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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia

A few in fear
Flying away from him, whose boast it was
That the grass grew not where his horse had trod,
Gave birth to Venice. Like the water-fowl,
They built their nests above the ocean waves;
And where the sands were shifting, as the wind
Blew from the north or south - where they that came
Had to make sure the ground they stood upon,
Rose, like an exhalation from the deep,
A vast metropolis, with glistening spires,
With theatres, basilicas adorned;
A scene of light and glory, a dominion,
That has endured longest among men.

- Samuel Rogers


Vital Information



Realm: Venice
Head of State: Doge Anthony Veniero
Religion: Catholic - Rome
Culture: Italian, Greek, Slavonic
Stats: 3/3(4)/9(10)/10(8)/4 --> [3/4/10/8/4]
Provinces: 8
Ports: 4
Owned: Venezia(6), Cattaro(2), Euboea(1), Istria(3), Knossos(2), Kydonia(2), Naxos(1), Split(2), Treviso(4).
+1 Seamil, +1 Technology, -2 Morale Mercenary, Non-Feudal, Naval State

Head of State - Doge Antonio Veniero



Doge Veniero, the sixtieth Doge of Venice returns to the city from Crete were he served as Capitano. In Crete he did much to placate the rebellious subjects of Venice and see that the sugar imported from the Orient was succesfully grown, ensuring great profit for the Republic. He is a strong man, capable in business and resolute in justice. Important traits for the man who will reestablish Venice's dominance after the conclusion of the war with Genoa, just 2 years ago. The Doge is 55 years old, and the first of his proud family to be elected to the Dogeship. He has 3 sons and 2 daughters, all in Venice and his wife has been dead for 10 years.
 
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The Government of Venice

Venice is unique among the realms of Europe in that she is not mired in despotism. Her government is the envy of the world, a strong and orderly republic proven capable of withstanding any political upheaval. The oligarchic republic makes no pretense at democracy, but does allow all its citizens opportunites for civic service and the wealth and splendor of the city make it apparent to all that the goverment works for the best interest of the citizens of the Republic.


il Doge - Duke of Venice

The Duke is the Head of State of Venice, but he rules only by the grace of the people represented by the grand council, and the promisione which is signed upon his accession to the Ducal Throne and severely limits his powers. He is elected [insert election procedure here]. The Doge is highly monitored by the Council of Ten and his circle of advisors, The Signoria. His main responsibility is in state ceremonial, the receival of foreign dignitaries, and in marshalling the armed forces of Venice in times of crisis. Still the Doge is to be respected by all and while not above the law his words are listened to with creedence and he holds no mean influence over the affairs of state.

-Antonio Veniero

The Minor Consiglio - Signoria

6 councillors to the doge these men are the primary braintrust of the Republic. They, along with the Doge set in on all meetings of the Council of Ten and their presence is felt in all aspects of government. In the Doge's absence a majority of the Signoria can execute the Ducal authority, and without their approval the Doge is powerless to act. They are the ultimate check against autocracy in the state. Unlike the Doge though they are not elected for life, and as such their influence was limited to their annual term.

The Collegio

Effectively the operators of the government overseeing the execution of the laws and policies of the state. The collegion consists of six Savii Grandi selected by the Doge and ratified by the Great Council. There are three Ministers of War, Savii da Terra Firma and three Ministers of Marine and Finance, Savii agli Ordini. The majority of the Republics laws were initiated by the needs and knowledge of this body. The chairmanship of the body is rotated between the members each week, and the chairman serves effectively as the Prime Minister of Venice.

The Council of Ten
Established 10 July 1310, "to preserve the liberty and peace of the subjects of the Republic and to proect them from the abuses of personal power," by decree of the Great Council, as a temporary measure to calm the unrest following the revolt of Bajamonte Tiepolo against Doge Pietro Gradenigo. The body was continually voted to remain in existence and now functinons permanently both de facto and de jure. It is the vital decision making body of the Republic's government, and consists of ten elected officials who serve terms of six months. Three of the ten are chosen on a monthly basis as Capi to guide the council. These three are restricted to the Doge's palace during their term to avoid corruption. The Council of Ten must always meet in the presence of the Doge and his Signoria, so effectively it is a body of 17 and its discussions range on all matters concerning state security both externally and internally. Still it must follow the proper channels of legislation and is subject to the constitution of the Republic despite its sometimes sinister reputation.

The Pregadi - "Senate"

Officially a body of 120 men, elected from the Maggior Consiglio, whose primary responsibility was the legislation of the state. Here the laws born in the Signoria, Council of Ten, or otherwise were debated, molded, and finally passed in to law. This body also contains many of the cities most notable citizens and influential men who are allowed set in on sessions due to their prestige and wisdom and provide their valuable insight.

