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Title: The Zen Family (1500-1550): Patrician Office Holding in Renaissance Venice.
Author: Giraldi, Philip M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3500 5088
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1975
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Renaissance Venice was ruled by a closed aristocracy which reserved to itself most of the offices in the state. In spite ofthe importance of this group relatively few studies of noble families have ever been undertaken. Though it is impossible to use the available early sixteenth century sources to reconstruct comprehensive biographies of any patrician family or group of families, it is nevertheless possible to examine the various individuals and families in a more limited fashion as office holders. The Zen family occupied a central position in the sixteenth century patriciate. They were numerous, wealthy, and politically important, but by no means were they among the leading families in the state. Their careers are widely illustrative of the political activities of the many moderately prominent noble families. Though the Venetian patriciate had been originally distinguished through trade, changing economic and political conditions in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries made merchant ventures less attractive. But, in addition, an analysis of the careers of the Zen reveals another important reason for the abandonment of trade: the burden of office holding. Over half of the Zen were in office every year; the offices were evenly distributed among all the men in the family and the careers of individual patricians show that the offices themselves were both demanding and time consuming. Numerous petitions from office holders seeking to return to Venice to conduct urgent business testify to the pressure felt by men who could not continue to be both merchants and magis-. trates. As a result, though moat merchants were nobles at the beginning of the cinquecente, at the end of it few were. The pressure of office holding contributed greatly to this transformation and resulted in a noble caste which increasingly derived its income from rents and government salaries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available