Venice and its Minorities

Benjamin Ravid
Benjamin Ravid is Jennie and Mayer Weisman Professor of Jewish History at Brandeis University. He is the author of  Economics and Toleration in Seventeenth Century Venice: The Background and Context of the Discorso of Simone Luzzatto. He edited with Robert C. Davis. “The Jews of Early Modern Venice.” (2001). This essay is reprinted by permission of the publisher from: B. Ravid, A Companion to Venetian History, 1400-1797, Brill 2013)


Before dealing with specific minorities in Venice, it is necessary to clarify what is meant by a minority. As a broad working definition for this essay, I would suggest that it consists of those immigrants into Venice and their descendants who continued to maintain aspects of their non-Venetian identity as a identifiable group, primarily by retaining the religious rites or aspects of the culture of their place of origin. While all members of minority groups in Venice were immigrants or descendants of immigrants, conversely, not all immigrants or descendants of immigrants remained members of a minority group.

Many factors combined to attract to Venice not only foreign visitors and temporary residents who came for numerous different reasons and stayed for varying lengths of time but also immigrants, thereby making the city one of the most populous in Europe. Most basically, helping to account for the large size of the population of Venice were immigrants from the Venetian holdings on the Italian mainland and from its over-seas possessions in the east, which the ottoman empire was gradually conquering, who were naturally attracted to the capital city of Venice because of the very wide range of possibilities that it offered.

Factors that made Venice attractive not only to these Venetian subjects but also to individuals residing beyond the boundaries of the Venetian state included the position of Venice as europe’s leading emporium that attracted merchants with goods to sell from all over the known world and purchasers eager to acquire them; the role of Venice as the major link between West and east; the general opportunities offered by Venice as a port city; the industrial and manufacturing activities of Venice, whose decline has been somewhat exaggerated in the past; and the numerous cultural opportunities and advantages that the city provided in many spheres, including art, music, theater and the possibility of publishing books in various languages and typefaces. Finally, many poor and indigent individuals without any skills came to Venice to seek to improve their lot in the large capital city. Philippe de Commynes, the envoy of the French king Charles VIII, observed in 1495 that “most of their people are foreigners,” a statement that while exaggerated, nevertheless represented the impression made by Venice upon non-Venetians who came to the city.[1] Furthermore, after major plagues, especially the Black death of 1348–49 and the two sub- sequent plagues of 1577 and 1630–31, in which 26.5 and 32.1 per cent of the population respectively died,[2] the Venetian government embarked upon a policy of attracting immigrants, especially artisans and workers, to repopulate the city and to enable it to continue to function, on occasion offering significant concessions.[3] Indeed, at all times it was always ready to welcome those who could benefit its economy by bringing merchandise to Venice for sale, by making purchases in the city, or especially by introducing the manufacture of new goods or improved techniques of manufacturing of existing products.

Next, it is necessary to determine who was considered a Venetian and to clarify whether foreign immigrants could shed their status of being foreigners by becoming Venetians, and if so, how. At the end of the 13th century and during the early part of the 14th, by the process known as the serrata (closing or locking) of the Great council, the ranks of the nobility were closed and eventually recorded in the Libro doro (Golden Book), with new families subsequently admitted in return for large financial payments, primarily at two great times of crisis. the nobles possessed a monopoly of all political rights and power and could engage in commerce both within the city and outside it, including international maritime trade with the east that was the traditional source of Venetian wealth, enriching those who engaged in it and providing the Venetian treasury with considerable revenue from the import and export customs duties. Below the nobles were the cittadini originarii (original citizens, i.e., citizens by birth), often referred to as just cittadini. To be a member of this group required proof of having been born in Venice of legitimately born ancestors who had resided in Venice for at least three generations and during that time had not engaged in any “mechanical trade.”

The cittadini had no political power, but many were employed in the upper echelons of the “civil service” of Venice, providing the government with stability in the face of the frequent rotation of the nobles in the various councils, courts, and magistracies of the republic. Other cittadini earned their living engaging in urban professions such as law and medicine, and serving as notaries and scribes. Like the nobles, they could engage freely in trade in the city as well as with the Levant, and many were large-scale merchants and traders. Eventually, the ranks of the cittadini were closed, as had been that of the nobles, and their families were registered in the Libro dargento (silver Book), parallel to the Libro doro of the nobles. However, Venetians who met the requisite qualifications could still request to be admitted to cittadini status. The remaining approximately 90 per cent of the population of the city, the popolo minuto, had no political or economic rights and served as the large working force needed to keep the city functioning. Their numbers included many unemployed, sick, and indigent individuals, although they had no monopoly on poverty, for nobles and cittadini could also be poor.

It was possible for individual immigrants who desired to do so to give up all links and associations with their places of origin, to assimilate, and to be absorbed into the mainstream of the populo minuto. their integration could be socially facilitated by marrying a spouse who was a native or at least a long-time resident of Venice. Additionally, most significantly, foreigners could request to be admitted to one of two types of citizenship. the first, known as cittadinanza de intus (internal citizenship), above all enabled its holder to engage in trade within Venice and to acquire real estate. Legislation of 1305 fixed the requisite requirement as continuous residence in Venice and payment of taxes for 15 years, subsequently shortened as needed to attract immigrants during the course of the 14th century. Non-Venetians who desired to acquire the zealously guarded privilege of engaging in international maritime trade with the Levant and paying the same lower customs rate as the Venetian nobles and cittadini originarii had to acquire a second kind of citizenship, known as cittadinanza de intus et de extra (internal and external citizenship) that required 25 prior years of residence as taxpayers in the city and then had to be renewed every five years.[4] Legislation of 1407 provided that by marrying a Venetian woman, these two waiting periods of 15 and 25 years could be shortened to eight and 15 years respectively.

In order to constitute a minority in Venice, a critical mass of foreigners had to maintain their group identity by retaining some combination of the religious, cultural, and linguistic or other characteristics that established their non-Venezianità (non-Venetianness). Such a group was often referred to as a natione or, on occasion, a università (community). The most frequent manner of expressing that status was to establish what was known as a scuola (confraternity), a lay association with its own bylaws (mariegola or capitoli) and officials, as did the associations of tradesmen and artisans in the city.

The scuole, supervised by the Venetian government, assembled for religious feasts. If they did not possess their own building, they maintained altars in existing churches, at which members prayed to their patron saints and celebrated their days. Scuole were generally open to foreigners, although they usually had to pay an extra fee and could not become officials of the scuola.[5]

Additionally, foreigners could request permission to have their own scuola and to hold religious services of their own at an altar in an existing church or to erect their own building that would be financed by internal taxation and donations by wealthier members. In addition to promoting the group solidarity of foreigners who wished to retain their identity as a minority, scuole provided members with spiritual support as well as mutual economic assistance and charitable aid, especially by helping widows and orphans, dowering poor brides, and assisting at funerals, which was especially significant for foreigners who had no roots or contacts in the city.[6]

The size of minority groups in Venice at any given time is very hard, if not impossible, to determine, except for the Jews, whose numbers could be more accurately ascertained in official censuses because of their compulsory enforced residence in the ghetto, but even then uncertainties arise.

Additionally, it is often unclear whether a family name indicating a certain foreign city or country of origin refers specifically to the provenance of the individual in question or whether the family had resided in Venice using that name for generations.

Moreover, the retention of such family names is not necessarily indicative of the degree of the maintenance of previous traditions, for the individual or the family in question may well have completely assimilated into Venetian society. Moreover, many foreigners Italianized, or rather Venetianized, their names in order to appear to be Venetian and benefit from certain privileges.[7]

Since Venice never imposed any requirements on where foreigners had to reside—with the exception of German merchants engaged in large-scale international trade, all Jews after 1516, and Muslim merchants after 1621—they tended to settle in the city based on their own social, professional, and economic considerations, which generally meant in proximity to other immigrants, especially of their own group, in areas in which inexpensive housing was available.[8]

The reconstruction of the locations in which identifiable groups of foreigners lived, usually based on street names, is now being refined by analyses of the decima tax on real estate and of other archival sources, and the results point to a substantial presence in the districts of castello, rialto, and San Marco, as well as in Cannaregio[9]. More research seems necessary to differentiate between activities in which a significant number of the minority in question engaged or assumed a disproportionate role, and those in which some individuals happened to engage; for various reasons, activities associated with commerce and artisanal work tended to predominate in some groups, and military or domestic service in others. in any case, the numbers of any group could fluctuate greatly, not only because of births and deaths but also due to immigration and, probably to a lesser extent, emigration.

Consequently, as Andrea Zannini concluded, “the problem of quantifying, even approximately, the size of the various communities of foreigners in Venice seems at the present state of research, unresolvable.”[10] For the medieval period, he pointed out, only very approximate information is available on the total population of Venice. The first census of Venice was undertaken in 1509, but the documentation has been lost, and he believed that it is only possible to estimate a total population of 100,000 inhabitants. More reliable information is extant for the second half of the 16th century, but without even an approximate estimate of the number of foreigners in the city.

However, a significant amount of information about the places of origin of foreigners naturalized in Venice has been retrieved from surviving grants of citizenship preserved in the Venetian state archives. While presumably many or even most of these individuals did not retain links with their past but acculturated, assimilated, and integrated into Venetian society, the grants of naturalization do give some indication of the origins of a group of “elite” immigrants who could meet the naturalization requirements.

An investigation by Reinhold Mueller of the privileges of citizenship de intus et de extra granted between 1305, when the requirements were definitively fixed, and the end of the 15th century reveals that approximately 3500 were granted to around 4000 individuals, for an average of around 18 to 20 annually.[11] During the first two years after 1305, 125 grants were made; then from 1330 to 1429, the annual average was between 25 and 40 grants. However, after 1430 the number of privileges issued dropped to fewer than ten annually, probably as a result of the increase in the area under Venetian rule and the immigration of citizens residing in its major cities who were granted de intus citizenship in Venice.

