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John: Hi, I'm John Green. This is Crash Course World History and today we're going to talk about a relationship. No, not you college girlfriend. No, not that kind of relationship either. No, Stan this is a history class! We're going to talk about the relationship between a city, Venice and an empire the Ottomans and in doing so we're going to return to an old theme here on Crash Course World History: How studying history can make you a better boyfriend and/or girlfriend. Probably or but I'm not here to judge. Mr. Green, Mr. Green! No offense, but you don't really seem like an expert on how to get girls to like you. Here's something amazing me from the past. You know that girl Sarah in 10th grade who's super, super smart? Yeah, she's really hot. She's like 3 or 4 leagues hotter than I am. Yeah, I married her so shut up and listen. (lively music) 10 minutes from now I'm hoping you'll understand how one mutually beneficial relationship between the Venetians and the Ottomans led to 2 really big deals. The European renaissance and Christopher Columbus. Not like his birth. I mean, he wasn't like a half-Ottoman, half-Venetian baby. His travels. Venice is a city made up of hundreds of islands up the northern tip of the Adriatic sea but walking around it you can't help but feel that the city is essentially a collection of floating buildings tied together by some canals. If ever there were a place where geography was destiny it was Venice. Venice was literally built for ocean going trade. As you can imagine Venice didn't have a lot of natural resources except for fish and mustaches. If they wanted to grow they had to rely on trade. Let's go to the thought bubble. First, Venetians became experts in shipbuilding. Remember that when the crusaders needed ships for their crazy 4th crusade they headed to Venice because the Venetians were famous for their ships including merchant ships like the galley and cog. Not only could they build ships, they could also sail them to pleasant locales like Constantinople and the Levant. The Venetians formed trade treaties sometimes called concessions with the Byzantines and then when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans and became Istanbul, the Venetians were quick to make trade treaties with their new neighbors famously saying that while Istanbul had been Constantinople the matter of Constantinople getting the works was nobody's business but the Turks. But even before the Ottomans, Venice had experienced trading with the Islamic world. It initially established itself as the biggest European power in the Mediterranean thanks to its trade with Egypt's sultan in the outlandishly lucrative pepper business. Can't blame the Europeans really. That stuff is delicious. You mean like actual pepper? Yeah, that's good too. Especially since it masks the taste of spoiled meat which most meat was in the days before refrigeration. Due to some awkward crusades, the Egyptian merchants weren't terribly welcome in, you know, Europe but they had all the pepper because the Egyptians imported it from India and controlled both over land and over sea access to the Mediterranean. While other cited moral or religous opposition to trade the Venetians usually found a way which is why the whole freaking town is made of marble. Thanks thought bubble. To avoid the sticky situation of having to consort with the hidden Egyptians the Venetians employed a handy story. This is the Piazza San Marco, the number 1 destination in the entire world for people who like to be pooped on by pigeons. It's also home to this church which includes some bronze horses. You may remember that were rooted from Constantinople. And it contains the body of St. Mark, author of the gospel according to St. Mark who had once been the bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. So, naturally he died and was buried in Alexandria but the Venetians claimed him as their own because apparently one time he visited Venice and these 2 merchants hatched a very clever plan. They went to Alexandria on business, stole St. Mark's body and then hid it in a shipment of pork which the Muslims didn't check very carefully because you know, they were disgusted by it. You can actually see a version of this on the mosaics in the Basilica of St. Mark. Complete with the Muslims shouting an Arabic version of like, "Ew, gross." And then forever after the Venetians were like, "Listen, we have to trade with these guys. "We use it as a secret way to ferry saint bodies out of Egypt. "We don't want to become fantastically wealthy. "It's just the necessary bi product of our saint saving." What did Venice import? Lots, but notable for us they imported a lot of grain because if you've ever been to Venice then you might have noticed that it's basically made out of marble and therefore kind of difficult to farm. The Ottomans on the other hand had abundant green even before they conquered Egypt and it's oh-so-fertile Nile River in 1517. Also while trade was certainly the linchpin of Venice's economic success they had a diverse economy. They also produce things like textiles and glass and in fact Venice is still know for its glass but they couldn't produce it without a special ash that they used to make the colors. And you'll never guess who that ash came from. The Ottomans. Am I making you a better boyfriend yet? You have to add to your partner's life. You have to color their glass. That sounds like a euphemism but it's not. Back to history. One last thing about Venice that makes it special at least for its time. Venice was a republic, not a monarchy or god forbidden empire. Its leaders were elected and had to answer to the populace. I mean at least the property owning male populace. The ruler was the doge and he got to live in a very nice house and wear a funny hat. The sultan of the Ottoman empire also got to live in a nice house and wear a funny hat but there