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Title:Enrico Dandolo: His Life, His Family, and His Venice Before the Fourth Crusade
Author(s):Madden, Thomas F.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Queller, Donald E.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
History, Medieval
Abstract:It is no exaggeration to say that Enrico Dandolo was the most important doge in a millennium of Venetian history. Born in ca. 1107, Dandolo was the product of a proud but relatively new Venetian family that had devoted itself to commerce and service to the state. In his early years, Enrico lived through the enthusiasm of the Venetian crusade of 1122. Like his fellow countrymen, he was proud of the Republic's great effort, and especially of the participation of his father, uncle, and grandfather in the holy enterprise.
Throughout his career, Enrico Dandolo was probably away from Venice more than not. But his expertise in foreign lands coupled with his increasingly trusted family name, made Dandolo an important player in Venetian politics after the assassination of Doge Vitale Michiel in 1172. From Byzantium to Alexandria to Ferrara, Enrico Dandolo traveled representing his state. His election in 1192 at the age of eighty-five is not, therefore, surprising. His family had worked its way into the highest offices and helped shape the new Venetian constitution. For his part, Enrico had performed service after service for the Republic, many with considerable success.
Dandolo's reign was revolutionary, but more for its foreign rather than domestic initiatives. A group of favorable treaties put Venetian merchants in much safer positions in Italian markets. Dandolo also succeeded in fending off Pisan aggression in the Adriatic, brought Brindisi under control, and, with the help of the Fourth Crusade, crushed the rebellious Zara. No action in his reign, however, can compare with the conquest of Constantinople which transformed Venice into a commercial empire. On the domestic side Dandolo's policies were less spectacular. While he did issue two new coins, these were made necessary by the monumental changes thrust on Venice by the Fourth Crusade. They were not enlightened modifications in Venetian fiscal policy. By the same token, Dandolo's "legal reform" was probably just barely legal, and not a reform. If he had a hand in it at all, his contribution to Venetian constitutional development was limited to collecting seventy-four customs for his own and his successors' reference.
Nicetas Choniates was wrong in his harsh assessment of Dandolo: a man he never met. Dandolo harbored no smoldering hatred for Constantinople and her people. The still popular arguments for Dandolo's vengeful motivations in the conquest of Byzantium have no basis other than the street gossip of an embittered Nicetas and an ignorant Chronicle of Novgorod. They should once and for all be dispensed with.
Issue Date:1993
Description:279 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9314910
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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