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"A Living Relic: Venice’s Doge and His Paradoxical Two Bodies"​more
by Michelle Laughran
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“A Living Relic: Venice’s Doge and His Paradoxical Two Bodies” Michelle A. Laughran, Ph.D. The Royal Body Conference, Royal Holloway University of London, April 2012 (Version 4/17/12) Before I begin I would like to admit that political history is not really my expertise. Rather, my specialization is principally in the social and cultural history of medicine in Renaissance Venice, most particularly regarding public health and epidemic disease. However, one of the bodies (or perhaps I should say, one set of ―two bodies‖) I kept running into was that of the Venetian doge, ceremonial head of the city‘s government. The following thus represents my foray into the significance of the Doge‘s Two Bodies, and how it may have interfaced – or at least, was supposed to interface – with the Venetian populace. Over the course of centuries, the Duke of Venice (or ―Dog-e‖ in the Venetian dialect) had acquired ceremonial status as the living embodiment of the Venetian Republic, in a formulation not altogether unlike that first extensively analyzed by Ernst Kantorowicz. While the office had originally been a Byzantine military lieutenancy which had held unlimited local powers but then developed autonomous ducal authority as Venice itself asserted independence from Constantinople, the doge was increasingly and inexorably eclipsed by the new commune‘s myriad councils starting in the eleventh century.1 In fact, for most of the Republic‘s history, there was nothing overtly powerful at all about the role of the doge in Venetian government. In his 1540 Libro della repubblica dei Viniziani, Donato Giannotti explained, ―In nothing is he given complete power since not only is he unable to make decisions however insignificant, but he can do Dennis Romano, ―City-State and Empire,‖ in Artistic Centers of the Italian Renaissance: Venice and the Veneto, ed. Peter Humphrey (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 13 & Elizabeth Crouzet-Pavan, Venice Triumphant (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 196-97. 1 2 nothing out of the presence of his counselors‖;2 by the sixteenth century, among other limitations, a doge could not open his own mail or legally respond to written or oral communications without supervision, his use of public money and his freedom of movement both inside the city and out was strictly curtailed and highly controlled, and he could not even allow himself to be addressed as ―My Lord‖ or ―Our Lord.‖3 And yet, the dogeship was understood to be desirable office and an indispensible part of Venetian political life. The office served not only as the ceremonial focal point of the Republic, but also – in addition, if not in consequence –as part-and-parcel of the stabilizing mechanisms intended to resolve political tensions that had given Venice its famed reputation as La Serenissima, the Most Serene Republic. Addressed as Il Serenissimo, the doge was expected to preside over all major council meetings, and moved through all the levels of various levels of Venetian government, thereby overseeing the city‘s orderly administration.4 What is more, interregnum ceremonies in Venice clearly tended to represent two kinds of doges, ala Kantorowicz:5 as an initial example, upon the death of the doge the magistrates of the Venetian saltworks from the nearby town of Chioggia would have minted two coins, a larger one with the name of the former doge depicted together with the doge enthroned, holding the banner of Saint Mark, and a smaller version, identical except without a name. The larger one would be smashed, and the smaller one given to 2 Edward Muir, Ritual in Early Modern Europe. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), Edward Muir, Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 251. 3 256. Robert Finlay, Politics in Renaissance Venice (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1980), 115. 5 Muir, Ritual in Early Modern Europe, 250. 4 3 the new doge upon his election. As Francesco Sansovino concluded, in his sixteenthcentury guidebook to Venice, In this alone are they different: that the one is the perpetual head of all, while the other is temporary and governs a small part. Both are equally called the Prince: for being the first, and grandly revered and honored by all, he represents a truely absolute Prince to those who see him in his majesty, with so many ornaments acquired by means of his valor; but in fact he is tied by the laws in a way that his position is not at all different from the other positions of any magistracy.6 Analysis of the dual role of the doge as titular ruler and yet simultaneously primus inter pares, following the lines of a Kantorowiczian political theology is, of course, not new in Venetian studies, having received one of its most complete treatments by Edward Muir‘s groundbreaking Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice in the chapter appropriately entitled, ―The Paradoxical Prince.