War and Peace - The War for Candia previous 5/8 next

Candia: army and nations

Arriving on the island of Candia  in 1589, the traveller Samuel Keichel noted that it was occupied by Italians, Germans, Swiss, Englishmen and Frenchmen, along with Greek light cavalrymen. According to the reports of Venetian governors ('baili' , the Italian and Corsican soldiers were fairly reliable. However, Tomio Pompei, a professional soldier from a distinguished Veronese family serving the Serenissima, instead claimed that the 'oltramontani' ('those from beyond the mountains' - the Germans and the Swiss) were believed 'to succeed in taking places and preserving them'1, and to be 'impetuous and stubborn'2. On the other hand, the Levant light cavalrymen - Croats, Albanians and Greeks - had a bad reputation, and were considered undisciplined and violent in comparison with the local civilian population.

In peace time, the ordinary garrison of the Kingdom was primarily made up of troops from central Italy, the traditional recruiting source of the Serenissima. From 1575-76, only two men came from Serenissima  territories (Brescia) out of a total of 24 officials in the Candia garrison which numbered 23 captains and a colonel. The vast majority came from Abruzzi, the Marches, and Emilia. It is likely that a great many garrison soldiers came from the same areas that their captains did, for it was common practice for captains to recruit their men from their own lands.

1 'riuscire a proposito per prender posti e per conservargli'
2 'impetuosi ed ostinati'

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Viaggio virtuale tra le fonti storiche veneziane
Rotta: Venezia e il Levante (sec XV - sec XVIII)
© 1996 by the VENIVA consortium