DURING the period covered by this chapter the State of Venice did not reach maturity. She did not become a world-power till after the Fourth Crusade, nor was it till a full century later that she finally developed her constitution. But the germs of her constitution and the seeds of her sea-power are both to be found in these earliest years of her existence. The problems which dominate these years are the question of immigration, when and how did the inhospitable islands of the lagoons become settled; how did the community develop; how did it gradually achieve its actual and then its formal independence of Byzantium; how did it save itself from being absorbed by the rulers of the Italian mainland, Charles the Great, Otto II, and Frederick Barbarossa.

The earliest authentic notice we have of the lagoon-population is to be found in the letter addressed (c. 536) by Cassiodorus, in the name of Witigis, King of the Goths, to the Tribuni Maritimorum, the tribunes of the maritime parts. The letter, written in a tone between command and exhortation, is highly rhetorical in style, but gives us a vivid picture of a poor though industrious community occupying a site unique in the world.

This community, in all probability, formed part of the Gothic Kingdom, for it seems certain that the Tribuni Maritimorum whom Cassiodorus addresses were officers appointed by the Goths. The chief characteristics of this people are that they were salt-workers and seamen, two points highly significant for the future development of Venice. No doubt the population here referred to was largely augmented, if not actually formed, by the refugees who sought safety in the lagoons from the ever recurrent barbarian incursions on the mainland, Attila's among the number; but it is not till the Lombard invasion in 568 that we can begin to trace the positive influence of the barbarian raids and to note the first signs of a political constitution inside the lagoons themselves.

The campaign of Belisarius (535-540) brought Venetia once more under the Roman Empire (539); and, when Narses the Eunuch undertook to carry out Justinian’s scheme for the final extermination of the Goths (551), he was forced to recognize the importance of the lagoons. His march upon Ravenna by way of the mainland was opposed by the Franks and by the Goths under Teias. In these circumstances John, the son of Vitalian, who knew the country well, suggested that the army should take the lagoon and lidi route, through which it was conducted by the lagoon-dwellers with their long ships and light ships, thereby enabling the Greek army to reach Ravenna and incidentally leading up to the final victories of Busta Gallorum (552) and Mons Lactarius (553); after this the coast districts became definitely and undisputedly parts of the Roman Empire once more.

But the hold of Byzantium upon Italy generally was weak. The Persian war absorbed the imperial resources. There was little to oppose Alboin and his Lombards when in the spring of 568 they swept down from Pannonia and within the year made themselves lords of North Italy. Then began a general flight from the mainland; and the process was renewed during the next hundred years down to the second sack of Oderzo (667). Throughout this period the settlement of the lagoons definitely took place, and we find the first indication of a constitution in those obscure officials, the Tribuni Majores and Minores of the earliest chronicles. Paulinus, Patriarch of Aquileia, fled from his ruined diocese bearing with him the treasury and the relics. He was followed by his flock, who sought refuge in Grado. The refugees from Concordia found an asylum in Caorle; Malamocco and Chioggia were settled in 602, and possibly some of the Rialto group of islands, the site of the future City of Venice, received inhabitants for the first time. The final peopling of Torcello, with which the earliest Venetian chronicles are so much concerned, took place in 636, when Altino, one of the last remaining imperial possessions on the mainland, fell. Bishop Maurus and Tribune Aurius settled in the Torcello group of islands, and built a church. The tribune assigned certain islands as church-lands, and appointed, as his tribune-delegate in the island of Ammiana, Fraunduni, who likewise built a church and apportioned certain lands to furnish the revenue thereof. Twelve lagoon-townships were settled in this manner, Grado, Bibiones (between Grado and Caorle), Caorle, Heraclea, Equilio Jesolo (now Cavazuccherina), Torcello, Murano, Rialto, Malamocco, Poveglia, Clugies minor (now Sottomarina), and Clugies Major (now Chioggia). If, as is probable, a process similar to that which took place in the settlement of Torcello went on in the case of these other townships, then we find a solution of the vexed question as to the exact nature of the major and minor tribunes, the former being, like Aurius, the leaders of the immigrants, the latter, like Fraunduni, delegates in the circumjacent islands.

In the confusion and obscurity of the early chronicles it is difficult to arrive at a clear idea of the political conditions in the lagoon-townships. In the structure of the Empire, Venetia formed part of the province of Istria. We know from the inscriptions of Santa Eufemia in Grado that the Greeks maintained a fleet in the lagoons down to the sixth century; but as they gradually lost ground on the mainland before the Lombard invaders, they withdrew their forces, leaving the islanders of the lagoons to defend themselves as best they might. The lagoon-dwellers gathered round their leading men or tribunes; but their powers of defence were feeble, as is proved by the raid of Lupus, Duke of Friuli, upon Grado (630), and it was probably only the intricate nature of their home-waters which saved them from absorption by the barbarian. These tribunes wielded both military and civil authority, and in theory were undoubtedly appointed by and dependent on the Exarch of Ravenna as representing Byzantium in Italy. The office tended to become hereditary and gave rise to the class of tribunitian families. Side by side with the secular power, as represented by the tribunes, grew the ecclesiastical power centring round the patriarchate of Grado (568), and the lagoon sees of Caorle (598), Torcello (635), Heraclea (640), Malamocco (640), Jesolo (670), Olivolo (774). The Arianism of the Lombards drove the orthodox bishops from their mainland churches to seek asylum in the lagoons. The clergy as was natural, thanks to their education, played a large part in the developing life of the lagoon communities; but, if we may draw a conclusion from the instance of Torcello, it would seem that the secular power reserved a kind of superiority or patronage over the ecclesiastical: a fact significant in the future development of ecclesiastico­-political relations in Venice. Besides the leading, or “noble”, families represented by the tribunes, and the clergy gathered round their bishops, we find that there was a general assembly of the whole population which made its voice heard in the choice of both tribunes, priests, and bishops, but otherwise appears to have been of little weight.

Throughout the seventh century the imperial possessions on the mainland were gradually shorn away by the Lombard kings. The second sack of Oderzo (667), which had been the seat of an imperial Magister Militum, seems to have caused the rise of Heraclea, the lagoon-township where the refugees from Oderzo found asylum, to the leading place among the twelve tribunitian centres. So great was the number of the fugitives that they overflowed into the neighbouring township of Jesolo, and its population was soon large enough to demand a separate bishopric (670). The collapse of the Roman Empire on the mainland led to the severing of all land-communication between the lagoons and Istria, of which they had hitherto formed a part. It seems that either directly and deliberately by the will of the imperial authorities, or by the will of the lagoon-dwellers with a view to their better protection, Sea-Venice was separated from Istria and erected into a distinct ducatus (after 680). The Venetian chronicler, John the Deacon, represents the creation of the first doge in the following terms: “In the times of the Emperor Anastasius and of Liutprand, King of the Lombards, the whole population of Venice, along with the Patriarch and the bishops came together and by common accord resolved that it would be more honourable for the future to live under dukes than under tribunes; and after long debate as to whom they should elect to this office, at length they agreed upon a capable and illustrious man named Paulitio”.


The first doge


The date usually given for the choice of the first doge is 697, but if John the Deacon be right it cannot be placed earlier than 713, the year in which Anastasius came to the throne. The question has been raised as to whether the lagoon population independently elected their first doge, or whether he was appointed by the imperial authorities. Both may be true in the sense that he was chosen by the community, as in all probability were the tribunes, and confirmed by the exarch or the imperial authority. In any case it is certain that there was no question of the lagoon population claiming formal independence of Byzantium at that time nor for long after; but, as a matter of fact, a very few years later (726), at the time of the Italian revolt against the iconoclastic decrees of Leo the Isaurian, the population of the lagoons undoubtedly made a free and independent election of their doge in the person of Orso, the third holder of that title.

The election of the first doge, Paulutius Anafestus, a “noble” of Heraclea, marks the close of the earliest period in Venetian history; the second period is concerned with the events which led up to the concentration of the lagoon-townships at Rialto, the city we now call Venice, in 810. The notes of the period are: first, the development of the dukedom as against the older order of the tribunes and against the ecclesiastical power of the Patriarchs of Grado; second, the internal quarrels between rival townships, Heraclea, Jesolo, Malamocco, which largely contributed to the final concentration at Rialto; third, the question of self preservation, the maintenance of such practical, de facto, independence of Byzantium as the community had acquired through the weakness of the Empire, and the struggle to avoid absorption by the powerful barbarian rulers of the mainland, Lombard and Frank.

The dependence of Venice on Byzantium has been maintained by modern historians, and it cannot for a moment be disputed that, in theory, it existed; as late as 979 we find public documents dated by the year of the imperial reign. But in practice it is the population of the lagoons which elects the doge, and murders, deposes, blinds, or tonsures him if dissatisfied with the tendency of his policy, while no one brings them to account for such acts of independence. An explanation of the frequent revolutions and ducal downfalls has been suggested in the jealousy of the various tribunitian families reduced in importance by the creation of the dukedom; but if it be permissible to consider the lagoon-dwellers as an individual community and to talk of the spirit of a race, viewed by the light of events as they occurred, it looks as though the Venetian population was inspired by an instinct towards independence and deliberately worked towards that goal.


