Little Bits of History

Battle of Molinella

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 25, 2015
Battle of Molinella*

Battle of Molinella*

July 25, 1467: The Battle of Molinella takes place. It was one of the most important battles in present day Italy from the 15th century. The Republic of Venice, led by Bartolomeo Colleoni, met the Republic of Florence, led by Frederico da Montefeltro for Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici. Although Colleoni was fighting for Venice, his own agenda was the capture of Milan. He was allied with Borso d’Este, the Marquis of Ferrara and the Lords of Pesaro, Forli as well as other renegade families from Florence. The Medici family was allied with Galeazzo Maria Sforza who ruled the Duchy of Milan, King Ferdinand II of Aragon, and the ruler of Bologna, Giovanni II Bentivoglio. The Venetians brought about 14,000 troops to the battle while the Florentines had about 13,000.

The battle was fought on the banks of the Idice River near Molinella. It is also sometimes called the Battle of Riccardina. Historians cannot agree on a winner for the day’s carnage but they know that there were between 600 and 700 casualties as well as a large number of horses slaughtered during the day’s event. Nearly 1,000 horses were lost as the cavalries met. The sure result was that Colleoni abandoned his plans to conquer Milan. The battle is noteworthy because it was the first time (in Italy) that artillery and firearms were extensively used. A large fresco in the Castle of Malpaga depicts the battle. It is thought to have been created by Girolamo Romani. In 1468, Pope Paul II brokered a peace between the two belligerents.

The Most Serene Republic of Venice originated in 697 and began in Venice. As the locals banded together to defend themselves against invasions from the Lombards, Huns, and others, they grew into their own kingdom. They eventually were able to expand and take on lands on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. They were a wealthy state due to their control of trade routes between Europe and the Levant. Their navies were impressive with hundreds of ships. As the Crusades brought people through the region, they were able to capitalize on the movements of troops and their return with booty. By the early 15th century, rather than expansion solely into the Byzantine Empire, Venice also began expanding inward towards Italy proper. The republic lasted for over a millennium and finally came to an end in 1797 when Napoleon conquered the land.

The Republic of Florence, centered on the city of Florence and located in what is today Tuscany, Italy began in 1115. Florence was established in 59 BC by Julius Caesar. The city’s struggle with power and rule had been chaotic and long-lasting. In the late 1000s, several aristocratic families moved into the region and the republic was built. The city became a banking center about the time the Black Death came to Europe. The florin, the first gold coin in Europe, came from the banks of Florence and since they were international, it became the standard. With money comes power. The Medici family’s rise to power followed. The family was able to rule until 1533 when the infuriated population rebelled and brought an end to the republic.

War is not only a matter of equipment, artillery, group troops or air force; it is largely a matter of spirit, or morale. – Chiang Kai-shek

A battery of field artillery is worth a thousand muskets. – William Tecumseh Sherman

Artillerymen believe the world consist of two types of people; other Artillerymen and targets. – saying

Artillery adds dignity, to what would otherwise be an ugly brawl. –  Frederick the Great

Also on this day: Oh Joy! Louise – In 1978, Louise Joy Brown was born.
TP – in 1871, a patent was granted for perforated toilet paper.
Free Press – In 1925, TASS was established.
SS Andrea Doria – In 1956, the ship was struck out at sea.
“Temporary” Tax – In 1917, Canada got a new income tax.

* “Malpaga1” by Giorces – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 it via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Malpaga1.JPG#/media/File:Malpaga1.JPG

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Venice

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 25, 2015
Venice *

Venice *

March 25, 421: Venice is founded. According to tradition, the area was populated by refugees from nearby Roman cities – Padua, Aquileia, Treviso, Altino, and Concordia as well as from the undefended countryside. The area had seen successive waves of Germanic and Hun invasion forces and the survivors headed to the marshy lagoons and set up homes on the many islands. These people were called the incolae lacunae or lagoon dwellers. The founding of Venice is given as noon on this day when the first church, San Giacomo, was dedicated on the islet of Rialto. As successive invasions took place, the rule of Venice often changed hands.

Between the 9th and 12th centuries, Venice developed into a city state. The other three city states were Genoa, Pisa, and Amalfi. Venice had a strategic advantage at the head of the Adriatic Sea and it made the city powerful in naval and commercial endeavors. The elimination of coastal pirates helped secure their position and the region became a flourishing trade center between Western Europe and the rest of the known world, especially the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic controlled area. Because of their interaction with the eastern world, they maintained close ties to Constantinople. Their rule of their colonies was fairly benign and rather enlightened for the era, which helped them maintain control.

Their power began to decline in the 15th century and as a port city, they were bombarded with waves of Black Death. The plague killed 50,000 people in just three years and sixty years later, in 1630, another third of Venice’s 150,000 population was killed. Portugal took over as the leader in ports for international trade and Venice’s economy was as decimated as her population. May 12, 1797 was the end of Venice’s Republic status when she fell to Napoleon Bonaparte. With the European continent in flux, rule of Venice changed hands several times. During World War II, the city remained fairly intact and precise strikes by the Royal Air Force on the German naval operations did virtually no structural damage to the city itself.

Today, the 160 square mile city is home to about 271,000 people with about 60,000 living in historic Venice. The historic city is divided into six areas or sestiere while the whole municipality is divided into six boroughs. Buildings are constructed on closely spaced alder wood piles which are still intact after centuries of submersion. The foundations of buildings rest on plates of limestone which rest on the piles. The water is oxygen-poor and the wood does not decay rapidly. The climate is humid subtropical and there is always danger of flooding since the elevation of the city is barely above sea level. Although once a bastion of trade, today, tourism leads many people to visit. Art and architecture combine to make it the 28th most visited city in the world with nearly 3 million visitors coming each year.

Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors. – Henry James

If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you’ve imagined. Venice is. Venice is better. – Fran Lebowitz

Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go. – Truman Capote

Is it worth while to observe that there are no Venetian blinds in Venice? – William Dean Howells

Also on this day: On Your Marks – In 1668, the first horse race was run in the American colonies.
Titan Discovered – In 1655, Christiaan Huygens discovered one of Saturn’s moons.
First Passenger Train – In 1908, the Oystermouth Railway began service.
Jobs – In 1894, Coxey’s Army began their march on Washington, D.C.
Richard the Lionheart – In 1199, Richard I of England was shot.

* Picture by Didier Descouens

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