The Lords of the Night

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The Night Lords or the Lords of the Night was the name of two special magistrates of the Republic of Venice.

The Lords of the Night during their nocturnal investigative activity. (Gianfranco Munerotto, Signori di Notte, Venice, 2017)

The two sections of the Lords of the Night[edit]

The criminal Lords of the Night courts are mentioned as early as the 12th century, first as two, finally as six nobles, one for each district (sestiere) of Venice since 1260. Their name is derived from the initial responsibility of monitoring what was happening throughout the city during the night. In short, their powers were extended to include theft, murder, bigamy, carnal crimes of slaves, firearms, assaults, criminal conspiracy, homelessness, rape, night dances, desertion from galleys, non-payment of rents, etc. They gathered in a dining room of the Doge's Palace in the Chamber of Torment: interrogations and trials took place mostly at night or at dusk, provided, among other things that they can apply the rope torture and the three judges had the defendant turned their shoulders to a wide window that partially concealed their appearance with its lightening. From their sentence they could appeal the ruling by the Criminal Council of Forty through the Avogadori de Comùn.[1]

The Civil Lords of the Night[edit]

By the end of 1544 The Civil Lords of the Night were created and part of their specialties was transferred from the criminal system: enforcement of foreign sentences, sales of pawns, exile criminals and the unwanted replaced all those magistratures that did not operate during public holidays.


  1. ^ Venice: a documentary history, 1450-1630