City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
Crowley relies heavily on primary sources as he recounts Venice’s economic rise from the time of the Fourth Crusade to its decline in the early years of the 16th century. But City of Fortune is much broader in scope, as its subtitle suggests. While detailing Venice’s maritime dominance via military efforts and diplomatic engagements, Crowley includes insights to the religious events and social issues that impacted the entire Mediterranean world at that time. Living on an impermanent strip of land, Venice’s early settlers promptly mastered shipbuilding and seafaring. Since true security only comes from wealth, the tiny city-state gradually evolved into a remarkably pragmatic society founded on greed and self-preservation. In the end, the envy and distrust of its neighbors dealt it a serious blow, although the ultimate decline of its maritime empire had numerous external and internal causes. This is an engaging history, although Crowley, like all historians, is not without his biases. Anyone interested in understanding how a random set of events occurring over centuries of time appears to follow some invisible law of nature will enjoy reading this work. Highly recommended.
City of Fortune: How Venice Lost and Won a Naval Empire
464 (US), 432 (UK)