European Forces Moving Around and Towards Italy Part II

According to TIMEDICTIONARY, Venice is better supported in the East than Genoa. The Turkish danger pushes many Christian populations of the islands towards it: Aegina, the Northern Sporades, Naxos. Cyprus too, your protectorate, it becomes direct domain in 1473. And yet his situation in the Adriatic is becoming difficult. In the first half of the 15th century, the Balkan Peninsula, with the fall of the kingdoms of Bulgaria and Serbia, is now almost entirely Turkish. Even Albania, after 1468, has the enemy on top. Scanderbeg stopped the flood for a few years. But when he died, every embankment collapsed. And, in 1480, there was the assault and sack of Otranto by the Turks, who are now also forming a decent naval power and are then backed by the small Barbary states of Northern Africa, while the raids had already begun. and the looting in Istria, up to the gates of Trieste and in Friuli, beyond the Isonzo, not well faced by Venice. The Turkish danger, together with the enmity towards the Venetians, helped to make the Triestines better disposed towards the Habsburgs. And when in 1470 the emperor Frederick III went to Trieste, there were those who, from the threatened city, turned to him as a defender from the new barbarians. That is, the Habsburgs began to appear as a shield of Christian Europe; what accredited them even more, urged them even more in their expansive tendencies, also directed especially towards the Adriatic and Italy. Venice and Italy also resented the Turkish advance westward in another way. The supply of necessary foodstuffs, especially wheat, for which Venice was a tributary of the Balkans and the Black Sea, as well as of Sicily and Puglia and Romagna became unsafe and uncertain. From the mid-15th century onwards, the sultan was able, in relations and wars with Venice, to make use of this means of struggle. And Venice often had to yield or compromise. Another consequence of the Turkish advance: a vast exodus of populations from the interior of the Balkan towards the coasts. Thus was accelerated that slow journey of the Balkan Slavs towards the coastal cities and islands of Dalmatia, which had lasted for centuries. Not only that: but for some decades, and especially during the invasion of Albania, the migratory current – Slavs, Greeks, Albanians – which moved from the eastern shores of the Adriatic and from Greece to the peninsula in the land of Abruzzo also swelled, in Puglia and Calabria, in Sicily.

In short, a circle of forces in movement around the peninsula: lineages still willing to migrate, mountain populations that tend to the plain and coastal cities, empires that advance from Asia towards central and southern Europe and towards the Mediterranean, small and great kings from beyond the Alps who, having reached a certain degree of power within, turn outwards, also to consolidate what they already possess inside. Dynastic and political interests prevail: but also some interests of the warrior classes, of peasants in search of land, of new bourgeoisies. There are royal crowns in sight, territories to be conquered, ancient rights to be refreshed; they want to obtain financial benefits, get their hands on roads and crossings, on ports, on ships for further enterprises, to promote trade and industries.

Certain artifacts of Italian industrial cities already feel a bit the bite of foreign competition: Fr. eg, of French drapes, brought up by fashion, like the styles of that country. It is known that in the second half of the 15th century, the Western monarchies carried out an accurate economic policy, which is part of the whole policy of strengthening the state: promoting their own industries, especially textiles (wool and silk), but also metallurgical ones ( weapons); to place obstacles to the export of raw materials and the importation of foreign goods; prevent the outflow of money and encourage that of local products; increase the merchant navy, reserving its traffic for it; etc. In short, the beginnings of commercialism.

In overseas fantasies, Italy is taking the place that the Far East had already occupied. Even from the East, once again in the hands of infidels, calls come back, as in the time of Pier l’Eremita. And it seems that the young and adventurous king of France is not insensitive to them. But how to go on a crusade towards the East, if you do not have the ports and ships of the peninsula? Here Italy must also serve Christianity, to combat the Turkish danger. In short, Italy was no stranger to the new life of Europe. With the Roman law, of which you renewed and spread the knowledge, you had helped to strengthen the monarchies. With his merchants and bankers he had given impetus to the economic life of the countries of Central and Western Europe. With its humanists and historians, he had put before the eyes of kings and educated classes the high ideal of conquering and ordering Rome, strengthened the dynasties, called attention to Italy, as a country of desirable and easy acquisition. In the 14th and 15th century, Genoese admirals organized and commanded Portuguese, French and Spanish naval forces; Italian masters of arms have perfected French artillery and made it the best in Europe; Venetian and Greek sailors from the Venetian fleet have moved on to strengthen the nascent Turkish navy; pilots and agents of Genoese or Florentine commercial companies, operating in oceanic countries, wonder if, sailing westward, one should not reach the Levant, the spice sites, which now struggle to arrive by land, through anterior Asia and Egypt. They are also, although aimed at practical activities, men of the Renaissance, men of the new climate, especially Italian. In short, Italy has operated and operates as a ferment within the surrounding Europe. And now the surrounding Europe, urged on by Italy, begins to gravitate towards Italy with all its weight, as it had been ten and more centuries earlier, after the vast plowing and upheaval caused by Rome in the world at the time.

European Forces Moving Around and Towards Italy 2