War and Peace - The 16th Century previous_inactive 1/3 next

The Arsenale and the preparation for war I


In November of 1500 a Senate  law declared that 'Our state, both on land and sea, depends greatly on the Arsenale'1. Another Senate law of 1483 emphasised the fact that the production of the Arsenale  was aimed at 'the matters of war in particular'2. It was only in the first half of the sixteenth century that the famous Arsenale of Venice began to acquire a definitive identification as an instrument of war. The 1540s actually represented a turning point in the overall development of the Venetian defense system.

In 1542 a Magistracy of Fortresses  was established, which had jurisdiction over fortification in the maritime and mainland dominions, and over the arsenals of sea territories of the Republic.

In 1545-46 the recruiting system for Venetian galley  crews was reformed, and a permanent reserve fleet was established. Most importantly, a new Magistracy was formed, known as the 'Sea militia' ('alla Milizia da Mar') which was entrusted with the task of enlisting galley rowers, nominating officials and admirals, and providing armaments. This body included 4 members from the Senate  and 16 from the Maggior Consiglio  ('Grand Council'), in addition to other members from technical and military magistracies that had been created earlier - Arms Administrators  ('Provveditori all'armar'), Patrons of the Arsenale  ('Patroni all'Arsenale'), Provision Administrators  ('Provveditori alle biave'), and Artillery Administrators  ('Provveditori sopra l'artigliera').

1 'nell'Arsenale nostro consiste in buona parte il nostro Stato sì da terra come da mar'
2 'particolarmente nelle cose da guerra'

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Venezia e il mare
Le isole, le fortezze, le difese contro i Turchi
© 1997 by the VENIVA consortium