Shipbuilding & Early Forms of Modern Management. Comparing Venice & The Ottomans after Lepanto (1571)

This is the first paper in a broader research project comparing the Venice & Ottoman shipbuilding at the turn of the 16th century, under the lenses of administrative history. Within the general research, this paper focuses on the afterwards of naval battle of Lepanto, seen from the Ottomans’ point of view. What was the impact of the Lepanto defeat in terms of production, organizational and accounting aspects? How was it possible for the Ottomans to rebuild a complete fleet in a matter of months? How was the political crisis addressing the extraordinary production effort, and what were the main managerial and accounting conditions to make this possible? Moreover, to what extent this extraordinary effort was – at the same time – a consequence and a driver of a different pattern of organizing economic activities on the two sides of Mediterranean Sea? The paper is based on a systematic archival research at the Ottoman Archiv in Istanbul, selecting the decrees by the Sultan – firmans, imperial mandates or decrees issued by the imperial Divan – in the period Spetmeber1571/June 1972 (so far). After a complex process of chronologically ordering relevant documents, they were transliterated from Ottoman to Latin alphabet, then translation and summarized into English. This allows for coding, structuring the meanings of the information in each document. For the Venice Arsenal, we drew on previous archival research by one of the authors at the Venice State Archives. Despite the effectiveness in getting the fleet ready in a short time, what emerges is the lack of relevant innovations from a management and accounting point of view in the reconstruction of the Ottoman fleet. This underlines the importance of innovations at the Venice Arsenal following Lepanto’s battle, started with the 1586 deliberation on periodic reports on the 100 galley achievements.