The Doge of Venice (/doʊdʒ/; Venetian: Doxe de Venexia [ˈdɔze de veˈnɛsja]; Italian: Doge di Venezia [ˈdɔːdʒe di veˈnɛttsja]; all derived from Latin dūx, "military leader"), sometimes translated as Duke (compare the Italian Duca), was the chief magistrate and leader of the Republic of Venice between 726 and 1797.
Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state's aristocracy. The doge was neither a duke in the modern sense, nor the equivalent of a hereditary duke. The title "doge" was the title of the senior-most elected official of Venice and Genoa; both cities were republics and elected doges. A doge was referred to variously by the titles "My Lord the Doge" (Monsignor el Doxe), "Most Serene Prince" (Serenissimo Principe), and "His Serenity" (Sua Serenità).
|Doge of Venice|
Coat of arms
|First holder||Orso Ipato (historical)|
Paolo Lucio Anafesto (traditional)
|Final holder||Ludovico Manin|
|Abolished||12 May 1797|
The first historical Venetian doge, Ursus, led a revolt against the Byzantine Empire in 726, but was soon recognised as the dux (duke) and hypatos (consul) of Venice by imperial authorities. After Ursus, the Byzantine office of magister militum (stratelates in Greek) was restored for a time until Ursus' son Deusdedit was elected duke in 742. Byzantine administration in Italy collapsed in 751. In the latter half of the eighth century, Mauritius Galba was elected duke and took the title magister militum, consul et imperialis dux Veneciarum provinciae, master of the soldiers, consul and imperial duke of the province of Venetiae. Doge Justinian Partecipacius (d. 829) used the title imperialis hypatus et humilis dux Venetiae, imperial consul and humble duke of Venice.
These early titles combined Byzantine honorifics and explicit reference to Venetia's subordinate status. Titles like hypatos, spatharios, protospatharios, protosebastos and protoproedros were granted by the emperor to the recipient for life but were not inherent in the office (ἀξία διὰ βραβείου, axia dia brabeiou), but the title doux belonged to the office (ἀξία διὰ λόγου, axia dia logou). Thus, into the eleventh century the Venetian doges held titles typical of Byzantine rulers in outlying regions, such as Sardinia. As late as 1202, the Doge Enrico Dandolo was styled protosebastos, a title granted by Alexios III.
As Byzantine power declined in the region in the late ninth century, reference to Venice as a province disappeared in the titulature of the doges. The simple titles dux Veneticorum (duke of the Venetians) and dux Venetiarum (duke of the Venetias) predominate in the tenth century. The plural reflects the doge's rule of several federated townships and clans.
After defeating Croatia and conquering some Dalmatian territory in 1000, Doge Pietro II Orseolo adopted the title dux Dalmatiae, Duke of Dalmatia, or in its fuller form, Veneticorum atque Dalmaticorum dux, Duke of the Venetians and Dalmatians. This title was recognised by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry II in 1002. After a Venetian request, it was confirmed by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos in 1082. In a chrysobull dated that year, Alexios granted the Venetian doge the imperial title of protosebastos and recognised him as imperial doux over the Dalmatian theme.
The expression Dei gratia (by the grace of God) was adopted consistently by the Venetian chancery only in the course of the eleventh century. An early example, however, can be found in 827–29, during the joint reign of Justinian and his brother John I: per divinam gratiam Veneticorum provinciae duces, by divine grace dukes of the Venetian provinces.
Between 1091 and 1102, the Kingdom of Hungary conquered the Croatian kingdom. In these circumstances, the Venetians appealed to the Byzantine emperor for recognition of their title to Croatia (like Dalmatia a former Byzantine subject). Perhaps as early as the reign of Vital Falier (d. 1095), certainly by that of Vital Michiel (d. 1102), the title dux Croatiae had been added, giving the full dogal title four parts: dux Venetiae atque Dalmatiae sive Chroaciae et imperialis prothosevastos, Duke of Venice, Dalmatia and Croatia and Imperial Protosebastos. In the fourteenth century, the doges periodically objected to the use of Dalmatia and Croatia in the Hungarian king's titulature, regardless of their own territorial rights or claims. Later medieval chronicles mistakenly attributed the acquisition of the Croatian title to Doge Ordelaf Falier (d. 1117).
