[p.159] FROM VALONA TO CRETE: VENETO-MALTESE RELATIONS FROM THE LATE 1630's TO THE OUTBREAK OF THE CRETAN WAR

Victor Mallia-Milanes

Venice and Early Modern Malta shared a very limited range of commonality. Their narrow range of peaceful encounter was ironically limited to periods of formally declared wars against the Ottoman Empire. Outside this narrow range, a deep-seated antipathy marked their slender points of contact. To consider this attitude of mutual hostility in its early seventeenth-century context is to move necessarily away from the realm of local history and into the broader and more complex sphere of more general conditions, indeed into the stream of international cross-currents. To explain it is to understand many of the factors that influenced the development, and to recognize certain leitmotives common to all instances, of piracy and privateering in the Mediterranean, from the consequence of which most of this hostility appears to have stemmed.

In the first place, the relationship was not, indeed had never been, one between Venice and Malta alone. It involved the Turkish Empire in a very intricate manner. Both the Venetian Republic and the Order of St John governing the tiny principality of Malta were highly conservative institutions; both were deeply concerned to an extraordinary degree of obsession with self-perpetuation. There is no room for much doubt that both ensured their own survival in the sublime shadow of the Ottoman Porte: Venice's loyalty to the Porte was an economic necessity both for the preservation of her textile markets in the Levant and for the security of her outlying possessions; so was the Order's loyalty to its past which professed the destruction of Islam; its Rhodian experience had nourished a strong preference for the Levant, leaving no part of the Near Eastern coast immune from the excessive and indiscriminate plunder of its "gentlemen adventurers"; both ultimately depended, in their [p.160] own opposite ways, on the rich Muslim merchant, an extremely sensitive nerve in the Near Eastern world. To both, in brief, the economic argument was stronger than their ideological differences with the Turk.

Nor was the stance taken by Venice towards piracy and privateering in the Levant confined solely to the Knights Hospitallers and the Maltese corsairs. It was representative of the Republic's general policy of response, her outraged sensitivity to all westerlings from Spain and France, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia, Holland and England. It was her strong conviction in the economic urgency for peaceful coexistence with the Ottoman Turks that determined her response to this phenomenon.

In the second place, the relationship that emerges from the eventful years from the dramatic episode at Valona in 1638 to the outbreak of the Cretan War in 1645 was not one marked, if I may use Richard Tilden Rapp's expression, by "a short-run disaster with limited long-run impact". Indeed, although the time scale on which this paper will focus is very narrow - a span of only seven years - the events that occurred were, in their individuality, genuine, colourful aspects of the general trend of that relationship; in their collectivity, their consequences were residual and structural, in the long-term debilitating to both institutions, to both States.

* * *

A little-known incident at Valona (Avlona, Vlone) in the summer of 1638 had nearly produced a full-scale war between Venice and the Porte "had the Turks been at leisure to attend it". Valona, at the mouth of the Adriatic opposite Otranto, was one of the three major lairs of Muslim corsairs on the Dalmatian and Albanian coasts (the other two were Durazzo and Dulcigno). "Unfortunately surrounded" as it was "by a perennially restless region", the fine harbour of Valona offered the Turks "an excellent base for expeditions to the western sea and Christendom".[1]

In August 1638 a large pirate fleet of 16 galleys from Algiers and Tunis, armed with slaves and soldiers, and equipped with quantities of cannon, powder, and bullet, decided "to rove the Adriatick Sea and infest the Coast of Italy". I quote from an early English account of the episode:[2]

[p.161] Their intentions were to plunder the Riches of Loretto; but being hindered by contrary Winds from entering so high into the Gulf, they made a descent in Puglia, and sacked all the Country of Nicotra, carrying away a great Booty, with Slaves, and amongst them several Nuns which they prostituted to their lust; thence they passed over to the side of Dalmatia, and in sight of Cataro took a Vessel, and made Prize of all Ships which they met in those Seas, the rumour of which made great noise over all Italy, the people exclaiming against their Princes for suffering their lives and Estates to remain subject to the petty Force of a few Pirates.

