nationalists who seek to reclaim their nations, zealots who resist Catholic influences, and particularists who resist Venice's strong central government all rise up arms over the years.
The Venetian Navy can roam its domain without fear though, and troops are easily dispatched to problem areas as soon as they are needed. Doge Erizzo maintains control over Venice's holdings in spite of the unrest.
The frequency and intensity of the rebellions lessen over time. Sicily returns to Catholicism and soon becomes a stable, loyal Venetian stronghold.
Montenegro is integrated into Venice, providing another valuable port on the Adriatic Sea.
The Doge adopts an apologetic tone with Burgundy and The Palatinate. The Venetians would lose to count the two nations as trade partners, but enforced league membership seems to go nowhere. As soon as they can escape from an enforced agreement, they do so. It is hoped that patching old relations will lead to a more permanent trade agreement in the future.
Cyprus still erupts in nationalist revolts every so often, but they begin to lose their will to resist after repeated crackdowns on rebel activity.
Bavaria puts the Doge in an unfortunate position. Venice's relationship with Burgundy, Lorraine, and The Palatinate were on the mend, but Bavaria request that we honor our military alliance and march against them. Unwilling to tarnish Venice's reputation for reliability, he agrees to honor the treaty. The army sent as assistance to Bavaria limits itself to guarding the Bavarian border against counterattack.
Erizzo's reputation soars in both the streets of Venice as well as within the government. He enjoys a support, and his talent allows him to translate this support into a stronger rule.
Sunni Croatia grows larger following an invasion of Hungary. They grow not only in size, but in defiance as well. Croatia discarded its enforced trade league membership with Venice long ago, and lately has begun to insult the Venetians directly through actions and words.
Doge Erizzo decides that this cannot be allowed to continue. An invasion is launched against Croatia in 1550.
The Croatian threats appear to have been empty. Their army is miniscule and unable to prevent a Venetian advance.
After a short war, peace is made with Croatia in return for the surrender of the Dalmatian coast.
The Doge oversees the establishment of a uniform court system to create a standard of law for even the most distant territories.
As Crete becomes a predominantly Catholic stronghold, the unrest it once suffered begins to fade as well.
Bavaria's war against Burgundy continues to cause them trouble. Savoy declares its independence from Burgundy. Many in Venice are relieved to see the Lombards of Savoy rescued from a Burgundian rule.
The Doge is unwilling to see Savoy fall to foreigners once again, and he is completely certain of their inability to defend themselves. The troops cross through Milan towards the recently liberated nation.
The Savoyard defenses fall, and Venetian garrisons are left behind as a final assault is launched on Piedmont.
Savoy is ultimately made a vassal of Venice. Under Venetian protection, they needn't worry about threats from Burgundy, Champagne, or any other hostile foreign power.
The recent successes of the Venetian army, along with the goodwill generated by guaranteeing Savoy's safety leads to large waves of volunteers seeking enlistment. The Doge reacts quickly and orders the construction of new infrastructure to take advantage of this.
The shipbuilding expertise of Venice continues to grow. New designs and configurations begin to appear for warships that dwarf vessels from just a century ago. These advancements are watched with great attention by the Doge as he considers naval dominance a necessity for Venetian prosperity.
Venice's direct control over the sea lanes continues to grow with the annexation of Naxos.
In 1565, Bavaria once again calls Venice to its aid in war. This time, they ask us to fight against our ally of Switzerland, as well as Bohemia, an extremely powerful member of our trade league with which we have very friendly relations. Doge Erizzo is flabbergasted by this request. The days of Bavaria destroying Venice's foreign relations are over. The call to arms is declined, the alliance with Bavaria is dissolved, and Erizzo issues a strong admonishment against the Bavarian leadership for even suggesting such a request.
Speaking of trade leagues, The Venetian Trade League of the mid 1560s is stronger than ever. The Hansa have abandoned their Merchant Republic for a more efficient Administrative Republic. Novgorod and Genoa are both long since gone. This leaves Venice as the only Merchant republic in Europe.
The value of trade that passes through Venice's commodity markets is by far the largest of anywhere on Earth.
Both Corfu and Albania become Venetian holdings. The entire length of the Adriatic Sea now has access to Venetian ports.
A Guild of St. Luke's is chartered in Venice, providing a prominent cultural center.
An Overview of 1579
Venice is the dominant naval power in the Mediterranean. No nation could hope to make it through the Adriatic Sea with their fleet intact to land troops in Venice. The extra manpower and wealth provided by oversea holdings give our nation a powerful army for its continental size, but nations such as Bavaria and Bohemia could be a threat if they became hostile towards us. The Ottomans have grown strong in Asia Minor and Levant, but they have yet to have much success in retaking their lost possessions in the Balkans. Serbia is a doughnut.
