Military history of the Republic of Venice

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The military history of the Republic of Venice covers a period from the 8th century to the 18th century and includes a variety of conflicts.

The Republic of Venice first rose as a major military power through participation in the Fourth Crusade, where Venetian troops were among those effecting the conquest of Constantinople. Venice then fought a protracted series of wars with Genoa and Pisa for domination of the Mediterranean trading routes. With the rise of the Ottoman Empire, the Republic lost its territories in the east as Cyprus and Venetian strongholds in Morea were occupied; at the same time, the rise of the Visconti in Milan drew Venice into the condottiere warfare of Italy.

Bereft of her Mediterranean possessions, Venice turned to conquest on the Italian mainland, which brought it into conflict with Milan and the Papacy. Venetian participation in the Italian Wars eventually resulted in the War of the League of Cambrai, where Venice was nearly reduced. Following the War of the League of Cognac, Venice played little further role in mainland warfare. She continued to fight naval wars against the Ottomans, however, culminating in the victory at the Battle of Lepanto.

In the latter half of the 17th century further Ottoman designs on Crete caused another protracted period of warfare. The twenty-year Siege of Candia was followed by her involvement in the Great Turkish War, where the Republic briefly regained the Morea, only to return it some years later. The Republic of Venice was finally drawn into European warfare with Napoleon's invasion of Italy; unable to resist his armies, she was forced to surrender and become a French tributary state.

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