Boys and their toys

By Lorenzo

The only place during our week in Venezia my business partner and I deliberately went back to to have another look was the Naval Museum.

Naval Museum Venice

It was full of things we found greatly engaging, such as C17th relief maps of various fortifications of the Serene Republic mounted on walls and lots of excellent models of ships from ancient history to the present. There was some unexpected things too–half of the top storey was about Swedish naval history and the connection between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Serene Republic (which continued with the Kingdom of Italy). The Swedish connection being a result of them both having to deal with an aggressive imperial power (the Ottoman and Romanov Empires) in an enclosed sea (the Mediterranean and the Baltic).

When we went back for a second time, they were preparing for an anniversary exhibition. In tents out the front they had the two largest models of modern warships I have seen. A model of one of the Italian Navy’s two aircraft carriers.

INS Guiseppe Garibaldi: yes, the guns move and the helicopter blades go around

And one of their amphibious transport docks.

INS San Guisto

While they were lots of fun, the historical models were what I really enjoyed. The highlight of which was a model of a Korean turtle boat.

A C16th Korean ironclad aka turtle boat

These turtle boats were the first ironclads.  Apparently invented by Admiral Yi Sun-sin, they did considerable damage to Japanese shipping during Toyotomi Hideyoshi‘s invasions of Korean in the 1590’s.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi had come out on top of in the penultimate round of Japan’s C16th civil wars. Which meant lots of samurai suddenly without much to do and various supporters to reward. So, he did what many military leaders have done in that situation, he looked for somewhere to invade. If you are Japanese, that means Korea.

Japanese armies were very likely the most effective in the world at that time (apart from their lack of decent cannon). They had had lots of practice (against each other). So, at first, the invasion went quite well. But then Admiral Yi came up with his turtle boats, and things started to go downhill for the Japanese.  Including one of the most dramatic victories in naval history.

The turtle boats were a remarkable innovation and being able to look at an excellent model up close was an unexpected highlight of my trip to Venezia.


  1. Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    The turtle boats were a remarkable innovation and being able to look at an excellent model up close was an unexpected highlight of my trip to Venezia
    This is hilarious. Stuff the campanile, the tower, the glass blowing, the Rialto, the Academy, La Fenice… no way man, it’s the Korean Turtle boat that does it for me.

  2. Posted June 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I refer you to the indefinite article in the statement you quoted 🙂

  3. Larry
    Posted June 20, 2012 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Next time you go over, and if you go further north, there are another couple of museums you will probably like. The Armoury in Prague and the French Military Museum in Samuur.

    My very non-military inclined brother-in-law absolutely loved them, and said they taught him more about European history than all the cathedrals, campaniles and art galleries he went to.

  4. Posted June 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Title: Little Wars; a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books

    Author: H. G. Wells

    Some girls are into this kind of thing too.

  5. Posted June 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Dare I say it – ‘allo sailor! 😉

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