Economic history of the Republic of Venice

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The economic history of the Republic of Venice and the lagoon surrounding the city , like the history of settlement, goes back to the Neolithic . Located at the extreme end of the Adriatic Sea , the city benefited from its location close to the markets of Central Europe and from its formal affiliation with the Byzantine Empire since the early Middle Ages . With increasing autonomy, it gained commercial privileges both in Byzantium and in the Roman-German Empire . With the 4th Crusade , the Doge Enrico Dandolo was nominally lord of three eighths of the Byzantine Empire and one in 1204 Colonial empire developed between Istria and Crete, which eventually reached as far as Cyprus. It formed the logistical backbone of ship convoys and free trade, as well as supplying Venice with salt and the staple food, wheat .

Neptune offers gifts to Venice, Giambattista Tiepolo 1748–50, oil on canvas, 135 × 275 cm, Doge's Palace

The commercial revolution with its new forms of organization, life and culture led to a previously unseen dominance of economic, arithmetic ( Max Weber ) and control mechanisms. Venice's trading techniques, company forms and financing methods, but also means of economic development, are often far ahead of European developments.

Crusades and the conquest of Constantinople in 1204 simultaneously opened direct trade deep into Asia for several centuries. But these trade trips, as well as the equipping of the regular ship convoys , required amounts of capital, which were mainly provided as loans . Only the nobility had the right to conduct long-distance trade - the quasi-monopoly in the pepper trade is known. The same nobility monopolized the political leadership.

Despite the dominance of the intermediate trade, shipbuilding was the outstanding “ industry ” and by far the largest employer. In the late Middle Ages, there was also the production of cloth , silk and glass . The monopolized salt trade and the grain trade, which contributed no less than all the rest of the trade to the wealth of the nobility, were also of great importance .

From the beginning Venice faced fierce competition and fought four all-out wars with Genoa alone . In the early modern period , Venice gradually lost its colonies to the Ottomans and lost its monopoly in the Adriatic. In addition, the Dutch and English displaced the Venetian competition and the Portuguese attracted the spice trade. In addition, protectionism in the states of Europe and the Ottoman Empire made market access difficult .

In the end, the regional power was mainly based on the production of luxury goods and agricultural production on the northern Italian mainland.

Until the 9th century

The cathedral on the now almost uninhabited Torcello , Michael Johanning 1985

Around 4000 BC The Venetian lagoon emerged behind the alluvial sand islands at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea. Hunting and fishing as well as the first settlements can be traced back to the 3rd millennium BC. BC, such as at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi , at St. Mark's Square , but also on islands such as Torcello or Lazzaretto Nuovo .

In ancient times, the sea level was several meters lower than it is today, which is why the oldest traces of human settlement can be found in the lagoon in areas that are now often under water. Greek and Etruscan traces point to an earlier settlement than was long assumed. Chioggia (Clodia) was a Roman military settlement and a coin from the time of Emperor Trajan came to light in the Fontego dei Turchi on the Grand Canal . In 2013 Ernesto Canal listed 730 Roman sites, around 200 Roman structures and 90,000 finds.

By the 6th century at the latest, fishing, especially sea ​​salt and grain, played the main roles in a spring for the first time. Around 750, however, the Longobard king Aistulf forbade all trade with the Byzantine subjects, and thus also with the places in the lagoon.

But around 780 there were again traders in Pavia who offered oriental goods for sale, such as purple fabrics from Tire . Even before 785, Venetian traders resided in Ravenna and the Pentapolis , who were "expelled" by the Franks in 787/791. They were already active in the slave trade with the Saracens during the time of Pope Zacharias (741–52) .

Venetian denarius, a silver coin from the time of Louis the Pious , 1.13 g. On the front HLVDOVVICVS IMP around a cross, on the back VENECIAS

The trade was still mostly barter . Although they knew coins and were minted even own by the imperial such. B. Emperor Louis the Pious took over and stamped “Venecias” on the reverse, but the coins of Verona were preferred. Its own mint, the Zecca (Arabic coin ), can be found at the beginning of the 9th century.

The early phase of " feudalization " with the acquisition of extensive estates brought the first, larger amounts of capital into the hands of individual families. The will of Doge Giustiniano Particiaco from 829 shows that, in addition to commercial and residential buildings, his property included commercial goods, jewelry, but above all cash and loans - and finally considerable sums that were still in trading companies at the time of his death. The ruling class was therefore very active in trade almost from the start, in contrast to their peers on the mainland.

Between Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire (9th to 12th centuries)

Venetian possessions around the year 1000

With the destruction of Comacchio (854 or 946), which ruled the mouth of the Po , and thus the main trade route in northern Italy, trade was free as far as Pavia and Piacenza - an agreement with Charles III had already been concluded in the subsequent areas . trade routes open. Venice pursued similar goals in Istria . The relationship with the Narentans , the pirates of Dalmatia, was much more difficult . It was not until 1000 that Doge Pietro II Orseolo succeeded in subjugating northern and central Dalmatia to his sovereignty.

The privilege of trade in the empire in combination with the rule of the Adriatic represented the western counterpart to a first gold bull of the Byzantine emperor from 992, which was followed by other trade privileges. As in the west, Venice was now privileged in the east. In return for military aid against the Arabs of southern Italy, Emperor Basil II almost halved the taxes per merchant ship. At the same time, the Venetians established trade contacts as far as Tunis . There, and to Alexandria , they delivered wood, weapons and metals, as did Slavic slaves - even if this trade was banned in 960.

The breakthrough came in 1082 with the privilege of Emperor Alexios I , which guaranteed free trade and opened large parts of the Byzantine Empire in the first place. Own merchant colonies, trading houses and landing stages came to the Venetians. By far the largest colony was created on the Golden Horn in the capital Constantinople.

Venice was also given the right to free trade in the Holy Land , which was conquered by the Crusaders from 1098 onwards , because it supported Godfrey of Bouillon in 1100 and, above all , conquered Tire , the trading center in Syria. The colonies represented an almost self-sufficient city within the city, mostly even walled, from Syria and Lesser Armenia they directed trade deep into Asia. Alexandria and the Maghreb were also frequent targets of their trade.

The counterpart to the privilege of 1082 was the privilege of Emperor Henry IV , which he issued in 1084 for the Roman-German Empire. Deeply involved in the investiture dispute , he allowed Venice to trade throughout the empire, but only allowed the residents of the empire to trade as far as Venice. The city had thus monopolized the Adriatic trade, because goods were only allowed to be brought from there to Venice, that is, the city enforced the stacking law . Pile and envelope forced the traders from outside to find themselves in trading houses, whereby the traders from the Reich called "Germans" had to live in the trading house of the Germans .

Around 1130, the predominant families succeeded in significantly reducing the influence of the clergy, and in the second half of the century they appropriated a considerable part of the goods of the around 100 church institutions. Now the old families tried to restrict the sale of church property by stipulating that in the case of monastery property, for example, the abbot and the chapter, the bishop and a secular advocate had to agree. As a result, the wealthy new families, who were denied access here, pushed for ownership on the mainland.

Multiplication of capital, colonies and conflicts in the ruling class (1171 to 1261)

The Venetian privileges became a threat to Byzantine trade and the revenue of the state. Although the ensuing hostility had been evident for decades, the arrest of all (allegedly) 10,000 Venetians in the Byzantine Empire on March 12, 1171 and the subsequent ban on trade came as a complete surprise. The traders' quarter on the Golden Horn was practically abolished. The military counter-attack failed despite the use of 120 galleys. There were riots in Venice and the Doge Vitale Michiel II was stabbed to death in the street. Venice lost all privileges and was only able to gain a foothold again 14 years later. With the IV Crusade , the Doge Enrico Dandolo had an opportunity to restore the old privileges and obtain new ones.

Sudden wealth and a feudal lifestyle

The oldest preserved city palace, the later trading house of the Turks ( Fontego dei Turchi )

The conquest of Constantinople and the establishment of a colonial empire made Venice, against the growing resistance of Genoa , the supreme power in the eastern Mediterranean. This colonial empire and the Latin Empire (1204–1261) formed the political framework for the massive expansion of trade. In addition, the traders participated in the exchange of goods with the Holy Land , where until 1291 Acre was an important trading hub.

The trade was initially unable to raise such amounts of capital, so that numerous aristocrats, but also “nouveau riche” Populares, the “Populari grassi”, bought land on Terra ferma - despite the massive resistance of the cities concerned.

The contrast between the two groups of the nobility and the newcomers gradually dissolved because the two groups merged to form the new, dominant class of Magni . These shared political power and the profits from long-distance trade. In addition, they closed the coveted lifestyle, to which an estate increasingly belonged, to further climbers. For this purpose, the land price was set by the state from 1226, in such a way that it fell rapidly with a higher degree of kinship . The Doge was not allowed to acquire any land outside the Venetian sphere of influence. In 1297 it was finally determined exactly who belonged to the circle of nobility (Serrata).

Furthermore, both in Venice and in the colonial empire, new positions of power emerged in many places, which ensured a livelihood for the almost exclusively noble owners. The newly formed aristocracy was thus considerably privileged compared to the rest of the population. Some nobles also conquered entire island empires in the Aegean .

As a result of the intensified trade and the war effort, the need for ship crews rose sharply, which offered many men employment. In addition, the explosive social force caused by the changes was reduced by three to four thousand men and their families taking over the settlement of Crete from 1211 onwards. They received feudal goods there and were thus involved in the opportunities for social advancement.

Colonial empire and trading colonies

The colonial empire stretched from the lagoon to Crete. The center of the colonial empire was initially the merchants on the Golden Horn . Although Venice was unable to take possession of the three-eighths of the Byzantine Empire, which had been agreed as their share during the siege of Constantinople, it secured the most important points, including warehouses, accommodation, grain and ship's biscuits, and its own fleets Communication systems were set up, which greatly promoted and secured trade.

In addition, in Bari and Syracuse , in Tripoli and Tunis , on the Balearic Islands and in Valencia , Seville and Barcelona , in Montpellier , Nîmes and Aigues-Mortes , in Southampton and London , but above all in Bruges - small, well-funded, knowledgeable groups of Men who formed the backbone of the trade there. In addition, there was a fixed courier system that linked Bruges and Venice within eight days. Finally, dealers could use stations in Augsburg , Ulm , Nuremberg , Frankfurt , Cologne and Vienna . In addition, countless letters to dealers show that every letter kept up to date with price fluctuations, changes in customs duties and exchange rates, right up to rumors of political upheavals.