To suppress the insolence of these pirates, the Venetian Marino Capello, in command of a fleet of 28 galleys and 2 galleasses off Crete, was instructed to "sink, burn, and destroy those pirates, either in the open seas or in harbour of the Turks".[3] The combined Maltese and Tuscan galley squadrons were at this moment on one of their regular cruises in the Archipelago, capturing and plundering all passing Turkish vessels. To prevent further harm to his country's trade, the Capitan Pasha ordered the Barbary pirates to come to his assistance. Before proceeding to the Archipelago in response to the Pasha's appeal for protection, the Barbary pirates, now laden with booty and spoils, resolved to plunder the Venetian island of Lesina (Lissa), half-way down the eastern shore of the Adriatic. It was here that they were overtaken by Capello's fleet. They therefore "put themselves under the defence of the town and castle of Valona which received them willingly to their protection".[4]

[D}ividing his fleet into several squadrons, [Capello] advanced near the Port, firing several shot at the Tents of the Pirates, of which one from a Galeass struck a Mosch; and arming with store of men the Galeotes and Brigantines they entered the Port, and to the astonishment and vexation of the Turks possessed all the sixteen Vessels, and brought them to their Admiral: which though they had disfurnished of all their chief Booty, yet their Cannon and Arms remained, of which there were twelve pieces of great Brass Guns, besides others of Iron, with divers Falcons and lesser Arms.

All vessels were sunk later in the harbour of Corfu, with the only exception of the Cigala, the Algerian admiral. This was taken to the Venetian arsenal "there to remain as a Trophy of Victory". All Christian slaves, numbering, according to our source,[5] some 3,600, were set free.

The Republic's right to adopt such a stand against Barbary pirates in defence of the Adriatic lay within the terms of Venice's treaties with the Porte. Agreement had been reached between the two in 1605, and reconfirmed in [p.162] 1618, that "no Port or Harbour of his [i.e. the Sultan's] should be privileged to afford entertainment or protection to any Freebooter or Pirate".[6] This did not, of course, stop the "furious" Sultan to take immediate revenge. Luigi Contarini, the Bailo at Constantinople, was arrested, diplomatic relations were suspended, and all commerce with the Republic "interdicted".[7] He could next strike at any moment: any place could be the target of his rage.

By what appears to have been a sheer ironic coincidence, the Order's Council too, prompted by the French Langue of Auvergne,[8] had decided to launch a massive expedition the year before, with a besieging force of a thousand men, against the same fortress. To the delight of the Roman Inquisitor on the island, Mgr Fabio Chigi, the attempt failed to materialize. He had tried to dissuade the Order from proceeding with its plans, lest its galleys' intrusion in the Adriatic would irritate the Venetians .[9]

On the morrow of Valona, relations between Malta and Venice turned temporarily cordial, and this was due to three factors. The case of the de Villages brothers, the Knights Fra Luis and Fra Nicol˛, who had preyed upon some Cretan merchants depriving them of 13,900 fibre of rice, had been settled on Venetian terms. The sequestro, which the Senate had imposed on all Hospitaller property on Venetian territory in reaction to the de Villages' case, was lifted. The third, which in a sense must be assigned a primary role, was the peril of an impending Turkish war on the Republic's dominions - Venice's fear of having sooner or later to face an Ottoman retaliation.[10] Now the prospect of being afforded the freedom to wage a formal war against the infidels and enemies of Christ" gave the Hospitallers a new gasp of fresh air that would restore their apparently dwindling morale. All access sealanes to the Levant would be again declared free for the "crusade".

On 2 November 1638 Fra Henrico d'Estampes Vallencay was elected ambassador-extraordinary for a special mission to Venice. It had been a remarkably long time, remarks the Order's chronicler Bartolomeo dal [p.163] Pozzo,[11] since a formal embassy such as this had been despatched to the Republic. D'Estampes would announce his Order's readiness to give the Republic all the support within its power. He would indicate that all the naval forces at his Order's disposal were prepared to sail out against the common enemy on receiving the slightest hint from the Senate (ad ogni minimo lor cenno).[12]

