Venice's maritime empire: 13th - 15th century
In the scramble to grab Byzantine land after the 4TH crusade, in 1204, the Venetians concentrate on territories suiting their maritime interests. They take the islands of Corfu and Crete.
They yield Corfu ten years later to the Greek ruler of Epirus (the nearest part of the mainland), but Crete remains a Venetian possession for more than four centuries. It is the first in a chain of valuable staging posts to the eastern Mediterranean. Venetian control over Cephalonia is established in 1350. In 1380, at Chioggia, Venice finally defeats Genoa and becomes the undisputed maritime power in eastern waters. The other links in the island chain to the east are acquired during the following century. Corfu is recovered in 1401. The Dalmatian coast is ceded to Venice by the king of Croatia in 1420. Zante is acquired in 1482. Finally Cyprus, the jewel at the end of the chain, is annexed in 1489.
This is precisely the period during which the Ottoman Turks have been winning control of the mainland facing these Mediterranean islands, from Anatolia to the Balkans Constantinoplefalls to them in 1453, Greece is in Turkish hands by 1460. For the next two centuries the Venetians in the islands confront the Turks on the mainland in a struggle which the Turks ultimately win. Meanwhile the Venetians have been establishing an extensive realm in their own backyard.
Venice and the Veneto: 14th - 15th century
While the Venetians are acquiring islands on the route to the Middle East, they also gain control of a large part of the Italian mainland. The first territory to be won is the region adjacent to their own lagoon - the Veneto (named like Venice itself from anIndo-Europeantribe, the Veneti, who migrated here in about 1000 BC).
Venice occupies these mainland territories by force. But the Venetian role is that of the jackal coming in after the lion.