Relations with the Lombards


The earliest and most important act of Paulutius was the conclusion of a treaty (713-716) with Liutprand, the powerful King of the Lombards. The treaty is lost, but we can gather its terms from the reference to it in subsequent pacta with the kings of Italy. It consisted of two parts: the first a guarantee of security for Venetian traders on the mainland; protection of Venetian flocks and horses; right to cut wood in Lombard territory; in return for these privileges the doge agreed to pay an annual tribute. The second part contained a definition of boundaries on the mainland. This second part is said to have been “concluded in the days of King Liutprand, between the Duke Paulutio and the Magister Militum Marcellus”. Of this difficult passage three explanations have been suggested. It is said that Marcellus was the Magister Militum (the chief imperial authority) of Istria, and that it was he who concluded the treaty with the consent of the doge. But Istria and Sea-Venice were by this time separated; “Dux” is superior in rank to “Magister Militum”, and as a matter of fact the doge’s name comes first; finally the agreement is said to be not between Marcellus and Liutprand but between (inter) Paulutio and Marcellus. The second theory is that Marcellus was Magister Militum in Venice and associated himself with the doge in treating with Liutprand; but here again the word inter seems fatal. The third and most plausible theory is that Marcellus was the imperial Magister Militum in Venice, and that acting on imperial orders he and the doge delimited the territory of Heraclea and obtained from Liutprand a confirmation of the same, as is proved by the “precept” of 25 March 996. Whichever view be correct, the treaty with Liutprand is of the highest importance as shewing us the Venetian community under its first doge securing treaty rights from the masters of the mainland.

It is certain that the early doges did not exercise a wide or undisputed power in the lagoon community. Not until the ninth century, after the concentration at Rialto, did they assume the unchallenged headship of the State. The office of tribune persisted long after the creation of the dukedom; as late as 887 we hear of the Tribune Andrea rescuing the body of the Doge Peter I Candianus from the Slays. But the establishment of the dogeship roused jealousy among the tribunitian families, and the choice of Heraclea for the ducal seat stirred the envy of other lagoon-townships and so began the long series of struggles between the rival centres in one of which the first doge lost his life (717).

He was succeeded by Marcellus Tegalianus, whose identification with Marcellus, Magister Militum of Istria, is by no means certain. He was probably appointed or confirmed by the imperial authorities. During his reign Serenus, Patriarch of Aquileia, supported by Liutprand, attacked Donatus, Patriarch of Grado. The doge, afraid of drawing down on the lagoons the wrath of the Lombards if he employed Venetian arms in support of the lagoon Patriarch, contented himself with an appeal to the Pope, who sharply reprimanded Serenus. Subsequently the Lateran Council (732) formally decreed the separation of the two jurisdictions, declaring Grado to be the metropolitan see of Istria and the lagoons, thereby conferring definite form on the lagoon patriarchate. Marcellus died in 726, at the moment when Italy, following the lead of Pope Gregory II, was in open revolt against the iconoclast decrees of the Emperor Leo III. The various districts expelled or slew the imperial officers and elected dukes for themselves. The bolder spirits even talked of electing a new Emperor and marching with him on Constantinople. Venice shared in the general movement, and, whether Marcellus' death was due to the revolutionary party or not, his successor Ursus was undoubtedly elected by the lagoon population without consulting the imperial authorities.


  Relations with Byzantium


The Italian revolt of 726 brought to light the difficulty in which the growing lagoon community found itself between east and west. The Pope in his hostility to Leo invited Liutprand to invade the Exarchate and expel the Greeks. The Lombard king was nothing loth, seeing in the request an opportunity for extending his domains. In a first attack on Ravenna, Paul the Exarch was slain. The Emperor despatched Eutychius with gold and troops to take his place. The new exarch came to terms with Liutprand and assisted him to subdue the revolted Dukes of Benevento and Spoleto. But when Gregory III came to the papal throne in 731 he arrived at an understanding with Eutychius which resulted in a fresh revolt of the Duke of Spoleto. Liutprand at once attacked the Exarchate (739). Ravenna fell to Duke Hildebrand and Duke Peredeo. Eutychius fled to the lagoons and summoned the Venetians, by their allegiance to the Emperor, to lend aid in restoring him. They obeyed. The Venetian fleet replaced the exarch in his capital (741).

In the meantime the doge, whose loyalty to Byzantium had been rewarded with the title of Hypatos or Consul, had died (737). Both he and his two predecessors were nobles of Heraclea, belonging to the aristocratic or Byzantine party, and ruling in Heraclea. Local jealousy between the rival townships combined with the hostility of the revolutionary party, whose policy was anti-Byzantine and ranged, with the Pope for the freedom of Italy from Byzantine suzerainty, led, as the chronicles tell us, to an attack by Jesolo upon Heraclea, and in the fighting the doge fell. Whether the story be strictly true or not, the episode is of importance as showing us the formation of two distinct parties inside the lagoons, and in its bearing upon the election of the next doge which took place not in Heraclea but at Malamocco, an important step towards the final concentration at Rialto. The reigns of the first three doges had yielded results not altogether satisfactory, and on the death of Ursus, the imperial authorities, or, according to the Venetian tradition, the population of the lagoons, resolved to substitute for the dogeship the yearly office of Magister Militum. The new magistracy was of short duration (737-741), and was marked by the continued violence of party strife. The last Magister Militum, Fabriacus, was blinded and, in 742, the community returned to the system of ducal government, electing Deusdedit, son of the late Doge Ursus, to that office. But the seat of government was removed from Heraclea—not only the scene of violent faction-fights, but also accessible from the mainland and therefore exposed to the influence of the mainland rulers—to Malamocco, a township on the lido which divides the lagoon from the open sea. The choice of Malamocco was a compromise, preluding the final compromise at Rialto, and was determined by the anti-Byzantine party; but the new doge was still an Heracleote and member of the Byzantine party, though no longer ruling in Heraclea.


The Franks 


During the reign of Deusdedit the pressure of external events was never relaxed; the danger that the lagoons might be absorbed by the lords of the mainland was ever present. The remains of Greek lordship in North Italy had all but disappeared; the lagoons were almost all that survived. In 751 Aistulf, the Lombard king, finally captured Ravenna, and so imminent seemed the threat from the south-west that the doge undertook the building of a strong fort at Brondolo to protect his frontiers. Aistulf, however, did not prove hostile; he was at the moment engaged with his scheme for reducing the Papacy to the position of a “Lombard bishopric”, and could afford to wait as far as the lagoons were concerned. He therefore willingly renewed the treaty made with Liutprand. But a greater power than that of the Lombards was about to appear on the scene, a power destined to act with decisive effect on the development of Venice. The Pope, alarmed at the threatening attitude of the Lombard sovereign, and unable to claim aid from the weak, distant, and also iconoclastically heretical Emperor, turned to the Franks for protection. Pope Stephen II in 754 made a personal appeal to Pepin, son of Charles Martel. That same year the Franks entered Italy by the Fenestrelle pass. They immediately proved their superiority over the Lombards. Aistulf was defeated and only saved a remnant of his territory through Papal mediation (756). His son Desiderius saw the destruction of the Lombard Kingdom, and by 774 Pavia was in the hands of the Franks.

The Venetians, meanwhile, had been profiting by the disturbed state of the mainland; the decline of Ravenna, in particular, allowed them to extend their trade, which was now beginning to assume its prominent characteristic of a carrying-trade between East and West. We hear of Venetian merchants in Constantinople sending valuable political information to the Papal authorities in Ravenna; and possibly about this period Torcello began to assume its position of “great emporium”, as Constantine Porphyrogenitus styles it. But prosperity did not allay the internal jealousies of the lagoon-townships. Jesolo still nursed her ancient hatred of Heraclea. The Jesolans, headed by Egilius Gaulus, attacked the Heracleote noble Deusdedit, the Doge. They blinded and deposed him, and their leader seized the ducal chair, only to be blinded and banished, in his turn, within the year (755). The point of the struggle for supremacy between the various townships is emphasized by the fact that the next doge, Dominicus Monegarius, was not an Heracleote but a native of Malamocco, the seat of the government. Either the Venetian population or the imperial authorities seem to have thought that these perpetual revolutions were due to the fact that the doges enjoyed too free a hand. The ducal independence of action was therefore curtailed by the appointment of two tribunes to act in concert with the doge. The effort to shake himself free of these trammels cost Monegarius his throne. He was deposed and blinded and, perhaps by a reaction of party feeling, an Heracleote, Mauritius, was elected in 764. The election of Mauritius has, however, been taken as a proof and a result of a movement which had undoubtedly been going on for some time. The internecine quarrels of Heraclea and Jesolo, ending in the removal of the capital to Malamocco, had seriously injured both town­ships; a general exodus took place from both into the new capital, where the Heracleotes were soon in sufficient numbers to secure the election of one of themselves to the ducal chair. However that may be, the fact remains that both Heraclea and Jesolo ceased to be of great importance among the lagoon-townships, and their territory was assigned to the fist, forming the origin of what afterwards became the domainlands of the Ducatus.


   Olivolo. Charles the Great


The reign of Mauritius is marked by two points of importance: first, the beginning of the custom of appointing a doge-consort, naturally, as the appointment lay with the doge, a member of his own family, thereby paving the way for the establishment of the dynastic principle which was to play so large a part in the early history of Venice; secondly, the founding of the bishopric of Olivolo. The influx of Heracleotes and Jesolans, which we have already recorded, proved to be so abundant that the immigrants overflowed to Rialto, and so great were their numbers that they soon demanded and obtained a see of their own (774), with its cathedral on the island of Olivolo, one of the north-eastern islets of the Realtine group, afterwards known, and known to this day, as Castello. The foundation of the see of Olivolo may be taken as the first step in the formation of the city of Venice.