According to the Venetiarum Historia, written around 1350, Doge Domenico Morosini added atque Ystrie dominator ("and lord of Istria") to his title after forcing Pula on Istria to submit in 1150. Only one charter, however, actually uses a title similar to this: et totius Ystrie inclito dominatori (1153).
The next major change in the dogal title came with the Fourth Crusade, which conquered the Byzantine Empire (1204). The Byzantine honorific protosebastos had by this time been dropped and was replaced by a reference to Venice's allotment in the partitioning of the Byzantine Empire. The new full title was Dei gratia gloriosus Venetiarum, Dalmatiae atque Chroatiae dux, ac dominus (or dominator) quartae partis et dimidie totius imperii Romaniae, by the grace of God glorious duke of Venice, Dalmatia and Croatia and lord of a fourth part and a half [three-eighths] of the whole empire of Romania (i.e., the Byzantine empire). The Greek chronicler George Akropolites uses the term despotes to translate dominus, lord. Akropolites attributes the title to Enrico Dandolo, although no known document of his survives with this title. The earliest documents using the title attach it to Marino Zeno, leader of the Venetians in Constantinople. The title was only subsequently adopted by Doge Pietro Ziani in 1205.
By the Treaty of Zadar of 1358, Venice renounced its claims to Dalmatia and removed Dalmatia and Croatia from the doge's title. The resulting title was Dei gratia dux Veneciarum et cetera, By the grace of God duke of Venetia and the rest. This was the title used in official documents until the end of the republic. Even when the body of such documents was written in Italian, the title and dating clause were in Latin.
The doge's prerogatives were not defined with precision. While the position was entrusted to members of the inner circle of powerful Venetian families, after several doges had associated a son with themselves in the ducal office, this tendency toward a hereditary monarchy was checked by a law that decreed that no doge had the right to associate any member of his family with himself in his office, nor to name his successor. After 1172 the election of the doge was entrusted to a committee of forty, who were chosen by four men selected from the Great Council of Venice, which was itself nominated annually by twelve persons. After a deadlocked tie at the election of 1229, the number of electors was increased from forty to forty-one.
New regulations for the elections of the doge introduced in 1268 remained in force until the end of the republic in 1797. Their intention was to minimize the influence of individual great families, and this was effected by a complex electoral machinery. Thirty members of the Great Council, chosen by lot, were reduced by lot to nine; the nine chose forty and the forty were reduced by lot to twelve, who chose twenty-five. The twenty-five were reduced by lot to nine, and the nine elected forty-five. These forty-five were once more reduced by lot to eleven, and the eleven finally chose the forty-one who elected the doge. Election required at least twenty-five votes out of forty-one, nine votes out of eleven or twelve, or seven votes out of nine electors. A detailed description of this process, and the ceremonial procession that followed, is preserved in Martin Da Canale's work Les Estoires de Venise (English translation by Laura K. Morreale, Padua 2009).
In a ceremonial formula for consulting the Venetians, when a new doge was chosen, before he took the oath of investiture, he was presented to the people with the formula: "This is your doge, if it please you." This practice came to an end in 1423, after the election of Francesco Foscari. He was presented with the unconditional words "Your doge".
While doges had great temporal power at first, after 1268, the doge was constantly under strict surveillance: he had to wait for other officials to be present before opening dispatches from foreign powers; he was not allowed to possess any property in a foreign land.
The doges normally ruled for life (although a few were forcibly removed from office). After a doge's death, a commission of inquisitori passed judgment upon his acts, and his estate was liable to be fined for any discovered malfeasance. The official income of the doge was never large, and from early times holders of the office remained engaged in trading ventures. These ventures kept them in touch with the requirements of the grandi.
From 7 July 1268, during a vacancy in the office of doge, the state was headed ex officio, with the style vicedoge, by the senior consigliere ducale (ducal counsellor).
One of the ceremonial duties of the doge was to celebrate the symbolic marriage of Venice with the sea. This was done by casting a ring from the state barge, the Bucentaur, into the Adriatic. In its earlier form this ceremony was instituted to commemorate the conquest of Dalmatia by Doge Pietro II Orseolo in 1000, and was celebrated on Ascension Day. It took its later and more magnificent form after the visit to Venice in 1177 of Pope Alexander III and the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I. On state occasions the Doge was surrounded by an increasing amount of ceremony, and in international relations he had the status of a sovereign prince.
