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

Candia: the feudal cavalry


Next to the infantry militia in Candia  there was another form of militia, the so-called 'feudal cavalry'  ('cavalleria feudata') made up of noblemen who lived on feudal lands. Initially these noblemen maintained a certain number of horses commensurate with the size of their own estates. Later, the feuds were divided between heirs, because there was no law of succession that favoured eldest sons or one heir alone, based on the type of fideicommissum  or majorat  then widespread in Italy and contemporary Europe. Such a break-up of feudal incomes naturally had disastrous consequences for the efficiency of the militias. Captain Paolo Contarini described the situation of the Candian nobles, saying that 'for the most part they are so poor that not only can they not even maintain a good horse, but they are compelled by poverty to stay in their villas not having a way to appear in the city: they are wretched and many of them have lost their nobility through poverty'1. Such impoverishment forced them to forfeit their noble standing permanently - 'they are less suited to any other thing than to the cavalry, both because of their natural indolence, and because they are forced to wait for another occupation in order to find a way to live'2.

1 'per la maggior parte sono poveri si fattamente che non solo non possono mantener un cavallo che sia buono, ma sono astretti per la povertà a star nelle ville non havendo modo di comparir nella città; sono miserabili e molti di essi hanno per la povertà perduta la nobiltà'
2 'sono atti a ogni altra cosa più che all'esercitio della cavallaria, sì per la loro natural negligentia, come per esser sforzati di attendere ad altro esercitio per trovar modo di vivere'

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Viaggio virtuale tra le fonti storiche veneziane
Rotta: Venezia e il Levante (sec XV - sec XVIII)
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