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Renaissance and Reformation Venice
by
Margaret L. King

Introduction

The city of Venice was unique in European history: an independent republic that endured for more than one thousand years, from the 8th to the 18th century. It was a commercial powerhouse, a laboratory of political systems, an exemplar of social cohesion, a principal contributor (along with Florence and Rome) to the culture of the Renaissance, and above all, an entity severed from the mainland, a creature of the sea, and the single most important intermediary between Europe and the regions of the eastern Mediterranean, especially Byzantine and Islamic countries. The city understood itself as unique, as much as we do, almost from the beginning of its rise to prominence during the 12th century. In chronicles and treatises, in the arts and literature, and in distinctive civic and religious rituals, its advocates portrayed the city as exceptional in achievement, capacity, and moral stature, constructing what has come to be known as the “myth of Venice.” For these reasons, scholars have returned often to consider again the principal features of the Venetian phenomenon in every century since its rise, resulting in a complex historiographical tradition. This entry maps out major resources and categories of investigation for Venice proper, not the larger Veneto region, and confines itself to printed materials, without citing manuscripts.

General Overviews

Although scholars began to record the history of Venice while the Republic still existed, and several multivolume histories appeared during the 19th century, the focus here is on the study of Venice since World War II, and especially in the most recent decades. Many valuable contributions have appeared in collections of studies, sometimes the product of conferences held in Venice on a stated topic, and these should not be neglected in favor of single- or dual-authored works.

Collections of Studies

Multivolume collections of studies edited by Italian scholars on the history of Venice or Venetian “civilization,” such as Arnaldi, et al. 1976–1986, Benzoni and Menniti Ippolito 1991–1998, and Branca 1979, are an important first step in approaching any topic in Venetian history. The numerous contributors tend to be known experts, many of whose names are found scattered throughout this entry as the authors of monographs on the economy, politics, society, and literary and artistic culture of Venice. Of a different sort, less encyclopedic but tending more to interpretation and the identification of historiographical issues, are the largely Anglophone essay collections: Hale 1973, which has served a generation of newcomers as an introduction to Venetian studies, and Martin and Romano 2000, which extends and to some extent supplants it.

  • Arnaldi, Girolamo, Gianfranco Folena., and Marino Berengo, eds. Storia della cultura Veneta. 6 vols. in 10 parts. Vicenza, Italy: Neri Pozza, 1976–1986.

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    Massive overview of the Venetian “civilization” (intellectual culture broadly understood), including many expert contributions. For the Renaissance era, volume 2 deals with the 14th century; volume 3 (in 3 parts) the early 15th and 16th; volume 4 (in 2 parts) the 17th century; and volume 5 (in 2 parts) the 18th century. Still indispensable.

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  • Benzoni, Gino, and Antonio Menniti Ippolito, eds. Storia di Venezia: Dalle origini alla caduta della Serenissima. 8 vols. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1991–1998.

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    Vast compilation of studies, with six volumes (2 through 7) on the Renaissance era, with Girolamo Arnaldi, Gino Benzoni, Gaetano Cozzi, Giorgio Cracco, Paolo Prodi, Alberto Tenenti, and Ugo Tucci as volume editors. Culminates with a final volume, numbered 12, on “the sea,” edited by Tenenti and Tucci.

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  • Branca, Vittore, ed. Storia della civiltà veneziana. 3 vols. Florence, Italy: Sansoni, 1979.

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    Useful overview of Venetian “civilization” (intellectual and artistic culture broadly understood, including economic, political, and diplomatic context) from its origins until modern times. The second volume, Autunno del Medioevo e Rinascimento, deals with the 14th and 15th centuries, and the third, Dall’età Barocca all’Italia contemporanea, the 16th through 20th.

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  • Hale, J. R., ed. Renaissance Venice. London: Faber and Faber, 1973.

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    Sixteen essays by the leading luminaries of Venetian studies at the time of publication, including Vittore Branca, Stanley Chojnacki, Felix Gilbert, Frederic Lane, Michael Mallett, Brian Pullan, Donald Queller, and Alberto Tenenti, on topics including politics, society, and culture, and especially highlighting the “myth of Venice” and the crisis of the League of Cambrai (1509–1510).

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  • Martin, John J., and Dennis Romano, eds. Venice Reconsidered: The History and Civilization of an Italian City-State, 1297–1797. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

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    Nearly thirty years later, a follow-up to the classic Hale 1973, with fifteen essays displaying the diversity of recent approaches to the study of Venice. Especially valuable are the editors’ historiographical overview confronting the enduring problem of the “myth of Venice,” and Claudio Povolo’s final essay, “The Creation of Venetian Historiography.”

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Single- or Dual-Authored Works

Rather different syntheses of Venetian history are offered by the two volumes of Cozzi and Knapton 1986–1992, which examines the development of the Venetian state and empire, and the broader, more popular Norwich 1982 and Zorzi 1983, superseding earlier comprehensive histories, while the general narrative offered by Lane 1973 is especially useful for its attention to shipping and commerce, a story of which Lane was the master. Crouzet-Pavan 1992 provides an ecological history of Venice, showing how the necessity of building amid the waters shaped the city’s identity, while Crouzet-Pavan 2002 explores the symbols and ideations that expressed the identity of a “triumphant” Venice that had mastered a maritime and territorial empire. Grubb 1986, finally, offers a synthesis of a different sort: a masterful analysis of the historiographical fortunes of the “myth of Venice.”

  • Cozzi, Gaetano, and Michael Knapton. La repubblica di Venezia nell’età moderna. 2 vols. Turin, Italy: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1986–1992.

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    Cozzi’s master hand guides these volumes written with the collaboration of Knapton (vol. 1, Dalla guerra di Chioggia al 1517, and vol. 2, Dal 1517 alla fine della Repubblica) and, in addition, with Giovanni Scarabello (vol. 2), which together cover the development of the Venetian dominion, at home, at sea and on land, from the 1380s to 1797, emphasizing foreign relations and state finance. Both works are parts of volume 12 of the series Storia d’Italia.

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  • Crouzet-Pavan, Elisabeth. Sopra le acque salse: espaces, pouvoir et société à Venise à la fin du Moyen Age. Rome: École française de Rome, 1992.

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    Ecological history of Venice, arguing that the imperative to command the waters of the lagoon promoted a culture of cohesion and the structures of Venetian society and spaces. In the 15th century, with the waters conquered, a hierarchy of space was established, with public centers predominant over local ones.

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  • Crouzet-Pavan, Elisabeth. Venice Triumphant: The Horizons of a Myth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

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    Building on her environmental history of Venice and its lagoon (Crouzet-Pavan 1992), the author extends her spatial analysis to Venetian expansion in the Adriatic and Mediterranean and even the Italian terraferma (mainland) to explain the genesis of the particular set of symbols and forms that constituted the reality of Venice. Original French publication: Venise triomphante: Les horizons d’un mythe (Paris: Albin Michel, 1999).

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  • Grubb, James S. “When Myths Lose Power: Four Decades of Venetian Historiography.” Journal of Modern History 58.1 (1986): 43–94.

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    An exceptionally thorough and astute overview of the treatment by historians of the “myth of Venice.”

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  • Lane, Frederic Chapin. Venice, a Maritime Republic. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.

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    By the premier American economic historian of Venice, surveys the whole one-thousand-year history while focusing on the 11th through 16th centuries and benefiting from the author’s vast knowledge of shipbuilding and maritime enterprise. Faulted by some reviewers for its neglect of the political and cultural role of Venice in the Italian framework.

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  • Norwich, John Julius. A History of Venice. New York: Knopf, 1982.

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    Elegantly written, sprawling popular account of the whole span of Venetian history. First American edition in a single volume based on the English original in two volumes: 1, Venice, the Rise to Empire (London: Allen Lane, 1977), and 2, Venice, the Greatness and the Fall (1981).

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  • Zorzi, Alvise. Venice, the Golden Age, 697–1797. Translated by Nicoletta Simborowski and Simon Mackenzie. New York: Abbeville, 1983.

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    Compact, splendidly illustrated work by an expert on the history and monuments of Venice. A quick introduction that yet pays attention to the Venetian state system, commercial institutions, maritime and terraferma possessions, and naval and military activity. Original Italian publication: Una città, una repubblica, un’impero: Venezia, 697–1797, 2d ed. (Milan: A. Mondadori, 1980).

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Guides to Collections

Among the many that exist, the two principal institutions that scholars will consult in Venice are the Archivio di Stato di Veneiza and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice, both of which have excellent online catalogues, cited here.

Primary Sources

Venetians began to write their own history as early as the 13th century and then branched out in the Renaissance to diaries, autobiographies, and descriptive works, all usefully consulted by modern researchers, in addition to abundant official sources, both manuscript and published. Of the many chronicles and histories of Venice written since the 13th century, only two recent publications are noted here: the humanist history by the man of letters Pietro Bembo (Bembo 2007–2009), one of the publicly appointed historians, and the unofficial and idiosyncratic chronicle of Antonio Morosini (Morosini 1999–2005). The personal voices of the diarists Girolamo Priuli (Priuli 1938) and Marino Sanudo (Sanudo 1969–1979, Sanudo 2008) provide a corrective to the often bland official or humanist records of events around the turn of the 16th century, which critically altered Venice’s future. In its variety and specificity, likewise, the sprawling description of Venice of Francesco Sansovino (Sansovino 1968) brings vividly to life the city as it stood at the turn of the 17th century. Although the many published collections of official documents are too numerous to report here, mention must be made of Chambers, et al. 2001, a single-volume anthology of excerpts from a full range of official and literary sources, which provides a valuable introduction to the range of historical issues and sources.

  • Bembo, Pietro. History of Venice. 3 vols. Edited and translated by Robert W. Ulery. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007–2009.

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    History of recent (1487 to 1513) events by the letterato Pietro Bembo, one of six state-appointed “public” historians of the 16th and 17th centuries, now available from the distinguished I Tatti Renaissance Library series. Vol. 1 contains books I–IV; vol. 2, books V–VIII; vol. 3, books IX–XII. Bilingual edition (Latin and English, facing pages).

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  • Chambers, David, and Brian S. Pullan, with Jennifer Fletcher. Venice: A Documentary History, 1450–1630. Toronto: University of Toronto Press in association with the Renaissance Society of America, 2001.

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    A vast array of documents with analytical introductions, organized thematically under such headings as “crime and punishment,” “the regulation of society” (against the threats of plague, famine, and sexual immorality), and the “social orders.” Provides a thorough introduction to the history of Venice and the range of its documentary sources. Originally published in 1992 (Oxford: Blackwell).

