Saturday, August 1, 2009

Forests II.

This is coolbert:



Continuing with the deforestation of those lands bordering the Mediterranean - - the felling of timber for the construction of warships [merchant vessels too]. A deforestation lasting millennium and resulting in a "man-formed" landscape called in some areas the maquis or the garrigue!

Again from the David Attenborough book, "The FIRST EDEN THE MEDITERRANEAN WORLD AND MAN" extracts and my comments:

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period, the city-state of Venice was a major power, commerically and militarily. A mercantile success with considerable naval power. Warships and a merchant fleet manufactured in the famous Arsenal. A "nation" whose wealth was directly related to the availability of timber for ship building and a "nation", a sea-going power, having to face difficulties and problems caused by the deforestation of the Mediterranean basin.

"The Venetian Arsenal . . . was a shipyard and naval depot that played a leading role in Venetian empire-building."

A "shipyard and naval depot" highly reliant upon the importation of timber for shipbuilding. A process - - naval construction - - that lasted for centuries!!

"It enabled all the state's navy and the larger merchant ships to be both constructed and maintained in one place. The Arsenal incidentally became an important centre for rope manufacture"

"Venice developed methods of mass-producing warships in the Arsenal,. . . the Arsenal employed some 16,000 people who apparently were able to produce nearly one ship each day, . . . with standardized parts on a production-line basis not seen again until the Industrial Revolution."

"At the beginning of her expansion, it must have seemed that she had ample supplies of timber for ship-building, for her forest stretched from the margins of the lagoon in which the city stood to her farthest inland frontier on the flanks of the Alps."

[understand that Venice as a city-state had vast land holdings, colonies, exercised dominion over and expanse of territory on the Italian mainland all the way to the Alps]

. . . .

"By the end of the fifteenth century, the Venetian merchants were having considerable difficulty in obtaining the tall sailing ships they needed . . . the merchants [Venetian] were therefor having to buy vessels from Dalmatia [east coast of the Adriatic]"

"The Arsenal had to kept supplied at all costs. The Republic could not willingly become dependent on foreign powers for the supply of her warships, so officials of the Arsenal scoured the Venetian territories on the Italian mainland in search of trees . . . They laid claim to the surviving areas of forest and prohibited all felling in them"

The Venetians instantly realized the danger of a dependancy upon foreign powers for those essentials necessary to their way of life. Venice needed a continuous and never-ending indigenous source of timber for the Arsenal. The Venetian authorities were desirous to solely employ merchant vessels and warships built by Venetians, with Venetian material, for the use of Venetians. NOT RELIANT UPON FOREIGNERS AND FOREIGN SOURCES!

Recall from a previous blog entry: "The father of free trade, Adam Smith, stated in his book, 'The Wealth of Nations,' that an exception to this practice [free trade] must be made when it comes to defense production."

"There seem, however, to be two cases in which it will generally be advantageous to lay some burden [tariff] upon foreign [manufacturers] for the encouragement of domestic industry. The first is, when some particular sort of industry is necessary for the defence of the country. (Smith, 1776:)"


As with the Venetians - - as with Smith!


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