Although these naturalization figures did not constitute appreciable demographic growth for a city with a population of around 80,000, nevertheless, from an economic point of view, these newcomers constituted an increase in the commercial and economic elite. By areas of origin, initially the tuscans were the most numerous, 281 Florentines and 260 Luccans for a total of 541, followed by inhabitants of the Veneto (540), and then by Lombards (515). For the considerably later period from 1534 to 1622, anna Bellavitis discovered that the senate issued 278 privileges of citizenship (55 de intus and 223 de intus et de extra) to 325 individuals, and in 150 cases also to their descendents, for an average of around three privileges and 3.6 new citizens annually. To a great extent, they were Venetian subjects who came from the terraferma, especially from Bergamo, and engaged in commercial activity or were craftsmen, and to a much lesser extent individuals from other Italian states and the stato da mar.[12]

Not on the basis of citizenship grants but rather adopting a prosopographic approach, Brunhilde Imhaus selected out of a very large number of documents between 1300 and 1510 the names of 2938 immigrants who most probably came from southeastern Europe. this total was comprised of 1210 dalmatians, 932 Greeks, 637 Albanians, 84 miscellaneous south Slavs (Georgians, Circassians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, and Russians), 35 tartars, 21 Moors, and 19 turks. Of these immigrants, the overwhelming number, 2782, came from the Venetian colonies, while only 156 came from outside the Venetian state.[13] Since the number of immigrants seems low and also only 6.5 per cent of the individuals were women, Zannini suggested that the names found represent only a small percentage of the total immigration from the southeast to Venice, although they did indicate the diversity of its origins.[14]

Giorgio Fedalto believed that the Greeks in Venice numbered around 4000 or slightly fewer at the end of the 15th century and either 4000 or possibly around 5000 at the end of the 16th, and that they constituted the largest community of strangers in the city.[15] Phillip Braunstein accepted that figure for the Greek community and thought that the German presence in Venice was roughly the same or possibly larger.[16] On this basis, Zannini advanced the hypothesis that at the end of the Middle ages, foreigners constituted no fewer than 15,000 to 20,000 persons, and perhaps many more, out of a population of around 100,000 to 110,000.[17] As for the Jews, a judicious examination of the extant evidence seems to point to a slow rise in population from approximately 700 in 1516 when the ghetto was established, according to one contemporary source, up to between 2500 and 3000 individuals in the first half of the 17th century, and then a gradual decline to 1626 at the time of the abolition of the ghetto in 1797.[18] Thus, very generally speaking, the Jews seem to have constituted between slightly more than 1 per cent and 2 per cent of the total population of the city, and may possibly have constituted the third largest readily identifiable group of foreigners in Venice, after the Greeks and the Germans. Hopefully, future research will further refine all these estimated figures.

Understandably, for reasons of proximity and ease of travel, many immigrants to the city of Venice came from the Venetian terraferma. Encouraging this was the fact that all citizens, but not all inhabitants, of the large cities of the Venetian terraferma, as well as those of Venetian Dalmatia, possessed citizenship de intus but not de intus et de extra, in the city of Venice itself.

Immigrants also came from elsewhere on the Italian peninsula. Especially prominent in the earlier period were the Luccans, impelled by political strife in early 14th-century Lucca.[19] They became very significant in the Venetian silk industry, and their immigration continued in the 15th century. Initially, the Luccans in Venice prayed in the monastery of the servi di Maria, a Luccan order that had established a monastery in Venice in 1316, and they also used it as a burial place. Then in 1359, they established in that same place the scuola of the Volta santo (Holy Face), which at its height during the late 14th century and the earlier 15th consisted, according to a 16th-century writer, of 600 members.[20] In 1379 the Luccans erected on the side of the church, at their own expense, an adequately sized chapel for their services, and in 1398 they acquired land to build a new scuola and a ospizio (best rendered as a hostel, shelter, or alms-house) for the poor. Immigrants from Milan established their scuola of San Giovanni Battista e Sant’Ambrogio in the church of the Frari in 1361.[21]

Consisting at the time of around 300 members, it was only allowed to meet twice a year in the chapel assigned to them, and at one time, a “ruga dei Milanesi” existed in Venice.[22] the Florentines, known especially for their position in the wool industry, formed a universitas mercatorum; sometime before 1409, they organized a scuola, and in 1435 the council of ten allowed them to establish the Compagnia di San Giovanni Battista in the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, which almost immediately was transferred to the church of Santa Maria dei Frari, where they possessed their own altar and a burial space.[23]

Two significant groups of immigrants came to Venice from the eastern side of the Adriatic. The first consisted of the Dalmatians or Schiavoni (slavonians), from what today is Croatia, especially after the Dalmatian coast was taken over by Venice in 1420. These immigrants gave their name to the Riva dei Schiavone along the Grand Canal, just to the east of Piazza San Marco. They engaged in a wide range of activities in Venice, including especially those linked to the sea, serving as merchants, sailors, and ship-builders in the arsenal and elsewhere. Many were poor and rowed in the galleys or served as domestic servants. Together with the Albanians and the Greeks, the Dalmatians played a very important role in Venetian military campaigns on the terraferma and throughout the stato da mar as stratioti, armed mounted light cavalry troops, leading the senate to note in 1524 that they were the main element of the Venetian power.[24] Some Dalmatian sailors, pointing out their military service to Venice and their great poverty, for which they received no assistance from anyone since they were foreigners, asked for permission to establish a scuola similar to the other scuole in the city. Their scuola was initially established in 1451 in the ospedale di Santa Caterina next to the church of San Giovanni del tempio, and then on its own as San Giorgio degli Schiavone, located not far from the arsenal in castello. [25]

The Albanians constituted the second group of immigrants from the eastern shores of the Adriatic. Links between Venice and Albania intensified after the main Albanian centers, including Durazzo, Alessio, and Scutari (shkodër), were conquered by Venice around the end of the 14th century. Many Albanians earned a living as artisans, bakers, barbers, and workers in the wool industry and the glass industry at Murano or engaged in petty trade, while others were brought to Venice as slaves and used as household servants or conscripted into the military.[26]

The Albanians established their scuola in 1442 in the monastery of San Gallo, and then in 1448 moved it to the church of San Maurizio. After Scutari fell to the turks in 1479, more Albanian immigrants came to Venice, and ten years later, in 1489, the Albanians purchased some land adjacent to the church, on which they decided to erect their own building. Pointing out that “even the Armenians have their little ospedale, but we do not have one,” it was decided that all members of the scuola, which in 1497 possessed more than 150 dues-paying members, were to contribute toward the construction of a small ospedale. as the Dalmatians and the Greeks, the Albanians also played a very important role in Venetian military forces as stratioti.

Unlike other minority groups, the Albanians lived scattered throughout the city, which would seem to indicate that their choice of residence was based primarily on economic and professional considerations, rather than on ethnic ones. After the 16th century, the significance of the Albanians gradually declined, and in 1780, the building containing their scuola was expropriated and given to the scuola of the bakers.

The Armenian presence in Venice dates back to at least the 13th century. in his will of 1253, Marco Ziani, a descendent of doge Pietro Ziani, expressed his desire that the Armenians be able to stay “in perpetuity” in the house in which they then dwelled at san Zulian (San Giuliano), in the Calle dei Lanterne, eventually called the Calle dei Armini, near San Marco, and that any necessary maintenance be undertaken at his expense.[27]

By 1341, the Armenian house (domus Arminorum) existed as a organized structure while the Armenians possessed a cemetery on the island of San Giorgio that was later covered up when the church still standing there was constructed, and the presence of a figure called the Archiepiscopus Armenorum (Archbishop of the Armenians) seems to suggest the existence of an ecclesiastical hierarchy. Then in 1348, they acquired a church and con- vent of San Giovanni Battista dei Frati armeni in castello.[28]

By 1434, the Armenians possessed a small church in the Calle degli Armeni, in which they worshipped according to the Armenian christian rite. In 1497 it was restored, and an ospizio was constructed next to it. an important result of the Armenian settlement in Venice was the development of Armenian printing in the city, and the first book in Armenian was published in Venice in 1512.

The Armenians became especially significant in Venetian trade with the east in the 17th and 18th centuries. When in 1715 the Armenian monk Mechitar (1676–1749), who favored a rapprochement between the Armenian church and Roman Catholicism, sought with some of his followers refuge in Venice from the Turks who were about to capture Venetian Modon where they then resided, he was given the island of San Lazzaro on which he established a monastery that became a center for Armenian studies and led to a revival of Armenian consciousness.

Immigrants from the Germanic lands, called tedeschi, constituted a very significant minority group in Venice. a discussion of their status raises the issue of the establishment of compulsory residential quarters for at least some members of a minority group in Venice as well as that of the treatment of individuals who, from the catholic perspective, represented a heresy that was far more serious than that potentially posed by the Armenians.

The most visible symbol of the presence of individuals from the Germanic lands in the city of Venice was their combination residence and storage place for merchandise, known as the Fondaco dei tedeschi; the word fondaco constituted an italianized form of the Arabic word funduq, meaning storage space or warehouse from the Greek pandokion, literally a hotel, an institution with which the Venetians were familiar as a result of their travels in the Muslim world.[29]

Initially, in 1228, the German merchants were given a fondaco in a building that originally had been the public fondaco at san Bartolomeo, with space for around 100 to 120 merchants, along with their servants, porters, packers, sealers, and other employees for a total of around 200 individuals.[30]

Some of them formed their own devotional scuole and obtained permission to use altars in existing churches in the city. Thus in 1413, the porters of the Fondaco dei tedeschi received permission to utilize an altar in the church of San Bartolomeo for functions in honor of their patron saint, and the ligadori held their celebrations in the chapel of the Sanctissima Trinità of the church of santi Giovanni e Paolo. [31]

Some 40 years later, in 1268, the Venetians established a magistracy known as the Visdomini del Fondaco dei tedeschi, whose function was to supervise the regulations regarding the merchants in the fondaco, and especially to assure that they were paying the appropriate taxes, using the Venetian brokers (sensali) assigned to them, and selling only to Venetians and not directly to foreigners. Regulations issued in 1475 reasserted that all German merchants were to reside in the fondaco with all their merchandise, subject to a penalty of 50 ducats for lodging elsewhere.[32]

In 1479, since allegedly much fraud was committed to the detriment of the customs revenue because the gate of the quay of the fondaco was open for a great part of the night, it was ordered that it be closed at sunset and not opened for anyone until the sounding of the Marangona bell. Similar regulations were issued for the gate of the fondaco itself, and penalties were set for any violations. However, when in 1483 the merchants complained that they were exposed to dangers when they came at night with gold, silver, and valuable goods to the closed gate of the quay and could not have it opened, the collegio ordered that for their satisfaction and to avoid any harm to the customs revenue, a small door of a specified size be made in the gate to admit them in accordance with the regulations in effect prior to 1479.

