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').