However, a rare occasion such as the present one would not be allowed to pass without an attempt to impinge upon the highest authorities of the Venetian State the nature of the Order's perennial grievances. D'Estampes would deplore the Republic's undue eagerness not only to discredit the Hospitallers and Maltese corsairs in the Levant as rapacious pirates, but to act so drastically against them on the flimsiest of pretexts; it showed no scruple in serving the sequestro with recklessness and alacrity. It was most undeserving to the Order, reads the message which the ambassador was instructed to convey, that its estates (quei sacri beni), employed to sustain its "holy acts of hospitality" and finance its militia in defence of Christendom should be treated with so much disrespect by the Serenissima. He would appeal to the Republic to extend its protection to the Hospitallers' interests, so that galleys, knights, and privateers, proceeding from Malta, would find in the Venetian Stato da Mar friendly ports-of-call.[13] D'Estampes was received in Venice amid a magnificent show of colour and ceremony, epitomized in Doge Francesco Erizzo's final address in which he expressed the Republic's gratitude in recognition of the Order's loyalty to the Venetians and for the help they had always found in the Religion in hours of need.

It was a delicate situation which the astute Venetians knew very well how to exploit when it best suited them. A miscalculated step on the part of the Knights Hospitallers, the most outwardly innocuous misconduct by Malta's corsairs in the Levant would draw upon themselves the full weight of guilt of its certain repercussions, amid a welter of complaints from Venice. Conscious of these circumstances, and of Rome's long-drawn-out dispute with Venice which was only recently settled, Cardinal Barberini wrote to Inquisitor Fabio Chigi to advise great prudence and restraint by the Hospitaller galleys. At this [p.164] critical moment they ought, for the public good, to refrain completely from further pursuing privateering activities in the Archipelago or in the vicinity of Constantinople; they should rather scour the coasts of North Africa and Syria for Barbary corsairs.[14]

Fortunately the Sultan's immediate political interests were absorbed by his ruthless drive to reinforce discipline within his Empire and by his persistent attempts to regain Baghdad from the Persians. War was avoided, or at least indefinitely delayed. Venetian diplomacy, and the payment of 250,000 zechins of gold, had resolved the issue for the time being. The raging Thirty Years War had already served Venice a devastating blow to her economy by seriously undermining her markets in southern Germany. She could hardly afford now any prolonged interruption of that fast withering branch of her trade with Turkey, which had not yet been lost to either France or the other "intruders" from the North. In September 1639 new Capitulations were drawn up. Mutual trade relations were restored; the Algerian galley, the Cigala, would be returned, and the Barbary corsairs would undertake not to molest Venetian shipping.[15]

When at any time the Pirates of Barbary shall happen to enter within the Ports of the Grand Signior, they shall give security that they will commit no damage or spoil on the Subjects of Venice. And in case they shall have taken any Prizes belonging to the aforesaid State, they shall not be admitted nor protected in the Ports belonging to the Grand Signior. Wherefore in virtue hereof all Agas, Captains of Castles, and other Ministers who shall not obey and observe this Capitulation, shall be deprived of their Office; and if the Venetians shall then enter violently into the Port, where such enemies have taken refuge, it shall not be imputed to them for a crime, or esteemed a breach of the Capitulations. And farther, if the Venetians shall at any time encounter people of Barbary in the Open Sea, it shall be lawful for them to assault, take, and destroy them without notice, or exceptions of the Ottoman Port.[16]

One other classic example, if any after Valona is needed, of high-sounding guarantees signifying nothing.

However, judged from past performance, the complete withdrawal of the Knights of St John and Maltese corsairs from all approaches to the Levant must have been too demanding a request and even more naive to have expected immediate acquiescence. The recent restoration of Veneto-Papal relations, and the Papal Secretary of State's determination to consolidate it, made Venice [p.165] confident of a stronger coercive force, affording her a wider scope to press further for the exclusion of Maltese privateering from Venetian waters. However reasonable the Grand Master may have been in intent, he was not sufficiently strong to make a reality of his promises to restrain his corsairs to respect Venetian shipping, even at periods of tension like these. In 1638 Venice and Malta had temporarily patched up a grudging reconciliation. The short spell of seeming tranquility and rapprochement between them was soon to be broken. It would not be long before the Order's members and subjects succumbed to their habitual practice and the two States reverted to their own real interests.

