Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice

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9780801885396: Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice

Between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, Venice transformed itself from a struggling merchant commune to a powerful maritime empire that would shape events in the Mediterranean for the next four hundred years. In this magisterial new book on medieval Venice, Thomas F. Madden traces the city-state's extraordinary rise through the life of Enrico Dandolo (c. 1107–1205), who ruled Venice as doge from 1192 until his death. The scion of a prosperous merchant family deeply involved in politics, religion, and diplomacy, Dandolo led Venice's forces during the disastrous Fourth Crusade (1201–1204), which set out to conquer Islamic Egypt but instead destroyed Christian Byzantium. Yet despite his influence on the course of Venetian history,we know little about Dandolo, and much of what is known has been distorted by myth.

The first full-length study devoted to Dandolo's life and times, Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice corrects the many misconceptions about him that have accumulated over the centuries, offering an accurate and incisive assessment of Dandolo's motives, abilities, and achievements as doge, as well as his role―and Venice's―in the Fourth Crusade. Madden also examines the means and methods by which the Dandolo family rose to prominence during the preceding century, thus illuminating medieval Venice's singular political, social, and religious environment. Culminating with the crisis precipitated by the failure of the Fourth Crusade, Madden's groundbreaking work reveals the extent to which Dandolo and his successors became torn between the anxieties and apprehensions of Venice's citizens and its escalating obligations as a Mediterranean power.

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About the Author:

Thomas F. Madden is an associate professor of history and chair of the history department at Saint Louis University. He is the author of A Concise History of the Crusades, coauthor (with Donald E. Queller) of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople, editor of The Crusades: Essential Readings, and co-editor (with Ellen E. Kittell) of Medieval and Renaissance Venice.


"An example of the kind of history that should be read and written by all students of history."

(Donald B. Epstein History: Reviews of New Books)

"This is a very readable book... No one working in the fields of Venetian, Byzantine, or Crusading history (in all three of which Madden is equally comfortable), much less medieval history in general, can ignore this book. With it, Madden more than ever stakes out his place as one of the most important medievalists in America at present."

(John W. Barker Medieval Review)

"In addition to a lively narrative, Madden offers a new interpretation of Venice's role in the Fourth Crusade."


"A refreshing contribution not only to study of the Fourth Crusade but also to that of medieval Venice."

(David Malkiel American Historical Review)

"This book deserves to be considered authoritative because of Madden's use of sources contemporary to the Fourth Crusade and not written afterwards with the advantage of hindsight."

(Eleanor A. Congdon International Journal of Maritime History)

"An elegantly constructed book that gives a new twist to the fourth crusade and a new perspective on the government and constitution of Venice at a critical moment in its development."

(Michael Angold International History Review)

"Offers a useful account of a turning point in Venice's development."

(Jonathan Seitz Sixteenth Century Journal)

"Helps shed a great deal of new light on the origins of Venice's political system."

(Karl Appuhn Speculum)

"This book provides the best study in English of a twelfth-century Italian city: authoritative, accessible, and cogently argued. Written in a fluid, assured style that will appeal to general readers, it also learnedly and forthrightly takes on many controversial scholarly issues. Thomas Madden gives a full account of church and state developments that shaped Venetian history, and at the same time he presents a full treatment of the diplomatic and ecclesiastical aspects of the city's role in the Fourth Crusade. He brings medieval Venice to life, both in its lagoon and as a participant in great European movements."

(Stanley Chojnacki, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

"Madden provides an unusually lucid and thorough account."

(James S. Grubb Journal of Interdisciplinary History)

"Provides an important contribution both to our understanding of Venice's political and constitutional evolution until the early thirteenth century and to the background of the Fourth Crusade."

(David Jacoby Mediterranean Historical Review)

"Well-written and interesting study."

(James M. Powell Crusades)

"Thanks to its resolutely urban perspective, its careful reading of the sources, and its well-founded and independent standpoint, this study is a benefit to the history of the Crusades and the history of Venice alike."

(Nikolas Jaspert Catholic Historical Review)

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