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The Republic of Venice (Serenissima Repubblica di San Marco, the Most Serene Republic of St. Mark),known from its emblem as the City on the Lagoons, the Lion of St. Mark and also the Lion Republic, was a maritime power in the north-west Adriatic from the 7th and 8th centuries until 1797.
Its ascendancy culminated in a colonial empire, which stretched from Upper Italy to Crete and at times as far as the Crimea and Cyprus, and which was governed from Venice. Moreover, Venice maintained trading colonies in Flanders and in the Maghreb, in Alexandria and Acre, in Constantinople and Trebizond, as well as in many towns on the Adriatic. The aristocratic Republic became wealthy because it functioned as the trans-shipment centre between the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire and also gained a monopoly on important goods. Even the fragmentation of Italy was advantageous for it. In the process, control of the profitable foreign trade passed exclusively to the nobles , who increasingly controlled the political leadership until they were able to abolish the People's Assembly.

What we know about the beginnings of Venice comes mostly from legends and there are only a few reliable historical sources. It was not until the 13th century that a wide-spread tradition of writing developed, which then, however, can be compared with the extent of that from Rome. The State-controlled written recording of history contributed considerably to the creation of legends, which often projected into the past the idiosyncrasies perceived as groundbreaking for Venetian society. In this way it concealed or re-interpreted a great deal of that which contradicted the ideals of closeness, justice and the balance of power.

The Doge's Palace and St Mark's Church, Seat and Symbol of Venetian Organs of Government, Patrick Clenet 2005. As a maritime power Venice succeeded, despite having few resources and an extremely widespread area to govern, in playing a role as a premier power in the politics of the Mediterranean region. In this way, right from the start, Venice manoeuvred between the Great Powers, such as Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire or the Papacy, rigorously used the power of its war fleet and its deliberate diplomacy, set up trading blockades and employed armies of mercenaries.

Thus it was able to resist competition from other trading cities in Italy, such as Amalfi, Pisa and Bologna, but above all Genua. It was not until the emergence of the great territorial states, such as the Ottoman Empire and Spain that Venice's influence was weakened by military might. The aspiring trading nations, such as the Dutch Republic, Portugal and Great Britain weakened its trading strength. In 1797 Napoleon occupied the city and the Grand Council resolved on the 12th May to dissolve the Republic.
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