Difficult times were at hand for the lagoon-community. Pepin, son of Charles Martel, in the course of his campaign against the Lombards had captured Ravenna and the Pentapolis. These he presented to his ally the Pope. Pepin's son, Charles the Great, after the final destruction of the Lombard kingdom, confirmed his father's donation. In con­sidering his new kingdom he must have observed that Maritime-Venice and the lagoon-townships alone in North Italy still owned allegiance to Byzantium. He probably resolved to bring them within the bounds of his new territory, all the more so that, in the almost inevitable clash with the Greek Empire, Venice alone seemed able to furnish a fleet and a sea-base. In any case Charles ordered the expulsion of Venetian traders from the Pentapolis (784) and took Istria (787), thus enclosing the lagoons in an iron circle. These actions opened the eyes of the lagoon-population to the approaching crisis.

The situation was complicated by the attitude of the Patriarchs of Grado, who, as good Churchmen, favoured the Pope's allies, the Franks. Thus two parties were clearly defined inside the lagoons: the party of the doges, the Byzantine party which clung to its allegiance to the Empire as its safeguard against the danger of being absorbed by the Franks; and the party of the Patriarchs, the party of the Church, the Francophile party which seemed willing to carry the whole community over to Charles, rather than risk the loss of commerce on the mainland which would be entailed by a rupture with the Franks. How far there was a third party, a Venetian party, determined to save the State from the Franks while preserving its de facto independence of Byzantium, is not clear. Inside the lagoon the crisis was brought to an issue and the party positions defined over the newly-created see of Olivolo. The Doge John, son of Mauritius, who had first been doge-consort to his father (778) and then reigning doge (787), nominated to the see a young Greek, named Christopher, only sixteen years old. The Patriarch of Grado refused to consecrate him (798). A little later it was known that the Patriarch was urging Charles' son, Pepin of Italy, to form a navy in Ravenna for the subjugation of the lagoons. The doge sent his son, Mauritius the younger, to attack Grado, and the Patriarch was flung from the highest tower of his palace and killed (802).

But this high-handed act made no difference in the policy of the patriarchal see. The murdered John was succeeded by his nephew Fortunatus, a restless, capable, enterprising man, of Francophile leanings even more pronounced than those of his uncle. Fortunatus received the pallium in 803 and at once set to work to develop the Frankish party. Along with others of the faction, Obelerius and Felix the Tribune, he formed a plot against the doge. It was discovered, and the conspirators fled to Treviso, whence Fortunatus proceeded alone to the court of Charles at Seitz. He brought the Emperor many and costly presents, and found him in a mood to listen to his plans for the expulsion of the Byzantine doges and their party, as the Frankish embassy to the court at Constantinople (803), commissioned to secure recognition of Charles’ new imperial title, had just been haughtily repulsed.

Meanwhile, encouraged no doubt by news from Fortunatus, the Francophile conspirators in Treviso elected Obelerius as doge (804). He made a dash for the lagoons, entered his native town. Malamocco amid popular acclaim, and the Doges John and Mauritius were forced to fly along with their creature Christopher, Bishop of Olivolo.

This revolution of 804 meant the complete triumph of the Francophile party. How complete that triumph was is proved by the fact that the Doge Obelerius and the Doge-consort, his brother Beatus, paid a visit to the court of Charles at Thionville (Theodonis Villa) about Christmas 805, and early in the next year the Emperor made an ordinatio or disposition for the government of the doges and populace of Venice as well as for Dalmatia. Venice, Istria, and Dalmatia were declared to be parts of Pepin's kingdom of Italy.

This deliberate challenge to Nicephorus and the Eastern Empire was at once taken up. In 807 the patrician Nicetas appeared in the Adriatic with the imperial fleet. Charles and Pepin were possessed of no sea-power capable of offering resistance, and Nicetas met with none. If Charles had counted on the Venetians for support he was deceived. Dalmatia returned to its allegiance, as did the doges. Obelerius was rewarded with the title of Spatharius, but Beatus was sent to Constantinople as a hostage for Venetian loyalty. Nicetas made a truce with Pepin and withdrew his fleet in the autumn of 807. The truce came to an end in the autumn of 808, and the patrician Paul appeared with the Greek fleet in the Adriatic. After wintering in Venetian waters, he attacked Comacchio and was repulsed. The Frankish party in the lagoons was strong enough to render his position insecure. He withdrew his fleet down the Adriatic (809), leaving Venice to the wrath of Pepin, who was resolved to make good his claims to the lagoons and to punish the doges for their perfidy in violating the ordinatio of Thionville. In the autumn of 809 the attack was delivered from north and south, by land and by sea. The lagoon-dwellers offered a vigorous resistance, and the king’s progress was slow. What remained of Heraclea fell; so did Brondolo, Chioggia, Pelestrina, Albiola, and even the capital Malamocco; both doges were taken prisoners; but the lagoons were not conquered. The population of Malamocco withdrew to the central group of islands, called Rialto, and thence defied the conqueror. In vain he attempted to reach and capture the core of the lagoons; the intricate channels through the mud banks baffled him; he was eventually forced to withdraw in 810; and he died in July of the same year.

Recent historians, relying on the testimony of Einhard, claim that this event was a Venetian defeat, a Frankish victory. But Einhard, though a contemporary, was far away from the scene of action, and was moreover in the service of the Carolingians. Though there can be no doubt that Pepin captured the lidi up to Malamocco, the capital, and made the doges prisoners, compelling them to consent to a yearly tribute, yet the fact remains that he did not conquer Rialto, the heart of the lagoons, and that the lagoon-population compelled him to abandon his enterprise and to retire. It is not surprising that Constantine Porphyro­genitus in the next century, and the Venetians ever after, should have looked upon the repulse of Pepin as the cardinal point in their early history and have eventually surrounded it with a mass of patriotic legend.

Pepin's attack on the lagoons, and the large measure of success which crowned it, alarmed Constantinople; and in 810 Arsafius, the Spatharius, Rialto, the City of Venice was sent to negotiate with the king, but finding him dead the envoy proceeded direct to Charles at Aix-la-Chapelle. In the spring of 811 Arsafius left Aix on his return to Constantinople, bearing Charles’ terms, which were that he would surrender Venice, Istria, Liburnia, and Dalmatia in return for recognition of his imperial title. It may be observed that, even if Charles considered that Pepin had conquered Venice, Dalmatia certainly was in no sense his, as Pepin's fleet had immediately retired before the fleet of Paul, the of Cephalonia. More probably Charles based his claim to Venice on the ordinatio of Thionville. Arsafius on his way through Venice nominated an Heracleote noble, Agnellus Particiacus, to the vacant dogeship. The Doges Obelerius and Beatus were both in the custody of Arsafius, the former to be consigned, as Charles had ordained, to his lawful sovereign (ad dominum), the Emperor Nicephorus, a phrase which can hardly be reconciled with the claim that Venice and the Venetians were Frankish territory and people. By the summer of 812 the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed, and Venice returned to her ancient position as vassal of the Eastern Empire. The result of the whole episode, as far as Venice was concerned, was that internally a concentration of all the lagoon-townships took place at Rialto, which now became the capital. The rivalries and jealousies between the lagoon-centres came to an end. Further, the new city emerged from Pepin’s attack Byzantine in sympa­thies, and with an Heracleote Byzantine noble as doge. And, with the failure of the Francophile policy of the Patriarch Fortunatus, the power of the Church as an independent political element in Venice began to decline, and Grado slowly waned in power and influence. Externally Venice remained Eastern not Western, aloof from the rest of Italy, looking eastward for the most part, a fact of the highest importance in determining the subsequent character and career of the race.

We are now entering on a new period of Venetian history which goes down to the reign of Peter II Orseolo (991-1009). It is possible now to talk of Venice as a city-state. The characteristic notes of the period are: firstly, the development of the dukedom with its growing dynastic tendencies; the accumulation in single houses of dignities and wealth, thanks to private trading by the doges under special privileges; and the revolt of the Venetian people against these dynastic tendencies. Secondly, we note the relations of the state with the Western Empire, the effort to maintain its independence and to extend its commerce, which are revealed in the series of pacta and praecepta. And thirdly, the relations, of the state with the East; the gradual loosening of the formal bonds which bound it as a vassal to the Eastern Empire, and the extension of its trading privileges in the Levant. For many years to come (down to 979 at least) the formal dependence on the Eastern Empire was fully recognized by the use of the imperial date in public documents, by public prayers for the Emperor, and by the obligations of transport, affirmed and acknowledged in the various imperial bulls; but in fact, owing to the growing sea-power of the Venetians, the relations gradually became rather those of allies. The final note of the period is the growth and the embellishment of the new capital.




The young state soon began to display those commercial instincts which were destined to mark its whole career. Either by a separate treaty—a theory strenuously combated by recent historians—or at least by a special clause in the Treaty of Aix, Charles renewed the privileges, endorsed the tribute, and confirmed the frontiers established by the treaty with King Liutprand. This treaty formed the charter of Venetian trading rights on the mainland, and was frequently rehearsed and reconfirmed during the ninth and tenth centuries.

