In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Marino Sanudo

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Overview
  • Toward a Life of Sanudo
  • Commentarii della guerra di Ferrara and Itinerarium
  • De origine, situ et magistratibus urbis venetae and Le vite dei dogi
  • La spedizione di Carlo VIII and Descriptione de la patria de Friul
  • Journals
  • Collections of Papers

Renaissance and Reformation Marino Sanudo
Stella Fletcher
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0499


The diarist and historian Marino Sanudo is known as “il Giovane” to distinguish him from the eponymous geographer (d. 1343), both of whom can be found in appropriate Reference Works, whereas only the younger is profiled in the Overview in the present article. There is no monograph-length biography of the younger Marino, though steps can be taken Toward a Life of Sanudo. He was born into the Venetian patriciate in 1466, acquired a humanist education in Venice, and devoted himself to letters—rather than to academic studies—in the university city of Padua. His interest in current affairs, combined with the opportunity to accompany his cousin on an official tour of the Terraferma, resulted in two works—Commentarii della guerra di Ferrara and Itinerarium—that set the tone for the remainder of his literary career. His subject matter became more political as he approached political maturity, membership of the Great Council (Maggior Consiglio), and held a succession of public offices. Thus De origine, situ et magistratibus urbis venetae and Le vite dei dogi both celebrate the unique features of Venetian government, administration, and society. As he finished work on the lives of the doges, the French invasion of Italy in 1494 provided Sanudo with a new subject, the conflict in which all the major Italian states became embroiled. For present purposes, the resulting text is paired with a short one of 1502–1503: La spedizione di Carlo VIII and Descriptione de la patria de Friul. The current affairs related in La spedizione finish at the point when those recorded in I diarii begin. La spedizione was written in a Tuscan form of Italian that could be read with ease by a wide range of people, but the diaries are centered on Venice and written in the Venetian volgare. That fact has generated the analysis found under Text and Language. From 1496 to 1533, Sanudo kept a record of political events, economic developments, and social activities, his interest focused on Venice and its Neighbors, but also extending to More Distant Lands. All the while he continued to hold public offices and to collect an extensive library, both of which have generated brief studies in Journals and Collections of Papers, but his hope of being appointed Venice’s official historian was frustrated by the appointment of Andrea Navagero in 1506. Sanudo died on 4 April 1536. His diaries have exercised a particularly profound influence on modern studies of Renaissance Venice.

Reference Works

The standard biographical reference work for all Italian subjects is the Dizionario biografico degli italiani (DBI). It includes an authoritative entry on Sanudo and should be consulted in preference to earlier reference works, which it supersedes. However, if “Marino Sanudo” (or variants) is entered into a search engine, the student is more likely to come across the relevant entry in the Enciclopedia italiana before that in the DBI. The Enciclopedia had a complex publishing history, so a single volume is cited here, as Enciclopedia italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti (1936). A third option provided here, King 1986, is not a reference work and does not provide a fully rounded account of Sanudo’s life, but it can serve as a reasonable substitute.

  • Dizionario biografico degli italiani. 100 vols. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1960–2020.

    The standard reference work for all notable Italians was published in alphabetical order over four decades, meaning that Sanudo appeared relatively late in the process. The entry on him is by Matteo Melchiorre and can be found in Vol. 90 (2017). The DBI’s preference for Sanudo over Sanuto and Marino over Marin determines the practice adopted in the present article.

  • Enciclopedia italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti. Vol. 30. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1936.

    The entry on “Sanudo, Marin, il Giovane” is at pp. 800–901 in the original print edition. It has also been made available online, but the student should bear in mind that although it was written by a highly respected historian, Giovanni Battista Picotti, it does date from nearly a century ago, with the bibliography in particular showing its age.

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

    DOI: 10.1515/9781400854349

    This is not a reference work, but it does contain a reference-like section divided into individual profiles of its “core group,” including Marino Sanudo (at pp. 635–637). Like the other profiles, his begins by indicating his kinship to other members of the group, after which relevant publications are listed, his career is summarized, his published correspondence is detailed, and his literary significance is discussed.

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