Leonardo Loredan

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Leonardo Loredan
Giovanni Bellini, portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan.jpg
Doge of Venice
In office
Personal details
Born 16 November 1436
Died 21 June 1521
Statue of Leonardo Loredan in Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice

Leonardo Loredan (or Loredano) (November 16, 1436 – June 21, 1521) of the Loredan family was the 75th doge of the Republic of Venice from 1501 until his death. His dogeship was one of the most important in the history of Venice.[1] [2]


Early Life[edit]

After having studied literature, Leonardo Loredan commenced his political ascent at the age of nineteen when he became a lawyer in the “Giudici di Petizion” - magistracy concerned mainly with financial scandals and bankruptcies. A few years later, Leonardo sat on the “Collegio dei Savi” where he was responsible for assessing and evaluating foreign policy matters prior to their examination in Senate. Shortly after, Leonardo became the “Podestà” in the city of Padua – the Venetian equivalent of a governor ruling in the cities belonging to the Republic. In 1492, Leonardo Loredan was elected as the Procurator of San Mark’s, a prestigious position that helped the future doge gain important political influence.[3]

Some historians claim his election as Doge in October 1501 was not entirely due to his talent as a politician but rather because Morosina Giustinian, his wife, came from a very influential family. [1][3]


Upon the death of Pope Alexander VI in 1503, Venice occupied several territories in the northern Papal States. When Julius II was elected as Alexander's eventual successor, the Venetians expected their seizure of papal territory to be tacitly accepted, as Julius had been nicknamed Il Veneziano for his pro-Venetian sympathies. But instead the new Pope excommunicated the Republic and united the Papal States in an alliance with France, the Holy Roman Empire and several other Christian states.

The Doge's problems did not end in Europe. In 1509, the Battle of Diu took place, in India, where the Portuguese fleet defeated an Ottoman and Mameluk fleet, which had been transferred from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea with Venetian help. The defeat marked the end of the profitable Spice trade, which was bought by Venetians from the Mameluks in Egypt and in turn monopolised its sale in Europe, reaping great revenues from it.

After losing to the league's forces at the Battle of Agnadello, Venice found her holdings in Italy shrinking drastically. Soon Padua, Venice's most strategically vital Terra Firma holding, had fallen, and Venice herself was threatened. Loredan united the population, calling for sacrifice and total mobilisation. Padua was retaken, though Venice was still forced to accept a reluctant peace, following which it joined the Pope as only a junior ally in his new war against the French. When the Pope betrayed Venice once again, upon the verge of victory over France, Venice retaliated by aligning themselves with the French King Louis XII and were able to secure back all the territories they had lost. In addition, the Papacy was forced to repay many outstanding debts to the Loredan family totaling approximately 500,000 Ducats, an enormous sum of money. He was married to Giustina Giustiniani (d. 1500).[4]

Doge Leonardo Loredan in art[edit]

Giovanni Bellini's portrait of Loredan is notable for being one of the first frontal portraits of a reigning doge; throughout the Middle Ages, mortal men had been portrayed in profile, while the frontal view had been reserved for more sacred subjects.

Over two centuries later, when Pompeo Batoni was given a detailed programme for his large Triumph of Venice (1737) by the Odescalchi cardinal who commissioned it, Loredan was chosen to represent the office of Doge, standing amid a group of allegorical personifications.[5]

Doge Leonardo Loredan Circle of Danese Cattaneo | (Mid-sixteenth Century) | Terracotta with traces of gilding | 18x11x11 inches | Birmingham Museum of Art


  1. ^ a b Rendina, Claudio (1984). I Dogi: Storia e Segreti. Venice: Newton Compton. pp. 270–279. 
  2. ^ Distefano, Giovanni (2011). Enciclopedia Storica Di Venezia. Venice: Supernova. p. 683. ISBN 978-88-96220-51-1. 
  3. ^ a b Jori, Francesco (2016). 1516 Il Primo Ghetto. Pordenone: Biblioteca dell'Imagine. p. 39. ISBN 978-88-6391-216-6. 
  4. ^ Staley, Edgcumbe: The dogaressas of Venice : The wives of the doges. London : T. W. Laurie
  5. ^ North Carolina Museum of Art
Political offices
Preceded by
Agostino Barbarigo
Doge of Venice
Succeeded by
Antonio Grimani