Venetian and Genoan adoption of gunpowder weapons

May 2019
357
Earth
Does anyone have information to share on roughly when Venice and Genoa began adopting gunpowder weaponry, both artillery and small arms? Given that both states controlled territory stretching from western Europe to the eastern Mediterranean, I figured they were in a decent spot to be exposed to the spread gunpowder, whether it came to them via Christendom or the Turks. I'd like to learn a bit about how Venice and Genoa adopted gunpowder, and how the composition of their armies evolved to incorporate it.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,459
Portugal
About the Venetian: “Such bombards were recorded in the forecastles of a few Venetian galleys in the 1370sm and became standard armament in the 15th century. Numerous small guns were by then mounted on galleys and round ships to cut down the enemy crew, while a single larger cannon could be placed in a galley’s bow to pierce the enemy’s hull or topple his mast. Such weaponry at first proved very successful against Ottoman galleys, whose crews still mostly used composite bows.”, The Venetian Empire 1200-1670, Osprey, p.9

I also have “The Venetian Empire”, by Jan Morris, “Genoa & the Genoese, 958-1528”, by Steven Epstein and some books about Naval power in the period, but I really don’t know if they mention it. If I recall/see some more things I will post it.
 
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May 2019
357
Earth
About the Venetian: “Such bombards were recorded in the forecastles of a few Venetian galleys in the 1370sm and became standard armament in the 15th century.
Does that Osprey book mention any specifics about those bombards (e.g. caliber, weight, material, etc.)? The way the quote is phrased it sounds like it might have been leading on from a description of the guns...

I also have “The Venetian Empire”, by Jan Morris, “Genoa & the Genoese, 958-1528”, by Steven Epstein and some books about Naval power in the period, but I really don’t know if they mention it. If I recall/see some more things I will post it.
Thanks.
 
May 2019
357
Earth
In 1378-1380 War of Chioggia Venetians employed guns on galleis
Thanks. How many guns did they have? And has any technical info survived on them (weight, shot, material, etc.)? Also, were they made in Venice, or imported from somewhere else?
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,459
Portugal
Does that Osprey book mention any specifics about those bombards (e.g. caliber, weight, material, etc.)? The way the quote is phrased it sounds like it might have been leading on from a description of the guns...
I quoted the more relevant part, and is how the chapter ends. The previous sentence is “Even the appearance of the first cannon aboard ship did little to change such traditional tactics until the late 16th century.” Followed by “Such bombards were recorded in the forecastles of a few Venetian galleys in the 1370sm and became standard armament in the 15th century. Numerous small guns were by then mounted on galleys and round ships to cut down the enemy crew, while a single larger cannon could be placed in a galley’s bow to pierce the enemy’s hull or topple his mast. Such weaponry at first proved very successful against Ottoman galleys, whose crews still mostly used composite bows.”

And this is the all paragraph about the theme. Then there is the chapter “Siege, Fortifications and Firearms”, p.19, but is mostly on land warfare.

Also, the Osprey books from the collection Man-at-Arms don’t make quotes, but in this book the bibliography mentions an article that caught my attention: “J.R. Hale “Men and Weapons: The Fighting Potential of Sixteenth-Century Venetian Galleys,” in War and Society: A Yearbook of Military History edit. B. Bond & I. Roy (London 1975), pp.1-23.

EDIT: the article is partially avaiable at Google Books: War and Society Volume 1

It seems to answer some of your questions!

Also, were they made in Venice, or imported from somewhere else?
Both. According to the same book, most were made in the cities’ Arsenal, but its production was not enough, so they had to import. The Arsenal also constructed the galleys.

I took a look to the other books I mentioned previously, but wasn’t able to find anything about this theme. On the other way, the book “Medieval Naval Warfare, 1000–1500”, by Susan Rose, mentions at least an encounter between Genoa and Venice. I will transcribe here the relevant part as soon as I can.
 
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Apr 2018
338
Italy
Thanks. How many guns did they have? And has any technical info survived on them (weight, shot, material, etc.)? Also, were they made in Venice, or imported from somewhere else?
They weren't used to fight other galleys, but were used during the siege of Chioggia because weren't much stable. Don'tknow about the number or form,probabily were bombard.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,459
Portugal
About Chioggia Susan Rose writes:

“We must not exaggerate, however, the influence that naval forces could have on the final outcome of a conflict. The Genoese on Chioggia surrendered in June 1380 because they themselves had been besieged and were running out of supplies. For this blockade of an island site in the watery landscape of the lagoon ships, boats, vessels of all kinds were essential but the engagements between the protagonists were in essence infantry encounters with some credit also going to the increased use of artillery.”

“Medieval Naval Warfare, 1000–1500”, by Susan Rose, pp. 108-109.

And about the use of artillery in the galleys and interesting passage, some years later:

“The most revealing of this series of documents is the deposition of Costantino Lercari taken in February 1407 when the Genoese authorities were investigating the loss of three of their galleys, part of the expedition of Marshall Boucicaut, off Modon in 1404. Lercari was the patronus of the galley on which Boucicaut sailed and therefore was an eyewitness of the events he describes. From his account, on one level relations between the cities were cordial. He describes the Venetian fleet coming out to meet the Genoese with every sign of honour and the two fleets then sailing together into the harbour and anchoring together. He himself was then involved in discussions with Carlo Zeno, the Venetian leader on the possibility of some joint action presumably against the Turks, though the details of this are not made clear. Zeno declined on the grounds that he could not exceed the very tightly drawn terms of his commission from the Signoria, making the remark that his ‘lordship did not give such long reins to its captains as was the custom of the Genoese’. The Genoese then left Modon but the seeming amity did not last with both sides becoming suspicious of the other; Lercari in fact has a story that the Venetian bailus in Nicosia was sending the Saracenos (the Turks) news of the Genoese movements. Finally when the Genoese wished to go into Zonchio to take on water, Zeno refused to let them enter the port and appeared with all his galleys ready for battle with lances and crossbows to hand. Boucicault then ordered his men also to arm but not to strike the first blow. When the Venetians attacked with cannon (bombardis) and crossbows battle was joined and in the ensuing melee the Genoese lost three galleys.

The use of cannon in fact is probably the most significant feature of this encounter almost the last in this area between the rival cities. As the century progressed the ability to deploy artillery was increasingly the deciding factor in war at sea. This did not only mean guns mounted onboard ships but shore batteries which could greatly hinder the use of galleys and other vessels to support or bring relief to the besieged in coastal towns. This was made abundantly clear during the siege of Constantinople in 1453. Venetian galleys were unable to contribute effectively to the defence of the city because of the weight of the Turkish onshore guns deployed against them. […]”

“Medieval Naval Warfare, 1000–1500”, by Susan Rose, pp. 110-111.
 
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