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The Spy Chiefs or Renaissance Venice: Intelligence Leadership in the Early Modern World

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The Spy Chiefs of Renaissance Venice: Intelligence Leadership in the Early Modern
Dr Ioanna Iordanou, Oxford Brookes University
From the volume: Spy Chiefs, Volume 2: Intelligence Leaders in Europe, the Middle East,
and Asia, eds. Paul Maddrell, Christopher Moran, Ioanna Iordanou, and Mark Stout.
Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2018
It is not to be doubted that the obligation of the loyal subject to his natural prince is so
great that it should not only induce him to constantly advance his benefit but also to
dedicate his everything, even his life in any occasion that occurs.
Intelligence and espionage have been the object of unyielding fascination for a long time. As
a result, official and unofficial narratives of covert missions, undercover agents, and secret
services have claimed substantial shelf-space in libraries and book-shops, while the ever-
appealing genre of spy fiction has featured prominently in book pages and cinema screens
alike. Historians have not escaped the charms of this constantly evolving scholarly domain
and have ceaselessly striven to reveal the pasts secrets and their keepers. This past, however,
spans largely from the eve of the Great War to the Edward Snowden era,
while more distant
periods still remain largely unexplored. This is not to say that scholars have not made
worthwhile attempts to explore and reduce this lacuna. Indeed, some excellent work has been
done on the diplomatic and, by extension, the intelligence operations of early modern states
like England (and later Britain),
the Dutch Republic,
the Ottoman and Austrian
Habsburg empires,
and the dominant Italian states.
While in most of these states intelligence operations were organized by powerful
individuals for the purpose of consolidating political power and control, as this chapter will
show, Venice was emblematic in organizing an intelligence service that was centrally
administered by the government. Indeed, in an exemplary display of political maturity,
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Venice created and systematized one of the world’s earliest centrally organized state
intelligence services. This was responsible for the methodical organization of bureaucracy,
diplomacy, and centralised intelligence that undergirded the city’s commercial and maritime
At the helm of this process was the Council of Ten Venice’s spy chiefs, who,
through an elaborate system of managerial delegation, masterminded and oversaw the
clandestine activities of a great variety of professional and amateur spies and intelligencers.
Utilizing freshly discovered material from the Venetian State Archives and the Vatican
Secret Archives, this chapter will shed light on how the Council of Ten pulled the strings of
Venice’s centrally controlled intelligence operations. A long overdue analysis of the
Council’s centralized administration and corporate-like leadership practices will demonstrate
the effective organization and the masterful system of rigid managerial delegation they
employed in their efforts to administer Venice’s intelligence operations. Subsequently, the
chapter will focus on the Ten’s remarkable ability to engage politically excluded commoners
in politically charged clandestine missions, often with no monetary returns. In doing so, it
will reveal a hitherto unknown facet of Venice’s popular classes. Finally, the last section of
the chapter will offer an evaluation of the Ten’s leadership abilities as Venice’s spy chiefs.
Overall, drawing on sociological theorizations of secrecy and discussions of the
amorphous Myth of Venice the contemporaneous view that the common good triumphed
over private interests in the Venetian Republic this chapter will contend that the Ten’s
efficacy as spy chiefs was due to their effective construction of an exclusive community of
followers sharing a collective identity that was premised on secrecy and, by extension, the
principles of reciprocal confidence and trust. To incentivize participation, the Ten tapped into
the commercial predisposition of Venetians, turning intelligence into a mutually beneficial
transaction between rulers and ruled. Ultimately, to legitimize their actions, they promulgated
the significance of active contribution to the public good. In consequence, this chapter will
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show how the Ten’s leadership practices, ensuing from the heavy institutionalization and
growing bureaucratization that pervaded the politics of Venice in the early modern period
bore remarkable resemblance to both the the ‘transactional’ and ‘transformational’ styles of
contemporary leadership practices.
The Spy Chiefs of Renaissance Venice
Once did she hold the gorgeous east in fee,” wrote the great Romantic William Wordsworth
about Venice.
This is because by the mid-sixteenth century the Republic of Venice had built
a maritime empire with hegemony over the most strategic trade routes to and from the Levant
and the Mediterranean. This territorial supremacy enabled Venice to control the market in
luxury commodities like spices and silk from India and Egypt, which she defended with
religious zeal.
As a result, and due to its strategic geographic position midway between
Habsburg Spain and the Ottoman Levant, Venice gradually metamorphosed into a bustling
emporium of traders, goods, and news.
In fact, Venice, that had the Midas touch, turning
everything she touched into gold, had already turned news into a commodity by the mid-
sixteenth century, with the circulation of one of the world’s earliest newspapers, the gazeta
della novita.
This was a monthly news publication targeted at merchants, informing them of
political events that could interfere with their business pursuits.
It is not accidental,
therefore, that the most famed line from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, “What news
on the Rialto?”, sparks the report of the commercial debacle of an alleged shipwreck.
It is within this commercially charged political setting that Venice’s spy chiefs
engineered its centrally organized state intelligence service. Established in 1310 under Doge
Piero Gradenigo, the Council of Ten was the exclusive committee responsible for state
security. Amongst its jurisdiction were secret affairs, public order, domestic and foreign
policy. The Council was actually made up of seventeen men, including the ten ordinary
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members, six ducal councillors, and the Doge at its head. Every month three members took
turns at heading the Ten’s operations. They were called Capi, the heads of the Ten.
Initially, the Ten were tasked with protecting the government from overthrow or
corruption. Progressively, however, their powers extended to such a degree that, by the mid-
fifteenth century, they encompassed Venice’s diplomatic and intelligence operations, military
affairs, and other legal matters of state security. Such weighty responsibilities, so central to
the city’s governance, merited a prominent place in the city’s topography. The Ten, therefore,
were housed in one of the most impressive state intelligence headquarters of the early modern
(and admittedly, even the modern) world, the Ducal Palace, overlooking the Venetian lagoon
in Saint Mark’s Square. Therein the Ten organized and administered the world’s earliest state
intelligence service. In a way, this resembled a kind of proto-modern public sector
organization that operated with remarkable maturity. Its organizational structure comprised
several departments, including operations, science and technology, and analysis, among
This service was also supported by several other state departments, including the
Senate, the Colleggio (an executive branch of the government), and the office of state
attorneys (Avogaria di Comun).
Gradually, the Ten, together with the Collegio, assumed almost complete control of the
This, inexorably, gave them the bad name of being authoritarian. Indeed, the
autocratic way in which the Ten wielded their power tarnished their reputation. Their
infamous eruptions were committed to ink by several contemporaneous chroniclers, such as
the inveterate diarist Marino Sanudo. This Council imposes banishment and exile upon
nobles, and has others burnt or hanged if they deserve it, and has authority to dismiss the
Prince, even to do other things to him if he so deserves, he once wrote in his account of
Venice’s quotidian existence.
The Ten’s alleged authoritarianism stemmed out of respect
for two fundamental Venetian values: order that was achieved by secrecy; and maturity that
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was guaranteed by gerontocracy. Both these virtues were deemed paramount for state
It is not a coincidence, therefore, that the Ten’s stringent regulations did not
exclude the Council’s members. As the responsible body for state security, if they failed to
act speedily on issues that imperilled it, they became liable to a 1000-ducat fine.