Venice, which around 1300 had perhaps 85,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, could only cope with the population losses caused by trading establishments and colonization because many people immigrated to the metropolis at the same time. Venice encouraged the immigration of specialists, such as Lucches silk weavers or mill builders and bakers from the Roman-German Empire , especially after the waves of plague from 1348 . The city grew mainly inward, that is, parts of the city previously characterized by gardens and swamps were increasingly built on.

Similar colonies to the craftsmen were formed by the foreign traders who, like the Milanese, clustered in an alley near Rialto. From the 14th century the Tuscans, who were mainly active in the cloth trade and played an important role in the banking industry, emerged, especially the Florentines. From southern Italy came mainly Apulians, as well as Slavs, Greeks and French, albeit in smaller numbers. From around 1250 people from the empire - whether they were Germans, Hungarians or Bohemians, who were generally called "Tedeschi" - came to the "Handelshaus der Deutschen" (Fondaco dei Tedeschi). Own Visdomini del Fondaco monitored the activities of the residents, brokers brokered the trade, but also monitored it. Finally, a group of immigrants, the Jews, mostly settled in Mestre . There, for example, they were active in the credit sector and - to the annoyance of the established usurers - offered considerably cheaper loans. It was not until the ghetto was founded in 1516 that the majority of them lived in closed quarters.

Venice as a world trading power (13th to 15th centuries)

Marco Polo's itinerary

With the final fall of Jerusalem (1244), the starting point of trade shifted towards Baghdad and Tabriz and to Lesser Armenia . But with the expansion of the Egyptian Mamluks to Syria - Acre was the last city to fall in 1291 - the Venetians were ousted from the Middle East. So they pushed into trade across the Black Sea towards Armenia, Persia , and Turkestan . After tough negotiations, they were re-admitted to trade in the Byzantine Empire. This was all the more important as the passage through the Bosporus was the most important prerequisite for trade in Central Asia. It is no coincidence that Marco Polo traveled through Asia from 1278 to 1291. A second route led from Trebizond over the Persian Gulf to India, a third led from Tana at the mouth of the Don over the Volga and the Caspian Sea to India.

Commercial structures

Company forms and credit

Simple loans were too expensive for trade (approx. 20% per year with extreme fluctuations, plus high guarantees), and the trade loan ( mutuo ad negotiandum ) only offered the advantage that it could be covered by sharing the expected trade profit .

For overseas trade, the maritime trade credit ( prestito maritimo ) prevailed from the 2nd half of the 12th century , which represented more of a kind of profit sharing. The advantage for the borrowers was that they could freely dispose of the money and were not subject to any other usual controls. The Comenda , which connected donors and dealers in this way, expanded through several partners in a single company to form the Colleganza . From around 1200 to 1350 it was the predominant form of trading company.

A silent partner contributed about three quarters of the invested capital, the active partner who carried out the trade trip, the rest. Purpose, distribution of tasks and shares were set in writing before the trip, but the active partner could invest his profits again on the way. Silent and active partners were two possible roles that were redefined with each trip, with several silent partners often providing the necessary capital. In this way, the risks were distributed and at the same time the possibility of accumulation was opened up.

This type of company was only supplanted from overseas trade at the end of the 14th century by regular societates , trading companies that were set up for a long time and that existed without a single trade voyage. In addition, double-entry bookkeeping and the establishment of permanent factories abroad enabled much closer control and control, but at the same time a closer integration with foreign markets. It also allowed pure equity participation.

Against the lack of continuity and verifiability of these businesses, another concept was used: that of the family. Even without a contract, brothers were considered a society ( fraterna societas ). So they were liable for each other.

Overseas trade, convoys for luxury goods and bulk goods

Model of a galley, Venice, Museo Storico Navale

In the second half of the 13th century at the latest , ship convoys , known as Mude , usually operated twice a year, in spring and in August or September. 30 to 50 ships each took part. Initially, the ships that went to the Romania (the area of ​​the Byzantine Empire) were smaller, but their number was larger: mostly nine or ten galleys. Later, often only two or four drove. Soon the number of tired people rose to five a year. From the beginning of the 14th century they also went to England and Flanders , to Tunis and Aigues-Mortes . Despite the falling number of ships, the total cargo load rose from 3 to 5,000 to 7,500 to 10,000 t, ever larger ships operated, which were often joined by unarmed, private ships.

The adjustment to the times of navigability of the sea and the passability of the Alps were the basic conditions. Timely delivery of goods coming from the Levant to the merchants of the empire and vice versa was an important prerequisite for the rapid turnover of capital.

Canaletto, Bacino di San Marco, 1738–40, oil on canvas, 125 × 204 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. View from the Dogana da mar (customs house for goods that came across the Adriatic) eastwards

But not only the competition from other sea powers contributed to the uncertainty at sea, but also pirate fleets. The power vacuum left by the breakup of the Byzantine fleet led to a revival of piracy in all of Romania. Venice sent a large fleet of 31 galleys, which finally succeeded in providing a Leo Vetrano ("pirata") with his fleet and capturing nine galleys. In 1278, Venice compiled an extensive list of raids over the past ten years. Piracy became a factor that permanently changed the maritime trade organization.

The distinction between valuable cargoes on the one hand and mass traffic on the other continued on land. On the Dogana da Mar , where all “expensive” goods were cleared and stored, there were only 40 porters, but several hundred were busy loading flour and grain, typical bulk goods. The extremely expensive goods included (especially as an important European transshipment point for goods from the Indian trade ) spices, above all pepper , aromas and perfumes , as in general for drugs , then color pigments, precious stones , silk , ginger , but also precious metals. Iron, copper, woolen fabrics, and later linen and silk, were exported.

However, bulk goods such as salt and grain, even oil and cotton, were transported in convoys, although most of them were private ships. Such central controls were not without risk, because the joint appearance of numerous dealers in one place led to violent price fluctuations.

Participation in the Mude took place by auctioning part of the ship's hold . These Incanti were public, but only those who had full civil rights “de intus et de extra” could take part. To do this you had to live in Venice for at least 25 years and provide guarantors. The rent for the ship's space alone could easily exceed a thousand ducats . However, this is a comparatively small investment when you consider that the Mude from Beirut or Alexandria in the 15th century carried goods for up to 200,000 ducats.

The Doge Tommaso Mocenigo named 45 galleys , 300 sailing ships with more than 120 t and 3,000 ships and boats between 6 and 120 t in 1423 alone . They were more likely to transport bulk goods, primarily grain and salt, but also wood, hides, furs, wine and cotton.

The wood for shipbuilding came from Cadore , Trentino and Tyrol , as well as Istria. The traders had to bring it to Venice first. This also applied to pitch and hemp . At that time, 4 to 500,000 Libre hemp and 1,000 Libre pitch were imported annually .

The grain chamber as a state bank

Millet granary on the Grand Canal (next to the Fontego dei Turchi), built from 1423, in 2007

Private traders brought tens of thousands of tons of salt and up to a hundred thousand tons of grain to Venice - most of them for resale in northern Italy. Guaranteed prices were set annually for wheat, which differentiated precisely according to regions in order to control the inflow of certain varieties and quantities. Because grain was subject to the natural cycles of sowing and harvesting, but the bread consumption was rather inelastic, joined a separate institution as a middleman, the Wheat Chamber ( Camera Frumenti ). This required extensive funds, which were raised through government bonds, customs duties, the sale of grain and flour, but also grinding and weighing fees. Soon these reserves took on the character of a state bank , which in turn accepted and paid interest on large-scale deposits, including those from foreign potentates, but also granted loans itself. At the same time, there was a close relationship with the Procurators of San Marco , who are often referred to as the "Ministry of Finance".

Long-distance and local trade across rivers and overland

As early as 840, the Pactum Lotharii , a contract with the ruling grandson of Charlemagne in Italy, guaranteed Venice's river boatmen free travel over "land and rivers" within the Regnum Italicum , where they exchanged large quantities of grain for the oriental goods they had brought with them and for salt. The river ships were rather small, but their large number still allowed large quantities to be transported, such as B. 1219, when around 4,500 tons of wheat were traveling from Milan to Venice.

But these narrow trade routes, which allowed goods to be transported on a large scale at prices that made trade lucrative in the first place, were constant trouble spots. The more Venice became dependent on the goods of the mainland, the more people insisted there on passage rights and duty exemption. At the same time, a Venetian river fleet patrolled the Po and the Adige . An armed boat could be called in for protection from the traders.

Cities like Bergamo or Brixen , however, could not be reached by rivers. Therefore, the Great Council decided in 1283 to pave the roads there, which should also apply to the roads of the Germans and Hungarians in 1286. These were more likely to be mule tracks that carts could use. Roads can only be mapped in the 15th century. These reached the empire in two ways: via Carinthia and via the Brenner Pass .

Control and management of shipping traffic, law of the sea

By the 13th century at the latest, shipping traffic, be it state-organized convoys or more "private" shipping, was subject to strict controls. It is hardly surprising that the Senate determined the management, the crew, pay, food, the time of departure, the freight, etc. for the war galleys and the Mude , but the rest of the shipping was also subject to pedantic controls. This related, for example, to the evictions of teams from which many fled.

From a size of 100 milliaria (approx. 48 tons) each ship had to be examined by its own authority. These consuls checked the departure at the agreed time, the affixing of the balancing freight and assigned ship clerks to keep records of the food, wages and freight. They also played an important role in the later customs clearance of the goods. The skippers, the patrons, were responsible for the payment . The regulations went very far. For example, everyone who traveled by ship, including the passengers, had to keep an eye on the outboard loading line to avoid overloading. For every finger width that this line was under water, a fine was threatened. Such regulations were collected in the law of the sea ​​of ​​Ranieri Zeno of 1255, but such a collection probably already existed in 1233. There were also additions from the Senate and other collections.

The regulation of income and expenses

Regular sources of income

Dogana da Mar, customs office for overseas trade and warehouse for salt and luxury goods, in 2007

Venice did levy taxes on land ownership and absenteeism from military service in the early days, but otherwise direct taxes were waived.

A main source of income consisted of duties and taxes. Venetians only paid half an inch. If they exported as much goods as they imported, they were even completely exempted. There was also a fee for all ships that moored in port. In addition to the taxes mentioned, each trader paid a sum for himself and for the ship, as well as for all permits. Taxes were due when they were stored in the stores and on the scales. In addition, there were market fees, fees for trade brokerage, for weights and measures, and above all consumption taxes.

In 1495 the income from wheat tariffs alone amounted to at least half a million soldiers . In 1513 they were doubled and a new tariff was levied on barley in addition to the wheat tariff . Exports were even burdened with duties twice as high.


