Arsenale entry

Cocca. Large transport vessel.

Venetian commercial galley.

Two Cocca reproduced in a lace.
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Arsenale entry


immagine didascalia

Cocca. Large transport vessel.


immagine didascalia

Venetian commercial galley.


immagine didascalia

Two Cocca reproduced in a lace.


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The merchant fleet

In the early 1200s Venice started to play a dominant role in commerce in the Mediterranean and trade with the East.
The mid 1300s saw the max expansion of its trading empire. By the end of that century, Venice had become the number one merchant power in the Mediterranean and one of Europe’s richest states.
Sea routes were crucial for Venice. It organised convoys, the so-called “mude”, formed by rowing galleys with auxiliary sails (and thus capable of sailing regardless of the wind conditions), which it contracted out to private entrepreneurs.

These convoys of armed and escorted galleys were mainly used for what was known as “thin” cargos, i.e. those with the greatest value in the least space. Other goods, accounting for the greater part of Venice’s trade, sailed freely across the waters on large, round sailing ships called “cocche” with mean capacity of 370 tons.
These belonged to private companies and generally bore the name of the family holding the most shares in the business. These cocche and other ships not involved in the mude (organised voyages with several vessels) were often away from Venice for years, being used for local traffic on distant seas.
However they did also use the same shipping routes as the mude at times.
It has been calculated that at the end of the 1300s Venice had no fewer than 3300 privately owned ships (small and large alike), not including the galleys.

The Republic of Venice was extremely successful in obtaining privileges and concessions for its convoys and ships in many (often rival) maritime cities, at least during its heyday. It was, in fact, of prime importance to be authorised to enter such port cities and so use their facilities to load/unload, store and buy/sell goods freely and in total safety, without any interference from the local authorities. Such concessions normally concerned the use of a given dock and a marketplace in which to sell the goods, plus access to a road leading to public buildings and private houses, a “fondaco” in which to store the goods, a church, a mill and a bakery.


1100 - 1200  -   - rev. 0.1.6

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Venice and its lagoons

World Heritage, a dialogue between cultures: which future?

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