The Lion of St Mark: Venice and the Morean War

The Lion of St Mark
For two centuries the Venetian Republic had fought a series of costly wars against the Turks. Although small, the Republic leveraged its wealth and sea power to contest the Eastern Mediterranean against the greatest military power of its age. In 1669, the island of Crete- Venice’s most prized colonial possession- succumbed to the Turks after a brutal ten year siege, ending four centuries of unbroken Venetian rule. Emboldened by this victory, the Turks accepted the submission of the Hetman Petro Doshenko of the Don Cossacks, intervening on his behalf in 1671 to preserve his state from conquest by the fearsome Jan Sobieski. The Ottomans inflicted serious defeats against Poland, which was paralyzed by its impotent government and weakened by half a century of rebellion and civil war, and annexed Polish Ukraine and exacted annual tribute; Poland’s nobility refused to accept such humiliating losses, however, and under Sobieski’s leadership managed to eliminate the tribute and recover part of the lost territory in the 1676 Treaty of Zurawno. This was to be the Ottoman Empire’s last conquest; Sobieski, now king of Poland, exacted his revenge on September 12th 1683, annihilating the Turkish army against the walls of Vienna. Pope Innocent IX responded by orchestrating a new Holy League at Linz, and Venice was encouraged to join.


Since the end of the Italian wars in 1559 Venetian Republic had traditionally held itself aloof from European affairs, preoccupied in a futile attempt to hold off Turkish expansion. Nevertheless the situation was ideal for revenge, especially following the death, on October 14th 1683, of King Louis XIV of France. The glorious Sun King dedicated his life to centralizing power and brought France to the pinnacle of her glory, waging numerous expansionist wars against the Holy Roman Empire and the Habsburg monarchs in Spain and Austria. France correspondingly had few friends in Europe- with the notable exception of the Ottoman Empire- and although Louis had ceased his wars in the Rhineland as a result of the Ottoman onslaught his death was taken by many as divine retribution- by Catholics for his unholy alliance with the sultan, and by Protestants for his persecution of the Hugonauts. Practically the accession of the Grand Dauphin, now Louis XV, led to a moderate reduction in European tensions. Spain, resentful of French ambitions in the Low Countries, declared war on France on October 26th 1683- amusingly the official heralds were addressed to the recently deceased Louis XIV- in the naive assumption that Austria’s victory over the Turks would encourage them to intervene. Leopold II had no intention of committing to a two front war, however, and the English king Charles II, first cousin of the Sun King and a fellow Catholic, refused to take part in an anti-Bourbon coalition, and Spain suffered an embarrassing and costly defeat in the brief but bloody war to follow. After the fall of Luxembourg on June 3rd Spain accepted London’s offer of mediation. By the peace of Ratisbon France was guaranteed her conquests- Alsace and Luxembourg- but agreed to turn over occupied fortresses in Lombardy to Spain and withdraw French ambitions on the Palatinate; the French further guaranteed a twenty year truce with the Emperor, tacitly abandoning their Turkish ally to the Austrian coalition[1] Although Leopold II was deeply disappointed in the terms he nevertheless accepted the armistice as a temporary necessity, freeing his hands to deal with the Turks once and for all.


Venice maintained a formidable navy, enjoying clear naval supremacy over the Turks for the duration of the conflict. The Venetian army was in poorer shape, but with financial assistance from the Papacy the Republic was able to expand their forces with mercenary forces, many recruited from Italy and Germany. Francesco Morosini, a formidable and experienced military commander, was chosen to lead the expedition. Morosini decided to begin hostilities with a descent on the Peloponnese, attacking the island of Lefkada on July 18th and securing the surrender of the garrison after sixteen days; the capture of this island and the surrounding area cemented Venetian control over the waters of southern Greece, and encouraged Venetian morale. Morosini had connections with local Maniot Greeks dating back to his excursions in the Cretan War, and he knew the province was close to revolt. In May 1685 Morosini and 8,000 soldiers advanced upon the old Venetian possession of Coron, defeating an Ottoman relief force and taking the town. Throughout the campaign Venice benefited from Morosini’s leadership, naval superiority, support from the local Greeks, and above all else the rapid advance of their Russian and Austrian allies, which prevented the Turks from seriously contesting their advance. Nevertheless the Ottomans launched tenacious counterattacks, and the Venetian ranks were continually thinned by disease, and by the winter of 1685 Morosini was forced to wait further reinforcements before advancing. 1686 began with an Ottoman counterattack and a Polish excursion into Moldavia, neither of which saw much success. Venice secured the service of the Swedish Otto Wilhelm Konigsmarck to command their army. The city of Pylos was besieged on July 3rd and surrendered on the 16th after a relief army was defeated, and Modon followed on the 7th. Konigsmarck, now with a force 12000 strong, followed these successes with attacks on Napflion on August 4th, Overcoming an ottoman relief force of 7,000 men but suffering from disease and continued attacks by the garrisons. A second relief attempt was defeated on August 29th and Napflion yielded on September 3rd. Further reinforcement allowed Morosini- now Doge to seize Corinth on August 7th. Venice was delayed again by disease and the need for reinforcement, and when the campaign resumed in July Morosini won a decisive victory over an army of 10,000 Ottomans at Patras, in the north of the Pelopponese, and secured the capture of two key fortresses in that town on July 25th following the defeat of the Ottoman army guarding the town. In the span of a single day Venice had won a massive victory on the site of her triumph at Lepanto a century prior; for his conquests Morosini was honored with the cognomen Peloponnesiacius and his statue was displayed in the Great Hall, unprecedented for any living Venetian. Russian attacks on Crimea and the impending Austrian invasion of Serbia emboldened Venice to consider attacking into Central Greece, particularly after Ottoman envoys appealed for a peace with the Venetians. Morosini, bolstered by veteran recruits from France and Germany, planned a decisive strike into Attica and Euboia, with the intention of securing Attica.


