The Venetians - A new History. Paul Strathern. An informative introduction” to the independent Republic of Venice—the 1st great economic & cultural power of the modern Western world. After winning independence in the late 13th century, Venice enjoyed centuries of glory & built a trading empire which reached as far afield as China, Syria, & West Africa. Thes golden period end with the eventual surrender to Napoleon. Includes tales of Petrarch, Marco Polo, Galileo, Titian, Vivaldi, Casanova.