Il Campo Scanto
Venice is a City on the Rise, the 4th Crusade (1202-1204 A.D.) has made Venice rich and demonstrated its power. The far-flung so-called ‘Latin Empire’ is little more than a client state and others look on with Envy as Trade with Muslim and Christian Rulers alike flow gold into the city.
Venice has many rivals. Perhaps the most powerful is Frederick II , Holy Roman Emperor, King of Italy and Sicily and the Germans. An immensely powerful Figure, Frederick seems to view himself as an Old Roman Emperor reborn, and he has the military and political conquests to back it up. Venice and the other Italian city-states are a direct confrontation to his power, one he hasn’t been able to overcome. Venice has united with other city states of the North in the Lombard League meant to check the power of the Empire.
The Cities of Genoa and Pisa are Venice’ principal city-state Rivals. Both located on the other side of Italy, their fleets compete with Venice’s for trade and control of the Mediterranean. While Genoa is theoretically part of the Holy Roman Empire and ‘ruled’ by the Bishop of Genoa, in fact, it’s elected Consuls wield the real power. Pisa, while independent, has that independence thanks to the support of generations of Holy Roman Emperors, and is greatly resented by the other states. It concluded a peace treaty with Venice in 1206 that keeps them out of the Adriatic, and their rivalry with surrounding cities and the Genoese is heating up.
Venice has gained what amounts to colonial possesses along the east coast of the Adriatic, mainly at the expense of Croatia, which unified its crown with Hungary in the last century. Hungary is presently rulled by Andrew II , who is an unpopular Monarch at home, having expended considerable money to no effect in the crusade from 1217-1218. He is presently waging a multi-sided conflict between elements of his own family, the Hungarian Nobility, and the Church.
In the wake of the fall of the Roman Empire (a.k.a. The Byzantines to modern scholars), the Bulgarian Empire has engulfed much of the northern portions of that state. Ivan Asen II is Emperor and King, and has expanded his territory greatly. He has recently concluded a marriage peace with the Hungarians, and it is said he seeks further concessions from the Latin Empire and the fragmented Greek ‘inheritor’ states of the Roman Empire.
Venice gained 3/8 of the Byzantine Empire after the 4th Crusade, including the Island of Crete and many islands in the Ionian sea. It thus has an extensive relationship with the ‘Latin Empire’, which at the moment is engaged in constant struggle with the three Greek Successor states to the Byzantine Empire. The Latin Empire has been under regency for a number of years, and the new ‘Emperor’, Robert I, is still in France, attempting to garner support from the Pope and the French crown to support his succession and retake lands from the Greek States.
The Head of the Venetian City-State is the Doge, presently Pietro Zani , who was elected to the office in 1205 A.D. The Doge is appointed for life.
Venetian Politics is complex and has gone through several revisions, especially after the formal establishment of the ‘Commune’ in 1170.
- Concio – The collection of all Venetian Free Men.
- The Great Council -The political representation of the Concio and technically the font of all political authority. There are several dozens sitting members of this Council, who form the ‘Great’ Families of Venice. This council appoints many other positions, though it uses a system of lottery to determine electors and those who will enact appointments.
- The Senate – Those tasks with the day to day legislative duties, One-Hundred and Twenty men sit on this council, which passes day to day laws.
- The Council of Forty -When a Doge is to be selected, Four Men are selected by Lottery from the Great Council to select a Council of Forty. These Forty than select the Doge. They remain as a judicial group, judging on laws.
There is much political infighting and conflict within all groups. While in theory, they work together for the betterment of Venice, in practice factions have jeopardized the city-state more than once. The influx of money and men of prestige into the city worries some of the older families for example, who don’t’ wish to surrender their privileged positions of power.
Prominent Families of Venice
- Contarini – An old Patrician family with great ambition. They were powerful allies of the previous Doge and gained much in the Crusade.
- Da Mosto – A trader family whose fortune was originally earned in exotic Wood and Alum. They have prospered since their participation in the 4th Crusade and are considered a family of rising fortunes.
- Dandolo – Another powerful and ancient family. The previous Doge, who orchestrated the sack of Constantinople was of their member and as such they have much influence on the colonies acquired through that crusade. They are rival of the Tiepolo and the Ziani
- Michiel – An Old family of once prominent power that has fallen on hard times, mostly due to the rise of the Dandolo.
- Molin – An older family of Venice, seen as one of the stabler families of the city, having gained wealth through many alliances, even between feuding houses.
- Morosini – One of the most prominent families in Venice. They can trace their ancestry back to refugees fleeing Atilla the Hun and have had many Doge’s, Bishops and other important members in the City.
- Simonezza – Another of the many who have risen in power and prominence since the 4th Crusade. The Simonezza are wealthy and ambitious to be more-so.
- Spira – A family seen as barely Patrician by many. They change alliances and fueds rapidly and some-how cling to the upper parts of society. None underestimate their prowess in battle however.
- Tiepolo – Viewed as an ‘Upstart’, even more-so than the Dandolo, the Tiepolo have risen to a position of prominence many think unearned. They are seen as both more ambitious and more dangerous than the Zianai.
- Vendramin – Another old family whose fortunes have waxed and waned. They are famous, and feared for their skill at intrigue.
- Ziani – One of the many ‘New’ families of the last two centuries that has risen in response to the Republics expanse. The present Doge is of this family. They are allied with the Tiepolo and opposed by the Dandolo and other old famlies.