Athens was besieged on September 21st 1687, and the ensuing six day siege inflicted significant damage to the city, with the Propylaea being destroyed by Venetian artillery fire; upon the city’s surrender Morosini’s soldiers damaged many monuments, including the Parthenon, in their attempts to loot statues.[3] A Theban relief army was defeated outside the walls on the 26th and the garrison surrendered two days later on guarantee of passage to Smyrna. A further disease outbreak and the withdrawal of a Hanoverian mercenary contingent sapped Venetian strength, and Morosini was unable to recruit sufficient numbers of local Greeks, who were in any event unequal to the mercenary soldiers. Correspondingly a war council held on December 22nd 1687 decided to withdraw back to the Pelopponese. Nevertheless the overall war remained favorable to Venice- On August 12th a decisive Austrian victory at Mohacs avenged the earlier Hungarian catastrophe and led to a collapse of the Ottoman government, with the death of Grand Vizier Sari Sulayman Pasha and the deposition of Sultan Mehmed IV by his brother Suleiman II. Emperor Leopold II, which merely five years prior had seen Turks at the gate of Vienna, was now poised to secure all of Hungary and expand into the Balkans. The Holy League refused Turkish pleas for peace, and prepared for a final assault in 1688 to drive the Turks from the Balkans for good.[3]

Morosini was elected Doge on April 3rd 1688, but broke with tradition by continuing to remain in the field. This decision was justified, as the siege of Euboia would prove an arduous affair. 15,000 Venetians embarked on the island and besieged the town of Negroponte, held by a tenacious garrison of 6,000 soldiers. Morosini’s fleet was unable to maintain a secure blockade, and an outbreak of disease nearly ended the campaign, but news of Austria’s victory at Belgrade[4] enabled Konigsmarck to corral his German mercenaries, and following the fall of Monemvasia on November 5th and the capture of Karystos in southern Euboia by Venetian-allied Greek rebels Negroponte was finally forced to surrender on November 14th; notably the garrison, despite assurances of safe passage, would be massacred by the unruly mercenary forces.[5] Morosini’s gambit had succeeded, albeit at hefty cost in lives. The following year saw continued naval skirmishing in the Aegean; the Venetians occupied Naxos in June of 1689, but failed to take Chios or decisively confront the Ottoman navy.


Venice primarily concentrated her war effort Greece, but she also conducted operations in the Adriatic littoral, capturing the key Ottoman fortresses of Sinj and Knin; by 1688 the Venetians had secured all of inland Dalmatia. In conjunction with an Austrian offensive into Serbia the Venetians expanded their ambitions against Montenegro and the Ottoman possessions in Epirus and Albania. Montenegro had longstanding ties to Venice, although its rulers tended to vacillate between Venetian and Ottoman suzerainty. The pro Venetian Rrufim Bolijevik died in 1685, and his successor, Arsenije III Carnojevic began to court the Austrians, a development Venice felt obliged to counter, and military aid stirred the populartion to revolt. A largely Montenegrin force was brutally defeated and massacred by the Turks Vrtijelka, which decisively shifted Montenegrin attitudes against the Turks; correspondingly when the Venetians returned to Montenegro they secured the territory as a client state. Ottoman counteroffensive in 1688 were destroyed and by September Venice had occupied the fortified monastery of Cetinje. On September 11th 1690 Venice captured the Albanian port of Valona; the Ottomans abandoned the province, and Venice rapidly secured all of Epirus and Albania, with the fall of Arta in June 1691 securing the province. The Turks were unable to offer meaningful resistance as the Austrians continued their offensive, raiding deep into Macedonia in the face of scant resistance. Under the leadership of the formidable Duke Charles of Lorraine Austrians annihilated a Turkish army at the battle of Zenta, triggering a Bulgarian revolt in August 1690.[7]

Euboia’s capture seriously weakened the Ottoman position on Crete, which came under attack in 1692. The siege of Candia lasted until 1693; despite Euboia’s fall the Ottomans were still able to maintain sporadic contact with the garrison through their ports in Asia Minor. Morosini, despite ailing health, insisted on leading the ensuing campaign personally, although he would not live to see Venice’s ultimate victory, dying there on December 19th 1693, two months after the city’s surrender.

The fall of Crete, failure of the Ottoman counteroffensive into Serbia and France’s continued neutrality forced the Sultan to admit defeat, suing for peace in January 1694. Venice was obligated to evacuate Albania, but confirmed in all her other conquests and additionally gained Cyprus, Rhodes, and a war indemnity. The Sublime Porte further yielded sovereignty over Ragusa and Montenegro. Poland Lithuania regained Podolia and additionally annexed Bessarabia and the Black Sea port of Odessa; Russia gained Crimea. Yet the Austrian Empire emerged as the true winner of the conflict- Leopold II became the true hegemon of the Balkans, regaining Transylvania and the Banat and control over Serbia, Bosnia and the Danubian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. Finally the Sultan was obliged to pledge a twenty year truce, and demolish border fortifications in Nis and Dobrogea.