Maggior Consiglio - The Great Council

The great base of the oligarchic pyramid of Venice the enormous Great Council, from which the legitimacy and authority of the Republic derived consists of approximately 1,500 of the noble citizens of Venice. The Maggior Consiglios primary duties are election of the Pregadi, The Council of Ten, and ratification of the Doge's selections to the Minor Consiglio. This greaty body is also the originator of much of the law debated in the Pregadi and all of its members are free to have audience with the Doge, and express their opinions on matters of state. While the executive arms of the Republic could pursue war for emergency matters the ability to fully mobilize the state for war and to raise funds belongs to the Maggior Consiglio.


The Sala del Maggior Consiglio - Chamber of the Great Council



Factions at Court

The Doge's Faction


The Doge's faction is headed by the elected Doge, and supported by his family and agents, as well as many like minded families within the city. Their ideology is largely in favor of maritime trade and expansion, to the detriment of the landed nobility and mainland expansion. They believe that the roots of Venice are at sea and by maintaining her dominance there her people are best served. At present the newly elected Doge is wildly popular and enjoys the respect of his peers, but in the calculating environment of the Venetian Republic one wrong move can often change matters drastically.

Political Stance
Opposed to mainland expansion
Greatly favor protectionism
Oppose crusade
Favor the Roman Pontiff
Favor cooperation with the Turk

Influence in the Republic
60% influence with the people
60% influence in the Signoria
50% influence in the Grand Council


The Foscari Faction

The main opposition to the Doge's faction is a group of noble city families headed by the Ca' Foscari. The Foscari family is immensely wealthy and has a long history of influence and the city which allow it to wield great infleunce over their constituents. There stance on issues is largely mysterious as they seek to leverage everything to their best advantage at any time, seeking ultimately the Doge's throne and control of the Republic.

Political Stance
Neutral to mainland expansion
Favor protectionism
Oppose crusade
Favor the Roman Pontiff
Neutral to cooperation with the Turk

Influence in the Republic
25% influence with the people
20% influence in the Signoria
30% influence in the Grand Council


The Landed Nobility Faction

The landed nobility are a small portion of the ruling class of Venice and in general run opposite to the families of the city, but their power, and importance of defenders of Venice's small, but essential Italian land holdings makes them less than negligible. They care little, and understand less of the trade that is the lifeblood of Venice and are hawkish for war and expansion on the mainland and favour crusade against the Republics most crucial Islamic trade partners.

Political Stance
Greatly favor mainland expansion
Neutral to protectionism
Favor crusade
Favor the Roman Pontiff
Vehemently oppose cooperation with the Turk

Influence in the Republic
5% influence with the people
10% influence in the Signoria
10% influence in the Grand Council


The Merchant Houses Faction

The merchant houses faction is made up of the many rich merchant families of Venice that have never broken into the "Golden Book" and seats on the great council. They are men of great wealth who have overtime lost more and more power to the state but still wield great influence from their wealth and tend to support the Doge, so long as he favours trade. The interests of this portion of the Republic have no real leader but act in union and through clandestine meetings.

Political Stance
Opposed to mainland expansion
Greatly favor protectionism
Oppose crusade
Favor the Roman Pontiff
Greatly favor cooperation with the Turk

Influence in the Republic
10% influence with the people
10% influence in the Signoria
10% influence in the Grand Council
 
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Trade - Lifeblood of the Republic

Industry

Glass

Naval Supplies

Salt

Sugar


Trade Routes and Monopolies

Trade in Venice is not the private entrepeneurial practice that it was in the time of Marco Polo. There are over 2,000 vessels that sail the flag of Venice and the majority are now state owned, and were produced by the state in the Arsenale. The business of Venice is the buying, selling, and carrying of goods in general which a reputation for fair-dealing over centuries has ensured a competitive advantage in. While Venetians will always drive a hard bargain they do not cheat those they do business with, because it is not good business. From the city of Venice huge convoys depart on set schedules throughout the year heading to different destinations and varying goods, the Republics trade can be categorized by its for major areas of interest.

Eastern Mediterranean

The eastern Mediterranean is at the heart of Venice's trade Empire. Here the majority of its goods are acquired for shipping to distant ports. In the levant spices from india most importantly, along with exotic fruit, and luxurious oddities are acquired. These old staples of trade find there way to all ports that Venetian ships call in. In exchange the Venetians most abundant exports to these areas are clothe from Flanders in the north, slaves from Georgia and Circassia, as well timber from the Harz Mountains and the Balkans. The Eastern mediterranean is also home to Venice's grand sugar plantations on Crete and Cyprus from where the sweet luxury is exported. These islands also produce the sweet Malmsey wine which is relished in the North. The rich grain fields of Apulia, Sicily, and after the most recent war Anatolia, and the Black sea are the main import of Venice, which she works dilligently to ensure for her people.

Western Mediterranean

In the western half of the Mediterranean Venice focuses much less of its attentian. The traditional waters of her rival Genoa do not provide anything which Venice can not acquire elsewhere, though there are several destinations where their staple exports are unloaded. On the way west Venetian ships often stop in Naples to deliver sugar, metals, and spices and pickup large shipments of wine for their west and north voyages. The same is done in Sicily, and then again the Balearic islands, and finally southern Iberia, most notably Valencia. The primary concern of Venice in the western mediterranean is securing friendly ports for resupply and information on their journeys to England and the Lowlands.