When spending soared, the municipality borrowed money from wealthy families. This was mostly done to finance wars or to supply grain. Initially, these bonds, called Imprestiti , were entirely voluntary, but in 1207 the first forced bond was raised. Voluntary bonds were also levied.

Most of the time, voluntary and involuntary bonds amounted to 0.5 to 2% of sworn assets, meaning mobile property - this included goods, cash, jewelry, but also income from houses and real estate. Whoever was wealthy and did not pay accordingly, his house was destroyed in the extreme case; Exceptions are first noted in 1268. Already in 1262 a "floating debt" was founded, the Monte Vecchio , from which the bonds were to be repaid and interest paid. In order to enable the wealthy residents to participate more effectively in the common burdens, especially in the waging of war , an Estimo , an asset appraisal , was arranged before 1250 . In addition, no one was allowed to invest more in the Incanti than the amount indicated in the Estimo .

Everyone who signed a bond received a receipt. These “bond notes” could in turn be sold and borrowed. A kind of speculative traffic developed on these papers, the prices of which were mainly oriented towards the foreign policy situation. When the Genoa fleet occupied Chioggia in 1379 , its value fell by almost 90%. At the same time, the share of bonds in the assets of the subscribers could well exceed 100% - which is only apparently paradoxical, because the assets were declared by the subscribers themselves, probably less and less in the actual amount. Repayment could be years in coming. However, the interest rate remained at 5% well into the 15th century - so it was more of a permanent return. Around 1380, around 1,200 subscribers bore the brunt of the special editions.

In the 15th century, the interest on bonds that had already been resold was lowered and a new type of bond was offered, namely one in which the subscriber never saw his assets again, but received interest for all time ( a fondo perduto ).

Other sources of income, foreign capital

The monastery island of San Giorgio Maggiore , today the seat of the Cini Foundation , one of the most important research institutes on the history and culture of Venice

The municipality received additional income from the administration of real estate, foundations and assets of its residents. Ecclesiastical institutions also had to borrow, especially the large monasteries such as San Giorgio Maggiore .

It turned out to be particularly important that foreigners also deposited their assets with the wheat chamber (camera frumenti) or with the procurators of San Marco . Numerous Signori of the mainland, like the Carrara, deposited their fortune here because Venice was considered to be particularly reliable and safe. But until well into the 1360s, a faction of long-distance traders tried to throw foreign competition out of Venice, which they succeeded twice. Only with the renewed economic upswing from the 1370s did they also recognize the advantages that foreign assets offered with appropriate controls.

Monetary and coin policy, gold and silver

Gold and silver were the only unequivocally recognized means of exchange. However, in the High Middle Ages the need for standardized and secured denominations grew, for example to be able to conveniently pay wages during construction work. However, Venice did not begin to mint its own coins until the 12th century: The grosso with its silver content of around 2.1 g was used for larger purchases. In addition, the Soldo and Lira came as pure units of account - not as coins. A Soldo di Grossi corresponded to twenty and a Libra di Grossi to 240 denars.

Venetian silver coin (denarius), 1280. St. Mark hands the doge the flag, with a seated Christ on the reverse
Silver coins (grosso or matapan) from the same period. Doge and saint hold the flag together.

In domestic trade, on the other hand, there was a coin in circulation that was not called Grosso (the fat one), but Piccolo (the little one). Here, too, Libra and Solidus or Lira and Soldo were available as computing units . But the piccolo contained less than a tenth of a gram of silver.

Based on the percentage of silver, 26.1 piccoli had the same value as a grosso . From 1268 onwards, no more than 25 of the small denarii were allowed to be brought abroad. The Piccolo consequently circulated in Venice and the places of the lagoon, the Grosso abroad.

The confidence of foreign business partners in the stability was obtained by subjecting only the Piccolo to fluctuations in value (these were generally devaluations). In order not to have to take these fluctuations into account in international agreements and thus scare off investors, a third counting currency was invented alongside the Lira di Piccoli and Lira di Grossi , the so-called Lira a Grossi , whose ratio to the Piccolo was always 1 to 26, regardless of how the value relationship to the Lira di Grossi developed.

In the east, Venetians paid with silver and took back the gold that was circulating there. While silver fell in value in the west, silver, which was kept artificially expensive, flowed to the east at the same time. Venice threatened to be incorporated into the Arab-Byzantine world, so to speak, in which gold predominated, and with it the loss of its function as a trading hub due to the depletion of its silver reserves. Florence and Genoa felt the same way. From 1252 onwards, they let gold and silver coins circulate simultaneously. Venice hesitated because the gold influx was much lower here. It was not until 1284 that the minting of the golden ducat began under Doge Giovanni Dandolo . Silver coats and gold ducats were now available for long-distance trade. From June 1285 a ducat was worth 18.5 grossi . The initially introduced fixed value ratio of 1 to 10.7 had to be abandoned due to the otherwise usual trading margins in 1296. In 1328 the Senate lowered this ratio to 1 to 24, which means that one lira di grossi was exactly 10 ducats.

Gold coin from the time of Doge Bartolomeo Gradenigo . The doge kneels and takes the flag.

While gold in 1284 was eleven times as expensive as silver, the rate between 1305 and 1330 rose to 1 in 14.2. Since the 1330s, however, there was an increased influx of gold, which slowed the decline of silver. In addition, Hungarian mines supplied large quantities of gold from around 1320. Within a few years, Venice largely switched to gold, even becoming the largest gold exporter where it had previously been the largest silver exporter. In addition, Venice began minting a Soldo coin for the first time in 1330 - albeit with a value of 16 to 18 instead of 20 piccoli .

This value system was extremely fragile, as demonstrated by King Mansa Musa's pilgrimage from Mali to Mecca . The king put ten tons of gold on the market. As a result, the value ratio of the two precious metals suddenly fell from 1 to 20 (1340) to 1 to 11 (1342), and finally to 1 to 9.4 by 1350. Silver was getting more and more expensive, gold getting cheaper. In the 1370s, an extreme counter-movement set in when the gold caravans were almost completely demolished.

Attempts were made continuously to increase the supply of the precious metal, which was inadequately received, by exemptions from customs duties. In 1354 Venice stopped minting the grosso in order to maintain its value through an artificial shortage - which was also achieved until 1379. In fact, a stabilization was achieved, because during this time the gold-silver ratio leveled off at around 1 in 9.9 to 1 in 10.5. It never exceeded the value of 1 in 12.5 again. The decisive factor was probably that Venice almost exclusively bought its spices - which it practically built into a monopoly - with gold ducats - it is well known for its wealth of pepper. In the long run Venice became the biggest “gold leak” in Europe.

The Zecca , the place of origin of the coins, next to the Biblioteca Marciana, on the right the Doge's Palace, Nino Barbieri 2004

The compulsory exchange for coins, the real value of which was considerably lower than their face value , was an often used means. In 1353 the Senate created its own coin for the colonies: the silver Tornesello . In 1362 a large shipment of Torneselli was brought to Crete, and nobody was allowed to dare to refuse the new coins. 1 Tornesello was equal to 1.6 piccoli , but the official exchange rate was one to three. The coin was valued almost twice as high as it would have corresponded to the actual precious metal content. At the beginning of 1386 the Senate determined that 4,000 ducats of net profit had been drawn from this business that year.

The Zecca in Veneto proceeded in a similar way with the Bagattino . However, this monetary policy collided with the interests of Milan, which began a targeted policy of destabilization in 1429 by putting overvalued coins into circulation, which in exchange for Venetian silver brought in 20% profit. Venice immediately reduced the silver content of the Bagattino from 11 to 5.5%. At the same time it demanded that its “subjects” be given in “good” coins.

It was not until 1472 that Venice said goodbye to this variant of “coin imperialism”, which would have ruined Terra ferma for good . Overall, this minting practice delayed the development of profitable agriculture as profits were constantly being reaped by the tax authorities.

State banks and private banks, bills of exchange and speculation

San Giacomo di Rialto, whose bells announced the opening times of the market and the bank, in 2007

The great fortunes arose in long-distance trade and real estate. Venice stands in contrast to the metropolises of northern Italy, such as Florence, where it was more moneylenders and bankers who made enormous fortunes. Yet Venice needed bankers.

First of all, the growing need to change from one currency to the other probably led to the fact that the first change tables were set up in the square in front of San Giacomo di Rialto near the Rialto Bridge - and to a lesser extent on St. Mark's Square . These campsores exchanged coins for coins by hand. But that was not enough to meet the need for fast coin transfers between widely separated locations. So-called Banchi de scripta , in which a customer of the bank could “transfer” from his account to another “on demand”, initially took on this task. To do this, however, both giver and recipient had to have an account with the same bank. Soon a simple form of bill of exchange was used to settle debts and credits between customers of different banks . This made the transfer possible by means of written instructions, even if this form of money transfer in Venice is only available late. The change appears shortly after 1200 in Venice. But as recently as 1227 it was preferred to send silver bars to a wheat buyer on municipal orders under strict security measures to Apulia than to use this means of transfer. It was another century before the use of the bill of exchange became almost natural.

During this process one must keep in mind that the trading volume often preceded the quantities of precious metal available, so that a shortage of coins could easily arise, which threw the trading activities back to mere bartering. Hence, coin-free monetary transactions soon became indispensable.

The borrowing requirement was tightened by the municipality itself. It often acted as a borrower, for example to finance wars or wheat imports. Large borrowings disrupted the credit and money markets and drove up interest rates. It was not until the second half of the 14th century that the currency in circulation grew, slowly reducing interest rates.

Soon, bankers specialized in speculating on bills of exchange as “bill brokers”. Commissions have already been collected for these transactions, plus the costs for bills of exchange, letters and other items. Another type of speculation, less tied to individuals, thrived on the fluctuating money markets. It was also safer for the "investor". The need for gold increased when the regular ship convoys left for Syria and Egypt to buy luxury goods. As a result, the money market became tight and higher profits were regularly made on bills of exchange.

Trades and guilds

Scuola Grande di San Marco, Giovanni Dall'Orto 2006

Venice was not a pure trading city. The "building industry" came to the shipbuilding industry with its need for wood, metal, pitch, hemp, etc. The growing fortunes made possible trades that made leather, furs, cloth, precious stones, but also weapons, crystals and glass of the highest quality available.

Every import could lead to new refinements. Syrian and Cypriot silk was processed further with Barchent . A considerable part of this was sold across the Alps, as was sugar, oil and wine, but also silk.