[1]The early death of the Sun King is not enough to end the Bourbon-Habsburg rivalry but it does ease tensions and probably averts or at least delays the Nine Year’s War, allowing the Great Turkish War to be more decisive
[2]Sparing the Parthenon is an arbitrary, but I hope forgivable, offense.
[3]OTL the outbreak of the Nine Year’s War diverted Austrian attention and emboldened the Turks, while also depriving the Venetians of possible recruits. TTL Austria is undistracted and the new French king is downsizing the army, so the Venetian campaign continues with greater momentum.
[4]OTL Austria took Belgrade and advanced as far as Nis, but the outbreak of the Seven Year’s War forced them to wind down the campaign and a Turkish counteroffensive retook Serbia. TTL Austria doubles down and is able to secure Serbia for good, and the Turkish position is significantly weakened. The disease outbreak also spares Konigsmarck, who TTL survives to complete the campaign; this and peace in the Rhineland keeps the German mercenaries in the fight longer.
[5]Euboia’s fall is the first major divergence in the campaign, and the lynchpin of Venice’s later successes, specifically the island’s fall makes the fall of Crete exceedingly likely if not inevitable.
[7]Absent the outbreak of the Nine Year’s War, and with the capable Duke Charles of Lorraine, Austria is able to consolidate control over Serbia and keep up the pressure; the combination allows both Austria and Venice to walk away with substantially greater gains than OTL.
 
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love the premise of this thread, subscribed. I have always wanted to write a timeline based on this, but don’t have writing style or background knowledge.

I would be interested to see how this arrests the decline of Venice, and whether other Italian states were involved like Tuscany or Sicily
 
Nice. So Morosini does not siege Athens (as per the order of the Senate of the republic), but conquers Negroponte and takes back Creta. I suppose the Senate will not hold too much of a grudge :rolleyes:
The gains at the peace table are considerable (even if rather that Rhodes, which is too close to the mainland and hardly defensible) Venice should ask Tenedos, the key to the Dardanelles.
However, the sultan is going to come back with blood in his eyes after the truce expires, and Venice will need to use this breathing space wisely.
It was the last chance for the Serenissima, I'm curious to see what the future will bring
 
I figured something like Tenedos would have been too tall an order, precisely because its too close to Constantinople; Euboia alone is already pushing it.

The Nine Yesrs War is probably averted, but the Spanish Sucession is probably inevitable, even if Jospeh Ferdinand survives. Venice could potentially be rewarded for helping Austria hwre- Cremona, Mantua and Gorizia seem fair for opening a descent on Naples. If the Savoy stick with the french Sicily becomes open; otoh the boribons will orobably demand their pound of flesh.

I wonder if Venice could pick up any American colonies, perhaps St Martinique. Beyond thst attckig the Barbary Coast seems like a plausible outgrowth of revanchism against the Turks. Malta would be a tempting prize....
 
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I'm sort of at a loss for what to do re the Glorious Revolution- if James II is deposed I think that Louis XV is all but guaranteed to intervene- meaning in practice the occupation of the Rhineland, triggering the Nine Year's War. I suppose I could delay that until 1682 or thereabouts to keep the Austrians going in Serbia, but then it isn't really the Nine Years War without eating into the War of the Spanish Succession. Would the conflict just bleed into each other if Charles II died towards the end of it?
 
Ultima Ratio Regni
Ultima Ratio Regni

Louis XV rose succeeded to the throne as a youth of 22, anxious to fill the immense shoes left by the Sun King’s death. Contemptuous of the boy, the Sun King had not seen fit to educate his son and heir in statecraft; The new king correspondingly depended largely on his father’s advisors, which unfortunately strained European peace. Turenne- Last Argument of Kings. Nevertheless Louis XV was not his father- affable and indolent, brave to a fault, he was above all else anxious to assert his dynastic rights in Spain, as his mother Princess -was the sister of the childless king Charles II. Such plans would unfortunately be foiled by the birth of Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria, heir to both the Prince Elector and to the Spanish throne by stint of his mother Maria Antonia of Austria, first cousin of the childless Charles II of Spain. The Spanish succession threatened to destabilize the balance of power in Europe, as the potential inheritance of Spain and its vast colonial empire by either the French Bourbons or the Austrian Habsburgs would establish a hegemonic power on the continent. Louis XV continued a relatively conciliatory policy in the hopes of securing French influence in Madrid, but the succession of the Cologne archbishop in 1690[1] further strained Franco-Imperial relations. Cologne was both a prince electorate and strategically located in the Rhineland. Its pro-French bishop Maximilian of Bavaria had allowed the French army use of his territories. Upon the Archbishop’s death neither the French candidate, William Egon von Furstenburg, nor the German candidate Joseph Clemens of Bavaria were able to secure the requisite two-thirds majority and the matter was referred to Rome. By this time the formidable Pope Innocent had died and his successor, Pope Alexander VIII, proved horrendously corrupt; French bribes, and Louis’ promise to rescind his father’s 1683 Declaration of the Clergy of France were sufficient to secure Furstenburg’s nomination.[2] This posed a dangerous threat to William II of the Netherlands: the French had since 1684 occupied Luxembourg and Strasbourg, while the Archbishopric of Cologne- effectively a French protectorate- gave them unfettered access across the Meuse, opening the Netherlands to invasion from the south. Worse yet, the Catholic King James of England, William’s father in law, seemed increasingly drawn to the French orbit.


England’s king James II faced serious opposition due to his Catholicism and authoritarian tendencies. While he lacked a male heir opponents had reassured themselves that Mary, his protestant daughter and wife of Stadtholder William of the Netherlands, would succeed to the throne, but the birth of Prince James in 1688 raised the brief yet frightening prospect of a Catholic dynasty, extinguished only by the newborn’s untimely death three days later. William III initially had little domestic support for intervention. Austria was engaged in the Balkans; Spain was humiliated and licking her wounds. If the French king interceded William would fight alone. William himself was reticent to jeopardize the succession, particularly after the birth of his son, named Henry after the English king who had brought Protestantism to England; after the death of James’ son and the birth of his own he would begrudge himself to a natural succession.