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  • Morosini, Antonio. The Morosini Codex. 3 vols. Edited by Michele Pietro Ghezzo, John R. Melville-Jones, and Andrea Rizzi. Padua, Italy: Unipress, 1999–2005.

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    Critical edition of an important chronicle written in the early 15th century, whose acid-tongued author (b. 1365) was a living witness to the later events recorded. Volume 1 extends to the death of Andrea Dandolo (1354); volume 2 from 1354 to 1400; volume 3, on the reign of Michele Steno, from 1400 to 1407. Bilingual edition with facing veneziano (Venetian dialect) and English text.

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  • Priuli, Girolamo. I diarii di Girolamo Priuli: anni 1494–1512. 4 vols. constituting 24, part 3, of Rerum italicarum scriptores. Edited by L. A. Muratori. New ed. vol. 1 edited by Arturo Segrè. Città di Castello, Italy: S. Lapi, 1912; vols. 2–4 edited by Roberto Cessi. Bologna, Italy: N. Zanichelli, 1938.

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    Insider’s observations of political machinations during early stages of Italian wars, culminating in the crisis of the League of Cambrai.

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  • Sansovino, Francesco. Venetia città nobilissima et singolare. Additions by Giustiniano Martinioni. Farnborough, UK: Gregg, 1968.

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    Copious description of the leading doges and senators, laws and customs, palaces and churches, and miscellaneous other anecdotes by Sansovino, complete to 1580, and expanded by Martinioni for the period 1580 to 1663. Edition printed in 1663, based on original edition of 1581.

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  • Sanudo, Marino. I diarii di Marino Sanuto. Edited by Rinaldo Fulin, Federico Stefani, Nicolò Barozzi, Guglielmo Berchet, and Marco Allegri. 58 vols. Bologna, Italy: Forni Editore, 1969–1979.

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    Massive, variegate ramblings through the corridors of power and the canals and alleyways of Venice by a sharp-eyed lesser member of the patrician elite who refused to organize his perceptions into a coherent system but offers peerless insight into the workings of the city. Originally printed 1879–1903.

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  • Sanudo, Marino. Venice, Cità Excelentissima: Selections from the Renaissance Diaries of Marin Sanudo. Edited by Patricia H. Labalme and Laura Sanguineti White; translated by Linda L. Carroll. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

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    Masterful collection of excerpts selected and translated from the fifty-eight volumes of Sanudo’s complete Diaries, whose thematic organization in itself offers an analysis of that author’s principal concerns, providing a structure that he himself declined to supply.

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Journals and Serials

The journals cited here are the three principal ones specific to Venice, all still active. All publish a variety of articles on a full range of topics relating to the history of Venice and Venetian civilization. Archivio veneto and Atti dell’Istituto Veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti published their first issues in the 19th century and have since published continually, although in various numbers and with variant titles. Studi veneziani, launched in 1959, is published by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, a sponsor of many scholarly conferences and cultural events. Not all titles nor full runs are regularly available in American research libraries; they may be available only in microform.

Venetian State: Politics and Governance

The study of the Venetian state began as early as the 16th century and was highly developed by the 19th, by which time governance structures had been systematically described. More recent studies have turned to analysis, as does Cracco 1967, which studies the state system in the transition from Middle Ages to the Renaissance, while Romano 2007 does so for the 15th century and Finlay 1980 for the early 16th. Queller 1986 studies the often irresponsible behavior of the patriciate, while Gilbert 1980 examines the multiple players involved in one set of negotiations in a single year, and Shaw 2006 explores how ordinary Venetians accessed the Venetian system of justice.

  • Cracco, Giorgio. Società e stato nel medioevo veneziano (secoli XII–XIV). Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1967.

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    Studies the consolidation of the Venetian state system with, in consequence, its growing capacity for social control, in the transition of the famous serrata (closing) of the Great Council from the late 13th century to the 14th.

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  • Finlay, Robert. Politics in Renaissance Venice. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1980.

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    Examining the period 1490 to 1530, shows how the Venetian constitution operated not as portrayed by the widely bandied “myth” of Venetian incorruptibility but in fact by the sale of votes and offices and a pragmatic indifference to illegalities.

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  • Gilbert, Felix. The Pope, His Banker, and Venice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980.

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    Investigates Venetian and papal politics following Venice’s defeat at Agnadello during the war of the League of Cambrai, focusing on the negotiations of a loan made to Venice in 1511 by the wealthy banker and papal representative Agostino Chigi.

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  • Queller, Donald E. The Venetian Patriciate: Reality Versus Myth. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1986.

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    Debunks the myth, for those who still believed it, of a selfless patriciate and proposes a self-serving one whose main object in pursuing government office is to maximize wealth and access to advancement. Some reviewers have found the argument overstated.

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  • Romano, Dennis. The Likeness of Venice: A Life of Doge Francesco Foscari, 1373–1457. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.

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    Focuses on the preeminent doge of the 15th century, who presided over Venice’s push to control the terraferma, considering the relations between constitutional structures, dogal ambitions, family interests and failures, and patronage of the arts. The place to start to understand the Venetian state in its imperial age.

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  • Shaw, James E. The Justice of Venice: Authorities and Liberties in the Urban Economy, 1550–1700. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    Studies the Venetian court tasked with marketplace disputes, which, operating with remarkable flexibility and common sense, allowed commoner tradesmen and consumers to resolve their complaints at minimal cost, and thus at a level below the elite to secure the stability of the Venetian state.

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Sources

Gasparo Contarini, a leading Venetian nobleman, diplomat, reformer, cardinal, and humanist, was also the author of the first and best guide to the structure of Venetian government: Contarini 2003. Kohn, et al. 2009 provides a searchable online database of holders of major offices of the Venetian state from the early 14th through early 16th century.

  • Contarini, Gasparo. La republica e i magistrati di Vinegia. Edited by Vittorio Conti. Florence, Italy: Centro editoriale toscano, 2003.

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    Offers a comprehensive contemporary account of the mechanisms of Venetian governance. Based on the 1544 edition by Lodovico Domenichi (In Vinegia: Appresso Girolamo Scotto).

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  • Kohl, Benjamin G., Andrea Mozzato, and Monique O’Connell, comps. and eds. The Rulers of Venice, 1332–1524: Database, Interpretations, Essays. Version 4.02 (9/9/2009).

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    Searchable database by office, name, year, city of the major magistracies (councilors, ambassadors, governors, etc.) of the Venetian state for nearly two hundred years, accompanied by essays about the data collection and management.

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    Maritime Empire

    Venice’s first dominion was of the sea, beginning with its own lagoon and extending to a network of commercial depots, protectorates, and colonies in the Adriatic and eastern Mediterranean, requiring a skilled merchant elite and advanced shipping technology. Dominating this maritime realm brought Venice into contact with many states, foremost among them the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.

    Trade and Colonies

    Written not by a Venetian specialist but by a world historian, McNeill 1974 first drew attention to Venice’s pivotal role as the intermediary between western and eastern Mediterranean regions and their hinterlands. As boldly, Tenenti 1999 examines from multiple perspectives Venice’s relationship to the sea across five hundred years, while Hocquet 1978 focuses on a single commodity, salt, as the explanatory key to Venetian maritime dominion. Arbel 1995 examines the Venetian reliance on Jewish intermediaries in a Mediterranean under Ottoman control, and McKee 2000 examines relations between western “Latins” and native “Greeks” in the exemplary Venetian colony of Crete. O’Connell 2009, finally, studies the interrelationships of individuals, families, and institutions that administered the Venetian maritime empire.

    • Arbel, Benjamin. Trading Nations: Jews and Venetians in the Early-Modern Eastern Mediterranean. Leiden, The Netherlands, and New York: Brill, 1995.

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      Studies the newly prominent role of Jewish merchants as agents of Ottoman commerce and intermediaries in Venetian trade, leading Venice to adopt a posture of grudging tolerance. Includes five previously published, updated studies.

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    • Hocquet, Jean Claude. Le sel et la fortune de Venise. 2 vols. Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France: Publications de l’Université de Lille III, 1978.

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      Reinterpretation of Venetian economic history as anchored in the plebeian Mediterranean commodity salt; the need to obtain it from colonial depots whose fortunes were shifting drives Venetian strategy over the centuries of its dominance.

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    • McKee, Sally. Uncommon Dominion: Venetian Crete and the Myth of Ethnic Purity. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

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      Based on an exhaustive study of wills from Venetian-dominated Crete, studies the population groups considered “Latin” and “Greek,” roughly consisting of the colonizers and the colonized, and finds the boundaries rendered indistinct by the marital strategies and political ambitions of elite native families.

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    • McNeill, William Hardy. Venice: The Hinge of Europe, 1081–1797. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974.

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      Views the history of Venice in a broad framework that includes not only Europe but also the eastern Mediterranean regions and the lands beyond in Russia and the Balkans, identifying the city famously as the “hinge,” or fulcrum, of the premodern economic and geopolitical system.

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    • O’Connell, Monique. Men of Empire: Power and Negotiation in Venice’s Maritime State. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

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      Examines the institutions, laws, and networks that enabled the small Venetian state to manage a diverse maritime empire, emphasizing the role of patrician experts who, as governors, served as intermediaries between native populations and the metropole.

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    • Tenenti, Alberto. Venezia e il senso del mare: Storia di un prisma culturale dal XIII al XVIII secolo. Milan: Guerini, 1999.

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      Collection of twenty-five of Tenenti’s essays, many previously published, examining from multiple perspectives Venice’s crucial relationship to the sea, ranging from a portrait of shipboard life to evocations of the storms and mists of the maritime environment.

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    Banking, Shipping, and Merchant Enterprises

    The maritime empire was managed by merchants based in Venice who developed a sophisticated banking system, mercantile enterprises, and shipbuilding industry. Lane and Mueller 1985 and Lane and Mueller 1997 provide a comprehensive account of money and banking, rounded out by Stahl 2000, which describes the operation of the Venetian mint. Mackenney 1987 describes the activity of the Venetian guilds, while Molà 2000 traces the growth of one key industry, silk manufacture, and Davis 1991 examines the city’s most important enterprise, the state-run shipbuilding industry.

    • Davis, Robert C. Shipbuilders of the Venetian Arsenal: Workers and Workplace in the Preindustrial City. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

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      Examines the state-run shipbuilding industry in Venice’s “Arsenal,” a sixty-acre shipyard that constituted a large section of the city; the organization of workers in a system anticipating modern factory conditions; their lives in the residential zone adjacent to the shipyard; and their participation in the civic life of Venice.

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    • Lane, Frederic C., and Reinhold C. Mueller. Money and Banking in Medieval and Renaissance Venice. Vol. 1, Coins and Moneys of Account. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.

