Home > > Vencie, the merchants empire (Part 1)
Vencie, the merchants empire (Part 1)
Vencie, the merchants empire (Part 1)
First broadcast date12/17/1976
AbstractThis program is particularly devoted to Venice, its peak, its market power and its decline (along with other ports such as Genoa) when its trade activity in the Mediterranean was competed by the road of the Cape to India and the opening to America.
- ORTF - Coproduction
- RAI - Coproduction
- Europe 1 (EUR1) - Coproduction
BroadcasterFTV - F3
Primary themeUrbanism and cities
- Landscapes and environment / Geography and landscapes
- Tourism and cultural sites / Architecture
- Art, Culture and Knowledge / Fine arts / Painting
Credits / Cast
- Quilici Folco - Director
- Braudel Fernand - Participant
Period of events
- From 1000 to 1500
- Italy - Eastern North - Venice
Media running time21m18
- In Venice, time does not pass like elsewhere.
- Venice is out of time, in a setting as immobilised, where nothing dares to move.
- And we come to it, consciously or not, to participate in this spell.
- Not only to admire a great city but to forget ourselves in thinking only about it.
- Venice was born, was built, in the middle of the salt water. This singularity dominates everything in it.
- Water, always water, water again, everywhere present.
- Around the city, as far as the eye can see, a plain of water with these paths dotted of stakes planted there since always.
- As since always, we had to indicate to ships and fishers’ barques the veins of deep waters, these flooded rivers that traverse the lagoon.
- And there, perched on their piles, fishermen’s shelters allow us to imagine the first men’s houses of the lagoon.
- These Venetians who lived in the Roman Empire until the 5th century when likely to escape the Barbarian invasions they took refuge on these islands.
- This low island level with water, Torcello, on which Venice has almost begun to be, centuries and centuries ago.
- Venice began indeed outside the site of the present Venice in Malamocco at the south of Lido.
- And in Torcello, which had to be abandoned after the water modifications of the lagoon of the 14th century.
- Torcello today is an area almost deserted.
- A witness to its past splendor: the church of Santa Fosca dating back to the 8th century.
- What would remain of Venice if water had betrayed it as it betrayed Torcello?
- The lagoon, the stretch of water where Venice is suspended, is a sea in miniature closed by sandbars.
- Fragile barrier but barrier that isolates it half from the Adriatic, the real Sea of Venice.
- These sandbars are penetrated by three marine gates.
- In San Nicolo, in Malamocco near Lido where pass the large seagoing ships, in Chioggia to the south.
- This Lilliputian Venice from where escape fishing boats and trawls that go up to the Yugoslav coast.
- It is through these gaps that the real Sea enters the lagoon.
- However, in the northern part of the Adriatic, there are tides.
- They sometimes flood the city and turn into a lake the huge Saint-Marc square.
- Came out of waters, Venice could, if men were not watching over, bury itself in the waters.
- But men are watching over. We know all the campaigns made with the assistance of the most advanced modern technology.
- Example, these barriers that man seeks to raise between water movements and Venice.
- Huge rescue rings that water swells as the sea level gradually rises and encircles the city as many temporary dykes.
- Strange situation in truth for a city to stand in the middle of waters loaded with salt.
- Venice settled in the lagoon for safety reasons, to easily defend itself against external attacks, and it stayed in.
- But it stands here as a ship on the high seas cut off from freshwater sources.
- The stone wells, now unused, that you see so numerous everywhere, which pierce the city squares and courtyards of the great palaces or modest houses,
- are not real wells but sewers for rainwater, constructed ingeniously to filter it.
- But water from the sky was not enough for the needs of such a large city.
- So every day, small tankers, like this one, tirelessly brought to the city the freshwater of Brenta, the nearest river.
- Freshwater. And yet, all the freshwater coming from the Alps and the thaw run towards Venice.
- Adige leads to the sea by the lagoon, Po reaches the Adriatic at the south by a monstrous delta where Venice desperatly attempted to establish its rights, its property.
- Brenta, the only river that flows directly into the lagoon.
- So Venice had to master the dangerous river, to canalise it, to divert it between the dykes up to Chioggia, in fact, to remove it from the lagoon.
- Otherwise it would have destroyed with its alluvium the stretch of water that made Venice an island and that guaranteed its independence and its security.
- But these dangerous streams also serve the city.
- They lead boats, barques, motherships to Venice.
- We still see today these boats slowly passing. They are part of life in Venice.
- The center of this animation: The large Canal, this strange boulevard.
- Here, Saint-Marc. The square about which Cocteau wrote: "The pigeons walk and the lions fly."
- Beyond, facing the great light of the lagoon, the closest islands: the islands of Giudecca and of San Giorgio.
- From the island of San Giorgio we are really at the heart of Venice. We are at the heart of Venice.
- Not only the artistic heart of Venice but we are at the heart of its daily life, it is here that is created... that springs its wealth.
- It is a wealth that is either close or distant. But mostly distant. The wealth of Venice, especially the Venice of the great era of the 15th and 16th centuries,
- the Venetians have to get it beyond the Adriatic through the Mediterranean up to the Levant, and even beyond Gibraltar, in the direction of the north, of Bruges.
- It seems to me that if one is careful, I mean with the details of the port ; and this port can be seen in the Jacopo de' Barbari with, I would say, such a resemblance.
- The great landscape by Jacopo de' Barbari is from 1500, but I'm sure if we look for a moment, we will recognize the landscape we have beneath our very eyes.
- And still today, a Venetian from the 16th or 17th century would recognize it perfectly.
- Obviously today's boats are not like boats that can be seen on the large drawing
- but landmarks are the same as those that could see every day a Venetian of the 16th or 17th century.
- And I believe that this civilization of Venice, until the time of Tiepolo, is one of the most beautiful civilizations that man have known.