On 9 October 1640 the four-galley squadron of the Order set sail for Messina and headed towards Braccio di Maina in trace of Barbary corsairs. On the fourteenth they were forced by strong winds and ruffled seas to seek shelter in the port of Oristoli at Cephalonia. Four times they attempted to proceed with their mission and on one occasion they were drifted past Zante, from where, that same day, they had to return to Oristoli where they sojourned for twenty-four days, dismasted and firmly anchored. Soon the Venetian Capitana del o arrived, where it too had to shelter for eight days because of the violent storms. The Order's Capitana withdrew from where it lay berthed to give pride of place to the Venetian, and fired in salute. Fra Don Carlo Gattola called on the Venetian General to pay the usual compliments and justify the presence of his fleet there. The Venetian did not hesitate to reciprocate the Hospitaller's gesture with impulsion.[17] The Knights' defiant reputation had become proverbial, one which went back to their early days in Rhodes, such that no Venetian could dream of taking an explanation such as Gattola's seriously. To the Venetians, the presence of the Hospitaller squadron at Cephalonia implied a resurgence of Maltese raids in Levantine waters, and produced strong indignation in the Republic.

The conflict stimulated an outburst of protests and denials, built mostly on a complex fabrication of so many contested details that the ultimate purpose appears to have been simply the concealment of what had really happened. Diplomatic pressure was put on Urban VIII to take immediate steps against the Order for what the Venetians claimed to be an irresponsible interruption of peaceful trade.[18] They complained against the Knights' seizure of slaves in [p.166] Zante and Cephalonia, allowing Venetian subjects to embark on their galleys with contraband merchandise, and encouraging and helping fugitive soldiers to escape from Venetian territory.[19] On their part the Order's Council denounced these accusations as un'impostura e mera calumnia,[20] building their counter-argument around three factual observations: a pink with a number of Turks and Turkish merchandise, proceeding to Venice from Constantinople had been spared the visita in respect of its Venetian passport; all Knights and gente da capo had been ordered to spend the night on board their galleys to avoid any disorderly behaviour on land; and, thirdly, that the galleys' sojourn at Cephalonia had been an asset to the economy of the native population, the Knights having spent 4,000 scudi on eatables at the port on that occasion.[21]

The initial exchanges over the issue of Zante became further entangled as they merged into a complicated net of similar incidents that occurred in quick succession in the four years preceding the outbreak of the Cretan War. Old disputes, which had long been settled, were revived; others, which for a number of years had apparently kept a very low profile, were rekindled. Such were the cases in which Giorgio Gentile and Ambrosio Chrisochiera were respectively involved. The former claimed in 1641 that he had been excluded from the final settlement of the de Villages dispute although the damages he had then suffered were far from negligible, amounting to some 1,500 reali.[22] Chrisochiera, from Crete, protested against the seizure of apollacca, master Giacomo Baumi, by the corsair-knights Beauvise, Castelli, and Seillons three years earlier. The merchandise on board had belonged to him, for which he had paid an insurance premium of 3,300 ducats.[23]

New incidents, involving Knights and Maltese corsairs, continued to defy the Republic's efforts to maintain peace with Turkey. In these circumstances, to ward off a direct threat to its property, which was already under the sequestro, the Order tried to tighten up control over Maltese privateering in the Levant by applying old familiar legislation more rigorously and by promptly accommodating the Republic and its merchants to avoid further alienation of its lands. Amateurs' property in Malta was confiscated by the Common [p.167] Treasury[24] and criminal proceedings taken against captains of galleys allegedly involved in privateering operations against Venetian subjects.[25] Giovanni Cathacumeno was reimbursed 415 pieces-of-eight to make good for the tobacco he had lost in an encounter with the "Maltese" corsairs Costantino di Candia, Nicole Faga, and Tommaso Mangion, each contributing 138 pieces 4 tari from the money hitherto held confiscated by the Treasury.[26]

