Failed admirals came clanking in chains, triumphant ones with trumpets and cannon fire, trailing captured banners in the sea, the of St Mark streaming in the wind. Also like Blockbuster, whose ubiquity and be-kind-rewind hegemony were obliterated in an instant by a single innovation namely, streaming video over high-speed internet co Venice was the Blockbuster Video of medieval empires. Cyprus was held for nearly a century; you can still see Venetian fortifications at Famagusta. The first section starts with Venice's mercantile rise, and then goes into the story of the Fourth Crusade. A magisterial work of gripping history, City of Fortune tells the story of the Venetian ascent from lagoon dwellers to the greatest power in the Mediterranean - an epic five hundred year voyage that encompassed crusade and trade, plague, sea battles and colonial adventure.
I've now read all of his books and hope he writes more. Indeed, if you have travelled in the eastern Mediterranean, you will have come across traces of the Venetian presence here, there and everywhere, from delicate Italianate campaniles on Dalmatian islands to lowering fortresses in the Peloponnese. He writes vividly, quotes often from primary sources, and evokes an outward-looking, freewheeling, audacious cultural attitude in Venice—very different from the rest of Europe at that time. The enterprise only collapsed when the Portuguese and other west Europeans began sailing around the horn of Africa and eliminating the need for the Venetian middlemen. Landfall brought all the vicissitudes of life.
The first-hand accounts were vivid and helped piece the more tedious parts together. Roger Crowley was born in 1951 and spent part of his childhood in Malta. Crowley's book on Venice is about the Stato da Mar, and as such, is exactly one of the things I've been on the lookout for. And there were more Venetian-Ottoman wars: it was a Venetian mortar shell that, landing on an Ottoman ammunition dump, blew up the Parthenon in 1687. Through both books is the thread of the simmering and then open conflict with Islam that was to dominate the western world for so many centuries. He read English at Cambridge University and taught English in Istanbul, where he developed a strong interest in the history of Turkey. Three years later his second book, Empires of the Sea, told the story of the conflict in the Mediterranean between the Ottomans and the Christian powers during the 16th century, concentrating on the great siege of Malta and the famous victory over the Turks at Lepanto.
I felt Crowley did a great job with the narration, I was glued from the beginning. I have read many history books in my life, and studied history, but something about his back and forth lost me. The book then covers the fight near to the death with Genoa which lengthy war effectively killed off any chance of a Crusader and enabled the Ottoman threat to grow. Under the lion banner of St Mark, she created an empire of ports and naval bases which funnelled the goods of the world through its wharfs. We moderns often view the past through the warm mists of over-idealization or the dark clouds of easy condemnation. Drawing on firsthand accounts of pitched sea battles, skillful negotiations, and diplomatic maneuvers, Crowley paints a vivid picture of this avaricious, enterprising people and the bountiful lands that came under their dominion.
Certainly, the loss of Negroponte and the Battle of Zonchio aren't anything I recall hearing of before. He lives in Gloucestershire, England. Or, if it suited Venice, it diverted those crusaders for its own military goals, e. City of Fortune details Venice's golden age from 1200-1500, when the city-state ruled the seas in the the eastern Mediterranean and was powerful enough to conquer the Byzantines. But it was not an enjoyable read. As to why Venice eventually waned as a great power, that is as interesting as why the city rose in the first place. That culture, more than a key geographical location, is a major reason why Venice was the richest city in Europe during this period.
The sack of Constantinople and the Battle of Lepanto are especially vivid. I enjoyed the book very much and finished it within a day. Yet in his descriptions of the battles, his prose is so taut and tense, it is impossible not to be caught up in the harrowing action. Venice was a city of the water, rather than the land. City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire By Roger Crowley 405pp, Faber, £20. Overall, it gave me a great picture of what was happening in the trading cities of the eastern Mediterranean in the late middle ages, a world I only knew hazily about. It seemed that there was nothing but war, whether it was with other Italians, Turks or pirates.
Spoiler alert: For me one of the most interesting aspects of the story was how Venice lost its power. It was however a book based on original sources and I appreciated the effort and the information, it was just not fun, and usua I loved the subject matter of the book. At any rate, the entire subject is one I wish I could find more on in English. . The Venetian psyche, formed by their utter dependence on the sea and trade for their very survival, is explained very clearly and ultimately, these merchants of the Levant come across as… well, as hard-working, patriotic and, dare I say it, quite likeable people. Spices went overland from India and China to the Middle East from where the Venetians sailed them back to Venice. First, the Ottoman Empire conquered the remnants of the Byzantine Empire primarily Constantinople itself in 1453 and then proceeded to conquer most of the lands surrounding the eastern Mediterranean, from the Middle East to almost the gates of Venice itself, and in the process took away the city's trading ports and its access to markets.
Venice today is an Italian-Disneyland that provides little instruction as to its former economic grandeur and empire. Venetian justice, if brutal, was at least consistent. As ever, this is a very engaging narrative history, and is full of anecdotes and quotes to help it all come alive. Under the lion banner of St Mark, she created an empire of ports and naval bases which funnelled the goods of the world through its wharfs. That trip is on hold for a while, but I decided to finish the book.
But there are a few places where the places of this world are suggestive of and open to the worlds above and below. This is even more the centerpiece of the book than the Fourth Crusade's taking of Constantinople, and almost felt like it got a little drawn out, though I'm sure that's nothing compared to how the Venetians felt. With multiple European nations' armies participating in the Fourth Crusade, and with Venice providing the transport and the navy, the Crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204. From the opening of the spice routes to the clash between Christianity and Islam, Venice played a leading role in the defining conflicts of its time—the reverberations of which are still being felt today. With multiple European nations' armies participating in the Fourth Crusade, and with Venice providing the transport and the navy, the Crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204. Based on first hand accounts of trade and warfare, seafaring and piracy and the places where Venetians sailed and died, City of Fortune is narrative history at its finest.
The night was clear and bright; from the deck the snowy tops of the glimmered under a large moon. Yet in his descriptions of the battles, his prose is so taut and tense, it is impossible not to be caught up in the harrowing action. The only Italian city not in existence in Roman times, its inhabitants had created their own antiquity out of theft and borrowings; they manufactured their foundation myths and stole their saints from the Greek world. If long histories and patience are not your strong suit, this book may not be for you. The book starts with the Fourth Crusade and how Venice first of all diverted the crusade to clearing the Dalmatian coast and so gaining mastery of the Adriatic and then profited greatly from the division of the spoils from the sack of Constantinople where it used its existing maritime and commercial knowledge to ensure it took control of key ports and waterways while eschewing the land based pseudo-kingdoms that its rivals establi Excellent tale of Venice — concentrating on its maritime empire. As a maritime power, Venice built troop transports and ferried troops for the rest of Europe to the crusades. I've now read all of his books and hope he writes more.