Traditional Founding of Venice

March 25,421

At the stroke of noon on March 25, 421 the fishing community that lived on Venice dedicated the church Of San Giacamo, which is told to be the traditional founding of Venice

Migration to Venice


As the Lombards were invading northern Italy, refugees pushed south and many fled to Venice and built ports in the Venetian lagoon ex. Torcello and Malamocco

Venetians Elect a Leader

726 - 751

In 726 the Venetians elected their first leader, or doge, Orso. Up until 751, though, they're still under the control of Byzantine officials.

Venetians Become Middlemen


When the Byzantine exarchate of Ravenna falls, the Venetians are still under Byzantine control, but are now on their own financially. They begin to engage in trade, acting as middlemen, which makes Venice a wealthy and powerful city.

Alliance with Pepin


Charlemagne's son Pepin the Short was running a campaign in northern Italy, so the Venetian doge took advantage Of the situation and made an alliance with the new Carolingian empire. This gains new support, but also snubs the Byzantine empire.

Treaty of 814


The Franks and the Byzantine empire made a treaty, stating that Venice was to be independent from the Carolingian empire, but also left no ties between the Byzantines and Venice.

Venice Gains Status


In the Middle Ages, a city had little to no status unless it had a patron saint. In 828, Venice acquired the relics of St. Mark from Alexandria in Egypt. Some stories tell that the relics were stolen and smuggled out of Egypt in a barrel of pork, which may be true, but it is more likely that the relics were purchased. When the relics arrived in Venice, the first St. Mark' s church was built.

Byzantine Approaches Venice


Feeling the pressure of the Normans on the mainland, the Byzantine emperor approached Venice's doge, seeking military support. In return, the Byzantine emperor allowed Venice to trade throughout the empire free, with no dues or customs. This secured Venice as a major center of trade.

The Crusades Creates Connections


The Crusaders created a Latin kingdom in Jerusalem, which in turn caused an increase in trade through the Mediterranean Sea. With Venice already having the skills for transportation and trade, and being perfectly situated in the center of trade routes, it gains even more recognition as a trade city. This also creates a rivalry between Venice and Genoa and Pisa. Genoa and Venice have intermittent wars through the 14th century.

Government reform

1140 - 1160

The Venetian government reforms its government into a more expanded republic, to make sure that the one central doge didn't have too much power and didn't become a hereditary title. A 45 member "Great Council" was created to deal with state affairs, and under them a 6 member "Minor Council" was created to deal with day-to-day affairs and inform the doge about these affairs.

Byzantine Tries to Stop Venetian Trade

1169 - 1171

The Byzantine empire was getting tired of the free trading it promised Venice in 1082, so the emperor created trading agreements with Genoa and Pisa to try to stop Venetian trade throughout the Byzantine empire. In 1171, all goods of every Venetian trader in the Byzantine empire were confiscated.

Venice Makes a Deal with the Crusaders


Venice makes an agreement with crusaders to supply ships for 4500 knights and their horses, 9000 squires, 25000 foot soldiers, food for a year, and 50 galleys in return for 85,000 silver marks and half of any land the crusaders acquired in Egypt.

Venice Helps Sack Constantinople


As soon as the crusaders set off in 1202, the Venetian doge was in contact with the leaders of Egypt, assuring them that they wouldn't actually be attacked. They were also in contact with the imprisoned son of the previous Byzantine emperor and nephew of the current emperor, Alexius. Alexius promised that he would supply the 85,000 silver marks that the Crusaders were unable to pay. The Venetian doge sent the Crusaders to make a stop at Zara, then to eventually head to Constantinople when Alexius assumed the title as emperor. Alexius was unable to pay off his debt to the Venetians, so he taxed his citizens heavily, which left Constantinople divided and weak, and at this point the Crusaders attacked and sacked the city. The Venetian doge and his family acquired the Royal Palace while the Crusaders pillaged the city.

Venetians Become a Naval Power

1204 - 1420

In 1204 the Venetians take the islands of Corfu and Crete for naval interests, give Corfu to Greece in 1214, gain control of Cephalonia in 1350, recover Corfu in 1401, is given the Dalmatian Coast by the King of Croatia in 1420

Government Expands

1223 - 1310

The Great Council expanded from its original 45 members to 60, then eventually to 100. Under them a new Council of Forty is created, then a new 60 member council created to solely handle financial affairs, this was called the Consiglio dei Rogati, or Senate. In 1310 the Council of Ten was created to see to everybody else.

The Closing of the Great Council

1290 - 1300

The Closing of the Great Council now limited membership to the Great Council to family of previous members of the Council. This in turn created an oligarchy, and Venice's oligarchy was one of the longest lasting oligarchies throughout history, lasting until the French Revolution.

Venice Defeats Genoa


Ending a war that started over two centuries earlier, Venice beat Genoa at a battle in Chioggia, securing its status as a major maritime power.

Venice Conquers the Mainland

1420 - 1450

Venice conquered rich areas of the mainland from the southern coast up until almost Milan. Some of these areas included Fruli, Brescia, and Bergamo.