chapter  1
16 Pages

Groom of the Sea

Venetian Sovereignty Between Power and Myth
WithLuciano Pezzolo

While Venetian lordship of the Adriatic Sea was generally recognised as a fact by the fourteenth century, it was diversely viewed. Some commentators mixed envy with admiration; others added malice to their envy and accused the Venetians of ambition to rule others. The Venetians themselves, thanks to a myth built by chronicles and paintings, believed that they had exercised rightful dominion over the Adriatic from immemorial time and had won it by clearing the Adriatic of pirates and making it safe to sail. Their lordship was in fact less extensive and much more recent than they cared to recognise. The whole of the Adriatic Sea was indeed called the ‘Gulf of Venice’, and the Venetians undertook to police all of it, to exclude war fleets except by their permission, and to inspect all merchantmen within its waters to see whether their trade was in accordance with the Venetian navigation laws and treaties.