In a way, the Ten seemed to espouse Machiavelli’s maxim that a prince must not
worry if he incurs reproach for his cruelty, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal.
By making an example or two, he will prove more compassionate than those who, being too
compassionate, allow disorders which lead to murder and rapine.”
Yet, their authoritarian
tendencies were not left uncontrolled. The extraordinary maturity of the Venetian political
system endeavoured to contain any potential autocracy, at least in principle. The institution of
the zonta (the Venetian linguistic variation of aggiunta or addizione, meaning addition)
was the mechanism put in place for that purpose. The zonta was an adjunct commission of
fifteen men participating in all important assemblies of the Council of Ten. Either elected or
co-opted, they played the role of an arbitrary referee, whose duty was to recognise and
combat instances of nepotism and cronyism. It was usually made up of patricians who had
not secured election to the other exclusive governing bodies. The zonta, therefore, was a
“constitutional shortcut”, for those noblemen who wished to actively participate in Venetian
oligarchy but had not accumulated the necessary backing.
By the beginning of the sixteenth century several significant state affairs, like the
ongoing war with the Ottomans and the specter of the new Portuguese spice route, rendered
the protection of state secrets a matter of urgency. As a result, in 1539 the Council of Ten,
with the blessing of the Senate and the Great Council (the assembly of the Venetian
aristocracy), decided to establish a counter-intelligence authority. This took shape in the
institution of the Inquisitors of the State.
Initially entitled Inquisitors against the
Disclosures of Secrets, the State Inquisitors were a special magistracy made up of three men,
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two from the ranks of the Ten and one ducal counsellor.
While they were primarily
responsible for counter-intelligence and the protection of state secrets, gradually their activity
encompassed all aspects of state security, including conspiracies, betrayals, public order, and
All these were expected to be concealed under a thick mantle of secrecy.
Secrecy, a State Virtue
Secrecy was one of the most potent virtues promulgated by the Ten. This is because, to them,
it epitomized harmony and civic concord.
In a miniature island of 150,000 inhabitants,
rumors and fabrications, especially those exposing conflict and dispute, were precarious for
domestic security. They, thus, ought to be concealed at all costs.
As such, Venetian
patricians who made part of governmental councils were forbidden by law to reveal any
disputes or debates arising during assemblies. Disobedience was punishable by death and the
subsequent confiscation of all personal possessions.
This stringent legislation made up for
the lack of a royal court, where sensitive information could be confined and safeguarded. In
practice, however, secrecy was far from achieved in Venice. In a city so frenzied with news,
chatter circulated through the maze of Venice’s canals and labyrinthine streets at a great
Ironically, while the Venetian ruling class were ordered to keep quiet, the Venetian
ruled were urged to speak up. In consequence, gathering and divulging information that
pertained to state security was considered an act of good citizenship. If citizens became aware
of potential threats to the stability of the state, they were urged to inform the authorities
through formal denunciations. These were to be left in any public place, including churches,
the stairs of state buildings, even the doorsteps of government officials. These denunciations
were treated with utmost solemnity by the Ten.
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To facilitate this process of state control, by the late sixteenth century the authorities
had invented the pre-modern version of surveillance cameras, the infamous bocche di leone.
Sculpted in the shape of lions’ mouths as their name indicates - and resembling carved
carnival masks, these were post-boxes in whose orifice denizens were invited to deposit
denunciations on any issue of public order and security. Venetians took to this “I spy with my
little eye” pastime with unfaltering zeal and they even paid for the services of professional
scribes, as the documents’ immaculate penmanship reveals.
This had tragicomic
implications, as the inveterate informers could not see a distinction between major and minor
threats. As a result, a blizzard of worthless reports flooded the Ducal Palace on a daily basis.
To contain their frequency, in 1542 the government passed on a law whereby, to be valid, all
anonymous denunciations had to be signed by three witnesses.
This impediment did not have the intended effect and the craze for this tell-tale game
assumed immeasurable proportions and lasted until the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797.
This is because the authorities were eager to reward worthy revelations.
As a result, the city
turned into what can be perceived as a “Big Brother” studio, where nothing escaped the ears
and eyes of the numerous self-proclaimed spooks.
These penetrated all social circles and
reported on anyone and anything that could pose threats, from gamblers and suspicious
foreigners to potential heretics and foreign ambassadors.
A well-known victim of such
shenanigans was the infamous Venetian womaniser Giacomo Casanova. In 1755, aged thirty,
Casanova was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in the Ducal Palace’s piombe, the
chilling cells reserved for political criminals. His conviction was a result of several
denunciations by aggrieved husbands, zealous religious devotees, and righteous city-
His crimes can be summed up as insatiable promiscuity, sensationalist religious
sophistries, and a libertine lifestyle, all of which were deemed threatening to state security.
Ironically, Casanova’s impish disposition that led to his spectacular prison escape in just
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over a year after his capture did not only set him on the path to stardom but also to the
Venetian authorities’ payroll as a professional secret agent.
The interested reader can seek
his multi-printed Histoire de ma fuite (Story of my Flight) for the enthralling details of this
Central Intelligence Administration and Corporate-like Leadership
So, how did the Council of Ten and its subordinate body, the Inquisitors of the State, manage
to collect the intelligence necessary for the Venetian state’s domestic and foreign security?
This became possible through the spies and informants they employed. Before getting
acquainted with these information procurers, it is important to contextualize intelligence in
the early modern period. What exactly was intelligence at that time? Was it a state affair or a
private initiative? A professional service or a civic duty? An act of institutional loyalty or
financial need? In early modern Venice, intelligence was all of the above. For Venetians, the
word intelligentia meant “communication” or “understanding”. Within the context of state
security, it indicated any kind of information of a political, economic, social, or cultural
nature that was worthy of evaluation and potential action by the government. But how did
information arrive at the Venetian intelligence headquarters?
The Council of Ten was, indeed, responsible for the central administration of
intelligence gathering and espionage in Venice. To this end, the Ten masterminded and
oversaw a composite network of professional and amateur informers that branched out into
three key communication channels: the professional channel, composed of the formally
appointed diplomats and state servants; the mercantile channel, made up of Venetian
merchants stationed in commercial hubs of strategic significance, like the territories of the
and the amateur channel, whereby individuals at all levels of society, either
anonymously or disclosing their identity, for a fee or gratis, gathered and disclosed
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information pertaining to the security of the state. To be sure, disentangling rumors and
fabrications from hard facts was not an easy task. Yet, the complex existence of these
channels enabled the systematic evaluation of information through a process of comparing
and contrasting.
Depending on the channel, a plethora of formal or informal spies and
informers were recruited for intelligence purposes.
The professional communication channel
“An ambassador,” once wrote Henry Wotton, is an honest man, sent to lie abroad for the
good of his country.”
The Venetian ambassador, as the official formal representative, was
the most palpable professional informant of all. The gradual systemization of bureaucratic
and administrative processes in the early modern period owes much to the organized
information networks of embassies. Venetian ambassadors were instrumental in this
Tasked with three primary responsibilities representation, negotiation, and the
collection of information
they had mastered the art of covert communication from early
on. Indeed, Venice was one of the first Italian states to establish resident embassies abroad.
