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The Most Serene Republic of Venice

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In OTL the Republic of Venice lasted from roughly 697 - 1797. In this article the POD is after the Battle of Lepanto (1571).

VeniceFlag

Banner of The Most Serene Republic of Venice


Strengthening the Republic

After Venice and the Holy League defeated the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto, on​ October 7, 1571, and still lost the island of Cyprus, the Doge, The Council of Ten, and the Signoria realized they needed to restrengthen their Republic to protect themselves from the ever expanding Ottoman Empire.

The current government looked back to their history and how new and more powerful fleets of ships, both military and merchant were constructed when Doge Ordelafo

Coat of Arms of the Republic of Venice

Coat of Arms of The Republic of Venice

Faliero created what would become the Venetian Arsenal in 1104. During the 1580's the Venetian government, under Doge Nicolo da Ponte, began a program of constructing new ships, inviting shipbuilders, scientists, engineers, and other intellectuals into their Republic, allowing any and all the freedom to experiment with new technologies.

By the 1590's they also recognized the danger they were in with the relatively recent discovery of the New World across the Atlantic and how their place as one of the most powerful nations in Europe, which had been attributed in part to the Spice and Silk Route across Asia, would begin to wane unless they could open new trade routes with foreign ports. Since the richest areas of the New World were under the control of Spain, for the most part, they decided they would look south and east to seek trade and commerce. With this open invitation came some who petitioned the government to sponsor voyages of exploration, the majority of which looking to Africa and Asia for the most part, with a small minority petitioning for America.

Venice and The New World

New Venice

Nova Venizio

Expeditions began venturing out towards the Atlantic and heading south hugging the coast of Africa. Since by now many of the European nations had begun staking their claims in Africa, Venice's motive was not colonization or an overseas empire, but rather creating trading partners. It had become rich through its salt making industry and the silk and spice road, and would continue to rely on business and trade to increase its wealth. The minority who had won sponsorship to the New World ended up landing in present day North Carolina. They were greeted by the natives of the area and trade was almost immediately begun. The item that the Venetians saw the most potential in after bringing samples of it back to Europe was a peculiar weed that came to be known as tobacco. The act of smoking it was catching on rather quickly and the Venetian merchants knew an opportunity when they saw one. A trading deal was struck between the natives and the merchants. By 1610 a small trading post was constructed in present day Wilmington with a small port that would allow for the loading and unloading of items from the growing number of ships. The native Algonquian and Catawba tribes in the area prospered and with the help of the Venetians were able to fend off raids attempted by the English to the north. This allowed these two tribes to create a stable and prospering nation for themselves. Another commodity that the Venetians brought back were slaves from the Americas. Raids were conducted on inland tribes and the captives were sold to the Venetians who in turn sold these captives to the highest bidder in Europe.

Venice was aware that the three main powers in the New World were Spain, France, and England, and while the small nation had grown in strength, it had to be careful not to anger any of these three nations to the point where any of them would force Venice to give up its trading rights in North America. The small trading post (along the present day Cape Fear River) was officially named Poca Padova (Little Padua). By the 1630's the bond between the Algonquians, Catawbas, and the Venetians had become so strong, thanks to intermarriage, mutual defense of the territory, and profit from slaves and agriculture, the three peoples entered into an agreement and established, not a colony, but the overseas territory of Nova Venizio (New Venice), which would be as much a part of the Republic of Venice as the European territories. Much the same as in Venice, the territory would be governed by a council (Called the Council of Six, so this council would not rival the Council of Ten in Venice) and the head of the territorial government would be a Regolatore (Governor), and would also have representation in the Senate.

The American Venetians had conducted regular trade with the European colonies in the Caribbean, exchanging the tobacco, rice, American slaves, and later cotton from Nova Venizio for sugar cane, indigo, African slaves, ginger, and other commodities. While slavery existed in Nova Venizio, it was possible for a slave to earn his freedom and even become part of society. By the late 1600's it was not strange to see freed African slaves walking the streets of Poca Padova or the newly founded Città del Sindacato (Union City, named to honor the union between the Venetians, Algonquians, and Catawbas) or owning businesses, farms, or exporting slaves themselves. The territory became prosperous and profitable for both themselves and the Republic thanks to the salutary neglect of the Mother Country.

