Although the war-economy nexus represents one of the most interesting topics in economic history, it has not been fully exploited to account for the cycles of rise and decline of nations. The article points out some elements concerning the use of violence in the early modern Mediterranean trade in the context of the debate on the so-called Italian economic decline. The commercial decline of Italian centers was due at least in part to the naval superiority of the English and the Dutch; this raised protection costs for Italian merchants. Given that their trading costs were higher than those of their "Northern" competitors, would have be pointless to try to meet their lower production costs. Italians therefore exploited their superior skills and specialized in the production of topquality goods.