of Columbus' discovery of America in 1492 is the supremacy of technology
and economics in the shaping of great historical trends. The 500-year
territorial expansion of Venice had been founded in technology: In the
period around the year 1000 Venice had developed a technically advanced
war galley and within the next century had begun to put in place its
Arsenale -- a huge and efficient shipyard for the rapid and efficient
mass production of her war ships.
The voyage of
Columbus demonstrated that the fixed-oar galleys that Venice had found
so effective in the circumscribed Mediterranean theater were technologically
obsolesced by the large sail-powered ships that Atlantic countries
such as Spain, Portugal and England had now mastered.
the trading and natural resource opportunities of the newly-discovered
continents dwarfed the financial rewards that Venice so effectively
exploited in its trade with the Far East and around the Eastern Mediterranean.
Scholars have debated the degree to which Venice's Asian trade was
adversely affected in an absolute sense by Columbus' discovery, but
there can be no doubt that in a relative sense Venice would soon be
outstripped by the giant economic powers who were building their strength
on the riches of the New World.