William had good reason to be reticent- by the turn of the century it was increasingly obvious that the impending Spanish Succession was likely to trigger a general war. King Louis XV reached out to his English cousin in an attempt to secure an amicable partition. At the Hague, England and France secured agreed to support the accession of Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria Spain and the Low Countries. and Louis further agreed to return Luxembourg to the new king; the Bourbons were promised both Sicilies and Milan, the latter of which would be traded to Austria for Lorraine. This treaty was unfortunately doomed from the start- it failed to consider the interests of Austria or Spain, neither of whom were consulted in the negotiations. Louis additionally failed to consider that the English were unlikely to declare war over a treaty meant to prevent a general conflict, particularly following William III’s accession in 1702.

Charles II, resentful of Austrian arrogance, proclaimed Joseph Ferdinand sole and exclusive heir to all of his dominions on November 14th 1698; this was flatly ignored by both Leopold II and Louis XV, but the ambitious and capable Maximilian II of Bavaria was determined to secure his son’s succession rights.

In this context the Venetian Republic seized the island of Malta on April 14th 1699. This had been done with the tacit approval and diplomatic support of the British, hoping to curtail Spanish influence in Italy; Venice was additionally able to gain Pope Innocent’s approval for the territorial exchange thanks to the advocacy of Cardinal Gregorio Barbarigo of Padua, twice a Papal candidate. Malta, positioned between Sicily and Tunisia, controlled access between Western and Central Mediterranean. The Knights of St John had received the island from the King of Spain in 1530 to compensate them for the loss of Rhodes to the Turkish sultanate; Venice, under the affable Doge Silvestro Valier, decided to reverse this, as Rhodes was judged indefensible against the Turks. The Cross of St John was raised over Rhodes’ great fortress in June 2nd 1699. Malta’s capture gave the Venetians access to the Western Mediterranean, opening the possibility of attacks against Turkish vassals in Tunisia and Algeria. The Venetians, long practiced at the art of international diplomacy, were keenly aware that the continent was on the precipice of war. If Austria could not be relied upon to aid them against the Turks then they would have to look to alternate solutions and alternate allies.

On November 1st 1700 King Charles II finally died. With him ended two centuries of Habsburg rule in Spain, and two decades of European peace. The eight year old Joseph Ferdinand, in accordance with Charles’ will, was acclaimed and acknowledged king in all of Spain’s territories, and both France and Austria began mobilizing for war.


Europe on the Eve of the War of the Spanish Succession​


[1]This is delayed by two years, and the outcome is different, with Louis XV more successful at courting Papal favor
[2]As Louis XIV eventually rescinded the document in 1691 his son could, IMHO, plausibly be swayed to offer it in return for Cologne. The broader French trend towards independence from Rome is unlikely to be affected regardless
[3]I’ve swapped the dates of the Jacobite Pretender’s birth with that of his younger sister
 
I'm sort of at a loss for what to do re the Glorious Revolution- if James II is deposed I think that Louis XV is all but guaranteed to intervene- meaning in practice the occupation of the Rhineland, triggering the Nine Year's War. I suppose I could delay that until 1682 or thereabouts to keep the Austrians going in Serbia, but then it isn't really the Nine Years War without eating into the War of the Spanish Succession. Would the conflict just bleed into each other if Charles II died towards the end of it?
I think that you should leave the Stuart's in control of England maybe not James but maybe Anne and her brood she did a lot of good for England and they were the last native English dynasty.
 
I think that you should leave the Stuart's in control of England maybe not James but maybe Anne and her brood she did a lot of good for England and they were the last native English dynasty.
Well I've already had William succeed, but peacefully as James's son died newborn, easing tensions. James being on the throne in 1701 has some fairly serious implications, as does Joseph Ferdinand's survival- Britain and France will at least nominally be allied against Habsburg attempts to enforce Charles's claim to a unified Spanish Empire.
 
The Spanish Succession
The Spanish Succession

Louis XV faced a difficult dilemma. By the Treaty of the Hague he was pledged Spain’s Italian holdings, but neither King James nor William II offered to fight on his behalf- they had signed the agreement to avoid a war, not start one. Joseph Ferdinand, putative and legally acknowledged king of Spain, rapidly gained the loyalty of the Spanish garrisons In the Netherlands, not least to the machinations of his father Maximilian Emanuel, the provincial governor since 1691. Bavarian troops entered the province and rapidly secured the key fortresses. Both Austria and France frantically appealed to Joseph Ferdinand- France demanded Bavarian acceptance of the Hague Partition, while Emperor Leopold demanded Milan and the Two Sicilies. Faced with functionally equivalent concessions, Maximilian Emanuel finally cast his lot in with the French, swayed by his cousin Victor Amadeus of Savoy.

A sickly yet intelligent child, Victor Amadeus proved a forceful and capable leader. The then eighteen year old prince exploited the death of Louis XIV by discarding his Francophile mother, securing marriage to Anna Maria Luisa of Tuscany over her objections and subsequently banishing her from power. As the great grandson of Catherine Michelle of Spain he was nominally a claimant to that kingdom, and hoped to gain Milan as compensation; neither Austria nor Spain would willingly cede such a prize, but France was happy to oblige him, offering Lombardy and a royal crown in return for Savoy. Duke Cosimo III of Tuscany followed his son in law’s lead and threw in with the French, opening the route to Naples.

On November 9th 1701 Spanish envoys petitioned Leopold II to enthrone Archduke Charles on a unified Spanish Empire. Despite Charles’ will, the political elite in Madrid feared that choosing the Bavarian candidate meant an inevitable partition and invasion of their empire by the French, and Austria was the only candidate strong enough to resist Louis XIV. Leopold eventually acquiesced to the demand and on 19th November he proclaimed his son the heir to Spain, a decision made easier by the offer of Prussian support. An Austrian army under Prince Eugene of Savoy decisively defeated a Bavarian army and overran the duchy. Spain and Naples declared for the Habsburgs, and after the Austrians crossed the Alps they drove the French from Milan. James II of England declared war on Austria, citing the Hague Treaty, and William II of the Netherlands reluctantly followed suit after the Austrian occupation of the Netherlands. Britain captured Gibraltar in 1702 and decisively defeated the Spanish navy, thereafter occupying Sardinia, Sicily[1] and Mallorca.