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      Definitive study of Venetian coinage from the 12th to 16th century. Considers rival coinages, the relative value of silver and gold, and “moneys of account” used only for record keeping. First volume of a two-volume project that culminated in the separately published Lane and Mueller 1997.

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    • Lane, Frederic C., and Reinhold C. Mueller. Money and Banking in Medieval and Renaissance Venice. Vol. 2, The Venetian Money Market: Banks, Panics, and the Public Debt, 1200–1500. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.

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      Examines banking practices and bank failures, the operations in Venice of an international money market, and the evolution of the public debt into a state-managed investment bank. Lane died in 1984; Mueller here completes the project the two authors began in the separately published Lane and Mueller 1985.

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    • Mackenney, Richard. Tradesmen and Traders: The World of the Guilds in Venice and Europe, c. 1250–c. 1650. Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1987.

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      Employs the example of the Venetian guilds, which he sees as dynamic and creative into the seventeenth century, to argue against the view that guilds retarded industrial and commercial innovation in early modern Europe.

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    • Molà, Luca. The Silk Industry of Renaissance Venice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

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      Traces the establishment of the silk industry in 14th-century Venice and its evolution over the next two centuries, involving tensions between free trade and protectionism and experimentation with new textile blends and dyes.

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    • Stahl, Alan M. Zecca: The Mint of Venice in the Middle Ages. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the American Numismatic Society, 2000.

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      Definitive study of the establishment and operation of the Venetian mint, an enterprise second in size only to the city’s shipbuilding Arsenal, producing some of the most reliable and widely circulated coins in Mediterranean and European trade.

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    Byzantine and Ottoman Relations

    Venice began as a Byzantine colony but had dominated Byzantium by the 13th century, and in the 15th century watched impotently as Constantinople fell to the assault of the Ottoman Turks. Failing to halt the advance of the Ottoman Empire, Venice became a principal European agent in Constantinople through the 18th century. Ravegnani 2006 examines the whole course of relations between Venice and Byzantium from the founding of Venice to the conquest of Constantinople, while Dursteler 2006, Preto 1975 and Setton 1991 examine different aspects of Venetian relations with the Turks after their establishment of the Ottoman regime.

    • Dursteler, Eric. Venetians in Constantinople: Nation, Identity, and Coexistence in the Early Modern Mediterranean. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

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      Studies the Venetian “nation” in Ottoman-ruled Constantinople, an enclave populated by about one hundred officials, diplomats, and merchants, assisted by scores of secretaries, cipherists, guards, spies, housekeepers, and dragomans, and housing also an open, shifting community of Jews, Greeks, renegades, and slaves.

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    • Preto, Paolo. Venezia e i Turchi. Florence, Italy: Sansoni, 1975.

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      Masterful account primarily of the cultural interface between Venice and the Ottoman Turks in the 16th and 18th centuries, including a discussion of Venetian knowledge of the Turkish language and construction of Ottoman history.

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    • Ravegnani, Giorgio. Bisanzio e Venezia. Bologna, Italy: Il Mulino, 2006.

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      Concise overview by an expert Byzantinist of the whole course of Venetian-Byzantine relations, from Venice’s origins as a Byzantine outpost, to its takeover of Constantinople in 1204, to its failure to defend its former protector from invasion and conquest by the Ottoman Turks.

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    • Setton, Kenneth M. Venice, Austria, and the Turks in the Seventeenth Century. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1991.

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      Detailed account of the last phases of Venice’s struggle against Ottoman power, centering on the siege of Candia and devastating loss of Crete in 1645–1669, and the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683.

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    Terraferma Empire

    The peak of its maritime dominance had already been reached when Venice turned westward to conquer the Italian mainland, or terraferma, in order to defend its political interests in Italy and secure access to markets and commodities. The essays gathered in Cracco and Knapton 1984 consider multiple aspects of the mainland regime over three centuries, while del Torre 1986 offers a close examination of one critical fifteen-year period. Mallett and Hale 1984 describes how a maritime state without a standing army gained military control over the terraferma, and Ventura 1993 examines tensions between nobles and people in the terraferma towns, and between colonial nobles and the Venetian state.

    • Cracco, Giorgio, and Michael Knapton, eds. Dentro lo “stado italico”: Venezia e la terraferma fra Quattro e Seicento. Trento, Italy: Gruppo Culturale Civis, 1984.

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      Collection of essays by leading specialists examining different aspects of the Venetian domination of the terraferma, including military security, citizen prerogatives, legal and fiscal systems, in Brescia, Verona, Vicenza, and Trento.

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    • Del Torre, Giuseppe. Venezia e la terraferma dopo la guerra di Cambrai: Fiscalità e amministrazione (1515–1530). Milan: F. Angeli, 1986.

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      Minute examination of Venetian administration of the terraferma dominions after the disastrous war of the League of Cambrai, especially with regard to taxes.

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    • Mallett, Michael Edward, and J. R. Hale. The Military Organization of a Renaissance State: Venice, c. 1400 to 1617. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511562686Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      The challenge of mainland expansion required Venice to develop what it had never had before: an army, necessarily a mercenary one, though under the supervision of patrician legates. It innovated effectively, controlling its hired captains, managing new technologies, and handling the problems of recruitment and pay.

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    • Ventura, Angelo. Nobiltà e popolo nella società veneta del Quattrocento e Cinquecento. Milan: Unicopli, 1993.

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      Examines tensions between social groups in the terraferma dominions, finding increasing aristocratization of mainland societies (begun even before the Venetian domination), and resistance of those elites to Venetian economic intervention. Reprint of original 1964 edition (Bari, Italy: Laterza).

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    Venetian Society

    Two conspicuous features of Venetian Renaissance society were the dominance of a legally defined nobility and the apparent harmony of interclass relations, an appearance contributing to what historians call the “myth of Venice.” Although the myth was not, of course, a depiction of reality, Venetian society was remarkably stable, assimilating even an influx of Jewish refugees after 1492.

    Nobles, Citizens, and the Poor

    The nature of the Venetian nobility has been addressed by Burke 1974 and Cowan 1986, in parallel studies, comparing the Venetian patriciate to that of the northern cities Amsterdam and Lübeck, while Davis 1962 and Hunecke 1995, a full generation apart, consider the demographic failure of the nobility in the late centuries of the Republic. Zannini 1993 examines the citizen stratum from which Venice recruited its bureaucrats, while Barile, et al. 2006 considers the careers of two successful members of that stratum. Pullan 1971 and Romano 1987 examine the institutions, obligations, and customs that united nobles and citizens, and rich and poor, into the single organism of Venetian society.

    • Barile, Elisabetta, Paula C. Clarke, and Giorgia Nordio. Cittadini veneziani del Quattrocento: i due Giovanni Marcanova, il mercante e l’umanista. Venice: Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 2006.

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      Consisting of three essays by each of the three authors, considers two members of the citizen Marcanova family across three generations: an international merchant, and a humanist and antiquarian, both sons of a physician immigrant.

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    • Burke, Peter. Venice and Amsterdam: A Study of Seventeenth-Century Élites. London: Temple Smith, 1974.

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      Bold and systematic comparison between patriciates of Venice and Amsterdam, the first retreating from commercial enterprise as the second progressed, noting the greater diversity of the Amsterdam elites, and the lesser significance of clan and family in economic life.

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    • Cowan, Alexander. The Urban Patriciate: Lübeck and Venice, 1580–1700. Cologne, Germany: Böhlau, 1986.

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      Following the lead of Burke 1974, contrasts Venice’s legally defined and closed patriciate to the more open and fluid patriciate of Baltic Lübeck, showing how each in different ways withstood the blows of crisis and change.

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    • Davis, James C. The Decline of the Venetian Nobility as a Ruling Class. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1962.

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      Explores the mechanisms—principally the choice of marriage strategies and inheritance patterns—that resulted in the diminution and impoverishment of the Venetian nobility from the 16th to 17th centuries, with sad consequences for governance.

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    • Hunecke, Volker. Der venezianische Adel am Ende der Republik, 1646–1797: Demographie, Familie, Haushalt. Tübingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1995.

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      Studies three hundred lineages and seven hundred households over the last 150 years of the Venetian republic, sorting them according to wealth, antiquity, and relation to political power, adding important substance to the discussion of the decline of a ruling class as a result of its own demographic strategies.

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    • Pullan, Brian S. Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice: The Social Institutions of a Catholic State, to 1620. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.

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      Reconstructs the system of scuole (a type of confraternity) that united rich and poor in penitential and charitable activity and so knit together Venetian society, constituting one of the mechanisms for its famed stability. Also examines the management of the “new” or “undeserving” poor, and the mainly Jewish moneylending activity.

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    • Romano, Dennis. Patricians and Popolani: The Social Foundations of the Venetian Renaissance State. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987.

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      Examines the lives in the urban context of families of the patriciate and the popolo grande and popolo minuto (wealthier and poorer commoners), and the networks and structures that connected them. Important discussion of patronage and friendship interrelations of patrician and commoner women at the neighborhood level.

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    • Zannini, Andrea. Burocrazia e burocrati a Venezia in età moderna: I cittadini originari (sec. XVI–XVIII). Venice: Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, 1993.

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      Studies the social group of cittadini originari (citizens-by-birth), unique to Venice, who constituted a hereditary, privileged stratum immediately beneath that of the nobility, for whom was reserved access to secretarial positions in Venetian government, culminating in the top job of Grand Chancellor.

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    Jews and the Ghetto

    Like other Italian states, Venice protected Jewish residents grudgingly, finding them useful as moneylenders and bankers. After 1492, to the mainly Ashkenazic Jewish population of Venice was added a large group of Sephardic refugees from Spain and Portugal. Cozzi 1987 and Davis and Ravid 2001, both collections of essays, examine the Jewish experience in Venice from multiple perspectives, while Pullan 1983 and Concina, et al. 1991 in different ways consider the persecution of Jews, the former examining their treatment by the Inquisition and the latter portraying the cultural world of the ghetto. Finlay 1982, finally, illumines the circumstances amid which the first Jewish ghetto was established. See also the separate article on Ghetto.

    • Cozzi, Gaetano, ed. Gli ebrei e Venezia: secoli XIV–XVIII. Milan: Edizioni Comunità, 1987.

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      More than forty essays in more than eight hundred pages, exploring the activity and culture of Jews in Venice and the Veneto, the relations of the Venetian Jewish community with Iberia and the Levant, the ghettos of Venice and mainland cities, and Jewish banking and moneylending.

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    • Concina, Ennio, Ugo Camerino, and Donatella Calabi. La città degli ebrei: Il ghetto di Venezia, architettura e urbanistica. Venice: Albrizzi, 1991.

