"La Serenissima Domina Ducissa": The dogaresse of Venice, 1250--1500

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dennis Romano


Dogaresse, Venice, Italy

Subject Categories

European History | History | Medieval History | Women's Studies


This dissertation addresses the political, social and cultural significance of the dogaresse , the wives of the elected leaders of Venice. The examination of sources such as wills, notarial documents, books of ceremony, chronicles and art revealed who they were, what duties they fulfilled, and their impact on the political and cultural world of Renaissance Venice. The dogaresse of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Venice came from the city's most elite families, and motherhood largely dominated their lives. Upon their husbands' elections, these women contributed to the success of the Venetian political system through cementing social networks and producing the next generation of statesmen. At the same time, the republican government of Venice placed limitations upon the family of the doge, in order to discourage dynasticism. Unlike most early modern consorts, the dogaresse were not defined by their ability to procreate, and were legally limited from aiding the political or economic ambitions of their children. Although legally Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance. from many social and economic activities common to women, the dogaresse enjoyed social status as well as cultural and political significance unknown to other women in Renaissance Venice. The dogaresse had their own distinct inauguration, and participated in many of the city's other civic and religious rituals, at which they symbolized the wealth and status of their families, but also the wealth, piety and social stability of the city. The fifteenth century witnessed added emphasis on ducal ceremony, which glorified both the increasing wealth and power of the state and its elected leaders. Increasing public appearances and imagery dedicated to the dogaresse in this time period indicate that both doge and state sought to employ the dogaresse in programs of civic glorification and personal ambition. This study of the dogaresse of Venice reveals the blurring of boundaries between family and political spheres. The dogaresse were representative of the familial virtues so valued by the Venetian nobility, and these same virtues were celebrated in a myriad of state and public functions the dogaresse fulfilled. The dogaresse not only homogenized issues of family and state, their functions represented the often precarious balance between monarchical and republican values in Venice. The dogaresse became embodiments of the social, religious and political values of an early modern city.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.