The war now swung decisively against the Habsburgs. At the battle of Dusseldorf Prince Eugene achieved a bloody stalemate, but was wounded and forced to withdraw after French reinforcements arrived. Hungarian separatists under Rakozki exploited the Habsburg’s distractions to launch a new revolt in 1703, and by 1705 the Habsburgs had been driven from Milan and Naples; the Emperor was finally swayed to sue for terms before his position became untenable. Louis XV overplayed his hand, however, demanding the renunciation of all Habsburg claims on Spanish territory and the cession of Tirol and the Prussian Rhineland territories to Bavaria; fears of French hegemony stiffened Habsburg resistance, and Britain was swayed to a separate peace, defecting to Austria’s camp in return for the latter’s acceptance of the Hague Treaty.

Despite her neutrality, Venice’s position made her a natural battleground, and both French and Austrian armies freely trespassed on her territory. The succession of William II prompted a re-evaluation of Britain’s foreign policy, and with control over the Mediterranean the British were able to apply considerable pressure to Italy. The Austrians captured Naples in 1707, and the alliance sacked Toulon in 1708; with the fall of Catalonia later that year the Bourbons lost all power in the Mediterranean.[2] Savoy defected to the Austrian camp and declared war on France; the French overran the duchy and besieged Turin in 1708, before being defeated by Prince Eugene and driven over the Alps for good the following year. By 1710, thanks in large part to Serbian support, Rakozki’s Magyar rebellion was on its last legs, and the French were driven back across the Adda. France made a final attempt to liberate Bavaria, culminating in the Battle of Blenheim and the decisive defeat of the Franco-Bavarian army by the Duke of Marlborough.

In 1711 the financially exhausted belligerents agreed to begin peace negotiations. By the Treaty of Utrecht, Joseph Ferdinand was confirmed as the king of Spain, and France agreed to return Luxembourg to the Spanish; his father was additionally restored possession of the Low Countries and Bavaria. Austria gained Milan, Naples, and Sicily, while Savoy gained Montferrat, Sardinia, and the marquesate of Finale; Tuscany was allowed to retain the Presidium. The Bourbons were forced to relinquish all claims to the Spanish inheritance.

[1]With Britain initially in the war on the French side, and no Stuart Rebellion, they have more soldiers to deploy into the Mediterranean, allowing an invasion of Sicily on behalf of the Bourbon claimants.
 
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Cyprus had been a historical venetian position and combined with Venice focus on the Eastern Mediterranean. Trading Cyprus for Sicily doesn’t make any sense


pledged Cremona, Gorizia and Mantua in addition to Sicily; although Emperor Leopold initially demanded all of Dalmatia the Venetians were able to reduce this to a cession Ragusa and Montenegro and a financial indemnity.
Likewise given Venetian desires on the Adriatic, giving up Ragusa for Italian land is unlikely.
 
Cyprus had been a historical venetian position and combined with Venice focus on the Eastern Mediterranean. Trading Cyprus for Sicily doesn’t make any sense



Likewise given Venetian desires on the Adriatic, giving up Ragusa for Italian land is unlikely.
I dunno, Sicily is a rich prize.
Maybe just Cremona, Mantua and Gorizia for joining the Austrians, and keeping Cyprus and Malta.

In retrospect I've decided that Venice wouldn't get involved and would instead remain neutral.
 
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I am very excited for the timeline - Venice is an absolutely fascinating nation-state and I'm surprised by the general lack of TLs focused upon it
 
For two centuries the Venetian Republic had fought a series of costly wars against the Turks. Although small, the Republic leveraged its wealth and sea power to contest the Eastern Mediterranean against the greatest military power of its age. In 1669, the island of Crete- Venice’s most prized colonial possession- succumbed to the Turks after a brutal ten year siege, ending four centuries of unbroken Venetian rule. Emboldened by this victory, the Turks accepted the submission of the Hetman Petro Doshenko of the Don Cossacks, intervening on his behalf in 1671 to preserve his state from conquest by the fearsome Jan Sobieski. The Ottomans inflicted serious defeats against Poland, which was paralyzed by its impotent government and weakened by half a century of rebellion and civil war, and annexed Polish Ukraine and exacted annual tribute; Poland’s nobility refused to accept such humiliating losses, however, and under Sobieski’s leadership managed to eliminate the tribute and recover part of the lost territory in the 1676 Treaty of Zurawno. This was to be the Ottoman Empire’s last conquest; Sobieski, now king of Poland, exacted his revenge on September 12th 1683, annihilating the Turkish army against the walls of Vienna. Pope Innocent IX responded by orchestrating a new Holy League at Linz, and Venice was encouraged to join.