Venetians in Africa

The Venetian attempt to establish an overseas trade route with Asia for spices and silks got off to a rocky start, at best. During the early 16th century the sailing routes rounding the Cape of Good Hope were dominated by the Portuguese giving them a monopoly in trading with Asia. While the Venetians had been constructing ships with more advanced technology, they were not being produced in numbers that made much of a difference in their attempts to dent Portuguese domination of the Southern Atlantic. Most attempts by the Venetians heading south were met with hostility from the Portuguese. This did not stop the Venetians from venturing into Africa, however, and by the 1560's the Venetians made contact with the Portuguese at the islands that make up Cape Verde. The Portuguese had taken control of the islands 100 years earlier in 1462, making it an important stop along the Transatlantic Slave Trade and with Portuguese trade with Asia.

The Venetian merchants, after suffering numerous attacks on their vessels by the Portuguese, organized themselves into a union for mutual defense. With the blessing of the Pope (after making a generous "charitable" donation to the Vatican), the permission of the Doge, and the aid of the Venetian Navy an attack was mounted against the island Sal in the Cape Verde islands where the Venetians took control of the island. This sparked off a short one year conflict between the two maritime powers in 1564 that had ended with the Venetians gaining control of the northern islands (what are known as the Barlavento Islands), and the Portuguese retaining control of the southern islands (what are known as the Sotavento Islands).

Once the Venetians secured the Barlavento Islands they immediately set up an outpost on the island of Sal. Being virtually surrounded by the Portuguese the merchants began sending supplies and arms to reinforce the outpost. Once the reinforcements were complete, the Venetians wasted no time in moving south to gain control of the Sotavento Islands in 1566. The Portuguese turned to the Pope looking for papal aid in stopping the aggression of the Venetians. By the time the Pope could attempt to level any kind of decree to stop the conflict, the Venetians had been successful in destroying the Portuguese forces on the Sotavento Islands and holding off the Portuguese Navy coming from the North. Under pressure from the Portuguese, the Pope "implored" the Venetians to return the Sotavento Islands to the Portuguese. The Venetians, however, "respectfully" refused claiming the islands were compensation for the numerous attacks by the Portuguese on Venetian ships and any financial loss suffered from the lack of trade. With the control of the Cape Verde Islands under the Venetians in 1568, the Portuguese monopoly over the southern Atlantic was finally broken.

By 1571 the Venetians began pushing east towards the African coast, venturing into the territory of the Songhai Empire (also known as the Mali Empire, however it was still under Songhai control). Being a nation of merchants, the Venetians made numerous attempts to trade with the Africans, which were greeted cautiously, but curiously. Slowly, a trading relationship between the two peoples took root, which allowed the Venetians to venture

into the African interior, making contact with different tribes such as the Mande, the Mandinka, and the Wolof. Over several months, with the aid of the Mandinka tribe, the Venetians were able to push toward the Niger River and follow it towards the cities of Djenne, Timbuktu, and Gao. The exploits and boldness of the Venetians made their way to the court of Askia Daoud (Askia was a title which meant "forceful one"), ruler of the Songhai Empire. He had sent word for the Venetians to make their way to his court so he might know these aliens in his Empire. Within approximately 6 months the Venetians and Askia Daoud reached a trading agreement that would be profitable for both nations. Between 1573 and 1582 (the death date of Askia Daoud) the Venetians and Songhai Empire re-established the medieval Trans-Saharan trading routes between Egypt, Ethiopia (than known as Abyssinia), North Africa, and the Songhai Empire as well as a sort of cultural exchange between the two nations (which included education, government, philosophy, art, music, etc...) After the death of Askia Daoud there was a short period of civil strife that ended with the ascendance of Askia Ishaq II to the throne. Under his rule the empire began to experience a decline due to his inability to rule effectively and the corruption that was rising in the government of the Empire.

