A Unique, Illustrated Venetian Military Manuscript

MILITARIA. WARFARE. WEAPONS. Camozzi, Carlo, da Bergamo (fl.1712)

"Fabrica de' Cannoni di Ferro" [On the manufacture of guns for the Republic of Venice, in Italian and Latin, illustrated manuscript on paper.]

[Venice, first half 18th century]


Folio: 33.5 x 22 cm. 56 leaves, early manuscript foliation: 1-19, 44, 56-81.

Full-page portrait of Carlo Camozzi under the Lion of St Mark, full-page miniature of Charity with putti and cannons, various illustrations throughout including Venetian emblems, a small portrait of Doge Sebastiano Mocenigo (1722-32), cannons, weapons, fortresses, warships and soldiers (likely a fragment of a larger whole, marginal thumbing and occasional staining).  Bound in modern blind-stamped brown leather over pasteboards, leather ties. 

A fascinating documentary overview of the 12-year business relationship between the founder Carlo Camozzi of Bergamo and the Republic of Venice, relating to the production of cannons and ammunition and the logistical organisation of the new 'Fabrica de' Cannoni di Ferro'. 

Content: 44 documents concerning the production of cannons and arms for the Republic of Venice from 8 June 1712 to 9 August 1724, including stipulations governing the agreement between the Proveditors of the Venetian Arsenals and Giovanni Camozzi of Bergamo, specifying quantities of cannons and ammunition to be produced over a 12-year period, the testing of said cannons in Brescia, quality control, the building of the 'Fabrica', and remuneration (ff.1-7); a brief history of cannon production for the Republic (the first supplier was Tiburzio Balio, whose foundry produced more than 470 cannons between 1689-1702), and a description of quality control tests carried out on Camozzi's work, (ff.10v-14v); and repeated requests for more funds from Camozzi and more weapons from the Republic. 

In the years that Camozzi supplied cannons to Venice, the Republic was facing an existential crisis. In 1714 the Ottoman Turks once again declared war and attacked Venetian possessions in the Morea (the Peloponnese) and swiftly took control of the islands of Tinos and Aegina, and the mainland city of Corinth. Venetian efforts to win back these possessions were largely unsuccessful, but Camozzi's cannons were an essential part of the campaign. In 1716, the Venetians ousted the Turks from the island of Santa Maura (Lefkada), and several of Camozzi's cannons, used to fortify the island thereafter, can still be seen there today; and an as-yet unidentified Venetian ship, sunk off the coast of Cyrene, has yielded a Camozzi cannon from this period. The cannons remained an essential part of Venetian defenses throughout the 18thc., and many are extant in strongholds (Corfu and Nafplio, for instance) that never fell to the Turks.

On the importance of Camozzi and his 'Fabrica' in Venetian 18th-century military history see C. Beltrame and R. Scordato, Artiglierie della Serenissima da relitti e collezioni in Italia, Israele, Malta e Spagna, Florence, 2016 and C. Beltrame and M. Morin, I cannoni di Venezia. Le artiglierie della Serenissima da fortezze a relitti, Florence, 2013.