It was the frquency of such barefaced operations and their impact on the psychology of the Turks that scared the Republic, rather than the immediate repercussions of the individual, isolated incident, however much disconcerting this must have been to Venetian authorities. It was the threat to the equilibrium and stability which the Republic had only recently managed with difficulty to re-establish that justified from the Venetian point of view the confiscation of the Order's lands in 1641.[27]

Forced by worsening conditions to consider new "reforms", the Order's Council in May 1642 ordered a complete inquiry into the current Venetian complaints. An investigatory commission was set up to study the feasibility of avoiding such frequent differences between the two Governments by identifying the irreconcilables on both sides.[28] To the student of Veneto-Maltese relations, the task of following the work of the commission becomes a monotonous exercise. Familiar with the performance of similar commissions in the past, on which a wealth of evidence survives, he is bound to approach the possibility of a long-lasting solution with understandable scepticism.

Venice could not tolerate indefinitely the spoiling of Turkish vessels in Venetian waters and the recovery of Turkish prizes "in the heart" of Venetian ports.[29] Such operations had been far too long allowed to advance with impunity, giving the Sultan the impression that the Serenissima herself was a subtle accomplice in such acts of piracy. On Venetian terms the solution was simple: all galleys and corsair vessels should keep clear of her Stato da Mar - a condition too prejudicial to the Hospitallers' ideological and economic [p.168] interests. The Order could not adjust to the political pretensions of the Venetian Republic. Its right to wage war against the Crescent "in any part of the world"[30] went back to "times immemorial" and it was as much recognized by all Christian Princes as it was acknowledged by the Turk himself "ever since the first years the Order had taken up residence in Rhodes".[31] In the commissioners' view, the root of all the harassment between the two States should be attributed to one factor: the Republic's representatives at its Stato da Mar betrayed a hostile disposition to the Hospitallers and Maltese corsairs and had been feeding the Senate with malicious information far too long.

On 21 October 1641, to instance one case, members of the Order, according to the Venetian claim, had boarded a Greek vessel, conducted by Greek subjects of the Republic; the vessel was proceeding from the island of Modon, and the incident occurred "not far from the island of Zante". The corsairs were reported to have seized the Moors on board and quantities of denari. The next day, the Order's galleys forced the ship into the Venetian port of Argostolion in Cephalonia and allowed certain andamenti troppo odiosi alla Porta.[32]

None of these alleged details conformed with the findings of the commission of inquiry which the Order had appointed for the purpose. The Greek vessel was in fact proceeding from Tripoli in Barbary. There were no Venetian subjects on board, nor was the vessel flying the banner of St Mark. The vessel had been sighted at a distance of more than twenty miles off Zante and it involved the Order's galleys a two-hour chase to reach her. There were twenty-two Moors on board and three Turks, whom the Knights held as slaves "for the use of war". On the following morning, the galleys entered the port of Argostolion to take fresh water. Argostolion was a tiny port, almost uninhabited, with only five to six houses.[33] On this occasion, the Hospitallers, concluded the commissioners in their report to the Council, acted strictly in accordance with their letter of instructions.

To avoid action which might provoke large-scale war, the commission of May 1642 would not neglect to urge the Grand Master to take a firm and decisive stand by issuing specific instructions, in precise and unambiguous terms, so that galleys with Turkish prizes on board would refrain from entering [p.169] Venetian ports unless constrained to do so by foul weather.[34] Not long after-wards, a bando of 24 March 1643 prohibited captains and pilots from arming under a foreign flag against a penalty of serving 10 anni di galera; nor was the licence to arm a corsair vessel to be given out indiscriminately: the Magistrato degli Armamenti had first to submit the necessary pledge to Council to assess its suitability and adequacy.[35]

There was nothing novel about the posture Venice adopted towards Malta's Government in the years immediately following Valona. Generations of Venetian Senators had been much preoccupied with it in the past. So were the successive Ordinary Councils at the helm of the Order. Venice was applying to the Hospitallers and Maltese corsairs, as it had so often done in the past, the self-same methods which the Ottoman Porte had been for years applying to the Republic herself. The drama which had so often unfolded itself through the ages at the Sultan's palace in Constantinople in the presence of the Venetian Bailo found its tedious replica in the Doge's palace at San Marco in the presence of the Order's Receiver. However flimsy or trivial the pretext, it was the Venetians, like the Turks, who were first to protest; it was Venice, like the Porte, who sought explanations; like the Turks too, it was the Venetians who threatened reprisals.