Northern Europe

The ports of England, and the great city of Flandern are huge profit centers for Venice, and the triangular trade involved in these region is a fully consolidated state monopoly. Amongst the usual assortment of goods the primary trade is conducted by trading Malmsey wine in the ports of England for large stocks of wool. This wool is carried to the textile center in Flandern and there traded for fine textile clothes, cloaks, and gowns which are profitably sold in all of Venice's markets, and from which the return trips to Venice are made extremely profitable.


The Profitable Triangular Trade in the English Channel

Central Europe

Trade between Venice and the core of Europe is carried out exclusively overland. Venice's primary concerns are manufactured goods from the rich German cities, metals from Bohemia and Styria, as well as timber from the Harz mountains. Salt from the Venetian fields, sugar from their plantations, along with Italian wine, and more luxurious goods from the Levant find their way north as well. The true heart of the Venetian trade Empire lies at sea, and as such the less profitable overland trade is used more to secure raw resources, and quite often to recruit talented craftsmen and artisans to Venice herself.

Treaties, Agreements, and Edicts

Year of our Lord 1383

Venetian - Neapolitan Trade Agreement said:
I. Naples shall grant Venice first access to their supplies of grain for which Venice shall offer prices slightly above market for orders in excess of a set annual amount.

II. Venice will at the assigned ports of Naples sell the finest luxury and common goods at agreed upon prices.

III. Venice shall carry an agreed upon quantity of sugar for the manufacture of wines in the Kingdom of Naples for an annually set price.

IV. Venice shall buy at negotiated prices an agreed upon stock, of traditional wines, and sugar sweetened wines, carrying said goods to their destination at their own cost, and likewise taking all profit from their foreign sale.

V. Venice and Naples shall leave all ports open to one another for safe hardber and commerce.

VI. Venice shall look upon Naples as a favorable partner in matters of large one time orders of arms, metals, or other durable goods.

Signed

[x]Antonio Veniero, Doge of Venice

[x]Charles III, King of Naples and Jerusalem, Duke of Durazzo, Prince of Tarento and Achaea
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Aluysio's Trade Proposal said:
On Trade
I. Venice shall convey at fair market prices various luxury goods from the Levant and elsewhere at regular intervals as she has in the past. As well supplies of silver and other metals shall be conveyed regularly and as well can be arranged for one time shipments by negotiation.

II. Venice shall construct for Ferrara a specified number of galleys fitted for defense and trade. These vessels shall be constructed by Venetian standards in the Arsenale of Venice and shall be fully inspected by Niccolo d'Este or an appointed proxy upon completion. The number and tonnage of ships shall be negotiated annually in perpetuity at the option of both parties.

III. Venice shall carry any exports of Ferraran merchants, at competitive rates to their most profitable destinations.

IV. Venice shall gaurantee to purchase a set quantity reflectling a large percentage of Ferraran exportables in exchanged for discounted prices from market, exclusive to the Republic of Venice.

V. Venice shall have first access to the markets for grain in Ferrarra at good prices.

VI. Ferrarra shall gaurantee that no realm should have a greater share than Venice of the trade in their goods.

VII. Ferraran vessels shall have the right to trade and take safety in all Venetian harbors.

On Matters of State

I. Venice and Ferrara shall work together for the safety of the Adriatic and shall pledge to offer safe harbor to one another's ships.

II. Venice and Ferrara shall pledge to come mutually to one anothers defence in case of war on the Italian peninsula.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

England and Venice said:
Agreement of Expanded Trade and Cooperation of 1383​

I. The Republic of Venice and Kingdom of England shall leave open to one another all ports and harbors under their control, for trade and safe harbor.

II. Venice shall at a favourable price to English merchants bring various luxuries, inclulding spices, wines, sugar, etc...on a recurring schedule, to the ports of England, and in doing so shall enjoy a 15% discount on usual tariffs and harbor fees.

III. As a rider to normal trade situations England shall bring a large quantity of Malmsey, and other wines, particulalry those sweetened with sugar, exclusively to the port of Portsmouth to be inspected and made ready for market by agents of Venice.

IV. To facilitate the expanded trade in England, his Majesty Richard II shall allow the creation of a Venetian colony in Portsmouth, enclosed by a wall, and separate from English law and taxes, in exchange for which the products from these houses will be sold at a discount of 10% from prices in similar markets.

V. Venice shall have preferred access to stores of fine wool from English merchants, which can be accepted in barter for all Venetian imports or paid for in bullion at market prices.

VI. As concession for His Majesty Richard's benevolence, Venice shall offer a discount of 5% on all tradeables carried on behalf of English merchants, who shall enjoy a special privilege of being allowed to rent space on Venetian tradeships.