To the north, Venetian merchants had heard news of the Saadi ruler of Morocco, Ahmad al-Mansur, who had begun to eye the Songhai Empire greedily, seeing it as becoming weak under Askia Ishaq II. The Venetians were not about to lose such a valuable trading center and began to look for a replacement ruler, someone who not only was displeased with the rule of Askia Ishaq II, but who was also friendly and receptive to the Venetian agenda.

Askia

Askia Adama Muhammad

They found this in a general of the Songhai Army, Adama Jibril Sisawo. In 1585, under Adama Jibril Sisawo, the army staged a bloodless coup and removed Askia Ishaq II from the throne. Sisawo was named the new Askia who took the name Askia Adama Muhammad (keeping his first name, but taking as his second name that of Askia Muhammad the Great). Under his rule, sweeping reforms were instituted in a successful attempt to wipe away much of the corruption and infighting that took place under Ishaq II. By 1590 the empire had regained much of its former stability.

This, however, did not stop the ambitions of al-Mansur, who in 1590 mounted a campaign to conquer the Songhai Empire. With aid from the Venetians, the Songhai were able to repel the Moroccan forces from their borders. In 1591, a last ditch effort was made by the Moroccan forces at the Battle of Tondibi. With the aid of Venetian advances in military technology, the Songhai delivered a crushing defeat that left the Moroccan army shattered. In the north, to act as a distraction, the Venetians launched raids against the coastal Moroccan cities of Melila, Ceuta, Tanger, and Sale. The Venetians decided to take these raids a step further and in 1593 they were successful in taking the cities of Ceuta and Tanger, giving them control of the southern edge of the Strait of Gibraltar. Under the rule of Askia Adama Muhammad both the Songhai Empire and the Republic of Venice enjoyed a continued trading relationship with only minor disputes between the two.

By 1600 the Songhai began pushing south into the Oyo Empire (present day Nigeria) and into the lands of the Ashanti (present day Ghana) and the Kingdom of Benin. By 1620 the Songhai Empire extended up to the southern borders of Morocco, and controlled all the territory south to present day Sierra Leone, and the regions of the Pepper Coast, Ivory Coast, Gold Coast, Slave Coast, & Benin making it one of the strongest and most prosperous of the African Empires

...map coming soon for this section (Jmcmt2003 04:58, March 15, 2010 (UTC))

Venetians in Asia

With the capture and securing of Cape Verde the Venetians were able to begin heading south around Africa without the intense level of harassment from the Portuguese. With a large portion of the African coast under the control or influence of the Portuguese, the Venetians were limited in the areas they could resupply. In seeing this problem, they felt the only solution was to find their own resupplying post. The best option was Ascension Island off the coast of Africa. While it had been discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, the island was not inhabited with any permanent settlements. It provided the perfect place to provide the Venetians with their resupplying needs. In 1572 they set up defenses first, followed by a watering station, a small pig farm, and a small fishing fleet which would provide Venetian ships with all their victualing needs. A year later, the Venetians, in heading south, came in sight of the island of St. Helena. They found fruit trees, small vegetable fields, and a very sparse Portuguese population who were given a choice to stay on the island under Venetian control or be forcibly removed. By 1575 both Ascension Island, St. Helena, and the archipelago of Tristan da Cunha were under Venetian control. By 1585, they were given the distinction of being named as a duchy of the Republic of Venice: The Duchy of the Atlantic Archipelago.

While the Venetians had been successful in securing numerous islands in the Atlantic, the memory of the Battle of Diu (1509), which greatly reduced the importance of the old Spice Road that went through the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, was still fresh in the nation's mind. When the Portuguese defeated the combined forces of the Sultan of Gujarat, the Mamlûk Burji Sultanate of Egypt, the Zamorin of Kozhikode with support of Ottomans, the Republic of Venice and the Republic of Ragusa, it secured their position as the dominant European power in the Indian Ocean. Now that the Venetians had established themselves as a power in the Atlantic, they had made it very dangerous and expensive for the Portuguese to round the Cape of Good Hope.