The crafts were organized in guild-like associations , the scuole , which never gained power in Venice, such as in Florence. On the one hand, they were more closely monitored and controlled, and on the other, they were more closely integrated into the state representation.


Squero near San Trovaso , not far from the Zattere , 2015
Maritime Museum, originally a biscuit store for the fleet and the arsenal, 14th century

Marangoni and Calafati , ship's carpenters and caulkers , were among the most important trades, which grew strongly due to the expansion of the shipyards in the city, the squeri , and above all due to the arsenal . There was competition for their labor between the state warship building and the more private boat building. By order, the ship's craftsmen had to leave their work behind and work in the arsenal. Although the masters had to be registered in a kind of handicrafts register and were allowed to bring up to two assistants, the operation of the arsenal was otherwise in the hands of the municipality, which provided food, materials and workers - and their wages. The Squeri that were conducted by one or a group of members, dedicated generally a Proto Maestro , in turn, Maestri established. They, who were mostly skilled workers, received a wage or a weekly wage, but were allowed to bring apprentices and assistants with them. The owner of the squero could control the work himself or leave his place of work to the client, who only paid a rent for it. Tommaso Mocenigo , Doge from 1414 to 1423, reports that 3,000 marangoni and another 3,000 calafati worked in Venice .

The export potential of shipbuilding was high, but for security reasons and to protect production secrets, foreigners were only allowed to have ships built in Venice with the highest permit from 1266 at the latest, and from 1293 no longer at all. The same applied to the sailmaking and rope winch, which mainly worked for the urban market and the navy. Only the sailmakers and rope winders needed large quantities of sturdy cloth and fibers, while even simple clothes were made from finer and more expensive cloths. Their starting materials and their internal organization also differed so much that they developed largely independently of that of the other cloth industries.


In general, the artisanal production was geared more towards the local market. Nevertheless, this production also needed raw materials from far away areas. Cotton was imported from Sicily, Egypt and Syria. In the 15th century the colonies, such as Crete and later Cyprus, also produced cotton and even neglected grain cultivation.

The majority of the cloth was imported. A certain amount of support from the magistrates can only be recognized around 1300. Instructions to all magistrates to wear only Venetian fabrics resulted in an increase in production.

However, trade and fiscal interests stood in the way of the development of the wool industry. On the one hand, the long-distance traders imported the finest woolen fabrics from Flanders for export to the Middle East. Nevertheless, much of it is likely to have "got stuck" in Venice, which may have harmed the local industry. Even the not yet fully developed qualities from Tuscany were already on the list of high tariffs that flowed to the tax authorities in the 13th century - especially when they later supplied the best cloths ever. Treasury and long-distance traders were neither interested in a domestic industry nor did they have the necessary know-how - and if they did, it was drowned out by the superior competition.

The situation of the silk industry, which existed from Lucca before the immigration , but increased the quantity and above all the quality as a result, was completely different . The masters were highly qualified and through their work initiated other productions, such as dyeing and goldworking. Such splendid fabrics were increasingly in demand from a class of retailers who had become rich.


Stained glass, San Zanipolo

The production of glass can be traced back to the 4th century. Until 1291, when the glass furnaces were banned to Murano because of the risk of fire , there were glass factories within the city. In 1295 all masters who operated only one of the numerous glass furnaces outside of Venice were removed from the guild. In addition, no foreigner was allowed to be initiated into the secrets of glass art.

Glass was almost exclusively blown and turned with a glassmaker's pipe , even window glass. For a long time, glass windows have been an immense luxury, which is not only explained by the complex technology and the high energy requirement, but above all by the fact that enormous amounts of plants had to be burned to obtain one of the primary products, potash . To obtain one kilogram of potash, you needed 1000 kilograms of wood. The addition of potash to the glass mass was necessary to lower the melting point from around 1800 ° C to 1200 ° C. As a base material for the glass, care was taken to use sand as white as possible for the cristallo . Highly pure glass sand from Ticino or burnt marble served as the basic material.

The extensive trade in glass beads, with which Murano supplied all of America, but also Asia and Africa from the 16th to the middle of the 19th century, via intermediaries such as the Hudson's Bay Company , has not been well researched. These ranged from simple pearls to hand-polished works of art. They were made by verixelli while the phioleri made bottles and the like.

Claim between the world powers (mid-15th century to 1571)

Rising war costs: building fleets and condottieri

entrances to the Arsenal , right Ingresso all'Aqua (water gate), left Ingresso di Terra (land gate), photographed in 2007

In the 15th century, the Iberian empires increasingly dominated the Mediterranean - the east of the extremely important trading sea was ruled by the Ottoman Empire . Nevertheless, Venice tied up almost all of its forces in Italy. The wars against rival Milan brought it to the limit of its economic resilience. Since the financing of the war was based on forced loans, this was reflected in the fact that 59% of the sworn assets were confiscated after just two years of waging the war. There was some calming down in 1428–31, but between 1431 and 1441 they sometimes approached the 40% mark - in total they added up to 288%. Aside from the growing gap between the estimated fortunes on which these figures were based and the actual fortune, this practice meant bankruptcy for many families. In addition, the annual interest income was reduced from 5 to 4%, then to 3%.

When Francesco Sforza became Duke of Milan in 1450, and the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453 , the Senate drafted an unusually sharp program: almost all state income was only to be used to finance the war, all salary payments were suspended for one year, and all tenants brought in half an annual rent , all landlords spend a third of their income on homes and shops. The Jewish community had to make a special contribution of 16,000 ducats. Finally, the tariffs were raised, the mooring fees for the ships and their cargo. The direct taxation not only of the residents of Terra ferma , but also of the Venetians themselves, was never given up again.

After all, Venice reached a peace treaty with the Ottomans on April 18, 1454, which kept the ports open to its traders. In addition, the colony in Constantinople continued to exist and only goods sold were subject to a moderate tariff of 2%. In 1463 Venice started another war. With the peace of January 26, 1479, it had to renounce the Albanian Scutari and Negroponte, today's Euboea , and pay an annual tribute of 10,000 ducats. At least trade remained free, even as far as the Crimea and Trebizond . But the main trade routes increasingly shifted to Beirut and Alexandria. At the lowest point, in 1483, not a single galley went to Constantinople.

In contrast, trade with Flanders flourished, especially with spices, primarily pepper. In 1486 four galleys carried goods worth 180,000 ducats on board. Trade with France and Tunisia flourished in a similar way. "New" mass-produced goods such as wine, metals, soap and fabrics played an increasingly important role.

In spite of all the difficulties, Venice is likely to have enjoyed great prosperity at the end of the 15th century.

Protectionism and New Industries

Methods of protecting one's own trade and industries have existed for a very long time. But the interventions of 1423 and 1436 represent a high point of protectionism in favor of the cloth industry in that they strictly forbade the wearing of cloth that had been purchased in cities on the mainland. This gave two closely interwoven industries a further boom, namely dyeing and silk production. In 1421 silk was barely allowed to be imported. In 1457 the export of raw silk was even banned on the entire Terra ferma , unless it was first brought to Venice and subjected to the usual customs duties. The up-and-coming silk industry employed around 2,000 silk weavers after 1500, making it the largest luxury industry alongside the production of brocade and damask .

The largest industries, however, continued to be construction and shipbuilding. But the latter in particular was no longer able to employ sufficient caulkers and ship carpenters from around 1370, so that large numbers of them emigrated. In addition, the Senate had set the wages of the 6,000 caulkers and ship carpenters so high that ship production had difficulties in asserting itself against increasing competition.

The development of new branches of production, such as sugar cane , brought some relief here . In 1366 the Corner di San Luca family managed to acquire large estates in Cyprus. The sugar cane there made them one of the richest families in Venice. In Cyprus, the production process up to the refined sugar was still largely in one hand, but the refinement was partially carried out in Venice.

This principle applied even more clearly to other goods, both for old branches of production, such as the manufacture of furs and leather, and for new ones, such as soap production. The latter was mostly spread over a large number of small businesses, but it also left space for financially strong companies. The production of candles also increasingly developed a division of labor in which raw wax was obtained in the Balkans in order to process it into candles in Venice - also for export. This division of labor between raw material areas on the one hand and processing in Venice on the other was reinforced by the fact that already refined Terra ferma products were often only allowed to be exported via Venice.

But economic policy, which was increasingly taking shape, was not only concerned with channeling profits to Venice, strengthening the treasury, or protecting and expanding employment opportunities. It also encouraged foreigners to bring in new technologies, soon also capital. As early as the 13th century, inzenieri attracted from the empire were enabled to build windmills . Since the early 15th century, they have not only received easier access to financing options, building permits and the associated rights of way, but above all a first, genuine patent protection . For the first time, designers of complicated machines, such as the windmills developed in northwestern Europe, were able to use their inventions economically for several decades without fear of being ousted by plagiarists . Within a few decades, dozens of large windmills rose up in Venice, covering a considerable part of the enormous grinding needs.

In this “innovation-friendly” environment, Johannes von Speyer received a privilege in 1469 that allowed him to print with movable type . Within a few years Venice became the book press of Italy, and in the 16th century even that of the whole of Europe. Fifty printing workshops not only achieved great cultural importance, but were also an important economic factor in the city (cf. book printing in Venice ).

The glass industry experienced a much slower, but all the more permanent upswing. The growing demand for vessels, but also for window glass, lenses and glasses, but above all for mirrors, made it one of the most profitable industries. As early as the 15th century, 41 shops appeared in which only sales were carried out. But the lion's share was soon destined for export. The famous cristallo was joined by another rediscovery, the lattimo or milk glass, an opaque , white glass.

Thanks to the expansion of the city into a total work of art, the stonemasons ' workshops flourished , who in addition to the magnificent state buildings also expanded and beautified numerous palaces, bridges and streets. But also inlay work and coffered ceilings required numerous craftsmen and artists, painters, bronze casters, gem cutters , and numerous other arts supplied a rapidly growing luxury and art market.

State and finance

Two tasks could only be financed through ad hoc measures: wars and food supplies. The Monte Vecchio as a "public debt" fed from either bonds or tariffs - so either from the load on the assets of the duty of families or from the stress of long-distance trade. A long dispute raged over this fundamental question, with the Senate mostly preferring the means of forced borrowing. It was only when the rate of 1474 bonds plummeted to 13% that the end of this system was near.

The decline of this financing system had serious consequences for the subscribers of the compulsory bonds: first the interest rate fell to 1%, then the payment was delayed longer and longer. In 1453 interest payments were already in arrears for 8 years, 10 years later for 13, and in 1480 for a full 21 years.

