Venice: The Venetian Republic


Venice is one of Italy’s most famous locations for tourists to visit. While today it is only a city with around 60 000 residents, Venice was once the capital of the Republic of Venice. This article will cover Venice’s founding, the Republic, the Doge of Venice, Venetian culture, The Jewish Ghettos, and modern Venice.

Venice’s Founding

Venice’s founding has been lost to history, with few documents surviving that accurately relay the story. We do know that Venice gets its name from the Veniti people that lived within the area as early as 1000 BCE. The earliest record of Venice being founded as a city is 421 CE, with it being inhabited by a larger number of people starting in 450 CE.

These settlers were forced into the marshes by various invaders who would raid the settlements on land. Its early wealth developed quickly and was based on its dominance in the salt trade locally and throughout the Mediterranean. The city would continually build itself up until The Republic of Venice was officially founded in 697 CE.


The Republic Of Venice

The Republic of Venice lasted over 1000 years. It achieved this by reaching an exceptional balance between the various political powers and building a strong economy. Venice remained the capital of the Republic throughout its entire existence. It peaked in size and influence during the Medieval periods as a Maritime Republic. Alongside salt and its other goods, Venetian Glass would eventually come to play a significant role in its economy and trade routes.

Throughout its existence, it was a trading and merchant powerhouse known throughout the Mediterranean. Its isolation from other Italian states allowed it to develop trade routes in the east that the other states didn’t take advantage of till much later. Once the discovery of America occurred, Venice’s trade and influence entered a steep decline.

While there were many different legal bodies, the head of the Republic was the Doge. Also known as the Doge of Venice.

Venices founding and the republic of venice, the doge of venice.
Serenissima Republic of Venice old flag with Salute Basilica in the background

The Doge Of Venice

While The Doge ruled the Republic of Venice. Rather than being ordained by God, the Doge of Venice was elected by the Great Council Of Venice, which was comprised of the city’s influential families. Doges could be replaced and didn’t hold the same power and influence as other leaders/monarchies did during the medieval ages. The government was quite complex and often resulted in gridlock.

The political gridlock is thought to be one of the reasons Venice prospered the way it did. The consistency with slow incremental changes allowed for complex markets to develop.

However, each Doge would influence the direction of Venetian culture in their own unique way by hosting events, constructing buildings, and spending money on the different artists throughout the city.


Venetian Culture

Venice was a multicultural hub throughout the centuries, allowing it to develop a unique culture. Venetian culture would include art, music, carnivals, architecture, fireworks, and more. Venice was one of the centers of the Renaissance during the medieval ages, alongside Florence and the other Italian Republics.

Venice focused more on music and the printing of music, whereas Florence focused more on the visual arts, such as sculpture and paintings. Throughout the Renaissance, Venice produced some of the most world-renowned violins, which are still sought after and collected. World-class violinists are sometimes given these violins to demonstrate the sound’s beauty and the lost craftsmen’s ship.


The Venetian Ghettos

Up until the events of World War Two and the Holocaust, Venice had a large Jewish population. Originally Jews during the medieval ages lived in Ghettos. These were areas where they were legally allowed to live, with many of these Ghettos still being visited today as tourist attractions. The original Jewish Ghetto in Venice was originally a copper foundry. The word Ghetto when translated into English, means foundry.

The Ghetto was used to isolate the Jewish community away from the rest of Venetian Society. However, throughout the medieval ages, the local Jewish community offered money-lending services to the citizens of Venice since their Christian counterparts were not permitted to charge interest. This led to Anti-Semitic beliefs being held among Venice’s rich and poor Christian citizens.

The Venetian Jewish Ghettos
gheto vechio ( old ghetto ), inscription above the entrance to the jewish quarter of Venice, Italy

Modern Venice

Today you can walk the canals and see the various influences left over from the past. Along with the history and amazing views, just like other parts of Italy, it boasts amazing cuisine alongside its amazing culture, buildings, and art. As a city, it is in danger of being swallowed by the sea.

Venice has spent millions trying to keep the sea at bay in order to keep this amazing city afloat, both for the local community and the future generations that haven’t seen the magnificent city of Venice.

Today the city remains an essential and impressive example of the human ability to adapt to change. Hopefully, future innovations will save the 118 islands that make up modern Venice for generations to come.


Venetian Coins

The Venetians, like other Italian states, minted their own coinage. Below is an example of a Venetian coin and a link to all of the silver Italian coins we currently have in stock.

Venetian Grosso 13th century. Doge and St. Mark standing facing, holding between them a staff with a banner.

Published by Invest in History Co.

We specialize in high-quality gold and silver coins. Focusing on Middle East, Eastern European, and Ancient coins. We carry Roman, Greek, Parthian, Phoenician, Celtic, Byzantine, Russian, Jewish, Islamic, and many other culture's coins.

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