Since the end of the Italian wars in 1559 Venetian Republic had traditionally held itself aloof from European affairs, preoccupied in a futile attempt to hold off Turkish expansion. Nevertheless the situation was ideal for revenge, especially following the death, on October 14th 1683, of King Louis XIV of France. The glorious Sun King dedicated his life to centralizing power and brought France to the pinnacle of her glory, waging numerous expansionist wars against the Holy Roman Empire and the Habsburg monarchs in Spain and Austria. France correspondingly had few friends in Europe- with the notable exception of the Ottoman Empire- and although Louis had ceased his wars in the Rhineland as a result of the Ottoman onslaught his death was taken by many as divine retribution- by Catholics for his unholy alliance with the sultan, and by Protestants for his persecution of the Hugonauts. Practically the accession of the Grand Dauphin, now Louis XV, led to a moderate reduction in European tensions. Spain, resentful of French ambitions in the Low Countries, declared war on France on October 26th 1683- amusingly the official heralds were addressed to the recently deceased Louis XIV- in the naive assumption that Austria’s victory over the Turks would encourage them to intervene. Leopold II had no intention of committing to a two front war, however, and the English king Charles II, first cousin of the Sun King and a fellow Catholic, refused to take part in an anti-Bourbon coalition, and Spain suffered an embarrassing and costly defeat in the brief but bloody war to follow. After the fall of Luxembourg on June 3rd Spain accepted London’s offer of mediation. By the peace of Ratisbon France was guaranteed her conquests- Alsace and Luxembourg- but agreed to turn over occupied fortresses in Lombardy to Spain and withdraw French ambitions on the Palatinate; the French further guaranteed a twenty year truce with the Emperor, tacitly abandoning their Turkish ally to the Austrian coalition[1] Although Leopold II was deeply disappointed in the terms he nevertheless accepted the armistice as a temporary necessity, freeing his hands to deal with the Turks once and for all.


Venice maintained a formidable navy, enjoying clear naval supremacy over the Turks for the duration of the conflict. The Venetian army was in poorer shape, but with financial assistance from the Papacy the Republic was able to expand their forces with mercenary forces, many recruited from Italy and Germany. Francesco Morosini, a formidable and experienced military commander, was chosen to lead the expedition. Morosini decided to begin hostilities with a descent on the Peloponnese, attacking the island of Lefkada on July 18th and securing the surrender of the garrison after sixteen days; the capture of this island and the surrounding area cemented Venetian control over the waters of southern Greece, and encouraged Venetian morale. Morosini had connections with local Maniot Greeks dating back to his excursions in the Cretan War, and he knew the province was close to revolt. In May 1685 Morosini and 8,000 soldiers advanced upon the old Venetian possession of Coron, defeating an Ottoman relief force and taking the town. Throughout the campaign Venice benefited from Morosini’s leadership, naval superiority, support from the local Greeks, and above all else the rapid advance of their Russian and Austrian allies, which prevented the Turks from seriously contesting their advance. Nevertheless the Ottomans launched tenacious counterattacks, and the Venetian ranks were continually thinned by disease, and by the winter of 1685 Morosini was forced to wait further reinforcements before advancing. 1686 began with an Ottoman counterattack and a Polish excursion into Moldavia, neither of which saw much success. Venice secured the service of the Swedish Otto Wilhelm Konigsmarck to command their army. The city of Pylos was besieged on July 3rd and surrendered on the 16th after a relief army was defeated, and Modon followed on the 7th. Konigsmarck, now with a force 12000 strong, followed these successes with attacks on Napflion on August 4th, Overcoming an ottoman relief force of 7,000 men but suffering from disease and continued attacks by the garrisons. A second relief attempt was defeated on August 29th and Napflion yielded on September 3rd. Further reinforcement allowed Morosini- now Doge to seize Corinth on August 7th. Venice was delayed again by disease and the need for reinforcement, and when the campaign resumed in July Morosini won a decisive victory over an army of 10,000 Ottomans at Patras, in the north of the Pelopponese, and secured the capture of two key fortresses in that town on July 25th following the defeat of the Ottoman army guarding the town. In the span of a single day Venice had won a massive victory on the site of her triumph at Lepanto a century prior; for his conquests Morosini was honored with the cognomen Peloponnesiacius and his statue was displayed in the Great Hall, unprecedented for any living Venetian. Russian attacks on Crimea and the impending Austrian invasion of Serbia emboldened Venice to consider attacking into Central Greece, particularly after Ottoman envoys appealed for a peace with the Venetians. Morosini, bolstered by veteran recruits from France and Germany, planned a decisive strike into Attica and Euboia, with the intention of securing Attica.


Athens was besieged on September 21st 1687, and the ensuing six day siege inflicted significant damage to the city, with the Propylaea being destroyed by Venetian artillery fire; upon the city’s surrender Morosini’s soldiers damaged many monuments, including the Parthenon, in their attempts to loot statues.[3] A Theban relief army was defeated outside the walls on the 26th and the garrison surrendered two days later on guarantee of passage to Smyrna. A further disease outbreak and the withdrawal of a Hanoverian mercenary contingent sapped Venetian strength, and Morosini was unable to recruit sufficient numbers of local Greeks, who were in any event unequal to the mercenary soldiers. Correspondingly a war council held on December 22nd 1687 decided to withdraw back to the Pelopponese. Nevertheless the overall war remained favorable to Venice- On August 12th a decisive Austrian victory at Mohacs avenged the earlier Hungarian catastrophe and led to a collapse of the Ottoman government, with the death of Grand Vizier Sari Sulayman Pasha and the deposition of Sultan Mehmed IV by his brother Suleiman II. Emperor Leopold II, which merely five years prior had seen Turks at the gate of Vienna, was now poised to secure all of Hungary and expand into the Balkans. The Holy League refused Turkish pleas for peace, and prepared for a final assault in 1688 to drive the Turks from the Balkans for good.[3]

Morosini was elected Doge on April 3rd 1688, but broke with tradition by continuing to remain in the field. This decision was justified, as the siege of Euboia would prove an arduous affair. 15,000 Venetians embarked on the island and besieged the town of Negroponte, held by a tenacious garrison of 6,000 soldiers. Morosini’s fleet was unable to maintain a secure blockade, and an outbreak of disease nearly ended the campaign, but news of Austria’s victory at Belgrade[4] enabled Konigsmarck to corral his German mercenaries, and following the fall of Monemvasia on November 5th and the capture of Karystos in southern Euboia by Venetian-allied Greek rebels Negroponte was finally forced to surrender on November 14th; notably the garrison, despite assurances of safe passage, would be massacred by the unruly mercenary forces.[5] Morosini’s gambit had succeeded, albeit at hefty cost in lives. The following year saw continued naval skirmishing in the Aegean; the Venetians occupied Naxos in June of 1689, but failed to take Chios or decisively confront the Ottoman navy.