By the sixteenth century Venice had managed to secure permanent representation in all
leading states of early modern Europe and its ambassadors professionalized the act of
clandestine information-gathering and reportage. They did so through their meticulous
composition and dispatch of detailed intelligence reports that were often written in cipher to
ensure secrecy.
Ambassadors acted as the heads of intelligence operations within the territory of their
jurisdiction. To successfully fulfill their responsibilities, they employed and managed their
own spies and informers. These were paid by a discreet budget, granted to them for “secret
In 1586, for instance, the Venetian ambassador in Spain reported to the State
Inquisitors that he had “recruited” a blue-blooded spy from within the royal Spanish
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entourage. The new recruit’s compensation was in kind, particularly in fine muscat wines, as
his status precluded monetary bribes.
High-class informers from the Spanish court were
quite eclectic in their choice of compensation. In 1576, the Venetian ambassador in Madrid
communicated to the Ten the desire of Antonio Pérez, Philip II’s Secretary of State (who was
just about to fall from grace by being condemned for treason) to acquire a “good old”
painting of Titian’s in exchange for “great benefits” for Venice. The Council unanimously
agreed to disburse 200 ducats for this purpose.
The gift must have born fruit, as two years
later the Ten decided to increase their spending on Titian’s art to 500 ducats, in order to keep
the secretary gratified.
Could any of these rewards be Titian’s The Fall of Man, now at the
The professional communication channel of Venice’s intelligence service was not
solely restricted to formal exchanges between ambassadors and the ruler, as was the case for
the other Italian states.
This channel was so meticulously organized that its highly
sophisticated diplomatic network branched out to officially appointed representatives in the
Venetian-dominated regions of the Balkans and the Mediterranean (the Proveditori); the
Venetian cities of the Italian mainland (the rettori); and in other Mediterranean regions where
there was notable Venetian merchant presence (the consoli) but no formal diplomatic
representation. Intelligence gathering and espionage were considered part of these envoys’
responsibilities. Accordingly, they were expected to recruit and manage their individual spies
and informants.
In July 1533, for instance, while the war with the Ottomans was imminent, the governor
of Zante received direct orders from the Ten to send a “practical and faithful” messenger to
Admiral Andrea Doria, the legendary Genoese condottiere (mercenary commander). During
the first half of the sixteenth century, Doria had been the nemesis of the Ottomans in the
Levant, patrolling the Mediterranean and launching several naval expeditions against the
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Turks and other Barbary corsairs.
It was obvious that the Ten had a top-secret message to
convey to Doria, as the governor was ordered to refrain from written communication with the
messenger, most probably for secrecy purposes. In consequence, he was advised to find an
informant who spoke Turkish or any other language that Doria spoke, in order to forego the
need for an interpreter. If the latter was unavoidable, the governor was instructed not to use a
well-known Genoese translator who was also in the Ottomans’ employ. The Ten expected
reports on the progress of the mission in cipher.
On a similar note, in July 1574 the Ten requested from the rector of the Venetian city of
Brescia the whereabouts of a certain Giulio Sala. Sala was suspected for treasonous dealings
with the Spanish and was believed to have involved his cronies in his machinations. The
Brescian authorities were asked to locate him and ship him off to the prisons of the Ten,
while keeping a close eye on his relatives and acquaintances. They were also ordered to
change all the guards on the city’s gates, most probably suspecting that Sala could have
bribed them in order to escape.
Ordering the alternation of the guards’ shifts, so that they
were constantly placed at different places on the city’s walls and forts, was a common tactic
employed by the Ten to forestall the guards’ collaboration with potential traitors.
Venetian governors were tasked with even more daring clandestine missions. In July
1570, as the Papal representative in Venice reported to Rome, it was made known that the
Ottomans were engineering the seizure of Spalato, a Venetian colony in Dalmatia.
A secret
missive was dispatched to the local governor, containing eight bottles of poison. The lethal
liquid was intended for the contamination of the water supply of the enemies, the advancing
Ottomans. The governor was instructed to be extremely vigilant in his mission, so that the
water quality and, in consequence, the safety of the Christian population living there would
not be compromised.
Indeed, sanitation was one of the Ten’s top domestic security
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Even the Venetian consuls, who were stationed in cities with no permanent diplomatic
representation, were tasked with the provision of vital intelligence.
Consuls were not formal
diplomats but acted as intermediaries between Venetian envoys abroad and the intelligence
headquarters in the Ducal Palace. Thus, on several occasions they oversaw the safe exchange
of letters between the Ten and the designated Venetian diplomat in the region.
responsibilities could also extend to intelligence missions, if deemed necessary by the Ducal
Palace. At the close of the sixteenth century, for example, the consul of Aleppo in Syria
received direct instructions and a sizeable compensation in order to gather information on
Turkish affairs.
All these instances demonstrate that the professional channel of information-gathering
and reportage that the Council of Ten had devised was composite and multifaceted. Yet, the
Ten managed it through a meticulous system of delegation. The Venetian spy chiefs did not
micromanage their underlings. They delegated and expected detailed reports on execution
more often than not in cipher trusting that their appointees would successfully carry out the
job. As the central executive committee, they also oversaw the effective communication of
significant developments to all their delegates who could benefit from the information, not
just the ones directly involved in the events that were being communicated. When a major
diplomatic scandal nearly broke in 1574, for instance, because the French ambassador refused
to surrender a Venetian turncoat who revealed state secrets to the French, communication was
sent not only to the Venetian ambassador in France, but also to the bailo in Constantinople.
The former was instructed to appeal to the King of France for a “more dexterous”
ambassador; the latter was charged with communicating the events to the Sultan, who was
always interested in French affairs.
Finally, in an exemplar of corporate-like leadership, the Venetian spy chiefs were
generous in acknowledging their trust in their underlings. “We are convinced of your utmost
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prudence in assigning this undertaking to a person of trust, as befits such a mission,” they
communicated to the governor of Zante when they asked him to find a messenger for Doria.
“We applaud the manner in which you ‘bought off the soul’ of Feridun Agà, as a person who
can advance our interests in that Porte. And we approve of the manner in which you
presented the affair. You are granted permission to render him your informant,” they wrote to
the bailo.
This corporate-like system of delegation of duties, infused with qualities of trust,
acknowledgement, even reward, set the Venetian intelligence apparatus apart from those of
other Italian states’ intelligence operations. Those were restricted in the direct communication
between rulers and their ambassadors, without the systematized contribution of other
formally appointed intermediaries.
The mercantile communication channel
The intelligence network that the Venetian spy chiefs created with such refinement was not
confined to the diplomatic and political sphere. In a less formal, yet equally meaningful,
manner, Venetian merchants and businessmen, who were frequent travelers in the
Mediterranean and the Levant, comprised the mercantile channel of intelligence-gathering
and reportage. As adroit dealers in goods and news, Venetian merchants were aware of the
value of good (and at times covert) intelligence for competitive advantage.
They thus made
perfect undercover spies for the Venetian authorities. In 1496, for instance, at a time of
diplomatic turbulence between the Ottoman Empire and Venice, the young merchant and
future Doge of Venice Andrea Gritti was residing in Constantinople. In the absence of a
bailo, who had been expelled a few years earlier when he was discovered to spy for the
Gritti took the reins of diplomatic negotiations. In 1497 he convinced the Sultan to
overturn the embargo on grain export that the Ottomans had imposed on Italian merchants in
In 1503 he successfully negotiated the final details of the peace treaty
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between Venice and the Ottoman Empire.