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      Consisting of two long essays and extensive architectural drawings, with related photographs and documents; reconstructs the cultural life and built environment of the Venetian ghetto and its synagogues.

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    • Davis, Robert C., and Benjamin C. I. Ravid, eds. The Jews of Early Modern Venice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

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      A collection of eleven essays by leading experts examining the settlement, experience, and culture of the often prosperous Jews confined, after 1516, to the ghetto of Venice, and thus both assimilated to and isolated from the culture of the surrounding city.

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    • Finlay, Robert. “The Foundation of the Ghetto: Venice, the Jews, and the War of the League of Cambrai.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 126.2 (1982): 140–154.

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      Classic article setting the creation of the Jewish ghetto in the context of the turbulent events of the war of the League of Cambrai.

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    • Pullan, Brian S. The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice, 1550–1670. Totowa, NJ: Barnes and Noble, 1983.

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      Studies the prosecution by the Venetian Inquisition of “judaizing” Marrano (nominally Christian) refugees from Iberia and Italian Jewish converts to Catholicism, finding its procedures generally mild and its main concern to be the stability of Venetian society.

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    Sources

    The walls of the ghetto were porous, and the intellectuals who flourished there were both transmitters of their particular culture and participants in the cultural world of Venice. Modena 1988 offers a rare autobiography reflective of the ghetto environment, and Sulam 2009, among her complete works, verbal duels with Christian male contemporaries.

    • Modena, Leone. The Autobiography of a Seventeenth-Century Venetian Rabbi: Leon Modena’s Life of Judah. Edited and translated by Marc R. Cohen. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988.

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      Unique autobiography written between 1617 and 1648 by Leone Modena, descendant of an Ashkenazic moneylending family resident of the Venetian ghetto, prefaced by three introductions by major scholars relating the text to the early modern histories of the Jews and of Europe.

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    • Sulam, Sarra Copia. Jewish Poet and Intellectual in Early Seventeenth-Century Venice: Sarra Copia Sulam. Edited and translated by Don Harrán. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

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      Complete works of the Jewish woman intellectual, poet, and salonière Sulam (1592–1641), learned in Latin and Greek as well as Italian and Hebrew, who debated theological questions with a contemporary Christian intellectual, bridging the Jewish and Christian communities.

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    Urban Spaces, Ritual, and Social Behavior

    Graced with a unique maritime setting, Venice developed distinctive patterns of social and ritual behavior visible in both private and public life. Molmenti 1910–1912, a comprehensive overview of patterns and rituals, is now complemented by Brown 2004, which examines the material objects surrounding both nobles and commoners to recapture their private worlds. Muir 1981 shows how civic rituals supported neighborhood solidarity and political unity, while Fenlon 2007 focuses on the central space of the Piazza San Marco as a key to civic consciousness, and Tafuri 1989 considers architectural expressions of power in the urban setting. Ruggiero 1980 looks at violent crime in relation to social status, while Davis 1994 and Povolo 1997 consider two episodes of violence: the former the recurrent violence of the “war of the fists,” reenacted each year on the border of two Venetian neighborhoods; and the latter, a spree of murder and rape committed by a vengeful nobleman from the terraferma hinterland between Vicenza and Verona and prosecuted in Venice.

    • Brown, Patricia Fortini. Private Lives in Renaissance Venice: Art, Architecture, and the Family. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

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      Discusses the attitudes and values of the noble and citizen elites in 16th-century Venice as revealed in the material objects with which they surrounded themselves and in contemporary verbal discussions of those objects in inventories, laws, treatise, and the like. Organized thematically, utilizing a genuinely interdisciplinary approach.

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    • Davis, Robert C. The War of the Fists: Popular Culture and Public Violence in Late Renaissance Venice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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      Offering a rare picture of the life of commoner Venetians in the 17th century, studies the rivalry between the factions of the Nicolotti and the Castellani, who annually engaged in the “battle of the fists” for possession of the bridges separating their two neighborhood strongholds.

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    • Fenlon, Iain. The Ceremonial City: History, Memory, and Myth in Renaissance Venice. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.

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      Considers Venetian cultural life with the Piazza San Marco as focus from the 9th-century founding of the basilica to the 1570s, a decade of multiple traumatic events that forced a revision of civic consciousness expressed in music, the visual arts, and historical writing.

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    • Molmenti, Pompeo. La storia di Venezia nella vita privata dalle origini alla caduta della Repubblica. 5th rev. ed. 3 vols. Bergamo, Italy: Istituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche, 1910–1912.

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      With the whole of Venice as his canvas, the author traces the changing mores and patterns of the Venetian community and individuals over all the centuries of its existence. The second volume, subtitled Lo splendore (The Splendor), is especially relevant here. Not yet superseded.

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    • Muir, Edward. Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981.

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      Pioneering work that utilized anthropological perspectives to examine the civic life of Venice, identifying publicly performed rituals that sanctified political agendas, enlisted popular support, and helped to establish the famous cohesion of Venetian society.

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    • Povolo, Claudio. L’intrigo dell onore: Poteri e istituzioni nella Repubblica di Venezia tra Cinque e Seicento. Verona, Italy: Cierre, 1997.

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      Microhistory of the 1605 prosecution of a terraferma aristocrat who, in pursuing a family feud, allegedly raped and sodomized several women and assaulted their menfolk, presenting an example of the culture of vendetta prevailing in the Venetian hinterland.

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    • Ruggiero, Guido. Violence in Early Renaissance Venice. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1980.

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      Analyzes the prosecution of all forms of violence (assault, rape, murder, and abusive speech) from 1290 to 1406, considering both perpetrators and victims from the perspectives of social class and gender. Finds that the Venetian justice system was generally effective but biased in favor of the patriciate.

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    • Tafuri, Manfredo. Venice and the Renaissance. Translated by Jessica Levine. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989.

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      Viewing architecture as the visible expression of power relations, traces in 16th-century building programs the tensions between traditionalists and moderns more inclined to a humanist and Romanist agenda. Original Italian edition, Venezia e Il Rinascimento: Religione, Scienza, Architettura (Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 1985).

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    Marriage, Family, and Household

    Marriage was the key to social status and power, especially among patrician families, as explained in Cowan 2007, while Ferraro 2001 and Hacke 2004 explore cases of marital discord and breakdown in social strata beneath the nobility. Turning to other issues, Romano 1996 looks at household management, and especially the integration of domestic servants, and King 1994 examines the death of an eight-year-old child and its impact on his nobleman father.

    • Cowan, Alexander. Marriage, Manners, and Mobility in Early Modern Venice. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007.

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      Studies the marriage system of the Venetian nobility, the mechanisms by which a legally defined caste maintained its status and honor. Looks at requirements for legitimate birth, the standards applied to outsider brides, the management of concubinage, and natural offspring.

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    • Ferraro, Joanne M. Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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      Examines 210 cases of marital breakdown brought before the Patriarchal court between 1563 and 1650, finding that women had more recourse than previously thought to remedy their circumstances.

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    • Hacke, Daniela. Women, Sex, and Marriage in Early Modern Venice. Aldershot, UK, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004.

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      Examines hundreds of cases brought before secular and religious courts between 1570 and 1700 by both men and women, often of the artisan stratum; considers complaints by women fearful of domestic violence, charges of adultery, and cases against men accused of rape, impotence, or broken marriage promises.

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    • King, Margaret L. The Death of the Child Valerio Marcello. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

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      Examines the death of the eight-year-old son of a powerful statesman and humanist, whose incessant grief led him to commission a series of consolatory treatises that create a monument to both the child and himself. Important for family relations, attitudes toward death, and cultural patronage.

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    • Romano, Dennis. Housecraft and Statecraft: Domestic Service in Renaissance Venice, 1400–1600. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.

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      Examines the role of servants in the complex households of wealthy Venetian families, considering the conditions of domestic labor and the anxieties of patriarchs as Venice matured from a mercantile to an aristocratic society. Creative use of archival and literary evidence.

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    Gender and Sexuality

    Venetian society has often been viewed as rigid and conservative, yet women played significant roles in Venetian life. Chojnacka 2001 shows how commoner women often headed households, managed wealth, and moved freely throughout the city. Chojnacki 2000 (a collection of Chojnacki’s essays) and Guzzetti 1998 show patrician women enjoying considerable freedom to control their own wealth and even affect family and public decisions. Hurlburt 2006 finds that the dogaresse (doge’s wives), likewise, could informally exercise considerable influence, while Maschietto 2007 profiles a Venetian noblewoman whose advanced studies won her a doctoral degree from the university of Padua, making her the world’s first woman graduate. In another key, Ruggiero 1985 and Ruggiero 1993 study, respectively, the prosecution of sex crimes and of love magic, both indicators of a booming culture of illicit sexuality in Venice.

    • Chojnacka, Monica. Working Women of Early Modern Venice. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

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      Examines records of the Inquisition as well as notarial and fiscal documents to study the condition of both commoner and elite women of the 16th and 17th centuries, finding that they were often heads of households, managers of their own wealth, active in supervisory roles in charitable institutions, and highly mobile (elite women less so) across the city.

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    • Chojnacki, Stanley. Women and Men in Renaissance Venice: Twelve Essays on Patrician Society. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

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      Gathers classic essays that explore how the state disciplined the patriciate by regulating marriage, reveal the considerable capacity of wives and widows to promote family interests and to manage their own dowry wealth, and show how men adjusted sexual lives to serve familial and political goals.

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    • Guzzetti, Linda. Venezianische Vermächtnisse: Die soziale und wirtschaftliche Situation von Frauen im Spiegel spätmittelalterlicher Testamente. Stuttgart, Germany: J. B. Metzler, 1998.

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      Analyzes 1,005 wills by women (and 200 by male) testators in 14th-century Venice, showing that women had greater freedom to make wills and distribute (and inherit) property in Venice than elsewhere in Italy, often exercising that privilege in favor of their female kin and acquaintances.

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    • Hurlburt, Holly S. The Dogaressa of Venice, 1200–1500: Wife and Icon. The New Middle Ages. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

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      Juxtaposes the theoretical position of the dogaressa as faceless consort of a faceless ruler with the emerging reality during the Renaissance of a female political figure who, though indirectly through familial and other interpersonal connections, played a significant role in Venetian governance.

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    • Maschietto, Francesco Ludovico. Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (1646–1684): The First Woman in the World to Earn a University Degree. Edited by Catherine Marshall; translated by Jan Vairo and William Crochetiere. Philadelphia: Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2007.

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      Definitive study of this proto-feminist figure, who really did receive a philosophy degree from the University of Padua. Documents Cornaro Piscopia’s education at home, in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, from private tutors hired by a father seeking to exploit his daughter’s accomplishments in order to purge his own marred reputation. Original Italian publication: Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia, 1646–1684: prima donna laureata nel mondo (Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1978).

