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Venice History

Although there is some skepticism as to exactly when Venice was founded, the general consensus believes the city dates back to the 6th century. Refugees from northern Italy found a safe haven in the marshland of grouped islands. The area’s strategic position in relation to trade allowed for the society of refugees to amply develop the land into a thriving city. In the early 8th century, the first Doge took his place as the official leader of Venice. For almost the next thousand years,

the Doges and their councils would rule Venice in all of its political, social, martial, and economic trials.

In much of the ninth and tenth centuries, Venice focused on building and trade. The earliest versions of the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square, which were replaced by later renovations, originated during this time period. In addition, Venice established its footing in foreign trade. Its many waterways allowed for ships from both the eastern and western world to easily pass through.

Later centuries introduced a more forceful Venice, in that citizens and leaders of the city were constantly seeking to increase their power through expansion. There were several victories that amplified the power of Venice, the most noteworthy of which includes the domination of the Adriatic Sea, and later, the success of the Fourth Crusade. In 1204, Doge Enrico Dandolo helped to initiate the Crusade, in which Venice gained access to many strategically significant locations, such as Constantinople and the island of Crete. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, after a long period of constant achievements, Venice took its place as one of the greatest sea power in all of Europe. However, Venice did not limit its strength to naval affairs. By the fifteenth century, the city had formed an equally impressive land-based army that was always prepared for offensive and defensive attack.

Venice carried itself proudly as a commercial power until the 18th century, when it lost several key territories to Turkish army. While to this day, trade is important to the economy of Venice, by the late 1700’s, the city was no longer a major naval force of the Mediterranean. In addition to its numerous losses to the Turks, the Republic of Venice experienced a major defeat, when Napoleon conquered the city in the late 18th century. By 1866, Venice joined the kingdom of Italy, and today remains an integral part of the country.

In recent years, while its political and martial states are no longer in turmoil, Venice is instead experiencing another sort of difficulty. For several years, officials have been preoccupied with the “sinking” of Venice. The marshy land on which the city was built makes the problem inevitable, but the sinking will not occur overnight. A more immediate issue that the citizens must always be prepared for is the occasional flood. At times, flooding has been severe, causing much fear that some of the priceless buildings and structures of Venice could ruin. As you walk along the canals, you will see that many of the original steps that originally led up to the front doors of many waterfront homes, are now submerged. The progression of problem solving for Venice’s water related dilemmas has led many scientists believe that a solution is near. Many preventative measures have been taken and scientists are constantly researching methods to keep Venice afloat.


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