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No Other Like It

Venice is unique in so many ways.

One of those ways is that it remained a republic for more than a millennium, never conquered, never subverted from within. No people on earth, even the Egyptians, have achieved a continuous government for that long. Ever.

After thriving for more than a thousand years, the Republic of Venice fell only when military technology and Napoleon’s troops made the lagoon and its people a target. How ironic that the forces who shouted that they were out to free Europe for Liberté, égalité, and fraternité would casually crush the only republic in a sea of absolute monarchies. But then, history is full of men whose thirst for power is clothed in the pretense of helping the poor and downtrodden. They’re with us today. In any case, La Belle France chose to strangle the Lion of Saint Mark and eat him whole in 1797.

I love Venice. It’s a magnet that draws every sense and pleasant emotion I have back to partake again and again. There will be a lot more about this wonderful place in future posts. But for this first one on the topic, I’ll just quote John Norwich’s incomparable book, A History of Venice regarding the city and its people:

“…by whatever political standards she is judged, she compares favorably with any nation … . Nowhere did men live more happily, nowhere did they enjoy more freedom from fear. … Although, being human, they might occasionally complain of their government, not once in all their history did they ever rise up against it. … They worked hard, an unusually high proportion of them were artists and craftsmen; they knew, better than any other people in the world, how to enjoy themselves with style and panache, and they lived out their lives in a city … even more beautiful than that which we know today. They loved that city passionately, and for a thousand years they remained fiercely loyal to the Republic that had built it, enriched it and kept it safe.”

I’m aware of a modern republic a little over two centuries old where the second half of the quote above is already far from true. Sad. But still more evidence of how unique Venice really was.

Categories: 2011 Posts Tags: , , ,
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  1. November 6, 2011 at 5:35 am
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