The Image and the City - The Defense of Corfù previous_inactive 1/6 next

Corfù: the Levant and defensive architecture I


The advances in architecture in Corfù  and, more generally, in the Ionian islands  represent a crucial moment in the heated debate current in land  and sea territories  of the Republic on the definition of defensive structures, in anticipation of a similar polemic which would later involve Candia .

Following the Senate's determination to make Corfù 'the most powerful fortress that the times require',1 a significant controversy arose in 1537. In his 'Military Discourses' ('Discorsi militari') the General Captain Maria della Rovere shows us the bitter conflict which pitted the maximum forces of the military against the engineers, and thus probably against the most important engineer of them all, Michele Sanmicheli. In spite of the 'necessity of the time that restricted and removed the liberty of deliberation'2 the treatise points out some fundamental assumptions: the superiority of those who possess the principles of the military art over technicians, and the General Captain's power not only to establish hierarchies and organise staff and operations, but also to avert delays caused by the indecision of rulers, and hasten deliberations arriving from the capital, which may also have been due to the distance separating Venice from its maritime realms. In this case the issue of Corfù seemed to require solutions for different problems regarding institutional organisation, and clarification of the jurisdiction of General Captains, Venetian Provveditori, technicians, and government institutions themselves. Thus the Magistracy of 'Provveditori sopra fortezze' ('Fortress Administrators') was established in 1542, and a 1550 Senate decree sought to organise the network of relationships between men at arms and political representatives of the Serenissima  as well as assemble an archive of projects developed by the 'Provveditori sopra fortezze'.

1'la più galiarda fortezza che ai tempi rechiedono'
2'necessità del tempo che stringeva e toglieva la libertà del deliberare'

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