Venice (decline)

From humble beginnings the Venetian republic grew in strength, along the way becoming highly efficient in building galleys for trade and defense. These oar-powered craft were the mainstay of their empire. Shipbuilders at the renowned Arsenale were able to put together one of these vessels in a single day.

The very same seafaring prowess that brought them wealth and power were also responsible for their decline. When other nations began using larger wind-driven ships the Venetians, for reasons that may include vested interests and curbed resourcefulness, kept on building their galleys. Indeed they provide an illustration of Prof. Danny Miller's dictum: "success can lead to failure...the very causes of success, when extended, may become the causes of failure"

Eventually Spain discovered the New World and Portugal found a sea route to India, removing Venice’s regional monopoly. France, England and Holland followed them in the race for colonies. Venice’s oared galleys could neither cross the oceans nor defeat the larger battleships. It may have sealed its own fate.


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"The Progress Trap - and how to avoid it" Copyright Daniel O'Leary, registered at
the Copyright Office, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Canada on April 5, 1991 (ref 405917)