His diplomatic missives to the motherland were
overflowing with intelligence on the size and moves of the Ottoman fleet. To divert suspicion
he coded his dispatches in commercial jargon and presented them as business
communications instead. Once he sent a letter informing the authorities that commercial
goods were arriving in Venice from sea and land. The actual meaning of this report was that
the Ottomans were preparing to attack with their fleet and army.
Constantinople was a strategic hub of both economic and political significance for
Venice. It was not surprising, therefore, that Venetian merchants stationed in the city doubled
as covert informants or spies for the Republic. Leonin Servo, a Venetian subject of Cretan
origins, was a merchant residing in the Ottoman capital. With an impressive network of
connections and knowledge of current affairs, he acted as an informer to the bailo and the
Ten throughout his residence in that city.
In July 1566 he notified the bailo that Ibrahim
Granatin, a favourite of the Grand Vizier (that is, the prime minister of the Sultan) Sokollu
Mehmet Pasha and a foe of Venice, was en route to the city. The news had already reached
Venice a month earlier and had caused uproar amongst the Ten,
who ordered Granatin’s
assassination, as a top-secret priority.
So dexterous was Servo in smuggling covert
communication to Venice that he allegedly hid letters of the bailo Barbaro in hollow canes
and transported them on board his ship.
Overall, even when not always on official covert
missions, Venetian merchants considered it their duty to signal any suspicious manoeuvres of
enemy ships, especially from various areas of the Middle East where they were stationed.
The amateur communication channel
In the early modern period, Venice was a maritime and commercial empire. Unlike other
European states, its ruling class the patricians were first and foremost merchants who
made their living through the exercise of trade. The citizens, the “secondary elite” of
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followed in their footsteps.
And of course, in a city of craftsmen and traders, the
popular masses had been spoon-fed on a steady diet of capitalistic ideals. Within this context,
the business shrewdness of Venice’s spy chiefs devised several ways to benefit from the
personal intelligence-gathering pursuits of all layers of Venetian society.
These even
included individuals of different ethnicities and religions.
Jews made perfect undercover agents for the Ten, due to their disenfranchisement as
people at the margins of society, and their much sought-after professional expertise,
especially in medicine and commerce. In the previous chapter, Emrah Safa Gürkan showed
how the Jewish physician Solomon Ashkenazy smuggled the letters of bailo Barbaro in his
shoes, and shipped them off to Venice, when the bailo was under house arrest.
At around
the same time, in the 1570s, the Jewish merchant Hayyim Saruk from Thessaloniki was
appointed to spy on the affairs, designs and military equipment of the Turks” in
Constantinople. For this purpose he even produced a self-made merchant-style cipher, in
which he coded the Ottomans as “drugs,” people as “money,” and dispatches as “purchases.
His compensation reached the staggering sum of 500 ducats, at a time when the starting
salary of a Venetian cryptanalyst was 50 ducats annually.
Intelligence and espionage did not only pertain to the city’s foreign affairs. Domestic
security was of the utmost importance to the authorities and this domain was overseen by the
State Inquisitors. For this purpose, they maintained contact with distinguished individuals and
well-connected professionals, whom they formally put on the payroll at times. Lawyers and
notaries, who had direct access to their clients’ private affairs, made up part of this group. In
1616, for instance, a lawyer boastfully told the Inquisitors that “lawyers have the occasion of
hearing many of their clients’ private affairs and, when a gentleman hears something
concerning the interest of the state, he must at all costs let your Excellencies know about it.”
Of course, when the opportunity arose to fill their pockets, some of these gentlemen did not
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hesitate to leak information to the Spanish and French ambassadors, whose purse strings
always became loose at the prospect of valuable information.
At times, the services of these
specialist agents extended to duties more daring than the supply of information. In 1574, for
instance, the Professor of Botany at the University of Padua was entrusted with the
production of a deadly poison that was intended for a villainous Ottoman spy. When he
botched the job, the Ten appointed a physician to carry out the task.
More impressively, commoners of various backgrounds and occupations were directly
or indirectly urged to take part in the Republic’s clandestine missions. Residents in Venetian
subject territories were amongst the most sought-after informants due to their local savoir
faire. In November 1570, on the eve of the war with the Turks, the mission of the Cypriot
Manoli Soriano involved attacking the Ottoman settlements in the town of Skradin (situated
in modern Croatia) and setting fire to the Ottoman fleet stationed in the eastern Adriatic.
The authorities rewarded brazen acts in a variety of ways. Banished criminals, for example,
were granted the revocation of their sentence in exchange for taking part in intelligence
operations. To successfully carry out his daring mission, Soriano requested a squadron of 300
men. As several of them were expected to be exiled convicts, the condition set was that, upon
completion of the operation, their banishment would be revoked.
As this commodification of intelligence gradually grew roots in Venice,
the practice
of banished felons turning to secret agents for their freedom intensified. A striking example,
in a more advanced era, is, once again, the serial seducer Giacomo Casanova. Owing to his
spectacular escape from the ducal penitentiary and the countless connections his dissolute
lifestyle had yielded, Casanova managed to get headhunted by the State Inquisitors. In
consequence, for nearly twenty years after his daring exodus from the city that subsequently
ostracized him, when in need of cash, Casanova offered his services to the Republic as a
“secret agent, hoping for a revocation of his eviction.
For this purpose, he kept his eyes on
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anyone or anything that could be deemed mildly suspicious. It took him quite some time to
find a target until, in 1770, he voluntarily exposed and halted the illegal operation of an
Armenian printing house in Trieste that was competing with its Venetian counterpart. This
was his golden ticket back to Venice.
Leadership, Identity and the Myth of Venice
It is evident that Venice created an extremely efficient state intelligence apparatus that
operated like a public sector organization. Notable for evolving processes of
institutionalisation and bureaucratisation this organisation was steered by the Council of Ten,
who acted as the chief executives. The rigid management processes and central
administration of the Venetian intelligence service rendered it unique, in comparison to those
of other contemporaneous Italian and European states. These primarily consisted of the
systematic communication between the ruler and his ambassadors, in the case of the former,
or were organized by prominent individuals for personal advancement, in the case of the
In a striking demonstration of organizational maturity, the Ten created a seamless
system of managerial delegation that branched out into three communication channels, the
professional, the mercantile, and the amateur. While it is easier to understand how the Ten
managed their formally appointed delegates who made up the professional channel of
communication the ambassadors, the governors, and other state officials what is striking
is their ability to recruit and direct a large number of informally appointed spies and
intelligencers from the ranks of Venice’s mercantile community and the wider public. A key
question begs asking here. How did the Ten get the public to co-operate in their state security
pursuits, even when monetary returns were not guaranteed?
A non-essentialist definition of leadership implies persuading the collective to take
responsibility for complex collective problems.
