Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice (Venetian: Repùblega de Venèsia; Italian: Repubblica di Venezia) or Venetian Republic (Venetian: Repùblega Vèneta), traditionally known as La Serenissima (English: Most Serene Republic of Venice; Venetian: Serenìsima Repùblega de Venèsia), was a sovereign state and maritime republic in parts of present-day Italy (mainly northeastern Italy) that existed for 1100 years from AD 697 until AD 1797. Centered on the lagoon communities of the prosperous city of Venice, it incorporated numerous overseas possessions in modern Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Greece, Albania and Cyprus. The republic grew into a trading power during the Middle Ages and strengthened this position during the Renaissance. Citizens spoke the Venetian language.
Most Serene Republic of Venice
|Motto: Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus|
"Peace be to you Mark, my evangelist"
|Greater coat of arms (1706)|
|Government||Unitary mixed parliamentary constitutional republic under a mercantile oligarchy|
• 697–717 (first)
|Paolo Lucio Anafestoa|
• 1789–1797 (last)
|Legislature||Great Council (since 1172)|
• Upper Chamber
• Lower Chamber
|Council of Ten (since 1310)|
|Historical era||Middle Ages – Early modern period|
• Golden Bull of Alexios I
a. ^ Paolo Lucio Anafesto is traditionally the first Doge of Venice, but John Julius Norwich suggests that this may be a mistake for Paul, Exarch of Ravenna, and that the traditional second doge Marcello Tegalliano may have been the similarly named magister militum to Paul. Their existence as doges is uncorroborated by any source before the 11th century, but as Norwich suggests, is probably not entirely legendary. Traditionally, the establishment of the Republic is, thus, dated to 697 AD.
In its early years, it prospered on the salt trade. In subsequent centuries, the city state established a thalassocracy. It dominated trade on the Mediterranean Sea, including commerce between Europe and North Africa, as well as Asia. The Venetian navy was used in the Crusades, most notably in the Fourth Crusade. However, Venice perceived Rome as an enemy and maintained high levels of religious and ideological independence personified by the patriarch of Venice and a highly developed independent publishing industry that served as a haven from Catholic censorship for many centuries. Venice achieved territorial conquests along the Adriatic Sea. It became home to an extremely wealthy merchant class, who patronised renowned art and architecture along the city's lagoons. Venetian merchants were influential financiers in Europe. The city was also the birthplace of great European explorers, such as Marco Polo, as well as Baroque composers such as Antonio Vivaldi and Benedetto Marcello and famous painters such as the Renaissance master Titian.
The republic was ruled by the doge, who was elected by members of the Great Council of Venice, the city-state's parliament, and ruled for life. The ruling class was an oligarchy of merchants and aristocrats. Venice and other Italian maritime republics played a key role in fostering capitalism. Venetian citizens generally supported the system of governance. The city-state enforced strict laws and employed ruthless tactics in its prisons.
The opening of new trade routes to the Americas and the East Indies via the Atlantic Ocean marked the beginning of Venice's decline as a powerful maritime republic. The city state suffered defeats from the navy of the Ottoman Empire. In 1797, the republic was plundered by retreating Austrian and then French forces, following an invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Republic of Venice was split into the Austrian Venetian Province, the Cisalpine Republic, a French client state, and the Ionian French departments of Greece. Venice as well as the whole of Veneto would become part of a unified Italy in the 19th century following the Kingdom of Italy's victory against Austria in The Third War of Italian Independence.