Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tommaso Mocenigo

Tommaso Mocenigo (1343 - 1423)

Tommaso Mocenigo was Doge of Venice from 1414 right up to his death from a long illness in 1423. 

Mocenigo was an admiral  and merchant by profession. He traded in pepper with Syria. Prior to being Doge, he was Duke of Candia (the Venetian name for the island of Crete) and in 1405 was named Procurator of San Marco. In his younger years he was also elected to the Council of Ten, Venice's highly secretive security body.

Under his reign, he encouraged commerce, and Venice's dominion over the sea was at its apogee.  It is said that knowing well that he would be too ill to benefit from a new palace, he organised for the reconstruction of the ducal palace, then known as the Ziani Palace, and commenced the library of Venice.

Prior to his death, in 1423, Mocenigo made an impassioned plea to his Pregadi (Senate) warning them against electing Francesco Foscari as his successor. The brazen and military minded Foscari, he said, would ruin Venice. The main difference between these two men was that Foscari favored military expansion into terrafirma, while Mocenigo was all about the sea and peaceful trade.

Mocenigo is buried in the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo. 

Tomb of Mocenigo

Various excerpts from The Mascherari: A Novel of Venice, featuring Doge Mocenigo.

“Tommaso Mocenigo is very ill,” he explained, gesturing gravely toward the Doge apartments to our left. “He has been confined to bed for weeks already. When the New Year commences next March, do not be surprised if the patricians are called upon to appoint a new Doge. It is not known how many months Tommaso has to live but I feel his time is near.  And between you and me,” he whispered, “our young procurator, Francesco Foscari*, would want this time to be nearer still.” - Almoro Donato from the Council of Ten 

As the door opened, I saw that it was a much afflicted man, pale in face with a thin aquiline nose and eyes so transparently gray that they seemed to belong to another world. By the sunken cheeks on his pallid face I took him to be at least eighty in years.
Bonna notte,” he began, his frail voice, at first, barely audible.  - Antonio da Parma describes his encounter with Doge Mocenigo

“I understand you, Antonio.” His voice rose. “In the words of our great Petrarch, ‘you wish to go beyond the fire that burns you’.  I see it in your eyes.  This sentiment you have, that something must be, I know it well.  I know how it devours and urges.
“Then I will ask you to yield to what must be.  Pay heed to your inner voice, as I do mine.  Let it guide you to your destiny.  - Tommaso Mocenigo in The Mascherari: A Novel of Venice

“I bid you go, Antonio. Pray for me, your Doge, that I may persuade my Pregadi and save Venezia from the wars Francesco Foscari would have her wage upon my death.  You do that for me, Antonio?” - Tommaso Mocenigo in The Mascherari: A Novel of Venice

_____*Francesco Foscari - was elected Doge shortly after Tommaso Mocenigo's death. Despite the tradition of electing patricians who were at least 60 years of age, Francesco was only 49 when he became Doge.