In view of the role of the German merchants in importing into Venice northern products, including much desired precious metals such as gold, silver, and copper, and then in turn purchasing and exporting goods of local provenance as well as those coming from the east, when in 1505 the fondaco burned down, the government built for the merchants on the Grand canal next to the rialto Bridge a new and spacious fondaco.[33]

An ordinance of 1528 reiterated that those Germans and other foreigners from the northern lands who were required to reside in the Fondaco dei tedeschi were to do so, while those who were not required to live there were to stay in other specific houses set apart for them subject to a fine of 25 ducats. this legislation, which in 1531 the collegio ordered published and enforced, may no longer have been motivated solely by the traditional commercial considerations of trying to prevent evasion of the customs payments as well as unsupervised trade between the tedeschi and other merchants, but also by the desire to limit the spread of new Protestant ideas and practices by restricting the freedom of residence of all those coming from the Germanic lands and elsewhere north of the alps.

Understandably, German merchants were suspected of bringing heretical Protestant books into Venice and of spreading heretical ideas. However, not all of the German merchants were Protestants, and in any case, the trade of the merchants in the fondaco was too important for the government to disturb. Finally, in 1657, at which point the danger that Venice might become Protestant no longer existed, the Protestant merchants in the fondaco received permission to hold private services and to bring in a preacher from Germany.

While the fondaco became a center for all kinds of activities for its inhabitants, it by no means served as the place of residence of all Germans in Venice but, rather, constituted the premises given to a group of elite German merchants whose presence the Venetian government very much desired to attract to the city yet whose activities they wanted to supervise and control.[34]

According to a report of the papal nuncio of around 1580, based on information given to him by a Jesuit priest, almost 200 merchants and their servants resided in the fondaco out of around 900 Germans in the city, of whom 700 were Protestant.[35]De facto, many other Germans settled in Venice with their families while other individuals lodged in special inns or in private homes. they engaged in a very wide range of professional activities, including metallurgy, goldsmithing, working with textiles, tailoring, baking, shoe-making, and other artisanal activities, as well as domestic service. Printing was introduced into Venice by John of Speyer in 1469, who was followed by other significant German printers, and that industry also employed many Germans. Some Germans possessed their own scuole, for example, the shoe-makers and the bakers, who manufactured biscuits for the Venetian fleet, and met in the church of San Stefano.[36]

The Germans in Venice also possessed an inn for pilgrims in which, according to the oft-quoted observation of the German pilgrim Felix Faber from Ulm, who passed through Venice on his way to the Holy Land in 1483, the host, hostess, domestics, and servants all spoke German and one did not hear a word of Italian; even the dog of the establishment was glad when anyone from any part of Germany entered, while he growled at the arrival of Italians, French, Greeks, and Slavs.[37]

The Greeks in Venice, who may have rivaled the Germans for the distinction of being the largest minority group in the city, constituted the most important Greek community in the Hellenic diaspora.[38] Since Venice had initially been a part of the Byzantine empire and remained in close contact with Byzantium, it is understandable that Byzantine Greeks visited Venice during the Middle ages, primarily in diplomatic missions.

To negotiate trade agreements, some Greeks, especially inhabitants of Venetian possessions in the east, settled in the city. The ecumenical council of Ferrara-Florence, convened in 1438 in order to end the schism between the roman Catholic and Greek orthodox churches, brought many Greeks to Venice as their port of entry into Italy. Subsequently, the fall of Constantinople in 1453 induced a substantial number of Greeks to migrate to Venice. Other Greeks came to Venice from Venetian territories in the east, either on their own or increasingly in response to the constant ottoman advances. Many of the Greek immigrants served in the fleet as oarsmen (galleotti), both voluntary and conscripted, and sailors, as well as on land together with the dalmatians and Albanians as stratiotes; others were shipowners, merchants, and traders on various levels, and a large number earned a living in the city in a wide range of activities as laborers and artisans, including shipyard workers, caulkers, tailors, barbers, glass- workers, shoe-makers, artists, carpenters, and domestic servants, while many lived on the margins of society.[39]

Of special importance were the learned individuals who brought with them the classical and medieval Greek heritage in the form of manuscripts and translations and were active in the city as teachers, copyists, and translators, thereby giving great impetus to the diffusion of humanism. Among the famous learned Greeks in Venice was cardinal Bessarion, who termed the city “almost another Byzantium” (quasi alterum Byzantium) and gave his superb collection of Greek and Latin manuscripts to the republic on the two conditions that they never be given away and that the republic establish an adequate building to house them, leading to the eventual construction of the Biblioteca Marciana in Piazza San Marco. After printing was introduced in Venice, the first book in Greek was published in Venice in 1471, and subsequently several Greek presses were established, including the famous Aldine press of Aldo Manuzio that undertook the important task of selecting and editing texts and, with the help of Greek typesetters and proofreaders, printed numerous first editions.

The immigration of Greeks into Venice continued during the 16th and 17th centuries, as the Ottoman Turks advanced westward, capturing Coron and Modon in 1500, Nauplia di Romania and Monenvale in 1540, Cyprus in 1571, and Crete in 1669. Among these immigrants were also artisans who created material objects such as religious icons and bells, as well as artists such as Doménikos Theotokópoulos, better known as El Greco, from crete, who spent a few years in Venice before moving on to Spain.

Venice continued to serve as a center of Hellenic studies as it published classical Greek texts, including patristic literature, liturgical works, breviaries, and books of other genres not only for the Greeks of Italy but also those living under ottoman rule. indeed, it has been estimated that around half of all the Greek books printed in the 17th century were published in Venice.[40]

The Greeks differed somewhat from the previously discussed minorities, with the exception of the Armenians, in that most belonged not to the dominant Roman Catholic Church but, rather, to the Greek orthodox (Byzantine) faith.

In the early 15th century, the Venetians had forbidden Greek clerics to lead services anywhere in Venice, even in private houses, in accordance with those rites. However, after the reconciliation between Western Latin Catholicism and the eastern Byzantine church at the council of Florence in 1439, the Venetian government became more tolerant and gradually permitted the Greek rite to be celebrated in certain churches.[41]

In 1456, with the influx of Greeks into Venice following the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, in response to the request of cardinal Isidore, the Metropolitan (diocesian head) of Kiev, the senate authorized the Greeks either to select an existing church or to build a new one in which to pray according to their orthodox rite, but apparently nothing was done. Then in 1470, the council of ten determined that no services could be held according to the Greek rites except in the church of San Biaggio in Castello as previously, subject to a fine of 100 lire on the cleric involved and 50 lire on each person attending.[42]

Subsequently, when in 1479 the Greeks requested permission to build a church of their own, the council, deeming it undesirable for political reasons to allow around 600 people to assemble together, advised them to attend the Catholic churches in the city. In 1498, the Greeks requested permission to establish a scuola dedicated to St. Nicholas in the church of san Biagio.

In support, they cited their loyal devotion to Venice on land and at sea, especially in the conquest of Dalmatia, and also the precedents of scuole granted to the Slavs, Albanians, and other nations. The council of ten granted their request but did not allow the scuola to have more than 250 male members, although all women who wished to enter could be admitted.[43]

An investigation of the registers of the Greek community reveals that in 1498 the scuola possessed 58 members (42 men and 16 women), a number that by 1561–63 had greatly increased to 741 (613 men and 128 women).[44]

When in 1511 the Greeks again petitioned for the right to build a church that would be large enough for their needs and to establish a cemetery, they expressed their confidence that “your lordships will grant it, both because you are men of honor and devotion, and to show us that in your eyes we are no worse than the Armenian heretics and the Jewish infidels who here and in other parts of your lordships’ dominions have synagogues and mosques for worshipping God in their own misguided way,”[45] adding their hope that the signoria would consider them to be true and Catholic Christians and treat them as such by granting their request. Although in 1514 the permission was granted with the approval of Pope Leo X, who placed the Greeks directly under his supervision, the Venetians still suspected that the Greeks, once they had their own church and priest and were independent from the Venetian hierarchy, might revert back to their previous schismatic practices.

Thus, in 1528 the Venetian patriarch Girolamo Querino took steps to excommunicate the entire Greek community and anyone associating with them, locked the worshippers in their church during Holy Week, and considered the schismatic Greeks to be worse than if they were Jews (pezzo che se fussino zudei).[46] Construction on their church, known as san Giorgio dei Greci, located very near Piazza San Marco and financed to a great extent by a tax imposed on all Greek ships coming to Venice, commenced in 1539 and was completed only in 1573. In a very significant step, in 1577, the Venetian government allowed the church to be placed under the jurisdiction of the Greek orthodox patriarch in Constantinople, with its bishop assuming the title of the Metropolitan of Philadelphia and exercising jurisdiction over not only the Greek orthodox in Venice but also the Greek orthodox communities in Dalmatia, Istra, and the Ionian islands.[47] Subsequently, in the middle of the 17th century, two buildings designed by the prominent Venetian architect Baldassare Longhena were constructed on land purchased next to the church. One contained the scuola di San Nicolò with a ospedale for the poor Greeks, while the other, the collegio Flangini, supported by an annual subvention from the Venetian government, offered instruction in Greek, Latin, and the general humanistic curriculum, and both together combined to give the Greeks in Venice an effective cultural center.

The case of the ottoman turks was somewhat more complex, especially since the term “Turk” was generally misleadingly used to refer not only to subjects of the ottoman turks but also to all Muslims.[48]

Because the Muslims had not relapsed from Catholicism, they were considered infidels rather than heretics, as were also the Jews. Religious infidelity, unlike heresy, was basically tolerated in the catholic world, although often with reluctance and much ambivalence, and in Venice an attempt eventually was made to segregate infidels. After the Ottomans took possession of the Dalmatian hinterland in the later 14th century, and especially after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the presence of Muslims in Venice became more frequent and attracted increasing attention in art and literature. Since the Ottomans did not maintain permanent representatives abroad, their ambassadors and diplomatic missions came from Istanbul to Venice briefly to negotiate peace treaties and settle other important issues with the Venetian government.

