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History of the Republic of Venice

practical independence. The other main faction was pro-

Frankish. Supported mostly by clergy (in line with pa-
pal sympathies of the time), they looked towards the new
Carolingian king of the Franks, Pepin the Short, as the
best provider of defence against the Lombards. A minor,
pro-Lombard, faction was opposed to close ties with any
of these further-o powers and interested in maintaining
peace with the neighbouring Lombard kingdom, which
surrounded Venice except on the seaward side.
Deusdedit was assassinated and his throne usurped, but
the usurper, Galla Gaulo, suered a like fate within a
The Republic of Venice in 1000 AD. The republic is in dark red, year. During the reign of his successor, Domenico Mon-
borders in light red.
egario, Venice changed from a shermans town to a port
of trade and centre of merchants. Shipbuilding was also
The history of the Republic of Venice traditionally be- greatly advanced and the pathway to Venetian dominance
gins with its foundation at noon on Friday March 25, of the Adriatic was laid. Also during Monegarios tenure,
421 by authorities from Padua who hoped to establish a the rst dual tribunal was instituted. Each year, two new
trading-post in the region. This event was marked by the tribunes were elected to oversee the doge and prevent
founding of the Venetian church of St. James.[1] What abuse of power.
is certain is that the early city of Venice, existed as a
collection of lagoon communities which banded together The pro-Lombard Monegario was succeeded in 764, by
for mutual defence from the Lombards as the power of a pro-Byzantine Eraclean, Maurizio Galbaio. Galbaios
the Byzantine Empire dwindled in northern Italy in the long reign (764-787) vaulted Venice forward to a place
late 7th century.[1] Sometime in the rst decades of the of prominence not just regionally but internationally and
8th century, the people of the lagoon elected their rst saw the most concerted eort yet to establish a dynasty.
leader Ursus, who was conrmed by Byzantium and given Maurizio oversaw the expansion of Venetia to the Rialto
the titles of hypatus and dux.[2] He was the rst histori- islands. He was succeeded by his equally long-reigning
cal Doge of Venice. Tradition, however, since the early son, Giovanni. Giovanni clashed with Charlemagne over
11th century, dictates that the Venetians rst proclaimed the slave trade and entered into a conict with the Vene-
one Anafestus Paulicius duke in 697, though this story tian church.
dates to no earlier than the chronicle of John the Deacon. Dynastic ambitions were shattered when the pro-Frankish
Whatever the case, the rst doges had their power base in faction was able to seize power under Obelerio degli An-
Eraclea. toneri in 804. Obelerio brought Venice into the orbit of
the Carolingian Empire. However, by calling in Charle-
magnes son Pepin, rex Langobardorum, to his defence,
1 Rise he raised the ire of the populace against himself and his
family and they were forced to ee during Pepins siege of
Ursuss successor, Deusdedit, moved his seat from Er- Venice. The siege proved a costly Carolingian failure. It
aclea to Malamocco in the 740s.[1] He was the son of lasted six months, with Pepins army ravaged by the dis-
Ursus and represented the attempt of his father to es- eases of the local swamps and eventually forced to with-
tablish a dynasty. Such attempts were more than com- draw. A few months later Pepin himself died, apparently
monplace among the doges of the rst few centuries as a result of a disease contracted there.
of Venetian history, but all were ultimately unsuccess- Venice thus achieved lasting independence by repelling
ful. During the reign of Deusdedit, Venice became the the besiegers. This was conrmed in an agreement be-
only remaining Byzantine possession in the north and tween Charlemagne and Nicephorus which recognized
the changing politic of the Frankish Empire began to Venice as Byzantine territory and also recognized the
change the factional division of Venetia. One faction was citys trading rights along the Adriatic coast, where
decidedly pro-Byzantine. They desired to remain well- Charlemagne previously ordered the Pope to expel the
connected to the Empire. Another faction, republican Venetians from the Pentapolis.[4]
in nature, believed in continuing along a course towards