The valley of the Po formed the natural trade: route from the head of the Adriatic to Lombardy, France, and West Germany; but for the command of this route the lagoon-city of Comacchio was an active competitor, lying as it did near the mouth of that river. At Pavia, the capital of the Italian kingdom, two great trade-routes converged, the Po-valley route, and the route from Rome across the Apennines. Already in the days of Charles, the monk of St Gall reports, Venetian merchants frequented the markets of Pavia, bringing with them "from overseas all the wealth of the orient", chiefly, it seems, silks, spices, golden pheasant and peacock feathers. The life of St Gerald, of Aurillac shows us how a Venetian merchant at Pavia acted as expert-adviser on the current prices of silk webs in the markets of Constantinople: The trade of Comacchio was chiefly confined to salt, but we shall presently see how Venice went to war with her rivals in order to secure a monopoly of this commodity.

As regards relations with the East we naturally find no treaties during the ninth century. The formal position of vassal and suzerain was fully recognised; the Emperors, through their officers and bulls, sent their orders, as, for example, those forbidding the Venetians to trade with enemies of the Empire in arms and timber; these orders were obeyed as long as the interests of Venice and of the East were identical. We have a proof that Venetians were already trading far afield in the Levant, for in 829 the body of St Mark was brought from Alexandria to Venice by Venetian merchants on board their own ship; and by 840, on the request of the Emperor Theophilus, Venice was able to send sixty ships to sea. Indeed we find that from the reign of Michael II (820-829) onwards the Emperors made frequent calls on the naval power of Venice. The claim was, no doubt, a right (see the chrysobull of 991), but it gradually assumed the aspect of an appeal to an ally, until it definitely took that form in the dogeship of Peter II Orseolo.

The city itself, during the reigns of the first three doges of the house of Particiacus, shewed a rapid extension in buildings. Agnellus began the first ducal palace, a wooden structure; his son Justinian founded the first church of St Mark, a small basilica, with apse and crypt, occupying the site of the present Capello Zen. The basilica was built to receive the body of St Mark, the translation of whose remains from Alexandria to Venice is an essential point in the ecclesiastical history of the City; for by the possession of the Saint's body the Venetians, in a manner, asserted their superiority to Aquileia and also to Grado, a superiority which was finally confirmed in 1445 by the removal of the patriarchal see of Grado to Venice. By his will (June 829) the Doge Justinian left instructions that the stones of the house of a certain Theophylact of Torcello were to be used in the construction of the Church. During this same period the famous monastery of Sant Ilario on the Brenta. the convent of San Zaccaria near the ducal palace, and the cathedral church of San Pietro at Olivolo, came into being and received large endowments from members of the ducal family.


Constitution. Dynastic tendencies


As to the constitution of the new state we have little information; we know that Agnellus had two tribunes appointed as assessors in the interests of the Greek Empire, but we hear nothing of their action. The doge seems to have had the sole disposal of the treasury and to have been, for administrative purposes, quite uncontrolled. The tribunes still existed in the various lagoon-townships, but after the concentration at Rialto they possessed but restricted powers. The national assembly seems to have been of vital significance only on the occasions when it was convened. Its voice was heard in the election of the doge, and the doges seem to have called it to confirm their public acts; for example, in May 819, the Doges Agnellus and Justinian Particiacus, who in a possibly spurious passage are styled per divinam gratiam duces, declare that, in a donation to the Abbot of San Servolo, they are acting in concert cum universis Venecie populis habitantibus.

The dynastic tendency in the dukedom was clearly marked under the first three doges of the house of Particiacus. We find the system of appointing a doge-consort from the reigning family in full force, while the important see of Olivolo-Castello was filled for the long period of thirty-two years (822-854) by Ursus, son of John. Resentment at this tendency to concentrate the supreme power in a single house took definite shape in two conspiracies against the Doge John Particiacus; the first, in 835, headed by the Tribune Carosus, failed after a brief success; the second, under the leadership of the noble family of the Mastalici, deposed the doge (836) and compelled him to retire to a monastery near Grado. The choice of the Venetians then fell upon Peter Tradonicus, a man of noble blood, strong and vigorous, but illiterate—he could not even sign his name. His long reign of twenty-eight years (836-864) was signal­ised by unsuccessful sea-campaigns against the Slav pirates of the Dalmatian coast, who had already begun to harass the rich and growing trade of Venice in the Adriatic, and against the Saracens in the south of Italy. At the request, or order, of the Emperor Theophilus, conveyed by the patrician Theodosius, the doge fitted out sixty ships for the unlucky expedition to Taranto (840). Unfortunate as were these earliest naval enterprises of the growing State of Venice, they were fruitful in calling out the energy and resolution of the people and in leading to a revolution in Venetian ship-building. It was under Tradonicus that the first great ships’ were built in Venetian docks, and the type established which was to serve both for trade and war.


The pactum of Pavia


A second important point in the reign of Tradonicus, a point which bears upon Venetian relations with the West, was the conclusion of the pactum, or treaty, with the Emperor Lothar in 840, the very year in which the Emperor of the East had summoned the Venetians to his aid against the Saracens. This remarkable document, the earliest extant monument of Venetian diplomacy, was prepared during preliminary negotiations in Ravenna, but was signed on 22 February 840 at Pavia. It undoubtedly referred to and recited the terms of the special Venetian clauses in the Treaty of Aix (812), of the ordinatio of Thionville (806), and of King Liutprand’s treaty of 713. It was to last for five years, and as a matter of fact we find it being renewed every five years down to the Treaty of Millhausen (19 July 992). It stipulated for the payment of fifty librae of Venetian coinage (parve), equal to twenty-five librae of the Pavese coinage, as an annual tribute from Venice, due in March each year. But the payment of this tribute is not to be taken as in any sense a token of vassalage; it was merely a return for the privileges conceded by the pactum; peace and good friendship are to exist between Venice and various neighbouring districts inside the kingdom of Italy; these districts are specified and include Istria, Friuli, the Trevisan Marches, Vicenza, Monselice, Ravenna, and the ports on the Adriatic down to Fermo. Neither party is to injure the other. Venetian fugitives inside the kingdom are to be extradited; envoys and couriers are to be protected. The confines of Venetian territory as defined in the treaty with Liutprand are recognised. The Venetians may trade freely in the kingdom, except for the customary dues of water and land transit, and Italian subjects are to enjoy a like privilege by sea. The subjects of the Empire are to lend no aid to enemies of Venice, while Venice is to lend her aid by sea against all Slav freebooters. The importance of the document lies in the fact that it is an independent contract between the Doge of Venice and the rulers of the mainland, and that it confirms and extends existing trading privileges, which were subsequently still further enlarged. At Thionville, by a praeceptum dated 1 September 841, the Emperor formally recognised Venetian possessions inside the Empire.


Secular versus ecclesiastical power


The Doge Tradonicus did not escape the dynastic ambitions which were common to all the earlier holders of the ducal throne. He surrounded himself with a body-guard of foreign soldiers, Croats, devoted to his service. This, and his attempt to raise his relative, Dominicus, to the bishopric of Olivolo-Castello, gave the Particiaci faction, which was still strong, the desired opportunity. The doge was murdered on his way from the palace to San Zaccaria (13 September 864).

The murder of Tradonicus cannot be considered as a popular demonstration against the dynastic principle; it was carried out by a group of nobles instigated by the Patriarch of Grado who was a Particiacus, and in the interest of that family. Tradonicus was succeeded by Ursus Particiacus and subsequently by three other members of his house before the Particiaci gave way to the powerful family of the Candiani.

With the Western Empire Ursus maintained friendly relations and on 11 January 880 the pactum of Lothar was renewed with Charles the Fat in Ravenna. The modifications in the terms prove the extent to which Venice was growing in power and importance. It is no longer the case of certain specified places inside the kingdom entering on a treaty with Venice, but the Emperor himself treats on behalf of his whole kingdom. The slave trade is again to be condemned by a decree signed by doge and patriarch, and, most important of all, the doge's personal merchandise, his private trading stock, was to go free of customs dues. Ursus was further successful in a sharp encounter with the Patriarch of Grado, the upshot of which was to demonstrate and establish the supremacy of State over Church in Venice. The doge insisted on raising to the see of Torcello a eunuch named Dominicus. The Patriarch Peter Marturius refused to consecrate him as being canonically unfit, but had to fly before the doge's wrath. He appealed to the Pope, who summoned Dominicus and the Bishops Peter of Jesolo and Felix of Malamocco to Rome; in obedience to the doge they did not respond. The Pope convened a council in Ravenna (21 July 877), but the Venetian bishops did not appear till it was closing. Finally the Patriarch of Grado came to terms with the doge; he permitted Dominicus to reside at Torcello and to enjoy the revenues of the see, but the bishop was only consecrated by Marturius' successor. The whole episode, however, was a triumph for the doge and the secular authority.

Ursus was succeeded by his son John (881-887), in whose reign Venice embarked on her first aggressive commercial war. Comacchio, lying in its lagoons, near the mouth of the Po, was a serious commercial rival, both on account of its commanding position on the great trade-route and because of its salt industry which brought it into contact with the whole of North Italy. John made an effort to secure by diplomacy the lordship of Comacchio. He sent his brother Badoero to Rome to beg the Pope to grant him investiture. But on his way Badoero was wounded and captured by Marinus, Count of Comacchio, who was alive to the danger. Badoero returned to Venice and there died of his wounds. The doge and the whole population seized the opportunity to sack Comacchio and to establish Venetian officials in the town. Charles III, no more than the Pope, seems to have taken notice of this high-handed attack, and at Mantua (10 May 883) he confirmed by a praeceptum the Ravenna pactum of 880 with several important additions: the private goods of the doge and his heirs were exempt from the ordinary dues of teloneum and ripaticum (land and water transit) which other Venetians had to pay; conspiracy against the life of any prince, and therefore of the doge, on the part of any subject of the Empire was a crime; the doge was to enjoy full judicial powers over Venetian subjects in the Empire.