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    • Ruggiero, Guido. The Boundaries of Eros: Sex Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

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      Studies the prosecution of sex crimes—fornication, adultery, rape, sodomy, and sexual incidents in convents—from the 1320s to 1500, highlighting the government’s crackdown on behavior seen as threatening to civic order, and detecting the origins of a modern culture of illicit sexuality.

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    • Ruggiero, Guido. Binding Passions: Tales of Magic, Marriage, and Power at the End of the Renaissance. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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      Examines five cases from the period 1570–1591, drawn from the Venetian archives, of the illicit use of magic, mostly by women, to achieve a “binding passion,” or love relationship with an indifferent other—and in so doing offers insight into the lives of ordinary people.

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    Sources

    Venice was also the home of the three major women resisters of patriarchal control of women in Italy and, arguably, in Europe. Fonte 1997 and Marinella 1999 (both works first published coincidentally in the same year, 1600) attack, respectively, the social and intellectual systems that kept women subordinate, while their contemporary, the nun Arcangela Tarabotti, is featured in the section on Religion and Gender.

    • Fonte, Moderata. The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men. Edited and translated by Virginia Cox. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

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      Daring vernacular dialogue (first published in 1600) among seven women of different conditions who criticize paternal authority and the dowry-driven marriage system that effect the subordination and humiliation of women. First major work by a woman to criticize social institutions inimical to women’s freedom and happiness.

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    • Marinella, Lucrezia. The Nobility and Excellence of Women, and the Defects and Vices of Men. Edited and translated by Anne Dunhill. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

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      Fierce response (first published in 1600) to an attack on women’s defects, drawing on the philosophical, humanist, literary, theological, and medical traditions to demonstrate instead the nobility of women and inferiority of men.

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    The Church

    The Venetian church operated as much as possible as an entity independent of Rome, even as Venetian clerics figured significantly among Roman popes and cardinals. Religion in Venice featured intense popular piety, often linked to neighborhood rituals; reverence for numerous relics; the abundant presence of religious houses and parish churches; a reformist tradition; and a state cult interwoven with religious practice—in which regard it is often noted that the basilica of San Marco, the city’s principal church, was not the cathedral of bishop, archbishop, or patriarch, but the doge’s chapel. The eight volumes of the Chiesa di Venezia (published 1987–1997) consist of collected essays surveying these aspects and others of the Venetian church, of which three (Betto, et al. 1989; Benzoni, et al. 1990; Betto, et al. 1992) pertain to the Renaissance era. Recently, scholars have turned their attention to cultural and thematic dimensions of religion in Venice: to the effects of the Reformation crises, including conflicts with Rome and the proliferation and (relatively mild) prosecution of heterodoxy in Venice, and to the relations between religion and gender in the Venetian setting.

    • Benzoni, Gino, Gaetano Cozzi, and Stefania Mason Rinaldi, eds. La chiesa di Venezia tra riforma protestante e riforma cattolica. Venice: Edizioni Studium Cattolico Veneziano, 1990.

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      The fourth of ten volumes of the Chiesa di Venezia published 1986 to 1997, all collections of essays covering the history of the Venetian church from its origins through the twentieth century; the first place to look for the institutional, social, and intellectual dimensions of the Christian experience in Venice.

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    • Betto, Bianca, Giorgio Cracco, and Giorgio Fedalto, eds. La chiesa di Venezia tra Medioevo ed età moderna. Venice: Edizioni Studium Cattolico Veneziano, 1989.

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      The third of ten volumes of the Chiesa di Venezia published 1986 to 1997, all collections of essays covering the history of the Venetian church from its origins through the 20th century; the first place to look for the institutional, social, and intellectual dimensions of the Christian experience in Venice.

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    • Betto, Bianca, Anne Jacobson Schutte, and Antonio Niero, eds. La chiesa di Venezia nel Seicento. Venice: Edizioni Studium Cattolico Veneziano, 1992.

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      The fifth of ten volumes of the Chiesa di Venezia published 1986 to 1997, all collections of essays covering the history of the Venetian church from its origins through the twentieth century; the first place to look for the institutional, social, and intellectual dimensions of the Christian experience in Venice.

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    Religious Dissent, Reform, and Persecution

    Even before the Reformation, prominent Venetian clerics led reform efforts, most conspicuously Vincenzo Querini and Gasparo Contarini, whose efforts are profiled in Bowd 2002 and Gleason 1993. Launching the Roman Inquisition in 1543, however, the church chose the path of repression over that of evangelical reform. Venice retained control of its own Inquisition, which was vigilant but relatively mild, even as the city became the hub of heterodox thought and publication. Grendler 1977 explores the effects of Inquisition on the Venetian press, while J. Martin 1993, R. Martin 1989, and Ambrosini 1999 consider the repression of alleged heretics and witches. Venice’s great confrontation with Rome of the early 17th century culminated in the Interdict crisis of 1606–1607, dominated by the rebellious Servite friar Paolo Sarpi, whose career is considered by Cozzi 1978 and Wootton 1983.

    • Ambrosini, Federica. Storie di patrizi e di eresia nella Venezia del ’500. Milan: F. Angeli, 1999.

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      Reconstructs from archival records the behavior and beliefs of a few men and a very few women who inclined toward reform, and brushed close to heresy, in 16th-century Venice.

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    • Bowd, Stephen D. Reform before the Reformation: Vincenzo Querini and the Religious Renaissance in Italy. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2002.

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      Posits a “religious Renaissance” in Italy: an evangelical reform movement in which several Venetian figures participated importantly; next to Gasparo Contarini, the most notable was Vincenzo Querini, who advocated a return to church discipline under papal leadership.

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    • Cozzi, Gaetano. Paolo Sarpi tra Venezia e l’Europa. Turin, Italy: Einaudi, 1978.

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      Consisting of three essays by Cozzi written from the 1950s through 1970s, capsulates his understanding of Sarpi as a historian and polemicist with a European vision, related to the group of the giovani (the “young”), political reformers who resisted papal power.

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    • Gleason, Elisabeth G. Gasparo Contarini: Venice, Rome, and Reform. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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      Definitive biography of the leading Venetian reformer and the one Italian most likely to succeed, although he did not in the end do so, in achieving reunion with the Protestant churches and promoting a pre-Tridentine reformation of the Catholic Church.

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    • Grendler, Paul F. The Roman Inquisition and the Venetian Press, 1540–1605. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977.

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      Shows how the Venetian state cooperated with papal mandates to control the publication and circulation of forbidden religious literature through the 1580s, while reversing policy from the 1590s in part to protect the interests of the publishing houses. The trade in heterodox books was never completely stopped.

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    • Martin, John J. Venice’s Hidden Enemies: Italian Heretics in a Renaissance City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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      Looking at 676 cases of examination for heresy between the 1540s and 1580s, the author uncovers the extent of heterodoxy in Venice, generally of native, evangelical origin, centered especially in artisan circles, and in general only mildly punished.

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    • Martin, Ruth. Witchcraft and the Inquisition in Venice, 1550–1650. Oxford and New York: Blackwell, 1989.

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      Exploring the fate of the witch in Venice, finds that the Inquisition there (a state agency) exerted itself scarcely at all to investigate maleficia or demonic sabbaths, although it did concern itself with illicit magic, necromancy, and divination, which prosecutions resulted in generally mild punishment.

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    • Wootton, David. Paolo Sarpi: Between Renaissance and Enlightenment. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

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      Argues that Sarpi was not merely a critic of the church but a covert atheist who valued allegiance to the secular state over that to religion, whose work thus serves as a critical moment of transition from Renaissance to Enlightenment outlook.

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    Sources

    The distinctive posture of Venice vis-à-vis the Church of Rome is summed up in the lifework of the Servite friar Paolo Sarpi (1552–1623). Author of a massive History of the Council of Trent (1619), which influenced Protestant theologians and later Enlightenment skeptics, he is best known for his defense of Venetian policy during the 1606–1607 Interdict crisis. Selections from that work appear in Sarpi 1969.

    Religion and Gender

    The high tide of women’s participation in religious life in Italy was reached in the 13th through early 17th centuries, when female saints and beate (holy women) rose in numbers and in the estimation of contemporaries, even as they engaged in extraordinary ascetic practices and extreme forms of mystical experience. At the same time, the conventualization of women increased to a zenith, in tune with the economic strategies of elite households that required the exclusion of daughters from inheritance. Schutte 2001 explores the phenomenon of women claiming sanctity on the basis of their religious experience, while Sperling 1999 examines the conventualization of women and Weaver 2006 the case of the coerced nun Arcangela Tarabotti.

    • Schutte, Anne Jacobson. Aspiring Saints: Pretense of Holiness, Inquisition, and Gender in the Republic of Venice, 1618–1750. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

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      Examining sixteen cases of “faked holiness” brought to trial across more than a century, explores how the Counter-Reformation prosecution of those (mostly women) claiming experience of the holy, evidenced in their visions, self-starvation, and miracle-working, unfolded in the skeptical climate of Venice.

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    • Sperling, Jutta Gisela. Convents and the Body Politic in Late Renaissance Venice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

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      Shows how the patrician strategy of the monachization of daughters led first to the domination of the convents by noblewomen with scant religious commitment, constituting a threat to conventual discipline, and second to the reproductive failure of the noble caste, which preserved patrimony at the cost of demographic survival.

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    • Weaver, Elissa, ed. Arcangela Tarabotti: A Literary Nun in Baroque Venice. Ravenna, Italy: Longo, 2006.

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      Collection of twelve studies examining the experience of a coerced nun and prolific author, who resisted in her works not only the forced conventualization of “surplus” daughters but the institutions of Venetian society that engendered that practice.

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    Sources

    Recent scholarly interest in writings by and about women has resulted in the publication of many new texts, among them those pertinent to the religious experience of Venetian women. Riccoboni 2000 publishes the chronicle of a Venetian convent written by a resident nun, while Caffarini 1984 offers the hagiography of a beata (holy woman), both written in the early 15th century. Ferrazzi 1996 is the trial testimony, constituting a form of autobiography, of another beata from the 17th century, and Tarabotti 2004 is the most important of the several works against the forced conventualization of women by an outspoken critic of that practice.

    • Caffarini, Tommaso. La santità imitabile: “Leggenda di Maria da Venezia” di Tommaso da Siena. Edited by Fernanda Sorelli. Venice: Deputazione di Storia Patria per le Venezie, 1984.

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      Life of a Venetian woman, formerly married, who joined the penitent followers of the Dominicans, commended by author Caffarini (Tommaso da Siena) for her perfect humility and obedience. Presents circa 1400 a different type of holy woman from that prevailing in the era of the Counter-Reformation.