- Yes painters of Venice, past and former, from Carpaccio to Tiepolo and Canaletto.
- Venice remains in its space as it has been for centuries.
- Intersections, brick’s symphonies, Gothic façades with white hemmed windows, murky waters, stone quays,
- gondoliers, and even the high chimneys of houses with such a characteristic form, and of which so many samples remain in Venice.
- It reminds us that Venice is not in the sunny Italy, the one of olive or palm trees, that the mist is part of its landscape.
- And that the Bora, the Adriatic Mistral torments every winter the sky and the earth and cools homes down, to their heart.
- And we are locked in our Venetian mirage. In Venice nothing changes. Nothing would have changed since it arose from waters.
- Haunting impression but inaccurate in truth.
- Because it took centuries and centuries to Venice to rebuild, to be, to remain itself:
- a huge, fantastic work, a turbulent history.
- This long history of Venice left over witnesses and evidences. Let’s look for them.
- The best way, scientifically speaking, would be to go to Frari church whose cloister now houses vast collections of documents of the Archivio di Stato,
- one of the most famous archives of the world.Its writings tell us about the economic and political life of Venice.
- But Venice past overflows its libraries. It is more immediately readable, full of affectivity, on its stones.
- To watch the Rialto Bridge, for example, it is not just to admire a beautiful stone arch,
- it is understanding that to support it, thousands of tree trunks had to be sticked in an unstable ground at a depth of 16 feet.
- And it is being able to imagine the entire forests sunk in waters and the sand on which Venice stands.
- It is also remembering that the Alto Rio, before being made of stone, as Carpaccio saw it, was made of wood.
- In 1500, during a holiday, this wooden bridge collapsed and it was decided it would be rebuilt with stones. It will take the enormous sum of 250,000 ducats.
- Thus we find the thickness of past time and we also find it in the churches and palaces.
- Since the oldest, the one of Murano which dates back from the 12th century, to the churches of the 16th and 17th, all are witnesses.
- It is great epidemics that commemorate the Most Holy Redeemer and Saint Mary of Health which are among the most beautiful.
- And the Ca' d'Oro gothic style emphasises the link between art and history.
- Since the Gothic adopted late by Venice is maintained until the 16th century as long as the Republic was at its height.
- In Venice, history is present everywhere. To wander the city it's to rediscover the beauty, courage, power, brilliance of the glory days when it dominates the entire Mediterranean.
- And its shadowy side as well, and its mistakes. Means of its power are still there beneath our very eyes.
- On the Piazzetta, here is the Zecca, the Mint. At the Zecca were hammered gold and silver coins.
- On average in the 16th century, a million of gold ducats and a million of silver ducats per year.
- It is through these movements, as a blood flow, that Venice runs, irrigates its trade, imposes and defends it.
- These gold coins flooded the Levant and the countries of Islam.
- Formerly a power centre, the Doge's Palace, the Government Palace.
- An enlightened government, intelligent, meticulous, ran by the Venetian nobility, that is to say by big merchant families
- concerned with not letting one of them seizing the power alone, which gives this authoritarian government a misleading appearance of democracy.
- The clergy is strictly kept away from all temporal powers.
- Saint-Marc is not the cathedral of Venice, it is the chapel of the Doge.
- Therefore a strong government, concerned with the public prosperity and occasionally ruthless regarding everyone.
- When it comes to the reason of State, assassinations and summary executions, arrests, imprisonments, everything is good to the Venetian government.
- This explains why this gallery was named the Bridge of Sighs. Through it, the culprits were conducted directly from the Doge's Palace to the New Prison.
- But where could the Venetian power be the most visible if it's not in the Arsenal?
- In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Arsenal was the largest factory in Europe.
- With its 3,000 workers, the shipyards, its warehouses full of powder, cannonballs, artillery pieces, of beams and planks
- and all what it takes to build and maintain an imposing fleet.
- When Henry III passes in Venice from Poland in 1574, a galley is assembled right in front of his eyes in a single day. It is already a true assembly line.
- And remember that to supply the Arsenal, it took whole forests.
- As for the army of Venice, it was composed of mercenaries. The most famous, here he is: Bartolomeo Colleoni, Warlord of the 15th century,
- who after an eventful life in the service of several masters has been for 25 years the chief of the Land Army of Venice.
- And in the marble, the tomb of the naval army chief Doge Contarini.
- A maritime force plus a merchant fleet. We should not be mistaken about what supports the entire power of Venice, it is its business, its primacy on the market.
- There is no power without economic domination. These round ships, these galleys are the signs of the power of its trades, of the royalty of patrician merchants.
- From the 13th to the 16th century, Venice was involved in the great traffic in the Mediterranean, that is to say the Silk and Spice Road, to the Levant, India, China.
- It dominated these trades as England will dominate major trades in the world in the time of Queen Victoria.
- For this, it is necessary that the Venetian galleys patrol the Adriatic eternally. Adriatic, Venice’s Sea, « il nostro Golfo » used to say the Venetians.
- Marbles of the Church of Saint-Raphael Angel tell us about the keys of Venice’s power in the Adriatic and in the seas of the Levant:
- fortresses, ports of call, strategic points, fortified islands that lined the sea route to the Orient.
Similar content by :
The Alexandria document
The Alexandria document
Bibliotheca Alexandrina (EG)03/13/2005 - 6m10s
The future of Alexandria
The future of Alexandria
Bibliotheca Alexandrina (EG)08/13/2007 - 12m55s
Sicily of cities
Sicily of cities
Bibliotheca Alexandrina (EG)04/15/2007 - 11m15s
The town of Catania
The town of Catania
Bibliotheca Alexandrina (EG)04/15/2007 - 13m56s
page 1 of 18
View 1 - 4 of 71