La Serenissima: Venice, Dawn of a New Power 2.0

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Franciscus Caesar, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. RyuDrago Italian? Yes, but also Roman

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    And the necessity to find a more powerful form of propulsion shouldn't push the Venetians to think about over possible solutions? Why not steam-powered submarines as a possible start?
     
  2. Braganza Well-Known Member

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    Quoting Napoleon: "You mean to make a ship sail against wind and tide by lighting a bonfire under its deck? I have no time for such foolishness."

    I guess the Venetians may adopt steam-power gradually. But for the 1500s is too much.
     
  3. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Agreed. But for a nation built on the graces of the seas, port city defence is really the biggest bonus needed. The plans are good for more than just submarines and tech-reasons however, which is what da Vinci feared IOTL.

    I've learned my lesson in the past about realism. While we may expect a faster advance in submersible technology (as Ryu as proposed, possibly steam driven?), it is *highly unlikely that the 1500s ITTL will see submarines fit for active military/espionage use, other than than for port defence.

    * Highly Unlikely. Not impossible. I haven't written that far yet
     
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  4. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Part 4, Aiuto

    May: Admiral Reis sets sail from Lepanto and heads to the Venetian island of Corfu. Upon his arrival he begins bombarding the ports on the island.

    August: The Venetian fortress at Modon is bombarded by Admiral Reis from the sea. The town is eventually captured, as well as many of Venice’s Greek possessions. The population of Modon is massacred without mercy.

    Doge Barbarigo is furious at the loss of a key city for the republic’s trade network. A fleet is sent to meet Kemal Reis at Coron. The situation is beginning to look grim for the republic. Though it’s performed better than was expected, the cost has been the destruction of a considerable fraction of the Venetian fleet. The Doge meets with the Consiglio dei Dieci to discuss the state of affairs. They deem that with no end to this war in sight, and war in Italy looming, emergency actions are required.

    The Arsenal is ordered to complete 12 new galleys immediately, as well as increase production of smaller naval vessels. In terms of outfitting these smaller vessels, the Arsenal is capable of producing a fully equipped unit at the incredible rate of one per day (i). The same vessel could take months to produce anywhere else in Europe.

    Meanwhile, Doge Barbarigo requests help from the Pope and the Catholic Monarchs of Spain.

    September: The Venetian replacement fleet, along with the two remaining French galleys from the battle at Zonchio, meets the Ottomans off the coast of Coron. In the battle that follows, the fleet is left on the verge of complete destruction, though the Ottomans are driven back to Modon. While the city is safe for now, morale is nil knowing that Admiral Reis’ army of 15,000 craftsmen will have his fleet repaired immediately. The remaining Venetian fleet at Coron will not last a second battle.

    October: Given the speed at which Venice has been able to replenish its forces throughout the war, Kemal Reis assumes that after the month since the last battle, Coron is likely refreshed and ready for another attack. Rather than face another costly battle, Reis decides to attack other targets such as Voiussa and Lefkada.

    By late October, Reis takes his exhausted fleet, ends his campaign and heads back to Constantinople.

    November 8: A Spanish-Venetian army commanded by Gonzalo de Cordoba retakes Cefalonia from the Ottomans. This deals a harsh blow to the Ottomans, stretched thin over their new Greek-Venetian holdings.

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    (i) This may sound intense, but it is the same rate as OTL.
     
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  5. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Just as clarification to those who read the old thread, this war did not take place in version 1 because the premise that Bayezid II was uninterested in European affairs. In version 2.0 (for the sake of realism) this is not the case
     
  6. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Part 5, The First Light of the Dawn

    November 11: Fearing French interference in Italy once again, Ferdinand II of Aragon joins the alliance with France. The terms are that the two nations will split Naples amongst themselves.

    January, 1501: Doge Agostino Barbarigo seeks peace with the Ottomans. Although the war was costly for both sides, the small republic has far more to lose than the mighty empire. Asides the military losses suffered, while the war raged Sultan Bayezid II began to give more favorable trade conditions to the Florentines, who are rivals of the Venetians. Venice has long been the favored trade partner with the Ottomans, and Barbarigo can’t allow that to change. The peace agreement is simple, and states that Venice recognizes all Turkish gains. Some territory, as well as goods confiscated during the war, is returned to Venice, but most importantly trade resumes. Barbarigo is exhausted, and his health is failing.

    By March, the 12 galleys slated for immediate completion last August are finished. Barbarigo’s health is in terrible condition, leaving his Vice-Doges to run the country. Given the climate and recent events in the region, they decide to follow on the Dodge’s previous order and continue with naval expansion. 6 more galleys will be finished immediately.