2 Early Middle Ages

The successors of Obelerio inherited a united Venice. By

the Pax Nicephori (803), the two emperors had recog-
nised Venetian de facto independence, while it remained
nominally Byzantine in subservience.[5] During the reigns
of Agnello Participazio and his two sons, Venice grew
into its modern form. Though Eraclean by birth, Agnello,
rst doge of the family, was an early immigrant to Rialto
and his dogeship was marked by the expansion of Venice
towards the sea via the construction of bridges, canals,
bulwarks, fortications, and stone buildings. The modern
Venice, at one with the sea, was being born. Agnello was
succeeded by his son Giustiniano, who brought the body
of Saint Mark the Evangelist to Venice from Alexandria
and made him the patron saint of Venice.[6]
During the reign of the successor of the Participazio,
Pietro Tradonico, Venice began to establish its military
might which would inuence many a later crusade and
dominate the Adriatic for centuries, and signed a trade
agreement with the Holy Roman Emperor Lothair I,
whose privileges were later expanded by Otto I. Tradon-
ico secured the sea by ghting Slavic and Saracen pirates.
Tradonicos reign was long and successful (837 864),
but he was succeeded by the Participazio and it appeared
that a dynasty may have nally been established. Around
841, the Republic of Venice sent a eet of 60 galleys Horses of Saint Mark, brought as loot from Constantinople in
(each carrying 200 men) to assist the Byzantines in driv- 1204.
ing the Arabs from Crotone, but failed.[7]
Under Pietro II Candiano, Istrian cities signed a treaty dispute between Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor and
under which they accepted the Venetian economical Pope Gregory VII over who would control appoint-
supremacy: it was the rst move towards the creation of ments of church ocials, Venice remained neutral, and
the coastal empire in Dalmatia. The autocratic, philo- this caused some attrition of support from the Popes.
Imperial Candiano dynasty was overthrown by a revolt in Doge Domenico Selvo intervened in the war between the
972, and the populace elected doge Pietro I Orseolo; how- Normans of Apulia and the Byzantine Emperor Alexios
ever, his conciliating policy was ineective, and he re- I Komnenos in favour of the latter, obtaining in exchange
signed in favour of Vitale Candiano. Starting from Pietro a bull declaring the Venetian supremacy in the Adriatic
II Orseolo, who reigned from 991, attention towards the coast up to Durazzo, as well as the exemption from taxes
mainland was denitely overshadowed by a strong push for his merchants in the whole Byzantine Empire, a con-
towards control of Adriatic Sea. Inner strife was paci- siderable factor in the city-states later accumulation of
ed, and trade with the Byzantine Empire boosted by the wealth and power serving as middlemen for the lucrative
favourable treaty (Grisobolus or Golden Bull) with Em- spice and silk trade that funnelled through the Levant and
peror Basil II. The imperial edict granted Venetian traders Egypt along the ancient Kingdom of Axum and Roman-
freedom from taxation paid by other foreigners and the Indian routes via the Red Sea.
Byzantines themselves. In the year 1000 an expedition The war was not a military success, but with that act the
of 6 ships in Istria secured the Venetian suzerainty in the
city gained total independence. In 1084, Domenico Selvo
area, and Slav pirates were suppressed permanently.[8] led a eet against the Normans, but he was defeated and
In the occasion Orseolo named himself Duke of Dalma- lost 9 great galleys, the largest and most heavily armed
tia, starting the colonial empire of Venice. He died in ships in the Venetian war eet.[9]
1008; he was also responsible of the establishment of the
"Marriage of the Sea" ceremony. At this time Venice had
a rm control over the Adriatic Sea, strengthened by the 3 High Middle Ages
expedition of Pietros son Ottone in 1017, and had as-
sumed a rm role of balance of power between the two See also: Stato da Mr
major Empires. In the High Middle Ages, Venice became wealthy
During the long Investiture Controversy, an 11th-century through its control of trade between Europe and the

Venetian fort in Nafplion, Greece. This is one of the many forts

that secured the Venetian trade routes in the Eastern Mediter-

other rival of Venice. The city was captured and sacked

in 1204, described as one of the most protable and dis-
graceful sacks of a city in history.[14] The Venetians ac-
companying the eet claimed much of the plunder from
the city as payment, including the famous four bronze
horses that were brought back to adorn St. Marks basil-
Drawing of the Doges Palace, late 14th century
ica. As a result of the partition of the Byzantine Em-
pire that followed, Venice gained some strategic terri-
tories in the Aegean Sea (three-eighths of the Byzan-
Levant, and began to expand into the Adriatic Sea and tine Empire), including the islands of Crete and Euboea;
beyond. Venice was involved in the Crusades almost moreover, some present day cities, such as Chania on
from the very beginning; 200 Venetian ships assisted Crete, have core architecture that is substantially Vene-
in capturing the coastal cities of Syria after the First tian in origin.[15] The Aegean islands formed the Vene-
Crusade, and in 1123 they were granted virtual auton- tian Duchy of the Archipelago. The Republic of Venice
omy in the Kingdom of Jerusalem through the Pactum signed a trade treaty with the Mongol Empire in 1221.[16]
Warmundi.[10] In 1110, Ordelafo Faliero personally com- In 1295, Pietro Gradenigo sent a eet of 68 ships to attack
manded a Venetian eet of 100 ships to assist Baldwin I a Genoese eet at Alexandretta, then another eet of 100
of Jerusalem in capturing the city of Sidon.[11] ships were sent to attack the Genoese in 1299.[17]
In the 12th century, the republic built a large national In late 14th century, Venice faced diculties to the
shipyard that is now known as the Venetian Arsenal. east, especially during the reign of Louis I of Hungary.
Building new and powerful eets, the republic took con- In 1346 he made a rst attempt to conquer Zadar but
trol over the eastern Mediterranean. The rst exchange was defeated. In 1356 an alliance was formed by the
business in the world was started in Venezia, to sup- counts of Gorizia, Francesco I da Carrara, lord of Padua,
port merchants from all over Europe. The Venetians Nicolaus, partiarch of Aquileia and his half brother
also gained extensive trading privileges in the Byzan- emperor Charles IV, Louis I, and the dukes of Austria.
tine Empire, and their ships often provided the Empire The leagues troops occupied Grado and Muggia (1356),
with a navy. In 1182 there was an anti-Western riot in while Louis stripped Venice of most of Dalmatia. The
Constantinople, with the Venetians as the main targets. siege of Treviso (JulySeptember 1356) was a failure,
The Venetian eet was crucial to the transportation of but Venice suered a severe defeat at Nervesa (13 Jan-
the Fourth Crusade, but when the crusaders could not uary 1358), being forced to cede Dalmatia and Croatia to
pay for the ships, the cunning and manipulative Doge Hungary. From 1350 to 1381, Venice also fought an in-
Enrico Dandolo quickly exploited the situation[12] and of- termittent war with the Genoese. Initially defeated, the
fered transport to the crusaders if they would capture Venetians destroyed the Genoese eet at the Battle of
the (Christian) Dalmatian city of Zadar (Italian: Za- Chioggia in 1380 and retained their prominent position
ra), which had rebelled against Venetian rule in 1183, in eastern Mediterranean aairs at the expense of Genoa.
placed itself under the dual protection of the Papacy However, the peace caused Venice to lose several terri-
and King Emeric of Hungary, and had proven too well tories to other participants to the war: Conegliano was
fortied for Venice to retake alone. Upon accomplish- occupied by the Austrians; Treviso was taken over by
ing this in 1202,[13] the crusade was again diverted to Carraresi; Tenedos fell to the Byzantine Empire; Trieste
Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, an- fell to the Patriarchate of Aquileia; and the Serenissima