‖ Paradoxically, though, Kantorowicz is not seamlessly transferable to the Venetian context, however rampant the dual-body imagery was in the city‘s ceremonial life. After all, the king‘s immortal body royal had to depend symbiotically on its body natural, relying upon the later‘s unique capacity for biological reproduction in order to ensure continuity of the dynastic bloodline which would allow the monarchy, at least in theory, both to endure in perpetuity. In Venice, however, such a formulation was impossible. As part of the measures to limit potential ducal reigns, doges – like popes – tended to be elected at an advanced age: the average age of the men elected doge between 1400 and 1600 was in fact seventy-two. And, on top of that, Doges were precautions were still taken to prevent them from becoming dynasts. forbidden from favoring their sons (who were not even allowed to hold office) and other 6 Francesco Sansovino, quoted in Muir, Civic Ritual, 271-72. 4 family members and, indeed, during the electoral process, most favored were statesmen without sons or ―senza fioli.‖7 Not even in art could the doge impress upon the city‘s landscape a dynastic legacy, since – apart from official portraits - public portrayals of individual doges were not permitted and he could not display his familial coat-of-arms outside the ducal palace.8 Thus, in Venice, representations of the natural body of the doge tended not to emphasize his virility or potency. As a result, it is no coincidence that one tends not to see Venetian equivalents of Henry VIII‘s portrait with codpiece (about which we will hear more at this conference) that might have to advertised the potency or virility of a ―doge‘s two bodies.‖9 As a result, I wanted to try to understand how the constitutionally (and perhaps, for that matter, even biologically) largely impotent doge managed to embody both a widely-recognized, powerfully stabilizing influence and a monarchic sacrality. I have come to the conclusion that the office of the Venetian doge was able to compensate for the inherent constitutional weaknesses by being even more than – as Robert Finlay put it – ―a living icon of the state.‖10 In the end, his two bodies were not entirely his own (and certainly not his bloodline‘s)… Fortunately, there were other bodies in the Venetian Finlay, 110, 125 & 161. Average term of the doges between 1486 and 1538 was 17 years; in 1400-86 and 1538-1600 was 6 years (Finlay, 135). 8 Finlay, 110 & Deborah Howard, ―The State,‖ in Artistic Centers of the Italian Renaissance: Venice and the Veneto, 34. 9 ―In the official portraits of monarchs – for instance, of Henry VIII (National Gallery, London), Phillip II by Titian (Madrid, El Prado), and Henry II of France by Francois Clouet (1559, Uffizi) – the sexual organs of the king are emphasized within a turgid ‗codpiece‘. ‗Is not the codpiece the principal article of a warrior‘s armor?‘ Rabelais‘s Panurge asks Pantagruel… Shown as an instrument of power and strength (signum victoriae), the male organ was interpreted as a symbol of immortality in Christ, but this meaning was perhaps derived from another, better-known ostentatio: that of the king‖ (Sergio Bertelli, The King’s Body: Sacred Rituals of Power in Medieval and Early-Modern Europe [University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003], 162). 10 Finlay, 123. 7 5 cultural universe that the Republic could call upon to lend these qualities to its political head without engaging Venetians‘ fears of a slippery slope toward despotism. While the Republic could not rely upon exactly the same kind of Christological corpus mysticum upon which the Church depended to empower the Pope‘s (often elderly) body,11 it had nevertheless been a body that first gave Venice its claim to regional political and religious primacy, and it would be this same sacred body which could be lent to the head of state: the relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist. I believe that the doge‘s two bodies were inextricably bound to the relics of San Marco, so that the newly-elected doge would be transfigured into the living embodiment of the Saint‘s relics during his tenure, with all the sacrality and stability that status entailed. Indeed, I would suggest that part of the famed ―Myth of Venice,‖ that long-lived historiographical tradition that emphasized not only the harmonious workings of the Republic‘s government, but also its relative lack of civil strife may well owe much to this unique reliquary gemination of the ducal body developed in Venetian political culture.12 11 Agostino Paravicini-Bagliani, The Pope’s Body (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000). Interesting exceptions for further consideration: "Given these circumstances, it