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City of Fortune

How Venice Ruled the Seas

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


“The rise and fall of Venice’s empire is an irresistible story and [Roger] Crowley, with his rousing descriptive gifts and scholarly attention to detail, is its perfect chronicler.”—The Financial Times
The New York Times bestselling author of Empires of the Sea charts Venice’s astounding five-hundred-year voyage to the pinnacle of power in an epic story that stands unrivaled for drama, intrigue, and sheer opulent majesty. City of Fortune traces the full arc of the Venetian imperial saga, from the ill-fated Fourth Crusade, which culminates in the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, to the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499–1503, which sees the Ottoman Turks supplant the Venetians as the preeminent naval power in the Mediterranean. In between are three centuries of Venetian maritime dominance, during which a tiny city of “lagoon dwellers” grow into the richest place on earth. Drawing on firsthand accounts of pitched sea battles, skillful negotiations, and diplomatic maneuvers, Crowley paints a vivid picture of this avaricious, enterprising people and the bountiful lands that came under their dominion. From the opening of the spice routes to the clash between Christianity and Islam, Venice played a leading role in the defining conflicts of its time—the reverberations of which are still being felt today.
“[Crowley] writes with a racy briskness that lifts sea battles and sieges off the page.”—The New York Times
“Crowley chronicles the peak of Venice’s past glory with Wordsworthian sympathy, supplemented by impressive learning and infectious enthusiasm.”—The Wall Street Journal

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 07, 2011 – From a few isolated islands in Italy during the Middle Ages, Venice grew to the world s greatest sea power, a position it held for 500 years. British historian Crowley (Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World) points out that, lacking land for agriculture, and well-positioned for sailing at the head of the Adriatic Sea, Venetians concentrated on trading. Preoccupied with commerce, they ignored the violent religious disputes of the era, but had no objection to violence in pursuit of profit. By 1000 C.E. Venice was thriving thanks to trading privileges with Constantinople, the wealthy capital of the Byzantine Empire. Despite this favoritism, Venice took rapacious advantage of the Empire s decline, prospering despite innumerable bloody conflicts with its equally pushy, pragmatic, and ruthless rival, Genoa, and the advancing Ottoman Turks. Readers searching for cultural insights should read John Julius Norwich or Fernand Braudel; Crowley has written a rousing, traditional account that emphasizes politics, war, and great men, ending in 1500, when the voyages of discovery shifted the balance of power to Western Europe. B&w illus.; maps.

Customer Reviews

A true delight

Crowley presents the history of Venice in full and rich context. This book was a true delight to read.


A captivating and well written saga on the ascendancy and decline of the Venetian Republic. My only gripe is that it ends rather abruptly, seemingly rushed. The iPad version's maps are all but illegible as well. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this read; highly recommended if you have any interest in medieval Europe or the history of Venice at large.

City of Fortune
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Europe
  • Published: Jan 24, 2012
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 480 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings