1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dandolo

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DANDOLO, the name of one of the most illustrious patrician families of Venice, of which the earliest recorded member was one of the electors of the first doge (a.d. 697). The Dandolo gave to Venice four doges; of these the first and most famous was Enrico Dandolo (c. 1120–1205), elected on the 1st of January 1193 (more Veneto, 1192). He had distinguished himself in various military enterprises and diplomatic negotiations in the course of an active career, and although over seventy years old and of very weak sight (the story that he had been made blind by the emperor Manuel Comnenus while he was at Constantinople is a legend), he proved a most energetic and capable ruler. His first care was to re-establish Venetian authority over the Dalmatians who had rebelled with the king of Hungary’s protection, but he failed to capture Zara, owing to the arrival of the Pisan fleet, and although the latter was defeated by the Venetians, the undertaking was suspended. In the meanwhile the situation in the East was becoming critical. The Eastern emperor Isaac II. Angelus had been deposed, imprisoned, and blinded by his brother Alexius, who usurped the throne. The new emperor proved unfriendly to the Venetians and made difficulties about renewing their privileges. In the West a new crusade to the Holy Land was in preparation, and the crusaders sent ambassadors, one of whom was Villehardouin, the historian of the expedition, to ask the Venetians to give them passage and means of transport (1201). After much deliberation the republic agreed to transport 4500 horse and 29,000 foot to Palestine with provisions for one year, for a sum of 85,000 marks; in addition 50 Venetian galleys would be provided free of charge, while Venice was to receive half the conquests made by the crusaders. But as the time agreed upon for the departure approached, it appeared that the crusaders had not the money to pay the stipulated advance. Dandolo then proposed that if they helped him to reduce Zara payment might be deferred. Some of the crusaders disapproved of this attack on a Christian city, but the majority, only too glad of an opportunity for plunder, willingly agreed. The expedition sailed on the 8th of October 1202, three hundred sail in all, with the aged Dandolo himself in command. Zara was taken and pillaged, for which the Venetians were severely reprimanded by the pope. But new possibilities of conquest were now opened up at the suggestion of Alexius, the son of the deposed emperor Isaac. He promised the crusaders that if they went first to Constantinople and re-instated Isaac, the latter would maintain them for a year, contribute 10,000 men and 200,000 marks for the expedition to Egypt, and subject the Eastern to the Western Church. The proposal was accepted, largely owing to the influence of Dandolo, who saw in it a means for further extending the dominions and commerce of the Venetians. After wintering at Zara the fleet set sail on the 7th of April 1203, and on the 23rd of June anchored in the Bosporus. After long parleys the city was attacked by land and sea on the 17th of July (the fleet being commanded by Dandolo) and taken by storm. The emperor Alexius fled, and Isaac reoccupied the throne, but, although grateful to the crusaders, he was not disposed to fulfil the promises made by his son. Tumults between crusaders and Greeks arose, and the people of the city, excited by a certain Alexis Murzuphlus, murmured at the new taxes which were imposed on them. A revolt broke out, and an officer named Nicholas Canabus was placed on the throne; Prince Alexius was strangled by order of Murzuphlus, Isaac died of the shock, Murzuphlus imprisoned Canabus and made himself emperor (Alexius V.). The crusaders thereupon attacked Constantinople a second time (12th of April 1204), and after a desperate struggle captured the city, which they subjected to hideous carnage. Immense booty was secured, the Venetians obtaining among other treasures the four bronze horses which adorn the façade of St Mark’s. The Eastern empire was abolished, and a feudal Latin empire erected in its stead. The leaders of the crusaders then met to elect an emperor. Dandolo was one of the candidates, but Count Baldwin of Flanders was elected and crowned on the 23rd of May. The Venetians were given Crete and several other islands and ports in the Levant, which formed an uninterrupted chain from Venice to the Black Sea, a large part of Constantinople (whence the doge assumed the title of “lord of a quarter and a half of Romania”), and many valuable privileges. But hardly had the new state been established when various provinces rose in rebellion and the Bulgarians invaded Thrace. A Latin army was defeated by them at Adrianople (April 1205), and the emperor himself was captured and killed, the fragments of the force being saved only by Dandolo’s prowess. But he was now old and ill, and on the 23rd of June 1205 he died. He certainly consolidated Venice’s dominion in the East and increased its commercial prosperity to a very high degree. But the policy he pursued in turning the crusaders against Constantinople, in order to promote the interests of the republic, while serving to break up the Greek empire, created in its place a Latin state that was far too feeble to withstand the onslaught of Greek national feeling and Orthodox fanaticism; at the same time the Greeks were greatly weakened and their power of resisting the Turks consequently lessened. This paved the way for the Turkish invasion of Europe, which proved an unmixed calamity for all Christendom, Venice included.

Enrico Dandolo’s sons distinguished themselves in the public service, and his grandson Giovanni was doge from 1280 to 1289. The latter’s son Andrea commanded the Venetian fleet in the war against Genoa in 1294, and, having been defeated and taken prisoner, he was so overwhelmed with shame that he committed suicide by beating his head against the mast (according to Andrea Navagero). Francesco Dandolo, also known as Dandolo Cane, was doge from 1329 to 1339. During his reign the Venetians went to war with Martino della Scala, lord of Verona, with the result that they occupied Treviso and otherwise extended their possessions on the terra firma. Andrea Dandolo (1307/10–1354), the last doge of the family, reigned from 1343 to 1354. He had been the first Venetian noble to take a degree at the university of Padua, where he had also been professor of jurisprudence. The terrible plague of 1348, wars with Genoa, against whom the great naval victory of Lojera was won in 1353, many treaties, and the subjugation of the seventh revolt of Zara, are the chief events of his reign. The poet Petrarch, who was the doge’s intimate friend, was sent to Venice on a peace mission by Giovanni Visconti, lord of Milan. “Just, incorruptible, full of zeal and of love for his country, and at the same time learned, of rare eloquence, wise, affable, and humane,” is the poet’s verdict on Andrea Dandolo (Varior. epist. xix.). Dandolo died on the 7th of September 1354. He is chiefly famous as a historian, and his Annals to the year 1280 are one of the chief sources of Venetian history for that period; they have been published by Muratori (Rer. Ital. Script. tom. xxi.). He also had a new code of laws compiled (issued in 1346) in addition to the statute of Jacopo Tiepolo.

Another well-known member of this family was Silvestro Dandolo (1796–1866), son of Girolamo Dandolo, who was the last admiral of the Venetian republic and died an Austrian admiral in 1847. Silvestro was an Italian patriot and took part in the revolution of 1848.

Bibliography.—S. Romanin, Storia documentata di Venezia (Venice, 1853); among more recent books H. Kretschmayr’s excellent Geschichte von Venedig (Gotha, 1905) should be consulted: it contains a bibliography of the authorities and all the latest researches and discoveries; C. Cipolla and G. Monticolo have published many essays and editions of chronicles in the Archivio Veneto, and the “Fonti per la Storia d’Italia,” in the Istituto storico italiano; H. Simonsfeld has written a life of Andrea Dandolo in German (Munich, 1876).  (L. V.*)