War and Peace - The War for Candia previous 6/8 next

Candia: the composition of troops

The Venetian army became a microcosm of complex divisions in the years of the war for Candia, because of the different languages, cultures and nationalities involved. The Turkish landing in 1645 compelled several European powers to send money and troops to the Serenissima , in a revival of the spirit of the Crusades against Constantinople . In Candia  in 1651 there were 1,602 'oltremontani' ('those from beyond the mountains', 36.2%), 1,005 Greeks (22.6%), 804 Corsicans (18.1%), 691 Italians (15.5%), and 338 'oltremarini' ('those from beyond the sea', 7.6%). Added to these troops were another 200 cavalrymen, who with the local militia and feudal soldiers totalled a garrison force of about 6,000 infantrymen and 450 cavalrymen. These forces were pitted against some 12,000 to 15,000 Turkish soldiers under the walls of Candia - a ratio of roughly 3 to 1. So outnumbered, it seems miraculous that Candia was able to withstand the Turkish assault for 25 years. It is true that Constantinople had to distribute its army, which in 1669-70 amounted to a good 95,000 men, along the borders and in the inland to quell uprisings and alleviate military tension with other powers. Clearly the assistance of European powers also helped to prolong Candia's resistance, but it is equally clear that the internal structure of the Ottoman Empire kept the island's fate uncertain for so long.

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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