Venice and its Empire, 800-1800CE


This course explores the history of Venice as a Mediterranean empire from its humble beginnings as a fishermen’s colony in the ninth century CE to its occupation by Napoleon in 1797. In order to understand this millennium in the history of a city, each week we will explore how a specific theme in Venetian history, such as “family,” “empire,” or “ritual,” has been approached by scholars coming from different geographical and disciplinary perspectives. Since at various points in its long history Venice colonized parts of modern northern Italy, the Balkans, and the Greek islands, we will also consider the impact that Venice had on the highly diverse Mediterranean region (and, in return, how Venice's sprawling empire and intense interactions with its neighbours, especially the Ottoman Empire, shaped the city itself. Throughout the course, we will keep asking what is at stake in comparing historical societies, cultures, regions and peoples.