is not surprising that there were frequent riots and demonstration throughout the city, particularly on the part of sailors and galley crews who had been driven to the breaking point by the deceitful practices and the delaying tactics of the government. At times, the level of discontent would erupt into serious episodes of violence, as was the case in 1437, when an angry mob looted the city's shops and stalls, and killed or injured a number of municipal guards. Had it not been for the intervention of a much beloved sea captain by the name of Pietro Loredan, things might have progressed further... During the conclave that elected Carlo Contarini as doge in 1655, for example, the sailors of the fleet provoked a major riot because they themselves had supported the election of 'their Foscolo,' the extremely popular Provveditore Generale Leonardo Foscolo.‖ and "Such displays of emotion were hardly restricted to the seamen. Giovanni Sagredo, an accomplished diplomat, politician and historian who was about to be elected doge in August 1676, found himself facing an angry mob in the square, all of whom were shouting, "Don't choose Sagredo! We don't want him!" In this case, however, the riot had been organized by Sagredo's political rivals. As a result, the frightened members of the Signory immediately cancelled the list of 41 electors who had declared themselves in favor of Sagredo, and Alvise Contarini became the new doge" (Alvise Zorzi, Venice 697-1797 [New York: Overlook, 2009], 93). 12 6 According to legend, the city rose on the very site where St. Mark had rested during his quest to proselytize the Adriatic coast and where he received a special vision: an angel appeared to him saying, ―Peace to you, Mark my Evangelist. Your body will come to rest here.‖13 And, sure enough, through Divine will and not just a little terrestrial intervention, the relics of San Marco—the city‘s new patron saint and trademark symbol—would be acquired by Venice in 827.14 Relics, of course, allowed medieval earthbound Christians to continue to enjoy the ongoing praesentia of their dearly-departed saints,15 since they remained in contact with the heavenly power (or virtus) of the saint‘s soul in heaven, as a variation of ―real presence.‖16 As Richard Southern put it, ―Among all the objects of the visible, malign, unintelligible world, relics alone were both visible and full of beneficent intelligence.‖17 The cult of Saint Mark‘s presence in Venice would in fact rapidly expand throughout Venetian culture until San Marco would eventually come to personify and embody the Republic itself.18 Muir, Civic Ritual, 79. "Mark's alleged mission to Aquileia, though possible, lacks any archeological or documentary proof" (Thomas E.A. Dale, Relics, Prayer and Politics in Medieval Venetia [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997], 7) . Originally, pax tibi was the angelic greeting when Mark was supposed to have been imprisoned in Alexandria. 14 For the story of the Translatio Santi Marci, see Patrick J. Geary, Furta Sacra: Theft of Relics in the Central Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 88-94 and Muir, Civic Ritual, 7892. 15 Dale, 3. As Patrick Geary has explained in Furta Sacra, ―a pledge or deposit left as a physical reminder of salvation to the faithful‖ (Geary, 30). 16 Arnold Angenendt, ―Relics and their Veneration,‖ in Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe , eds. Martina Bagnoli, et al. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 30. Could even enter into competition with the eucharistic real presence. (Ibid.); ―The holy [connection] caused the saints‘ graves to radiate sacrality‖ (Ibid., 31). 17 Geary, 33. 18 Muir, Civic Ritual, 91 & Crouzet-Pavan, 268. 13 7 But while the city of Venice and the image of San Marco had been paired for centuries, the particularly close associations which developed between Saint Mark and the Venetian ducal office were many. Firstly, it should be noted the Basilica of San Marco, built to accommodate the body of Saint Mark, was not Venice‘s metropolitan cathedral. As Sansovino wrote, ―The Republic wanted that the Temple of Saint Mark should be the Chapel of its Prince.‖19 In fact, though by law the doge could not be depicted publicly throughout Venice as sovereign, he is illustrated in the mosaics of the basilica as chief guardian of the relics, and he also had the responsibility of nominating the primary ecclesiastic serving there.20 . It wasn‘t until the thirteenth or fourteenth century, however, the same time Venice was – likely not coincidently – reeling from the Serrata (or ―Closing,‖ which limited government participation to a new, constitutionally-created hereditary aristocracy), that an addendum – the praedestinatio – cropped up to the stories in the Golden Legend regarding the life of Saint Mark. That accretion was in fact the tale of the saint‘s sojourn in the Venetian lagoon, where he would receive the angelic vision which provided the first words on the open book held by so many subsequent Venetian lions proclaiming the Republic‘s sovereignty: ―Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum.‖21 Fortunately for the doge, the would-be peacemaker and ensurer of serenity within the Venetian polity, the ―requiescet‖ of this praedestinatio myth not only apocryphally foretold through 20/20 hindsight that the Evangelist‘s relics Francesco Sansovino, Venetia Citta Nobilissima et Singolare... (Venice: Appresso Iacomo Sansovino, 1581; reprinted Bergamo: Leading Edizioni, 2002), 187v. 20 Finlay, 122. 21 Debra Pincus, ―Hard Times and Ducal Radiance: Andrea Dandolo and the Construction of the Ruler in Fourteenth-Century Venice,‖ in Venice Reconsidered: The History and Civilization of an Italian City-State, 1297-1797, eds. John Martin and Dennis Romano (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 122-23. 19 8 would come to be sheltered in the church which served as Venice‘s ducal chapel, but may have suggested the role that the Saint would play by coming to rest in the extraordinary person of the doge himself. After all, the Doge was the only office in Venice with a lifetime tenure, with the exception of the nine Procurators of San Marco (who administered the Basilica and distributed charity from wills in the city and from whose ranks he was almost always elected).22 In addition, he had what Edward Muir has described as a ―peculiar role‖ in the liturgical functions of the ducal chapel: he did not remove his characteristic ducal corno or crown when he prayed before an icon or relic; prayers were said for his health during mass; and on Holy Thursday he performed the same ceremonial washing of feet that any king or emperor did.23 He clearly operated, at least ceremonially, as the sacral head of the Republic, or as Sansovino put it, ―come Principe che participasse… del sacro.”24 Yet the sacrality associated with his role may not have been limited to ceremonial appearances only. As the first divine words communicated to Saint Mark in Venetian territory, Pax tibi, or ―Peace to you‖ may well communicate Mark‘s peace-keeping role which would go on to infuse the Doge himself. Even to the point that, as one English commentator on Gaspare Contarini‘s De magistratibus et Republica Venetorum25 would remark, ―There is in the Cittie of Venice no greater alteration at the death of their Duke, then at the death of any other private Gentleman.‖26 And who were the only others allowed to wear the ducal style of garments, except without the insignia of the doge (Finlay, 27 & 117). Also the Doge was the only patrician allowed to wear cloth of gold (Ibid.) 23 Muir, Civic Ritual, 261. 24 Sansovino, cited in Pincus, 98. 25 Contarini largely responsible for helping to disseminate Venice‘s political reputation in Europe (Finlay, 31). 26 Muir, Civic Ritual, 251 & 268. 22 9 Such a tranquil transition was indeed worthy of remark, since deaths of leaders in many Renaissance Italian states often introduced a dangerous period of marginality and tension for the government in transition. Nor was the violence associated with an interregnum entirely limited to Italy;27 it was apparently a European-wide phenomenon, necessitating – even in the case of England – that successors would have to close themselves up in the Tower of London in the case of ―troubles and seditions, if any happened (and which often happen at the alteration of reigns and at the death of princes),‖ according to Sir George Buck in his 1619 history of Richard III.28 As a matter of fact, when the members of the Venetian council of the Collegio were formally told of the death of a doge, their representative was required to announce, ―With much displeasure we have heard of the death of the Most Serene Prince, a man of such goodness and piety; however, we shall make another.‖29 First, however, the deceased former incumbent would have to be carefully unmade as doge, since – I would suggest – there could be only one manifestation at a time of Venice‘s version of the ―two bodies.‖ In the case of Doge Alvise Mocenigo, the register of official state ceremonies recounted, Il Serenissimo Principe Alvise Mocenigo died on the fourth of June 1577 around the twentieth hour… his body was put into the coffin wearing a golden mantle with an ermine collar and with the ducal crown on his head, a golden sword at his side turned with its hilt at [his] feet, [his] golden spurs reversed [and the ducal shield turned inward, towards the body]. He was placed outside [his] chambers in the sala of the palace on a tall bier covered with tapestries.30 27 28 Van Gennep (1909), cited in Bertelli, 39ff. Bertelli, 44-45. 29 Muir, Civic Ritual, 268. 