The doge took part in ducal processions, which started in the Piazza San Marco. The doge would appear in the center of the procession, preceded by civil servants ranked in ascending order of prestige and followed by noble magistrates ranked in descending order of status. Francesco Sansovino described such a procession in minute detail in 1581. He description is confirmed and complemented by Cesare Vecellio's 1586 painting of a ducal procession in the Piazza San Marco.
From the 14th century onward, the ceremonial crown and well-known symbol of the doge of Venice was called corno ducale, a unique ducal hat. It was a stiff horn-like bonnet, which was made of gemmed brocade or cloth-of-gold and worn over the camauro. This was a fine linen cap with a structured peak reminiscent of the Phrygian cap, a classical symbol of liberty. This ceremonial cap may have been based on the white crown of Upper Egypt. Every Easter Monday the doge headed a procession from San Marco to the convent of San Zaccaria, where the abbess presented him a new camauro crafted by the nuns.
The Doge's official costume also included golden robes, slippers and a sceptre for ceremonial duties.
Until the 15th century, the funeral service for a deceased doge would normally be held at St Mark's Basilica, where some early holders of this office are also buried. After the 15th century, however, the funerals of all later doges were held at the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo. Twenty-five doges are buried there.
As the oligarchical element in the constitution developed, the more important functions of the ducal office were assigned to other officials, or to administrative boards. The doge's role became a mostly representative position. The last doge was Ludovico Manin, who abdicated in 1797, when Venice passed under the power of Napoleon's France following his conquest of the city.
While Venice would shortly declare itself again as a republic, attempting to resist annexation by Austria, it would never revive the dogal style. It used various titles, including dictator, and collective heads of state to govern the jurisdiction, including a triumvirate.
Agnello Participazio (Angelo Particiaco, Latin: Agnellus Particiacus) was the tenth (traditional) or eighth (historical) Doge of Venice from 811 to 827.Alvise Contarini
Not to be confused with Alvise Contarini (1597–1651), Venetian diplomat who negotiated the Peace of Westphalia.Alvise Contarini (24 October 1601 – 15 January 1684) was the 106th Doge of Venice, reigning from his election on 26 August 1676 until his death seven and a half years later. He was the eighth and final member of the House of Contarini to serve as Doge of Venice (with the first being Domenico I Contarini, who became Doge in 1043).
His reign was largely peaceful, as the Republic of Venice was still recovering from the defeat to the Ottoman Empire in the 1645–69 Cretan War. However, in the last days of Contarini's reign, hostilities with the Ottoman Empire were rekindled once again, and Venice soon entered the Sixth Ottoman-Venetian War, better known as the Morean War (1684–99).Alvise Pisani
Alvise Pisani (1 January 1664 in Venice – 17 June 1741 in Venice) was the 114th Doge of Venice, serving from 17 January 1735 until his death. Prior to his election, he was a career diplomat, serving as Venice's ambassador to France, Austria, and Spain; he also served as a councilor to previous Doges. He was succeeded as Doge by Pietro Grimani. His dogaressa was Elena Badoero.Antonio Priuli (doge of Venice)
Antonio Priuli (10 May 1548 – 12 August 1623) was the 94th Doge of Venice, reigning from 17 May 1618 until his death. Priuli became Doge in the midst of an ongoing Spanish conspiracy orchestrated by the Spanish Ambassador to Venice, Alfonso de la Cueva, 1st Marquis of Bedmar, a "spy war" that did not end until 1622.Antonio Venier
Antonio Venier (c. 1330 – 23 November 1400) was a Doge of Venice reigning from October 1382 to his death. He was interred in the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo, a traditional burial place of the doges. He was married to Agnese.Doge
A doge (; Italian: [ˈdɔːdʒe]; plural dogi or doges) was an elected lord and chief of state in many of the Italian city-states during the medieval and renaissance periods. Such states are referred to as "crowned republics".Domenico Monegario
Domenico Monegario was the traditional sixth Doge of Venice (756–764).Francesco Cornaro (Doge)
For the cardinal, see Francesco Cornaro (cardinal).