[x]Antonio Veniero, Duke of Venice

[x]Richard II, King of England, King of France, Lord of Ireland and Aquitaine
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Venetian - Cypriot Compact of Trade and Defense - 1383 said:
I. Venice shall have rights to establish a colony at Famagusta for the construction of warehouses, workshops, and housing for her citizens.

II. This colony shall be subject to the laws of Cyprus, with the appointed Venetian governor being allowed to observe all legal proceedings involving Venetian Subjects. If a matter of law involves solely Venetian citizens, the Venetian governor shall have sole jurisdiction.

III. Venice shall pledge to defend and come to the aid of Cyprus if ever threatened by heathen nations. The Republic of Venice shall commit several galleys to defence of the seas around Cyprus at all times and shall treat an attack upon Cyprus as an attack upon herself.

IV. Venice shall offer free travel along normally traversed trade routs to any Cypriot seeking passage with permission of their Lord.

On Trade

V. All Venetian trade in Cyprus shall be done through the colony in Famagusta and in this city Venice shall enjoy a reduction of one half the normal tariffs charged upon non-preferred traders.

VI. Venice shall allow Cypriot merchants to lease space on her ships at a 10% discount, assuming no risk for such goods.

VII. Venice shall have first access to the supplies of sugar in Cyprus and in exchange will pay a premium of 5%. If sugar is sold to other merchants before Venetian's have had access to the market this discount is void.

[x]Antonio Veniero, Doge of Venice
[x]James I, King of Cyprus
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bohemian - Venetian Accord of Non-Aggression and Trade said:
I. Bohemia and Venice shall endeavour to do one another no harm pledging to forgo violence against one another or any allies of one another. Any violation of this is grounds for breaking of this aggreement.

II. Venice shall have free access to all Bohemian markets and in those markets enjoy a reduction in tolls of 50%.

III. Venice shall purchase in large quantities silver,iron, and other metals, as well as timber from Bohemian merchants at a discounted price relative to the quantity purchased, gaining a larger discount for larger purchases.

IV. Venice shall offer a reduction in price, based on quantity, on raw goods (sugar, wool, cotton) it carries to Bohemian markets, on terms of cash exchange or barter, per negotiation.

V. Venice gaurantees Bohemia an annual volume of trade to ensure a mutually beneifical agreement.

[x] Antonio Veniero, Doge of Venice
[x] Vaclav IV, King of Bohemia, etc...
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Year of our Lord 1384

Between Venice and Grenada said:
Al-Andalus - Venetian Trade Accord of 1384

I. At the expense of Grenada tenements for Venetian merchants and craftsmen shall be established in Ghernata and Almeria. In these quarters Venetians shall be subject to Venetian law in affairs amongst Venetian citizens, and subject to the laws of Grenada in dealings with subjects of said
realm.

II. In said Quarters, Venice shall house men knowledgable in the crafts of cannonry, shipbuildings, minting, among others. These men shall take on apprentices native to Ghernata for the sharing and dissemination of knowledge.

III. Venice shall commit to send at a minimum four trade fleets to the ports of Grenada per year, two to the North, two to the East, any increase in this is at the discretion of Venice, but no decrease permitted.

IV. Venice shall be the sole third-party carrier of Grenadan goods to foreign ports by way of sea. The state of Grenada is free to trade as it will and is welcome in all ports controlled by Venice.

V. Venice shall buy or barter for all goods outright and has full rights to all proceeds from sale of purchased goods abroad.

VI. Grenada shall charge no tolls to Venetian merchants in Grenada, and not resort to extreme taxation of merchant activity.

VII. Venice and Grenada shall pledge to cooperate in ensuring safe travel over sea, and vow non-aggression one to the other.

VIII. Freedom and tolerance of religious belief shall exist for merchants of Grenada and Venice in one another's ports.

IX. Recognizing the grace and benevolence of Emir Muhammad V al-Gani
Venice shall make a gift of 4 galleys of war produced in the Arsenale of Venice, within 6 months of this documents signing.

[x]Antonio Veniero, Doge of Venice, etc...
[]Muhammed V al-Gani, Emir of Granada
 
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Venice - Queen of the Adriatic

The city of Venice, located on a one-hundred eighteen low lying islands in the Venetian Lagoon is the political, spiritual, and economic capital of the Venetian Republic. It is a densely populous city, stretching out almost over the entirety of its principal islands which consist of six administrative regions, or sestieri.​



The Sestieri

The city of Venice has for long been divided into these six areas, for taxation, the organization of defense, and other administrative areas. Though they all are essential to the city and the Republic and their people all sweart allegiance to Venice each part of the city has a character of its own and traits unique to it.

San Marco

San Marco is not the oldest part of Venice, leaving that distinction to San Polo, but has for very long been the nerve-center and home to the Doge's and Government of Venice. Here is the towering Campanile, the Basilica San Marco, and the Doge's Palace all overlooking the avion covered Piazza San Marco.



