City of Fortune : How Venice Ruled the Seas
by Roger Crowley

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More About City of Fortune by Roger Crowley
  • ISBN-13: 9781400068203
  • ISBN-10: 1400068207
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publish Date: January 2012
  • Page Count: 418

Related Categories

Books > History > Europe - Italy
Books > History > Medieval
Books > History > Renaissance

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-11-07
  • Reviewer: Staff

From a few isolated islands in Italy during the Middle Ages, Venice grew to the world’s greatest sea power, a position it held for 500 years. British historian Crowley (Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World) points out that, lacking land for agriculture, and well-positioned for sailing at the head of the Adriatic Sea, Venetians concentrated on trading. Preoccupied with commerce, they ignored the violent religious disputes of the era, but had no objection to violence in pursuit of profit. By 1000 C.E. Venice was thriving thanks to trading privileges with Constantinople, the wealthy capital of the Byzantine Empire. Despite this favoritism, Venice took rapacious advantage of the Empire’s decline, prospering despite innumerable bloody conflicts with its equally “pushy, pragmatic, and ruthless” rival, Genoa, and the advancing Ottoman Turks. Readers searching for cultural insights should read John Julius Norwich or Fernand Braudel; Crowley has written a rousing, traditional account that emphasizes politics, war, and great men, ending in 1500, when the voyages of discovery shifted the balance of power to Western Europe. B&w illus.; maps. (Jan.)

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