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Venetians

Merchants with a flair for careful diplomacy, the Venetians take great pride in their political intrigues and maritime control, and are open to ideas that come from other cultures.

The name Venice comes from Veneti, an Indo-European people who inhabited the Veneto region in northeastern Italy during the Iron Age. During the sixth century, Lombard migration pushed the region’s populations out into the marshy lagoons of the Po Delta, where they founded a city: Venice. Thanks to its favorable geographic position as a crossroads for trade, it soon built an incredible maritime empire.

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The election of the first doge, Paoluccio Anafesto, in 697 CE marks the founding of the Republic of Venice. Venice was under Byzantium rule for some time but gradually developed into a powerful ally in its own right before breaking away from its ruler and diverting the Fourth Crusade to conquer Constantinople in 1204. The collapse of Byzantine power meant that the Venetians became the dominant trading power in the Mediterranean Basin. This power was symbolized by the golden ducat, the Venetian currency, which was used throughout the region until the end of the 16th century. The splendor of the city can be attributed to its unique geographic location built around a complex canal system with 121 small islands linked together by 435 bridges. A trade intermediary between the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean world, Venice became one of the most important maritime and commercial empires of the modern period, in particular through the salt trade. In the 16th century it had the largest arsenal in the world, which constructed the formidable galleasses that would go on to assure victory in numerous naval battles. Nonetheless, in the 16th century Venice gradually began to lose some of its economic power. However, the city was able to redirect its activities to become an influential center of culture and the arts. A global leader in the printing industry with over 150 working printing presses by the middle of the century, it also went through an artistic golden age with painters such as Titian and Tintoretto and composers such as Claudio Monteverdi and Antonio Vivaldi.

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Founded in 697 CE and dissolved in 1797 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Venetian Republic was the longest known uninterrupted form of government that we know of today.