The Piazza San Marco During One of Venice's Many Religious Processions

Along the Grand Canal which traces the exterior of San Marco are many palazzo's of the greatest family's of Venice, past Doge's, senators, great traders and soldiers. Many of the great patrician family's of Venice have sought the coveted housing here on the grand canal only minutes from the seat of power. On this coveted shore of the Grand Canal, only seconds from the Rialto Bridge, the only bridge over the grand canal. The rich houses and largo campo's of this most affluent area of Venice are all overwatched by the towering Campanile by far the cities tallest strucure from which one can see all of the city and gain a commanding view of the Veneto and past the lagoon into the Adriatic and overland to Treviso.



The Campanile Towering Over the Doge's Palace and the Piazzo San Marco

San Polo and Santa Croce

The beginnings of the city of Venice are in San Polo, named for the first church built upon its grounds. It's entire northern border running along the grand canal it is backed with villas and palazzos of the cities wealthy aristocrats. The Rialto Bridge which joins San Polo and San Marco at the bend of the Grand Canal connects the commercial hubs of the city where ships dock and unload their wares. San Polo is cramped with merchants, traders, and noblesse and is the liveliest of the Venice's sestieri. A walk through this area is an assault upon the senses, the loud calls of traders, the smell of fish, mingled with exotic spices and perfumes, which cover the natural scents of a medieval city. And as in all parts of the city one much watch out for the pigs that call the city their home as they root about performing their garbage eating duties. To the west in Santa Croce are the homes of the more common traders, merchants, and craftsmen. The tight, narrow streets are busy with the comings and goings of the people that make Venice work.


The glorious cathedral of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, in San Polo


Castello

The largest of the six sestieri of Venice, Castello reaches from San Marco and Cannaregio on its west to little developed reaches of Venice's easternmost point.

Dorsoduro


Cannaregio
 
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Diplomacy and Treaties

Envoys at Court

Duchy of Milan - Giovanni Borri

Envoys Abroad

Kingdom of Naples - Pietro Christafaro - Napoli
Duchy of Milan - Bonifacio Balbi - Milan
Ferrara - Aluysio Damiani
Republic of Ragusa - Bertuccio Veniero - Ragusa
Kingdom of England - Marco Zeno - Windsor
Kingdom of Sicily - Donato Mocenigo - Palermo
Serbian Alliance - Giustiniano Dolfin - undisclosed
Kingdom of Cyprus - Bernabo Corner - Officialy resides in Candia, Crete
Kindgom of Bohemia - Nicolo d'Armano -

Political Treaties, etc...
 
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January 13, 1383 - Venice, The Grand Canal

The bucinotoro rowed slowly out of the Arsenale where it had just days ago been fully refitted and lacquered in preparation for Antonio Veniero's ascencion to the Dogeship. The mighty gondola, more appropriately a small galley, was magnificent to behold its shiny black lacquer adorned with trim of pure gold, and exotic floral decorations for the days grand occasion. On board the Doge-elect sat in silence with his family and the men that would make up his signoria. The sun shone beautifully from the east as Antonio looked out across the lagoon where unusually no smoke rose from the island of Murano, for all the glass tradesman were allowed this day off to come to San Marco and greet their Doge. Finally a tall slender girl of 15 years rose and slowly coming to the Doge's side placed her hand on his arm and spoke gently,

"Father," the beautiful girl began using her free hand to brush her long black hair from her face, "This is a day for joy, do not be so pensive, the people shall love you. As we all do."

A man, about thirty sat atop many large heavy looking sacks, and patted them vigorously coaxing from them a clinking sound,

"Indeed," he bellowed with a laugh, "They love the money at least!"

Antonio's daughter glared at her irreverent brother, who smirked in return, before she sat down. The Doge kept his gaze constant out towards the quickly rising sun. He thought of the love he had for his daughters and his sons, and of his wife who had gone to the Lord. He was glad to be elected, but though young for a Doge, it had made him feel old. You were Doge until you died, and now for the first time Antonio was facing squarely at death, and it chilled his spine. He turned finally towards his children and smiled faintly. Since his wifes death he had never looked more than faintly happy on the outside, though he was not the joyless man many thought him. Antonio motioned for all to stand, as the great Ducal yacht was making its way towards the entrance of the Grand Canal, and all ready the raucous noise of the eager people could be heard.

Each of the Doges sons grabbed one of the large sacks of coins and opened it, as the doge himself took the last one and together they made their way above deck where the villas and churces of the Grande Canal greeted them, the streets and alleyways lined with people cheering and reaching for the coins which began to rain down from the Bucintoro. In the city cousins, and agents of the Veniero family waited in high rooms along the streetways the Doge would take to the Palazzo San Marco, waiting with more coins to rain on the expectant citizens of Venice. This costly tradition was a sign of the Doge's wealth and benevolence, and brought great joy to the people who piled the streets to catch a glimpse of their new ruler.

It would later be said that Doge Veniero's extravagance and panache in his ascension were beyond that of any Doge before him, and certainly unexpected from a man so capable and stern as Antonio Veniero. But this day the people thought only of their cities glory, of pride, and of their wonderful new leader, and as he lay his head down to sleep that night for the first time in the Doge's Palace Antonio could still hear the songs of praise being sung for him in the festive streets of Venice.