30 ―Venuto à morte il Serenissimo Principe Aluise Mocenigo à 4 del mese di giugno 1577 circa le xx hore, il giorno dietro à s. la sera il corpo suo posto nel cataletto uestito co‘l manto d‘oro, et bauaro d‘armelini, co‘l corno ducale in testa, la spada d‘oro à canto, uoltato co‘l porno à piedi, et li sproni dorati 10 The reversed arrangement of the ducal symbols around Mocenigo emphasized the separation of the man from his office. The ritual smashing of his ducal signet ring which followed further served to sever the dead doge from the office he had filled in life, and the pieces were presented to the doge‘s family.31 The body of the mortal doge would then be laid out in the Ducal Palace for three days,32 thereby reversing the official period of revelry at the election of a new doge. During this time, patrician council members stayed at their posts in the palace, ―as a sign‖—nobleman and prolific diarist Marin Sanudo observed—―that [even] if the Doge is dead, the Signoria is not.‖33 After this period, the body was taken out of the Palazzo Ducale, and for the first time since his election, the former doge in death could finally leave the palace without the obligatory escort of his councilors. Shipworkers from the Arsenale carried the body around the Piazza San Marco, repeating the movement which – as we will see – had begun the term of office, and carried it to the Basilica. The subsequent funeral mass ended the official ceremonies, and the family then took the body riuersci, fù posto fuori delle stantie nella sala del palazzo, sopra un catafalco alto, coperto di tapetti‖ (A.S.V., Collegio, Ceremoniali, Reg. 2, 32v). 31 Muir, Civic Ritual, 270-71. The inverted sword and backward spurs signified—as Edward Muir has observed—that death had aborted the authority of the former doge (274), and underlined the fact that the Venetian political world was only temporarily ―turned upside-down‖ in a state of carnivalesque flux during the Interregnum. 32 Asa Boholm, The Doge of Venice: The Symbolism of State Power in the Renaissance (Gothenburg: Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology, 1990), 93. ―After three days, an enormous file of patricians and Scuole members accompanied the body out of the Ducal Palace, pausing at the last stair before the courtyard for the Signoria to give promission to proceed. Only in death could the doge leave the palace without his councillors. Arsenal workiers carried the body on a circuit of the piazza, repeating the movement which had begun the reign, and at the door of the basilica, lifted it to the sky nine times. The funeral mass ended official ceremonies, and the family took the body for burial‖ (Finlay, 121). 33 Marin Sanudo, quoted in Muir, Civic Ritual, 275 note 72. 11 for burial. The former doge‘s conversion back to ordinary mortal citizen was complete: his body would be buried according to private – and not state – plans.34 In the meantime, the state was moving ahead with its procedures to (quote unquote) ―make another.‖ What ensued was a strange electoral process, lasting at times several weeks, in which a series of committees chosen by lot would in turn vote for electors which eventually would chose the doge, once called ―one of the most intricate and curious forms in the world‖ by English ambassador Sir Henry Wotton.35 So convoluted was this process that only the Holy Spirit was supposed to be able to divine its outcome.36 Then the bells of San Marco first and then and all others of the city would ring, and continue for three days [together] with luminaries at night, and other signs of celebration.37 Meanwhile, the newly elected Doge was whisked off the next day to the 19 in SS. Giovanni e Paolo, 6 in Frari. Rest scattered throughout city. Henry Wotton, quoted in Finlay, 141; in the first stage, the Maggior Consiglio selected forty-one electors through a complicated mixed system of balloting and random lot drawing designed to discourage corruption and any factions from dominating the electoral process. At that point, the youngest member of the Council of the Forty al Criminale was to walk out the west door of the Basilica of San Marco and pick the first boy under the age of fifteen he saw to be the ballotino, or voting teller, in order that the election be guided by an innocent selected by happenstance, and (at least in theory) with a little help from the Holy Spirit (Muir, Civic Ritual, 279 and Finlay, 141-42). 2000 -> 30 -> 9 -> 40 -> 12 -> 25 -> 9 -> 45 -> 41 -> 1. 36 Boholm, 264. On June seventh, the Maggior Consiglio was convened, and a representative from the Consiglieri rose and gave an oration on the death of Mocenigo, ―lauding him,‖ as the official volume of Ceremoniali recounted, ―for [his] singular prudence and valor in the affairs of state and government of the Republic, and [then] exhorting everyone to prepare themselves well for the new election, and to pray to the Majesty of God to illuminate them [in order] to elect a Prencipe buono et utile for the Republic.