This accomplishment presupposes that the
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collective has accepted its position as the followers and is receptive to being led by the
leader. Leaders, thus, cannot exist in isolation without a group of followers. In other words, a
leader’s authority is sanctioned by the followers identification and self-acceptance as
followers. Based on this definition, leadership is premised on two prerequisites: the creation
of a group that followers can feel part of and wittingly situate themselves in;
and the
mobilization of that group to proceed to certain actions that the leader deems necessary.
effect, leadership presupposes the social construction of the context that legitimizes a
particular action by a group at a specific point in time.
Using this definition, how can we
evaluate the Ten’s leadership?
Let us start with the first prerequisite, the creation of a group of followers. The
foundation of any collective is rooted in a socially constructed, shared identity. Identity is not
a rigid entity but a social, contingent, discursive and dynamic phenomenon.”
It is
predicated upon the creation of a me or us and a them,
which, by extension, erects social
and cognitive boundaries between insiders and outsiders.
It is the responsibility of the
leader to engineer the construction of such identity that potential followers can share in order
to become part of the intended group.
This is because only through creating a shared
identity can a leader construct the group of followers that will advance intended strategies.
Were the Venetian spy chiefs successful in creating such a group?
Intelligence, as a social process, presupposes secrecy, one of the Ten’s most revered
virtues. Secrecy, as per its sociological theorizations, is instrumental in identity
This is because it enables the creation of the boundary between two separate
entities, us in the know and the ignorant others. The exclusivity of being in the know,
compared to the ignorant others, can boost the sense of distinctive inclusiveness in a group
and, by extension, cement one’s identification with it.
Additionally, the social aspect of
secrecy, that requires and promotes the conscious awareness of the group, due to the intention
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of concealment and boundary construction, can enhance the process of group identity
The sense of belonging that ensues can potentially augment the need to protect
and perpetuate secrecy, so as to maintain the group. Secrecy, therefore, creates a dynamic and
on-going relationship between its agents and becomes both the condition and the
consequence of the formation of group identity.
By actively inviting ordinary Venetians to
take part in clandestine communication even in informal ways, the Ten created an exclusive
group of people whose common identity was premised on secrecy and, by extension, the
principles of reciprocal confidence and trust.
This interpretation of the Ten’s leadership challenges the conventional appreciation of
early modern commoners as either devoid of political consciousness or rebellious against the
state, owing to their exclusion from political participation.
In Venice a whole body of
contemporaneous celebratory literature attributed the city’s unique internal stability to the
political exclusion of the commoners.
Even the guilds and their representatives were
offered no political outlet and were closely monitored by the authorities.
Still, are not
anonymous denunciations and voluntary or even casual salaried intelligence missions
politicized (if not political) acts? What made people who were excluded from politics engage
willingly and more often than not gratis in such pursuits, even at their own expense at
times? In other words, how did the Venetian spy chiefs legitimize the necessary actions the
second prerequisite of leadership required to advance their strategies?
“Identity”, claims one of the most eminent leadership literati, “is constructed out of the
amorphous baggage of myth and the contested resources of history.”
Thus, to successfully
instigate the construction of an identity that followers can share, the leader’s job is to create a
shared vision for the present and the future and the socio-political conditions that necessitate
and legitimize the followers’ action in order to achieve the intended vision. The Ten’s
exhortations, that still survive en masse in the Venetian State Archives, reverberated the
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state’s unfaltering preoccupation with prioritizing the servizio publico, the public good, that
was the mainstay of Venice’s security and serenity. Their bombast that is evident in nearly
every document they produced, from secret reports to public proclamations declared
everyone’s obligation to support the state’s efforts to uphold that vision of public good
prevailing over any private profit. Remarkably, the commoners’ reports and denunciations
echoed similar sentiments of “the obligation of my loyalty” to the state.
This halcyon image of communal serenity triumphing over private interests and
discrepancies was the essence of the infamous Myth of Venice.
Much as
historiographical debates over the validity of the Myth of Venice are beyond the scope of
this chapter, Venetian history abounds with instances of “community spirit” instigating action
for the purpose of the “common good”.
Empowering followers to pursue the leader’s
intended vision through the creation of a collective sense of identity is the essence of
‘transformational’ leadership.
In effect, transformational leaders have the ability to inspire
and motivate their followers to act for a shared vision. It seems like the Ten were quite adept
at this style of leadership. But how did they manage to persuade Venetians to contribute to
the collective good through their formal or informal involvement in clandestine
To incentivize co-operation, the authorities masterfully mobilized the quintessential
Venetian activity, trade. In a state where political and diplomatic activities influenced
successful commercial transactions and vice versa, intelligence was turned into a trade of
information for reciprocal benefits. In essence, espionage became a transaction between
followers and leaders, whereby the former expected some kind of benefit in return for
services rendered, while the latter advanced strategic objectives through such services.
Enshrined in this commodification of intelligence, ordinary Venetians, who were excluded
from political participation, developed a political purpose within the state, one that was
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masked in the form of business.
In a way, the Ten employed what in contemporary
leadership parlance would be called a transactional leadership style, whereby the leader
exchanges favours and tangible rewards for services rendered by the followers.
Had all this taken place in a more advanced era, this commercial make-up of early
modern Venice could easily have Benjamin Franklin snub it as no longer a Nation, but a
great Shop.”
Adam Smith could have fallen into the trap of misperceiving it as a state of
shopkeepers or, more precisely, a state whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.”
Yet Venetians were not altogether devoid of sensitivity towards state security nor were they
enticed solely by the lure of rewards. As recent scholarship has shown, ordinary Venetians
saw it as incumbent on themselves to contribute to the common good. This predisposition
stemmed from their communal sense of pride that was partly rooted in their commonly
developed professional identity.
The systematic organization of the Venetian workforce
into guilds facilitated this process.
In fact, the government was notorious for inducing
certain professional groups to perform particular tasks by presenting them as the privilege of
service to the state.
In the same way, the Ten presented the need for intelligence as the
privilege of contribution to the security and posterity of the Serenissima, the most serene of
states. Accordingly, reporting on anything that could pose a threat to the state, including the
minutiae of daily life, became a symbol of dutiful contribution to the community. Indeed, a
Venetian subject was made to feel obligated “to dedicate his everything, even his life” to the
The Myth of Venice was in full swing.
While the Myth of Venice was merely a compelling narrative of the Zeitgeist
intended to legitimize the Venetians’ cooperation in clandestine activities, it also reflects the
Ten’s feat to smoothly wield different styles of leadership; the transformational style, though
which they inspired their followers to take action; and the transactional style, whereby they
offered favours and tangible benefits in exchange for public service. In essence, the Ten’s
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followers were made to feel like an indispensable part of a state apparatus that operated for
the public benefit, the preservation of the glorious Venice of the past and the future, a
bustling emporium of commodities, prospering by its people for its people. In a sense, the
“Myth of Venice” was in full swing.
This rather idolized portrayal of the Ten’s leadership is by no means the whole picture.
It is doubtful that they or their delegates thought of any myth when going about their daily
business. Their intention was not to construct a myth but to create what generated it, a
community spirit that guided people’s actions towards the common good. If this intention
developed into the conception of a myth, this is a different story. Even so, the quintessential
discussion of Venice’s myth is unavoidable, as inevitably, whoever writes the history of
Venice seems condemned to write the history of its myths.”
In a way, the myth is to the
historian of Venice what the bocca di leone is to the visitor to this remarkable city: an
indispensable prop in the phantasmagoria of Venice through the centuries.
