The son of Giovanni Memmo and Bianca Sanudo, he was born into a family of average wealth. He went into business as a merchant and made a fortune through his careful management.
As a prominent Venetian, he traversed the Venetian cursus honorum, becoming in turn, provveditore, podestà, and procurator of San Marco. He was set to become doge in 1606, but was not helped by the fact that the Memmo were one of the "vecchie" ("old"), Venetian noble families and every doge from 1382 on had been a member of one of the "nuove" ("new") Venetian noble families. He was thus unable to win support for his election in 1606, and lost out to Leonardo Donato.
Reign as Doge, 1612–1615
Memmo used the years of Donato's reign to maneuver behind the scenes, swinging into high gear following Donato's death on December 25, 1612. When the election was held on July 24, 1612, Memmo was elected on the first ballot, with 38 of the 41 votes, a shock to the nuove faction that had dominated the position of Doge for centuries. Great festivals were organized to celebrate Memmo's victory, and, like previous Doges, he would use the celebrations that attended great holidays as a way to curry favor with the population of Venice.
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