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    • Ferrazzi, Cecilia. Autobiography of an Aspiring Saint. Edited and translated by Anne Jacobson Schutte. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

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      Self-presentation of the experience of a would-be 17th-century saint, as recorded by officials, showing how an ordinary woman’s unconventional career, driven by religious commitment, led her into the hands of the Inquisition, ever suspicious of extreme forms of female spirituality.

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    • Riccoboni, Bartolomea. Life and Death in a Venetian Convent: The Chronicle and Necrology of Corpus Domini, 1395–1436. Edited and translated by Daniel E. Bornstein. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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      Remarkable chronicle written by a member of the community who records the impact on the nuns of events outside the walls—notably the Great Schism and Council of Constance—even as she tracks the lives and deaths of the women gathered within.

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    • Tarabotti, Arcangela. Paternal Tyranny. Edited and translated by Letizia Panizza. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

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      Most important of the polemical works of the coerced nun Arcangela Tarabotti, who squarely places the blame for the scandal of forced conventualization of “surplus” daughters on self-interested fathers—in effect, the collective Venetian elite—seeking to preserve wealth and maintain social standing.

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    Intellectual Culture

    Intellectual culture remained traditional in Venice through the 14th century, with the chronicle or history the main form of literary product. An indigenous form of humanism developed from the 1390s, by the 1500s diverging into two main alternate streams: political and historical writing and literary works (poetry, drama, prose). All three cultural activities were boosted by the presence of a vital printing and publishing industry and supported by public and private schools and the nearby University of Padua.

    Humanism

    Humanism has generally been considered through the prism of Florence, and especially its civic humanism. But Venice developed a rich humanist tradition of a different sort: directed by patrician political, legal, and philosophical interests, conservative in religious outlook, influenced by the Greek tradition and contacts, more concerned with the consolidation of Venetian culture than with the celebration of the individual. King 1986 offers a comprehensive study of Venetian humanism in cultural context, while, among Vittore Branca’s many essays on this topic, those gathered in Branca 1998 focus on the particular figure of Ermolao Barbaro the Younger as epitome of a distinctive Venetian humanism. Benzoni 2002 collects recent essays on the Greek dimension of Venetian humanism, Kallendorf 1999 examines Venetian editions of Virgil, and Ferrari 1996, Giannetto 1985 and Labalme 1969 offer studies of individual humanists, while Cox 2003 provides a close look at a central humanist controversy over the nature of rhetoric.

    • Branca, Vittore. La sapienza civile: Studi sull’Umanesimo a Venezia. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1998.

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      Collection of Branca’s essays centered on Ermolao Barbaro the Younger and his circle, which characterize Venetian humanism as concerned with “wisdom” or “knowledge,” as opposed to the Florentine concern with human dignitas (dignity or worth). Argues that Venetian humanism influenced authors abroad, not only in Italy but also in France and Spain.

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    • Benzoni, Gino, ed. L’eredità greca e l’ellenismo veneziano. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 2002.

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      Collected conference papers on political, economic, but especially cultural relations of Venice with Byzantium and Greek culture. Includes studies of Bessarion, Manuzio, and Erasmus, thus updating the earlier work of Deno Geanakoplos and others.

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    • Cox, Virginia. “Rhetoric and Humanism in Quattrocento Venice.” Renaissance Quarterly 56.3 (2003): 652–694.

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      Examines the humanist discussions about the nature of rhetoric that took place in the last decades of the 15th century.

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    • Ferrari, Giovanna. L’esperienza del passato: Alessandro Benedetti filologo e medico umanista. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1996.

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      Considers the career of Benedetti, both a physician and a humanist, pursuits not uncommonly combined in Venice, finding his interest in Greek studies reflected in his influential pre-Vesalian work on anatomy, as his historical skills were expressed in his contemporary account of the French invasion of Italy.

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    • Giannetto, Nella. Bernardo Bembo, umanista e politico veneziano. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1985.

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      Exhaustive study of the Venetian statesman and humanist Bernardo Bembo, father of the more famous literary figure Pietro, especially interesting for Bernardo’s contacts with the Ficinian circle in Florence. Appendix publishes relevant texts.

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    • Kallendorf, Craig. Virgil and the Myth of Venice: Books and Readers in the Italian Renaissance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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      Examines nearly two hundred editions of Virgil (in Latin and Italian translation) produced in Venice between 1470 and 1600, focusing on commentaries and other paratextual material to understand how and why the text was read.

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    • King, Margaret L. Venetian Humanism in an Age of Patrician Dominance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

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      Identifies three generations of humanists active in Venice from 1400 to 1490, who employed the intellectual tools of humanism in the service of traditional Venetian norms. Includes extensive bio-bibliographical data on the ninety-two figures, the majority of whom were patricians.

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    • Labalme, Patricia H. Bernardo Giustiniani: A Venetian of the Quattrocento. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1969.

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      Definitive study of the life and works of Bernardo Giustiniani, patrician humanist and statesman and author of an important work on the origin and history of Venice. Especially valuable because Giustiniani’s works do not yet have modern editions.

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    Sources

    While many works by Venetian humanists remain in manuscript or early editions, recent decades have seen the publication of important texts, including in Latin the works and letters of Ermolao Barbaro the Younger (Barbaro 1943, Barbaro 1969), the letters of his uncle Francesco Barbaro (Barbaro 1991–1999), and key works of Lauro Quirini (Quirini 1977); and in English, the works of the woman humanist Cassandra Fedele (Fedele 2000).

    • Barbaro, Ermolao, the Younger. Epistolae, orationes et carmina. Edited by Vittore Branca. Florence, Italy: Bibliopolis, 1943.

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      Important critical edition of Barbaro’s works, the letters documenting the author’s bridging between the humanistic and Aristotelian worlds in correspondence especially with Nicoletto Vernia, Elia del Medigo, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.

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    • Barbaro, Ermolao, the Younger. De coelibatu, De officio legati. Edited by Vittore Branca. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1969.

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      Completes Branca’s edition of Barbaro’s work, following the earlier publication of the humanist’s letters and orations (Barbaro 1943). On Celibacy defends the choice not to marry for the sake of a secular intellectual life. On the Legate reflects the Venetian experience in inventing modern diplomacy.

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    • Barbaro, Francesco. Epistolario. Edited by Claudio Griggio. 2 vols. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1991–1999.

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      Invaluable, up-to-date critical edition of the Barbaro correspondence. The first volume (1991) provides a census and description of the numerous manuscripts in which Barbaro’s letters (525 by him, plus 265 to him, totaling 790—a very large corpus for the era) appear. The second (1999) prints the letters themselves.

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    • Fedele, Cassandra. Letters and Orations. Edited and translated by Diana M. Robin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

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      Translation of the works, with full biographical introduction, of one of the four major women humanists of the Italian Renaissance (the others being Isotta Nogarola, Laura Cereta, and Olimpia Morata), and the only Venetian among them.

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    • Quirini, Lauro. Lauro Quirini umanista: studi e testi. Edited by Konrad Krautter, et al. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1977.

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      Collection of the works of Quirini, a humanist important not only for his career in Venice and Padua but also for his later years in Crete, where he witnessed the advance of the Ottoman Turks. Invaluable also for its analytical apparatus, which places this complex figure in historical context.

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    Political Thought, Historiography, and Cartography

    Political and historical writing and cartographical investigation were natural elements of the intellectual culture of a city enjoying political and commercial dominance. Together Pertusi 1970, studying the tradition of Venetian historical writing from the 13th to 16th century, and Bezoni and Zanato 1982, studying that of the 16th and 17th centuries, offer a complete overview. Contrasting Venice and Florence, Bouwsma 1968 likens the Venetian tradition of political and historical thought to that of Florentine civic humanism, while Silvano 1993 draws a clear distinction between the republican traditions of the two cities. Falchetta 2006 provides a comprehensive study of Mauro Lapi’s world map of 1450, a prelude to modern exploration and cartography. For published histories and chronicles, see also Primary Sources.

    • Benzoni, Gino, and Tiziano Zanato, eds. Storici e politici veneti del Cinquecento e del Seicento. 2 vols. Milan and Naples, Italy: R. Ricciardi, 1982.

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      The first volume reviews the political and historical writing of the 16th and 17th centuries, and the second presents texts with analytical introductions.

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    • Bouwsma, William James. Venice and the Defense of Republican Liberty: Renaissance Values in the Age of the Counter Reformation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.

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      Explores the political and historical writings of the 16th century to demonstrate that Venetian thought had embraced a secular ideology of republican liberty and rejected traditional cultural values in advance of the crisis of 1606–1607. Scholars have been critical, preferring a more complicated analysis. Reprinted 1984.

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    • Falchetta, Piero. Fra Mauro’s World Map: With a Commentary and Translations of the Inscriptions. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2006.

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      Definitive and monumental study of the mappamondo (“world map”) of Mauro Lapi, the Camaldolese who produced around 1450 what may be considered the last medieval instance or the first great map of the age of exploration, a globe constructed of parchment 6 feet 4 inches in diameter.

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    • Pertusi, Agostino, ed. La storiografia veneziana fino al secolo XVI: Aspetti e problemi. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1970.

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      Collection of conference papers by experts, which in the sum trace the historical writing about Venice from the first major 13th-century chronicles to the work of Marino Sanuto. Not yet superseded.

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    • Silvano, Giovanni. La “Republica de’ Viniziani”: Ricerche sul repubblicanesimo veneziano in età moderna. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1993.

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      Studies the course of “republican” thinking expressed in major political and historical treatises of 16th-century Venice, opposing it to the Florentine republicanism that culminated in the work of Machiavelli and his contemporaries.

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    Literature and Literary Circles

    Little imaginative literature was produced in Venice before 1500, but that endeavor took off powerfully soon afterwards, linked to the activity of the publishing industry, the presence of heterodox currents of thought, and the burgeoning of salons that hosted a socially diverse and intellectually daring set of guests. Logan 1972 provides an overview of this literary setting. Focusing on the intellectuals drawn to the Venetian publishing houses, Grendler 1969 presents three of these freethinking authors, while Cairns 1985 profiles the most notorious among them, Pietro Aretino, and Terpening 1997 the more staid yet prolific Ludovico Dolce. Carroll 1990 introduces the Paduan playwright Il Ruzante, active in Venetian patrician circles, while Rosenthal 1992 provides a definitive biography of the courtesan poet Veronica Franco, and Schneider 2007 an analysis of the work of the Petrarchist poet Gaspara Stampa. Just prior to 1500, this outburst of Venetian literary effort was heralded by a bizarre illustrated romance, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Dream Vision of Polyphilus, 1499), of which Casella and Pozzi 1959 provides a comprehensive study.

