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Venice in the Renaissance
Transcript of Venice in the Renaissance
ENG2D - Seminar
Politics & Law
The Renaissance began in Central Italy, and centered in the cities of Florence and Sienna. It later spread to Venice. The Italian Renaissance peaked in the mid-16th century as foreign invasions plunged the region into the turmoil of the Italian Wars. However, the ideas of the Renaissance endured and even spread into the rest of Europe, thus setting off the Northern Renaissance, and the English Renaissance.
The Renaissance (1330-1550)
Art & Culture
Economy & Trade
Linen shirt with collar or ruff, and matching wrist ruffs.
Long sleeved doublets sewn or laced in place.
Short cloaks or capes; usually hip-length.
Hair was generally short and brushed back from forehead.
Soft fabric hats which were sometimes decorated with jewels or feathers.
was a belt, commonly worn across the chest, used to hold weapons or horns.
Gloves were a sign of wealth.
Loose or fitted gown worn over a kirtle or petticoat.
Linen chemise or smock for under clothing.
Necklaces; usually made of gold or silver.
Accessories such as glass beads, gems, brooches, or flowers were worn.
Married and grown women covered their hair.
Light hair, pale complexion, and red cheeks and lips.
Travelers from the 16th century brought new culinary techniques and recipes.
Most common dish was
Sugar and coffee were first used in medicine and were very expensive.
The spice trade was very important. They were used to preserve (cure) meat and fish for extended periods of time, and flavour.
Wine, water, and bread were consumed throughout the day.
cheese pie with herbs.
Rice with almond milk.
Wild game stew.
Hemp seed soup.
Braised spring greens.
Whole meal pasta in anchovy sauce.
Rice and peas.
Wine and bread.
Artists present in Italy from the 1300-1500 are credited with revolutionizing both painting and sculpting.
Some of the most famous and influential artists of the time include:
Leonardo Da Vinci (
The Last Supper
School of Athens
Da Vinci's continued interest in the science of flight, anatomy, and biology have earned him recognition as a learned engineer and scholar, in addition to his art.
Italian Renaissance architecture is perhaps the most widely recognizable and liked form in the history of Europe.
Early Renaissance architecture is considered to be a compilation of Greek and Roman designs.
Its continuous use of white stone and marble in the form of pillars, archways, and domes serve as permanent reminders of the country's heritage.
In Venice specifically, most architecture consists of varied semi-circle accents and pavilion walkways.
Venice was the most successful north Italian city in creating and maintaining a republic dominated in merchant capitalism.
Venetian government had many branches:
The largest branch was in control of businesses and economic affairs.
In the smaller branches, 100 exceptionally powerful men would rotate in and out of high office.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Venice was the capital of the independent Venetian Republic.
With the Renaissance came the introduction of currency, which in turn created a money-based economy.
This new idea provided many job opportunities as bankers, craftsmen, merchants, and moneychangers.
Venice played a major role in reopening the Mediterranean economy to West European commerce.
As we learned earlier, Venetian economy and government worked hand-in-hand: an intertwined system.
Italy was a major center for commerce and trade.
They traded mostly with England, Scandinavia, and Russia.
Traders mostly traveled by boat through the Mediterranean.
Traveling by land was unsafe due to limited roads, and those available were frequented by thieves.
The Italian people relied heavily on Asian imports such as spices (peppercorns, nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon) and materials (silk and precious gems).
An important aspect of Venetian economy present in the play is usury.
Usury is the lending or practice of lending money at an exorbitant interest.
It was ruled by the Doge and a council with ten members (dieci), who helped to manage the state's affairs.
The Doge was elected by the council of state, which was made up of representatives of rich and noble families.
In practice, the republic was administered by professional officials, who had to be citizens of Venice and who were appointed to their posts after a series of difficult examinations.
Venice was the republic's center of industry, trade, and culture. More than 140,000 people lived there (a very large population for those days).
Padua, another city in the republic, possessed an ancient university, where Galileo taught during the time in which he lived in the Venetian Republic (1592-1610)
Much like art and architecture, literature took a huge leap during the Renaissance due to new ideals, and increased technology.
In 1454, Johann Gutenberg published the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed by a machine using moveable type.
The moveable-type printing press changed the nature of book publishing; simultaneously increasing printing volume and decreasing prices.
In this way, reading and writing became part of daily life for the entire public population. Not just those who could afford it; as it was before the creation of the printing press.
Great writers of this time include famous poet, Francesco Petrarch, Niccolo Machiavelli, and English playwright, William Shakespeare.
In the Renaissance era, much like the Medieval era, vocal music was more important than instrumental.
This music was not to be secularized.
Instruments of the era were limited to the lute, the viol, flutes, recorders, and horns.
Often these instruments would simply accompany the vocals during mass chants or choral arrangements.
It was at this time that the first versions of the modern staff came into use.
Some composers of the time include Giovanni Gabrielli and William Byrd.
Empire - an extensive group of states or countries under a single supreme authority, formerly an emperor or empress.
Kirtle - a woman's loose gown, worn in the Middle Ages or a man's tunic.