    Mid- 1501: French and Aragonese armies seize Naples.

    September 20: Doge Agostino Barbarigo dies. The bells atop the clock tower in Piazza San Marco, which he laid the foundations for, play a special hymn for him.

    October 2: Leonardo Loredan is elected Doge of Venice with the minimum sufficient number of votes for the election.

    1502: The two kings now quarrel over the division of the spoils; Ferdinand's insistence that he be recognized as king of both Naples and Sicily soon leads to war between France and Spain. Venice sides with the French against Spain.

    February: the Arsenal finishes 6 more galleys.

    Doge Loredan is an intelligent man. Born into wealth, he spent his formative years studying politics and commerce, eventually becoming a successful businessman. Part of his political acumen stemmed from his business prowess, and ability to read people and situations and capitalize on them. He reasons that Venice will soon cease to be successful while it is surrounded by powers that make the entire peninsula shake with fear of their every move. The Ottoman poaching of Venetian lands, and the repeated threat of French meddling in Italy, as well as Spain, leads the Doge to conclude that a political agenda set on maximizing Venice’s power projection as a nation is the appropriate measure for his tenure as Doge. The fate of the Serene Republic no longer rests solely in the hands of its economic power, slowly eroding at the hands of the Ottomans and Portuguese. Instead, its fate rests on its ability to defend its dominions effectively in order to keep trade flourishing. (i)

    Leonardo resolves that the expansion of the navy put forward by his predecessor will be continued. Since he does not possess great military knowledge, this decision is greatly prejudiced by the influential Andrea Loredan. Andrea discusses with the Doge countless times about the battles fought at Zonchio. He describes them as if Venice didn’t lose the battles, and blames “the outcome” on a lack of a bigger fleet. (ii)

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    (i) Its fitting to have this paragraph on Loredan, as this is the point where the old TL really begins. This was my original first PoD (Venice starts expanding its navy)

    (ii) Anrdrea Loredan lives ITTL thanks to actions taken by Maranazzo at Zonchio. He was a respected member of Venetian society, and his scewed opinions of the greatness of the Venetian fleet will have a direct impact of the Doge’s decisions.
     
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  7. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    What the Venetians really need are bonafide galleons, good seaboats, ones they can arm with cannons - a century early.

    For one thing, it cuts down on the manpower needed (and less need for slaves). For another, it would give them more maneuverable and faster ships. Dalmatia can supply them with all the hardwood they need for masts and spars.

    Unfortunately, there's a reason why sailing ship advances came from Atlantic powers like Portugal, England and Holland, and not in the Mediterranean. Perhaps Leonardo can jumpstart that, but I doubt it.
     
  8. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Well put. This is a problem that has already come up in the other TL as a necessity for Venice's future naval power. This will be dealt with effectively, keeping with your reasoning about the colonial powers being able to make the advances.
     
  9. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Update/Recap/Discussion

    The first 5 parts that have finally all been posted are the ones I had ready to go. I'm working on the new ones so posting of new updates *may not be as prompt for a while.

    Update 5 signifies this TL lining up with the beginning of the first one, offering a background into why Loredan chooses to expand the Venetian navy. Up until this point, the TL has pretty much reflected a similar hostory to OTL for the most part. From this point on the history in the TL will break from our events and start to become its own.

    In the meantime, I'd like to hear any reader feedback on the TL. Anything you don't like, do like, suggestions, clarifications, etc, would be appreciated so I can gage yoir interests.

    Regards,

    FC
     
  10. Captain Jack Hobbes Was Right

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    Actually galleons are the last thing Venice needs. At this point Venice did not use slaves to man its galleys and they didn't start OTL until after Lepanto. Manpower wasn't such a huge issue for Venice thanks to the Arsenal and won't be as long as they hold Dalmatia. Galleys are actually far more maneuverable than sailing ships because they rely on oars and can move independent of the wind. This makes them more useful because it enables the ships to operate against the seaside fortresses which were the main focus of campaigns.

    I hope it doesn't seem like I'm being a kill joy. I really am enjoying this timeline!
     
  11. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Thanks!

    Absolutely, not a kill joy at all. Any insights always appreciated. Galleys will reign supreme in the Med, but if Venice is to expand outside the sea, galleons will have to take shape.
     
  12. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    Yes, galleys can be more maneuverable in a calm sea (such as obtains in an inland sea like the Mediterraean or the Baltic).

