Not only in Candia but in all the Venetian maritime and mainland
territories, the 1560s seemed to mark the emergence of a new attitude towards
the profession of military engineering,
and a different approach towards
managing the relationship between military command and technical execution. One
of the primary axioms underlying the work of the engineer was continuity, or
the idea of a link with tradition. This principle was also highly valued by the
Venetian Senate and the patricians sent to govern the island. As the
Senate wrote to the Captain of Candia Paolo Zorzi after Giulio Savorgnan's
departure from Candia, 'we have understood the need that this fortress has for
an engineer... if it is to be transformed to perfection'1. In his Discorso di
Giulio Savorgnan sulle fortificazioni ('Discussion by Giulio Savorgnan on
Fortifications') Savorgnan himself hypothesised the strict subordination of
technicians to the Venetian nobility: 'the task of fortification should be that
of the General Captain... and the office of the engineer is to be supervisor of
the building... nor should his role be considered as anything but pure
executor'2. A new sense of technical and professional pride is seen in these
comments written by Savorgnan (during a brief return to Candia 14 months after
his departure), as also revealed in the work of his successor Andrea
Nigrisuoli. A great deal of credit should be given to the Captain of the city,
Daniele Venier, but the highest honours go to the extraordinary ability of
Nigrisuoli, whom Savorgnan says has 'the weight of engineer, and has discharged
his duties both with diligence and knowledge of fortification, with which I am
very well satisfied.'3 The military engineer stood somewhere between the
Venetian patrician, unversed in technical strategy, who reasoned in general
terms, and the short-sighted civil engineer. Though the military engineer did
not hold decision-making powers - demonstrated by the difficulty in obtaining
for the works proposed - he turned out to play a decisive role in the
preparation of an efficient defense.
1 'habbiamo inteso il bisogno che quella fortezza avrà d'un ingegnere...
per essere ridotta a perfezione'
2 'il carico di fortificazione doveria essere del capitano general... et
l'officio dell'ingegnere è d'esser soprastante alla fabbrica...
né bisogna che l'oppera sua si usi in altro che in essere puro
3 'il peso di ingegnero ha fatto il suo officio si in la diligentia come nella
scentia della fortificazione ch'io sono rimasto molto sattisfatto'