    • Cairns, Christopher. Pietro Aretino and the Republic of Venice: Researches on Aretino and His Circle in Venice, 1527–1556. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1985.

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      Reconstructs the circle of the greatest of the poligrafi—the provocative freelance writers who flourished in early 16th century Venice, profiling Aretino’s relations with such greats as Erasmus, Bembo, Contarini, and Titian, as well as with wealthy patrician salon hosts and lesser hack writers.

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    • Carroll, Linda L. Angelo Beolco (Il Ruzante). Boston: Twayne, 1990.

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      Profiles this important Paduan writer, actor, and producer of revolutionary satirical drama written from the perspective of the peasant or servant and popular among elite audiences in early 16th century Venice.

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    • Casella, Maria Teresa, and Giovanni Pozzi. Francesco Colonna: Biografia e opere. 2 vols. Padua, Italy: Editrice Antenore, 1959.

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      Definitive study of the author and intellectual context of the Dominican friar Francesco Colonna’s unique Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Dream Vision of Polyphilus, 1499), a combination of medieval dream literature and romance with antiquarian furnishings, reflective of Venetian religious and humanist culture at the end of the 15th century.

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    • Grendler, Paul F. Critics of the Italian World, 1530–1560: Anton Francesco Doni, Nicolò Franco, and Ortensio Lando. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969.

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      Studies three authors from the set of freelance writers—the poligrafi, or “writers of many things”—who circled about the Venetian publishing houses and published vernacular works critical of contemporary social, religious and intellectual values, representing a counter-trend to the idealism and conformity of contemporary humanism.

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    • Logan, Oliver. Culture and Society in Venice, 1470–1790: The Renaissance and Its Heritage. New York: Scribners, 1972.

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      After a tour of Venetian environs and society, describes main currents and figures of the intellectual, literary, artistic, and musical culture of Venice principally from 1490 to the early 17th century. A still-useful overview.

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    • Rosenthal, Margaret F. The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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      Definitive study of Franco, identifying her as a type of the elite or “honest” courtesan who flourished in sparkling patrician circles because of her intelligence and unmovable sense of self. Basis for the film Dangerous Beauty (1998), directed by Marshall Herskovitz.

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    • Schneider, Ulrike. Der weibliche Petrarkismus im Cinquecento: Transformationen des lyrischen Diskurses bei Vittoria Colonna und Gaspara Stampa. Stuttgart, Germany: Steiner, 2007.

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      Studies female Petrarchists of the 16th century, including the great Venetian poet Stampa, systematically establishing her relationship to the Petrarchan lyric tradition.

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    • Terpening, Ronnie H. Lodovico Dolce, Renaissance Man of Letters. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.

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      Profiles one of the major poligrafi (freelance writers for the Venetian press), reviewing the several genres of his work, including history, poetry, and translation, and underscoring his importance as a cultural transmitter, serving the growing audience of readers in mid-16th-century Venice.

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    Sources

    Works of arguably the two most original literary figures of 16th-century Venice are now available in translation: those of the poligrafo Pietro Aretino (Aretino 2005) and the courtesan Veronica Franco (Franco 1998).

    • Aretino, Pietro. Dialogues. Edited and translated by Raymond Rosenthal. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.

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      Best available translation of Aretino’s satiric and pornographic works, often seen as typifying the freedom of Venetian intellectual life in the first half of the 16th century before its silencing by censorship and the Inquisition.

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    • Franco, Veronica. Poems and Selected Letters. Edited and translated by Ann Rosalind Jones and Margaret F. Rosenthal. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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      Companion to the editor Rosenthal’s biography of Franco, presents in a bilingual edition all the poems (Italian and English on facing pages) and a selection of her letters, particularly interesting for their revelations of Franco’s proto-feminist stance.

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    Printing, the Book, and Communication

    Venice quickly emerged as one of the foremost printing centers of Italy and Europe, largely owing to the entrepreneurship and technical skills of Nicholas Jenson and Aldo Manuzio, profiled in Lowry 1991 and Lowry 1979. Zorzi 1987 traces the history of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (the National Library of Saint Mark) from its origins in the intended and effectual donations of Petrarch and Bessarion, while more recent cultural studies approaches are showcased in Cowan 2008, de Vivo 2007, Horodowch 2008, and Wilson 2005, who consider in different combinations the interrelations of print, oral communication, language, identity, and social networks. The collected essays of Pon and Kallendorf 2009, finally, address a range of fascinating topics related to the production, sale, circulation, and collection of Venetian books.

    • Cowan, Alexander. “Gossip and Street Culture in Early Modern Venice.” Journal of Early Modern History 12.3 (2008): 313–333.

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      Studies the important role of informal talk in cementing social and marital alliances in an early modern city.

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    • de Vivo, Filippo. Information and Communication in Venice: Rethinking Early Modern Politics. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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      Examines various networks of communication in late 16th- to 17th-century Venice, including communication in the council chambers, at the commercial center of the Rialto, through public printed messages; relates these to the control of communication imposed in the 1606–1607 Interdict crisis and the consequent explosion of resistant expression.

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    • Horodowich, Elizabeth. Language and Statecraft in Early Modern Venice. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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      Examines the language norms, found embedded in laws, trial testimony, judicial decisions, literary texts and chronicles, that were imposed by the Venetian state as essential for the maintenance of political order.

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    • Lowry, Martin. The World of Aldus Manutius: Business and Scholarship in Renaissance Venice. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979.

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      Shows how the immigrant Aldo Manuzio established himself in Venice from 1494 through alliances with experienced entrepreneurs and patrician supporters, and launched the most important printing project in Europe at that time: to publish the entire corpus of Greek and Latin books in readable and convenient octavo editions.

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    • Lowry, Martin. Nicholas Jenson and the Rise of Venetian Publishing in Renaissance Europe. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1991.

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      Turning to the generation before Aldus Manutius, studies the inauguration of the print industry in what would soon become the world’s most important printing center. Assisted by patrician patrons, Jenson, the preeminent figure in this story, produced 108 titles between 1470 and 1481.

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    • Pon, Lisa, and Craig Kallendorf, eds. The Books of Venice: Il libro veneziano. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 2009.

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      Twenty-one essays, most of which first saw the light at a 2007 conference, headed by Marino Zorzi’s introduction on Venetian libraries as the expression of “a singular civilization.” Among other matters, considers a Paduan book auction, Venetian incunabula in Bavaria, Greek liturgical texts, and studies of book printers, dealers, and collectors.

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    • Wilson, Bronwen. The World in Venice: Print, the City, and Early Modern Identity. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.

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      Studies the visual print culture of late 16th century Venice, principally maps, city views, illustrations of processions and costumes, and the like, which showed people to themselves amid an urban landscape and thus fostered a modern sense of identity.

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    • Zorzi, Marino. La libreria di San Marco: Libri, lettori, società nella Venezia dei dogi. Milan: Mondadori, 1987.

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      Comprehensive intellectual, artistic, and social history of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, formed around a collection of Greek books bequeathed to the Republic by the Byzantine refugee and humanist Cardinal Bessarion.

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    Schooling

    In northern Italy generally, a shift from monastery-based to urban-based education occurred over the 14th and 15th centuries. In Venice, especially, the need to train a large bureaucracy as well as patrician youths encouraged the formation of both public and private schools. Older students seeking university training journeyed to the nearby university at Padua, a distinct topic not included here. Ortalli 1996 presents a history of Venetian schools until the advent of humanism, while Bertanza and della Santa 1993 identifies some 850 teachers from the 14th and 15th centuries, Baldo 1977 another 258 for the late 16th century, and Ross 1976 clarifies the origins of the city’s “public” schools. Grendler stresses Venetian institutions in his larger study of schooling in Italy (Grendler 1989), carrying the story to the end of the 16th century.

    • Baldo, Vittorino. Alunni, maestri e scuole in Venezia alla fine del XVI secolo. Como, Italy: New Press, 1977.

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      Looks at 258 Venetian teachers and school curricula around 1587.

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    • Bertanza, Enrico, and Giovanni della Santa. Maestri, scuole e scolari in Venezia fino al 1500. Edited by Gherardo Ortalli. Vicenza, Italy: Neri Pozza, 1993.

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      Based on an exhaustive archival search, identifies some 850 private teachers in Venice during the 14th and 15th centuries. Originally published in Venice in 1907, “a spese della Società” (i.e., di Storia Patria).

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    • Grendler, Paul F. Schooling in Renaissance Italy: Literacy and Learning, 1300–1600. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

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      A comprehensive study of elementary and secondary schooling throughout Italy across a full three centuries, with attention to the institutional and social context as well as to curriculum and books, and especially strong on learning and literacy in Venice.

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    • Ortalli, Gherardo. Scuole, maestri e istruzione di base tra Medioevo e Rinascimento: Il caso veneziano. Bologna, Italy: Mulino, 1996.

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      Based largely on extensive published documents, constructs a history of Venetian schooling, almost entirely private, from the 13th through the mid-15th century, when the impact of humanist pedagogy was first felt.

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    • Ross, James Bruce. “Venetian Schools and Teachers, Fourteenth to Early Sixteenth Century: A Survey and a Study of Giovanni Battista Egnazio.” Renaissance Quarterly 29.4 (1976): 521–566.

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      Classic article surveys the schools functioning in Venice during the 15th and 16th centuries, distinguishing between the private and “public” schools, and reviewing the exemplary career of the teacher and editor Giovanni Battista Egnazio.

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    The Arts

    For many visitors, the draw of Venice is its splendor: its magnificent buildings with all their ornamentation, interior and exterior, which makes the whole city a museum—but especially the central Piazza San Marco dominated by the Doge’s Palace and the basilica—and the museums themselves as lesser repositories. That splendid architectural and sculptural display is made up of accretions across the centuries, from the early Byzantine era, the later medieval Gothic, the classicizing Renaissance, and the magnificent Baroque. Painting comes late, only in the 15th century, and the performing arts later, with music the province of parish, confraternal, and conventual churches in the 16th century, and opera that of the public theater in the 17th century.

    General and Painting

    An introduction to the arts and artists of Renaissance Venice is best found in Huse and Wolters 1990, considering architecture, sculpture, and painting, and Humfrey 1995, attending to painting alone, but for an understanding of the specifically Venetian context, persuasive and evocative works are Brown 1996, exploring Venice’s particular relation to the past, Brown 1988, highlighting the importance of narrative painting in Venetian culture, and Rosand 2001, demonstrating how the Venetian state imposed its message on viewers. Pointing to a departure from traditional and corporate values to a more individualistic, and less masculine, sensibility, are Goffen 1997, considering Titian’s paintings of women, and Koos 2006, analyzing the development of the “lyric” portraiture of Giorgione and Titian and their followers.

