How Venice's Economy Declined

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There were many factors that caused the decline in Venice’s economy and industry. During the sixteenth century Italy was one of the most powerful and technologically advanced countries in the world, but during the seventeenth century other countries were becoming equally or more advanced than Italy. England, France, and Holland had started producing materials for a cheaper amount of money because of the new technology they were using to manufacture their goods. Since England, France, and Holland could make their materials for less money it meant that they could sell their materials for less money and still make a profit, whereas Venice stayed with the same manufacturing style and could not afford to cut their costs. Part of the decline in the economy was there was also a drop in productivity because of the aging factor of the labour force after 1650 and faulty government policies. Venice had run out of lumber for building ships and was forced to buy foreign ships. Venice’s hold on international trading was no longer as prevalent as it used to be because of the increase in production from other countries. Venice also never changed the wages for their employees, even though they were not making as much money as they had been during the sixteenth century. The plague in 1630-31 in Venice had an impact on production because of the loss of people. The biggest reason Venice’s economy and industry was declining was their lack of ability to change their style of manufacturing and trading.

Venice’s lack of ability to change their way of transportation and manufacturing helped England and Holland become the new trading powers in the Mediterranean. Venice had run out of lumber to build their ships and was forced to buy foreign-built ships. The reason this had an impact on trading was because they no longer were building their own ships and therefore they did not have as many skilled ship builders. If Venice had more skilled ship builders they would have been able to build ships that were more stable and faster, which would have helped them get their goods to their trading partners faster. Venice’s ship operators were not as skilled as Holland’s or England’s. Many of the people that were trading with Venice had stopped because they could no longer trust their ships or their crews. “A combination of factors—old-fashioned designs for over-large ships, expensive construction due to the shortage of timbers, unskilled or halfhearted crews, inefficient operation, and too few guns—all these made shipping a vulnerable sector of the Venetian economy even during the boom years of the sixteenth century.” England and the Dutch had found better and quicker ways to travel for their trade routes; they no longer had to pass near Venice, which meant that fewer ships were coming into port. Venice was losing bidding wars to other countries as well because their way of manufacturing was more expensive than the other prominent countries and were therefore, always undercut by England, Holland, and France. “The French, English, and Dutch outbid the Venetians in the Ottoman empire and became masters of its supplies of silk and cotton. Even Germany no longer looked to Venice for these wares but obtained them from the western nations through Frankfurt.” Venice was losing their customers, which meant there was less demand for their goods, and because there was less demand for their goods they did not need as many people working in their factories. If Venice would have found a way to decrease their cost in making their materials they would have been way better off.

The cost of Venice’s goods was much higher than what England and Holland were offering. The reason that England and Holland had lower prices on their goods was that they had better technology in manufacturing. England and Holland could produce more product in less time for less money than Venice could because they had better technology in the manufacturing industry. The...
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