|Commander Kelly and friend in Venice|
Commander Kelly's Conservative tour continues with a Venetian interlude.
The Venetian Republic endured as the most democratic experiment in Europe from its founding around 1000 AD until it was compelled to surrender to Napoleon and the French in 1797. It was a maritime Republic founded by boatmen, sailors, merchants and traders. It had a powerful navy which dominated the Eastern Mediterranean for many years. It eschewed the rule of hereditary monarchs in favor of the election of Doges by an aristocratic Council. Venice preferred to be governed by elderly Doges such as Enrico Dandolo who was in his eighties when he led the Venetian contingent of the Fourth Crusade that sacked Byzantium in 1204. This was a form of built-in term limits.
Why should a Conservative in particular celebrate Venice? The Venetian Republic was the world's first and longest lasting model of a free society with limited government and an exuberant capitalist spirit--the Venetian Republic was Conservative! Frederic Lane opens his Venice: a Maritime Republic (Frederic C. Lane, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973, (http:/www.amzn.com/080181460X) by telling us that "Venice stands out as a symbol of beauty, of wise government, and of communally controlled capitalism. The distinctiveness of the environment in which the Venetians built gave an obviously unique quality to their city's charm. Its watery setting contributed to an aristocratic tradition of liberty...After 1000 AD. they became a seagoing nation, sailing trading, and fighting in many parts of the Mediterranean and the rivers of souther Russia to the English Channel. Finally, Venice became a city of craftsmen, functionaries, and a few aristocrats, a city renowned for its skills in handiwork, finance and government."
|Windows on Venice|
Venice relied upon her naval power to quell piracy and to protect the flow of commerce. Venice ruled the seas of the Eastern Mediterranean. Venice also colonised outposts such as Crete and Rhodes. The Arsenal in Venice was their naval storehouse and arms center. The Amerigo Vespucci (photo below) is a reminder of Venice's naval power and continues to be a training vessel for the cadets of today's Italian navy.
|Amerigo Vespucci in Venice|
Frederic Lane writes, "the histories of the United States and of Venice are remarkably similar in one respect. In the early history of both republics, the sea was a source of wealth contributing to the expansion of the rest of the economy...Venice, having used its ships and seamen to gain the lordship of the gulf, a colonial empire, and a leading place among centres of international trade, found later opportunities for growth in industry and finance."
Typical Venetian homes included a showroom on the main floor for display of a merchant's wares. There was no distinction between commercial and residential.
Special Thanks to Jeff Brummette and Donna Lancia for the wonderful Venetian memories!