By 1590, Venetians merchants were taking the initiative and were cautiously pushing into the Indian Ocean. These ships were not the typical sailing vessels that most of the European nations had relied on for centuries, but rather had been outfitted with two new technological advancements that had been pioneered by the scientists and engineers who had flocked to Venice, the steam engine and the side paddle wheel. With these two new developments the Venetian ships progress was much quicker and deliberate. Instead of being at the mercy of the winds or storms, the captains of these ships could much more easily determine where they wanted to go and when they would reach them. The old smooth bore guns aboard these ships had also been changed out for the new rifled guns. Rifling, and the process to create rifled artillery had recently been perfected in Venice and her merchants spared no expense in arming their ships with these new marvels.

The most logical place for the Venetians to land was on the shores of the Ethiopian Empire in East Africa. The Ethiopians were well acquainted with the Venetians thanks to business dealings through the Songhai Empire. It was in their ports they were able to find safety and supplies. The Venetian merchants plans were to round the Arabian Peninsula and attempt to re-establish the old trade relations their nations had with the Arab peoples during the old days of the silk road. However, this proved to be a daunting task as the Portuguese had already established trade in many of these places.

It was during 1595 that a very enterprising young merchant named Constantine Moulketis, who had escaped from Greece with his family and settled in the Venetian Republic, had a very interesting, if not impossible idea. He was traveling aboard one of the ships of his employer in the Red Sea when he was studying a map of the ancient sea. Upon seeing the Gulf of Suez and the short stretch of land that separated it from the Mediterranean Sea, he questioned if it would be possible to build a canal connecting the two seas. This would allow Venice greater and quicker access to the Indian Ocean and could ruin Portugal's control of trade in Asia. The true challenge would be to convince the Ottomans that constructing a canal across their territory would be advantageous to them as well. When he presented the idea to the Doge, his ideas were flatly turned down as the Republic was heavily invested in other ventures and did not have the capital to engage in such a risky project, especially with their old enemies the Ottomans.

Strengthening the Adriatic

Da Vinci's Battle Tank

Replica of the da Vinci Battle Wagon sold by the Venetians during the Thirty Years War

For centuries, the Republic of Venice was the most powerful nation in the Adriatic Sea. With the growing threat of the Ottoman Empire the Republic felt it had to strengthen its hold over the Adriatic. In the late 1570's the Republic began negotiating with the Ottoman Empire, offering them the islands that made up the Duchy of Archipelago (knowing from sources in the Ottoman Empire that they had desires for it) in exchange for aid in conquering coastal areas held by the Hapsburg ruler of Hungary, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (as Hungary was part of the Holy Roman Empire) in the areas of Montenegro, as well as control of the city of Drubovnik (ruling city of the Republic of Ragusa). Ten years later they negotiated with the Ottomans once again offering them Crete in exchange for the coastal territories that made up Croatia and Albania. By the early 1600's the Republic of Venice would be the major controlling force in the Adriatic Sea and took precautions to fortify their newly acquired territories.

Republic of Venice 1600

Republic of Venice 1600

They encouraged the local populations to send their children to schools and universities in the Veneto, and made efforts to spread their influence and ideas into these

Battle Wagon Inside

Battle Wagon interior

new areas to make them part of the Republic, and not just client states. Local leaders were given respected positions and within the Signoria, a version of a Senate that had been created resembling the Senate of ancient Rome to see that all areas of the Republic was represented. The government was still oligarchic for the most part, but this Senate went towards bringing a sort of unity among the expanded Republic of Venice.

The Venetians were careful to remain neutral when the Thirty Years War broke out in 1618. The Catholic Church still had a prominent place within the Republic, and partook of the profits the Republic was making in trade, exploration, and its new holdings in the New World. When the war was fully under way, it was Venice that the Holy Roman Empire turned to for ships and other new technologies, many of which were based on the designs of Leonardo da Vinci, such as the Battle Wagon (early version of the tank) which was enlarged to accommodate an early version of a steam engine used to turn a turret atop the Battle Wagon, as well as multiple barreled musket carts. Not wanting to miss out on a profit, they also secretly sold weapons to the Swedes and the French.

Because of these new technologies, the Thirty Years War became even more destructive than in OTL.