In order to maintain their commercial privileges in the Mediterranean ports of the expanding ottoman empire, the Venetians had to extend reciprocal privileges in Venice to ottoman subjects, both Muslim and Jewish. Most of these ottoman subjects came to Venice temporarily by themselves, unaccompanied by their families, and stayed in inns or private homes. Additionally, Ottomans who had been captured in warfare or purchased from others served as domestics in Venetian patrician households.

As well as being considered religiously undesirable, visiting Ottoman Muslims were increasingly perceived as constituting a real political threat, since the ottoman empire had long controlled the dalmatian hinterland and continued its designs on Venetian possessions in the eastern Mediterranean, conquering Cyprus in 1571.

During the War of the Holy League, when the senate heard that its bailo (ambassador) in Constantinople, together with the Venetian merchants there, had been arrested, it did the same to turkish subjects in Venice—according to one source, 75 Muslim and 97 Jewish ottoman merchants[49]—in order to facilitate the release of their own citizens and their property.

After the news of the victory of the combined League forces at Lepanto in October 1571 reached Venice, the Ottoman merchants, who meanwhile had been released, fled from the Rialto and locked themselves inside for four days out of fear of being stoned.

Presumably this experience led them, according to the papal nuncio, in August 1573 to request from the government “for the convenience of trade, a place of their own, as the Jews have their ghetto.”[50]

In response to a request by one Francesco di Dimitri Littino, in August 1575, the senate decided to require the ottoman Muslims to reside together in one house while they were in the city since their property might be stolen, giving rise to trouble and possible harm to the treasury; worse, it was claimed that with little respect for God, they could go around at night wherever they wished in the houses of Christians, with scandal and the danger of many troubles.

Eventually, in March 1579 the collegio selected the house of Bartolomeo Vendramin, located in rialto near the church of San Matteo and the former site of the osteria con l’insegnia dell’angelo, for the residence of the Turks, but in august, the collegio reversed itself and decided instead to assign the house of Zaccaria Gabriel in San Polo. This induced Giulia, the widow of Francesco Littino, to come to the signoria. recalling the concession granted to her late husband and pointing out that, since the house of Gabriel was not yet ready, the Ottomans were living all over the city, she requested permission to find another house in which the turks could live together until the house of Gabriel was ready. The signoria responded by granting her request on condition that she submit daily to the collegio a list of all Muslims arriving and departing from her place.

Thereupon, the Littino family rented the premises of Vendramin and in it housed many of the Albanian and Bosnian (i.e., European) Ottoman Muslims with their merchandise, while the Asiatic Turks lived in other inns and in private homes, to the constant concern of the Venetian government for both religious reasons and also on account of the hostile attitude of the populace toward the Turks.

An anonymous memorandum addressed to the Venetian government in 1602, which might have only constituted a literary presentation in one of the Venetian academies,[51] urged that the Ottomans not be given a fondaco of their own. Among other things, it claimed that the concentration of many ottomans in one place would be very dangerous and lead to the erection of mosques and to the worship of Mohammed, causing greater scandal than that provoked by the Jews and the Protestant Germans. Also, the memorandum asserted that the pernicious innovation of a fondaco would further the political aims of the Turks who, headed by a sultan and possessing great naval power, were in a position to harm Venice more than were the Jews, who were without any head or prince and were everywhere repressed.

Eventually, the former osteria passed into the hands of new owners, who in June 1620 gave the Littini notice that they had either to evict the Turks from the premises or else pay a much higher annual rent. The Littini turned to the cinque savii alla Mercanzia. noting that serious troubles were occurring daily because many Ottomans lived spread out in the city in private homes, the cinque savii recommended instead a suitable house on the Grand canal at San Giacomo dell’Orio, near the church of San stae (st. Eustachius), far removed from the centers of rialto and San Marco, that the government had bought in 1381 for Niccolò d’Este, the Marquis of Ferrara.

In March 1621, the college approved the report of the cinque savii, who had proposed a long set of regulations establishing the procedure for the preparation of a fondaco for the Ottomans and its subsequent administration.

They included extensive construction intended to limit access to the outside world to authorized doors that were to be locked from the outside with a secure key at sunset and opened again at sunrise as well as minimal visibility into and out of the fondaco, all of which had to be undertaken without any expense to the government before any turks could move in.

The guards, who were to be permanently stationed at each door, were not to allow either women or Christian men in at any time. Further very minute provisions were made for the preparation of the living quarters of the merchants and the areas set aside for their merchandise, separating the merchants from Constantinople and Asia from the Bosnians and Albanians because their customs were different. Finally, all Ottomans who were already in Venice or who were to come in the future, were to go and reside in the fondaco, and anyone housing them elsewhere for any reason whatsoever, was subject to corporeal or financial punishment.[52]

Thus, finally the Ottoman Muslims possessed a place of their own, as, according to the papal nuncio, they had sought 50 years previously. The Venetian government apparently intended to enforce their segregation, for in September 1623, it ordered all Venetians to evict Ottomans dwelling in their houses within two days, and in late December of that same year, warned 15 Venetian innkeepers not to lodge any Ottomans overnight, under penalty of the galleys, banishment, or jail. As for facilities for prayers, according to the latest study of the turks in Venice the fondaco also contained “a small mosque, or rather room for prayer, on whose walls were written in red paint short verses from the Koran, whose traces were still visible in the middle of the 19th century.”[53]

It would appear that Muslims who died in Venice were buried on the Lido, as were Protestants and Jews, but no traces of a Muslim cemetery have been found.[54]

As the Venetian empire in the east increasingly passed into Ottoman hands, the number of Ottomans, especially merchants from Dalmatia and Albania, coming to Venice also increased, because the Venetian government protected them and encouraged their commercial activities. However, as a result of the commercial decline in the Mediterranean that affected both Venice and the Ottoman empire, at the end of the 17th century the importance of the Turks in Venice diminished, and the presence of the Asiatic Turks almost completely disappeared. By the later 1700s, the Fondaco dei Turchi was in very poor condition and required substantial reconstruction, little of which was carried out before the end of the republic.

Although fellow Muslims, the few Persian merchants in Venice tried to avoid living in the Fondaco dei turchi because of the enmity between Persia and the Ottoman empire, and they continued to reside in private homes and inns. When in 1662, toward the end of the war of crete (1645– 69), the Venetian government ordered all the Muslims in the city to go to live in the fondaco, the six Persian merchants still in Venice decided to leave rather than obey. It had been accepted that the Persians also eventually came to possess their own fondaco in Venice. Supposedly located in a building on the Grand canal almost next to the Fondaco dei tedeschi, a little further away from the rialto bridge toward Cannaregio, the number of storage areas contained in its building doubled between 1582 and 1740, presumably by subdivision, and the building that had been described as “dark, uncomfortable and very old” was torn down for hygienic reasons in 1908. However, the most recent scholarship claims that actually the building in question was not an official fondaco but, rather, had been owned by private individuals who rented out space to Persians and others.[55]

Additionally, ambassadors with their retinues, pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land, merchants, artisans, casual visitors, and others came to Venice not only from other states on the Italian peninsula but also from other European countries such as France, Spain, England, the Low countries, Poland, Hungary, and Romania, without in any way forming any permanent identifiable community.[56]

The Venetian sense of the “other” was also greatly enhanced by the appearance in the city not only of Moors from Barbary but also of a Japanese diplomatic mission that arrived in Venice in 1585 from Portugal. Since its members had expressed a desire to see Venice, the senate allocated up to 1000 ducats for their expenses. They were received with special honor, and during their brief stay their clothing, nature (qualità), and customs were noted, and Tintoretto was commissioned to paint them. In that same year, an Indian mission passed through Venice on its way to Padua. More than 60 years later, in 1652, a Chinese prime minister who had converted to Christianity arrived in Venice with another Chinese, on their way to Rome, and in its report to the doge, the collegio noted that the repute of the republic was great in china.[57]

The Jews were the most closely controlled and restricted minority in Venice, infidels who for very specific purposes were allowed to reside in the city, from 1516 until the end of the republic in compulsory, segregated and enclosed quarters, as the Venetian government gradually and grudgingly allowed raison d’état to overcome its longstanding policy of religious hostility toward them.

Most supervision over Jews was initially granted to two magistracies, the Cattaveri and the cinque savii alla Mercanzia, and from 1723, to the Inquisitorato sopra gl’ebrei, which was established in order to assure the solvency of the Jewish community in order to enable it to continue to operate its pawnshops and to repay debts owed to Christians.

Additionally, the collegio, senate, and other councils and administrative and judicial organs of the republic frequently concerned themselves with the Jews, leaving very much information for reconstructing their vicissitudes in Venice. Recent scholarship has established that their economic importance as international merchants and moneylenders was greater than previously assumed, as was also their interaction with the surrounding Christian environment, notwithstanding attempts of the government to limit it to the necessary minimum.[58]

Down to the end of the 14th century, apparently only a few Jews dwelled in Venice, while others passed through the city, possibly staying temporarily. Motivated by the church policy of condemning moneylending at interest among Christians, in 1254 the Venetian government outlawed moneylending at interest, and this may have discouraged Jews from settling.[59]

However, in 1382, as a result of the economic dislocation, shortage of cash, and need for credit resulting from the War of Chioggia against Genoa, the Venetian government, after much consideration, reversed its policy and issued a charter permitting anyone to engage in moneylending in the city of Venice for the following five years.

It appears that the only individuals to respond were Jews, and consequently in 1385 the senate issued a new charter to go into effect in 1387, good for ten years, allowing them to lend at interest, and in the following year it granted them land on the Lido to use as a cemetery.[60]

However, in 1395, the senate decreed that upon expiration of the charter in 1397, all Jews were to leave Venice, and henceforth could not remain in the city for longer than 15 days. then in 1402, alleging that at the end of 15 days they would leave for Mestre and then return for another 15 days, it was provided that after the 15 days had expired, they had to be absent for four months, further extended in 1496 to a whole year. Also, from 1397 on, all Jews in the city were required to wear a distinguishing yellow circle on their outer garment in order to be recognizable as Jews, changed in 1496 to a yellow head-covering to make evasion more difficult. [61]

Despite these restrictions, some Jews resided in the city without explicit authorization, and their ranks included doctors, merchants, and literati, as well as unidentified individuals who left their traces in archival documents.

