Michael Prokurat, Alexander Golitzin, Michael D. Peterson
The A to Z of the Orthodox Church


VENICE. Founded in 421 on the north coast of the Italian Adriatic and for centuries an outpost of Byzantium (q.v.), Venice began to acquire independence in the 9th c. By the 11th c. it controlled much of the trade of the Empire as a foreign power. Tensions between the citizens of Constantinople (q.v.) and Venetian merchants sparked the bloody riots of 1187 that slew thousands of Western Europeans in the latter’s suburb of Galatea. Desire for vengeance and for securing the Venetian trading monopoly prompted Doge Enrico Dandolo to divert the Fourth Crusade (q.v.) in 1204 to take and sack the imperial city and dismember its Empire. Venetian occupation of positions on the Greek mainland and several islands, including Corfu and Crete, continued for centuries. Venice itself treasures many of the spoils of the Crusade, notably the four horses over the Cathedral of San Marco, the palo d’oro fronting the high altar, and the many San Marco museum pieces that have been (curiously) reworked.

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