With the ever present threat of the Ottoman Empire the Venetians copied the idea of Oliver Cromwell and created a new army, making military service compulsory, with the option of making the military a career. The Ottomans had been keeping their eye on the little merchant nation and decided that they would make an excellent addition to their empire.

The Adriatic War (1641 - 1647)

The Ottoman Empire had watched the Republic of Venice grow in wealth, power, and military might. With the naval fleet the Venetians had constructed, the more advanced technologies they were developing with the aid of the scientists and engineers that had moved to Venice, and the control they had over the Adriatic Sea, the Ottomans thought it was only a matter of time before they set their sights on the lands further south; Greece.

Under Sultan Ibrahim I, the Ottoman's, well aware that the Venetians had acquired Montenegro from the Holy Roman Empire with their aid, decided to negotiate with Emperor Ferdinand III to help put down the "upstart republic". Their plan was to invade from the north and east coming over the mountains, and south coming up through the Adriatic. The conflict, which began in 1641, turned out to be a massive blunder on the sides of both the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Any and all weapons shipments to the Holy Roman Empire ceased. The people living in the areas of Montenegro that were part of the Republic fought hard to remain a part of the Republic.

Adriatic War

Ottoman Territory Conquered By Venice After The Adriatic War

The Republic also gained reinforcements from the Algonquian, Catawba, and Venetian-Americans that were part of Nova Venizio across the Atlantic; however, many of the Native Americans died of illness before even making it to Europe, and the rest either died in Europe unable to stand against the tactics used by the Europeans, or proved too weak to fight. The advanced technologies the Venetians had developed for both sea and land were instrumental in the fight against the allied Empires. What had been a major tide turner for the Venetians had been the further advancements on the steam engine and the side paddle wheel design. These advancements made the ships more maneuverable and allowed the Venetians to easily destroy the Ottoman fleet. The plan of the Republic was to simply defend their borders against the Holy Roman Empire and hold out long enough for the Empire to realize they were expending too much men and material against the Republic, especially since they were fighting a larger war in the North (Thirty Years War).

With the destruction of a large portion of the Ottoman Navy in May, 1644, the Venetians were able to push South and captured the eastern portion of Greece and the Peloponnese. The Republic also regained the island of Crete. With the loss of Crete, the Ottoman Empire lost a major controlling point of the eastern Mediterranean.

Diving model

Replica of Leonardo Da Vinci's diving suit, as used during the Adriatic War.

Across the Strait of Otranto, the Kingdom of Naples had been observing the war with great interest. With control of Eastern Greece and Crete going to the Venetians, the Spanish rulers of the Kingdom of Naples began to see Venice as a major threat. As the Republic gained control of more and more land they would be the dominant force in the central Mediterranean. In October , 1644, the Kingdom of Naples launched an attack across the Strait of Otranto in the Albanian region of the Republic. They had determined this would be the perfect time to stage an attack since much of the Venetian fleet would be in the south pursuing the Ottoman Fleet. The attack came as such a surprise to the Venetians they were unable to stop the Neapolitans, who were able to drive completely across the Venetian territory.

The Neapolitan forces than began to push north towards Venice. Their plan was for their land forces to travel northward with their navy supporting them. The Neapolitans negotiated with the Papal States to pass through their territory which would make attacking Venice by land easier. The Pope, however, refused not wanting to involve themselves in this conflict. This made the Neapolitans progress north that much more difficult.

The Neapolitans also were not as prepared as they thought to combat the Albanian, Serbian, Croatian, Dalmatian, and Montenegran peoples. Their progress through the mountainous and heavily forested region was slow and bloody. The defense of the Balkans also saw the first use of a diving suit first invented by Leonardo da Vinci, now much improved, which was put to use harassing the anchored Neapolitan ships. The smaller ships that the Venetians had left in the Adriatic to provide some protection for the city of Venice itself acted as a harassing force which served to slow down the Neapolitan forces further. The Republic was able to hold the Neapolitan forces off until 1645. In 1646 word had reached the Venetian Navy who immediately made their way back to the Adriatic. As they entered through the Strait of Otranto they were greeted by a force of Neapolitan ships attempting to stop their progress. The Venetian forces were hampered by the Neapolitan forces, but were able to gain the upper hand thanks to the more advanced Venetian ships. This came to be known as known as the Battle of the Otranto Strait - 1646.