A version of this chapter was presented at the Social History Society Conference, Lancaster, March 2016. I
would like to thank the conference delegates, especially Matthew Pawelski, for their insightful comments,
remarks, and suggestions. I am particularly grateful to Filippo De Vivo, Jola Pellumbi, Anna Gialdini, Emra
Safa Gürkan, and Paul Maddrell for their constructive criticism and feedback.
Letter to the Doge of Venice and the Heads of the Council of Ten by Romulo Roma, Archivio di Stato di
Venezia (hereafter ASV), Capi del Consiglio dei Dieci (hereafter CCX), Lettere Secrete, Filza (hereafter f.) 10
(7 July 1583).
The bibliography on this topic is vast. For an overview, see Philip Knightley, The Second Oldest Profession:
Spies and Spying in the Twentieth Century (London: Deutsch, 1987). Especially for Britain, see Christopher R.
Moran, “The Pursuit of Intelligence History: Methods, Sources, and Trajectories in the United Kingdom,”
Studies in Intelligence 55 (2011): 33-55.
Mildred G. Richings, The Story of the Secret Service of the English Crown (London: Hutchinson, 1935); Peter
Fraser, The Intelligence of the Secretaries of State and their Monopoly of Licensed News (Cambridge:
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Cambridge University Press, 1956); Richard Deacon, A History of the British Secret Service (London: Panther
Books, 1990), 16-22; Alan Marshall, Intelligence and Espionage in the Reign of Charles II, 16601685
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Paul S. Fritz, “The Anti-Jacobite Intelligence System of the
English Ministers, 1715–1745,” Historical Journal 16 (1973): 265-289; Roger Kaplan, “The Hidden War:
British Intelligence Operations during the American Revolution,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 47
(1990): 115-138.
Lucien Bély, Espions et Ambassadeurs au Temps de Louis XIV (Paris: Fayard, 1990).
Karl De Leeuw, “The Black Chamber in the Dutch Republic during the War of the Spanish Succession and its
Aftermath, 1707–1715,” Historical Journal 42 (1999): 133-156.
Emrah Safa Gürkan, “Espionage in the 16th Century Mediterranean: Secrecy, Diplomacy, Mediterranean Go-
betweens and the Ottoman Habsburg Rivalry” (PhD diss, Georgetown University, 2012).
Fernando Cortés Cortés, Espionagem e Contra-Espionagem numa Guerra Peninsular 16401668 (Lisbon:
Livros Horizonte, 1989).
Carlos J. Carnicer Garcia and Javier Marcos Rivas, Espias de Felipe II: Los Servicios Secretos del Imperio
Español (Madrid: La esfera de los libros, 2005); Geoffrey Parker, The Grand Strategy of Philip II (New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1998). For an overview of the literature, see Christopher Storrs, “Intelligence and the
Formulation of Policy and Strategy in Early Modern Europe: The Spanish Monarchy in the Reign of Charles II
(1665-1700),” Intelligence and National Security 21 (2006): 493-519.
On Venice, see Paolo Preto, I Servizi Segreti di Venezia: Spionaggio e Controspionaggio ai Tempi della
Serenissima (Milan: Il Saggiatore, 1994); Ioanna Iordanou, “What News on the Rialto? The Trade of
Information and the Early Modern Venice’s Centralised Intelligence Organisation,” Intelligence and National
Security 31 (2016): 305-326; on Venice and Genoa, see Romano Canosa, Alle Origini delle Polizie Politiche:
Gli Inquisitori di Stato a Venezia e a Genova (Milano: Sugarco, 1989); on Savoy, see Christopher Storrs, War,
Diplomacy and the Rise of Savoy, 16901720 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); on Milan, see
Francesco Senatore, “Uno Mundo de Carta”: Forme e Strutture della Diplomazia Sforzesca (Naples: Liguori,
1998); on the Italian states in general, see the relevant essays in Daniela Frigo, ed., Politics and Diplomacy in
Early Modern Italy: The Structure of Diplomatic Practice, 14501800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2000).
Iordanou, “What News on the Rialto?”
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William Wordsworth, “On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic,” in The Poetical Works of William
Wordsworth, vol. III (London: Edward Moxon, 1836), 180. On the economy of sixteenth-century Venice, see
Gino Luzzatto, Storia Economica di Venezia dall’XI al XVI Secolo (Venice: Centro Internazionale delle Arti e
del Costume, 1961); Frederic C. Lane, Venice, a Maritime Republic (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 1973); Paola Lanaro, ed., At the Centre of the Old World: Trade and Manufacturing in Venice and on the
Venetian Mainland (1400-1800) (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2006).
Lane, Venice.
On news in Venice, see Pierre Sardella, Nouvelles et Spéculations à Venise au Début du XVIe Siècle (Paris:
Colin, 1947). On Venice as a centre of news, see Peter Burke, “Early Modern Venice as a Center of Information
and Communication,” in Venice Reconsidered: The History and Civilization of an Italian City-State, 1297
1797, ed. John Martin and Dennis Romano (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 389-419.
See Mario Infelise, Prima dei Giornali. Alle origini della pubblica informazione (secoli XVI e XVII) (Bari:
Laterza, 2005).
Brian Winston, Messages: Free Expression, Media and the West from Gutenberg to Google (London:
Routledge, 2005), 31.
On the Council of Ten, see Robert Finlay, Politics in Renaissance Venice (London: Ernst Benn, 1980).
Iordanou, “What News on the Rialto?”
Finlay, Politics, 189.
David Chambers and Brian Pullan, eds., Venice: A Documentary History (London: University of Toronto
Press, 1992), 55.
Finlay, Politics, 189.
Samuele Romanin, Storia Documentata di Venezia (Venice: Pietro Naratovich, 1857-61), vol. VI, 523-533.
Niccolò Macchiavelli, The Prince, trans. George Bull (London: Penguin, 1999), 53.
Finlay, Politics, 187, 189. On the zonta, see ibid., 185-190.
Samuele Romanin, Gli Inquisitori di Stato di Venezia (Venice: Pietro Naratovich, 1858 ), 4.
Ibid., 16.
For a balanced analysis of the Inquisitors of the State, especially in the seventeenth century, see Simone
Lonardi, “L’anima dei governi. Politica, spionaggio e segreto di Stato a Venezia nel secondo Seicento
(1645-1699)” (PhD diss, University of Padua, 2016).
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Filippo De Vivo, Information and Communication in Venice: Rethinking Early Modern Politics (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2007), 43.
On the population of Venice, see Andrea Zannini, “Un Censimento del Primo Seicento e la Crisi Demografica
ed Economica di Venezia,” Studi Veneziani 26 (1993): 87-116.
De Vivo, Information, 43.
Romanin, Storia Documentata di Venezia, 138; see also, ASV, Consiglio dei Dieci (hereafter CX), Parti
Secrete, Registro (hereafter Reg.). 3, cc. 2 recto/verso (hereafter r./v.) (3 March 1529).
See, for instance, ASV, CX, Parti Secrete, Reg. 19, c.115v. (30 March 1644). On the bocche, see Paolo Preto,
Persona Per Ora Secreta: Accusa e Relazione nella Repubblica di Venezia (Milan: Il Saggiatore, 2003).