Venice primarily concentrated her war effort Greece, but she also conducted operations in the Adriatic littoral, capturing the key Ottoman fortresses of Sinj and Knin; by 1688 the Venetians had secured all of inland Dalmatia. In conjunction with an Austrian offensive into Serbia the Venetians expanded their ambitions against Montenegro and the Ottoman possessions in Epirus and Albania. Montenegro had longstanding ties to Venice, although its rulers tended to vacillate between Venetian and Ottoman suzerainty. The pro Venetian Rrufim Bolijevik died in 1685, and his successor, Arsenije III Carnojevic began to court the Austrians, a development Venice felt obliged to counter, and military aid stirred the populartion to revolt. A largely Montenegrin force was brutally defeated and massacred by the Turks Vrtijelka, which decisively shifted Montenegrin attitudes against the Turks; correspondingly when the Venetians returned to Montenegro they secured the territory as a client state. Ottoman counteroffensive in 1688 were destroyed and by September Venice had occupied the fortified monastery of Cetinje. On September 11th 1690 Venice captured the Albanian port of Valona; the Ottomans abandoned the province, and Venice rapidly secured all of Epirus and Albania, with the fall of Arta in June 1691 securing the province. The Turks were unable to offer meaningful resistance as the Austrians continued their offensive, raiding deep into Macedonia in the face of scant resistance. Under the leadership of the formidable Duke Charles of Lorraine Austrians annihilated a Turkish army at the battle of Zenta, triggering a Bulgarian revolt in August 1690.[7]

Euboia’s capture seriously weakened the Ottoman position on Crete, which came under attack in 1692. The siege of Candia lasted until 1693; despite Euboia’s fall the Ottomans were still able to maintain sporadic contact with the garrison through their ports in Asia Minor. Morosini, despite ailing health, insisted on leading the ensuing campaign personally, although he would not live to see Venice’s ultimate victory, dying there on December 19th 1693, two months after the city’s surrender.

The fall of Crete, failure of the Ottoman counteroffensive into Serbia and France’s continued neutrality forced the Sultan to admit defeat, suing for peace in January 1694. Venice was obligated to evacuate Albania, but confirmed in all her other conquests and additionally gained Cyprus, Rhodes, and a war indemnity. The Sublime Porte further yielded sovereignty over Ragusa and Montenegro. Poland Lithuania regained Podolia and additionally annexed Bessarabia and the Black Sea port of Odessa; Russia gained Crimea. Yet the Austrian Empire emerged as the true winner of the conflict- Leopold II became the true hegemon of the Balkans, regaining Transylvania and the Banat and control over Serbia, Bosnia and the Danubian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. Finally the Sultan was obliged to pledge a twenty year truce, and demolish border fortifications in Nis and Dobrogea.



[1]The early death of the Sun King is not enough to end the Bourbon-Habsburg rivalry but it does ease tensions and probably averts or at least delays the Nine Year’s War, allowing the Great Turkish War to be more decisive
[2]Sparing the Parthenon is an arbitrary, but I hope forgivable, offense.
[3]OTL the outbreak of the Nine Year’s War diverted Austrian attention and emboldened the Turks, while also depriving the Venetians of possible recruits. TTL Austria is undistracted and the new French king is downsizing the army, so the Venetian campaign continues with greater momentum.
[4]OTL Austria took Belgrade and advanced as far as Nis, but the outbreak of the Seven Year’s War forced them to wind down the campaign and a Turkish counteroffensive retook Serbia. TTL Austria doubles down and is able to secure Serbia for good, and the Turkish position is significantly weakened. The disease outbreak also spares Konigsmarck, who TTL survives to complete the campaign; this and peace in the Rhineland keeps the German mercenaries in the fight longer.
[5]Euboia’s fall is the first major divergence in the campaign, and the lynchpin of Venice’s later successes, specifically the island’s fall makes the fall of Crete exceedingly likely if not inevitable.
[7]Absent the outbreak of the Nine Year’s War, and with the capable Duke Charles of Lorraine, Austria is able to consolidate control over Serbia and keep up the pressure; the combination allows both Austria and Venice to walk away with substantially greater gains than OTL.
Odessa was founded in 1794, a century after your TL. 😜
 
Interesting to see a timeline focused on Venice during this time-period - this is normally when it's viewed as on the decline and becoming more moribund.

I've always had a softspot for the Serene Republic, so seeing it remain more relevant and important into the Early Modern Age is an excellent read.
 
To the Gates of Constantinople





The peace of Karlowitz reversed nearly two centuries of Turkish aggression, but few thought it a permanent settlement. Venice was promised two decades to prepare, and she spent her years diligently. Her involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession was motivated primarily in the hope of a lasting alliance with Austria and Britain, and while this did not materialize, her newfound pre-eminence in Italy gave the Republic greater leverage. Doge Giovanni II Cornaro began a thorough reorganization of the military, hiring the venerable mercenary Johann Matthias von der Schulenberg to reorganize and expand their army. By 1717 the Venetians had expanded their force from 8,000 to 20,000, with a further force of 50,000 militia to garrison the terrafirma. The Venetian navy also grew with the acquisition of modern British warships, becoming the third strongest force in the Mediterranean after France and Spain.

