Reading list | Venice

Venice, mistress of the seas and master of mercantile trade, was “Byzantium’s favourite daughter”. It was also the first Western power to sign a peace treaty with the Ottomans, in 1479, 27 years after their conquest of Constantinople. To reinforce the relationship, Gentile Bellini was sent to Constantinople to paint Mehmet II, the Conqueror, and his court. “Being merchants,” one Venetian ambassador said, “we cannot live without them.” In spite of intermittent hostilities, the feeling was mutual and the trade in luxury items influenced both cultures: this was where the Silk Road arrived in Europe.
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