The Venetian Navy sailed further north and attacked the Neapolitan Navy. With the depletion of a great deal of the supplies of the Venetian Navy, the battle off the coast of Dalmatia was an extremely hard fight for the Venetians. They were able to finally defeat the Neapolitans by copying the English victory over the Spanish Armada and sent fire ships in and among the crippled Neapolitan fleet. The surviving Neapolitan ships fled west towards their home ports leaving their land forces to their fates in the Balkans. The Venetian forces were too weak after pursuing the Ottoman Navy, and than chasing the Neapolitan Navy from its shores to mount an attack after the Kingdom of Naples. However, the Doge and the Venetian government were well aware that Naples was going to be a constant threat to the Venetians, and it would not be long before they had to fight them again for control of the Strait of Otranto. For now, they needed to pull back, and bring their newly conquered territory under their control.

Survival of Nova Venizio

The years 1642 - 1649 were hard for Nova Venizio. The colonial territory had been cut off from the Mother Country during the entire duration of the war as well as two years following due to naval skirmishes with both the Neapolitan and Spanish Navy in the Mediterranean and in the Strait of Gibraltar. After two years of negotiations the combatants finally came to terms and stability returned to the region. By September 1649 the Venetians were able to sail through both the Straits of Otranto and Gibraltar unhindered. However, the Nova Venizio they had left, was not the Nova Venizio they found.

It wasn't until the early summer of 1642 that Nova Venizio experienced its first difficulty when 3 slave ships bound for the Republic were attacked by ships of the Spanish Navy. The slavers, having minimal armaments, were forced to turn back to the port of Poca Padova. Any further attempts to leave North America were met with the same welcome by the Spanish. This was the same for any ship that attempted to leave Nova Venizio. Raids on the southern reaches of Nova Venizio were made by the Spanish who were beginning to push northward from Florida, harassing the rice and tobacco planters and raiding the Native American villages. Not only was Nova Venizio robbed of the ability to export any goods, any country attempting to trade with the small colony was prevented from doing so. The ports of Poca Padova and Città del Sindacato began to overflow with goods like rice, tobacco, corn, and slaves; all ready for export. The colonial government had come to the conclusion that they were on their own, perhaps permanently, and if they were to survive drastic changes had to be made. The raids by the Spanish were increasing and they were gaining allies in the form of the Cherokee, the Monacan, and Shawnee tribes who were major targets of the slavers. Farms were burned, and massacres were occurring on the frontier of the colony leaving few survivors. The colonial Regolatore and the Council of 6 came to a consensus: all enslaving activity will cease indefinitely, the slaves crowding the ports will be released since they would be a toll on any remaining supplies, all remaining food stuffs will be brought into the fortified towns to be rationed out among the populace, and there was to be no offensive retaliation for the raids - defensive only.

There were some who slipped past the Spanish ships to make it into Poca Padova and Cittá del Sindacato, Dutch, Swedish, and English ships. It was from these sailors they came to find out about the war between the Republic and the Ottomans and the Spanish/Neapolitans. These ships, once in, often found it difficult getting back out. With these ships piling up in the harbors the colonial government came upon a plan that could help the colony. The ships stuck in the colony were contracted as privateers to act against the Spanish ships. They would be permitted to keep whatever booty they find, and take refuge within the outer banks off the coast of Nova Venizio where a ship could easily hide. In return they were expected to pay 5% of their take to the city as well as split any of the captured arms and munitions with the colony. This money would than be used to pay off the Spanish raiders and keep them at bay, which worked for a few years. The colony was able to sustain itself for a time through careful and clever farming techniques, rationing, piracy, and bribing the Spanish and Native American raiders to keep away from their borders, however there were deaths from malnutrition, disease, and during the lean winters, outright starvation. A saving grace came in 1646 for the Venetians when they began trading with the English to the north more readily. The Nova Venetians were able to obtain ammunition, seed, and other supplies they desperately needed in exchange for information they had gathered on the Spanish in terms of their defenses and positions along the coast and inland. Being the merchant society they were, the Nova Venetians were able to spot an opportunity and capitalize on it.