On the other hand, the attitude the Order adopted in reaction was not much dissimilar to the one assumed by Venice on every serious confrontation with the Porte. Not unlike the Republic's stand in relation to the Turk, the Order's capacity in any altercation with the Serenissima was confined to the level of diplomacy whose timidity could be measured by its purely defensive form. The Order denounced, for example, the sequestro of 1641 as an act of outright larceny committed against her title to ecclesiastical immunity, with no regard to the rights and privileges extended to her by popes, emperors, kings, and princes.[36] In ordinary circumstances, infraction of such rights was sufficient justification for the injured State to resort to war or to any other form of military pressure. Instead, the Hospitallers answered in their lame traditional fashion by seeking the moral aid of their protectors. Through adequate representation at the Courts of Christian Europe, their case would be argued before the Pope [p.170] and the Kings of France and Spain.[37] Theirs, like Venice's in confrontation with Constantinople, was a response whose impotence manifested itself in a progressive sequence of concessions which, in either case, drew the two States further and further apart. Any military action against the Republic was, however, as inconceivable to the Order of St John as it was strongly undesirable by Venice in relation to the Turk. When it came to Christian Europe, it was through peaceful methods that the Hospitallers could hope to prolong the threatened existence of their institution. Within the context of the Ottoman Empire's forceful expansionary drive westward, the same may be said of Venice, but with a slight difference. Concessions were all the more painful to the Hospitallers since they defended their right to pursue the corso in terms of their Order's original crusading zeal. So what appeared to be political concessions for Venice were in fact concessions that involved issues of principle.

By confiscating the Order's lands constituting the Grand Priory of Venice, the Republic was treating the Hospitallers with particular severity. The sequestro appears to have had a triple immediate purpose: to act as security for the reimbursement of any losses suffered by Venetian merchants; to sting the Grand Master into disciplining his corsairs; and to prove to the Porte that the Republic had no hand in such hostile operations. The combined effect would, it was hoped, press for a drastic modification of the Order's privateering policy. But what if this goal was not achieved in the short term? Surviving evidence suggests that the incidence of Maltese privateering did not abate as an immediate result of the sequestro which, in practice, proved to be a clumsy precaution. Venice's frequent recourse to the sequestro as the sole instrument of her defence policy vis-Ó-vis the Hospitallers points to the hollowness of her approach to a problem which had been scourging her Stato da Mar, at the latest, ever since the Hospitallers had set foot on the island of Malta. However vehemently she protested to the Courts of Rome and Valletta that such contumely was a direct challenge to her political relations with the Porte and to her economy, one is inclined to believe that Venice had never seriously resolved to annihilate it. Roberto Cessi's remark that "repeated complaints" went unheeded[38] must be qualified. Venice's persistent protests appear to have been simply allowed to go unheeded. Was the Republic now reluctant to go to war against a minor Catholic power when only three decades earlier she had [p.171] so proudly defied the authority of the Pope and seriously risked armed intervention by Spain? The explanation for her reluctance, therefore, must be sought elsewhere.

Venice's consistent resort to the sequestro as the only effective expedient, in full knowledge of the state of affairs, was a symptom, clear and indisputable, of her incapacity to assert her naval power. She had emerged from Lepanto disillusioned and "financially exhausted".[39] With limited resources at her disposal,[40] she could no longer maintain her military forces on an adequate and efficient footing. She could hardly uphold her new commitments with the Porte, and it was only with "great dexterity" that she sought to deal with the rising tide of corsairing activity which constantly offered the Turk a pretext for renewing the war. The Senate's decision of 7 July 1588[41] had provided for 100 light galleys and 12 great galleys to be held in readiness for such an emergency, for in time of peace it was only the Cretan galleys, the Caitano del o, and other minor craft that were held armed for guard duty.[42]