England is one of the largest powers in Europe right now. They are close to uniting the British Isles. They've even managed to capture Normandy from Champagne.
Seville and Champagne are the other two major powers in western Europe. Castille and Navarra are puppet states which were just recently forced to be released from Zaragoza, and I don't expect them to remain for long.
From what little we can see of the New World, it appears that England, Champagne, and Seville are colonizing. Milan and Savoy each have a colony as well.
The explorer Cristoforo Foscolo has command of a small fleet of quick ocean-faring vessels, and plans to adventure to uncharted parts of the New World.
The Venetian Trade League is large, but it may be obsolete. When Venice was surrounded by rival leagues that could threaten to monopolize all trade in Europe and embargo our merchants, it was important to have the capability to secure trade value in a place where we could compete. Now that this era is over, the necessity of maintaining a trade league is gone. Venetian merchants are skilled, well traveled, and capable of competition. The extra protection provided by a trade league may not be worth the benefits of more sophisticated and modern forms of government.
For example, an Administrative Republic would provide more magistrates for infrastructure or cultural projects and improve the trade efficiency of our merchants.
Burgundy has been picked apart and shattered by defeat against Bavaria. With the recent falling out Venice and Bavaria has had, many officials in Venice wonder if it was a mistake to have thrown away its alliance with Burgundy so long ago. Not that they'd want to see Savoy back in Burgundian hands, of course.
Decisions to be Made
There are three separate issues to be decided by the voting council in this session.
This concerns government reform. This determines whether Venice remains a Merchant Republic, or changes to Administrative Republic. Remaining as a Merchant Republic would ensure that we always have an extremely wealthy center of trade available to us by funneling the trade of league members through Venice. Merchant Republic could also provide us with a more efficient navy should our colonial empire grow large enough. An Administrative Republic Republic would end the Venetian Trade League, allowing all league states to trade wherever is most efficient for them. It would provide more government officials for overseeing the construction of infrastructure or cultural projects, and increase the efficiency and competitiveness of our traders.
- Vote for Administrative or Merchant on Issue #1.
The second issue deals with the direction of Venice's colonization efforts. Erizzo believes that Venice should implement a Colonization Policy which would focus the nation's colonial efforts in a single region. A single region should be chosen for Issue #2.
- The Caribbean is a grouping of islands in the New World with valuable resources such as sugar, spices, and tobacco. Venice has proven that it can manage an island Empire with its conquests in the Mediterranean. They could apply this expertise to the Caribbean Islands. These islands have already been hastily claimed by England though, and we would need to enter into a direct conflict with them to claim them as our own.
- South America is large and mostly uncharted. Our explorers could map undiscovered sections of this land and our colonists could settle in undisputed territory.
- Southeast Asia is an island environment that Venice could excel in. It lies far enough away from Europe that any conquest or colonization would be outside of the interest of the rest of our neighbors, at least for now.
The final decision is in regards to Doge Jacopo Erizzo's replacement. He was elected to power in 1524 and has since won re-election in every session, thanks to his skill and charisma. After 55 years of rule, he has grown weary and ill. He has stated his intention to step aside during the next election, but he has grown particularly frail in recent months and many worry that he may meet his demise before then. The voting council has focused most of its attention on three particular candidates, but one must be chosen.
- The bureaucratic candidate once again is a person who seeks for unification of the Lombardi people. He believes that their similarities in governing, law, and language could forge a strong union. He desires to see a unified Italy, but has no interest in European holdings beyond the Italian peninsula (and Venice's current holdings, naturally). The bureaucratic candidate also seeks to mend military relations with Burgundy and aid them in recovering their lost territories, other than Savoy. This would create a powerful ally in the west to replace Bavaria.
- The diplomatic candidate is willing to consider that Bavaria's recent actions were a temporary lack of good judgement that will not be repeated. Reforging the old alliance with Bavaria is his first priority. He has no heart for conquest in Europe, but wouldn't be averse to getting into colonial scuffles. This man simply wants peace for Venice so that the nation can trade, innovate, and build infrastructure.
- The military candidate doesn't see Italy, he only sees Venice. He sees no need for an alliance with Burgundy or Bavaria. He claims that the Swiss alone are enough of an ally for Venice, and that our armies could push back any assault by Bavaria or Bohemia. His goals include the conquest of Corsica, Sardinia, and The Baleares in order to give Venice a stronger presence in the western Mediterranean, as well as an incursion into Byzantine Greece.