Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Arsenal of Venice

How is this for a great story setting? The Venetian naval shipyard/armory called the Arsenal pioneered mass production and firearms at early dates.

At the peak of its efficiency in the early 16th century, the Arsenal employed some 16,000 people who apparently were able to produce nearly one ship each day, and could fit out, arm, and provision a newly-built galley with standardized parts on a production-line basis not seen again until the Industrial Revolution.

The staff of the Arsenal also developed new firearms at an early date, beginning with bombards in the 1370s and numerous small arms against the Genoese a few years later.

I'm imagining a story set within this vast organization, against the backdrop of Venetian imperial aspirations. Or something. Venice is a great topic all by itself, but it particularly fascinates me how the Italian city-states were able to maintain far-flung empires.

1 comment:

  1. I told Lisa about this as soon as I read it and she confirmed that she actually mentions it in her Renaissance history class. Apparently almost every foreign visitor of any stature got at least a partial tour of the Arsenal, and it rarely failed to impress them, so they commented upon it a lot. There has to be a way to fit this concept into a story.