Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 March 2021
This article looks at the rise of Venice and the expansion of its economic, political and military power in the Adriatic from the early ninth until the fourteenth centuries. It assesses how local, interconnecting commercial networks transformed into more elaborate, intensive and long-distance connections that came about as a result of wider patterns of change not only in the Adriatic, but in the Mediterranean, Europe and beyond during this period. The article examines the relationship between Venice and the coastal towns of Dalmatia and Italy and charts how patterns of co-operation and mutual interest gave way to domination through a deliberate and coherent series of policies adopted by Venice’s leaders. The participation of an increasing number of elements of Venetian society in the commercial and political success of the city played an important role in providing domestic stability on the one hand and in shaping a civic identity on the other, that was also to prove important during the time of the crusades where new markets and opportunities opened up for the city. Financial structures that allowed for – and even prompted – inclusivity played a key role too in eliding the interests of the elites with those of Venice’s citizens.