Notwithstanding these precautions, the Republic's failure to sweep the Levantine waters free of western piracy underscored the growing weakness of her naval organization and the inadequacy of her surveillance. Hers was in part a relaxation of effort. Venetian officials, stationed at strategic bases along her fast diminishing possessions, were either becoming increasingly lax in their proverbial vigilance, or their fleet was steadily growing inefficient to deal with the corsair vessels of the ponentini, or both. Brian Pullan attributes this state of affairs to the "indiscipline" of her galley-commanders and the "low calibre" of the crews [43] Venice's inability or unwillingness to close all the ports of her Stato da Mar to the Hospitallers and Maltese corsairs, indeed to all Christian pirates or privateers, conveyed the impression of being an accomplice to such operations.[44]

Amid these dubious conditions and, relieved of his attention to remoter areas on the eastern border of his Empire, the initiative to curtail such nuisance [p.172] was taken by the Sultan himself. Successive sultans had long been looking upon the Venetian island of Crete as the bulwark of Christian piracy. Its strategic position in the hands of an accomplice had long been proving detrimental to Ottoman coasts and shipping. The occasion for war was precipitated by Maltese corsairs when, in September 1644, they seized a Turkish galleon on its way to Alexandria with a rich cargo and a host of distinguished Muslim personalities on board. With both captives and booty - the latter worth a million-and-a-half piasters[45] - they sought shelter at Kalismene, a port on the southernmost part of the island of Crete, open, wide, and unfortified, with neither castle nor fortress belonging to it, remote from all Venetian garrisons. Here, as they had often done in the past, the corsairs would share out among themselves the considerable prize they had just made.[46]

This daring act of piracy provided the Porte with a pretext for war on Venice. Two years earlier, amid a widespread manifestation of plague in Alexandria, 4,500 Christian slaves were reported to have forcibly regained their freedom to the West. Some had sojourned in Crete, others in Malta, the rest at Marseilles. They were then reclaimed by the Sultan from the Venetian Republic. When "no satisfaction was given", Ottoman forces made their first landing in Crete on 24 June 1645.[47] "The Knights of Malta," writes Pastor,[48] showed but little inclination to come to Venice's assistance." It was only "with utmost difficulty," that Inquisitor Giovan Battista Gori Pannelini "prevented ... the indefinite postponement of the Knights' co-operation."[49] Historians,[50] like Pastor, have failed to explain the Hospitallers' initial delay of "two precious months". The Porte's declaration of war had, in fact, found the Order's Grand Priory of Venice, with all its commanderies on Venetian territory, under the sequestro. Writing to the Viceroy of Naples, the Order's Council confessed that Venice had rarely ever shown any good disposition towards their Institution.[51] They had always felt offended by the lack of any modicum of affection which [p.173] the Venetians were traditionally known to have ever nourished towards the Hospitallers

on all occasions always holding, and today in particular (leaving aside other issues of greater import), all our lands, under various pretexts, confiscated against all sense of duty, with the object of diverting the Religion from its Holy Institute of waging war against the Turkish enemies of our Holy Faith for their own particular interests.

It was on 29 August that six galleys of the Order, together with Papal, Tuscan, and Neapolitan squadrons joined the Venetian fleet at Corfu.[52] Five weeks later the Senate resolved to lift the sequestro and to accept settlement for 3,200 reali in compensation for "the much higher losses" which Venetian subjects had claimed to have suffered "in capital and other related expenses, and for the hardship they had had to endure for so long."[53]



[1] F. Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, trans. Sian Reynolds (London, 1972- 73), 847.

[2] R.Knolles, Generall Historie of the Turkes (5th ed., London, 1638), 72 et seq.; P. Rycaut, The History of the Turkish Empire from the Year 1623 to the Year 1677 (London, 1687), 72.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] F.C.Lane, Venice: A Maritime Republic (Baltimore. 1973), 408; M.Nani Mocenigo, Storia della marina veneziana da Lepanto alla caduta della Republica (Rome, 1935),123-5.

[6] Rycaut, 72; S. Romanin, Storia docutnentata di Venezia, vii (Venice, 1858), 343-4.

[7] B. Dal Pozzo, Historia della S. Religione Militare di S. Giovanni Gerosolimitano detta di Malta, ii (Verona, 1703), 27-8.

