[News]The truth about the plot of Venice, an episode invented by the enemies of the Spanish Empire

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The viceroys, alter ego of the monarchs, constituted the backbone of the Spanish system of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and allowed the Spanish nobility to participate in the imperial enterprise and prevent it from being completely ruined as a result of the inflation that was being experienced. in Spain. Patrons, soldiers, rulers and little monarchs smeared with Italian opulence. Juan Fernández de Velasco, in Milan; García de Toledo, in Sicily; Pedro el Grande, in Naples. In the collective success story of the Spanish government in Italy there was no lack of leaders as unclassifiable as Pedro Téllez-Girón and Velasco, Duke of Osuna, who served as viceroy of Sicily and later Naples during the reign of Felipe III.


Above all, a viceroy was required to collect taxes and avoid conflicts with the local nobility. Creating a fleet from scratch, as Pedro Tellez-Girón did during his Italian stay, and keeping enemy corsairs squashed did not enter into daily tasks. Not of course in those desired by suspicious Madrid officials or by other Mediterranean powers such as Venice and the Ottoman Empire.


Cold war with Venice

In both Sicily and Naples, The Daredevil Viceroy (nickname he received for his unorthodox methods) established a private fleet to fight the Corsican Berber with the same weapons that they used. In Naples, the viceroy came to gather a total of 22 galleys and 20 galleons, who were dedicated to launching pirate actions against privateers and Muslim merchant ships. Very lucrative actions in the economic and military fields, since an offensive strategy allowed the corsair to be kept away from the Italian coasts, but which won the duke countless enemies inside and outside Spain.

At the political level, Osuna was aligned with the most bellicose faction of the Court. The one that had known the glory years of Felipe II and knew of the damage that the Pax Hispánica was doing to the reputation of the Spanish Empire. Hence his hostile attitude from the beginning towards Savoy, a former ally of Spain, and Venice, an ancient and constant enemy. To counter Venetian support for Spain's enemies in the area, Osuna waged a cold war with Venice on the Adriatic.


                     Pedro Téllez-Girón y Velasco, Duque de Osuna, por Bartolomé González y Serrano (1615).


Almost at the beginning of his time in Naples, Peter the Great confiscated a Venetian merchant ship to compensate for previous grievances, so he announced his intention to attack the Serenissima by obstructing her trade. Even signed the return of several ships with this country, the viceroy excused himself for not making it effective. According to an anecdote fictionalized by the biographer Gregorio Leti, Osuna agreed, if at all, to return the empty ships because the goods had already been sold:


"The Lordship has forests of wood," said the Commissioner of Venice with a haughty tone.


"In that case," replied the viceroy, "if the bajeles don't work for you, I'll stay with them."

Osuna's galleons and galleys staged several clashes favorable to the Spanish against the increasingly outdated fleet of the Serenissima. The cold war became at times a hot one, since the black flag, characteristic of the duke's private ships, flew with impunity in the Adriatic, for centuries a sea owned by Venice, was unbearable for diplomatic representatives of this country . Faced with Venetian pressure, requests followed from Madrid to stop an unauthorized war against Venice, which Spain was winning with great damage to Venetian trade and at little cost. This produced the anomaly that the navies of both countries continued at war, while the diplomats did not stop promising each other peace and good intentions. The folds of geopolitics ...


In Madrid there was also a lack of supporters to continue the hostilities and give Osuna a broad sleeve, who promised to cut the tentacles of Venice and Turkey in the Adriatic. The Grand Duke defended himself with the best of arguments to the Venetian criticism: "The more the enemies of the Empire complain about your ministers, it is when Your Majesty is best served."


The conspiracy against the warlord
Deranged by the duke's aggressiveness, Venice sought to discredit him by means other than military and to remove from the equation the most warlike faction in Spain, the one that could compromise the Peace of Pavia, signed in 1617. The duke was attributed with being the Field organizer of the Venice Conjuration (1618), one of the darkest episodes of the 18th century. Together with the Governor of Milan and the Spanish Ambassador in Venice, Osuna would have paid a group of French mercenaries settled in the city of the canals to provoke an uprising.

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