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in that of a son. He became a monster of pride and cru
a elty. The people began to murmur, and he became susceptible of that terror which usually accompanies tyrants. He established a body of life-guards, to defend his person, and lodged them within the palace. This innovation filled the people with indignation, and awakened all their fury. They attack the palace, are repulsed by the guards, and set fire to the contiguous houses. The wretched doge, in danger of being consumed by the flames, appears at the gate of the palace, with his infant son in his arms, imploring the compassion of the multitude : they, inexor. able as demons, tear in pieces both father and child. At such an instance of savage fury, the human affections revolt from the oppressed people, and take part with their oppressor. We almost wish he had lived, that he might
. have swept from the earth a set of wretches more barbarous than himself.
Having spent their fury in the destruction of the tyrant, they leave the tyranny as before. No measures are taken to limit the power of the doge.
. For some time after this, a spirit of superstition seemed to lay hold of those who filled that office, as if they had intended to expiate the pride of the late tyrant by their own humility. His three immediate successors, after each of them had reigned a few years with applause, abandoned their dignity, shut themselves up in convents, and pass. ed the latter years of their lives as monks.
Whatever contempt those pious doges displayed for worldly things, their example made little impression on their subjects, who, about this time, began to monopolize the trade and riches of Europe. And some years after, when all Christendom was seized with the religious phrenzy of recovering the Holy Land, the Venetians kept so perfectly free from the general infection, that they did not scruple to supply the Saracens with arms and ammunition, in spite of the edicts of their doges, and the remonstrances of the pope, and other pious princes.
Those commercial casuists declared, that religion is one
thing, and trade another; that, as children of the church, they were willing to believe all that their mother required; but, as merchants, they must carry their goods to the best market.
In my next, I shall proceed with my review of the Venetian government.
Venice. The minds of the Venetians were not so totally engrossed by commercial ideas, as to make them neglect other means of aggrandizing their state. All Istria submitted itself to their government : many of the free towns of Dalmatia, harassed by the Narentines, a nation of robbers and pirates on that coast, did the same. Those towns which refused, were reduced to obedience, by Peter Urseolo, the doge of Venice, who had been sent with a fleet against them, in the year 1000.
1000. He carried his arms also into the country of the Narentines, and destroyed many of their towns.
On his return it was determined, in a general assembly of the people, that the conquered towns and provinces should be governed by magistrates sent from Venice. Those magistrates called Podestas, were appointed by the doge. The inhabitants of those new-acquired towns were not admitted to the privileges of citizens of Venice, nor allowed to vote at the general assembly : the same rule was observed with regard to the inhabitants of all the dominions afterwards acquired by the republic. It will readily occur, that this accession of dominions to the state greatly augmented the influence and power of the chief magistrate : this, and the practice of associating the son of the doge with his father, raised jealousies among the people, and a law was made, abolishing such associations for the future.
In the year 1173, after the assassination of the doge Michieli, a far more important alteration took place in the government. At this time there was no other tribunal at Venice than that of forty judges. This court had been established many years before: it took cognizance of all causes, civil as well as criminal, and was called the council of forty. This body of men, in the midst of the disorder and confusion which followed the murder of the doge, formed a plan of new-modelling the government.
Hitherto the people had retained great privileges. They had votes in the assemblies; and, although the decendants
; of the ancient tribunes, and of the doges, formed a kind of nobility, yet they had no legal privileges, or exclusive jurisdiction ; nothing to distinguish them from their fellow. citizens, but what their riches, or the spontaneous respect paid to the antiquity of their families, gave them. Any citizen, as well as them, might be elected to a public office. To acquire the honours of the state, it was absolutely necessary for the greatest and proudest Venetian, to cultivate the good-will of the multitude, whose voice alone could raise him to the rank of doge, and whose rage had thrown so many from that envied situation. The inconveniences, the discord, and confusion, of such a mixed multitude, had been long felt, but nobody had hitherto had the boldness to strike at this established right of the people.
The city was divided into six parts, called Sestiers. The council of forty procured it to be established, in the first place, that each of those sestiers should annually name two electors; that those twelve electors should have the right of choosing, from the whole body of the people, four hundred and seventy counsellors, who should be called the grand council, and who should have the same power, in all respects, which the general assembly of the people formerly enjoyed.
It was pretended, that this regulation was contrived merely to prevent confusion, and to establish regularity in the great national assembly; that the people's right of election remained as before, and, by changing the counsellors yearly, those who were not élected one year might retain hopes of being chosen the next. The people did not perceive that this law would be fatal to their import
ance: it proved, however, the foundation of the aristocracy, which was soon after established, and still subsists.
The forty judges next proposed another regulation, still more delicate and important. That, to prevent the tu. mults and disorders which were expected at the impending election of a doge, they should (for that time only) name eleven commissioners, from those of the highest reputation for judgment and integrity in the state ; that the choice of a doge should be left to those commissioners, nine suffrages being indispensably requisite to make the election valid.
This evidently pointed at the exclusion of the people from any concern whatever in the creation of the chief magistrate, and certainly was the object in view ; yet as it was proposed only as a temporary expedient, to prevent disorders, when men's minds were irritated against each other, and factions ran high, the regulation was agred to.
Having, with equal dexterity and success, fixed those restraints on the power of the people, the council of forty turned their attention, in the next place, towards limiting the authority of the doge. This was considered as too exorbitant, even for good men ; and, in the hands of wicked men, had always been perverted to the purposes of tyranny, and for which no remedy had hitherto been found, but what was almost as bad as the evils themselves; revolt on the part of the people, and all the horrors and excesses with which such an expedient is usually accompanied. The tribunal of forty therefore proposed, that the grand council should annually appoint six persons, one from each division of the city, who should form the privy council of the doge, and, without their approbation, none of his or. ders should be valid ; so that, instead of appointing his own privy-council, which had been the custom hịtherto, the authority of the chief magistrate would, for the future, in a great measure, depend on six men, who, themselves, depended on the grand council. To be constantly surrounded by such a set of counsellors, instead of creatures of his own, however reasonable it may seem in the eyes
of the impartial, would have been considered by one in possession of the dignity of doge, as a most intolerable innovation, and probably would have been opposed by all his influence ; but there was no doge existing when the proposal was made, and consequently it passed into a law with universal approbation.
Lastly, it was proposed to form a senate, consisting of sixty members, which were to be elected, annually, out of the grand council. This assembly was in the room of that which the doge formerly had the power of convocating, on extraordinary occasions, by sending messages, praying certain citizens to come, and assist him with their advice. The members of the new senate, more fixed and more independent than those of the old, are still called the Pregadi. This also was agreed to without opposition ; and immediately after the funeral of the late doge, all those regulations took place.
They began by choosing the grand council of four hun. dred and seventy, then the senate of sixty, than the six counsellors, and lastly, the eleven electors. These last were publicly sworn, that in the election now intrusted to them, rejecting every motive of private interest, they should give their voices for that person, whose elevation to the dignity of doge they believed, in their consciences, would prove most for the advantage of the state.
After this, they retired to a chamber of the palace, and Orio Malipier, one of the eleven, had the votes of his ten colleagues; but he, with a modesty which seems to have been unaffected, declined the office, and used all his influence with the electors to make choice of Sebastian Ziani, a man distinguished in the republic an account of his talents, his wealth, and his virtues; assuring them that, in the present emergency, he was a more proper person than himself for the office. Such was their opinion of Malipier's judgment, that his colleagues adopted his opinion, and Ziani was unanimously elected.
As this mode of election was quite new, and as there was reason to imagine that the bulk of the people, on reflec: