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Trained in historiography and law, Andrea Dandolo studied at the University of Padua where he became a law professor until he was elected as doge. He was descended from an old Venetian noble family that played an important role in Venetian politics from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, and produced 4 Venetian doges, of which he was the last, numerous admirals and several other prominent citizens.
He became doge in 1343 at the age of 37.
Dandolo was known as a benefactor of the arts. To St Mark’s Basilica he added the Chapel of San Isidoro, oversaw changes to the Pala d'Oro and expanded and beautified the Baptistery.
He reformed the Venetian legal code, formally proclaiming a legal framework in 1346 that compiled all of the applicable laws in the Republic. He was a friend of Petrarch’s, who wrote of Dandolo that he was “a just man, incorruptible, full of ardor and love for his country, erudite, eloquent, wise, affable and humane”.
His reign was beset by challenges as Venice was struck by a violent earthquake on 25 January 1348 that caused hundreds of casualties, destroyed numerous buildings and, it was assumed at the time, provoked the terrible outbreak of the Black Death, which did not end until 1350. Between 1348 and 1350 a third of the population died.
Also Venice endured a disastrous war with the Hungarians following Zadar’s seventh revolt against the Most Serene Republic in 1345. Allied with the Hungarians, Genoa deployed a powerful naval fleet to the Adriatic under the command of Paganino Doria that devastated the Venetian territories and threatened Venice herself. Venice was saved by the great naval victory of Lojera in 1353.
Dandolo died while still a young man and was the last doge to be interred in St Mark’s Basilica.
Dandolo wrote two chronicles in Latin on the history of Venice which can be found in volume XII of Muratori’s collection Rerum Italicarum Scriptores.
He also wrote about history of Croatia in Chronicle of Dalmatia: " Svatopluk, king of Dalmatia.... on Duvno field was crowned and his kingdom of Dalmatia is spread out into 4 regions: From the field called Duvno (Tomislavgrad), to Istra is called White Croatia... and from that field to Drac Durrës in Albania is called Red Croatia; and the mountainous side from the river Drina to Macedonia is called Rascia, and to that river to here is called Bosnia. The whole sea coast is called Dalmatia and its mountains are Croatia..."
The branch of the Dandolo family that currently lives in France descends directly from Andrea Dandolo. Settled in Picardy, the Dandolo family is part of the Italian aristocracy and carries the title of count.
- Madden, Thomas F (2012). Venice : A New History (Hardback). New York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-02542-8.
|Doge of Venice