Yannis Nakas (Postgraduate Research Student, University of Birmingham), Rowers, marines and shipbuilders: Greeks in the Venetian Arsenal in the 15th century
The relationship between the great maritime republic of Venice and the Orient had always been strong. During the 15th century, as the Venetians were consolidating their power in the Mediterranean through military, political and merchant means, a large number of Greeks moved to Venice in search of a career in the Venetian fleet and arsenal. Thanks to the rich Venetian archives and other historical sources, we know that a series of Greek and more especially Rhodian shipbuilders took control of the construction of ships (galleys) in the state arsenal (Arsenale), their work deeply appreciated by the authorities. At the same time, the first manuscripts which document (among other things) the construction and armament of contemporary ships were written by Greeks serving in the Venetian naval fleet. Thanks to the available historical documents, we can follow the biographies of these people and observe the important role they played in the development of the power of the Venetian fleet and Venice in general.