Doge of Venezia

15 Curiosites about the Venetian Doge

The Doge’s Palace in Saint Mark’s square  was the home of Venice’s public administration, where all the most important decisions about the Serenissima Republic were made. But who was the Doge?

Let’s investigate this historical figure through amazing curiosities.

Curiosites about the Doge of Venice

1. The Venetian Dogi were 120 in 1100 years of Venetian Republic. This is  a very large number ! The duration of the Dogado was from 19 days to 34 years. Each of these Dogi contribute to the history of Venice. They were warriors, politicians part of the Venetian aristocrary, even a Saint Pietro Orseolo.

2. The first Doge according to the tradition was Paoluccio Anafesto from Eraclea  in 697.

3. In 810 the Doge Agnello Partecipazio moved the ducal residence to “Rivoalto” in the place where we have the “modern” Doge’s Palace.

4. The election of the Doge took place in the full assembly of the Venetian nobility, the great Council through a complicated system, the good mix between ballots and draws.  This resulted in such a complicated scheme: “Thirdy members, chosen by lot, were reduced by lot to nine,the nine chose forty and 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. Then the forty fove were once more reduced by lot to eleven and the eleven finally chose the forty one who actually elected the doge.”

5. In 864 the abbess Agostina Morosini of San Zaccaria gave the Doge Pietro Tradonico the first “corno” “literary translation horn” the hat decorated with 66 precious stones and pearls that later became the symbol of the doge himself and the Republic. For example inside the Doge’s Palace you will see  a hundred of thes “horn” decorations to symbolize the figure of the Doge.

6. You can find the Doge’s hat symbol in the decoration of our gondole. Gondole have a metal decoration on the bow, called fero in Venetian, with the different elements representing the Doge’s hat, the Gran Canal, the six districts of the city, the Giudecca island, the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Basin, The Grand Canal and the  famous islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello.

7. Over time it was decided to elect a man in advanced age. If he was elected young there was a risk that he “would occupy that role for too long”, but if he was very old he might not be able to take on such a demanding role even from a physical point of view.

8. A singular tribute was made to the new Doge after his election. It included that one of the fruiterers: 180 large melons amd received cheese and salamis in return.

9. Dogi had to follow strict rules:

  • no one in a Doge’s family could hold political office during his term;
  • a doge could not conduct any personal business or accept gifts;
  • a Doge was always  supervised;
  • a doge’s sons could not leave the republic (nor could he without express permission);
  • none of a Doge’s children could marry without the council’s approval.

10. For  a long time once the doge died, his apartment was ransacked by Venetian people.

11. The death of a Doge was never an obstacle to carrying on normal life. At the end of the end announcement the sentence was: “but we will make another”.

12. Funerals were celebrated not in St. Mark’s church but in the church of Santi Giovanni and Paolo (Zanipolo).

13. You can see the face of almost every Doge in the hall of the Great Council and Scrutinio hall inside the Doge’s Palace. The chronological sequence anyway starts from Obelerio Antenoreo (804-810) to the last Doge Ludovico Manin, 1797. The Doge Marin Faliero, who attempted a coup in 1355  is the only Doge of Venice beheaded in history. He is  represented by a black cloth with the writing: “Hic est locus Marini Faletri, decapitati pro criminibus” condemned to be beheaded in life. Condemned to “damnatio memoriae”, meaning the total cancellation of his name and his image as a traitor to the Republic.

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