Pacta and praecepta


John and his brother and doge-consort resigned their offices in 887, and the choice fell upon Peter Candianus, member of a family destined to play a prominent part in the ensuing years of Venetian history. Peter's brief reign of a few months (April to September 887) at once indicated the lines along which the other doges of his house would move. He immediately undertook an expedition against the Slav pirates of the Dalmatian coasts, a proof that the security of the sea route down the Adriatic was becoming an imperative necessity for the growing state of Venice. The expedition was a failure. The doge fell, and was buried in the church of Santa Eufemia at Grado. The next two reigns, those of Peter Tribunus (888-911) and Ursus (Paureta) Particiacus (911-932), proved to be a long period of quiet and growth for Venice, except for the terror of the Hungarian raid in 900. Venice was threatened by the Magyar hordes who came down the Piave in their coracles of osier and hides and devastated the territories of Heraclea and Jesolo. The alarm at their coming led to the fortification of the city by the construction of a great wall along the line of the present Riva degli Schiavoni, from Castello to St Mark's, which was surrounded, and thence as far as Santa Maria Zobenigo, whence a strong chain was stretched across the mouth of the grand canal to San Gregorio. The doge is said to have defeated the Magyars at Albiola. Whether that be so or not, the fact remains that they never occupied the city of Venice.

The distracted state of the Western Empire, torn in pieces between competing princes, gave Venice an opportunity for renewing and enlarging her treaty rights. The series of pacta and praecepta is continued under the reigns of Berengar, Guy, Rodolph, and Hugh. In the Berengar pactum (7 May 888), signed at Olona, the sea-power of Venice is recognized, and she is entrusted with the policing of the Adriatic for the suppression of the Dalmatian pirates; in return, the duty on goods bartered in the kingdom of Italy was fixed at two and a half per cent., instead of being arbitrary as heretofore. The praeceptum of Rodolph (29 February 924), signed at Pavia, recognised in Venice "the ancient right" to coin money for circulation in the kingdom. That Venice had coined money for home circulation at least as early as the middle of the ninth century is proved by the pactum of Lothar (840), in which the annual tribute is made payable in Venetian librae. The exemption of ducal goods from payment of dues was extended from the doge personally to his agents to the great enrichment of the family estate, as we shall presently see in the case of Peter IV Candianus who employed it to support a private army.


The Candiani


We now come to the period of the dynastic supremacy of the Candiani (932-976). With the brief exception of three years (939-942) when the last of the Particiaci, Peter Badoero, occupied the throne, Peter II, Peter III, and Peter IV, of the Candiani were supreme. They were a fighting race, and the question of Venetian relations with Istria and Dalmatia, and her position in the Adriatic, gave them full employment. We have seen how the first doge of their house, Peter I, had already fallen in battle with the Slavs. Marquess Gunter (Wintker) of Istria, resenting the steady growth of Venetian commercial importance in the peninsula, had resorted to the confiscation of ducal and episcopal property in Istria and had forbidden his subjects to pay their just debts to Venetian merchants. Peter II, instead of resorting to the costly method of arms, which would have implied an attack on a province of the Italian kingdom with risks to Venetian commerce in Italy, reduced Marquess Gunter to sign a humiliating treaty of peace (12 March 933) by the simple process of boycotting Istria: a striking demonstration of the commanding position of Venice as an emporium. By this treaty, which was renewed in 977 and enlarged in 1074, Venice established her supremacy in Istria and took her first step down the Adriatic and towards her complete dominion in that sea.

The next Candiani Doge, Peter III (942-959), applied the system of boycott with equal success against Lupus, Patriarch of Aquileia, who had attacked Grado, and compelled him to sign a treaty (13 March 944), by which he confirmed the clauses of the treaty with his predecessor Walpert, including the exemption of the doge from all customs dues in his territory.

Peter III died and was succeeded by his son Peter IV (959-976), the most remarkable of the Candiani doges. In him the intention of converting the dukedom into an hereditary monarchy is at once made clear. One of his earliest steps was to employ the family funds, accumulated through the personal private trading of the doges, for the creation of a small standing army in his own pay. But the conditions in both Eastern and Western Empires had undergone a remarkable change. In the West the strong dynasty of the Saxon Ottos had raised the imperial prestige once more, while in the East the Emperor Tzimisces was about to revive the ancient supremacy of Byzantium. It seemed likely that the East and West would once again clash and that, as in 800-810, Venice would find her existence threatened by the conflict between the two great powers. Her position, however, was far stronger now than then. Her wealth was great, her importance as an emporium of necessities established, her sea-power recognized and respected. It was clearly the keystone of Venetian foreign policy to stand well with both East and West, and Peter IV applied himself to the task.


The Emperor Otto I


On the fall of Berengar II (961) and the coronation of Otto I, the doge hastened to secure the confirmation of the Venetian treaties. By the terms of the pactum signed in Rome on 2 December 967, there seems to have been a certain shrinkage in the privileges which Venice and her doges had gradually acquired during the period of disturbance in the kingdom of Italy. The judicial rights of the doge over all Venetians resident in the kingdom were not confirmed, nor was the exemption of ducal goods from taxation. On the other hand the treaty was now declared to run not for five years only but for all time, though in fact it required to be renewed on the accession of each new sovereign. The yearly tribute still remained at its normal fifty librae "nostrae monetae," as fixed by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (812), and for the first time we hear of unum pallium, though it is probable that this obligation figured in earlier pacta. In any case the pallium and the tribute cannot in any sense be taken as an indication of vassalage; the pallium here referred to was a web of silk, a rich specimen of Venetian wares. The terms of this pactum were renewed in 983, and an attempt has been made to prove that from that date down to 1024 Venice acknowledged the suzerainty of the Western Empire. But the evidence seems to show that her formal allegiance to the Eastern Empire was still recognized.

The imperative orders of the Emperor Tzimisces, forbidding, under penalty of confiscation and death, the lucrative traffic of Venice with the Saracens, may have helped to throw Peter IV more and more into the arms of the Emperor Otto, who was only too ready to secure Venetian sea-aid in the clash with the Eastern Empire which seemed inevitable if he were to carry out his policy of making all Italy part of his domains. In any case Peter divorced his wife Giovanna and married Gualdrada, daughter of Hubert, Marquess of Tuscany, granddaughter of King Hugh of Provence and niece of Adelaide, wife of Otto I. She brought with her a large dower in money and lands in the Trevisan Marches, in Friuli, and in the territory of Adria; and her husband the doge now began to assume regal state. He increased his private army and undertook military expeditions on the mainland on the plea of protecting his wife's possessions. Feeling rose high in Venice against the obviously monarchical tendencies of the doge. In a general tumult Peter was besieged in the palace; his guards offered resistance; the palace was fired, the doge slain. The conflagration was not stopped till it had destroyed the palace, part of St Mark's, and three hundred houses as far as Santa Maria Zobenigo (11 August 976). The act seems to have been the violent protest of the Venetian people against the attempt to convert the dukedom into a monarchy.

The murder of Peter Candianus placed Venice in a difficult position towards the Emperor Otto II. His hold on the lagoons and their sea-power was shaken; his cousin Gualdrada, wife of the late doge, claimed his defence of her rights. The task of meeting the dangerous situation fell chiefly upon the Orseoli, the third, and most distinguished, of the dynastic ducal families which governed Venice from 810 to 1009.

The day after the murder of Candianus the choice of the electors fell on Peter Orseolo, the first of the new dynasty, a man of saintly character, but, like all his race, possessing higher qualities of statesmanship than we have met with hitherto in his predecessors in the ducal chair. His first care was to repair the damage wrought by the fire. He began the building of a new palace and church. He renewed the treaty with Istria, the original of which had been burned along with the rest of the public documents. But his great service to the state lay in this, that he met and settled, to the nominal satisfaction of Otto II, the claims of the widowed dogaressa Gualdrada. Under his guidance the general assembly agreed to restore to her her morganaticum (400 pounds) and also the portion of the late doge's property which fell by right to her son, who had shared the fate of his father. On these terms Gualdrada signed a quittance of all claims against the State of Venice.

The danger was past for the moment. But the doge, obeying his pious instincts, resolved to retire from the world. On the night of 1 September 978 he secretly left Venice and fled to the monastery of Cusa in Aquitaine. Possibly with a view to appeasing Otto further, a member of the house of Candiani, Vitalis, brother of the murdered Peter, was elected, but reigned little more than a year (September 978–November 979). He was succeeded by Tribunus Menius (Memmo) (979-991), during whose reign the question between Otto II and the Venetian State was brought to a crisis.