the similarities end. To begin, the Ottomans were an empire that lasted from around 1300 CE until 1919 making it one of the longest lasting and richest empires in world history. The Ottomans managed to blend their pastoral nomadic roots with some very unnomadic empire building and some really impressive architecture like this and this and this making them very different from wait for it: the Mongols. The empire or at least the dynasty was founded by Osman Bey and Ottoman is a Latinization of Osmanli which basically means like the House the Osman. No. Stan, the house- Yes. Oh my gosh. The Ottomans were greatest in the 15th and 16th centuries under 2 famous sultans. First Mehmed the Conqueror ruled from 1451 to 1481 and expanded Ottoman control to the Balkans which is why there are Bosnian Muslims today. But Ottoman expansion reached its greatest extent under Suleiman the Magnificent who ruled from 1520 to 1566. He took valuable territory in Mesopotamia and Egypt thus securing control over the Western parts of the Asian trade both over land and over sea. He also defeated the King Hungary and laid seige to Vienna in 1526 and he turned the Ottomans into a huge naval power. Also judging from his hat he had the largest brain in human history. The Ottomans basically controlled about half of what the Romans controlled but it was much more valuable because of all that Indian ocean trade you remember from last week? All this land brought a lot of wealth but it needed to be ruled. The Ottomans could have followed the Roman model where you sent out generals and nobles to rule over conquered territories or they could have demanded the allegiance of client kings like the Persians or developed a civil service system like the Chinese but instead they created an entirely new ruling class. A system that some historians call "The Slave Aristocracy." If you're a king, one of your main problems is hereditary nobles because they always want to replace you and they don't want to give you your money and they want their ugly sons to marry your gorgeous daughters, etc. One way to deal with this problem is to make them part of the government so they feel included and shut up. Another way is to kill them. That's what they usually do in Russia. I'm whispering so that Putin doesn't hear me. (screams) Putin! The Ottomans just bypass the problem of hereditary nobles altogether by creating both an army and a bureaucracy from scratch so they would be loyal only to the sultan. How? The Devshirme, a program in which they kidnap Christian boys converted them to Islam and raised them either to be part of an elite military fighting force called the Janissaries or to be government bureaucrats. Incidently, which of those gigs would you prefer because I think that says a lot about you as a person. Either way you weren't allowed to have kids which prevented the whole hereditary nobles problem and also ensured that the Ottoman government would contain quite a lot of Eunuchs. It's time for the open letter? (wheels rolling) An open letter to Ottoman Eunuchs but first let's see what's in the secret compartment today. Oh, it's a blow up globe. (blowing sound) See what quitting smoking will get you me from the past. Hey there Ottoman Eunuchs. How's it hanging? I'm just kidding, that was mean. Listen there had been Eunuchs all around this great planet of ours but you're special. I'm not going to get into details of why because they're horrifying. I'm just going to link to an article in the video info. You started out just being harem guards Ottoman Eunuchs which is kind of an obvious gig for you but then you expanded. As that happened in China you made yourselves indispensible and you were often the center of palace intrigue. In fact, a few people in the Ottoman empire were as wealthy and important as many of you were. Way to turn lemons into lemonade. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have brought up lemons. Best wishes, John Green. This system eventually broke down as the janissaries who had guns lobbied to be allowed to have families. But until that happened, the Ottoman system of using a mix of slave administrators and Eunuchs to run everything worked incredibly well. But to return to the relationship between the Ottomans and the Venetians after the Ottomans captured Egypt they pretty much controlled the flow of trade through the Mediterranean. But the Venetians had centuries of experience as mariners and also lots of boats. Speaking of ships, I ship these guys. The Ottomans were content to let the Venetians do all the actual trading and carrying of goods and they just made their money from taxes. That worked because both Venice and the Ottomans added value to each other. Healthy relationships, listen up me from the past, aren't about extracting value. They have to be mutually beneficial to work and boy was that a mutually beneficial relationship. For instance, Venice became super rich and being super rich was a prerequisite for the European renaissance because all that art and learning required money which is why Venice was a leading city at the beginning of the European renaissance before being equipped by Florence, Rome and I don't know, say Rotterdam. Also this relationship established firm connections between Europe and the Islamic world which allowed ideas to flow again especially old Greek ideas that had been preserved and built upon by Muslims. I mean I guess those connections had existed for a long time but crusades aren't a great way to exchange ideas. Perhaps the most crucial result of the Venetian and Ottoman control of trade is that it forced other European powers to look for different paths to the richest of the East. That fueled huge investments and explorations. The Portugese sailed South and East around the southern tip of Africa and the Spanish went West believing that the Indies and China were much closer than they turned out to be. Thanks for watching. I'll see you next week.