1516-1564 1669-1718

The Republic of Venice, 1564-1669

After an extensive period of peace (1530-1564), war resumed with the Ottoman Empire, which since 1559 was pursuing a policy of expansion in the Mediterranean. Venice joined a Holy Alliance composed of Spain, the Kinghts of St. John, the Papal State and herself; the allied fighters were referred to as crusaders. The allied victory in the naval Battle of Lepanto (1571) stopped, for the moment, Ottoman expansion; yet the Venetian island possession of Cyprus had been lost to the Turks in 1570. With promised Spanish support failing to materialize, Venice in 1573 signed a peace treaty with the High Porte, recognizing the Ottoman possession of Cyprus. In 1574, King Henri of Poland, secretly escaping the country where he recently had been elected king, on his return to France, stopped by in Venice.
Venice had become a center of late Renaissance and Baroque art; Titian, Tintoretto, the Bellinis, Caravaggio painted here. In 1575-1577 Venice was struck by the plague, which took 51,000 lives (out of a population of c. 175,000).
In the late 16th century the papacy pressed on the Republic of Venice to go back on her policy of religious toleration (there were hardly any protestants among the Venetian population, but the republic permitted the English ambassador and visiting merchants to pray according to their own tradition). Even Swiss emigrant protestants were permitted to settle on Venetian territory. In 1605, the pope declared a ban over the republic. The Venetian republic stood to her principles. She evicted the Jesuits who were regarded pro-Spanish; the ban failed and was lifted in 1607.
In 1645 yet another war with the Ottoman Empire began, over the island of Crete (in Latin Candia, in Italian La Canea); it fell in 1669.
On the Italian mainland, Venice, with her trade interests in mind, long pursued a policy of neutrality.

The Role of the Venetian Oligarchy in the Reformation, Counter-Reformation, Enlightenment, and Thirty Years' War, by Webster Tarpley, Intro, Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt.3
Bergamo, from Walled Towns
REFERENCE John Julius Norwich, A History of Venice, NY : Vintage, 1989 : pp.464-575

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 9th 2002, last revised on March 24th 2006

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