‖ / ―Il giorno seguente, che fù à vij, raunato il maggior consiglio fù letta dal gran cancelliero la proposta di far elettione di tre Inquisitori sopra la promission Ducale; dapoi il viceduce leuato in piedi, fece un‘oratione al consiglio dolendosi della morte del Serenissimo Principe Mocenigo, laudandolo di singolar prudenza, et ualore, nelli maneggi di stato, et gouerno della republica, et essortando ciascuno à ben disponersi alla noua elettione, et pregare la Maestà di Dio à darli lume di far elettione d‘un Prencipe buono, et utile per la republica. Dapoi fù posta la parte delli ordini per la elettione del nouo Prencipe, di leuar le corti, et giudicij di palazzo, di far elettione di cinque correttori sopra la promission Ducale; et che li Procuratori potessero uenire al maggior consiglio‖ (A.S.V., Collegio, Ceremoniali, Reg. 2, 33r). 37 ―Finito il ragionamento sonarono le campane di San Marco, et tutte le altre della città, che continuorono poi per tre giorni con luminarie la notte, et altri segni d‘allegrezza…‖ (A.S.V., Collegio, Ceremoniali, Reg. 2, 37r). 35 34 12 Basilica to hear mass and take communion, where he would kiss the main altar sheltering the saint‘s relics and be officially invested with his office in the name of Saint Mark himself.38 In the process, I would suggest, the newly-created doge would become the very living embodiment of the ostensio reliquarium39 of Saint Mark himself (whose relics were not typically otherwise visible).40 For after mass had been said, the officiant would present the banner of Saint Mark to the doge, saying, ―We consign on your serenity the banner of Saint Mark as a sign of true and perpetual dogeship,‖ to which the doge answered, ―I accept.‖ From that moment on, he would be depicted in votive paintings, official documents and even coins as having received this vexillium – what Patricia Fortuni Brown has called ―the mystical source of ducal authority‖ 41 – from the very hand of Saint Mark himself, thereby becoming his vicar on earth. And such interpolation was not necessarily considered exaggeration. While the origins of the banners utilized in ducal processions was originally ascribed to tales surrounding Pope Alexander III and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa recognizing Venice as a worthy (and equal) mediator in their conflict through the presentation of the ceremonial props called trionfi to Doge Sebastiano Ziani, later legends would apparently claim that the saint himself had originally consigned the banner miraculously to the ducal Boholm, 133 & Dale, 55. Jerry Pysiak, ―The Monarch‘s Gesture and Visualization of Rituals Associated with the Cult of Relics,‖ Acta Poloniae Historica 96 (2007): 24. 40 ―In late-ancient and mediaeval Constantinople the cult of relics was strongly associated with the imperial power ideology... The tradition of the sacralization of monarchical power through a direct contact of the monarch with the relics – the material manifestation of the transcendent sacrum – following the patterns adopted in Byzantium, shaped the model of the Christian regnum in the mediaeval West. The cult of relics become both the subject and the instrument of policies of western kings aiming at the ideological strengthening of their monarchies through providing them with sacred legimisation‖ (Ibid., 35 & 36). 41 Patricia Fortuni Brown, Art and Life in Renaissance Venice (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997), 87. 39 38 13 office, when one doge had apparently found the banner already lying on the altar above the saint‘s tomb.42 In that case, the installation of the new doge was merely a reenactment of the saint investing one man‘s natural body with the lifetime tenure of carrying the banner of what Francesco Sansovino had called an absolute, eternal authority.43 Thereafter, the subsequent coronation with Venice‘s characteristic ducal crown took place without – as instead was usually in case with European sacral monarchy – the involvement of the Church and without anointing. Because, as Asa Boholm notes in The Doge of Venice: The Symbolism of State Power in the Renaissance, the sacred had already taken place.44 As a matter of fact, as I pursued my research, I discovered that Boholm had – back in 1990 – actually originally arrived at the similar conclusion that the Doge became a living relic of the Saint himself, or Saint Mark incarnate.45 Boholm had not however explicitly placed this transformation directly into the context of the ―Two Bodies‖ thesis or perhaps realized the role that this Kantorwiszian political theology must have had in directly contributing to the stability of the ―Most Serene Republic‖ and the subsequent Myth of Venice, just as Kantorowicz argued that the Two Bodies would help mitigate interregnum disturbances after its fullest realization by Tudor jurists. Relics were not only supposed to radiate sacrality, but they were also seen as tangible reminders of the bodily resurrection that eventually awaited the Faithful. Being unable to adopt the formulation of the Two Bodies that most contemporary hereditary European monarchies could employ, the Republic created its own version of the formula which permitted (and 42 43 Muir, Civic Ritual, 260. Ibid., 260 & 285. 