The Court is Open!
 
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The celebrations were over, and Venice was back to business as usual. Great smokes rose from the island of Murano where the islands glass blowers were hard at work, and the constant hammering of work in the Arsenale resounded throughout the sestieri of Castello. Busy merchants and agents of the Republic bustled throughout the Palazzo San Marco while in an unassuming study in a far corner of the Doge's palace Antonio Veniero sat with his eldest son Bertuccio. The man who sat across from the Doge was stiff in his chair, anxious to hear what his father's mission for him was. Bertuccio tired of the mundane responsibilities of administration at Candia and longed to see the world. It was with some disappointment that he would learn his first mission would only be a short distance from home, and far from glamorous.

"Bertuccio," his father began with a stern look in his eyes. "You know that the Republic of Ragusa has been a thorn for Venice ever since she freed herself from our lordship."

Bertuccio nodded, his hopes already sunk of journeys to France, or the Levant. "Of course we are not in a position," his father continued noticing his sons lackluster reception of his words, " to make any effort to restore that dominance, but it must be made clear that we shall not look kindly upon Ragusan inroads into our established trade. I want you to make this clear there, and to seek their commitment to fight the Dalmation pirates that harrass our vessels. Make it known that we are willing to engage in cordial relations, but that any attempts to dislodge our traders shall be seen as an act of hostilty, and reciprocated in kind. Do you understand this mission Bertuccio?"

For the first time the Doge's son spoke, "Yes, my lord." His tone was earnest and did not give away his disappointment at such a mission. "I shall seek the first ship out, and bring with me several agents to garner information througout the city and report back to you with the utmost haste."

Antonio was glad at his sons responsible answer and nodded solemnly, "Very well, safe travels Bertuccio."

The son stood, and bowed respectfully before taking his leave. He quickly headed out into the city to secure his spies.
 

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City Palace, Milan

"My Lord, another envoy has arrived", the servant said. Barnabo Visconti looked up from his letter, and stared at the man. His cold eyes rested on the messenger, and the man felt a shiver down his spine. "Where does he come from?" "Lord, he claims he came from Venice". Barnabo laughed. "Well then, why should I talk to an adversary of that wicked little republic?" He didn't await the man's answer - knowing the man was sane enough not to reply - and stood up from his desk. Then he summoned two guards to be escorted to the audience hall.

"Bonifacio Balbi, I welcome you here in Milan. First I must say that - although relations between our cities haven't been always that peacefully - I would like to keep our relations well. Therefore I would like to ask you to forget the foul deeds of my predecessors". Barnabo Visconti coughed, and focussed his eyes on something else for a split second. "As I am saying, I am a very decent and open-minded man, and I would surely be willing to openly improve relations between Milan and Venice... and establish profitable trade agreements". The Lord of Milan looked at the man for a minute, and wondered how easily he could be persuaded... "Master Balbi, of course you shall be accepted at my court as ambassador to Venice".
 

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In the early evening, a lone horseman arrives at Venice, and ferries to the island city. He hastes himself towards the doge's palace, where he introduce's himself as Giovanni Borri, son of Pietro Borri, head of House Borri. He claims he was send by Lord Barnabò Visconti of Milan as an ambassador to Venice, and as a special representative to saveguard Milan's trading interests in the powerful city. Then he presents a document that bears little more than the seal of both House Visconti and House Borri, and a proclaimation from Lord Barnabò Visconti that allows House Borri to maintain a large part of his foreign affairs.
 

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When Borri disembarked in Venice he was quickly noted by one of the many agents of the state designated to keep an eye upon new arrivals to the city. The young Venetian followed Giovanni indiscretely, and as the man disappeared into the Palace, he turned off and headed back towards the Rialto to ensure the goodwill of other arriving voyagers. Inside the Doge's palace Borri was shown into the courtyard where he was greated by a group of several older Venetian men in the finest clothes. The largest of them, with a cleanly trimmed gray beard identified himself,

"Noble sir, I am Nuncio Aletini," the member of the council of 10 began cordially, "You come on business of his Lordship Visconti? Very good indeed the Republic is privileged to have you here, and honored your Lord should deem us worthy of entreaty." The men around Nuncio nodded and looked awestruck doing their usual to make guests feel inflated before the spectacle of the grand court of the Doge. "Please, the Doge should like to see you as soon as you can."

The group led their honored guest up the stairs and into the heart of the Palace, the ceilings of gold and walls full of glittering decorations, conveying the wealth of the Palace's owners. Finally they turned halfway up the stairs and toward a great seat up doubles doors, which were flung open revealing a massive hall, at the end of which the Doge sat stately, surrounded by a ring of magnificently adorned councillors.

Nuncio bellowed aloud, "your Grace, Giovanni Borri, emissary of Lord Bernabo Visconti of Milan."

