Saturday, May 12, 2012

Conquest of Venice

‘…Accordingly, on the 3rd of May, Buonaparte declared war against Venice, …The terrified state of Venice proved unworthy descendants of the Zenos, Dandolos, and Morosinis, as the defenders of Christendom, and the proud opposers of papal oppression.  The best resource they could imagine to themselves, was to employ at Paris those golden means of intercession which Buonaparte had so sturdily rejected...The Senate of Venice, rather stupefied than stimulated by the excess of their danger, were holding on 30th April, a sort of privy council in the apartments of the doge, when a letter from the commandant of their flotilla informed them, that the French were erecting fortifications on the low grounds contiguous to the lagoons or shallow channels which divide from the main-land  and from each other the little isles on which the amphibious mistress of the Adriatic holds her foundation; and proposing, in the blunt style of a gallant sailor, to batter them to pieces about their ears before the works could be completed.  Indeed, nothing would have been easier than to defend the lagoons against an enemy, who, notwithstanding Napoleon’s bravado, had not even a single boat. ..At length the Great Council assembled on the 12th of May.  The doge had commenced a pathetic discourse on the extremities to which the country was reduced, when an irregular discharge of fire arms took place under the very windows of the council-house. ..The terrified and timid councilors did not wait to enquire what was the real cause of the disturbance, but hurried forward, like sheep, in the path which had been indicated to them. ..Boats were dispatched to bring three thousand French soldiers into the city …’

The soldiers did not arrive, according to Sir Walter Scott, in his “Life of Napoleon” (text above), until the 16th, but Napoleon’s conquest of Venice is considered as complete on May 12th, 1797.

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