Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/322

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lightly to the deceiving of themselves. The Turk has a way of exaggerating the enemy's strength and arming regardless of expense. Venice had better do the same. This was in 1466; three years later the blow was ready to fall, and again Venice received warning through another merchant, Piero Dolfin, resident in Chios. Let the government, he wrote, fortify its places in the Levant and lose no time about it; "on this depends the safety of the State, for Negroponte once lost the rest of the Levant is in peril."

But Venice, exhausted by the drain of the land wars against Visconti, was unwilling to face another and more terrible campaign by sea unless she were forced to do so. She endeavoured to open negotiations at Constantinople on the pretext that she was acting in the name of Hungary. But in 1470 Negroponte fell. The War had already cost considerably over a million ducats, and the government was reduced to suspending either two-thirds or a half of all official salaries which were over twenty-five ducats per annum. In spite of this she rejected, as extravagant, terms of peace offered her in 1476; and faced the struggle once more. Scutari was attacked by the Sultan in person, who, in his determination to enter the town, blew besieged and besiegers alike to atoms before his siege guns. But the Republic could not hold out for ever unaided; Scutari was at the last extremity; a large army was rumoured to be on its way to attack Friuli. Venice was forced to recognise the facts, and in 1479 she proposed terms of peace. Scutari, and all Venetian possessions in the Morea were ceded to the Turk. Venice agreed to pay ten thousand ducats a year for the privileges of trading, and one hundred thousand in two years, as a war indemnity; and received permission to keep an Agent (Bailo) in Constantinople.

The Peace of 1479 marks an epoch in the history of Venetian relations with the East, and indicates a return to her original policy of peaceable dealings, whenever possible, with the Turk.

In truth, the Republic had every reason to complain of the conduct of Europe. After sixteen years of continuous warfare, which she had undertaken on the strength of European promises, Venice concluded a ruinous peace, by which she lost a part of her Levantine possessions and was reduced to the position of a tributary. Yet instantly all Europe attacked her for her perfidy to the Christian faith, and the princes of Italy professed to believe that Venice had abandoned the Turkish War, merely in order to devote herself to the extension of her power on the mainland. Had she received any support from Europe or Italy, she would never have closed the War with such a balance against herself. In truth the Republic was too exhausted to continue the' struggle. It was not her fault that, the year after the conclusion of the Peace, Italy and all Europe were alarmed by the news that the Turks had seized Otranto. This was the inevitable result of the withdrawal of Venice from the struggle,—a withdrawal in its turn due to lack of any support