By Roger Crowley
A magisterial paintings of gripping historical past, "City of Fortune" tells the tale of the Venetian ascent from lagoon dwellers to the best energy within the Mediterranean - an epic yr voyage that encompassed campaign and alternate, plague, sea battles and colonial experience. In Venice, the trail to empire opened up in a sequence of remarkable contests - the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, the struggle to the end with Genoa and a determined defence opposed to the Turks. below the lion banner of St Mark, she created an empire of ports and naval bases which funnelled the products of the area via its wharfs. within the technique town turned the richest position on the earth - an excellent mosaic formed from what it acquired, traded, borrowed and stole. in response to first hand debts of exchange and battle, seafaring and piracy and the locations the place Venetians sailed and died, "City of Fortune" is narrative historical past at its best. starting on Ascension Day within the yr a thousand and finishing with an explosion off the coast of Greece - and the calamitous information that the Portuguese had pioneered a sea path to India - it is going to fascinate a person who loves Venice and the Mediterranean international.
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Additional resources for City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire
The astonishing basilica of St Mark, reconsecrated in 1094, was designed by Greek architects on the pattern of the mother church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople; its artisans recounted the story of St Mark, stone by stone, in imitation of the mosaic styles of St Sophia; its goldsmiths and enamellers created the Pala d’Oro, the golden altarpiece, a miraculous expression of Byzantine devotion and art. The whiff of spices on the quays of Venice had been carried a thousand miles from the go-downs of the Golden Horn.
With all the imperial pomp of Byzantine ritual, the emperor affixed his golden seal (the bulla) to a document that would change the sea for ever. He granted the city’s merchants the rights to trade freely, exempt from tax, throughout his realms. A large number of cities and ports were specified by name: Athens and Salonica, Thebes and Antioch and Ephesus, the islands of Chios and Euboea, key harbours along the coasts of southern Greece such as Modon and Coron – invaluable staging posts for Venetian galleys – but above all Constantinople itself.
The Venetians isolated them one by one and dropped anchor in their harbours. Curzola was stormed. Lagosta, ‘by whose violence the Venetians who sailed through the seas were very often robbed of their goods and sent naked away’, offered more stubborn resistance. The inhabitants believed their rocky citadel to be impregnable. The Venetians unleashed a furious assault on it from below; when that failed, a detachment made their way up by a steep path behind the citadel and captured the towers that contained the fort’s water supply.