The murder of Peter Candianus had not only exposed Venice to the wrath of Otto II; it had also created inside the state two factions, the Caloprini who espoused the policy of the Candiani and leaned towards the Western Empire, and the Morosini whose sympathies were with the Orseoli and the Byzantine allegiance as a means of saving the state from absorption by the West. By 980 the Western Emperor was in Italy. The great Emperor of the East, John Tzimisces, had died in 976. The south of Italy, the theme of Longobardia, seemed likely to fall a prey to the Saracens. Otto resolved to seize the opportunity to render Southern Italy a part of his Empire. Towards this object the possession of Venice and her fleet seemed of prime importance, but since the murder of Candianus Otto's party was no longer in the ascendant, especially after the failure of the Caloprini plot to murder all the Morosini. Without waiting to secure Venetian aid, the Emperor pushed south. His expedition failed, and in 983 he was back again in Verona, and there the ambassadors of Venice came to seek renewal of their treaties. By the terms of the new treaty the burdensome dues for river traffic (ripatica) were removed, to the great advantage of Venice, but the exemption of ducal goods from customs and the ducal judicial rights over Venetians in the kingdom were not restored. A special clause permitted the subjects of the Empire, who after the murder of Peter Candianus had been forbidden to trade with Venice, to frequent Venetian ports once more (per mare ad vos), a phrase which the Venetians subsequently amplified into per mare ad vos et non amplius, thereby attempting to concentrate all Italian traffic in the Adriatic at Venice and implicitly establishing a claim on those waters. The favourable conditions of this treaty were probably intended to secure Venetian assistance for the Emperor's future schemes in South Italy. But at this juncture Stefano Caloprini, leader of the Venetian faction, appeared at Verona and offered the Emperor a more speedy method for attaining his ends. He promised that he and his party would assist in reducing Venice if the Emperor would invest him with the dukedom and grant him a yearly pension. The Emperor agreed. The method adopted was a rigid blockade of the lagoons from the mainland. Venice was only saved from starvation and surrender by the friendly offices of the Saracen fleet; but the situation was more serious than it had been even at the time of Pepin's attack. The mainland, under the Bishops of Treviso, Ceneda, and Belluno, was entirely against the sea-city. Its subjects of Cavarzere and Loreo revolted. But on 7 December 983 the Emperor died, and the whole Caloprini scheme fell to pieces. Apart from the grave menace to Venetian independence, the significance of the episode lies in the fact that it illustrates the growing importance of Venetian sea-power.


Peter Orseolo II


Tribunus Menius had seen his country safely through the external crisis, but was powerless to repress the bloody faction-fights between the Caloprini and the Morosini. He was deposed and compelled to retire to the monastery of San Zaccaria. The greatest doge that Venice had as yet seen, Peter Orseolo II, succeeded to the throne (991-1009). His chaplain, friend, and biographer, John the Deacon, pictures him as a man of culture, refinement, even imagination, coupled with the statesman's instincts, a strong will, and military energy. His first step was to allay all internal tumults. In the interests of the country he exacted an oath and the signature of ninety-one nobles to a pledge that they would not stir tumult nor draw weapon inside the ducal palace under a penalty of twenty pounds of fine gold or, in default of payment, loss of life (February 997). His next care was to establish the Orseoli family in a commanding position in the State. He chose his son John as doge-consort, and on John's death his third son Otto; his second son Orso was Bishop of Torcello, and subsequently Patriarch of Grado.

Peter's foreign policy was crowned with complete success. In 992 he concluded the first Venetian treaty with the East—the chrysobull of Basil II (March, indictione quinta). By the terms of the deed, which was rather a declaration of ancient rights than a bestowal of new ones Venetian ships, provided they bore Venetian not Amalfitan or other cargoes, were to pay a fixed sum of two soldi for each ship entering and fifteen soldi for each ship clearing a Greek port, irrespective of the ship's burden and cargo; no ship might be detained by the Greek authorities longer than three days against its will; Venetians were placed under the jurisdiction of a high official in whose court procedure was more rapid than in the lower courts. In return, Venice was pledged to furnish transport and warships for the defence of the theme of Longobardia, that is of Southern Italy. The chrysobull of 992 is of importance in the commercial history of Venice: it gave Venetians trading in the East valuable advantages over their rivals, Amalfitans, Jews, and others, while the uniform tax on ships irrespective of burden and cargo soon induced the Venetians to increase the size of their build. The consequences will be seen presently in the development of Venetian trade on the mainland of Italy.

In the same year, 992, Peter renewed the treaties with the Western Empire by the pactum (praeceptum) of Mülhausen. Here again Venetian diplomacy was entirely successful. Venetian rights and privileges were restored to the position they occupied in 961, at the fall of Berengar and before the breach with the Saxon Emperors; the territories of Cavarzere and Loreo, which had seceded to the Emperor at the time of Otto's blockade, were now returned to Venice; and the encroaching Bishops of Treviso and Belluno were ordered to evacuate the lands they had seized in the diocese of Heraclea, though it was not until the doge had applied the blockade that the stubborn John of Belluno made submission to Otto's orders after the placitum of Staffolo (998).

The growing importance of Venetian commerce, chiefly in oriental goods, is proved by Peter's request that Otto would allow him to open three markets in the Italian kingdom, at San Michele del Quarto, on the Sile, and on the Piave, a request which was granted (Ravenna, 1 May 996) and marked a stepping-stone in the history of Venetian western trade.

The new palace, begun under the first Orseolo, was now approaching completion; Venice as a city was rapidly expanding under the cultured guidance of the second Orseolo. Peter was anxious to shew the glories of his capital to his friend the Emperor; Otto was nothing loth to take a romantic journey to the city of the lagoons. The invitation was conveyed through John the Deacon to the Emperor at Como in June 1000. It was agreed that a secret visit should be paid on the Emperor's return journey from Rome. In March 1001 Otto was at Ravenna. Announcing that he was going into retreat in the abbey of Pomposa, he left Ravenna. At Pomposa he found John the Deacon with a boat, and the same evening he set out for Venice. After travelling all night he reached the island of San Servolo the following day about sunset. The doge met him ; they embraced, and, waiting till it was quite dark, they rowed into Venice, and the Emperor was lodged in San Zaccaria. Otto granted his every wish to the Doge Peter: he stood sponsor to a daughter, and remitted the yearly tribute of the pallium and any monetary tribute beyond the ancient statutory sum of 50 Venetian librae. Otto returned to Ravenna, and three days later Orseolo told his people who his guest had been.

But between the issue of the invitation and the visit of the Emperor, Peter had carried to a successful conclusion the greatest enterprise of his reign. The growing Venetian factories down the Dalmatian coast had been in the habit of paying tribute to the Serbs and Croats for the preservation of their right to trade. Orseolo resolved to put an end to these levies of blackmail. At the beginning of his reign he refused to pay tribute, and on the Dalmatians assuming a threatening attitude he at once prepared a naval expedition. He sailed on 9 May 1000, and made for Istria, where he learned the value of the Candiani's Istrian policy and achievements, in finding Istrian ports open to his fleets. Zara, Veglia, Arbe, and Trail submitted. Spalato was taken. An oath of allegiance was exacted and a formal recognition that the waters of the Adriatic were open to Venetian traffic. The victorious doge returned to Venice and assumed the title of Dux Dalmatiae, a title which was recognised by the Western Empire in the treaty of 16 November 1002. We must bear in mind, however, that centuries passed before Dalmatia became definitely Venetian. Zara was always in revolt down to the fourteenth century. Nevertheless Peter's expedition was of the highest importance; it raised the prestige of the Venetians, it opened to them a long line of factories down the Dalmatian coast, and it advanced their claim to free trade in the Adriatic.

Two years later, in 1002, Orseolo was called on to fulfil his obligations to the Eastern Empire under the chrysobull of 992. The Saracens of Sicily had attacked and besieged Bari, the capital of the theme of Longobardia. On 10 August the Venetian fleet, under the command of the doge, set sail, and by 18 October Bari was relieved by a brilliant Venetian victory. This victory led to a marriage-alliance between John, the eldest son of Peter, and the Princess Maria, the niece of Basil II; John's younger brother Otto married the sister-in-law of the Emperor Henry II, thus connecting the family of the Orseoli with both imperial houses. But in 1005 the plague carried off John and Princess Maria as well as their son. The doge never recovered from the blow; he lost his interest in worldly matters, led a claustral life at home, and died in 1009.


New Venice


Peter's death closed a reign which had a profound significance in Venetian history. A new Venice, the aurea Venetia of the chronicler John the Deacon, came into being on the ruins left by the fire which destroyed Peter Candianus; a new palace and a new St Mark's, adorned with the finest workmanship of Byzantine masters, took the place of the older buildings. The doge's taste was shown in the gifts he presented to his compater Otto, an ivory chair elaborately carved and a silver bowl of rich design. It is a new Venice, too, we now find in its relations to the great world-powers, to Eastern and Western Empire alike. Neither Imperial Court refused an alliance with the Doge of Venice, and the Venetian fleet had made its strength felt down both shores of the Adriatic.

But inside Venice there was a party strongly opposed to the dynastic and monarchical tendencies of the Orseolo family. Peter's son and successor Otto (1009-1026), whose elder brother Orso was translated from Torcello to Grado, and whose younger brother Vitalis succeeded to the vacant see, found that jealousy of his family's supremacy had gradually undermined his position. The open hostility of Conrad the Salic, and his refusal to renew the pacta, led eventually to the expulsion of the doge. The fall of the Orseoli marked the end of the dynastic system in the dukedom. During the rule of the three great families, the Particiaci, the Candiani, and the Orseoli, the reigning doge had been, to all intents and purposes, an absolute monarch; the first was in his sole administration, the popular assembly was summoned merely to sanction his decrees; a recognised constitution cannot be said to have existed. After the fall of the Orseoli we find ourselves dealing with a new kind of doge; the germs of a constitution begin to shew them­selves. In 1032, the first year of Domenico Fabiano's reign (1032-1043), the appointment of a doge-consort was declared illegal. This appears to have been an act of the popular assembly, proving that this body was beginning to assume a more prominent place. It is also said that the same body appointed two councillors to assist the doge in current matters, and enjoined him on graver occasions to consult the more prominent citizens, possibly a foreshadowing of the council which eventually developed into the Pregadi or Senate of Venice.