Antonio Veniero nodded indicating to the man to come forward, and sat sternly awaiting the man's address.
 

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Much in awe of the magnificent palace, Giovanni Borri slowly proceeded towards the doge. He tried to hide his impressions, and looked at the doge. His heart skipped a beat. "My... my liege, I have traveled from Milan to offer my service as an ambassador to my lord, Barnabò Visconti". He bowed in front of the doge, and hoped he had practiced the customs properly. "My name is Giovanni Borri, third son of Pietro Borri, head of House Borri. My lord has assigned me to oversee the interests of House Visconti and the Lordship of Milan. Lord Barnabò seeks to improve the trade and politics between our two realms, and to preserve peace in northern Italy and... the Adriatic sea". Giovanni tried to lower his attitude. "My liege, my lord has asked me to found a trading house that could administer trade between Milan and Venice... with Venecian merchants ofcourse... so that we might improve trade along the whole Po valley".
 

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Antonio Veniero looked on interestedly at the Milanese amabassador, though his expression remained unchanged. He wondered at what the aggressive Milanese could want here, other than to arrange some way to achieve more influence in Venice's holdings. Skeptical as he was the envoy seemed humble and as such he listened respectfully. One of the many advisors chafed at Borri's address of the Doge as, "my liege," and interrupted the Milanese forcefully,

"His Grace, is to be addressed as such!" The young courtier looked flustered at Giovanni but he was silenced and stepped back into his position by a slow and deliberate motion of the Doge's arm.

"My apologies Giovanni Borri, I welcome you on behalf of the Republic to Venice. I am glad that your Lord seeks to sweeten the often sour relations between Venice and Milan." The Doge's arm slowly returned to the arm of his ornate throne and he continued on thoughtfully his piercing eyes never leaving that of Borris. "Greater trade between Milan and Venice is precisely what Venice seeks, and she is glad that the wish is reciprocal. Indeed if Milan were to direct more of her trade through the Po, and through Venice, to the detriment of Genoa many accomadations could be made. As to the establishment of an official Milanese trade presence in the Republic, I shall consider it, but it can not be taken lightly, and I should wish to hear from you some reasons as to why it should benefit Venice before I could assent. It could be advantageous to both Venice, and Milan if your merchants could themselves carry their wares to our shores for loading upon our outbound ships. But please, elaborate more on what you would propose Giovanni Borri."

As the Doge concluded the fixed eyes of his attendants removed from him, and in unision turned upon Giovanni as the Doge's steady eyers remained fixed upon him.
 

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"My liege... I ment, my grace..." Giovanni muttered, but he quickly gathered himself and continued. "My Lord has given me orders to establish new diplomatic ties to Venice, and to safeguard Milan's interests in your great city, but he gave me a carte blanche regarding trade". Even though Barnabò Visconti gave Giovanni several guidelines, that was largely true. "You see, my grace, House Borri has a history of trade. It might suprise you, but our roots lie in Venice! Lord Barnabò acknowledges our expertices on the diplomatic and merchanding theatre, and has ordered us... me, to represent the Milanese merchants. My grace, I seek not to steal business from the Venecian merchants, but the truth is that the entire Po valley is dominated by Venecian traders, taking opportunity from Milanese merchants. If his grace would allow Milanese merchants to conduct at least a share of the trade in the Po valley, and allow Milanese merchants to transport goods to Venice, it would certainly be very benevicial for both Venice and Milan". Giovanni had to think quickly now, if he had to put this one right. "Growing wealth amongst the people of Milan would significantly grow your market in northern Italy, my grace. Plus the fact that the local Milanese merchant know much more of local markets, products and costumers that foreigners do, thus again expanding the market, as the Milanese could point out places and resources foreigners could never find on their own". Giovanni took a deep breath. "His liege should also know that Milanese merchants cannot and will not trade beyond Venice, as they lack seaworthy vessels, and thus all of Milan's wealth should be exported though Venice... and it's merchants".
 

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The Doge looked to his advisors and whispered something with several of them as Borri concluded his statement. He thought on his own for a bit, staring past the Milanese and then began slowly.

"You are wise to say trade creates wealth, Venice is the prime example of that, but I also know that wealth trickles down slowly, and Venice would see no great increases in demand in the short term under such an arrangement. What we would have would be a competitor right in our heartland." These last words the Doge spoke sternly, but his manner lightened up quickly and he spoke a bit more relaxed, "But competition is not always a bad thing, and I think there is much to be gained on both sides if a proper deal is structured." Antonio gestured expressively with his hands as he dived into the heart of his monologue, "Now allowing Milanese merchants to set up shops in the Po valley and is not to be taken lightly, Venice would demand that all such operations be disclosed to her, and that all property be utilized on lease from Venice, so that your merchants could not own outright any land with the Republics borders. Your citizens in Venice would be subject to the law and regulation of the Republic in their activities within her borders. Furthermore it would be important that Milan channels more of its trade east, through the Po, and hers and Venices merchants. Milan and Venice can both gain by taking away some of the markets of the Genoese, and if Milan were to accomadate this arrrangement the duties charged on Milan's goods in Venice could be reduced. Thease are the conditions Venice would require, Giovanni Borri, bearing this in mind what would you propose?"