All the exposure to sailors from protestant lands and with the English to the north, a change began taking place within the colony. The intermingling of the numerous cultures: Italian, Croatian, Swedish, Native American, Albanian, Dutch, African-Muslim, African-Pagan, English, Montenegran, and Serbian began to blend together, especially in the towns, creating the beginnings of a new culture of sorts (much the same as what happened in New Orleans in OTL). New religious and political ideas bled into the colony and technological and scientific advances the colonists brought with them found their way out to the populace of Nova Venizio.

By 1648 the colony found it harder and harder to pay off the raiders, as their prices had gone up. Unable to meet their price, the colony was subject to more raids across their borders. However, they had also accumulated a supply of cannon, powder, shot, and muskets from the ships they were raiding, and coupling this with their own level of technology were able to hold off the attacks for the next two years. Aid also came from the north when the English began pushing south past Nova Venizio (by water and by land) and began attacking Spanish settlements and trading posts. By the time ships began arriving from Venice, Nova Venizio had become more like its own country than simply an overseas Venetian Territory.


The Otranto Alliance

The Venetians had kept a watchful eye on the coast of Naples since they had repelled the Spanish/Neapolitan invasion in 1647. Venetian spies had been sent into Naples to gather information on the strength of their forces and any plans to invade the Republic again. The intelligence gathered by the Venetian spies told the Doge and his advisors that the Spanish/Neapolitans had been amassing arms and were also building up their navy and army. While the Venetians were already involved in a conflict with the Ottomans, the Spanish/Neapolitans learned the Venetians technological advances in warfare and engineering and the tenacity of the people in those lands they controlled in the Balkans had made all the difference in repelling them back across the Adriatic. They had attempted to duplicate some of the scientific and engineering advances the Venetians had developed with minimal success. However, the intelligence reports on the size of the Spanish/Neapolitan army and navy worried the Venetians greatly. There were no reports of any invasion plans from across the Adriatic, but the Venetians still felt threatened at having such an aggressive enemy so close. A new strategy was employed by the recently elected Doge, Francesco Molin, who believed the best way to destroy an enemy or a potential enemy is to make them an ally.

The Doge needed an ally in Western Europe against the enormous and powerful Ottoman Empire, which was an ever present threat to the Christian nations of Western and Northern Europe. The Doge's spies in the Ottoman Empire said the Sultan, Mehmed IV, was refocusing their efforts to retake Crete and the Peloponnese from the Venetians. If Venice fell to the Ottomans, many in Europe believed Rome was next. The Spanish had become rich from their colonies in the New World and would make an excellent ally to the Most Serene Republic. What remained was giving the Spanish a reason to ally themselves with Venice and what they could gain from an alliance with Venice and eventually making war with the Ottoman's. Doge Molin decided to stage a demonstration for the Spanish off the coast of Apulia showing what their scientific and engineering advancements were and how they could benefit the Spanish. He also made it plain to the Spanish King, Philip IV, that Venice was the first line of defense of Christendom, if they fall, the Papal States fall next. The final piece to his plan was to show the Spanish what they could gain if they allied themselves with Venice: Northwest Africa. By this time the Ottomans controlled Northern Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, giving them a major presence in the western Mediterranean Sea. Remove the Ottomans from the Northwest African coast and this would make Spain masters of the western Mediterranean.

Venice also had assurances of the Songhai Empire that they would provide aid in the form of troops and would also conduct raids into the African coast on the Red Sea, particularly the area that is modern day Eritrea which is rich in mineral wealth.

Doge Molin also entered into an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire to secure their aid in attacking from the North. The Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, was already well acquainted with the technology and fighting prowess of the Venetians, but was enticed by the Doge into entering into an alliance with Venice at the prospect of regaining lands in Hungary and the Northwest Balkan Peninsula.

By 1650, the Republic of Venice, the Kingdom of Spain/Naples, and the Holy Roman Empire had entered into an alliance that would come to be known as The Otranto Alliance.

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