Venice: A New History

Thomas F. Madden. Viking, $35 (464p) ISBN 978-0-670-02542-8
This is a savory, tantalizing, but not-so-serene history of La Serenessima—a tale of invasion, plunder, and ultimate elevation to one of the leading merchant cities in Europe. As Madden relates, the earliest Venetians were former citizens of the crumbling Roman empire and desperate survivors of Attila the Hun's 452 devastation of such cities as wealthy Aquileia and Patavium. In 697, the scattered lagoon dwellers elected their first "doge" to unify the region. By 810, fledgling Venice was able to repel an invasion by the most powerful force in Europe—the Frankish king Charlemagne's son Pepin. and in the 11th century, the Norman invasion of Byzantium disrupted Venetian shipping in the Adriatic. But a Venetian war fleet reestablished dominance in the area, and Venice was the second-largest city in western Europe. Its economy damaged by the Fourth Crusade, its population decimated by the bubonic plague, by 1490 Venice had nevertheless reached the pinnacle of its power and with wealth, symbolized by the stunning family palazzi towering over the Grand Canal (although Madden also contends that medieval and Renaissance Venetians are often portrayed unfairly in modern histories as conniving and greedy). St. Louis Univ. history professor Madden's (Empires of Trust) makes use of thousands of Venetians' personal documents from the Middle Ages to present an authoritative history. Agent: J Thornton, The Spieler Agency (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2012
Release date: 10/25/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 464 pages - 978-1-101-60113-6
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-14-750980-2
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