See, for instance, ASV, CCX, Lettere Secrete, f. 10 (3 July 1583).
ASV, CX, Parti Comuni, Reg. 15, c.54v. (30 Aug. 1542).
Iordanou, “What News on the Rialto?”
Paolo Preto, “Giacomo Casanova and the Venetian Inquisitors: A Domestic Espionage System in Eighteenth-
century Europe,” in The Dangerous Trade: Spies, Spymasters and the Making of Europe, ed. Daniel Szechi
(Dundee: Dundee University Press, 2010), 142.
Ibid., 144-145.
Ibid., 146-147.
See ibid.
Casanova first published his Histoire de ma fuite des prisons de la République de Venise qu'on appele les
Plombs in 1788 in Prague, according to Charles Klopp, Sentences: The Memoirs and Letters of Italian Political
Prisoners from Benvenuto Cellini to Aldo Moro (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999), 29.
On the challenges of identifying and examining this body of documentation, see Richard Mackenney, “Letters
from the Venetian Archive,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 72 (1999): 133-144.
Gürkan, “Espionage,” 39-40.
Logan Pearsall Smith, Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton, vol. I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1904), 47.
Béatrice Perez, ed., Ambassadeurs, Apprentis Espions et Maîtres Comploteurs: Les Systèmes de
Renseignement en Espagne à l'époque Moderne (Paris: PU Paris-Sorbonne, 2010).
Isabella Lazzarini, “Renaissance Diplomacy,” in The Italian Renaissance State, eds. Andrea Gamberini and
Isabella Lazzarini (Cambridge: Cambdirgde University Press, 2012), 425-443.
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Garett Mattingly, “The First Resident Embassies: Medieval Italian Origins of Modern Diplomacy,” Speculum
XII (1937): 423-439; idem, Renaissance Diplomacy (London: Jonathan Cape, 1955); Donald E. Queller, Early
Venetian Legislation on Ambassadors (Geneva: Droz, 1966). For a recent review of Italian diplomacy in the
Renaissance, see Isabella Lazzarini, Communication and Conflict: Italian Diplomacy in the Early Renaissance,
1350-1520 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).
See, for instance, ASV, CX, Parti Secrete, Reg. 14, cc. 1v., 22r., 25v. (22 March 1596; 5 Sep. and 16 Dec.
ASV, Inquisitori di Stato (hereafter IS), busta (hereafter b.) 483 (1 Sep. 1586.)
ASV, CX, Parti Secrete, Reg. 11, cc. 83r./v. (14 Feb 1575 more veneto, hereafter m.v. Nb. The expression
“more veneto” indicates that the Venetian calendar started on March 1st. All dates in this article follow that
Ibid., cc. 155v. (4 Apr. 1578).
It is not certain how this painting became part of Pérez’s impressive collection. See Angela Delaforce, “The
Collection of Antonio Pérez, Secretary of State to Philip II,” The Burlington Magazine 124 (1982): 746.
Senatore, “Uno Mundo de Carta”; Frigo, “‘Small States’ and Diplomacy: Mantua and Modena”, in Politics
and Diplomacy in Early Modern Italy: The Structure of Diplomatic Practice, 14501800, ed. Daniela Frigo
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 147-175.
On Doria, see Francesco D. Guerrazzi, Vita di Andrea Doria, 2 vols. (Milan: Guigoni, 1864).
ASV, CX, Parti Secrete, Reg. 4, cc. 14r./v. (21 July 1533).
Ibid., Reg. 11, cc. 17r./v. (1 July 1574).
Ibid., Reg. 14, c. 10r. (29 Dec. 1596).
Archivio Segreto Vaticano (ASVat), Nunziatura Venezia, in Microfilmotecca Fondazine Giorgio Cini,
Dispacci del Nunzio a Venezia alla Segreteria di Stato, Filza 8, c. 12r. (15 July 1570).
ASV, CCX, Lettere Secrete, f. 7 (21 Aug. 1570).
Preto, I Servizi Segreti, 208.
ASV, CCX, Lettere Secrete, f. 10 (27 March 1579).
ASV, CCX, Lettere di Rettori et di Altre Carriche, b. 255 (3 Jan. 1584 m.v.)
ASV, CX, Parti Secrete, Reg. 5., cc.73r.-75r. (22 Aug. 1542).
Ibid., Reg. 4, cc. 14r./v. (21 July 1533).
Ibid., Reg. 11, c. 45r./v. (26 Jan. 1574 m.v.).
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Senatore, “Uno Mundo de Carta”; Frigo, “Small States.”
Andrea Barbarigo for instance, the famous fifteenth century Venetian merchant, went so far as to create a
cipher for his confidential communication with his agent in the Levant. This can be found in ASV, Archivio
Grimani-Barbarigo, b. 41, Reg. 1, c.158r. On Barbarigo, see Frederic C. Lane, Andrea Barbarigo: Merchant of
Venice, 1418-1449 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1944).
James C. Davis, “Shipping and Spying in the Early Career of a Venetian Doge, 1496 -1502,” Studi Veneziani
XVI (1974): 97-108.
Marino Sanudo, I Diarii. ed. Rinaldo Fulin, Federico Stefani, Nicolò Barozzi, Guglielmo Berchet, Marco
Allegri (Venice: F. Visntini, 1879-1903), vol. I, 508.
Lane, Venice.
Davis, “Shipping,” 101-102.
On Servo, see Christos Apostolopoulous, “Λεονίνος Σέρβος: Ένας Πολυπράγμων Χανιώτης Έμπορος του
16ου Αιώνα στην Κωνσταντινούπολη [Leonino Servo: Mercante Facendiere Caniota a Costantinopoli
Cinquecentesca],” Ανθή Χαρίτων 18 (1998): 9-27.
The bailo had written on June 21st. See, ASV, CCX, Dispacci Ambasciatori, b. 3 (21 June 1566); ASV, CX,
Parti Secrete, Reg. 8, cc.63r./v. (13 July 1566)
Ibid., c.64v (23 July 1566).
Apostolopoulos, “Λεονίνος Σέρβος,” 19.
Preto, I Servizi Segreti, 248-250.
Chambers and Pullan, Venice, 261.
On Venetian patricians and citizens, see Dennis Romano, Patricians and Popolani: the Social Foundations of
the Venetian Renaissance State (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987).
Hans J. Kissling, “Venezia come centro di informazione sui Turchi,” in Venezia Centro di Mediazione fra
Oriente e Occidente (sec. XV-XVI): Aspetti e Problemi, vol. I, ed. Hans G. Beck, Manoussos Manoussakas, and
Agostino Pertusi (Florence: L. S. Olschki, 1977): 97-109.
Benjamin Arbel, Trading Nations: Jews and Venetians in the Early Modern Eastern Mediterranean (New
York: Brill, 1995), 77. The Bailo’s letter to the Heads of the Council of Ten informing them of this can be found
in ASV, CCX, Dispacci Ambasciatori, b. 3 (23 Jan. 1570 m.v.).
ASV, CX, Parti Secrete, f. 15, (23 Nov.; 30 Dec. 1571); ibid., Reg. 19, cc. 18r./v. (14 July 1636). On Saruk,
see Arbel, Trading Nations, especially chs. 6 and 7.
