Yes, I was. What’s it to you?
Ah, your father, fair enough. Some journeymen nowadays seem to think we could have won if they’d been aboard. What ship was he on?
I wouldn’t have known him, then. I was on the Leone d’Oro. It was a big fleet, you know; eighty of the line. A forest of masts in the dawn. I didn’t know everyone’s face even on board the Leone; though I would have, in time. I’d only been aboard a few months, then.
Well, yes, from the start of the siege.
Sure, I got in on my father’s name. Which is now my name. You want to make something of that?
None taken if you’re buying.
Yeah, no, he was just out of good options. It was a siege, right? And everyone knew we were going to lose it. When the crazy English came over the walls there was going to be a massacre, and a fat lot of good the family name would do me then. Everyone knew their colonial troops would be first into the breach, because why would you send anybody whose life you valued into a forlorn hope? And yeah, a lot of those martial tribes still literally eat people. The English like it that way because it gives them shock troops everyone is afraid of, and if they accidentally get massacred instead of winning the English can still feel good about it. And they don’t speak any civilised language.
What? Well, yes, I suppose many of them do speak English. I don’t see what that has to do with anything. The point is, I wasn’t going to be able to negotiate a ransom. On a ship of the line, sure, I might have to fight the blockading fleet, but that would be civilised warfare, feed the guns until one side strikes the colours; you have a nine in ten chance of surviving that sort of thing even if your whole fleet is wiped out. There were lots of rich men making that calculation, then. Poor men too, for that matter. Better a landsman on a frigate, than trying to defend the streets when the black savages came howling through the breaches. If they tried to board the ships, well, that’s what grapeshot is for. You can pound a lot of grapeshot out through the sixty guns of a ship of the line. They’re big bitches, those shipkillers; much bigger than the guns that armies use teams of twenty horses to move around.
Well, no, didn’t work out that way. The savages went right for Sant’ Andrea. Soon as the catapults were gone and they didn’t have to be afraid of the siege hail (*) anymore, the English fleet was coming in. There wasn’t any sense in trying to fight them while the savages were boarding us from the docks. We sailed out for sea room.
Yes, of course we knew it was hopeless.
I suppose they thought a few ships might fight their way through, and take refuge in Tunis, or in Egypt. To save at least a remnant of the power and the pride; that was all they hoped for. The siege was lost and the war was lost, and we all knew it; but if we had a few ships left to jump an English merchantman, or threaten to sell to the Indians, perhaps that would be worth some crumbs at the peace table.
No. That’s true. There were too many of them. Two ships for every one of ours. We might as well have tried to fight our way across the Alps.
Yes, we knew it. We’d said our goodbyes, prayed our prayers, drunk our wine. We weren’t stupid, you know. We knew the odds.
Oh, I see. You’re asking why he went. Why we all went, knowing what would happen. Knowing there would be widows and orphans left behind. Well then. Buy me another, and I’ll tell you. It’s thirsty work, talking.
We went because rats abandon a sinking ship, but men don’t. Because the Lion of St Mark flew from our masts. We went because we’d sworn an oath to the Senate and the People, and not to our families and our own skins. Because we were Venetians and free citizens, and when we said “the power and the pride” we meant it, and were proud.
We sailed for the honour of the Fleet.
(*) Siege hail: The mixture of incendiaries and big rocks hoisted into the air by the enormous catapults of the Forte di Sant’ Andrea – deadly to wooden ships within their effective range of a kilometer.
Encouraged by my success in getting Ragusa – and egged on by certain field-gray allies who shall remain nameless – I went back to the same well again: I invaded Byzantium at the head of a coalition of me, Germany, Fox, and Egypt. It worked out pretty well until the moment that 100k English troops poured across the French-Italian border and I realised that Baron intended to actually defend his ally this time, as opposed to messing about with subsidies and a few ships. All my troops were down in the Levant, trying to advance through the Lebanese mountains; Germany was invading the Baltics; Egypt was occupying Africa and helping me out in the Levant – so Italy fell in short order. At the end of the war I was out of manpower, out of ships (I literally have exactly zero ships, not even transports, in the save), and my government in exile, if that mechanic had existed in EU4, would have had to set up shop in Madagascar. However, by skilled diplomatic maneuvering (that is, I blamed Germany for starting it), I ended up only losing Ragusa and Oran, not that this is exactly a great comfort. I’ll be a generation recovering, again. The heavy ships, at least, were due for upgrading anyway since I’m about to hit Threedeckers, so I’m not out any money that I wouldn’t have been spending anyway. I take great consolation from this fact.
The world in 1702.