Venice: A New History

Venice: A New History

Thomas F. Madden

Language: English

Pages: 464

ISBN: 0147509807

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A spellbinding new portrait of one of the world’s most beloved cities

La Serenissima. Its breathtaking architecture, art, and opera ensure that Venice remains a perennially popular destination for tourists and armchair travelers alike. Yet most of the available books about this magical city are either facile travel guides or fusty academic tomes. In Venice, renowned historian Thomas F. Madden draws on new research to explore the city’s many astonishing achievements and to set 1,500 years of Venetian history and the endless Venetian-led Crusades in the context of the ever-shifting Eurasian world. Filled with compelling insights and famous figures, Venice is a monumental work of popular history that’s as opulent and entertaining as the great city itself.

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one’s image executed by Gentile Bellini was so great that the Senate employed it as a diplomatic tool. Gentile was, for example, sent to Germany, where he painted a portrait of Emperor Frederick III. He was not only well paid, but even given a knighthood by the grateful monarch. Similarly, in 1479 the Venetians sweetened the deal for peace with the Turks by agreeing to send Gentile to Constantinople to paint a portrait of the sultan. Mehmed the Conqueror, who hoped to soon rule Italy, was

where the pope sided with Dandolo. Against the will of Venice’s bishop, the priests of San Salvatore thus became canons regular. It was a wound that would not quickly heal. The smoldering rancor between the patriarch and the bishop soon grew into a flame that burned across Venice’s political landscape. A new spark was struck sometime between 1141 and 1145, when Nella Michiel, the abbess of the convent of San Zaccaria, died. As was customary, the doge nominated a new abbess, probably one of

led by powerful monarchs with deep pockets and large armies. Under the command of King Richard the Lionheart of England, the Third Crusade managed to save the crusader kingdom, but not Jerusalem itself. The Muslim conquest of Jerusalem and the capture of the True Cross were not minor events for medieval Europeans. They were clear evidence of God’s displeasure with Christian society and a call—indeed a demand—for action. From the lowly serf in his fields to the exalted king on his throne, the

was overjoyed to see them. He devoured the pope’s letter and revered the holy oil from Jerusalem. But he was most impressed by young Marco Polo, with whom he became quite close. In later years he would even send Marco to represent him in distant lands. Kublai Khan particularly liked Marco’s very Venetian approach to his ambassadorships. In Venice, ambassadors were essentially spies; it was their job not only to relate information to a foreign court but also to send back to the Venetian government

a million ducats. When he put in at Crete, which remained a Venetian colony, Zeno received orders to return to Venice at once. After refitting his ships, he did just that, culminating in his magnificent arrival in the lagoon on January 1. With Carlo Zeno and Vettor Pisani working together, Venetian spirits soared. Zeno, the old swashbuckling mercenary, was especially useful for dealing with the frequent scuffles between the various Italian and English mercenary companies working for Venice.

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