44 Boholm, 264. 45 Ibid., 143. 14 indeed emphasized) the incarnation of its patron saint and subsequently the resurrection of its government with the death of each doge. As in the case of the vacant papacy, during which Kantorowicz notes that rule was effectively considered to have reverted back to the immortal authority of Christ, when the deceased doge was ―unmade,‖ his authority reverted back to the Saint until the divinely guided election of the next incumbent. With this divine invocation, the Saint was operationalized to bring peace to both government councils and the populace, the Doge was encharged with rendering this mission, and the popolo risked divine ire and retribution should they in any way humiliate his newly-imbued, living relic. In fact, interregnum riots and pillaging which had even afflicted Venice until the early fourteenth century46 were at that time abolished by law and disappeared more or less contemporaneously as the adoption of the Marcian Predestinatio origin story and – I would suggest – the doge‘s embodiment of it. Nowhere would this effect be more evident than during the newly-invested doge‘s distribution of largesse to the masses assembled in Saint Mark‘s Square. In the olden (and generally more violent) days, Sansovino reported that an elected doge would toss to the crowd the coins of his predecessor. But since then, he wrote, the Installation mass had been postponed a day so that new coins could be minted showing the new doge receiving the vexillium from the hands of the Saint himself.47 Then after the mass, the doge and one (or a few) of his kinsmen would mount and sit themselves on a wooden platform which had been set at the base of the Basilica‘s rood screen between the choir and nave; called the pozzetto, this platform was so large and heavy that it took a good 50 Carlo Ginzburg & the Bologna Seminar, ―Ritual Pillages: A Preface to Research in Progress,‖ in Microhistory and the Lost Peoples of Europe, eds. Edward Muir and Guido Ruggiero (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), 24-25. 47 Sansovino, 181v. 46 15 strong sailors to carry it. Together, the doge and his banner of St. Mark would be carried around the piazza through the crowds, and he would toss to them hundreds of ducats and half-ducats newly minted depicting himself receiving the vexillium directly from the hands of San Marco. Boholm particularly sees the pozzetto, borne by mariners, as a reenactment of the famous translatio of the ship which had braved the perilous journey to bring the Saint‘s relics from Alexandria to Venice in the first place.48 And while Boholm believes the coins are not unlike the funereal redistribution of a dead man‘s wealth (the same kind of redistribution that could turn violent in ritual interregnum pillaging), I would suggest a different (or at least, additional) interpretation: since the coins are not of the deceased doge but of the newly-elected one, and show him as the active recipient of Saint Mark‘s banner, by accepting the new doge‘s largesse, the popolo not only receives this political message but tacitly accepts the ducal dual nature and affirms him as their patron and benefactor.49 To conclude, I think it likely that this concept of the Venetian doge‘s ―two bodies‖ even explains that most enigmatic and unusual of ducal portraits, that is, Giovanni Bellini‘s rendition of Leonardo Loredan, conserved in London‘s National Gallery. While Patricia Fortuni Brown may have initially intended the following interpretation more as a morphological analysis, I would suggest it be taken far more literally. Of the portrait, she writes, ―The man has become the office, and could as well be the reliquary bust of a saint sitting on a shelf with all the aura of a holy figure.‖ 50 In 48 49 Boholm, 134-35 & 142. Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957) and Muir, Civic Ritual, 263; ―the institution of the doge had a most remarkable longevity,‖ writes Muir, ―from 792 to 1797 the Venetians counted an almost uninterrupted succession of 118 doges…‖ (Ibid., 299). 50 Fortuni Brown, 78. 16 this case, while it is true that the French kings could with pride harken back to the famous reliquary bust of Charlemagne conserved at Aachen, the Venetian Republic could go one better: their living ruler WAS the reliquary, a powerful agent for peace in a political system where paradoxically he had otherwise little constitutional power. In the process, death in Venice—even the death of a Doge—would not destroy the Myth of Venice but rather confirm it, insuring that—as Sansovino put it—―under [Saint Mark‘s] custody the Empire of this people must grow and forever survive for the good of mankind.‖51 51 Sansovino (202r), quoted in Muir, Civic Ritual, 79.
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