lost control of Dalmatia to Hungary. Smaller

In 1363, a colonial revolt broke out in Crete that needed Mediterranean
1450 AD
considerable military force and ve years to suppress.

r S
ta tes

4 15th century
In the early 15th century, the Venetians also began to
expand their possessions in Italy, as well as along the
Dalmatian coast from Istria to Albania, which was ac- Kingdom of Cyprus

quired from Ladislaus of Naples. Venice installed its own

noblemen to govern the area, for example, Count Filippo Venetian Territories
Stipanov in Zara. This move by the Venetians was in re- Genoese Territories
Duchy of Naxos
sponse to the threatened expansion of Giangaleazzo Vis- Knights of St John

conti, Duke of Milan. Control over the north-east cross- Byzantine Empire

country routes was also needed to ensure the safety of

travelling merchants. By 1410, Venice had a navy of Venetian possessions in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1450
some 3,300 ships (manned by 36,000 men) and had taken
over most of Venetia, including such important cities as
Verona and Padua.[18]
some of the former trade privileges it had had under the
The situation in Dalmatia was settled in 1408 by a truce Byzantines.[19] Indeed, in 1454, the Ottomans granted the
with Sigismund of Hungary. When this expired, Venice Venetians their ports and trading rights.[20] Despite the re-
immediately invaded the Patriarchate of Aquileia, and cent Ottoman defeats by John Hunyadi of Hungary and by
subjugated Tra, Split, Durazzo, and other Dalmatian Scanderbeg in Albania, war was however unavoidable. In
cities. The diculties of Hungary allowed the Republic 1463 the Venetian fortress of Argos was ravaged. Venice
to consolidate its Adriatic dominions. set up an alliance with Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and
Under doge Francesco Foscari (142357) the city attacked the Greek islands by sea and Bulgaria by land.
reached the height of its power and territorial extent. Both fronts however saw the allies forced to retreat, after
In 1425 a new war broke out, this time against Filippo several minor victories. Operations were reduced mostly
Maria Visconti of Milan. The victory at the Battle of to isolated ravages and guerrilla attacks, until the Ot-
Maclodio of Count of Carmagnola, commander of the tomans moved a massive counteroensive in 1470: this
Venetian army, resulted in the shift of the western border had Venice lose its main stronghold in the Aegean Sea,
from the Adige to the Adda. However, such territorial Negroponte. The Venetians sought an alliance with the
expansion was not welcome everywhere in Venice; ten- Shah of Persia and other European powers, but, received
sion with Milan remained high, and in 1446 the Republic only limited support, could make only small-scale attacks
had to ght another alliance, formed by Milan, Florence, at Antalya, Halicarnassus and Smirne. However, the Ot-
Bologna, and Cremona. After an initial Venetian vic- tomans conquered the Peloponnesus and launched an of-
tory under Micheletto Attendolo at Casalmaggiore, how- fensive in Venetian mainland, closing in on the important
ever, Visconti died and a republic was declared in Mi- centre of Udine. The Persians, together with the Cara-
lan. The Serenissima had then a free hand to occupy Lodi manian amir, were severely defeated at Terdguin, and the
and Piacenza, but was halted by Francesco Sforza; later, Republic was left alone. Further, much of Albania went
Sforza and the Doge allied to allow Sforza the rule of Mi- lost after Scanderbegs death. However, the heroic resis-
lan, in exchange for the cession of Brescia and Vicenza. tance of Scutari under Antonio Loredan forced the Ot-
Venice, however, again changed side when the power of tomans to retire from Albania, while a revolt in Cyprus
Sforza seemed to become excessive: the intricate situ- gave back the island to the Cornaro family and, subse-
ation was settled with the Peace of Lodi (1454), which quently, to the Serenissima (1473).[21] Its prestige seemed
conrmed the area of Bergamo and Brescia to the Repub- reassured, but Scutari fell anyway two years later, and
lic. At this time, the territories under the Serenissima in- Friuli was again invaded and ravaged. On January 24,
cluded much of the modern Veneto, Friuli, the provinces 1479, a treaty of peace was nally signed with the Ot-
of Bergamo, Cremona and Trento, as well as Ravenna, Is- tomans. Venice had to cede Argo, Negroponte, Lemnos
tria, and Dalmatia. Eastern borders were with the county and Scutari, and pay an annual tribute of 10,000 golden
of Gorizia and the ducal lands of Austria, while in the ducati. Five years later the agreement was conrmed
south was the Duchy of Ferrara. Oversea dominions in- by Mehmed II's successor, Bayezid II, with the peace-
cluded Euboea and Egina. ful exchange of the islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia
On May 29, 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottomans, between the two sides.
but Venice managed to maintain a colony in the city and In 1482 Venice allied with Pope Sixtus IV in his attempt