The Normans.


The period upon which we are now entering, from the fall of the Orseoli to the opening of the Crusades (1026-1096), is chiefly concerned with the resistance of Grado against the attacks of Poppo, the turbulent Patriarch of Aquileia, supported by Conrad the Salic; with the campaigns against the Normans at the mouth of the Adriatic; and with the expansion of Venetian commercial privileges in Constantinople. Conrad came to Italy in March 1026. He was embittered against the Italians generally by their obvious desire to throw off the German yoke. As regards Venice in particular, he shared the views and aspirations of Otto II; he regarded the Venetians as rebellious subjects, and refused to renew the pacta. This, as we have seen, led to the fall of the Orseoli and a weakening of the Venetian State. Poppo, Patriarch of Aquileia, a devoted adherent of Conrad, seized the opportunity to carry out his design of enforcing the decree of the Synod of Mantua (827), which gave the supremacy to Aquileia over Grado. He attacked and sacked Grado twice, once in 1024 immediately after Conrad's accession to the crown of Germany, when he plundered the church and palace and carried off the treasury to Aquileia, and once again in 1044. But Rome was steadily against him, and in 1053 the “Constitution” of Leo IX definitely declared Grado to be "the Metropolitan Church of Venice and Istria." The see of Grado maintained its hierarchical pre­eminence, but the town itself was hopelessly ruined. The growing importance of Venice drew the patriarchs to longer, and eventually continuous, sojourn in that city, bringing with them for the benefit of Venice the prestige of their metropolitan see, till it was finally trans­formed into the Patriarchate of Venice (1445).

On the death of Conrad relations between Venice and the Western power became easier. During the reign of Domenico Contarini (1042­1071), Henry III renewed the ancient treaties (probably 1055). Contarini’s successor, Domenico Silvio (1071-1084), proved once again that a doge of Venice was a fit mate for an imperial princess by marrying Theodora, sister of the Emperor Michael Ducas, a lady to whose oriental luxury and refinement1 the rougher Venetians attributed the loathsome malady of which she died. During this doge's reign Venice was called upon to play a more prominent part in world-history than she had hitherto done. A new power now appeared at the mouth of the Adriatic. The Normans, after making themselves masters of Sicily and South Italy (Bari fell in 1071 and Palermo in 1072), stretched across to the eastern side of the Adriatic and threatened to advance on Constantinople itself. Under their leader, Robert Guiscard, they laid siege to Durazzo, which commanded the western end of the Via Egnatia, the great Roman road which led by Thessalonica to the capital. Alexius Comnenus had been called to the imperial throne (8 April 1081) on purpose to replace the incompetent bureaucratic government of Michael Ducas and Nicephorus Botaniates. He saw at once that Durazzo must not be allowed to fall. He appealed to Henry IV, but that sovereign was too deeply involved in the struggle with the Pope to be able to lend aid, and he turned to request the aid of Venice. The Venetians could not view with indifference the success of the Normans, which threatened to make them masters of both sides of the Adriatic, and thus to close the mouth of the water avenue which led to and from Venice. Moreover, the Amalfitans, the vigorous commercial rivals of the lagoon-state, were actively supporting Robert. All her interests induced Venice to lend a willing ear to Alexius' appeal. A bargain was soon struck (1081), and in June of that year a fleet of sixty Venetian ships, under the command of Doge Silvio, set sail to relieve Durazzo.

The battle which followed was remarkable both for the tactics developed by the Venetian commander—the fleet drawn up in half-moon formation, the vessels lashed together with the lighter craft between the horns—and for the ingenious engineering device by which iron-pointed balks of timber were either launched against the enemy's hulls or dropped on his decks from overhanging yards. The upshot was a complete victory for the Venetians and the relief of Durazzo. But in a land battle which took place in October of this year the Greeks were utterly beaten; Durazzo fell into the hands of the Normans, and the Venetian fleet sailed home. In May of the following year (1082) Venice received the rewards for which she had stipulated. The chrysobull of Alexius conferred on Venetians the privilege of trading free of dues throughout the whole Eastern Empire, including the capital, and placed all Venetian merchants under the jurisdiction of the doge, privileges which at once gave Venice an advantage over her rival Amalfi. In return for these concessions Venice was still pledged to support Alexius at sea. In the next three years (1083-1085) the Venetian fleet carried on campaigns against the Normans with varying fortune. At first (spring of 1084) they captured Corfu and in the autumn of the same year they won a great victory at Cassiopo. But at length Robert succeeded in breaking up their strong formation, and the result was a crushing and bloody defeat. The blame was laid at the door of the doge, who was compelled to abdicate and retire to a monastery. It remained for his successor, Vitale Falier (1084-1096), to witness the final freeing of the Adriatic from the Norman fleet, thanks partly to a brilliant victory at Butrinto (1085), partly to sickness which drove the Normans back to Italy. Robert Guiscard died in July of that year.

But though Robert’s plans were shattered and the Normans failed to hold the mouth of the Adriatic, Venice was still compelled to fight for her right to free passage in that sea, which was threatened by the appearance of the Hungarian sovereign upon the coast of Dalmatia. By 1097, however, the principal towns were once more in the hold of Venice.


The Crusades 


We are now approaching the period of the Crusades, throughout which Venice plays a prominent but distinctly self-interested part, deliberately building up her commercial status until, with the Fourth Crusade, she emerges as the greatest sea-power, the most flourishing commercial community, in the Mediterranean. As yet the state had developed no fixed constitution, nor did she until the close of the thirteenth and the opening of the fourteenth century, when the constitution received its rigidly oligarchical form by the closing of the Great Council (1296) and the creation of the Council of Ten (1310). But during the period with which we have now to deal (1096-1201) we shall find the germs of several departments which went eventually to create the Venetian con­stitution. These, and the further development of her sea-power, so vigorously displayed during the Norman campaigns, form the chief points of interest in Venetian history during the twelfth century.

The position of Venice as regards the Crusades was by no means easy. On the one hand, if she joined with vigour she risked her flourishing trade with the Saracens, and she would have to face the hostility of the. Eastern Emperors, who disliked and suspected the Crusades. Moreover her sea-route down the Adriatic was far from secure; the Hungarians were a standing menace to Dalmatia, while the Normans had not abandoned their designs on both shores of the Adriatic mouth. All these considerations led Venice to desire a neutral place: she wished to trade with the Crusaders and their enemies alike; she was prepared to supply transport and provisions but not to draw her sword against the infidel. On the other hand, the frank espousal of the Crusades by the commercial rivals of Venice, Genoa and Pisa, threatened to give them such overwhelming advantages in the East that the republic found herself forced to abandon her neutral attitude.


The First Crusade


In 1095 the Council of Clermont proclaimed the First Crusade. The question of transport immediately presented itself. Of the three maritime powers of Italy—Genoa, Pisa, and Venice—the latter undoubtedly offered the greatest advantages both in geographical position and in strength of armament. But Venice was the last of the sea-states to move. It was not until Jerusalem fell (1099) that she made up her mind in view of the growing importance of Genoa and Pisa. Under the Doge Vitale Michiel I (1096-1101), the first Venetian fleet with crusaders on board sailed for the Holy Land (1099). It wintered in Rhodes, and there almost immediately revealed the true object of its presence in the Levant by coming to blows with the Pisans who were also wintering in the harbour. In the following spring the Venetians set sail for the Holy Land, plundering as they went, notably at Myra where they broke up the church in their search for the bones of St Nicholas. They arrived in time to take part in the siege of Haifa, which fell in October 1100. The Venetians at once claimed and received a trading quarter in the town and thereby opened the long list of their factories in the Levant, but also by their new possession committed themselves to all the complications of the Levant. The fleet returned home in 1100.

A long pause ensued. Venice was chiefly occupied with the effort to secure her sea-route down the Adriatic and to settle the question of Dalmatia with the Hungarians.

On the mainland of Italy too she was surely consolidating her trade. In 1102 she had the satisfaction of seeing the rival city of Ferrara reduced by the troops of Countess Matilda, and of establishing trading rights there under the protection of a Visdomino or Consul.

During the reign of Ordelafo Faller (1101-1118), Venice continued to prepare steadily for the part she was destined to play in the Levant. The necessity for maintaining her sea-route, and the certainty that she would be called on to fight in the Eastern Mediterranean, compelled the State to turn its attention to its fleet. In 1104 the Arsenal was founded. When Domenico Michiel came to the throne (1118-1130), the affairs of the Levant began to assume a prominent place once more in Venetian history. Baldwin I died in the year of the dope's accession. Baldwin II, threatened by Musulman power, appealed to the Italian sea-states for help. The doge convened the general assembly in St Mark's, laid the situation before it, and insisted on the danger of allowing Pisa and Genoa to reap all the advantage in the Levant. An expedition was voted, though the dangers from the insecure sea-route and the hostility of the new Emperor of the East, John Comnenus, who had refused to renew the ancient privileges, were not overlooked. The pressure of Genoese and Pisan rivalry in fact forced the hand of Venice. The splendid fleet of one hundred ships, ablaze with colour, set sail on 8 August 1122. The expedition assumed the aspect of a marauding enterprise. Under cloak of wintering there the Venetians tried to seize Colin but failed. By 29 May 1123 the Venetians were at Jaffa. The doge immediately attacked and defeated the Egyptian fleet off Ascalon. The question now arose as to which of the two cities, Tyre or Ascalon, the allies should besiege. The lot decided it in favour of Tyre, but not until the doge had secured for his nation the promise of extensive trading rights throughout the whole Latin kingdom: exemption from dues, a church, a quarter, a bakery, and a bath, in each city. The siege lasted from 16 February till 7 July 1124. On the fall of the city Venice exacted the fulfilment of her bargain, and with the capture of Tyre laid the solid foundation of her great Levantine trade.