The Venetian government acknowledged their presence by legislation that sought to control them. To give one significant example, in 1408 it forbade Jews from holding religious services in premises rented from Christian landlords, subject to a year in jail and a fine of 1000 lire for both the Christian landlord and the Jewish tenant, while all other Jews present at the services were to spend six months in jail and pay 300 lire. Subsequently, however, when in 1464 the Jews requested an alleviation of this measure, the collegio granted their wishes.

Pointing out that Pope Pius II (1458–64) had allowed Jews to practice their religion and had threatened with excommunication anyone who forbade them from doing so, it established that henceforth for the honor of God they could freely recite Psalms and praise God according to their laws in the premises that they rented, as long as not more than ten persons (the minimum quorum prescribed by Jewish law for the recitation of certain prayers and the public reading of the Pentateuch) participated. No traces have been found of any organized Jewish community or scuole, but it is reasonable to assume that some kind of embryonic association or at least ad hoc consultation must have existed.[62]

A major change took place in 1509, as Jews living on the terraferma were among the refugees who fled to Venice in the face of the invading armies of the League of Cambrai. Although the Venetian government ordered the refugees to return home after it retook the captured areas, many Jews remained in the city. Eventually, in 1513, realizing that Jewish moneylending was very beneficial since it could provide the hard-pressed treasury with annual payments while assisting the needy urban poor whose numbers had been swelled by the war and obviate their need to borrow illegally from fellow Christians, the government granted two wealthy Jewish moneylenders a five-year charter permitting them to engage in moneylending in Venice. Also, some Jews were authorized to sell second-hand goods known as strazzaria, literally rags but, by extension, second-hand clothing and other used items, especially household furnishings that, prior to the industrial revolution when relatively inexpensive mass-produced items first became available, were sought by a large part of the population, as well as foreign diplomats and visitors to the city, and even the government itself for state occasions.

Many Venetians, especially Catholic preachers, were greatly bothered by the new phenomenon of Jews living spread throughout the city. Consequently, in 1516, the senate required all Jews to live together, segregated and enclosed on the island in Cannaregio already then known as the Ghetto nuovo (the new Ghetto) because of its association with the municipal copper foundry previously located across the canal, “il ghetto” or “getto” from gettare in the sense of pouring or casting metal, whose area came to be known as the Ghetto Vecchio (the old Ghetto).[63]

To prevent Jews from moving about the city at night, gates were erected at the two bridges leading out of the Ghetto nuovo. Christian guards were to open these two gates in the morning when the Marangona bell sounded and close them, initially at sunset but then slightly extended to one hour after dark in summer and two in winter; only Jewish doctors, and later merchants, were routinely allowed outside after curfew time, while permission to do so was occasionally granted upon special request to other individuals, but almost never—with the exception primarily of a few doctors—was a Jew authorized to stay outside all night.[64]

Although the Jews tried to avoid moving to the ghetto, overall the institution of the ghetto constituted a positive step mediating between their former state of non-authorized presence and the newer brief reality of unrestricted residence throughout the city, as it represented the compromise that recognized the legitimacy of their residence in the city but carefully controlled their presence in it. Yet the existence of the ghetto did not assure the continued residence of the Jews in Venice, for that privilege was based on the five-year charter of 1513. Consequently, upon its expiration in 1518, the senate took up the issue of its renewal, leading to very sharp differences of opinion on the question of what to do with the Jews.[65]

Ultimately, socio-economic raison d’état triumphed over traditional religious hostility, and the charter of the Jewish moneylenders was renewed, from 1548 on for five-year periods, and in retrospect, they were to remain in the city to the end of the republic.[66]

The charters set forth the basic laws governing the residence of the Jews in the city and especially their pawnbroking, usually referred to somewhat misleadingly as moneylending since the full Italian name for the establishment in which the transactions took place was banco (plural: banchi) di pegni [bank of pawns], which was shortened to banco or banchi, with the result that their owners and managers were often referred to as banchieri (bankers) rather than prestatori or feneratori (moneylenders), or more accurately, pawnbrokers. the basic provisions of the charters were supplemented by many additional laws enacted by the major legislative Venetian councils and regulations issued by numerous administrative bodies.

The pawnshops, initially privately run profit-making businesses, became much less lucrative as the government increasingly utilized the Jews as providers of inexpensive credit for the Venetian poor rather than as contributors to the treasury. Consequently, during the course of the 16th century, it gradually lowered the interest rates from 15 per cent to 12 to ten and finally to five per cent in 1573 and required the Jews to lend sums of up to three ducats if given an adequate pledge. At the same time, in response to repeated Jewish complaints that the lower interest rates were eliminating their profits, the government lowered their annual payments to the treasury until finally those payments were completely eliminated when the interest rate was reduced to five percent. thus the nature of Jewish pawnbroking changed from a private profit-making enterprise to the equivalent of a Monte di Pietà subsidized by the Jewish community that, in order to enable the Jews to continue to reside in Venice, had to assume responsibility for the operation of three pawnshops and to grant the Jews who operated them a subsidy by augmenting the economically unviable five per cent interest rate on all sums lent out.[67]

The Venetian-Ottoman war of 1537–40 led to the diversion of much of the maritime trade of Venice to Ancona, so when in 1541 Levantine Jewish merchants came to the government complaining that they did not have space to dwell in the ghetto because of its narrowness and requested that they be provided with adequate room, the government responded favorably.

Observing that the greater part of the merchandise coming from Upper and Lower Romania was handled by those merchants, in the context of a larger plan designed to make trading in Venice more attractive to foreign merchants, it assigned them 20 dwellings in the Ghetto Vecchio, which was ordered walled up with a gate at each end, one opening up to the pavement along the canal of Cannaregio and the other to the wooden footbridge leading to the Ghetto nuovo.[68]

Meanwhile, at the end of the 15th century a major demographic change commenced. as a result of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and the continual emigration of new Christians who had been converted by force in Portugal in 1497 and their descendants, a far-flung kinship network of Jews and new Christians gradually came into being throughout the Mediterranean world, especially in its eastern coastal port cities, such as Istanbul and Salonika. Simultaneously, the eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans, and North Africa were being consolidated in the hands of the Ottoman empire, and as a result Ottoman subjects, including Ottoman Jews, an undetermined number of whom were of Iberian origin, came to play an increasingly significant role in Mediterranean commerce.

Venice constituted an especially attractive destination for judaizing new Christians desiring to leave the Iberian peninsula. since it was a major port with ships frequently leaving for the Ottoman empire, it served as a convenient point of embarkation for those wishing to depart for the ottoman east. Also, the Jewish community, segregated in the ghetto, offered an opportunity for new Christians to learn more about Judaism and even to revert or to convert to Judaism. Above all, although in 1547 an inquisition, presided over by the papal nuncio with the participation of the patriarch and the three members of the lay magistracy of the tre savii sopra Heresia representing the government, was revived in Venice, its purpose was primarily to deal with the growth of Protestant heresy rather than with judaizing new Christians as had been the case on the Iberian peninsula.

Furthermore, it generally did not actively search for new Christians who, upon arriving in Venice, went directly to the ghetto and there assumed Judaism and henceforth lived unambiguously as Jews, especially if they were active as international maritime merchants.[69] Yet it did not tolerate those who lived outside the ghetto and passed themselves off as Christians while secretly judaizing and maintaining close contacts with Jews in the ghetto who on occasion were relatives, both because such conduct was an affront to Christianity and also because it was feared that they might lead simple Venetian Christians astray.

Commencing in 1573, the Portuguese-born Jewish entrepreneur Daniel Rodriga sought from the Venetian government privileges not only for Levantine (eastern) Jewish merchants but also for new Christian merchants living on the Iberian peninsula, whom he called Ponentine (western) Jews.70

T)he designation “Ponentine Jews” constituted a neutral circumlocution, indeed euphemism, possibly formulated by Rodriga and accepted by the Venetian government in order to avoid anything that might allude to the new Christian background of the merchants. For at least 30 years, until his death in 1603, he submitted, with indefatigable zeal, a steady stream of projects and proposals to the Venetian government. Central were his two basic major interrelated projects, apparently first proposed in late 1576 or early 1577 but ultimately implemented only after 1589: first, the establishment of a free-transit port at Spalato (split), then a Venetian possession on the Dalmatian Adriatic coast; and second, the granting of a charter conferring extensive commercial privileges throughout the Venetian state to Jewish merchants who, he envisioned, would play a major role in developing trade between Venice and Spalato by virtue of their extensive kinship networks.

It was his conviction that they would enable Venice to maintain its entrepôt function and enhance its customs revenue in the face of increasingly serious commercial difficulties resulting from the gradual shift in maritime trade from the Mediterranean to the atlantic, the increased presence of the ships of England, France, and Spain in the eastern Mediterranean ports, and the shift of Venetian patricians from trade to other economic activities. [70]

As a result of Rodriga’s persistent lobbying, in 1589 the Venetian government accepted his utilitarian considerations of commercial raison d’état as constituting the least objectionable way to remedy the decline in Venetian maritime commerce and adopted his proposal to issue a charter inviting Iberian new Christian merchants to settle with their families in the Venetian state, with immediate privileges of engaging in trade between Venice and the Levant, rather than the usual 25-year waiting period, and of paying the same customs rates as native and naturalized Venetian merchants.[71]

However, in order to avoid religious ambiguity and also the precedent of allowing non-native Christians to engage in trade between Venice and the Levant without a lengthy waiting period, these Iberian new Christians were required to assume Judaism upon their arrival in Venice, and to go directly to reside in the ghetto under the designation of Ponentine Jews, with the assurance that they would not be molested on account of religion by any magistracy. Aat the same time, this charter also invited Levantine Jewish merchants, who previously had been supposed to stay only briefly in the city on their own in order to complete their commercial business, to settle in the city with their families with the same commercial privileges as the Ponentine Jews. Although issued for a limited ten-year period, this charter was to be renewed periodically down to 1711, and its provisions were to remain in effect until the end of the Venetian republic.