In 1463 Venice introduced a direct tax. This development was completed in 1482 with the creation of Monte Nuovo . The levy was no longer based on the information provided by the obligor, which was difficult to verify, but included the real estate recorded in a cadastre and its income. The new registration system meant that Venice was able to withdraw around one million gold ducats from its now considerably larger area of ​​rule. This made the city one of the wealthiest powers in the world at that time.

Monetary and Coin Policy

Zecchino from the time of Doge Antonio Venier from 1382, 3.51 g
Lira Tron (after the Doge Niccolò Tron , 1471–73), 6.43 g, winged St. Mark's lion with Gospel, portrait of the Doge

As early as 1407 the Senate determined that “Syria” (meaning the entire Middle East) demanded gold, not silver. However, this means of payment was not immediately given up. This could be related to the exchange rate between the golden ducat and the “small” denarii, the denari piccoli , circulating in Venice . In 1284 one ducat was equivalent to 576 piccoli , in 1380 already 1,032 and in 1417 even 1,212. The Council of Ten , which tried to regulate the coinage more strictly, was able to stop the devaluation between 1472 and 1517 at 1: 1,488, but after that the piccolo finally fell into disrepair by 1592 and reached a value ratio of 1: 2,400. This decrease in value of the piccolo cannot be derived from the value ratio between gold and silver, nor are external factors such as plague and wars sufficient as an explanation. On the one hand, when the share of precious metals was reduced, the issue price did not fall to the same extent - the tax authorities collected the difference. As early as 1379 this difference was 19%. With this process, however, the coin gradually became so small that new coins were soon minted with four times (Quattrino) or even eight times (Ottino) the value of Piccolo . But that was soon no longer enough, and so coins of 2 and 4 Soldi soon appeared, which corresponded to 24 and 48 piccoli .

For those who were dependent on the income from the domestic economy, these measures represented a heavy burden. But the Senate was predominantly dominated by long-distance traders, who on the contrary benefited from cheap wages and products. In the Grand Council, the distribution of interests looked somewhat different, so that here in 1456 the demand was made to finally stop the minting of copper coins. These coins were now the only ones still in circulation on the mainland, as the silver coins were far too unreliable. Hence, Milan's hostile monetary policy, which threatened to plunge the Venetian monetary system into complete chaos, had a basis created by the Senate itself.

In 1472, the increasingly powerful Council of Ten took over the supervision of coins and ordered all coins to be authenticated. The value of the silver coins was reset , a less valuable grossetto minted, and a more expensive grossone , which contained so much silver that 24 grossoni again corresponded to one ducat.

To this end, the council ordered the old denarii to be withdrawn and instead one lira (= 240 denarii) to be put into circulation for the first time. It was named Lira Tron after the ruling Doge . The rigorous course of the "ten" ensured that one gold ducat always corresponded to 124 silver golds over the next 45 years.

banks and insurance companies

As early as the first quarter of the 15th century, there are 14 private banks. They were based on the Rialto market, which became, as it were, a daily morning exchange .

Fondamenta del Vin and the wooden Rialto Bridge in 1494 ( Vittore Carpaccio )

A Banco de Scripta not only had a purely notary function, in that it notarized account movements, but customers also had to leave a deposit , which meant that the bank had large assets at its disposal. The Senate was anxious to limit the risks of lending from these deposits, which the bankers made despite bans. From 1404, for example, they were under no circumstances allowed to invest more money in trading ventures than they had subscribed to bonds. This could only be overridden when trading in grain. You ran the risk of bankruptcy (banca rotta) if that would make the grain supply more secure.

Originally a means of exchanging between different coins in different places, switching developed into the most important means of transferring monetary values ​​- despite the church's ban on interest . This interest prohibition was directed against a peculiarity of the bill of exchange that developed in an unintentional way. Since a certain time passed between the exchanges, this procedure almost immediately became a means of credit, for which one asked more or less well-concealed interest.

In addition, one could benefit from the exchange rates between the different coins by changing. Italian bankers and traders like Francesco Datini completely dominated this process around 1400, and Venetians like Giacomo Badoer also mastered this speculative process with virtuosity. This in turn attracted bankers from the empire who resorted to the developed structures of Italy. The enforceability of bills of exchange was a key step, which was first taken shortly after 1400 in Barcelona .

By the end of the 14th century at the latest, there was a marine insurance in Venice of the kind that Genoese and Florentines had had for some time. In general, however, this did not insure the ship, but the goods it was transporting. On average, 6% of the value of the goods was paid, with large deviations upwards and downwards. These deviations may have fluctuated depending on the duration of the voyage, the goods loaded and the security of the sea routes chosen.

Bookkeeping and trading techniques

Letter from Venice to the Compagnia Datini in Florence dated November 21, 1388

Communication within the growing and increasingly complex trading companies required extensive correspondence. In addition, most of the merchants began very early on to write their notes in their mother tongue, the Volgare , no longer in Latin. For a long time, writing was considered despicable in the aristocratic world, while this activity in the Venetian long-distance trade was part of basic training.

Usually one learned elementary knowledge for three years, then went to abacus school . However, the actual handling of business documents (invoice books, account management, bookkeeping, etc.) was taught in practice in the branch of a businessperson.

The bookkeeping made business successes or failures measurable precisely and promptly, but also more rationally controllable through the constant updating of the data. However, it should not be overlooked that not all trading houses considered this technology necessary. This system, known as scrittura alla veneziana , found clear representation and further dissemination through the Summa di Arithmetica of Luca Pacioli of 1494. The Soranzo and others had been using it in Venice since the 1430s.

In addition, a complex set of instruments developed, including various books, notebooks, notebooks, notes, but also transfers, reproductions and finally secret books, as extensively preserved by Francesco Datini . In the 15th century a separate type of handbook developed, the description of accounting methods, as it was written by Benedetto Cotrugli in 1494.

This system corresponded very closely with methods of goods identification and registration by the traders and customs offices. The regular notices that are to be found in the traders' letters, the lists of exchange rates , of weights and measures, of regional trade customs, also promoted trade. Own trade manuals, called pratiche della mercatura , were in circulation in numerous manuscripts. Venice responded to the need for information by taking over the transport of messages and maintaining regular couriers who, for example, covered the route from Venice to Bruges in a week.

basic needs

Venice was the second largest city in Italy in the 15th century. But the influx must have been huge, which drove up rental and purchase prices. The municipality therefore intervened in many places by setting prices. So-called calmieri set the prices for firewood, oil, meat and, above all, bread.

In principle, the price of bread was made dependent on the price of wheat. However, the price of the bread changed very rarely, instead the weight was adjusted. When wheat prices were high, the loaves became smaller, and when they were low, they were bigger. Since Venice had to import around 30,000 t of wheat annually for its residents alone - apart from the enormous quantities that were used to supply half of Northern Italy - it was one of the largest areas of business ever. Also one of the most explosive, so explosive that in 1268 the doge was slain on the street when only the rumor of price increases made the rounds. The fact that only the fees at the mills should be increased shows that every Venetian knew that the increase in these fees would reduce the size of the bread.

But precisely this also shows that the living situation had improved significantly by the 15th century, because it was no longer a problem to collect large amounts of grinding fees and customs duties for the tax authorities without the lower strata of the population feeling as threatened as they did two centuries earlier.

Land and sea wars

Bronze statue of the condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni by Verrocchio , today on Campo Zanipolo

The modern wars - especially when the great powers France, Spain and the Empire touched Venetian territory in 1508 - differed considerably in their consequences for Venice from the wars previously fought. The land wars had long been fought by condottieri , of which Venice, thanks to its resources, could afford the most expensive. Thus, apart from the burdens on the state treasury, the economic metropolis was spared an astonishing degree of economic damage.

In the meantime, however, things looked different during the naval wars. This is where the Venetian sailors fought themselves, not mercenaries. Aside from the high cost of the war against the Ottomans from 1499 to 1503, for example, the death, mutilation and imprisonment of these men damaged the economic foundations of Venice. Labor shortages were always an almost unsolvable problem both in the colonies and in Venice itself.

The crisis from 1508 to 1517

The conflict with the League of Cambrai , led by Pope Julius II , to which Emperor Maximilian I belonged, who reclaimed Terra ferma as a former imperial territory, threatened to overwhelm even Venice's resources. As if that weren't enough , the League also included Spain, which demanded the ports of Apulia occupied by Venice, France, which Cremona demanded, and Hungary, which wanted to re-incorporate Dalmatia into its national territory.

Portrait of Andrea Grittis by Titian , 1540.

Only because all craftsmen volunteered, sailors were used as soldiers for the land war, and new sources of money were opened up, was the later Doge Andrea Gritti able to recapture Padua, which had already been lost, in July 1509.

In the meantime, Monte Vecchio was over-indebted with 6 million ducats, Monte Nuovo with more than 3 million, and any reimbursement and interest had to be suspended. In their place the Monte Nuovissimo was founded , a little later the Monte del Sussidio , the name of which already reveals that it was only used to support (the war machine).

Although the galleys brought in goods worth over 600,000 ducats in the summer months, they could not be delivered because Venice was cordoned off. The economic system based on long-distance trade could only survive for a very short time without external contacts. The turn of the war brought diplomacy, which managed to conclude an alliance with Spain and the Pope against the French.

World map by Pietro Coppo (1470–1555), Venice 1520

As catastrophic as the war and its individual consequences were, as dangerous as the Portuguese competition in the spice trade (especially pepper and cloves) and those from Antwerp and Seville were in the transatlantic trade, Venice succeeded as a financial center, as a trading center for metals and for goods from the Ottoman Empire to continue. And although the Ottomans conquered Egypt in 1517 and Alexandria fell out for over thirty years, Venice now completely shifted its trade to Syria, where the exchange also benefited from the boom in Persia and the Ottoman Empire itself. When the German trading house was rebuilt even larger after a devastating fire in 1505, its premises were still insufficient for the increased rush. Cloth production increased twentyfold between 1516 and 1569. But the strongest impulses were provided by artistic and handicraft production for the rapidly growing luxury market - both within Venice and throughout the European-Mediterranean region.

If the population of Venice fell to less than a hundred thousand in 1509, it rose to around 175,000 in the last quarter of the 16th century. This was not least due to the fact that new industries flourished.

The temporary isolation from the food markets in the east and south meant that more capital and labor flowed into land development in northern Italy. This was an attempt to secure a bread supply without extreme dependency on foreign policy.

