ABSTRACT. In Venice, naval construction was carried out by the squeri, small private shipyards and as of the 14th century by the Arsenal under the control of the Commune, for galleys and round ships. The first treatise on naval construction is attributed to Michael of Rhodes in 1434. He describes three types of galleys and two types of round hulls. The master-builders or proti were specialized in one type of vessel. Venice, and the Adriatic ports from Ancona to Bari and Split to Ragusa, drew their prosperity from the sea.
RÉSUMÉ. À Venise, la construction navale est effectuée par des ‘squeri’, petits chantiers naval, et, à partir du XIVe siècle, l'Arsenal, sous contrôle de la Commune, construit les galères publiques et les navires ronds. Le premier traité de construction navale est dû à Michel de Rhodes en 1434 : il distingue trois types de galères et deux types de navires à coques rondes. Les maîtres constructeurs ou ‘proti’ se spécialisent dans la production d'un type de navire. Venise, comme les ports adriatiques, d'Ancône à Bari et de Split à Raguse, tirent leur prospérité de la mer.
The history of shipbuilding in the medieval Adriatic is, as is much else in that area, the story of Venetian efforts to extend the city's control. Early on, ships were small and small shipyards could be sited on just about any level area with access to wood, water and skilled labor. As trade grew, Venice prospered and worked to funnel more regional and international trade through its own markets. At the same time the need for larger ships for commerce and navies to protect them grew apace.
The sailing route up and down the Adriatic follows the northeast coast because storms coming out of the north and northeast create the danger of a lee shore along the Italian side of the sea. This explains the strenuous efforts of Venice from the 10th century on to control the Dalmatian coast. Unlike the relatively smooth coastline of the Italian side of the Adriatic, the many islands and inlets of the Dalmatian coast provide shelter and anchorages. A seafaring tradition, including a strong element of piracy, was of long standing along that route.