Again the combined glances of the intimdating court of Venice focused on Giovanni and the Doge patiently awaited an answer.
 

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"My Grace", Giovanni Borri started "It only seems logical and reasonable that citizens within Venice fall under Venecian legislations. And that Milanese merchants would still follow the guidance of Venice. However, my Grace - and I am going to be very blunt here - the people of Milan don't like foreign traders. The craftsmen cooperate with Genuan and Venecian traders becourse they have no choice, but the cooperation is half-hearted. It's not a case of trust... I can't imagine, but rather a case of... shall we say, xenophobia. They cannot work with foreign merchants becourse they are not 'one of theirs', thus they are mistrusted. This goes for small farmers, miners and craftsmen rather that the large and estabilished, but this small group still forms a large portion of Milan's life... market... industry. Hench, if the people of Milan get to trade with their own breatren, the mistrust disappears, and we will both gain not only a larger market but also a much larger supply of products". Giovanni slowly began to wonder if this meeting wasn't futile. Perhaps the Doge could be persuayed, but he knew for sure his court... and most Venecian merchants... wouldn't agree. "Also", Giovanni Borri added (he had nearly forgot about Genua) "Also, as of such, the people of Milan would be much eagered to trade with a Milanese merchant then a Genuese one, and as the Milanese traders would be supported - and support - Venice, that would certainly improve the Milanese view of Venice. Which is now - I must say - extraordinary low. And as Milanese merchants would end up in Venice anyway, you would benefit". Giovanni quickly calculated how much of Milan was served by Venecian merchants. "I believe, my Grace, that Genua's trade influences in Milan might effectively be halved".
 

AugCaesar

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The Doge looked on respectfully as Giovanni gave his lengthy answer. He could not deny that there were advantages to "outsourcing" Venice's trade in Milan, but he, and certainly those around him were not capable of making any sort of decisions just yet.

"Giovanni Borri," the Doge began pensively, "There are many things to consider here, I would ask if you could draw up a proposal so that our discourse can be better focused." He paused and then continued for good measure, "I think that a deal can be made here, but it would be a matter of great import for both Milan and Venice, as such in duty to the Republic I must see that all areas of confusion or contention are accounted for." The Doge stood then, and as he did his assemly of councilors stepped forward to follow him, he spoke again to Giovanni remaining upon his dais,

"Take as much time as required to draft a proposal and present it to Nuncio Aletini, I and the council will consider it and you shall be called for another audience after that time."
 

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A letter arrives by ship from the East. It is marked with a strange seal...



Unto the Duke of Venice and his Councils


Unto the Lord of the Great Sea,

I, Cheku Barlas, High Constable of the Realms of Timur Shah, the Great Amir and Successor of the long-famed Genghis, write unto your Grace asking that you send envoys unto us at Samarkand so that they might have an audience with my lord Timur and discuss matters of import concerning commerce, arms, and the friendly relations of our states.

In matters of commerce, we wish to make a treaty of great import which shall open all the riches of the Orient unto you state without having to trade with the Khan of the Golden Horde with his high tariffs and little respect for Latins. In mattters of arms, my lord Timur understands the Venetian state to be very advanced in engines of war, especially bombards and small guns which are oft mount upon your ships. Of the artisans who make such weapons could offer their service to the Great Amir, for the right prince of course, Timur Shah would be most pleased with the Republic for as long as he shall reign. The fostering of friendly relations shall be our ultimate aim and along with the above propositions, the Great Amir shall hope to aquire a treaty of mutual non-agreesion, as the coming year might make sure necessary.

We shall await your Grace's reply and hopefully the soon coming of your envoys to Samarkand. Peace be upon you and the Republic.

Cheku Barlas,
High Constable of the Realms of Timur Shah, Great Amir of the Ulus Chagatai, Amir of Transoxonia, Jatah and Khorezm, Conqueror of Herat, Khorasan, and Persia, etc
 

Damocles

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In the Lagoon of Venice, a strange sight will soon be seen. That of a Turkish galley that has slowly made it's way up along the Dalmatian coast of the Adriatic. Perhaps of all the ports in Europe, this one may be the most familiar with seeing such vessel, yet it has still been sometime since the Turks have graced it with their presence.

In the bow, a tall man in the ripeness of middle age looks about the Christian city. Dressed in the silk and dark green robes of an Ottoman official, it is soon apparent why he was chosen for this mission. Of mixed Albanian and Greek descent, he is a pale eyed and brown-haired convert. Speaking fluent italian as he is greeted by the dockmasters, he introduces himself as Khareiddin Pasha, Sword of the Faith, Steward of Beylerbey Lalasahin Pasha.

He seeks an audience with the Doge and has come bearing many rich gifts.​

 
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