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Quoted in De Vivo, Information, 78.
ASV, CX, Parti Secrete, Reg. 11, cc. 32v.-33r.; 35v. (6, 10, 24 Oct. 1574).
ASV, CCX, Lettere Secrete, f. 7 (25 Nov. 1570).
On the commodification of intelligence in early modern Venice, see Iordanou. “What News on the Rialto?”
His reports to the State Inquisitors can be found in ASV, IS, b. 565.
Preto, “Giacomo Casanova,”149.
Senatore, “Uno Mundo de Carta”; Frigo, “Small States.”
See, for instance, James Cooper, The Queen's Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I
(London: Faber and Faber, 2011); Alan Haynes, Walsingham: Elizabethan Spymaster and Statesman (Stroud:
Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2004); Jacob Soll, The Information Master: Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s Secret State
Intelligence System (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2009).
Keith Grint, “The Cuckoo Clock Syndrome: Addicted to Command, Allergic to Leadership,” European
Management Journal 28 (2010): 307.
Idem, The Arts of Leadership (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 6-7.
Idem, “Problems, Problems, Problems: The Social Construction of Leadership,” Human Relations 58 (2005):
Ibid., 1470-71.
Jana Costas and Christopher Grey, “Bringing Secrecy into the Open: Towards a Theorization of the Social
Processes of Organizational Secrecy,” Organization Studies 35 (2014): 26.
Ibid., 27.
Harold Behr, “Special Section: Secrecy and Confidentiality in Groups,” Group Analysis 39 (2006): 356-365.
Idem, The Arts, 7.
Richard Jenkins, Social Identities (London: Routledge, 1996), 25.
Georg Simmel, “The Secret and the Secret Society,” in The Sociology of Georg Simmel, ed./trans. Kurt H.
Wolff (Chicago, IL: The Free Press, 1906/1950).
See Simmel, “The Secret”, 497; Blake E. Ashforth and Fred Mael, “Social Identity Theory and the
Organization,” Academy of Management Review 14 (1989): 20-39.
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Mats Alvesson, Karen L. Ashcraft, and Robyn Thomas, “Identity Matters: Reflections on the Constructions
of Identity Scholarship in Organization Studies,” Organization 15 (2008): 5-28; Sierk Ybema, S., Tom Keenoy,
Cliff Oswick, and Armin Beverungen, “Articulating Identities,” Human Relations 62 (2009): 299322.
Costas and Grey, “Bringing Secrecy”, 3.
Sissela Bok, Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation (New York: Vantage Books, 1989), 121.
See Romano, Patricians and Popolani.
De Vivo, Information, 44.
On the guilds of Venice, see Richard Mackenney, Tradesmen and Traders: The World of the Guilds in
Venice and Europe, c. 1250 c. 1650 (London: Croom Helm, 1987); idem, “Guilds and Guildsmen in Sixteenth
Century Venice,” Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies 2 (1984): 7-18; Francesca Trivellato, “Guilds,
Technology, and Economic Change in Early Modern Venice,” in Guilds, Innovation and the European
Economy, 1500-1800, ed. Stephan R. Epstein and Maarten Prak (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2008), 199-231.
Ibid., 27.
ASV, CCX, Lettere Secrete, f. 11 (March 1597).
On the “Myth of Venice”, see James S. Grubb, “When Myths Love Power: Four Decades of Venetian
Historiography,” Journal of Modern History 58 (1986): 43-94; Elizabeth Crouzet-Pavan, “Towards an
Ecological Understanding of the Myth of Venice,” in Venice Reconsidered: The History and Civilization of an
Italian City-state, 1297-1797, ed. John Martin and Dennis Romano (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 2000), 39-64.
Crouzet-Pavan, “An Ecological Understanding,” 57.
On a general overview of transformational leadership, see the classic James MacGregor Burns, Leadership
(New York: Harper and Row, 1978), especially Part III (Burns uses the term ‘transforming’ leadership). On the
link between transformational leadership and identity construction, see Bernard M. Bass, “From Transactional
to Transformational Leadership: Learning to Share the Vision,” Organizational Dynamics 18 (1990): 19-31.
Iordanou, “What News on the Rialto?”
On an introduction to the term of “transactional leadership,” see the classic Burns, Leadership (New York:
Harper and Row, 1978), especially Part IV.
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Benjamin Franklin to Charles-Guillaume- Frédéric Dumas, August 6, 1781, in The Papers of Benjamin
Franklin, eds. Leonard W. Labaree et al., 41 vols. (New Haven, Conn., Yale University Press, 19592014), 35:
Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. Edwin Cannan, Vol. II
(Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1977), 129.
Ioanna Iordanou, “Pestilence, Poverty, and Provision: Re-evaluating the Role of the Popolani in Early
Modern Venice,” The Economic History Review 69 (2016): 801-822.
See Mackenney, Tradesmen and Traders.
The Venetian shipbuilders, for instance, due to the fact that they were responsible for one of Venice’s most
significant industries, were granted the “privilege” of rowing the Bucintoro the Doges’ ceremonial state barge
on festive occasions, guarding St Mark’s Square during the Great Council assemblies, and patrolling around
the areas of Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge during the evenings. They were also the designated
firefighters of the city. See Robert Davis, Shipbuilders of the Venetian Arsenal: Workers and Workplace in the
Preindustrial City (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991).
“[...] spender l’havere et la vita propria”, in ASV, CCX, Lettere Secrete, f. 10 (7 July 1583).
Crouzet-Pavan, “An Ecological understanding,” 57.
... The Council was charged with maintaining security and combating corruption in the Republic. In the late 16th century, however, the council acquired the most complicated espionage network owing to its authorities and flexible structure (Iordanou, 2018). ...
13. yüzyılda yetişen ve Hıristiyan dünyası için çok önemli bir figür olan Aquinas hem felsefe hem de Hıristiyan teolojisini harmanladığı görüşleri ile Batı dünyasında yaşadığı dönemde mevcut düşünsel kısırlığın aşılmasında büyük bir aktör olmuştur. Özellikle Yunan felsefesinden etkilenerek para ve ticaret kavramlarına dair –paranın fonksiyonları gibi– ortaya attığı düşüncelerin günümüz iktisat öğretisinde yer bulması Aquinas’ın iktisat ve faiz ile ilgili düşüncelerinin irdelenmesinin önemine işaret etmektedir. Aquinas sonrası dönemde yetişen Luther ise ezber dışı görüşleri ile Katolik Hıristiyan dünyasına önemli farklılıklar sunmuştur. Dini vicdan ve Tanrı şefkati ile sorgulamış, kiliselerin gösteriş ve yanlış uygulamalarını eleştirmiş; ticaret, faiz, iman, ahlak gibi döneminin önemli sorunlarına değinmiştir. Reformist fikirleri ile Hıristiyanlığa getirdiği yeni bakış açısı ona önemli bir taraftar kitlesi kazandırmıştır. Gerek Aquinas gerekse Luther ahlaki bir zeminden hareket ederek faiz meselesini ele almış ve buna uygun bir çözüm geliştirmeye çalışmışlardır. Bunu yaparken faizi belli durumlarda meşrulaştıran, ahlaki açıdan yasaklığı tartışmasız olan durumlarda ise kötüleyen bir tutum benimsemişlerdir.
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