Republic of Venice


  • Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia  (Italian)
  • Serenìsima Repùblica Vèneta  (Venetian)
697–1797
Coat of arms
Motto: Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus
Diachronic map of the Republic and the Venetian Empire.
Diachronic map of the Republic and the Venetian Empire.
CapitalEraclea
(697–742)
Malamocco
(742–810)
Venice
(810–1797)
Common languages
GovernmentParliamentary oligarchic merchant republic with elective monarchistic features
Doge 
• 697–717 (first)
Paolo Lucio Anafestoa
• 1789–1797 (last)
Ludovico Manin
LegislatureGreat Council
• Upper Chamber
Senate
• Lower Chamber
Council of Ten
Historical eraMiddle AgesEarly modern period
• Established1
697

1082
1177
1204
1412
1571
1718
1797
CurrencyVenetian ducat
Venetian lira
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Byzantine Empire
Venetian Province
Cisalpine Republic
French departments of Greece
Today part ofItaly
Slovenia
Croatia
Montenegro
Albania
Greece
Cyprus
Turkey
Ukraine
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.

The Republic of Venice (Italian: Repubblica di Venezia;[1] Venetian: Repùblica de Venèsia) or Venetian Republic (Italian: Repubblica Veneta;[2] Venetian: Repùblica Vèneta), traditionally known as La Serenissima (English: Most Serene Republic of Venice; Italian: Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia; Venetian: Serenìsima Repùblica Vèneta), was a sovereign state and maritime republic in what is now northeastern Italy, which existed for over a millennium between the 7th century and the 18th century from 697 AD until 1797 AD. It was based in the lagoon communities of the historically prosperous city of Venice, and was a leading European economic and trading power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Citizens spoke primarily the still-surviving Venetian language, although publishing in (Florentine) Italian language became the norm during the Renaissance and after.

The Venetian city state was founded as a safe haven for the people escaping persecution in mainland Europe after the decline of the Roman Empire[citation needed]. 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 Roman Catholic censorship for many centuries. Venice achieved territorial conquests along the Adriatic Sea. Venice became home to an extremely wealthy merchant class, who patronized 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 Vivaldi and Benedetto Marcello.

The republic was ruled by the Doge, who was elected by members of the Great Council of Venice, the city-state's parliament. 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 became part of a unified Italy in the 19th century.

Name

It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice (Italian: Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, Venetian: Serenìsima Repùblica Vèneta, or Venetian: Repùblica de Venesia) and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in reference to its title as one of the "Most Serene Republics".