to conquer Ferrara, opposed to Florence, Naples, Milan

and Ercole d'Este (see War of Ferrara). When Papal-
Venetian milices were smashed at the Battle of Campo-
morto, Sixtus changed side. Again alone, the Venetians
were defeated in the Veronese by Alfonso of Calabria,
but conquered Gallipoli, in Apulia, by sea. The balance
was changed by Ludovico Sforza of Milan, who passed on
the side of Venice: this led to a quick peace, which was
signed near Brescia on 7 August 1484. In spite of the
numerous setbacks suered in the campaign, Venice ob-
tained the Polesine and Rovigo, and increased its prestige
in the Italian peninsula, at the expense of Florence es-
pecially. In the late 1480s, Venice fought two brief cam- Territories of the Republic of Venice, superimposed over mod-
paigns against the new Pope Innocent VIII and Sigismund ern borders: in dark red the territories conquered at the start of
of Austria. Venetian troops were also present at the Battle the 15th century, in red the territories at the start of 16th cen-
of Fornovo, which saw the Italian League against Charles tury, in pink the territories conquered temporarily, in yellow the
VIII of France. Alliance with Spain/Aragon in the fol- sea dominated by Venetian eet during the 15th century, in or-
lowing reconquest of the Kingdom of Naples granted it ange the main routes, purple squares are the main emporiums
and commercial colonies
the control of the Apulian ports, important strategic bases
commanding the lower Adriatic and the Ionian islands.
Despite the setbacks in the struggle against the Turks, at a large eet to support his oensive by sea. Antonio Gri-
the end of 15th century, with 180,000 inhabitants, Venice mani, more a businessman and diplomat than a sailor, was
was the second largest city in Europe after Paris and defeated in the sea Battle of Zonchio in 1499. The Turks
probably the richest in the world.[22] The territory of the once again sacked Friuli. Preferring peace to total war
Republic of Venice extended over approximately 70,000 both against the Turks and by sea, Venice surrendered
km2 (27,000 sq mi) with 2.1 million inhabitants (for a the bases of Lepanto, Modon and Coron.
comparative example in the same time England hosted 3 Venice became rich on trade, but the guilds in Venice
million, the whole of Italy 11, France 13, Portugal 1.7, also produced superior silks, brocades, goldsmith jewelry
Spain 6, Germany/Holy Roman Empire 10). and articles, armour and glass in the form of beads and
Administratively the territory was divided in three main eyeglasses.[23] However, Venices attention was diverted
parts: from her usual trade and maritime position by the deli-
cate situation in Romagna, then one of the richest lands
in Italy, which was nominally part of the Papal States but
1. the Dogado (literally the territory under the Doge)
eectively divided into a series of small lordships which
comprising the islets of the city and the original
were dicult for Romes troops to control. Eager to take
lands around the lagoon;
some of Venices lands, all neighbouring powers joined
2. the Stato da Mar (the Sea State) comprising Istria, in the League of Cambrai in 1508, under the leadership
Dalmatia, the Albanian coasts, the Apulian ports, of Pope Julius II. The pope wanted Romagna, emperor
the Venetian Ionian Islands, Crete, the Aegean Maximilian I Friuli and Veneto, Spain the Apulian ports,
Archipelago, Cyprus and many fortress and com- the king of France Cremona, the king of Hungary Dal-
mercial colonies in the major cities and ports around matia, and each of the others some part. The oensive
south-east Europe and the Middle East; against the huge army enlisted by Venice was launched
from France. On 14 May 1509 Venice was crushingly de-
3. the Stato di Terraferma (the Mainland State) com- feated at the Battle of Agnadello, in the Ghiara d'Adda,
prising Veneto, Friuli, Venetia Iulia, East Lombardy marking one of the most delicate points of Venetian his-
and Romagna. tory. French and imperial troops were occupying Veneto,
but Venice managed to extricate herself through diplo-
In 1485, the French ambassador, Philippe de Commines, matic eorts. The Apulian ports were ceded in order
wrote of Venice, to come to terms with Spain, and Pope Julius II soon
recognized the danger brought by the eventual destruc-
tion of Venice (then the only Italian power able to face
5 League of Cambrai, Lepanto and large states like France or Ottoman Turkey). The citizens
of the mainland rose to the cry of Marco, Marco, and
the loss of Cyprus Andrea Gritti recaptured Padua in July 1509, successfully
defending it against the besieging imperial troops. Spain
In 1499 Venice allied itself with Louis XII of France and the pope broke o their alliance with France, and
against Milan, gaining Cremona. In the same year the Ot- Venice also regained Brescia and Verona from France.
toman sultan moved to attack Lepanto by land, and sent After seven years of ruinous war, the Serenissima re-