    • Brown, Patricia Fortini. Venetian Narrative Painting in the Age of Carpaccio. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988.

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      Definitive study of narrative artist Carpaccio, identifying as distinctive to Venice the “eyewitness” role of the artist, whose documentation of events served as a form of visual evidence and supported the collective culture.

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    • Brown, Patricia Fortini. Venice and Antiquity: The Venetian Sense of the Past. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.

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      Alone among major Italian cities, Venice had no Roman past; and so, the author argues, she created one, incorporating in painted and sculpted images references to Roman ruins and monuments, providing emblematic authority for the Venetian regime.

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    • Goffen, Rona. Titian’s Women. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.

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      Argues that Titian’s delectable female subjects were not gifts to the prurient but representations of autonomous and self-assured beings, setting them firmly within a contemporary social context of laws, custom, and costume.

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    • Humfrey, Peter. Painting in Renaissance Venice. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

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      Concise overview from the takeover of Gothic by Renaissance style in the 15th century to Veronese, the last of the great 16th-century masters, in the 16th century.

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    • Huse, Norbert, and Wolfgang Wolters. The Art of Renaissance Venice: Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting, 1460–1590. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.

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      Includes all the arts in a comprehensive narrative, organized by category and genre rather than by masters. Original German publication, Venedig, die Kunst der Renaissance (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1986).

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    • Koos, Marianne. Bildnisse des Begehrens: das lyrische Männerportrait in der venezianischen Malerei des frühen 16. Jahrhunderts: Giorgione, Tizian und ihr Umkreis. Emsdetten, Germany: Edition Imorde, 2006.

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      Ambitious analysis of portraiture in 16th-century Venice, considering mainly visual but also literary portraits, from the perspective of a theoretical tradition reaching from Aristotle to Castiglione, and identifying its “lyric” and simultaneously effeminizing qualities.

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    • Rosand, David. Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

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      Shows how the “Venetian propaganda machine,” through the works of officially commissioned art, imposed on viewers a desired view of the republic as stable, just, and eternal. Readable discussion based on a lecture series.

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    Architecture and Sculpture

    Venice’s unique setting makes Venetian architecture a special case. For these buildings erected apparently on the surface of the waters, Byzantine and then Gothic style lingered into the late 15th century, when a classicizing style emerged slowly to culminate in the idealized classicism of Palladio. Howard 2002 introduces the viewer to the general history of Venetian architecture, and Howard 2000 to the lesser-known imprint of Islamic forms on the Venetian cityscape, while Goy 1992 tells the story of the building of one princely palace, and Cooper 2005 explains the great achievement of Palladio in blending new structural concepts with the setting and culture of Venice. Pincus 2000 follows the development of memorial tombs for the doges, as much architectural as sculptural monuments, which celebrate state and clan as much as individual rulers, while Martin 1998 identifies the classicizing portrait bust as a new sculptural statement of personal identity.

    • Cooper, Tracy Elizabeth. Palladio’s Venice: Architecture and Society in a Renaissance Republic. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

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      Definitive study of the dominant architect of 16th-century Venice, who, though foreign-born, came most to represent a classical ideal in a city that had long clung to Gothic forms. Especially valuable reconstruction of the network of Palladio’s aristocratic patrons.

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    • Goy, Richard J. The House of Gold: Building a Palace in Medieval Venice. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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      Unusual history of the construction in early 15th century Venice of one extraordinary palace perched on the Grand Canal: the famous Ca d’oro, “house of gold,” so called because of its lavish decoration. Extensive records of the building process over twenty years (1421–1441) permit a close look at the process of managing the site, the workers, and the materials.

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    • Howard, Deborah. Venice and the East: The Impact of the Islamic World on Venetian Architecture, 1100–1500. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000.

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      Shows how Venice acted as the “hinge” of Europe not only as a commercial center, but as the European city that most directly confronted Islam, a culture from which it borrowed visual patterns, incorporating them into the framework of a Western Christian society, most strikingly in its architectural forms.

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    • Howard, Deborah. The Architectural History of Venice. Rev. ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002.

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      Compact overview, tracing Venetian architecture from Byzantine origins to modern times, stressing the factors making for a distinctive tradition, including a lagoon setting, Eastern influences, patronage networks, and the building types dictated by the needs of noble clans and confraternities.

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    • Martin, Thomas. Alessandro Vittoria and the Portrait Bust in Renaissance Venice: Remodelling Antiquity. Oxford and New York: Clarendon, 1998.

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      Through the medium of the portrait bust, which the sculptor Vittoria brought to Venice from the humanistic precincts of Padua, shows how a classicizing genre appealed to patrician tastes and took hold in the 16th century.

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    • Pincus, Debra. The Tombs of the Doges of Venice. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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      Examines the sculptural programs of early dogal tombs, showing that although personal memorialization was rare in Venice before 1500, the memorialization of the doges served a civic function: the ruler was elevated not as an individual personality but as an embodiment of Venetian greatness.

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    Doge’s Palace and San Marco

    At the heart of Venice politically and culturally, the Piazza San Marco was dominated by the two unique buildings of the Doge’s Palace, housing the council chambers of government, and the basilica, a physical expression of Venice’s conflation of church and state. The essays in Vio 2003 examine the multiple constituent elements of the basilica, which gave visual expression to the identity of church and state, while Jacoff 1993 gives close examination to the four prancing horses mounted above the main portal, noting their religious as well as political meaning. The political content of the visual program in the Doge’s Palace comes as no surprise but is well analyzed in Wolters 1983.

    • Jacoff, Michael. The Horses of San Marco and the Quadriga of the Lord. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.

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      Examines the history and significance of the four life-sized horses positioned above the main portal of the basilica San Marco. Prizes from Venice’s 1204 raid on Constantinople, they symbolized the Republic’s political triumph, but also its piety, the team of four horses recalling as well in Christian imagery the four Evangelists.

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    • Vio, Ettore, ed. St. Mark’s: The Art and Architecture of Church and State in Venice. Translated by Huw Evans. New York: Riverside, 2003.

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      Collection of twenty-eight studies by experts on all aspects of the arts concentrated in St. Mark’s basilica. Includes discussions of the mosaics and the treasury, the horses and the tetrarchs, the portal and the tombs, constituting a full introduction to this important monument. Original Italian publication: Lo splendore di San Marco a Venezia (Rimini, Italy: Idea Libri, 2001).

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    • Wolters, Wolfgang. Der Bilderschmuck des Dogenpalastes: Untersuchungen zur Selbstdarstellung der Republik Venedig im 16. Jahrhundert. Wiesbaden, Germany: Steiner, 1983.

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      Examines the expansive paintings on the walls of the Doge’s Palace as communications of Venice’s political and triumphalist self-representation. Available in Italian translation: Storia e politica nei dipinti di Palazzo Ducale: Aspetti dell’autocelebrazione della Repubblica di Venezia nel Cinquecento, translated by Benedetta Heinemann Campana, edited by Maddalena Redolfi (Venice: Arsenale, 1987).

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    Music and Performance

    Venice itself was a kind of ongoing performance, the setting for many ritual events engaging large numbers of actors as well as spectators, ranging from the procession of the True Cross to the anarchy of Carnival. In this context, musical performance in the 16th century and opera in the 17th became integral to the city’s cultural life. Glixon 2003 presents the musical activity of the great Venetian confraternities, and Quaranta 1998 documents that activity across the whole range of ecclesiastical institutions that were the main public settings for musical performance. Glixon and Glixon 2006, Muir 2007, and Rosand 1991 show from different vantage points how opera, although born elsewhere, became established at Venice and densely intermeshed with the city’s cultural and commercial institutions, while Heller 2003 looks specifically at how representations of female characters in Venetian opera relate to contemporary social attitudes. Bernstein 2001, Feldman 1995, and Selfridge-Field 2007 explore the intersection of musical composition and performance with the print industry, intellectual and political norms, and premodern concepts of time, respectively.

    • Bernstein, Jane A. Print Culture and Music in Sixteenth-Century Venice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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      Studies the business of music printing, a subset of the Venetian print industry directed primarily toward an elite audience, showing the interrelations between commerce, literacy, and musical performance.

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    • Feldman, Martha. City Culture and the Madrigal at Venice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

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      Shows how Ciceronian rhetorical norms, civic values of restraint and equilibrium, and principles of musical composition came together in the production of the madrigal, now set within an interdisciplinary network of values.

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    • Glixon, Jonathan E. Honoring God and the City: Music at the Venetian Confraternities, 1260–1807. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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      Definitive history of the musical activity, central to the cultural life of the city, of the six major and nearly three hundred minor Venetian confraternities from their origin until their suppression.

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    • Glixon, Beth L., and Jonathan E. Glixon. Inventing the Business of Opera: The Impresario and His World in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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      Studies the operation of opera companies performing at four theaters, including the production of libretti and scores, the management of singers, dancers, and instrumentalists, the construction of scenery, machinery, and costumes, and the recruitment of consumers and patrons.

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    • Heller, Wendy. Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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      Examines female characters as represented in opera, including historical and mythological figures such as Dido, Semiramis, and Messalina, whose self-expression and destiny reflected contemporary attitudes toward chastity, androgyny, and sexual passion in women.

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    • Muir, Edward. The Culture Wars of the Late Renaissance: Skeptics, Libertines, and Opera. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

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      Explains how the interaction of intellectual currents imported from Padua, noble patronage, and a climate of libertinism and license helped make Venice, rather than Florence where the genre was invented, the center of opera in Italy and in Europe.

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    • Quaranta, Elena. Oltre San Marco: Organizzazione e prassi della musica nelle chiese di Venezia nel Rinascimento. Florence, Italy: Olschki, 1998.

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      Comprehensive census of organization and financing of musical program in some two hundred Venetian churches, monasteries, and other ecclesiastical institutions, including expenses for the hiring of musicians and singers. Large appendix of published documents.

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    • Rosand, Ellen. Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice: The Creation of a Genre. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

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      Claiming primacy for Venice in the creation of the operatic “genre,” studies the evolution of the principal attributes of opera in the critical period of 1637 to 1678, considering the urban setting, the circle of librettists, and the commercial structures involved in its creation.

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    • Selfridge-Field, Eleanor. Song and Season: Science, Culture, and Theatrical Time in Early Modern Venice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.

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      Studies the intersection between concepts of time and musical performance, illuminating the multiple ways of measuring and reporting cultural events in a premodern city.

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    LAST MODIFIED: 05/10/2010

    DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195399301-0023

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