Between the Spaniards and the Ottomans

Venice was allied with Emperor Charles V in the war against the Ottomans from 1537 to 1540 . But Andrea Doria , leader of the common fleet, was defeated at Preveza in 1538 . For the first time, the Ottomans achieved naval rule. In addition, Venice had to sign a peace treaty in 1540, which left the Duchy of Naxos to the Sublime Porte .

Until 1545, the fleet leaders had been able to recruit considerable numbers of free men for the galleys, even if they were rarely Venetians. They came from Dalmatia, Crete and Greece. Now there was an increasing trend towards compulsory obligations for prisoners and debtors, as has long been in use in the rest of Europe. In the long term, this is likely to have changed the labor market insofar as fewer and fewer wage workers earned their living at sea.

But even the fact that Venice once again used all its experience, resources and manpower in a tremendous show of strength by building more than half of the over 200 galleys that the Ottomans defeated off Lepanto in 1571 , did not change the fact that it was in concert the world powers could no longer keep up. In addition, Spain did not continue to support Venice's claim to Cyprus and so it had to give up the island for good in the peace of 1573.

New competitors, dominance of sea trade and loss of colonies (1571–1700)

Copper age, paper money and cheap credit

Rialto Bridge with shops. It replaced a wooden bridge and spans 28 m; founded on 12,000 oak trunks, it was built in 1588–91 (design: Antonio da Ponte )

Despite certain successes in coin-less money transactions and in the credit system, Europe's economy remained dependent on sufficient supplies of precious metals for a long time. Around 1660, gold and silver worth around 365 tons of silver came from Latin America, while Europe only produced 20 to 30 tons. But Spain invested the greater part of this flow of precious metals in the war against the Netherlands . Short-term fiscal interests were in the foreground, but in the long term this policy triggered inflationary surges and harmed the economy. France acted similarly. Colbert , adviser to King Louis XIV , replaced this policy by obstructing the outflow of precious metals and promoting the inflow. To do this, he strengthened the export industries, increased the gold rate at the expense of the silver rate and stabilized the national debt so impressively that many foreigners invested their precious metals here.

The winners of this development were the Netherlands, which introduced the ducaton based on the model of the ducat as a large silver coin of great prestige.

Bancogiro in Piazza di Rialto , 2007

But not only in this respect did the Netherlands, and shortly afterwards England, gain a decisive lead. Initially , the Wisselbank was founded on the model of the Venetian Banco di Piazza di Rialto . Not only did it succeed in stabilizing the coin value, but it was also forced that bills of exchange of 600 guilders or more could only be settled through this clearing house . But they went much further than in Venice to increase and accelerate the circulation of money. They were allowed to deposit customers gold, which they as a receipt Recepissen received. Thus Amsterdam became the most important precious metals market, where all coins were available in sufficient quantities, but only the receipts were circulated as cash for larger amounts. France achieved a similar expansion of monetary transactions through the issue of interest-bearing government bonds, which could also be sold. In addition to their suitability for everyday use and the high level of trust enjoyed by the papers, they increased the amount of money in circulation by leaps and bounds and made long-term loans cheaper - thus further stimulating trade and production.

Venice, on the other hand, mistrusted this artificial inflation and was accordingly exposed to competitors who were equipped with cheap loans and abundant precious metals.

Struggle for monopolies

The loss of Cyprus marked only one climax in the chain of losses that only ended with the loss of Crete (1645–69). After all, Venice defended a certain monopoly in the Adriatic, which was not officially recognized by the Habsburgs until 1717. The port of Spalato ( Split ) was expanded with some success in 1581 and in 1590 Ottoman goods that came here into the Venetian area were exempted from all customs.

Overall, the attempts of the Italian powers to break old monopolies by changing their economic policies became very threatening for Venice. This was true to a limited extent for Ancona , which the Papal States declared a free port in 1593 , but especially for Livorno , which became a free port in the same year and quickly attracted considerable parts of the Middle Eastern product range. There was also fierce competition in the Adriatic with Ragusa , which remained independent of the Ottomans in return for tribute.

It was precisely during this period that, after the pepper trade had offered resistance for an astonishingly long time, its volume decreased considerably after 1620. A few years later, pepper was no longer regarded as an eastern commodity, but as a western (ponente). The Dutch and the English had largely monopolized the spice trade.

Catastrophic events such as the plague of 1630, which killed almost 50,000 Venetians, accompanied the onset of economic stagnation. Nevertheless, the enormous sum of 420,136 ducats could still be raised for the construction of the church of Santa Maria della Salute , which was built in thanks for the redemption from the epidemic, although the construction dragged on until 1686.

Declining industries, relocations to the mainland, national debt

English and Dutch cloths increasingly supplanted Venetian ones. Around 1600 Venice had still produced 30,000 pieces of woolen cloth, around 1700 it was still around 2,000. They tried their hand at imitations and more and more often only acted as a middleman. Sugar and cotton, two emerging branches of production since the 15th century, gradually migrated to America, so that raw sugar production fell from two million pounds to around 600,000 pounds between 1630 and 1700.

Paper mills, dye works, and fulling mills could not last in a densely populated city. In contrast, the production of soap, sugar, wax, the processing of precious metals and copper, the furniture industry and the construction of musical instruments, especially the sail and dew production, remained in Venice. But the climate there was increasingly hostile to innovation, so that, for example, the shuttle was only introduced in Venice in 1784. On the other hand, larger companies settled on Terra ferma , where factories with more than 600 workers (in Spilimbergo ) were set up, in one company near Treviso even 1000. The paper industry found its centers around Toscolano-Maderno . Their yield was estimated at 40,000 ducats in 1615.

Clearance, drainage and irrigation increased, so that it is assumed that agricultural production was at its peak between 1550 and 1600. Overall, the new industries, plus corn and rice cultivation with its higher prices, brought more capital into the country.

However, urbanization declined between 1600 and 1700. Venice's mainland was the most urbanized region in Italy in the second half of the 16th century, with over 20% of the population in cities over 10,000 - while the rural population from 1.6 million to over 2.1 from 1548 to 1764 Million rise. By 1600 more than 25% of employees were already working outside of agriculture. By 1700, however, Venice had become self-sufficient in most agricultural products.

The war over Crete greatly increased the withdrawal of people and capital to the countryside. In its lack of money, the city sold around 900 km² of state land, especially between 1665 and 1682. In addition, there was the sale of church property from 1676. While in 1662 8% of the state income was raised for debt servicing, in 1670 it was already 54% a mountain of debt of 35 million ducats. The war for Crete is said to have cost Venice 125 million ducats, which corresponds to the state's 40 annual income. In 1646, the aristocracy found themselves ready to sell their membership in the otherwise largely inaccessible estate for 100,000 ducats. 125 families made use of it until the second decade of the 18th century. Their rise sparked a prestige dispute between old and new families, which was particularly stimulating in the luxury industries.

Mercantilism and regional crises

The export industries suffered mainly from the protectionism of the territorial states and the economic weakness of the Mediterranean region. The Ottoman import ban on silk (1540) had already forced silk producers to switch to other markets. For its part, French economic policy increasingly sealed off its market from competition in order to promote its own industries and to make funds available to the tax authorities. An import ban on Murano glass was issued to protect the royal glass factory. The same was true of French silk production. While Venice had produced 10,000 pieces of the highest quality silk cloth around 1590, this level fell to 2,300 around 1660, only to recover to around 6,000 around 1700. Soon even the production of raw silk was approved, a role that the colonies had previously taken on, while Venice had long reserved the processing.

The decline in purchasing power had a similar effect in the empire, which suffered high population losses and a drastic economic decline during the Thirty Years' War .

The economic impulses from Spain and Portugal also increasingly failed to materialize, as did the Ottoman Empire. The Mediterranean area as a whole stagnated, to which the rampant piracy of the barbarians played its part.

Venice only had around 100 medium-sized to larger ships around 1650, although this number rose again to over 200 by 1720. However, these were mostly smaller ships. The merchants increasingly began to buy Dutch ships. The Senate finally exempted all foreign ships from the special taxes that had been used for centuries. The primacy of the shipbuilding industry had long been given up.

One of the “external” factors was the plague , which devastated Venice, especially in the 1630s. The loss of more than a third of the population ensured that the Crete War hit the city even harder.

Canaletto : Grand Canal, Fondaco dei Tedeschi and Rialto Bridge. after 1730

A structural disadvantage was the increasing sharpness. Venice wavered between fiscal interests, protectionism and freedom of trade for much longer than north-western Europe. The city took more than 35,000 ducats from the customs duties for goods in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi in 1709/10. On the other hand, they wanted to promote trade with the “Germans”, who consistently had to pay fewer taxes in the Fondaco . But these state customs revenues were too immobile and should finally be adjusted to the "congiunture" - which meant business cycles in a very broad sense. But even the private leasing of the customs duties did not bring the hoped-for income; on the contrary, the tenant was so late in payment in 1711 that he was threatened with confiscation of his deposit of 4,000 ducats.

Overall, however, Venice increasingly followed, albeit belatedly, the economics of that time, mercantilism . At the beginning of the 18th century, goods worth 650,000 ducats were still being sold across the Alps and 800,000 to the rest of Italy. At the same time goods for five million ducats went to Terra ferma . Venice thus almost formed an economic microcosm with its remaining national territory.

Stagnation and Agrarianization (1700–1797)

The Arsenal, Joan Blaeu: Nouveau théatre d'Italie, La Haye: Alberts 1724, vol. 1, fig. 30, detail

Since the European mines brought less and less income, the dependence on Spanish and Portuguese precious metals in particular remained very high. The first gold rush in history, from 1693/95 in Brazil, brought 10 to 15 tons of gold to Europe annually for almost the entire 18th century. By the middle of the century, the yield from the Spanish silver mines doubled, which around 1800 delivered over 700 tons per year. These quantities of precious metals boosted trade to Asia immensely, which has always devoured large quantities of precious metals, but very little of it made it to Venice.

Venice reformed its coin system in 1722 and 1733 and, similar to Genoa, Savoy and Milan, reduced the number of denominations , limited copper coins and adapted coinage to the value ratio of gold and silver. Attempts to unify Italy in terms of monetary policy were already being made, a fissure that was increasingly becoming an obstacle.

In addition, it became increasingly clear that monetary policy was an important factor in economic policy. In order to expand the amount of money that made loans cheaper and thus stimulated exchange, attempts were made to expand the use of money free of precious metals. This seemed to be the key to the competition between national economies. Nevertheless, John Law's attempt, started in 1716, ended in a catastrophe, the consequences of which he could only escape by fleeing France. He spent the last years of his life in Venice, where he also died in 1729.

