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Venice and the sea illustrates several aspects of Venetian power in the Levant: an ancient and controversial presence made up not only of economic and commercial relationships, but by violent struggles for control of the routes over which wealth travelled.

The encounter between Greek and Venetian civilisations was evolved over a long period of time, involving complex issues such as war and peace, the urgent needs of military organisation, and everyday aspects of civilian administration. For the Serenissima, Corfù, Candia, Cyprus, and Morea did not simply represent territories of occupation, however successful, but symbolised instead moments in which the Venetian government was questioning its own fortunes and destiny. Reform projects often failed and new ideas in the organisation of the military sector were then emerging in this part of the Mediterranean world.

Far more significant than legendary battles, when civilisations meet it means complex combinations of motives: from the use of language to production methods, law to urban organisation. These encounters can often turn into violent conflict, and there were, for example, periods of bitter resistance when the upper classes of Candia and Corfù defied the governors' attempts to make the taxation system more efficient. An example of this is the anti-Venetian uprising that set the Ionian islands ablaze in the mid-seventeenth century.

A complex relationship thus developed between those who controlled the sources of power and those who were expected to obey, which revealed independent resistance and affirmation of uncontaminated identity mixed with attempts to create a deeper involvement that spread out into a thousand aspects of everyday life.

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