gained her mainland dominions up to the Adda. Although up the Adriatic as far as Lesina, and then returned to
the defeat had turned into a victory, the events of 1509 Lepanto in the Gulf of Patras for provisions. The Chris-
marked the end of the Venetian expansion. tian eet had assembled at Messina and encountered the
Gasparo Contarini's De Magistratibus et Republica Vene- Turkish eet o Lepanto on 7 October 1571. The Chris-
torum (1544) clearly shows the approval and interest tians were victorious, and divided up 117 galleys captured
which surrounded Venices constitutional arrangements. from the Turks. But the Venetians gained no strategic
It also illustrates foreigners astonishment at Venices advantage. Philip II was concerned with the balance of
independence and resistance to Italys loss of freedom power in the eastern Mediterranean and Africa, and was
unwilling for the eet to become involved in the Levant.
and, not least, at her having emerged unscathed from
the war against the League of Cambrai. Contarini sug- Famagusta, the last stronghold on the island of Cyprus,
had been attacked by the Turks in 1570 and had surren-
gested that the secret of Venices greatness lay in the
co-existence of Aristotle's three types of government, dered before Lepanto. The Turkish commander, Lala
Kara Mustafa Pasha, had had the Venetian provveditore
monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy. In his opinion, the
Maggior Consiglio was the democratic part, the Sen- Marcantonio Bragadin ayed alive. The loss of Cyprus
ate and the Ten were the oligarchy, while the doge repre- was ratied in the peace of 1573. In 1575, the popula-
sented monarchy. The combination of these three prin- tion of Venice was about [22] 175,000 people, but dropped to
ciples in the Venetian government came as close as was 124,000 people by 1581.
possible to perfection in the mechanism of government.
At the same time the patrician Marino Sanudo, a politi-
cian who had a remarkable career, and a celebrated di-
arist, was bemoaning the corruption which resulted from 6 17th century
the great number of poor or impoverished patricians.
The struggle for supremacy in Italy between France and In 1605 a conict between Venice and the Holy See be-
Spain was resolved in favour of the latter. Caught be- gan with the arrest of two members of the clergy who
tween the Spanish-Imperial and Turkish superpowers, the were guilty of petty crimes, and with a law restricting
Republic adopted a skilful political strategy of quasi- the Churchs right to enjoy and acquire landed prop-
neutrality in Europe, which turned into a defensive stance erty. Pope Paul V held that these provisions were con-
against the Ottomans. Venices maritime aid was poten- trary to canon law, and demanded that they should be re-
tially useful to Spain, but not to the point of allowing her pealed. When this was refused, he placed Venice under
to reinforce her position in the Levant, which would in- an interdict. The Republic paid no attention to the in-
crease her strength in Italy as well, where she was prac- terdict or the act of excommunication, and ordered its
tically the only Italian state not subject to Spain. In the priests to carry out their ministry. It was supported in
Turkish war of 1537-40, Venice was allied with the em- its decisions by the Servite monk Paolo Sarpi, a sharp
peror and King of Spain, Charles V. Andrea Doria, com- polemical writer who was nominated to be the Signoria's
mander of the allied eets, was defeated at Preveza in adviser on theology and canon law in 1606. The inter-
1538, and two years later Venice signed a treaty of peace dict was lifted after a year, when France intervened and
by which the Turks took the Aegean duchy of Naxos from proposed a formula of compromise. Venice was satised
the Sanudo family. After Preveza the supremacy of the with rearming the principle that no citizen was superior
sea passed to the Ottomans. to the normal processes of law.
Diculties in the rule of the sea brought further changes. A new war occurred in the years 1613-1617. The gov-
Until 1545 the oarsmen in the galleys were free sailors ernment of Venice wrote:
enrolled on a wage. They were originally Venetians, The Uzkoks (Italian Uscocchi) were Christian refugees
but later Dalmatians, Cretans and Greeks joined in large from Bosnia and Turkish Dalmatia who had been enlisted
numbers. Because of the diculty in hiring sucient by the Austrian Habsburg to defend their borders after
crews, Venice had recourse to conscription, chaining the the peace between Venice and the Ottomans following
oarsmen to the benches as other navies had already done. the Battle of Lepanto. They settled in Segna and lived
Cristoforo da Canal was the rst Venetian to command as pirates in the Adriatic, causing concern in Venice that
such a galley. By 1563, the population of Venice had they would complicate relations with the Sublime Porte.
dropped to about 168,000 people.[22] When Venice acted against these Uscocchi in 1613, she
With the outbreak of another war with the Ottomans found herself at odds on land with their protector, the
in 1570, Venice, Spain and the Pope formed the Holy archduke of Austria. An army was sent against Gradisca,
League, which was able to assemble a grand eet of 208 an archdukes possession, with nancial support given to
galleys, 110 of which were Venetian, under the command the duke of Savoy, who was pinning down the Spanish
of John of Austria, half-brother of Philip II of Spain. The army in Lombardy. The military operations on the east-
Venetians were commanded by Sebastiano Venier. The ern frontier were not decisive, but among the terms of
Turkish eet, equal in number to the allied one, had sailed the peace of 1617 the Habsburgs undertook to solve the
problem of the Uzkoks, whom they moved inland.

