Giulio OngaroSep 25, 2018
Peasants and Soldiers
The Management of the Venetian Military Structure in the Mainland Dominion between the 16th and 17th Centuries
Dr. Giulio Ongaro, currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Economics Department at the University of Milan-Bicocca has just published Peasants and Soldiers: The Management of the Venetian Military Structure in the Mainland Dominion between the 16th and 17th Centuries (Routledge, 2017), a fascinating study of the early modern Venetian military. Rather than focus on the city itself or the republic’s higher-profile naval forces, Ongaro examines the workings of the Venetian land forces—its cavalry, militia, and fortress structures. Financing and supplying these forces required increasingly sophisticated administrative measures that, as in so many European states at the time, drove the expansion of state institutions. Most previous studies have assumed that such expansion came at the expense of local power structures and that state administrations existed in competition with local elites. By examining the records of municipal and rural archives in the Venetian hinterland, Ongaro instead shows that while the central state had the power to make demands, those demands were most often satisfied in cooperation with local forces, rather than in competition. Local elites benefitted from the contracts to provision fortresses or supply saltpeter, for example, and so did not resist state directives as a matter of course.
This detailed economic history will expand your horizons and your understanding of early modern military history.