Epilogue: The End of an Era

Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


The 1479 death and state funeral of Dogaressa Taddea Michiel Mocenigo marked a crucial turning point not only in dogaressal ritual and record keeping, as we have seen, but also in the larger history of dogaresse. Doge Marco Barbarigo and his wife Lucia Ruzzini replaced the widowed Giovanni Mocenigo in 1485. But Barbarigo died the next year, before his wife could receive an official entrance, and although the dowager dogaressa would live at least another ten years, for the next half a century and beyond, every man elected to Venice’s highest office was either a widower or a bachelor. In other words, in the seventy years from 1486 until the election of Lorenzo Priuli in 1556, Venice had no sitting dogaressa. In contrast, in the preceding 300 years, every doge except Tommaso Mocenigo (1413–23) and his nephew Pietro Mocenigo (1474–76) had living wives, the overwhelming majority of whom served full terms for periods as long as thirty years and often outlived their spouses (Appendix I). Further, stretching back into the thirteenth century, it was not uncommon for widowed doges to remarry; for example, Doge Pietro Ziani (1204–29) and his successor Jacopo Tiepolo (1229–49) took as second wives two relations of Tancred of Sicily. No doubt these doges engaged in such a marital strategy to firm up Venice’s stance in Mediterranean politics. Until the sixteenth century, then, the office of dogaressa was nearly always occupied; and the dogaressa must have been regarded as the norm, as part of the ritual vocabulary, familial symbolism, and collective memory of the office of doge.


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© Holly S. Hurlburt 2006

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