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Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume VI: The impact of the Crusades on Europe

VII: The Ottoman Turks and the Crusades, 1329-1451,   pp. 222-275 PDF (18.9 MB)

Page 264

264 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 127.See Cerone, "La Politica orientale di Alfonso
di Aragona," bc. cit.; Marinescu, "Alphonse v," pp. 7-135. 
 The capture of Thessalonica marked the resumption of an aggressive Ottoman
policy in the Balkans, the first goal being the strengthening of their rule
in Albania and Epirus. The despotate of lanina (Yanya) was occupied, and
Charles II Tocco accepted Ottoman suzerainty over Arta in 1430, while Venice
took the lonian islands of Leucas (Santa Maura), Zante, and Cephalonia under
its protection. 
 In the following year Turakhan made his power over the Morea felt by demolishing
the Hexamilion fortifications once again. But Albania would be the main arena
of the Ottoman-Venetian rivalry in the ensuing half century. So close to
Italy and so vitally important for Venetian communication with the world
outside the Adriatic Sea, Albania received sustained attention and support
from Venice, Naples, and the papacy against the establishment of Ottoman
rule, and this support — in addition to the particular characteristics
of the land and people — was responsible for the long and stiff resistance
the Ottomans encountered. 
 Albania was considered by the Ottomans as a base to invade Italy and by
the Italian states as their first defense line and as a bridgehead for a
crusade against the Ottomans. During the fifteenth century the papacy's growing
concern and zeal to organize crusades against the Ottomans was more related
to the direct Ottoman threat to the papal states than to the deliverance
of the Holy Land. The Aragonese kings of Naples fought in Albania against
the Ottomans for their own security from the 1430's on,127 and an Ottoman
invasion of the Ancona area was felt to be an imminent danger throughout
the second half of the fifteenth century. It was, however, the Venetians'
naval superiority, as well as their building of strong defense lines on the
islands in the Adriatic and lonian seas and along the Albanian coasts, that
really deterred the Ottomans from an invasion and gave a sense of security
to the Italians. The Ottomans almost never planned or attempted an invasion
of Italy without first eliminating the Venetian factor either by an agreement
or by direct occupation of the Venetian bases in the area. Interestingly
enough, throughout this period from 1430 on Ottoman diplomacy tried to further
its Albanian policy by taking advantage of dissensions among the Italian
states, between Venice and Milan or between the papacy and Venice or Naples.
In any event, the period from 1430 to 1479 witnessed a crucial struggle between
Venice and the Ottomans for the control of the Albanian coasts, the first
defense line of Venice and Italy. 
 Thanks to an unusual wealth of documentation on Albania from 

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