Venice: A New History [NOOK Book]


A spellbinding new portrait of one of the world’s most beloved cities

La Serenissima. Its breathtaking architecture, art, and opera ensure that Venice remains a perennially popular destination for tourists and armchair travelers alike. Yet most of the available books about this magical city are either facile travel guides or fusty academic tomes. In Venice, renowned ...
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Venice: A New History

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A spellbinding new portrait of one of the world’s most beloved cities

La Serenissima. Its breathtaking architecture, art, and opera ensure that Venice remains a perennially popular destination for tourists and armchair travelers alike. Yet most of the available books about this magical city are either facile travel guides or fusty academic tomes. In Venice, renowned historian Thomas F. Madden draws on new research to explore the city’s many astonishing achievements and to set 1,500 years of Venetian history and the endless Venetian-led Crusades in the context of the ever-shifting Eurasian world. Filled with compelling insights and famous figures, Venice is a monumental work of popular history that’s as opulent and entertaining as the great city itself.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This is a savory, tantalizing, but not-so-serene history of La Serenessima—a tale of invasion, plunder, and ultimate elevation to one of the leading merchant cities in Europe. As Madden relates, the earliest Venetians were former citizens of the crumbling Roman empire and desperate survivors of Attila the Hun's 452 devastation of such cities as wealthy Aquileia and Patavium. In 697, the scattered lagoon dwellers elected their first "doge" to unify the region. By 810, fledgling Venice was able to repel an invasion by the most powerful force in Europe—the Frankish king Charlemagne's son Pepin. and in the 11th century, the Norman invasion of Byzantium disrupted Venetian shipping in the Adriatic. But a Venetian war fleet reestablished dominance in the area, and Venice was the second-largest city in western Europe. Its economy damaged by the Fourth Crusade, its population decimated by the bubonic plague, by 1490 Venice had nevertheless reached the pinnacle of its power and with wealth, symbolized by the stunning family palazzi towering over the Grand Canal (although Madden also contends that medieval and Renaissance Venetians are often portrayed unfairly in modern histories as conniving and greedy). St. Louis Univ. history professor Madden's (Empires of Trust) makes use of thousands of Venetians' personal documents from the Middle Ages to present an authoritative history. Agent: J Thornton, The Spieler Agency (Nov.)
Library Journal
Madden (history, St. Louis Univ.) presents a popular history as engaging as it is solid. In graceful, sometimes elegant prose, he details the long life of one of Europe's most intriguing cities, which survived as a republic for a thousand years. ("It is always crumbling, but it never falls," Venetians are fond of saying.) Though aristocratic in nature, Venice's government was neither closed nor tyrannical; it kept the city stable while other states were in turmoil and held the allegiance of all elements in society. And while Venetians had a reputation for sharp dealing, their reputation for piety was equally well deserved. Madden's description of the process to select a new doge is fascinating: nine bodies, 282 electors in all, were chosen in succession, largely by lot, just to reach the point of nominating the doge. The process wasn't meant to be streamlined. "Quite the opposite," writes Madden, "it was meant to be so cumbersome that only God could influence it." VERDICT This is a bumper year for Venice aficionados: Joanne Ferraro's Venice is for more academic readers but will please serious lay readers. Madden's will satisfy scholars but is intended for an interested lay audience. It is as enjoyable as it is astute.—David Keymer. Modesto, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Solid, informative survey, emphasizing La Serenissima's stature as the world's longest-lived republic and a great commercial power. "The first Venetians were Romans," writes Madden (History and Medieval and Renaissance Studies/St. Louis Univ.; Empires of Trust: How Rome Built--and America Is Building--a New World, 2008, etc.), "proudly refusing to cooperate with a world in collapse." Fleeing fifth-century barbarian invasions of the Italian mainland, they rowed into a lagoon off the Adriatic Sea where they could fish and trade in peace. Its location made Venice a crucial nexus for commerce between Europe and the East, and its leading families valued political stability and a broad-based ruling class. In the post-Roman world of agrarian feudalism, Venice was an urban commercial republic. Its complicated political system would remain unique to Venice, but its financial innovations, from deposit banking to double-entry bookkeeping, were the foundation of modern capitalism. Venice stood at the forefront of world commerce until newly aggressive nation-states like England and France established colonial empires that overshadowed its older, merchant-oriented economy beginning in the 16th century. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 didn't help; Venice had always been a loyal ally of the Byzantine Empire, and the city stood at the front lines for over a century as the Turks repeatedly threatened to invade Europe. Madden admires Venice's conservative elite and defends it as being no more oppressive than any other pre-Enlightenment state. Once the 1,000-year-old republic was forced to surrender to Napoleon in 1797, Madden loses interest and whips briskly through the next two-plus centuries of decay and tourism. Plenty of books focus on Venice the romantic ruin. This one offers a welcome reminder of its historic role over a millennium in the development of a modern economic system and the maintenance of the global balance of power.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101601136
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/25/2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 161,766
  • File size: 7 MB

Meet the Author

Thomas F. Madden is professor of history and director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University. He lives in Saint Louis, Missouri.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Introduction 1

1 Refugees on the Lagoon: The Origins of Venice 9

2 St. Mark's Rest: The Birth of the City of Venice, 697-836 28

3 Coming of Age: Independence, Expansion, and Power, 836-1094 47

4 A Merchant Republic in a Feudal Age: Ecclesiastical and Political Reform, 1095-1172 68

5 Between Empires: The Peace of Venice, 1172-1200 94

6 Birth of a Maritime Empire: Venice and the Fourth Crusade 114

7 Marco Polo's Venice: Prosperity, Power, and Piety in the Thirteenth Century 151

8 The Discovery of the West: War, Wealth, and Reform in the Early Fourteenth Century 173

9 Plague and Treason in the Fourteenth Century 194

10 From Victory to Victory: The War of Chioggia and the Birth of the Mainland Empire 212

11 Death of a Parent: The Fall of Constantinople and the Rise of the Ottoman Turks 237

12 Sowing and Reaping: Medieval Venice and the Birth of Modern Finance 259

13 The Perils of Success: The Apogee of the Venetian Empire 280

14 Most Splendid and Serene: Venice and the Renaissance 302

15 For God and St. Mark: The Wars Against the Turks 323

16 Marks, Opera, and Love: Venice the Tourist Destination 340

17 A Medieval Republic in the Modern World: The United States, France, and the Fall of Venice 354

18 A Crisis of Identity: Venice in the Nineteenth Century 372

19 War, Water, and Tourists: Venice in the Twentieth Century and Beyond 398

Further Reading 429

Index 435

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