City of Fortune, By Roger Crowley


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The Republic of Venice had no merchant guild. Why? Because "the city was a merchant guild": a global trading enterprise planted in its swampy lagoon.

This floating spaceship from the capitalist future excited and worried the world. Venice, as Crowley's expert, fluent history of its maritime empire shows, was "the first virtual city".

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Did its fate foreshadow Britain's? "Held together by sea power", this vast imperial network from Italy to Crimea won respect but not love, and dwindled as an upstart rival – the Ottoman Turks – rose.