of the plague.
In 1638, while the Venetian eet was cruising o Crete,
a corsair eet from Barbary consisting of 16 galleys from
Algiers and Tunis entered the Adriatic. When the eet
returned, the corsairs repaired to the Turkish stronghold
of Valona. The Venetian commander Marino Cappello
attacked the corsairs, bombarded the forts and captured
their galleys, freeing 3,600 prisoners. The sultan reacted
to the bombardment of his fortress by arresting the Vene-
tian bailo (ambassador) in Constantinople, Alvise Con-
tarini. War was momentarily averted and the matter set-
tled by diplomacy; however, six years later the Ottoman
attack against Candia, the main Cretan port, left no easy
terms to resort to. The Cretan War lasted for some 25
Republic of Venice in the early 18th century years and was the dominant question of the whole Re-
publics history in the 17th century.
War also moved to the mainland in the middle of 1645,
In 1617, whether on his own initiative, or supported by his when the Turks attacked the frontiers of Dalmatia. In
king, the Spanish viceroy of Naples attempted to break the latter the Venetians were able to save their coastal po-
Venetian dominance by sending a naval squadron to the sitions because of their command of the sea, but on 22
Adriatic. His expedition met with mixed success, and he August, the Cretan stronghold of Khania was forced to
retired from the Adriatic. Rumours of sedition and con- capitulate.
spiracy were meanwhile circulating in Venice, and there
The greatest Turkish eort was directed against
were disturbances between mercenaries of dierent na-
Sebenico, in todays Croatia, which was besieged in
tionalities enrolled for the war of Gradisca. The Spanish
AugustSeptember 1647. The siege failed, and in
ambassador, the Marquis of Bedmar, was wise to the plot,
the succeeding year the Venetians recovered several
if not the author of it. Informed of this by a Huguenot
fortresses inland, such as Clissa. In Crete, however, the
captain, the Ten acted promptly. Three bravos were
situation was more serious. Throughout all the war the
hanged, and the Senate demanded the immediate recall
Venetian strategy was to blockade the Dardanelles in
of the Spanish ambassador.
order to surprise the Turkish eet on its way to supply
Tension with Spain increased in 1622, when Antonio Fos- the troops on Crete. There were some signal successes,
carini, a senator and ambassador to England, was accused including two victories in the Dardanelles in 1655 and
of acting for foreign powers during his time as ambas- 1656, but they failed to alter the strategic situation. The
sador and of spying for Spain after his return. He was next year there was a three-day-long sea-battle (1719
tried, acquitted of the rst charge, found guilty of the sec- July 1657), in which the captain Lazzaro Mocenigo
ond and hanged from a gallows between the columns of was killed by a falling mast, and turning into a crushing
the Piazzetta in 1622. A few months later the Ten discov- defeat. With the end of the war between France and
ered that he had been the innocent victim of a plot. He Spain in 1659, Venice received more aid from the
was rehabilitated, and the news circulated around all the Christian states than the small contingents which she
chancelleries of Europe. had received in the rst years. In 1666 an expedition
In 1628 Venice was involved in Italian politics for the rst to retake Khania failed, and in 1669 another attempt
time in more than a century. On the death of Ferdinando to lift the siege of Candia with joint action on land
I Gonzaga, duke of Mantua and Montferrat, the succes- with the French contingent and by sea under Mocenigo
sion devolved upon a French prince, Charles of Gonzaga- also turned out to be a failure. The French returned
Nevers. This changed the balance of power in northern home, and only 3,600 t men were left in the fortress
Italy, which had until now been controlled by the Span- of Candia. Captain Francesco Morosini negotiated its
ish through Milan. In the ensuing war, Venice was allied surrender on 6 September 1669. The island of Crete
with France against the Habsburgs and Savoy. The Vene- was ceded, except for some small Venetian bases, while
tian army was defeated in an attempt to come to the aid Venice retained the islands of Tinos and Cerigo, and its
of Mantua, which was under siege by German troops, and conquests in Dalmatia.
Mantua itself was savagely sacked. The peace which rec- In 1684 Venice, taking advance of the recent Turkish de-
ognized Charles of Gonzaga-Nevers as duke of Mantua feat in the siege of Vienna, formed an alliance with Aus-
and Monferrato was made practically without Venices tria against the Ottomans; Russia was later included in the
participation. War brought plague in 1630. In 16 months league. At the beginning of the Morean War Francesco
50,000 people died in Venice, one third of the popula- Morosini occupied the island of Levkas and set out to re-
tion. The rst stone of the church of Santa Maria della capture the Greek ports. Between June 1685 when he
Salute in the city was laid as a thanks oering for the end