    The problem with manpower here isn't so much the quantity, but how efficiently it is used. And sailing vessels use their manpower more efficiently than galleys - how much mass you can propel through the water, and how quickly, per man employed - which is one of the main reasons why galleys went into decline by the late 16th century, especially in the face of the Price Revolution. Galleys can't carry large stores for extended voyages. Nor are they well suited for protecting or raiding commerce. They're really littoral ships, good for port siege and capture (if supplied), but not ideal for blue sea battle. And while you're correct that 16th century naval campaigns were almost always directed toward port capture (or defense), such efforts are only possible if you control the sea.

    The other, perhaps even more important reason, is the advent of cast iron cannon, as John Guilmartin famously pointed out. Simply put, a galley can't carry broadside firepower in the way that a ship of sail can. And once cast iron cannon became widely available, naval warfare really was an issue of firepower. This was already becoming apparent at Lepanto (1571), the last great galley battle, where firepower made the difference; the defeat of the Armada (1588) (where the English dominated thanks to more maneuverable and faster raze-built ships, armed with more cannon which could also be more frequently reloaded) removed all remaining doubt.

    The limiting factor for Venice here will be the same one that slowed the advent of sailing ship warfare in our own time: Lack of cast iron cannon. Even when they were available, princes preferred to give them to their armies, not their navies. If that problem could be addressed, Venice could be unstoppable at sea. But it's not an easy problem to fix at this juncture. Even if Leonardo can come up with a good smelting system and a good way of casting cannon, his employers will still need access to lots of iron ore. And, of course, lots of gunpowder.
     
  13. Richter von Manthofen Gnome Fighter Ace

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    The access to Iron ore and gunpoweder should not be a problem for a nation that relies on commerce - at least not in quantities for 16th/17th century ships - the needle ear is the technology.

    I assume we will see a gradual shift from Galleys to Galeasses and the true Galeons.
     
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  14. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Venice is completely dependant on the sea, I would assume when the cast iron cannon appears it would be the navy who would first be equipped with it. I'm curious as to why you say it's a problem. I'm not very familiar with this area but as I understand it England figured out how to make the iron ore cannons because of its lack of bronze and abundant iron reserves? If this is the case I see the problem you mention with Venice not having any abundant Iron reserves.

    I would assume so. As you say, getting the iron and gunpowder wouldn't be too big an issue, but if somehow Venice can come up with the method first, great things can be done.
     
  15. Richter von Manthofen Gnome Fighter Ace

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    I don't think that iron guns were that more better during that age. Bronze was easier to cast.

    Projectiles were first stone, but during the turn 15/16century made increasingly of iron (IIRC). What made artillery so sucessful was the invention of limbered transport (older guns were siege guns and not as mobile)

    I believe that number of guns (especially at sea), reach and rate of fire had moe impact than material used in casting guns (of course material mattered, but most civil war guns were bronze IIRC) - iron finally became superior when rifled guns were invented IIRC
     
  16. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    It's odd, because Venice, being a mercantile power, would be expected to be most open to new ideas. And in some ways it was. Yet it adopted new naval and military technologies more slowly than did, say, northern European mercantile powers like England and Holland.

    The revolution in naval technology in northern Europe is difficult because it entailed more than one major change in thinking. You needed sailing ships, not galleys, because sea conditions required it. That meant caravels, then galleons. But the instinct (also from the Mediterranean) to build them high, like fortresses, to better avail in boarding tactics worked against their sea-worthiness and maneuverability. So John Hawkins came up with "race-built" ships, with the big castles cut down, giving the English ships that could sail better against the wind, and generally gain more sea-worthiness. But this in turn fed the idea that cannons could be good for more than just boarding actions (the traditional way you defeated a foe at sea). Sailing ships allowed cannons to fire broadside, lots of 'em, rather than just in the bow (as customary in galleys). Better sea boats allowed you to maneuver to get in position to fire those broadsides. And suddenly the value of being able to batter an enemy into a bloody hulk before boarding him was more apparent. And this helped spur the Tudor interest in developing better cannon, using better ("corned") gunpowder, and using iron (which can be fired more frequently without overheating and bursting) rather than bronze. Other developments, like mounting cannons on wheeled carriages for faster reloading, naturally followed.

    In short, environment drove a lot of this revolution. And Venice's environment in the Med led her to be less inclined to risk innovation at sea. Galleys worked fairly well for her needs, or so it seemed. Bronze seemed fine for culverins or siege cannons you might fire only a few times a day.