Zecchino by Doge Ludovico Manin , 1789–1797, 3.54 g, 21 mm

Venice's nobility had become far too cautious and conservative to venture such attempts. The economy remained much more dependent on precious metals, was far from having the credit instruments available and was no longer able to keep up due to the insufficient size of its capital market.

Venice increasingly became an agricultural state, trade within its territory depending on the relatively modest domestic consumption. Raw materials were also expensive, but wages were low, which in turn kept domestic trade at a low level. Even when the grain trade was opened in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany for the first time in 1764 , which in the long term stabilized the supply significantly more successfully, Venice remained averse to the more liberal economic system in the food supply sector.

See also


The main features of the article are based on the work of Roberto Cessi , Giorgio Cracco , John Day , Peter Spufford , Frederic C. Lane , Reinhold C. Mueller and Gino Luzzatto , plus Gerhard Rösch , Freddy Thiriet and Ugo Tucci - with numerous details the following works originate. There are also studies by Hans-Jürgen Hübner.

Source editions

Urban archeology

Overview works

  • Ludwig Beutin : The economic decline of Venice in the 16th and 17th centuries , in: Hansische Geschichtsblätter 76 (1958) 42–72.
  • Ludo (Ludwig) Moritz Hartmann : The economic beginnings of Venice , quarterly for social and economic history 2 (1904) 434–442 ( online at ).
  • Heinrich Kretschmayr : History of Venice , 3 volumes, Gotha 1905 and 1920, Stuttgart 1934, reprint Aalen 1964. Reprint of the 1st and 2nd volume, unpublished (2010)
  • Frederic C. Lane : Venice Maritime Republic , Munich 1980 (1973).
  • Gino Luzzatto : Storia economica di Venezia dall'XI al XVI secolo , Venice 1961, reprint 1995.
  • Jörg Reimann: Venice and Venetia 1450 to 1650. Politics, economy, population and culture. With two feet in the sea, the third on the flat land, the fourth in the mountains , Hamburg 2006.
  • Storia di Venezia , 8 volumes, Rome 1992–2002.
  • Wolfgang Stromer Freiherr von Reichenbach (ed.): Venice and the world economy around 1200 , Sigmaringen, Stuttgart 1999.
  • Peter Feldbauer, Gottfried Lidl, John Morrissey: Venice 800–1600. The Serenissima as a world power , Mandelbaum Verlag, Vienna 2010. ISBN 978-3-85476-348-2 ( review ) (3rd updated version of the previously under Venice 800–1600. Water birds as a world power , 2002 or world power with oars and sails. History of the Republic of Venice 800–1600 ).
  • Salvatore Ciriacono: Building on Water. Venice, Holland and the Construction of the European Landscape in the Early Modern Times , Berghahn, Oxford-New York 2006.

Traders, Doges, Clans and Trading Techniques

  • Benjamin Arbel : Trading Nations. Jews and Venetians in the Early Modern Eastern Mediterranean , Leiden 1995.
  • Jean-Claude Hocquet: Denaro, navi e mercanti a Venezia 1200–1600 , Rome 1999.
  • Benjamin Z. Kedar : Merchants in Crisis. Genoese and Venetian men of affairs and the fourteenth-century depression , New Haven / London 1976.
  • Gherardo Ortalli : Petrus I. Orseolo. The 'holy doge' between Venice and the Ottonian Empire , Stuttgart 1998.

Seafaring and Arsenal

  • Robert C. Davies: Shipbuilders of the Venetian Arsenal. Workers and workplace in the preindustrial city , Baltimore / London 1991.

To individual trades and commercial goods

  • Salvatore Ciriacono: Les manufactures de luxe à Venise: contraintes géographiques, goût méditerranéen et compétition internationale (XIVe – XVIe siècles) , in: Les villes et la transmission des valeurs culturelles au bas Moyen Age et aux temps modern , Brussels 1996, p. 235 -251.
  • Nella Fano: Ricerche sull'arte della lana a Venezia nel XIII e XIV secolo , in: Archivio Veneto , Va series 18 (1936) 73–213.
  • Jean-Claude Hocquet: Chioggia, Capitale del Sale nel Medioevo , Sottomarina 1991.
  • Johannes Hoffmann: The eastern Adriatic coast as the main supply base for the Venetian slave trade up to the end of the eleventh century , in: Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 55 (1968) 165-181.
  • Hans-Jürgen Huebner: Cum continue de venditione frumenti recipiat denarios. Seasonal wheat purchases, inelastic consumption and the grain chamber as an intermediary in the Venice financial center (approx. 1280–1380) , in: Sources and research from Italian archives and libraries 79 (1999) 215–266 ( online , PDF).
  • Hans-Jürgen Hübner: Quia bonum sit anticipare tempus. The municipal supply of Venice with bread and grain from the late 12th to the 15th century , Peter Lang, Frankfurt / M. u. a. 1998. ISBN 3-631-32870-2
  • Luca Molà (Ed.): The Silk Industry of Renaissance Venice , Baltimore 2000.

Real Estate, Colonies, and Commercial Regions

  • Johannes Jegerlehner : The revolt of the Kandiotischen knighthood against the motherland Venice (1363-1365) , in: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 12 (1903) 78-120.
  • Sergej P. Karpov: La navigazione veneziana nel Mar nero, XIII – XV sec. , Ravenna 2000. ISBN 88-7567-359-4
  • Ralph-Johannes Lilie : Trade and politics between the Byzantine Empire and the Italian communes Venice, Pisa and Genoa in the epoch of the Komnenen and Angeloi (1081–1204) , Amsterdam 1984.
  • Karl-Ernst Lupprian: Il Fondaco dei Tedeschi e la sua funzione di controllo del commercio tedesco in Italia , Venice 1978.
  • Jörg Reimann: Venice and Venetia 1450 to 1650. Politics, economy, population and culture: With two feet in the sea, the third on the flat land, the fourth in the mountains . Kovac, Hamburg 2006.
  • Gerhard Rösch : Venice and the Empire. Trade and transport relations in the German Empire , Tübingen 1982.
  • Wolfgang v. Stromer : land power versus sea power. Emperor Sigismund's continental barrier against Venice 1412–1433 , in: Journal for historical research 22 (1995) 145–189.
  • Freddy Thiriet : La Romanie vénitienne au Moyen Age. Le développement et l'exploitation du domaine colonial vénitien (XII – XV siècles) , 2nd edition, Paris 1975.

Coin and finance policy, credit and banks

  • Fabio Besta : Bilanci generali della Repubblica di Venezia , Venice 1912.
  • Roberto Cessi (ed.): La regolazione delle entrate e delle spese (sec. XIII – XIV) , Padua 1925.
  • Frederic C. Lane / Reinhold C. Mueller: Money and Banking in Medieval and Renaissance Venice , Vol. 1: Coins and Moneys of Account , Vol. 2: The Venetian Money Market: Banks, Panics and the Public Debt, 1200–1500 , Baltimore / London 1985 and 1997.
  • Gino Luzzatto : I prestiti della Repubblica di Venezia (sec. XIII – XV) , Padua 1929.
  • Reinhold C. Mueller: L'imperialismo monetario veneziano nel Quattrocento , in: Società e Storia 8 (1980) 277-297.
  • Alan M. Stahl : The Venetian Tornesello. A medieval colonial coinage , New York 1985.

Insurance and patent law

  • Karin Nehlsen-von Stryk : The Venetian marine insurance in the 15th century , Ebelsbach (Main) 1986.
  • Helmut Schippel: The beginnings of inventor protection in Venice . In: Uta Lindgren (Ed.): European technology in the Middle Ages. 800 to 1400. Tradition and Innovation , 4th edition, Berlin 2001, pp. 539-550.

Social history and everyday history

  • Franco Brunelli: Arti e mestieri a Venezia nel medioevo e nel rinascimento , Vicenza 1981.
  • Linda Guzzetti: Venetian Legacies: The Social and Economic Situation of Women as Reflected in Late Medieval Testaments , Stuttgart / Weimar 1998.
  • Gerhard Rösch: The Venetian nobility up to the closure of the Grand Council: on the genesis of a leadership class , Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1989.
  • Susanne Winter (Ed.): Donne a Venezia. Vicende femminili fra Trecento e Settecento , Rome / Venice 2004.