landed at Corone, and August, when he occupied Pa- grave defeat by the Austrians at Petrovaradin on 3 August
tras, Lepanto and Corinth, he secured the Peloponnese 1716. New Venetian naval eorts in the Aegean and the
for Venice. In September, during the attack on Athens, Dardanelles in 1717 and 1718, however, met with little
a Venetian cannon blew up the Parthenon. Venetian pos- success. With the Treaty of Passarowitz (21 July 1718),
sessions were greatly increased in Dalmatia too, although Austria made large territorial gains, but Venice lost the
the attempt to regain Negropont in 1688 was a failure. Morea, for which her small gains in Albania and Venetian
Morosinis successors failed to obtain lasting results in the Dalmatia (Linea Mocenigo[24] ) were little compensa-
next years, although large eets were sent out, and in spite tion. This was the last war of the Republic with Turkey.
of some brilliant victories at Mitylene in 1695, Andros
The decline of Venice in the 18th century was also due
in 1697 and the Dardanelles in 1698. The Treaty of not only to Genoa, Venices old rival, but also to Livorno,
Karlowitz (1699) favoured Austria and Russia more than
a new port on the Tyrrhenian Sea created by the grand
Venice, which failed to regain its bases in the Mediter- dukes of Tuscany and chosen as staging-post for British
ranean taken by the Turks in the last two centuries, in
trade in the Mediterranean. Still more injurious were the
spite of its conquests. Papal town of Ancona and Habsburg Trieste, a free port
New conict was brewing over the question of the Spanish since 1719, in the Adriatic Sea, which no longer consti-
Succession. Both France and the Habsburg empire, at- tuted a Venetian Gulf. An eminent Venetian politician
tempted now to gain an active ally in Venice, despatch- of the time declared:
ing envoys with authority there in 1700. The Venetian Even the cities of the eastern mainland up to Verona got
government preferred to remain neutral rather than ac- their supplies from Genoa and Leghorn. The presence of
cept hypothetical advantages oered by interested par- pirates from the coast of Maghreb worsened the situation.
ties. The Republic remained faithful to this policy of neu-
trality to the end, caught in unavoidable decline but living All is in disorder, everything is out of control exclaimed
out its life in a luxury famous throughout Europe. Carlo Contarini in the Maggior Consiglio on 5 December
1779. He was talking of a commotion in demand of
a plan of reform also supported by Giorgio Pisani. The
idea was to remove the monopoly of power enjoyed by
7 Decline the small number of rich patricians to the advantage of the
very large number of poor ones. This gave rise to fears of
overturning the system and the doge, Paolo Renier, op-
posed the plan. Prudence suggested that the agitations
in favour of reform were a conspiracy. The Inquisitors
took the arbitrary step of conning Pisani in the castle
of San Felice in Verona, and Contarini in the fortress of
On 29 May 1784 Andrea Tron, known as el paron (the
patron) because of his political inuence, said that trade
Giovan Battista Tiepolo, Neptune oers the wealth of the sea to The last Venetian naval venture occurred in 1784-86.
Venice, 1748-1750. This painting is an allegory of the power of The bey of Tunis' pirates renewed their acts of piracy
the Republic of Venice, as the wealth and power of the Serenis- following claims of compensation for losses suered by
sima was based on the control of the sea. Tunisian subjects in Malta, due to no fault of the Vene-
tians. When diplomatic eorts to reach an agreement
In December 1714 the Turks declared war on the Repub- failed, the government was forced to take military action.
lic, at a time when Venices major overseas possession, A eet under Angelo Emo blockaded Tunis and bom-
the "Kingdom of the Morea" (Peloponnese), was with- barded Sousse (November 1784 and May 1785), Sfax
out any of those supplies which are so desirable even in (August 1785) and La Coletta (September) and Biserta
countries where aid is near at hand which are not liable to in 1786. These brilliant military successes brought no
attack from the sea. comparable political results in their train, and the Senate
recalled Emo and his eet to Corf. After Emos death,
The Turks took the islands of Tinos and Aegina, crossed
peace was made with Tunis by increasing the beys dues.
the isthmus and took Corinth. Daniele Doln, comman-
By the year 1792, the once great Venetian merchant eet
der of the Venetian eet, thought it better to save the
had declined to a mere 309 merchantmen.[25]
eet than risk it for the Morea. When he eventually ar-
rived on the scene, Nauplia, Modon, Corone and Malva- In January 1789 Lodovico Manin, from a recently enno-
sia had fallen. Lefkas in the Ionian islands, and the bases bled mainland family, was elected doge. The expenses
of Spinalonga and Suda on Crete which still remained of the election had grown throughout the 18th century,
in Venetian hands, were abandoned. The Turks nally and now reached their highest ever. The patrician Pietro
landed on Corf, but its defenders managed to throw Gradenigo remarked
them back. In the meantime, the Turks had suered a

C. P. Snow suggests that in the last half century of the re- itself. Though the Republic still possessed a eet of 13
public, the Venetians knew that the current of history ships of the line only a handful were ready for sea (Naval
had begun to ow against them, and that to keep go- Wars in the Levant, R.C.Anderson, Liverpool University
ing would require breaking the pattern into which they Press) and the army consisted of only a few brigades of
has crystallised. Yet they were fond of the pattern and mainly Croatian mercenaries. In spring 1796 Piedmont
never found the will to break it.[26] fell and the Austrians were beaten from Montenotte to
Lodi. The army under Napoleon crossed the frontiers of
neutral Venice in pursuit of the enemy. By the end of the
year the French troops were occupying the Venetian state
up to the Adige. Vicenza, Cadore and Friuli were held
by the Austrians. With the campaigns of the next year,
Napoleon aimed for the Austrian possessions across the
Alps. In the preliminaries to the Peace of Leoben, the
terms of which remained secret, the Austrians were to
take the Venetian possessions as the price of peace (18
April 1797).
Nevertheless, the peace envisaged the continued survival
of the Venetian state, although conned to the city and
the lagoon, perhaps with compensation at the expense of
the Papal States. In the meanwhile Brescia and Bergamo
revolted to Venice, and anti French movements were aris-
ing elsewhere. Napoleon threatened Venice with war on
9 April. On 25 April he announced to the Venetian dele-
gates at Graz,
Domenico Pizzamano red on a French ship trying to
force an entry from the Lido forts. On I May, Napoleon
declared war. The French were at the edge of the la-
goon. Even the cities of the Veneto had been revolu-
tionized by the French, who had established provisional
municipalities. On 12 May, the Maggior Consiglio ap-
proved a motion to hand over power to the system of
the proposed provisional representative government, al-
The Republic of Venice, as it appeared in 1796, a year before its though there was not a quorum of votes: 512 voted for,
fall to the French. ten against, and ve abstained. On 16 May the provi-
sional municipal government met in the Hall of the Mag-
gior Consiglio. The preliminaries of the peace of Leoben
were made even harsher in the treaty of Campoformio,
8 The fall of the Republic and Venice and all her possessions became Austrian. The
accord was signed at Passariano, in the last doges villa,
on 18 October 1797.

9 See also

10 References
[1] John Julius Norwich, A History of Venice (New York: Al-
fred B. Knopf, 1982), 16.

[2] Norwich, 13.