While Levantine Jewish merchants already enjoyed the privilege of engaging in the Levant trade by virtue of the treaties between Venice and the Ottoman empire, the extension of this privilege to Ponentine Jews was especially noteworthy from both the commercial and religious vantage points. In 1586, the only Venetians legally allowed to engage in trade between Venice and the Levant, the patricians and the cittadini (both originari and de intus et de extra but not de intus), constituted 4.3 per cent and less than 5.1 per cent respectively of the population.[72]

Thus, the Levantine and Ponentine Jewish merchants possessed rights to which more than 90 per cent of the Venetian Christian population could never aspire. Moreover, they were not subject to the waiting period of 25 years that applied to all Christian non-Venetians who desired the privilege of engaging in the Levant trade. this unprecedented concession reversed a policy that had been established since the 14th century and serves as clear testimony to the Venetian perception of the importance of the Jewish merchants. However, it should be noted that the privileges granted to the Jewish merchants were less generous than the rights enjoyed by the Venetian nobility, cittadini originarii, and citizens de intus and de intus et de extra, for they did not confer any rights of citizenship within Venice, which meant that the Jewish merchants could not purchase real estate or engage in trade within the city.

Understandably, this charter issued more than 30 years after the start of the hostile counter-reformation attitude toward the Jews and the reversion of new Christians to Judaism constituted a challenge to the new counter-reformation papal mentality that rejected the previous permissive papal attitude toward the reversion of new christians to Judaism.[73]

The Venetian ambassador to Rome, Alberto Badoer, in a report sent to Venice in June 1591, related that the pope had called the charter of 1589 a detestable and unprecedented action that could not be tolerated and had expressed his hope that the Venetian government would revoke it.

Badger unsympathetically responded that there was no doubt that the charter was to be praised, for granting the Ponentine Jews the same privileges as the Levantines, with the similar obligation to live in the ghetto and wear the special head-covering, was for the benefit of Venice and prevented them from going with their great wealth to the hostile ottoman empire, as they did annually in great numbers, an argument that later was to be repeated by Paolo Sarpi. Leonardo Donà, later to become doge, was to justify Venetian policy in the face of strong criticism from the papal nuncio by claiming that it was better that judaizing new christians reverted to Judaism and dwelled in the ghetto rather than among christians, frequenting the churches, and taking the sacraments in a spirit of falsehood, thus bringing dishonor to God and scandal to the city.

The charter was subsequently renewed for further ten-year periods, to the constant dismay of the papacy. Given the Venetian approach of raison d’état, especially when its key concern of Mediterranean maritime trade was involved, and the new attitude of the counter-reformation papacy toward crypto-Jews and new christians who reverted to Judaism, it is certainly very understandable that among the differences that arose between the Venetian republic and the papacy, that of proceeding against Jews and crypto-Jews certainly would be almost unsurmountable. indeed, a document entitled Raccolta di alcuni negocii spettanti alla santa Inquisitione nelle città e Dominio veneto dal principio di Clemente VIII sino al principio del mese di luglio MDCXXV, written around 1625, contained a section entitled “on Proceeding against Jews and Marranos” that commenced with the observation that among the differences which at various times had arisen between the inquisition and the Venetian republic, almost always unsurmountable was that of proceeding against Jews and Marranos.

Understandably, non-Venetian Christian merchants resented having to reside in the city continuously for 25 years before they could become citizens de intus et de extra. On one occasion, in 1610, a lengthy and carefully thought-out memorandum was submitted by Paul Santonini, a Venetian notary who had served various magistracies for 30 years. [74]

Well aware of the special status of the Levantine and Ponentine Jewish merchants, Santonini referred to them several times, specifically mentioning their charter of 1589, its renewal in 1598, and several of its provisions. He argued that if the privileges of trade with the Levant and payment of the customs at the lower rate reserved for Venetians had been granted to those Jewish mer- chants, how much more so should they also be granted to christian Venetian subjects living on the terraferma and to foreigners from all places. He again invoked the Jews to justify his proposal to admit foreigners to the Levant trade, as he pointed out reassuringly that since for 25 years the foreigners would pay higher customs duties than did the Venetians and the Jews, they would be in the disadvantaged position of having to sell their goods at a higher price.

The memorandum of Santonini was supported by the cinque savii alla Mercanzia, who pointed out that granting Greeks, Muslims, and Jews not only freedom of maritime trade but also payment of the customs at the same rate as Venetian subjects had turned out to be very profitable, because currently those merchants were paying a great part of the customs revenue received by the government from that merchandise. The issue was hotly debated on the senate floor. Nicolò Donà, a proponent of the liberalizing bill, rejected the argument that non-Catholics should not be admitted to trade in Venice. He pointed out that foreigners, although of different religions and customs, had never been abhorred, citing as evidence the Fondaco dei tedeschi and the presence of ottomans, Jews, Marranos, and all other nations. Apparently because the senate was very sharply divided, no changes were made in the highly protective Venetian commercial system, and the Jews retained their unique status of being able to become “instant merchants” of Venice.

Unlike other minorities, the Jews did not need to establish a scuola in order to have a focal point for the maintenance of their identity, for their institutions in the compulsory, segregated, and enclosed ghetto served that purpose. aptly characterized as “the city of the Jews,”[75] the ghetto was the designated area in which virtually all aspects of the life of the Jews took place. notwithstanding its generally restrictive legislation vis-à-vis the Jews, as long as the Venetian government was unwilling to establish a Monte di Pietà, retaining the Jewish moneylenders constituted the most expedient alternative to officially avoid the practice of Christians lending money to fellow christians.

To retain Jewish moneylenders as well as to attract Jewish merchants to Venice, it was necessary not only to enable them to survive physically and economically but also to assure them that they could practice their religion freely. commencing in 1528, the charters of the tedeschi Jews established the basic principle that they could live according to their rites and customs, and conferred upon them many specific derivative rights.

Thus, they were allowed “to maintain their synagogue according to custom” and to bury their dead on the Lido. The charters of the Levantine and Ponentine Jewish merchants additionally guaranteed them security from molestation for reasons of religion by any magistracy, certainly a very necessary provision needed to reassure former new Christians who were living openly as Jews in the Ghetto. The favorable approach of the Venetian government extended also to other matters. For example, it opposed the baptism of Jewish minors under the age of 14 without the consent of their parents. Furthermore, compulsory conversionary sermons were never introduced in Venice, and a clause that prohibited forcing Jews to attend them was incorporated into the charter of 1777.[76]

In addition to five major synagogues (significantly called scuole) and at least three minor ones, the ghetto also contained stores that sold kosher food as well as other items that the Jews needed for their everyday life.[77]

the Jewish community was highly organized, with each of its “nations” (the Italian-German, Levantine, and Spanish-Portuguese) establishing its own council; also, a super-council was formed to take care of community-wide needs and serve as liaison with the Venetian government. The Jews also formed their own confraternities for specific religious purposes such as the study of the law, dawn prayers, and generally pursuing the commandments, as well as caring for the dying and the dead, dowering brides, and providing money, clothing, food, and firewood for the poor.[78]

Yet while the Jews were indeed granted freedom of religious observance and practice of their traditions, their general personal freedom and economic rights were far more restricted than were those of other minority groups residing in Venice, with the notable exception of the special privilege of engaging in the Levant trade. Everything that was not specifically permitted to them was supposedly forbidden. Above all, despite the retrospective continuity of their residence in the city from 1509 to the end of the republic, on occasion their fate was hanging in the balance as the senate either failed to renew the charter on the first ballot or decreed an expulsion, although none was ever actually implemented, thereby highlighting the insecurity that was always hanging over a community that resided in Venice on sufferance, not by right.

Yet the Jews clearly thought of themselves not as foreigners but as Venetians. at least two significant renaissance and early modern Jewish writers considered the government of the Venetian republic to represent the ideal type of government as set forth in the old testament, while others saw the affirmation of a key aspect of the Myth of Venice, the righteousness of the laws of the city and the sense of justice of its government, in the Venetian treatment of the Jews in its midst.[79]

Still, no matter what privileges the Jews possessed, they always constituted the other who inhabited a separate space, and no matter how much concern the government took to apply the due process of law to all matters involving them, their status never was—and never could be—the same as that of other native inhabitants of the city. Their situation conformed to the Catholic policy initially formulated by Pope Gregory and subsequently reiterated by medieval popes, although not so often observed in practice, which asserted that while the Jews ought not to claim more than what was permitted to them by law, nonetheless those rights that had been granted to them were to be observed. Venice felt that the status quo represented a desirable compromise between complete rejection and full acceptance that ought to be fairly maintained and only modified in accordance with the due process of the law.

It can be concluded that the Venetian government not only tolerated the presence of minorities in its midst but also actively encouraged them to come to the city, and on occasion even offered them attractive concessions if it thought that they could in some way be of economic or commercial benefit.

Yet, while giving them much freedom, the government carefully controlled the activities of minorities in areas that it considered important, especially in maintaining a monopoly of the Levant trade for its own citizens, in preventing customs fraud, and in preserving the catholic faith of the city.

Given the potent combination of religious, political, and military considerations, Ottoman Muslims were especially disliked and suspected. Somewhat unexpectedly, the position of the Jews was, in certain respects, comparatively more favorable than that of non-Catholic Christian groups, despite the strict segregation, special head-covering, and severe civil restrictions imposed upon them.

Brian Pullan observed that in Venice “the Jews were more highly privileged than any other community of religious aliens, with the sole exception of Greeks adhering to the Union of Florence”; thus Jews could openly have synagogues which Christians could and did visit,[80] while Protestants “could expect only liberty of conscience, as distinct from freedom of public worship, and seize the chance to attend an embassy chapel.”[81] indeed, only in 1657 did the Protestant merchants from the Germanic lands who resided in the Fondaco dei tedeschi receive permission to hold religious services privately in the fondaco and to bring pastors from Germany.