Web links


  1. The term is not to be understood here in the modern sense (cf. capitalism , market ), even if the exchange relationships, especially within Venice, were very early and strongly market-mediated.
  2. With "free" trade is meant here trade that is not subject to control by the regulations of the municipality and by ship masters appointed by the municipality, which was also allowed to sail outside of convoys.
  3. Raymond de Roover brought this term into the technical discussion in 1942, in: Ders .: The Commercial Revolution of the Thirteenth Century . Contribution to the discussion on NSB Grass: Capitalism - Concept and History , in: Business History Review 16 (1942) 34-39. A brief overview is provided in the section Commercial Revolution and the Spread of the Money Economy , in: Michael North : Das Geld und seine Geschichte , CH Beck, Munich 1994, pp. 17–37.
  4. On the financial market, cf. Hans-Jürgen Hübner: Quia bonum sit anticipare tempus. The municipal supply of Venice with bread and grain from the late 12th to the 15th century , Frankfurt a. a. 1998, ISBN 978-3-631-32870-5 , pp. 111-198, slightly revised online (without notice).
  5. In the literature, the city nobility is often referred to as patriciate , but in German-language literature the term nobility has largely established itself to denote the families active in long-distance trade and politically leading families ( Girgensohn , Rösch ).
  6. On monopolies in the 15th century: Helmut Schippel: La storia delle privative industriali nella Venezia del '400 , Venice 1989.
  7. See the relevant work by Hocquet .
  8. Last: Fabien Faugeron: Nourrir la ville. Ravitaillement, marché et métiers de l'alimentation à Venise dans les derniers siècles du Moyen Age , Rome 2014.
  9. Hans-Jürgen Hübner: Quia bonum sit anticipare tempus. The municipal supply of Venice with bread and grain from the late 12th to the 15th century , Frankfurt a. a. 1998, p. 132.
  10. The work of Ernesto Canal was groundbreaking in the field of archeology .
  11. ^ Graziano Tavan: Archeologia della Laguna di Venezia , in: Veneto Archeologico January / February 1999 .
  12. ^ Ernesto Canal: La Laguna “romana” , in: Corriere del Veneto, October 6, 2013.
  13. ^ Cassiodorus , Variae, X, 27 and XII, 24.
  14. ^ Franz Beyerle , Leges Langobardorum , 195 (Ahistulfi leges I, 4).
  15. Honorantiae Civitatis Papiae .
  16. Codex epistolaris Carolinus 86, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Epistolae III, p. 622.
  17. Liber Pontificalis 222, ed. Duchesne.
  18. A debate arose around this “early capitalist” phase at the end of the 19th century (Reinhard Heynen: On the emergence of capitalism in Venice , Stuttgart, Berlin 1905; Werner Sombart : Modern Capitalism , Leipzig 1900, etc.) Heynen had Sombart's assertion that wealth was original arose from the accumulation of urban land rents and the commercial republic had initially emerged from the occasional deals of landowners who had thus used their excess capital. There was also a similar discussion among Italian scientists, to which Irmgard Fees ( Wealth and Power in Medieval Venice , pp. 3–10, see also pp. 238–240 and 251–253) gave an overview. The thesis that at the beginning of the Venetian economy there was real estate, the income of which was gradually invested in trade, can be considered refuted - not least because of the work of Fees.
  19. See Johannes Hoffmann: Venice and the Narentaner , in: Studi Veneziani 11 (1969) 3-41.
  20. Fundamental to trade relations: Gerhard Rösch : Venice and the Reich in their trade and transport policy relations during the German Empire , Tübingen 1998.
  21. On the economy of Byzantium: Angeliki E. Laiou (Ed.): The Economic History of Byzantium. From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century , 3 vols., Washington 2002.
  22. For the first time, the customs duty collected in Abydos was reduced from an average of 30 to 17 Soldi and Venetian ships no longer had to carry goods for Amalfi , Bari or for Jews. This and the following about Byzantium according to Ralph-Johannes Lilie : Trade and politics between the Byzantine Empire and the Italian communes Venice, Pisa and Genoa in the epoch of the Komnenen and Angeloi (1081–1204) , Amsterdam 1984. On the 11th century cf. Peter Frankopan : Byzantine trade privileges to Venice in the eleventh century: the chrysobull of 1092 , in: Journal of Medieval History 30 (2004) 135-160.
  23. Franz Dölger (Ed.): Regests of the imperial documents of the Eastern Roman Empire from 565–1453 , 1st part: Regests from 565–1025 , Munich / Berlin 1924, n. 738.
  24. Cf. Eric R. Dursteler: Venetians in Constantinople. Nation, identity, and coexistence in the early modern Mediterranean , The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore / London 2006.
  25. ↑ In addition: Wolfgang von Stromer (ed.): Venice and the world economy around 1200 , Sigmaringen 1999.
  26. On the emergence and completion of the nobility cf. Gerhard Rösch: The Venetian nobility up to the closure of the Grand Council: on the genesis of a leadership class , Sigmaringen: Thorbecke 1989.
  27. Cf. Irmgard Fees : Wealth and Power in Medieval Venice. The Ziani family , Tübingen 1988.
  28. Giorgio Cracco : Società e stato nel medioevo veneziano , Florence 1967, p. 81. Dandolo calls these new provisions “statuta de vendicione posesionum ad ussum novum” (p. 290).
  29. Still fundamental to colonial history: Freddy Thiriet : La Romanie vénitienne from 1959.
  30. See Reinhold C. Mueller: The Jewish Moneylenders of late Trecento Venice: a revisitation , in: The Mediterranean Historical Review 10 (1995) 202-217.
  31. See Sergej P. Karpov : La navigazione veneziana nel Mar nero, XIII – XV sec. , Ravenna 2000.
  32. ^ Gino Luzzatto : Storia economica di Venezia dall'XI al XVI secolo , Venice 1961, p. 82.
  33. Diego Puga, Daniel Trefler: International Trade and Institutional Change: Medieval Venice's Response to Globalization , National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge 2012 ( online , PDF).
  34. Cf. Frederic C. Lane : Family Partnerships and Joint Ventures in the Venetian Republic , in: Journal of Economic History 4 (1944) 178-196.
  35. ^ Dandolo, ed. Pastorello , 282f.
  36. Plate and Thomas III, n. CCCLXX, 159-281, March 1278. General information on pirates in the Aegean: Peter Charanis: Piracy in the Aegean during the reign of Michael VIII Paleologus , in: Mélanges Henri Grégoire. Annuaire de l'Institut de Philologie et d'Histoire Orientale et Slave 10 (1950) 127-136. Fundamental for the period from 1300 to 1460: Alberto Tenenti : Venezia e la pirateria nel Levante: 1300c.-1460c. , in: Venezia e il Levante fino al secolo XV, vol. 1,2, Civiltà Veneziana, Studi 27, Florence 1973, 705-771.
  37. Werner Dressendörfer: "In apotecis circa realtum". Venice as a shopping place for medicinal drugs during the 15th century , in: Werner Dressendörfer, Wolf-Dieter Müller-Jahncke (ed.): Orbis pictus. Studies in culture and pharmacy history , Frankfurt am Main 1985, pp. 73–86.
  38. ^ Gino Luzzatto: Storia economica di Venezia dall'XI al XVI secolo , Venice 1961, p. 41f.
  39. ↑ In 1511/12, 60,000 tons of wheat were shipped to Venice alone, an amount that was sufficient for about 300,000 people (Lane, p. 476).
  40. Hans-Jürgen Hübner: Cum continue de venditione frumenti recipiat denarios and Reinhold C. Mueller: La Camera del frumento: un 'banco publico' veneziano ei gruzzoli dei signori di Terra Ferma , in: Istituzioni, società e potere nella Marca Trevigiana e Veronese (secoli XIII-XV), Rome 1988, 321-360.
  41. ^ MGH, Capitularia regum Francorum, ed. Alfred Boretius , Vol. 2, Hanover, 1883-1897, II, n.223, February 23, 840.
  42. ^ Raimondo Morozzo della Rocca , Antonino Lombardo (ed.): Documenti del commercio veneziano nei secoli XI-XIII , 2 vols., Turin 1940, n. 584.
  43. This was determined by a senate resolution of January 23, 1301 (Le deliberazioni del Consiglio dei Rogati (Senato). Series "Mixtorum", vol. 1: Libri I-XIV, ed. Roberto Cessi , Pietro Sambin, Venice 1961, n. 56).
  44. The works of Roberto Cessi (ed.): La regolazione delle entrate e delle spese , Gino Luzzatto: I prestiti and Tommaso Bertelè: Bilanci generali are still fundamental and saturated with sources .
  45. Cf. Margarete Merores : The oldest Venetian government bond and its origin , in: Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 15 (1919) 381-398.
  46. Until then, the coins minted in Verona and those that came to Venice through trade, lease and robbery were sufficient. See Louise Buenger Robbert : The Venetian Money Market 1150-1229 , in: Studi Veneziani 13 (1971) 3-121.
  47. This and the following from: Alan M. Stahl : The Venetian Tornesello. A medieval colonial coinage , New York 1985.
  48. General information on Zecca in the Middle Ages: Alan M. Stahl : Zecca. The Mint of Venice in the Middle Ages , Baltimore 2001.
  49. See Michael Knapton: I rapporti fiscali tra Venezia e la Terraferma: il caso padovano nel secondo '400 , in: Archivio Veneto ns 117 (1981) 5-65.
  50. ^ Reinhold C. Mueller: L'imperialismo monetario veneziano nel quattrocento , in: Società e Storia VIII (1980) 277-297.
  51. ^ Roberto Cessi (ed.): Liber Plegiorum & Acta Consilii Sapientum (Deliberazioni del Maggior Consiglio di Venezia, vol. 1), Bologna 1950, n. 564, Sept. 24, 1227.
  52. ^ Basically socially and historically : Robert C. Davies: Shipbuilders of the Venetian Arsenal. Workers and workplace in the preindustrial city , Baltimore / London 1991.
  53. See Éric Valet: Marchands vénitiens en Syrie à la fin du XVe siècle , Paris 1999.
  54. ↑ Summaries of the contributions to the conference at the New York Colgate University “Venice before San Marco. Recent Studies on the Origin of the City ”from October 5 to October 6, 2001, last accessed on November 5, 2015 .
  55. Salvatore Ciriacono: Industria e artigianato in: Storia di Venezia , Vol 5, 523-592, here: p. 570th
  56. The glass industry only declined dramatically with the end of the republic (1797). It began to rise again around 60 years later (see Fratelli Toso ).
  57. Arthur Woodward: Indian Trade Goods , Portland, Oregon 1965, reprint 1989, pp. 4-14.
  58. Hans-Jürgen Hübner: Quia bonum sit anticipare tempus. The municipal supply of Venice with bread and grain from the late 12th to the 15th century , Frankfurt a. a. 1998, p. 181 f.
  59. This is shown by Umberto Dorini, Tommaso Bertelè (Ed.): Il libbro dei conti di Giacomo Badoer , Rome 1956.
  60. Summa de arithmetica geometria proportioni et proporzionalità , Venice 1494, ed. v. Balduin Penndorf , Luca Pacioli , treatise on the bookstore 1494, Stuttgart 1933.
  61. The most famous was the Pratica della mercatura by Francesco Balducci Pegolotti , which was created around 1340, ed. Franco Borlandi, Turin 1936.
  62. For the second half of the 16th century cf. Maurice Aymard : Venise, Raguse et le commerce du blé pendant la seconde moitie du XVIe siècle , Paris 1966, for the 12th to 15th centuries Hans-Jürgen Hübner: Quia bonum sit anticipare tempus. The municipal supply of bread and grain to Venice from the late 12th to the 15th century , Peter Lang 1998.
  63. ^ For example, the alum trade monopoly was sold to Agostino Chigi . Cf. Felix Gilbert : Venice, the Pope and his banker , Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt a. M., 1997, ISBN 3-596-12613-4 .
  64. Barisa Krekić: Dubrovnik (Raguse) et le Levant au Moyen Age , Paris 1961, ibid .: Dubrovnik in the 14th and 15th Centuries, Norman, Oklahoma 1,972th
  65. Maurice Aymard is fundamental here: Venise, Raguse et le commerce du blé . Most recently Jörg Reimann: Venice and Veneto 1450 to 1650 .
  66. The question of the economic impact of advancement and the resulting changes in the need for and compulsory representation, as well as the competition between old and new families, has not yet been studied much. In Marburg Annika Höppner is currently working at the Art History Institute of the Philipps University on a study with the working title On the interior decoration of Venetian palaces, 1700-30: Noble representation strategies in comparison .
  67. ^ Michael North : Money and its history , Munich 1994, ISBN 3-406-38072-7 .
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on July 27, 2008 in this version .