Venice’s policy towards the Ionian and Aegean islands

Ruthy Gertwagen, Venice’s policy towards the Ionian and Aegean islands, c. 1204–1423, The International Journal of Maritime History 1–20 (2014), 1-20.

Περίληψη (Abstract), από σ. 1.
This paper discusses Venice’s policy between the thirteen and fifteenth centuries towards the Islands in the Ionian and Aegean seas. The traditional modern historiography attributes the establishment of the Stato da Mar or maritime empire by Venice to the outcomes of the Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) and to the partition agreement of the former Byzantine empire between the Venetian Doge and the Crusaders in October 1204, five months after the conquest of Constantinople by the host of the Fourth Crusade. Being a mercantile polity, Venice preferred ports and islands that ensured the Venetians safe anchorage on the way to the eastern Mediterranean as well as fertile islands that produced the products required in Venice. It is also argued that the Venetian empire was neither accidental nor philanthropic. The Venetian government actively worked to acquire and control territories beneficial to its own interests: to control the material and human resources of the Adriatic and Aegean in order to protect Venetian shipping and to bring honour and glory to the city. This paper revises these arguments and argues instead that, in the thirteenth century, Venice lacked the economic and military resources to create a maritime empire. While chronologically unfolding related events from the morrow of the conquest of Constantinople in 1204, this paper argues that only from the late fourteenth century did Venice follow a systematic policy of annexing islands that formed its Stato da Mar.