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City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire
Roger Crowley
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A History of Venice
Peter Dimock, John Julius Norwich

Some thoughts on the margins

City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire - Roger Crowley

Since I don't have the real margins to put them on.


Crowley says that the social structure of Venice was unusual for the time -  the lack of agricultural land meant there was no landed nobility which made the feudal system impossible. But they did have a hierarchy based on how far back a family could trace its family tree within the city, so "original settlers" vs johnny-come-latelys of various degrees of lateness. Reminds me of citizens vs metics in ancient Athens.



Don't know where Crowley takes his figures from, but he states that the population of Venice at the time of the infamous "Constantinople" Crusade was 60 000 (and Paris as big) and another 10 000 Venetians were living in Constantinople - that's one hefty diasphora!

And of course Constaninople was the megapolis - 400 or 500 thousand (I think first European city to near this mark was Paris but not before 1700-s).

Also, Venetians made up about 2% of the city population in Constantinople, which is not quite as... stressing for the locals as the chroniclers would have us believe.


On a side note, I love all the crying and shedding of tears - that happens quite often in old chronicles and literature, but every time I encounter it I marvel at how abruptly the perception of (manly) dignity has changed with the industrial revolution. Before there was absolutely no shame in emotional outbursts provided there was significant cause.


The sight of the old doge, blind, ninety years old, undoubtedly close to the end of life, offering to join the crusade, led to mass crying: ‘many tears were shed because this noble man, if he had wanted, had plentiful reasons for staying at home. He was an old man, and though he had fine eyes in his head, he could see nothing,’ recorded Villehardouin. Descending from the pulpit, Dandolo was led weeping to the high altar

 Or this (they did love theatrics - if there were none in real life, because we have no idea how these interactions transpired in the real life - they were sure to embellish their story accordingly. Note that this is a high-ranking Crousader writing, a seasoned warrior and military commander)


...the barons fell at their feet, all weeping, and said that they would not get up until those who were there promised not to leave them. And when the others saw this, they were moved to great compassion and wept bitterly when they saw their lords, their relatives and their friends fall at their feet.

 More weeping:


Alexius resorted to his own emotional blackmail: ‘on bent knees and drenched in tears, he implored us as a supplicant that we should go with him to Constantinople’.


Gotta love the drama! And any and all of these sensitive guys could kill a tough modern cynic in a heartbeat and not lose a single night of sleep afterwards.