Success in the Morea had depended on Austrian intervention; Vienna remained reticent to commit to a formal alliance while tensions in the west lingered, but Venice was not without friends. With the conclusion of the Great Northern War in 17 Tsar Peter the Great achieved his ambition of gaining a Baltic Port, and turned his attention south. The Tsar, a fervent proponent of Western European culture, had toured much of Europe in his youth, and at the conclusion of peace with Sweden after King Charles’ death at Poltava he made a state visit to Venice, where the Russian Tsar eventually agreed to a formal alliance against the Turks. This was eventually expanded to include King Augustus the Strong of Poland.

Venice concluded commercial treaties with England and the Netherlands in 1711, Savoy and Tuscany in 1712, Austria in 1713, and Spain in 1715. Under the auspices of the Pope the Venetian Republic further orchestrated a defensive pact consisting of Savoy, Tuscany, the Papal States and the Republic of Genoa, whereby the parties pledged not to aid or abet hostile actions against each other in the event of a war with the Turks, and additionally cooperate against Barbary pirates; in practice this meant little as the Italian states were even weaker than Venice and even Savoy could offer little meaningful resistance if France or Spain invaded, but nominally this agreement secured the Terrafirma.

The Turks were bloodied by the preceding war but far from defeated. A coup overthrew Sultan in 1703; his successor would be much more beholden to the Janissaries. The Ottoman tax system faced broad inefficiencies, but the Ottoman economy saw significant growth, and with support from the French the Sultan was able to rebuild the navy into a modern and capable force, including modern sailing ships.

By 1716 it was clear that the Turks were preparing for another conflict. Venice decided to take the offensive- following the strategy utilized during the Cretan war they would attempt to secure the Dardanelles and blockade the Ottoman capital.


Russia, as hoped, entered the war. Peter’s navy allowed him to resupply from Crimea, and after joining with the Polish forces at Odessa the Alliance crossed the Danube on 1717. Initially the army did well, capturing Tulcea and inciting a Bulgarian revolt. Yet Peter proved arrogant and impatient, and a rash attack on Thrace ended in a catastrophic defeat for the Russians at the battle of Adrianople. Although there was intermittent skirmishing in the Black Sea, Russia and Poland were both effectively removed from the war.

Russia’s involvement nevertheless finally succeeded in rousing Vienna to action. Following a declaration of war Prince Eugene of Savoy was dispatched to Serbia with an army. Eugene’s force besieged Skopje on 1717. Numbering only 60,000 men, disease and the approach of an Ottoman army forced Eugene into action. He stole a march on a Turkish army numbering 120,000 and managed to surprise and scatter them, securing Macedonia for the Austrian Empire.

Lemnos and Tenedos were both occupied and the Dardanelles placed under blockade. The Venetians launched an all out assault on Ottoman positions in the Mediterranean. Bizerte was raided on , Oran on , and 1500 Maltese soldiers landed in Tripoli, attacking the city by land and sea and taking it on 1716. Benghazi was attacked unsuccessfully in 1716, and an abortive attempt at sparking a Mamluk revolt ended when the governor was executed. In 1717 the Venetian admiral audaciously committed to a raid on the Bosphorus. After bombarding and taking the fortress town of Tzimpe in Gallipoli, on the night of August 29th the Venetian force sailed into the Golden Horn and burned the Turkish fleet at anchor, even briefly bombarding Constantinople itself before escaping.[1] Venice’s blockade ultimately proved decisive, as food riots in Constantinople and the fall of Thessalonike to the Austrians forced the Sultan to seek terms.

Austria had good reason to sue for peace. Spain had recovered remarkably well from the previous war. Under the skillful tenure of Giulio Alberoni, Maximilian II Emanuel and his wife Maria Antonina created a centralized bureaucracy in the vein of the French Bourbon monarchy. The Spanish had never truly accepted the loss of their territories- Naples, Sicily, and Milan to Austria, Sardinia to Savoy, Gibraltar and Menorca to Britain- and with Austria involved in the east the occasion seemed ripe to reverse the treaty of Utrecht. As Austria lacked a navy, the Spanish felt confident in their ability to attack Sicily. Maximilian’s cousin and wayward ally Victor Amadeus of Savoy had married his daughter to the Dauphin Louis of France, and was himself married to the Grand Duke of Tuscany; a rapid attack could force the issue. Spanish forces quickly secured the island, Maximilian seriously underestimated Britain’s willingness to enforce the peace of Utrecht. Louis XV, under the sway of his cousin Duke Philip of Orleans, allied with Britain and- in conjunction with the Netherlands- declared war on Spain on Austria’s behalf.

Although Venice had secured a great victory over the Turks she was once again to be denied the better part of the spoils. The Venetians were confirmed in their existing possessions and gained overlordship of Athens, along with the islands of Tenedos and Chios as well as the Gallipoli Peninsula, ensuring her power over the Turkish Straits. The Porte additionally yielded Tripoli and a renunciation of Turkish control over the Barbary states; yet Venice was denied Albania, which Austria took for herself along with Macedonia and Thessalonika. The Austrians withdrew from Greece but annexed Dobrogea to Wallachia.

Peace in the east allowed the Austrians to give full attention to Spain, and by 1720 the Quadruple Alliance had forced Maximilian to abdicate Spain to his son, although he was allowed to retain governance of Bavaria. Alberoni was exiled to Italy, where he eventually found service in Savoy. Peace was restored to Europe, but the underlying tensions remained unresolved, and in time would spark new conflicts.





[1]This is essentially a repeat of the Dutch raid on the Medway
 
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I see a future Russian-Austrian war, because Russia must be enraged with the expansion of Austria in the Balkans. Furthermore, Prussia and Poland always looked at Silesia and the Baltic regions, they are two immediate wild cards.

On the other hand, I wonder what will happen in the age of nationalism. If Venice remains powerful, it will be able to unite Italy (which will have a less corrupt economic system) or it will be strong enough to remain independent from Italy, similar to the Netherlands that avoided being annexed by Germany or France.
 
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