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Angelo Emo

Venice's last Grand Admiral

Angelo Emo

Angelo Emo (1731-92) was the last admiral of the Venetian Navy, but he was made in the same mould as Carlo Zeno. Emo carried out a number of reforms in the Navy and in the Arsenale and invented the floating battery.

Emo saw action from his earliest days at sea, when war broke out between Venice and Algiers, back when Barbary pirates were a plague on Mediterranean shipping. He settled a dispute between Venice and the Austrian Emperor Joseph II regarding the borders of Dalmatia, then went to war again in 1784-86 against the Bey of Tunis, after attacks of Venetian shipping, back when other countries were paying protection money. Aboard his flagship, Fama, he led the fleet in bombarding Tunis (making good use of his floating batteries), forcing the Bey to agree to terms.

Emo died of a sudden illness in Malta; had he lived, there's a good chance that Napoleon would have thought twice about invading Venice.

Canova sculpted a monument in his honour, now in the Museo Storico Navale; his funerary monument is nearby in San Biagio.


Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Bizarria, Creative Commons License