[8] V. Borg, Fabio Chigi, Apostolic Delegate in Malta (Vatican City, 1967), 267.

[9] Ibid.

[10] AOM 256, f.183 (2 November 1638); AOM 112, f.69' (6 October 1637), f.285 (15 September 1632), f.157 (6 October 1638); AOM 6387, f.63r (25 February 1638).

[11] Dal Pozzo, 31.

[12] AOM 256, f.183.

[13] Ibid.; for D'Estampes' reception in Venice, AOM 257, ff.4, 5-6`,12v; AOM 1212, ff.17/20; Dal Pozzo, 31-4; for the Doge's address, S. Pauli, Codice diplomatico, ii (Lucca, 1737), 314.

[14] For Barberini's letter, April 1639, Borg, 482.

[15] For Baghdad, S. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, i, Empire of the Gazis: The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1280-1808 (London, 1976), 199; for the Cigala settlement, Nani Mocenigo, 124-5; Rycaut, 72 et seq.; Romanin, 345.

[16] Rycaut, 72 et seq.

[17] AOM 257, f.64, 26 January 1641.

[18] See Urban VIII's brief Allatum ad nos in AOM 7, n. 64; AOM 257, f.63; Dal Pozzo, 57.

[19] AOM 257, f.64; Dal Pozzo, 57.

[20] AOM 257, f.63`, 20 January 1641.

[21] Ibid, f.64; Dal Pozzo, 57.

[22] AOM 1212, ff.24/33, 19 February 1642.

[23] AOM 257, f.159`, 1 February 1644. He was eventually reimbursed 2,700 ducats by the Order. Ibid.

[24] Ibid, f.84`, 5 September 1641.

[25] Dal Pozzo, 57-8.

[26] AOM 257, f.121r, 19 August 1642.

[27] Ibid., ff.78v-79`; Dal Pozzo, 57; R.A. de Vertot, Histoire des Chevaliers Hospitaliers de Saint Jean de JÚrusalem, appelÚ depuis Chevaliers de Rhodes et aujourd'hui Chevaliers de Malte, v (Amsterdam, 1772), 190.

[28] AOM 257, f.111`.

[29] AOM 1212, ff.18-19, 19 January 1642; AOM 257, ff.116r-117`, 17 June 1642.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] AOM 1212, ff.18-19, 19 February 1642; AOM 257, ff.116`-117`, 19 June 1642.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] AOM 221, sub voce "Corso".

[36] AOM 257, ff.78v-79`, 14 May 1642.

[37] Ibid.

[38] R. Cessi, Storia delta Repubblica di Venezia (Milan, 1944-46), ii, 194-5.

[39] Nani Mocenigo, 86.

[40] A. Tenenti, Piracy and the Decline of Venice, trans. J. and B. Pullan (London, 1967), 93 et seq.; B. Pullan (ed.), Crisis and Change in the Venetian Economy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (London, 1968), 7.

[41] Cessi, 143-4; M.E. Mallett and J.R. Hale, The Military Organization of a Renaissance State: Venice c.1400 to 1617 (Cambridge, 1984), 444-5.

[42] Nani Mocenigo, 87.

[43] Pullan, Crisis, 8.

[44] Shaw, 101.

[45] Rycaut, 56.

[46] Cessi, 194-5.

[47] On the Cretan War, A. Valerio, Guerra di Candia (Venice, 1679); G. Brusoni, Historia dell'ultima guerra tra Veneziani e Turchi (Venice, 1673); S. Romanin, Scoria documentata di Venezia, vii (Venice, 1858).

[48] L. von Pastor, The History of the Popes, xxx (London, 1952), 354-5.

[49] Ibid., 355.

[50] See, for example, A.P. Vella, Storja ta' Malta (Malta, 1979).

[51] AOM 258, f.31v, 20 July 1645.

[52] P.Piccolomini, "Corrispondenza tra la Corte di Roma e l'Inquisitore di Malta durante la guerra di Candia (1645-69)", Archivio storico italiano xli (1908), 10.

[53] AOM 1212, ff.27/30, 6 October 1645.