Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/306

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their presence and their sanction no act of the Holy Office was valid in Venice. The archive of the Sant' Uffizio is now open to inspection. Heresy was not the sole crime submitted to the jurisdiction of this Court; witchcraft and scandalous living furnished a large number of cases; but among all the trials for heresy pure and simple only six cases of capital punishment can be found, which were in each instance to be carried out by drowning or strangulation, and in none by fire. The Inquisition in Venice was certainly no sanguinary Office, thanks no doubt in a large degree to the independent attitude of the State, which insisted upon the presence of lay assessors at every trial.

But a large part of this independence in matters ecclesiastical, along with much else, was sacrificed at the disastrous epoch of Cambray. In order to detach Julius from the League, the Venetians agreed to the following conditions. The Republic renounced its appeal to a future Council, acknowledged the justice of the excommunication; abolished the taxes on ecclesiastical property; surrendered its right to nominate Bishops; consigned criminous clerics to ecclesiastical Courts; granted free passage in the Adriatic to papal subjects. But in secret the Council of Ten entered a protest against all these concessions and declared that their assent was invalid, as it had been extorted by violence;-a reservation of which Venice availed herself in her subsequent struggle with Pope Paul V, when, championed and directed by Fra Paolo Sarpi, the Republic undertook to defend the rights of secular princes against the claims of the Curia Romana.

The Venetian constitution, which, on account of its stability and efficiency, compelled the envy and admiration of all Italian and numerous foreign statesmen, was a product of the growth of Venice, slowly evolved to meet the growing needs of the growing State.

Democratic in its origin, the constitution of the Lagoon islands was at first a loose confederation of the twelve principal townships each governed by its Tribune; all the Tribunes meeting together for the discussion and discharge of business which affected the whole Lagoon commonwealth. The jealousies and quarrels of the townships and their Tribunes led to the creation of a single supreme magistrate, the Doge. The Doge was elected in the Condone, or assembly of the entire Venetian people; his was a democratic magistracy in its first intention; but it soon became apparent that there was considerable danger lest the Doge should attempt to establish an hereditary tyranny. Any such effort was resented by the people and resulted in the murder, blinding, or expulsion of several of the earlier Doges. On the other hand, as the State developed and pushed out beyond the Lagoon boundaries, across to the Dalmatian coast, down the Adriatic, and away eastward, the more able and enterprising citizens began to accumulate wealth, and a division of classes