    The easy solution would seem to be having some well-placed Venetians be at hand in England to soak up these new ideas, and bring them back. But that's about eight decades later. You need something to develop now. I think it's a lot to ask even of a genius like Leonardo to develop all these things at once, and for even a forward-looking mercantile leadership like Venice's to go along with it.
     
  17. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Kindly refresh my memory, what is IIRC?

    Thanks for the comments and clarifications, both of you. I will be looking to find a balanced way for Venice to advance their fleet. The TL will have a few twists that will stray from OTL in such a way that the republic will progress its navy similar to other powers. No telling yet how da Vinci will help in the process.
     
  18. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    Actually, perhaps an easier innovation might be for Leonardo to come up with miquelet or flintlock muskets. Definitely would give them an advantage in boarding actions. To say nothing of ground combat.

    I think broadside firing galleons may be a couple bridges too far for Venic at this point.

    Perhaps Leonardo could get the Doge to fund a naval architects laboratory that might pay dividends a generation or two down the road...
     
  19. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Just as a reassurance that I haven't once again gone missing, the TL will be getting new updates soon. August is always a busy month for me, I've had less time to write.

    Researching for this TL I believe the secret to Venice getting a quicker, more effective edge (in my opinion) will come from artillery. The French and Spanish won battles based on their edge in that field during the early 1500's, Venice needs to get in on it. This could then of course lead into advanced firing on its ships.

    "Naval architects laboratory" I like that! Will definitely have to see this happen. Thanks
     
  20. Franciscus Caesar Caesar of Greater Toronto

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    Part 6, The Bloodied Boot

    April: Gabriele Vendramin meets with the Doge. He has learned of Loredan’s naval plans from one of his many dogal insiders and intends to aide in the Doge’s campaign, in order to further his own pursuit of power. He trusts he can provide something unique that Loredan will value. Vendramin requests that this meeting be kept private, and Loredan obliges. Officially, Gabriele arranged the meeting to discuss “naval aide.” Though the meeting is private, palace administrators believe that surely the discussion is on Vendramin finding some angle in which to finance the state.

    February 23, 1503: The French are defeated by the Spanish at Ruvo, near Bari.

    April 28: The Spanish look to engage the French at Cerignola, but smoke from a nearby wildfire quickly reduces visibility enough that both camps stay put.

    May 5: The Spanish and French finally meet at Cerignola with both sides relying heavily on artillery. Having more artillery, the professional French heavy-armoured cavalry of the Compagnies d'ordonnance defeat the Spanish. The battle is hard fought, and both sides suffer widespread damage. French losses stand at 1,000 men, Spanish losses at 1,500 (i). The French retreat back to Gaeta.

    June: da Vinci sits on his balcony facing the sunset. The allures of Venice and the wealth of the Vendramin family still excite him, but he his homesick for Florence. He is stressed at Gabriele is growing impatience in Leonardo, who is easily distracted from his Gran Cavallo. Starring into the sunset, the depressed Leonardo again strays from his designs of the great stallion, and begins to sketch out the face of a woman from his native Florence.

    July 9: da Vinci produces a detailed map of the strategic area surrounding Serravalle and presents it to the Doge. Just as his leading patron, da Vinci is eager to curry favor with the Doge so as to receive more projects outside of those for Gabriele Vendramin. The relationship between the two has become strained. Doge Loredan is incredibly impressed, and appoints da Vinci to chief military engineer. Maranazzo insists that da Vinci first invest his efforts towards making coastal maps of Venice’s territories.

    Vendramin is furious at the events. Prior to now he kept da Vinci as practically his own private creator, living under his roof. With the tension between the two, and the probability that da Vinci would likely move to a palazzo closer to the Doge’s palace, Gabriele appreciates that if he wishes for the artist to progress on his works, he must appeal to da Vinci’s craving for luxury.

    July 28: Venetian forces besiege the port of Brindisi, capturing the city. Loredan orders its capture due to its position on the Italian peninsula and its natural port on the Adriatic. With the recent capture of Modon at the hands of the Ottomans, Brindisi’s capability as a major port of trade with the Middle East will take Modon’s place.

    After the city’s capture the main Venetian force heads south to Otranto. Doge Loredan intends to capitalize on the bitter situation between Spain and France in the region in order for Venice to capture some of the strategic breadbasket of Italy.

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    (i) OTL the Battle of Cerignola did take place on April 28. The French had more artillery than the Spanish - but - the artillery didn’t get there in time and the French lost.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013