For more than a millennium, Venice practiced a unique form of political leadership in which the man generally perceived to be the wisest of the elders of the city was elected to be leader and lawmaker for the rest of his life.  Over the centuries there were a number of measures introduced to prevent misuse of such great power, such as preventing the Doge from naming his successor, and an interesting guard against short-termism in which after his death, the acts of the Doge were reviewed with the option to levy fines against his estate if it was felt that he had not acted in good faith.

For the system to have continued for centuries, during which time the Most Serene Republic of Venice went from strength to strength it must have been one of the more effect methods of ruling an empire seen since the Romans.   To English ears the word Doge seems unfamiliar and meaningless, but consider Mussolini’s title Il Duce and it becomes more obvious; like Duke the word has its origins in the Latin word Dux or leader.

The Doge’s Palace is one of the architectural wonders around Piazza San Marco and is a masterpiece of Venetian Gothic that dominates views along the waterfront.Venezia-4-2

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2 thoughts on “Gone to the Doges (Venezia 24)

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