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Venice's Golden Society

Updated on April 25, 2014

Venice & Its structure!

The View from Above
The View from Above | Source
Political Structure of Venice.
Political Structure of Venice. | Source
A painting depicting a scene of Venetian politics
A painting depicting a scene of Venetian politics | Source

Venice's Golden Age – Government & Social Structure


To govern the rich city state of Venice, The Great Council appointed all public officials, which in turn chose a senate of 200 to 300 individuals. The problem with this was that the group was to big for expeditious administration, a Council of Ten controlled much of the city with the help of one member of the Great Council, that being the elected Doge, who was considered the ceremonial head of the city and held his title until his death. The whole governmental system being similar to that of ancient Rome. The common people of Venice were made to believe that they were living in a democratic country but the reality was different. The normal people of Venice could only vote on minor issues, while the power of the Great Council and The Council of Ten grew.

Politics & Structure

Venice was a classic example of an aristocratic republic. The main elite aristocrats were patrician families,which had the main authority. In addition to the patricians in Venice there were a significant number of citizens eligible to work in the administration, not taking political positions, also citizens played a big role for important administrative posts of the republic. Most of the population belonged to groups which had no formal rights, but their views were taken into account by the political classes.

The political system of the republic rested on a large number of civic committees or councils, interconnected making a complex system. (see table on next page)

The highest authority of the republic was the Grand Council, which elects the basic councils and chief magistrates of the republic, including the Doge. Since 1297 membership in the Grand Council has been severely restricted, only people whose ancestors had sat in the Council could become a member.

Initially council consisted of 200-300 people. Later, their number has grown to more than a thousand people. The biggest number of Council members was 2,500. Thus, the Board consisted of 5% of the adult male population of Venice.


The Doge - Head of Venice

The Doge usually was elected from among the twelve procurators of San Marco, as a rule for life. Doge power has been greatly limited. Having the right to participate in all councils, he could not impose his views. The Doge could not make his own decisions. His contacts, meetings, correspondence were carefully monitored. He could not leave the limits of Venice and could not own property outside the state.

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      Vinzkie 2 years ago

      Great story, Paolo I love the Veneto region of Italy and have fond mereoims of Venice, especially running across Piazza San Marco with the pigeons, as well as exploring the back streets, away from the tourists, and so much more. I remember Doge's Palace and you are so right we all have things we tend to focus on. I am always wowed by the architecture of these magnificent buildings, and especially pay attention to the gorgeous ceilings, and hardly ever pay attention to tiled floors. It's beautiful when you find such inspiration from something as simple as that. We walk all over it and never give it much thought. Congratulations on your exquisite Brillante Collection, and thanks for sharing. I enjoy design of any form including jewelry, but especially if there's a story behind it.

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