Renaissance - meaning rebirth or revival; generally refers to the great revival of art, literature and learning in Europe beginning in the 14th century, thus marking the transition form the medieval era to the modern world.
Seminar - a meeting in which one receives information on and training in a particular subject.
Usury - the lending or practice of lending money at an exorbitant interest.
Venice was a city, major seaport, and capital of both the province of Venezia and the region of Veneto, Northern Italy.
It was one of the greatest seaports in Renaissance Europe and the continent’s commercial and cultural link with Asia.
The city was divided into six areas/districts:
Each section was administered by a procurator and his staff. Nowadays each section is a statistic and historical area.
Venice is unique environmentally, architecturally, and historically, and in its days as a republic the city was styled as the most serene. It remains a major Italian port in the northern Adriatic Sea and is one of the world’s oldest tourist and cultural centers.
Districts of Venice
Over its two thousand year history, the Church of Italy grew in size and influence, producing and/or harboring some of the greatest leaders and movers of Catholic Christianity.
One of the longest-established minority religious faiths in Italy is Judaism, having been present in Ancient Rome since before the birth of Christ.
Italy has for centuries welcomed Jews expelled from other countries, notably Spain.
Judaism in Venice
To a great extent, the Jews of Italy flourished during the Renaissance.
The commercial success of Italian Jews in this period was aided by the exclusion of Jews from certain traditional occupations, coupled with the approval of Jewish moneylending.
Many central and northern Italian city-states found Jewish individuals who could serve as loan-bankers and help finance both public and private undertakings.
The close connections with important and powerful Christian families who oversaw these projects, led to a high degree of integration of these Jewish bankers into Italian society.
Jews still suffered from false accusations of ritual murder, most infamously in the case of Simon of Trent in 1475.
In 1516, the Jews of Venice were forced to relocate to a single segregated neighborhood, the first ghetto; similar separations were soon reprised in many Italian cities.
In 1555, Pope Paul IV brutally reversed the fortunes of the Jews in the Papal States and later presided over the execution of Jewish refugees of Spanish descent in the port city of Ancona.
Venice is best known as the "sunken or flooded city" do to its intricate system of waterways, often in lieu of roads.
Some of the most famous places in Venice include San Marco, the Grand Canal and the Rialto.
Venetians commuted throughout the city using a taxi-like system of gondolas.
The gondolas were rowing boats that were used as a means of transportation on the Venetian waterways.
Given the opportunity, would you visit Venice during the Renaissance? Would you like to live there in that time? Why or why not?
What differences and similarities do you detect between the clothing, food, entertainment, and politics of Italy in the 1500s and that of society today? Do you appreciate recent technology and its roots in history? What has changed?
Based on the information provided here as well as anything learned from the play; what are your thoughts on the politics and law of Venetian society? Is their treatment of minorities just? What of their government?
Dances and Music from the Italian Renaissance
Giorgio Mainerio (1582)
Venice, the setting of our play, played a huge part in the prosperity of the Italian Renaissance. It was not only the economic capital of the Italy, but also the origin of countless art forms, historical figures, and landmarks.
1. What does Polenta consist of?
2. Who was the composer of the musical piece?
3. What were Venice's major trading partners?
4. In which city did Galileo teach?
5. What was the first book to be printed using a printing press?
1. cornmeal boiled into porridge
2. Giorgio Mainerio
3. England, Scandinavia, Russia
5. the Gutenberg Bible
Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances:
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gabardine (I, iii, 116-122)
Speaker: The speaker of this quotation is Shylock.
Context: In this quotation, Shylock is speaking to Antonio regarding his request to borrow money. Shylock recalls the mistreatment that Antonio has shown towards him in the past, specifically in the Rialto, simply because he is a Jew. He goes on to justify his hatred of Antonio, and the Christians by extension, by recollecting the names he has called him. Shylock is appalled that Antonio would dare to ask him for help.
Dramatic Importance: Through this quotation, we learn quite a bit about Shylock’s character and where his hatred is coming from. We can begin to sympathize with him in this situation. It also serves to tell us of the history between the two; Shylock and Antonio, and why they are enemies. A tense mood is sustained through his anger and symbolism is evident through the comparison of sufferance as a badge, and Shylock to that of a “cut-throat dog”.
“It must not be. There is no power in Venice
Can alter a decree established;
'Twill be recorded for a precedent,
And many an error by the same example
Will rush into the state. It cannot be.” (IV, I, 226-230)
Speaker: The speaker of this quotation is Portia.
Context: In this quotation, Portia is speaking to everyone in the court, disguised as a lawyer. After Bassanio explains that he is trying to paying ten times the sum of the bond to free Antonio, Portia explains that no court in Venice can accept that. This is because; by not honouring one bond, others become obsolete. This could cause problems for the Venetian economy.
Dramatic importance: This quotation contributes to the plot as it identifies the fact that Antonio can’t be saved from the terms of the bond if Bassanio were to increase the sum of the bond, even by ten times. This quote helps to exemplify a theme of desperation as Antonio’s friends try to save him. We begin to learn of Portia’s intelligence and her infinite knowledge of the city’s current economic and political affairs.