at least 50 years the Venetian merchants had accepted the depredations
of the Slav pirates centered around the Narenta
[Neretva] River on the Dalmatia coast, sometimes assisted by other Dalmatia
neighbors, as an unavoidable fact of life. Finally, the merchants settled
into a custom of simply paying annually for safe passage through the
Pietro II Orseolo
was of a different mind. From the time of his election as the 24th
Doge of Venice, 991, at the age of 30, he wove a net of diplomacy
through the Northern Adriatic and upper coast of Dalmatia as a foundation
for the total extinction of the Dalmatian pirates and Venice's first
major territorial expansion.
diplomacy to isolate the Narentan Slavs from their neighbors in the
former Roman cities of Dalmatia, Orseolo personally put to sea on
Ascension Day 1000 at the head of one of the mightiest fleets ever
seen in the Adriatic. As the fleet drew near, many of the Narentan
leaders surrendered immediately, without a battle. The islands of
the Narenta delta that remained recalcitrant quickly found their cities
efficiently and methodically assaulted and captured.
Venice in complete triumph, the strength of the pirate lairs broken
forever, the Doge assumed a further title: Duke of Dalmatia. The Dalmatian
cities acknowledged the rule of Venice by agreeing to pay annual tributes.
The 500-year territorial expansion of Venice had begun.