[3] Norwich, 17.

[4] Langer.
Villa Manin, in Passariano, where the Treaty of Campoformio
was signed. [5] Norwich, 25.

By 1796, the Republic of Venice could no longer defend [6] Norwich, 29.

[7] Norwich, 32. Contarini, Gasparo (1599). The Commonwealth

and Gouernment of Venice. Lewes Lewkenor, trans.
[8] Norwich, 53.
London: Imprinted by I. Windet for E. Mat-
[9] Norwich, 72. tes. The most important contemporary account of
Venices governance during the time of its blossom-
[10] Norwich, 77. ing; numerous reprint editions.
[11] Norwich, 83. Ferraro, Joanne M. Venice: History of the Floating
[12] World of Venice (James Morris), pp.42-43
City (Cambridge University Press; 2012) 268 pages.
By a prominent historian of Venice. The best book
[13] Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Siege of Zara written to date on the Venetian Republic. Library
Journal (2012).
[14] Phillips, The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantino-
ple, intro., xiii. Garrett, Martin. Venice: A Cultural History (2006).
Revised edition of Venice: A Cultural and Literary
[15] C. Michael Hogan, Cydonia, Modern Antiquarian, Jan-
uary 23, 2008 Companion (2001).

[16] The enemy within: a history of espionage, General Mili- Grubb, James S. (1986). When Myths Lose Power:
tary, p.49, Terry Crowdy, Osprey Publishing, 2006. ISBN Four Decades of Venetian Historiography. Jour-
978-1-84176-933-2 nal of Modern History 58, pp. 4394. The classic
muckraking essay on the myths of Venice.
[17] Norwich, 176-80.
Howard, Deborah, and Sarah Quill. The Architec-
[18] Norwich, 269.
tural History of Venice (2004)
[19] Henry S. Lucas, The Renaissance and the Reformation
Hale, John Rigby. Renaissance Venice (1974) (ISBN
(New York: Harper, 1960), 39.
[20] Lucas, 39.
Lane, Frederic Chapin. Venice: Maritime Repub-
[21] Cyprus became ocially a territory of the Republic of lic (1973) (ISBN 0801814456) standard scholarly
Venice in 1489, after the abdication of the Cornaro and a history; emphasis on economic, political and diplo-
treaty with the Egyptian sultan. matic history
[22] Norwich, 494. Laven, Mary. Virgins of Venice: Enclosed Lives and
[23] Henry S. Lucas, 39. Broken Vows in the Renaissance Convent (2002).
The most important study of the life of Renaissance
[24] Map of Linea Mocenigo in enlarged Venetian Dalmatia nuns, with much on aristocratic family networks and
the life of women more generally.
[25] Norwich, 591.
Madden, Thomas, Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of
[26] C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures (Canto, 1993), p. 40.
Venice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
2002. ISBN 978-0-80187-317-1 (hardcover) ISBN
978-0-80188-539-6 (paperback).
11 Sources
Madden, Thomas, Venice: A New History. New
Benvenuti, Gino (1989). Le repubbliche marinare. York: Viking, 2012. ISBN 978-0-67002-542-8.
Rome: Newton Compton. An approachable history by a distinguished histo-
Rendina, Claudio (1984). I dogi. Storia e segreti.
Rome: Newton Compton. Mallett, M. E., and Hale, J. R. The Military Organi-
sation of a Renaissance State, Venice c. 1400 to 1617
(1984) (ISBN 0521032474)
12 Bibliography Martin, John Jeries, and Dennis Romano (eds).
Venice Reconsidered. The History and Civilization
Brown, Patricia Fortini. Private Lives in Renaissance of an Italian City-State, 1297-1797. (2002) Johns
Venice: Art, Architecture, and the Family (2004) Hopkins UP. The most recent collection on essays,
many by prominent scholars, on Venice.
Chambers, D.S. (1970). The Imperial Age of Venice,
1380-1580. London: Thames & Hudson. The best Drechsler, Wolfgang (2002). Venice Mis-
brief introduction in English, still completely reli- appropriated. Trames 6(2):192201. A
able. scathing review of Martin & Romano 2000;

also a good summary on the most recent eco-

nomic and political thought on Venice. For
more balanced, less tendentious, and scholarly
reviews of the Martin-Romano anthology, see
The Historical Journal (2003) Rivista Storica
Italiana (2003).
Muir, Edward (1981). Civic Ritual in Renaissance
Venice. Princeton UP. The classic of Venetian cul-
tural studies; highly sophisticated.

Rosland, David. (2001) Myths of Venice: The Fig-

uration of a State; how writers (especially English)
have understood Venice and its art
Tafuri, Manfredo. (1995) Venice and the Renais-
sance; architecture

Wills. Garry. (2013) Venice: Lion City: The Reli-

gion of Empire

13 Further reading
Norwich, John Julius. A History of Venice. New
York: A.A. Knopf, 1982. ISBN 0-394-52410-1.
N.B.: This is the American ed., published in a single
vol.; the original two-vol. British ed. was published
by A. Lane, London, 1977-1982.

14 External links
Storia di Venezia (Italian)

History of Venice

Geschichte Venedigs. Geschichte und Politik

Venedigs (German)

15 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

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tributors: JASpencer, Charles Matthews, GreatWhiteNortherner, PDH, OwenBlacker, Lacrimosus, Zaslav, Zscout370, Kross, Laurascud-
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