As Frederic Lane noted, “no organized Protestant propaganda was permitted, and Protestantism was tolerated only marginally as an intellectual plaything of a few skeptics and as the religious custom of a few foreigners: the German merchants in their fondaco, a flourishing colony of German bakers, and the many German students at Padua.”[82]

Summarizing the situation in the late 17th century, Maximilien Misson observed that in Venice, the Greeks, Armenians, and Jews were allowed the public exercise of their religion, while all other sects or religions were tolerated, but one pretended not to know about their meetings, which were held in so secret and discrete a manner that the senate did not have any reason to complain about any abuse or indiscretion.

Further, in the course of asserting that Protestants could be buried in the churches if their relatives desired it because one ignored that there were Protestants in Venice, Misson claimed that all those who were neither Jews nor Greeks nor Armenians were deemed to be catholics.[83]

As Lane concluded, “Venice was far from being any champion of freedom of thought in principle [. . .] But men of a great variety of views succeeded one way or another in living in Venice pretty much as they pleased, and thinking as they pleased, so long as they did not attack the government.”[84]

Most significantly, Marino Berengo characterized the Venetian attitude toward non-Catholic religions as one of indifference and not of official toleration.

The Venetian government did not proclaim the freedom and equality of religions. Rather, it gave tacit consent for foreigners to practice their own religion privately, without harming Catholicism, because of the necessity to have foreign merchants in the city; but it strictly forbade both proselytism on behalf of the tolerated denominations as well as anti-Catholic propaganda. [85]

Here once again, as in so many other areas, raison d’état ruled the day, even to the extent of defying the papacy, in accordance with the dictum that prima semo Veneziani, poi cristiani (We are first Venetians, then christians), as minorities contributed to the perseverance of the Most serene republic in the face of the difficulties that it confronted over the centuries.



[1] See s. Kinser, ed. and i. cazeaux, trans., The Memoirs of Philippe de Commynes, 2 vols (columbia, s.c., 1969–73), 2:493, quoted in d. chambers and B. Pullan, eds., Venice: A Docu- mentary History, 1450–1630 (oxford, 1992), p. 235.

[2] See G. Fedalto, “Le minoranze straniere a Venezia tra politica e legislazione,” in H.-G. Beck, M. Manoussacas, and a. Pertusi, eds., Venezia: Centro di mediazione tra oriente e occidente, secoli xvxvi: aspetti e problemi, 2 vols (Florence, 1977), 1:148; P. Preto, “Peste e demografia: L’età moderna,” in Venezia e la Peste: 1348–1797 (Venice, 1979), pp. 97–98; and P. Preto, “Le grandi pesti dell’età moderna: 1575–77 e 1630–1631,” in Venezia e la Peste: 1348–1797, pp. 123–126.

[3] See a. Zannini, Venezia città aperta: Gli stranieri e la Serenissima XIV–XVIII sec. (Ven- ice, 2009), pp. 30–34.

[4] For a recent discussion of the changing requirements for citizenship in Venice, see anna Bellavitis, Identité, mariage, mobilité, mobilité sociale: citoyennes et citoyens à Venise au XVIe siècle (rome, 2001), pp. 19–63, and also the chart on pp. 355–56. For the text of legislation of the Great council of 21 august 1552 on citizenship, see Bellavitis, Identité, pp. 319–21, english translation in chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary His- tory, pp. 276–78.

[5]See, e.g., F. ortalli, “Per salute delle anime e delli corpi”: Scuole piccole a Venezia nel tardo Medioevo (Venice, 2001), pp. 105–07.

[6] See ortalli, “Per salute delle anime,” pp. 102–04.

[7] For one example, the case of the albanians, see s. Moretti, “Gli albanesi a Venezia tra XV e XVi secolo,” in d. calabi and P. Lanaro, eds., La città italiana e i luoghi degli stranieri, xiv–xviii secolo (rome/Bari, 1998), p. 7.

[8] See B. imhaus, Le minoranze orientali a Venezia, 1300–1510 (rome, 1997), pp. 219, 222, and 227.

[9] See, for example, Imhaus, Le minoranze orientali, pp. 219–27, and the plans on pp. 221, 223, and 225. see also the famous prospective plan of Jacopo de’ Barbari of 1500, with the addition of locations of the major dwelling and business places of foreigners in Venice in D. Calabi, “Gli stranieri e la città,” in Gino Benzoni and Antonio Menniti Ippolito, Storia di Venezia. Dalle origini alla caduta della Serenissima, 14 vols (rome, 1992–2002), vol. 5 (1996): Il Rinascimento. Società ed economia, ed. alberto tenenti and Ugo tucci, p. 916; although it should be noted that as of 1500, neither the Jews nor the turks were confined to a specific area; also the detailed maps of Venice indicating the location of the dwelling of foreigners on the basis of the catastico of 1661, in J. F. Chauvard, “scale di osservazione e inserimento degli stranieri nello spazio veneziano tra xvii e xviii secolo,” in Calabi and Lanaro, eds., La città italiana, pp. 87, 91, 93, and 99, and the methodological caution expressed in note 2, pp. 104–05

[10] See a. Zannini, Venezia città aperta, p. 38.

[11] See R.C. Mueller, “ ‘Veneti facti privilegio’: stranieri naturalizzati a Venezia tra xiv e xvi secolo,” in calabi and Lanaro, eds., La città italiana, pp. 41–51, summarized in Bellavi- tis, Identité, p. 39; and Zannini, Venezia città aperta, pp. 36–37; see also L. Mola and R. C. Mueller, “essere straniero a Venezia nel tardo Medioevo: accoglienza e rifiuto nei privilegi di cittadinanza e nelle sentenze criminali,” in S. Cavaciocchi, ed., Le migrazioni in Europa (sec XIIIXVIII) (Florence, 1995), pp. 838–51.

[12] See Bellavitis, Identité, pp. 43, 50, with a detailed breakdown on pp. 50–56; cf. Zannini, Venezia città aperta, pp. 113–14.

[13] See Imhaus, Le minoranze, pp. 38–39; also the charts and maps on pp. 41, 43, 45, 47, 55, and 57, and the list of individual names with available information, pp. 435–562.

[14] See Zannini, Venezia città aperta, pp. 38–39.

[15] See G. Fedalto, “Le minoranze straniere,” 1:148–49, and G. Fedalto, “stranieri a Vene- zia e a Padova, 1550–1700,” in Girolamo arnaldi and Manlio Pastore stocchi, eds., Storia della cultura veneta, 6 vols (Vicenza, 1976–86), vol. 4 (1984): Dalla Controriforma alla fine della Repubblica. Il Seicento, part 2, pp. 499, 505.

[16] see P. Braunstein, “remarques sur la population allemande de Venise a la fin du moyen age,” in Beck, Manoussacas, and Pertusi, eds., Venezia, 1:233–43

[17] See Zannini, Venezia città aperta, p. 40.

[18] See G. Favero and F. Trivellato, “Gli abitanti del ghetto di Venezia in età moderna: dati e ipotesi,” Zakhor 7 (2004), 44. on the figure for 1516, see M. Sanuto, I diarii, 58 vols (Venice, 1899–1903), 22:108–09; and Favero and trivellato, “Gli abitanti del ghetto di Vene- zia in età moderna,” p. 45 note 1. the information on the ghetto in the catastici of 1713, 1739, 1771, and 1810 has been published and analyzed in G. carletto, Il ghetto veneziano nel settecento attraverso i catastici (rome, 1981).

[19] On the Luccans in Venice, see L. Mola, La communità dei Lucchesi a Venezia; Immi- grazione e industria della seta nel tardo medioevo (Venice, 1994), esp. pp. 87–107; also Calabi, “Gli stranieri e la città,” p. 915; ortalli, “Per salute delle anime,” pp. 104–07; and Zannini, Venezia città aperta, pp. 71–72.

[20] See Francesco Sansovino, Venetia città nobilissima et singolare (Venice, 1663), cited in Mola, La communità dei Lucchesi, p. 98.

[21] See Ortalli, “Per salute delle anime,” pp. 104–06.

[22] See Ortalli, “Per salute delle anime,” pp. 104, 109; and Calabi, “Gli stranieri e la città,” p. 915.

[23] See Ortalli, “Per salute delle anime,” pp. 107–08; and Zannini, Venezia città aperta, pp. 73–74.

[24] See Fedalto, “Stranieri a Venezia e a Padova,” in Storia della cultura veneta, vol. 4: Dalla Controriforma alla fine della Repubblica. Il Seicento, part 2, p. 262.

[25] See Calabi, “Gli stranieri e la città,” p. 917.

[26] On the Albanians, see s. Moretti, “Gli albanesi a Venezia tra xiv e xvi secolo,” pp. 5–19; also F. Thiriet, “Sur les communautés grecque et albanaise à Venise,” in Beck, Manoussacas, and Pertusi, eds., Venezia, 1:217–31; F. Pedrocco, “Vicende della scuola,” in t. Pignatti, ed., Le scuole di Venezia (Milan, 1981), pp. 92–93; and Calabi, “Gli stranieri e la città,” pp. 915–17.

[27] For a discussion of this will, see G. Ortalli, “Tra Venezia e l’armenia: alle radici di un lungo rapporto,” in B. L. Zekiyan and a. Ferrari, eds., Gli Armeni in Venezia: Dagli Sceriman a Mechitar (Venice, 2004), p. 24, and the text on pp. 39–40.

[28] See B. L. Zekiyan, “Gli armeni a Venezia e nel Veneto e san Lazaro degli armeni,” in B. L. Zekiyan, ed., Gli Armeni in Italia (rome, 1990), p. 40.

[29] For a description of the Venetian “warehouse-palace” in Alexandria, see F. Lane, Venice: A Maritime Republic (Baltimore, 1973), p. 287.

[30] The standard works on the Fondaco dei tedeschi remain G. thomas, Capitular des deutschen Hauses in Venedig (Berlin, 1874); and H. Simonsfeld, Der Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venedig, 2 vols (Berlin, 1887).

[31] See Zannini, Venezia città aperta, p. 45.

[32] See chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, pp. 328–29.

[33] See chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, pp. 329–30.

[34] The past concentration on the Fondaco dei tedeschi and minimization of the presence of other Germans in the exclusion of other Germans has been noted by P. Braunstein, “Remarques sur la population allemande de Venise a la fin du moyen age,” in Beck, Manoussacas, and Pertusi, eds., Venezia: Centro di mediazione, 1:233–34.