Francesco Cornaro or Francesco Corner (Venice, 6 March 1585 – Venice, 5 June 1656) was the 101st Doge of Venice. His reign as Doge was the shortest of any Doge. He was elected on 17 May 1656 and died only a few weeks later, on 5 June 1656.
Francesco Cornaro was the son of Giovanni Cornaro, who was Doge of Venice from 1625 to 1629. Francesco Cornaro was married to Andriana Priuli, the daughter of Antonio Priuli, who was Doge from 1618 to 1623.
Francesco Cornaro had a prestigious political career. Cornaro soured on politics after an incident occurred while he was serving as the Ambassador of the Republic of Venice to the Duke of Savoy. The Duke became convinced that Cornaro was plotting against him and had Cornaro expelled from the Duchy of Savoy. After that, Cornaro withdrew from politics and devoted himself to business. It was widely believed that he would never be elected as Doge. However, after the death of Carlo Contarini on 1 May 1656 (a reign that lasted barely more than a year), Cornaro was elected Doge on 17 May 1656, only to die a few weeks later on 5 June 1656. He is buried in the Tolentini.Galla Gaulo
Galla Lupanio or Gaulo was the fifth traditional Doge of Venice (755–756).Giovanni Bembo
Giovanni Bembo (21 August 1543 in Venice – 16 March 1618 in Venice) was the 92nd Doge of Venice, reigning from his election on December 2, 1615 until his death. His reign is notable for Venetian victories during the War of Gradisca (1617) and for the Bedmar Plot (1618), in which the Spanish ambassador to Venice, Alfonso de la Cueva, 1st Marquis of Bedmar, was unsuccessful in his plans to destabilize the Most Serene Republic.Giovanni I Participazio
Giovanni I Participazio (or Particiaco) (died 837) was the tenth (historical) or twelfth (traditional) Doge of Venice from the death of his brother in 829 to his arrest and deposition in 836.Lorenzo Priuli
Lorenzo Priuli (1489 – 17 August 1559) was the 82nd Doge of Venice. He reigned from 1556 to 1559. His dogaressa was Zilia Dandolo (d. 1566).Marcantonio Trivisan
Marcantonio Trevisan was the Doge of Venice from 1553 to 1554.Marco Barbarigo
Marco Barbarigo (c. 1413 – August 1486) was the 73rd Doge of Venice from 1485 until 1486. His nomination took place on a new staircase in the coutyard of the Doge's Palace, on an axis with the Campanile of St. Mark and the Porta della Carta.Barbarigo was elected as Doge of Venice in September 1485 to succeed Doge Giovanni Mocenigo, who was possibly poisoned. Marco died in August 1486, less than a year after becoming Doge, probably in a violent dispute between nobles caused by his brother Agostino. He was succeeded as Doge by Agostino Barbarigo, who was Procurator while Marco was Doge, from 1486 until 1501.Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice
Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice is a blank verse tragedy in five acts by Lord Byron, published and first performed in 1821.Paolo Renier
Paolo Renier (21 November 1710 in Venice – 13 February 1789 in Venice) was a Venetian statesman, the 119th, and penultimate, Doge of Venice. He was a orator and tactician, and served as ambassador to Constantinople and to Vienna. His election as Doge was unpopular, and he was the subject of numerous menacing letters at the time. Renier was succeeded as Doge by Ludovico Manin, who would be the last Doge of Venice. He married Giustina Dona (d. 1751) in 1733, and Margherita Delmaz (d. 1817) in 1751.Pietro Barbolano
Pietro Barbolano (sometimes Pietro Barbo Centranigo) was the 28th Doge of Venice. Reportedly a descendent of the legendary Eraclea (after whom the town near Venice is named), he was elected by the assembly of the nobles after the deposition of his predecessor, Otto Orseolo. The dates of his birth and death are unknown.Pietro II Candiano
Pietro II Candiano (c. 872 – 939) was the nineteenth Doge of Venice between 932 and 939. He followed his father, Pietro I Candiano (887), Pietro Tribuno (888–912), and Orso II Participazio (912–932) to become Doge of Venice in 932.Pietro I Candiano
Pietro I Candiano (c. 842 – 18 September 887) was briefly the sixteenth Doge of Venice in 887.
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