The success of Venice in Palestine, and the numbers, wealth, and arrogance of the Venetians in Constantinople (it seems that the male Venetian population between twenty and sixty years of age residing in the capital was no less than 18,000 towards the close of the twelfth century), coupled with the dislike and suspicion of the crusaders generally, rendered the Greek Emperors hostile on the whole towards the republic. Circumstances, however, such as the need for Venetian assistance against the Normans, prevented the unrestrained display of their animus. On the fall of Tyre the Emperor John forbade all Venetians in Constantinople to leave the city - they were to remain as hostages - while he refused to renew Venetian privileges. The doge replied by plundering Rhodes, Chios, Cos, Samos, on his triumphant journey home, and crowned his glories by recovering Spalato, Trail, and Zara Vecchia from the Hungarians on his way up the Adriatic. The Emperor was without a fleet; he was entirely dependent on the Venetians for help at sea; the rupture of commercial relations proved a serious loss to his Capital. Willingly or unwillingly he came to terms and in 1126 he renewed the treaties.

But Venice was presently called upon to face anew a complicated situation between East and West. On Christmas Day 1130 Duke Roger was crowned King of Sicily. The danger of a Norman power blocking the mouth of the Adriatic was still alive; while the menace to the Eastern Empire, developed by Robert Guiscard, was renewed by King Roger. In April 1135 ambassadors from Venice and Constantinople appealed to the Emperor Lothar, who seized the occasion to form a combination against the Normans. In May 1137 the fleet of King Roger suffered defeat off Trani, probably owing to the Venetians. But the Norman power remained a standing menace to both Venice and Constantinople. The Emperor Manuel, impotent at sea without a fleet, was forced by circumstances to approach the sea-power which had saved Constantinople in the days of Robert Guiscard and Alexius. The Venetians, as usual, made a bargain. The Emperor renewed the Golden Bull, enlarged the Venetian quarter in Constantinople, conferred the title of Protasebastos upon the doge in perpetuity, and confirmed the annual tribute to the church of St Mark. The commercial supremacy of the Venetians was asserted in the clearest terms (1147).


The Emperor Manuel


The bargain struck, the doge set sail to attack the Normans, but died at Caorle. He was succeeded by Domenico Morosini (1148-1156). The fleet pursued its course under the command of John Polani, effected a junction with the imperial squadron, and beleaguered Corfu. The siege lasted a year. But during the course of it the Greeks and Venetians came to loggerheads. In derision the Venetian sailors dressed up a negro slave as the Emperor and paid him mock homage. Manuel Comnenus never forgave the insult and treasured its memory till his day for vengeance arrived.

A new trend in Greek imperial politics was laid bare in 1151 by the capture of Ancona. It was clear that Manuel contemplated the revival of the Exarchate and possibly the recovery of Italy. Such a policy was, of course, a peril for Venice, a menace to the supremacy in the Adriatic which she was so carefully building up by her treaties with Fano (1141) on the one coast, and Capo d' Istria (1145), Rovigno, Umago, Parenzo on the other. In Dalmatia, too, the same object was steadily pursued by the appointment of Venetian “counts” in Zara (1155) and other Dalmatian cities. In fact the supremacy of Venice in the northern Adriatic was officially recognised by the treaty of peace between William, King of Sicily, and the republic (1154), which brought the war with the Normans to a close, and that supremacy was threatened by Manuel.

To the west too, from the mainland of Italy, the independence, the very existence of Venice, were likewise menaced. The appearance of Frederick I Barbarossa in Italy, his declared hostility to the communes and to the Italian aspirations towards independence, warned the republic of what might be in store for her. She espoused the cause of Alexander III, the anti-imperial Pope, drawing down upon herself the wrath of the Emperor, who stirred her neighbours, Padua, Verona, Ferrara, and the Patriarch of Aquileia, against her. In 1167 the Lombard League was formed and Venice was forced to join it.

The confusion in Italy now seemed to the Emperor Manuel to offer the opportunity for realising his dream of regaining the whole country for the Eastern Crown. The assistance of Venice, powerful in the Adriatic, was essential to his scheme. He approached the republic on the subject but met with no encouragement. His accumulated hatred of Venice, caused by the part she had played in the Crusades, the insult her sailors had offered him at Corfu, the arrogance and wealth of Venetians in Constantinople, suddenly blazed out. In 1171 every Venetian in the capital was arrested and his property confiscated.

When the news reached Venice there was a unanimous cry for war. One hundred and twenty ships were soon ready, and in September 1171 the doge set sail. On his way he attacked Ragusa, which surrendered and received a “count”. At Negropont the Emperor began to open negotiations and kept them dragging on till the fleet was obliged to go into winter quarters at Chios. There the plague broke out, some said from poisoned wells. The whole force was decimated, and when spring came it was only just able to struggle home; here the doge fell a victim to popular indignation (28 May 1172).

This disastrous close to the expedition against Manuel led to a reform in the constitution. Events seemed to have proved that the doge was too independent, and that the popular assembly was too liable to be swept away by a storm of passion. To correct these defects a body of four hundred and eighty leading citizens was elected, for one year, in the six districts (sestieri) into which the city had lately been divided; this body was consultative and elective, and in it we doubtless get the germ of the Great Council (Maggior Consiglio). The doge, for the future, was required to take a coronation oath, the promissione ducale, by which he bound himself to observe certain constitutional obligations. To the two existing ducal councillors were added four more; the duties of the new body were to act with the doge, and to supervise and check his actions. The doge was absolutely forbidden to trade on his own account. In return for these restrictions he was now surrounded with increased pomp. The Lombard League, for which Venice acted as banker, and the war with Manuel, proved a severe strain on the treasury and compelled the state to have recourse to a forced loan (1171). The loan bore interest at four per cent., and was secured on the whole revenue of the state; the exaction and administration of the fund was entrusted to a body called the Chamber of Loans (Camera degli imprestidi). The amount of the loan was one per cent. of net incomes. The bonds could be devised, sold, or mortgaged; and here we find, perhaps, the earliest example of national obligations, or consols.

Other important magistracies such as the Quarantia, or supreme court, the Giudice del Proprio, or judge in commercial suits, and the avogadori del Conran, or procurators fiscal, were created about this time. The campanile was completed as far as the bell chamber, the Piazza was enlarged and paved, the twin columns of San Teodoro and San Marco erected. In short, it is clear that in the latter half of the twelfth century Venice was rapidly developing as a constitutional state, though the completion of her growth took place in a period beyond the limits of this chapter.

The affairs of the Lombard League had now reached a crisis. The final issue was decided by the battle of Legnano (1176), in which the com­munes were victorious. Frederick resolved to make peace. He expressed a desire to meet Pope Alexander III, and Venice was chosen as the scene of the conference, where the Peace of Venice was signed.


The Peace of Venice


The advantages which accrued to the republic were great. All Europe was assembled within her walls; she appeared as the equal and the friend of Emperor and Pope alike; her independent position was apparently unchallenged. Moreover by a special treaty (17 August 1177) the Emperor renewed all previous privileges and declared that subjects of the kingdom of Italy might trade "as far as Venice but no farther", a restriction which looks very much as if Venice had established her claim to dominion in the upper Adriatic. From the Pope Venice received the ring with which her doge wedded the Adriatic, and, more important still, a final settlement of the long-standing quarrel between Aquileia and Grado.

During the reign of the Doge Orio Mastropiero (1178-1192), the position of Venice in the East was threatened once more and the seeds of the Fourth Crusade were sown. Andronicus attacked the Latins in Constantinople (1182) and sacked their quarters. The refugees appealed to William, King of Sicily, and he and the Venetians set out to avenge the massacre of Constantinople. Their approach caused the fall of Andronicus, to whom succeeded Isaac Angelus, favourably disposed towards Venice, ready to renew the chrysobulls and to compensate for damage, in return for which Venice pledged herself to supply from forty to one hundred warships at the imperial request.

During the Third Crusade Venice played her usual role: that is to say, she transported the crusaders, took a part in their sieges, and exacted trading privileges as her recompense.

In fact the commerce of Venice was steadily expanding under the vigilant care of her rulers. She was now about to set the seal to her commercial supremacy by her acquisitions after the Fourth Crusade, under her great Doge Enrico Dandolo (1193-1205). Early in his reign, though not without considerable trouble, the doge secured the renewal and enlargement of the Venetian privileges in Constantinople, where their quarter became as it were a little semi-independent state inside the Empire.

In 1201 the ambassadors from the French crusaders appeared at Venice, begging, as usual, for transport. The bargain was struck. Venice pledged herself to carry and to victual for a year four thousand five hundred horses, nine thousand esquires, and twenty thousand foot soldiers; the price was to be eighty-five thousand silver marks of Cologne. The republic was to furnish for her own part fifty galleys on condition that half of all conquests by sea or land should belong to her. It is a proof of the great sea-power of Venice that she could undertake the transport of so large an army. The last clause of the bargain left little doubt as to her real intentions in the Fourth Crusade, which forms the subject of the following chapter.