[35] See chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, pp. 330–31.

[36] See Calabi, “Gli stranieri e la città,” pp. 927–28; and Zannini, Venezia città aperta, p. 43.

[37] See Zannini, Venezia città aperta, p. 46.

[38] Comprehensive specialized articles on many of the developments and institutions referred to in the following discussion of the Greeks in Venice have been published in M. F. Tiepolo and E. Tonetti, eds., I Greci a Venezia, Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studio: Venezia, 57 novembre 1998 (Venice, 2002), with précis in Italian, English, and Greek. according to the available consulted records, during the period from 1250 to 1500, fewer than 60 Greek immigrants to the city of Venice itself obtained citizenship; see r. Mueller, “Greeks in Venice,” in c. a. Maltezou, ed., Ricchi e poveri nella società dellOriente Grecolatino (Venice, 1998), p. 157.

[39] See Thiriet, “Sur les communautés grecque et albanaise à Venise,” pp. 220–21, and Mueller, “Greeks in Venice,” p. 169.

[40] See Fedalto, “stranieri a Venezia e a Padova,” p. 258.

[41] See Thiriet, “Sur les communautés grecque et albanaise à Venise,” pp. 223–24. 42 see chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, p. 333.

[42] See Chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, pp. 333–34.

[43] See Chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, pp. 333–34.

[44] Aee Fedalto, “Le minoranze straniere,” p. 148 note 14, also note 15; also in Fedalto, “stranieri a Venezia e a Padova,” p. 255.

[45] See Chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, pp. 334–35.

[46] See d. J. Geanakoplos, Greek Scholars in Venice: Studies in the Dissemination of Greek Learning from Byzantium to Western Europe (Cambridge, Mass., 1962), p. 67.

[47] 47 See Fedalto, “Stranieri a Venezia e a Padova,” pp. 255–57.

[48] For the basic treatment of the turks in Venice, see P. Preto, Venezia e i turchi (Florence, 1975), esp. pp. 116–45; and for the latest, see M. P. Pedani, Venezia porta dOriente (Venice, 2010), pp. 211–41. see also the account in B. Ravid, “the religious, economic and social Background and context of the establishment of the Ghetti of Venice,” in G. Cozzi, ed., Gli Ebrei e Venezia (Milan, 1987), pp. 234–43, to a considerable extent based on archivio di stato di Venezia, cinque savii alla Mercanzia, n.s., b. 187, which unfortunately i have not been able to reconsult.

[49] For these numbers, see c. Kafdar, “a death in Venice (1575): Anatolian Muslim Merchants trading in the Serenissima,” Journal of Turkish Studies 10 (1986), 200, photo-reproduced in S. Subrahmanyam, ed., Merchant Networks in the Early Modern World (aldershot, 1996).

[50] 50 see a. Buffardi, ed., Nunziature di Venezia, 42 vols (rome, 1958–2008), vol. 11: 18 giugno 157322 dicembre 1576, ed. Adriana Buffardi (1972), p. 69, cited in Preto, Venezia e i turchi, p. 130.

[51] See A. Sagredo and F. Berchet, Il Fondaco dei Turchi in Venezia (Milan, 1860), p. 28.

[52] See Chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice, A Documentary History, pp. 350–52. Many of these measures or similar ones had already been applied to the previously established Jewish ghetto, although christians were allowed to enter the ghetto during daytime and indeed had to if they wished to avail themselves of the Jewish pawnshops. see below, and for much greater detail, B. ravid, “curfew time in the Ghetti of Venice,” in e. Kittell and T. Madden, eds., Medieval and Renaissance Venice (Urbana/Chicago, 1999), pp. 237–75, photo-reproduced in B. Ravid, Studies on the Jews of Venice, 1382–1797 (Aldershot, Hants, 2003).

[53] See Pedani, Venezia porta d’Oriente, p. 219

[54] Pedani, Venezia porta d’Oriente, p. 215.

[55] This paragraph is based on Pedani, Venezia porta dOriente, p. 219.

[56] See Fedalto, “Stranieri a Venezia e a Padova,” pp. 265–71.

[57] See Fedalto, “Stranieri a Venezia e a Padova,” p. 264.

[58] 58 For a concise history of the Jews of Venice, see B. ravid, “the Venetian Government and the Jews,” in r. c. Davis and B. Ravid, eds., The Jews of Early Modern Venice (Baltimore, 2001), pp. 3–30. the other essays in that volume deal with many significant aspects of Jewish life and culture in Venice.

[59] See R. C. Mueller, The Procuratori di San Marco and the Venetian Credit Market (new York, 1977), pp. 229–30, 247–80.

[60] On the admission of the Jews to Venice and subsequent events down to 1397, see r. Mueller, “Les prêteurs Juifs de Venise au moyen age,” Annales 30 (1975), 1277–1302, and “the Jewish Moneylenders of Late trecento Venice: a revisitation,” Mediterranean Historical Review 10 (1995), 202–17.

[61] 61 B. Ravid, “From yellow to red: on the distinguishing Head-covering of the Jews of Venice,” Jewish History 6 (1992), 179–210, also published in book form with the same pagination in B. Walfish, ed., Frank Talmage Memorial Volume II (Hanover, 1992), photo- reproduced in Ravid, Studies on the Jews of Venice, 1382–1797.

[62] For further details on the Jews in 15th-century Venice, see B. Ravid, “the Legal status of the Jews of Venice to 1509,” Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 54 (1987), 169–202.

[63] For the definitive reconstruction of the history of the area of the ghetto before it was assigned to the Jews and the immediate course of events afterward, see E. Concina, “Parva Jerusalem,” in E. Concina, V. Camerino, and d. Calabi, La città degli Ebrei: Il ghetto di Venezia: Archittetura e urbanistica (Venice, 1991), p. 1149; for a brief english summary, see Ravid, “the Venetian Government and the Jews,” pp. 7–10. see also chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, pp. 338–39.

[64] See Ravid, “Curfew time in the Ghetti of Venice.”

[65] Excerpts in English translation in Pullan, Rich and Poor in Renaissance Venice: The Social Institutions of a Catholic State (cambridge, Mass., 1971), pp. 488–98; and R. Bonfil, Jewish Life in Renaissance Italy (Berkeley, 1994), pp. 39–43. see also B. Ravid, “On sufferance and not as of right: the status of the Jewish communities in early-Modern Venice,” in D. Malkiel, ed., The Lion Shall Roar: Leon Modena and his World, Italia: Conference Supplement Series, 1 (Jerusalem, 2003), pp. 20–24.

[66] See Ravid, “On Sufferance,” pp. 25–43

[67] Ravid, “On Sufferance,” pp. 25–43.

[68] See Chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, p. 344.

[69] For an introduction to the inquisition in Venice and its treatment of Jews and judaizing new Christians, see P. C. Ioly Zorattini, “Jews, crypto-Jews and the inquisition,” in Davis and Ravid, The Jews of Early Modern Venice, pp. 97–116.

[70] On Rodriga and the Jewish merchants of Venice to the end of the republic, see B. Ravid, “An introduction to the charters of the Jewish Merchants of Venice,” in e. Horowitz and M. orfali, eds., The Mediterranean and the Jews II: Society, Culture and Economy in Early Modern Times (ramat Gan, 2002), pp. 207–46, photo-reproduced in Ravid, Studies on the Jews of Venice.

[71] See Chambers and Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History, pp. 346–49.

[72] See D. Beltrami, Storia della popolazione di Venezia dalla fine del Secolo XVI alla caduta della Repubblica (Padua, 1954), p. 72.

[73] On this paragraph and the following two, see B. Ravid, “Venice, rome, and the reversion of conversos to Judaism: a study in Ragione di Stato,” in P. C. Ioly Zorattini, ed., L’identità dissimulata: giudaizzanti iberici nelleuropa cristiana dell’età moderna (Florence, 2000), pp. 151–93, photo-reproduced in Ravid, Studies on the Jews of Venice.

[74] I plan to elaborate further on the following course of events, and also two other attempts of foreign christian merchants to obtain permission to engage in maritime trade between Venice and the Levant in my forthcoming history of the Jews of Venice. in the interim, see Zannini, Venezia città aperta, pp. 116–18.

[75] As in the title of Concina, Camerino, and Calabi, La città degli Ebrei, and d. Calabi, “The ‘city of the Jews,’ ” in Davis and Ravid, The Jews of Early Modern Venice, pp. 31–49.

[76] For further details, see Ravid, “On Suffrance,” pp. 54–57.

[77] See Calabi, “il Ghetto e la città,” in Concina, Camerino, and Calabi, La città degli Ebrei, pp. 203–300; and Calabi, “the ‘city of the Jews,’ ” pp. 31–49.

[78] See D. Malkiel, “the Ghetto republic,” in Davis and Ravid, The Jews of Early Modern Venice, pp. 117–42.

[79] See B. Ravid, “Between the Myth of Venice and the Lachrymose conception of Jewish History: the case of the Jews of Venice,” in B. Cooperman and B. Garvin, eds., The Jews of Italy: Memory and Identity (Bethesda, Md, 2000), pp. 151–92, photo-reproduced in Ravid, Studies on the Jews of Venice.

[80] See B. Ravid, “Christian travelers in the Ghetto of Venice: some Preliminary observations,” in S. Nash, ed., Between History and Literature: Studies in Honor of Isaac Barzilay (B’nei B’rak, 1997), pp. 111–50, photo-reproduced in Ravid, Studies on the Jews of Venice.

[81] See B. Pullan, The Jews of Europe and the Inquisition of Venice (oxford, 1983), p. 154.

[82] See Lane, Venice: A Maritime Republic, p. 395.

[83] See M. Misson, A New Voyage to Italy (London, 1739), vol. 1, book 2, p. 484, repr. in

Ravid, “Christian travelers in the Ghetto of Venice,” pp. 132–33.

[84] See Lane, Venice: A Maritime Republic, p. 395.

[85] See M. Berengo, La società veneta alla fine del settecento; ricerche storiche (Florence, 1956), pp. 172–73.


Comments are closed.