Author (Your Name)

Avery RosensweigFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. History Dept.


Larissa Taylor

Second Advisor

Raffael Scheck


This paper attempts to explain the significance of Jewish presence in the Venetian Empire in the context of the myth of Venice. Jews were officially permitted to settle in Venice in 1516, but their connection with the Venetian Empire goes further back. Jews were important for the success of the Venetian Empire, particularly from the sixteenth century onward. The permanent settlement of the Jews in Venice directly impacted the very ideology of the Venetian Empire.

Although the phrase "myth of Venice" was developed by twentieth-century historians, Venetians perpetuated the myth and wove its ideals into the foundation of the Venetian Empire. Blessed by the Patron Saint Mark, the Venetians believed their stable, homogenous, tolerant, Christian, mercantile Republic was destined for greatness. The Venetians perpetuated the image that Venice maintained these ideals, so this was the image Europeans had of the Venetian Empire. The reality in Venice, however, was much different. Venetians had one goal; to maintain dominance in the Adriatic Sea and gain wealth through trade. Jewish presence in Venice supported this goal, so the Venetian government ultimately permitted Jews to settle in the city. By studying the Jews in Venice, we can understand the extent that Venice was pragmatic and Venice's maritime superiority and eastward-looking economy came at the expense of all else.


Venetian Empire, jewish presence, myth of Venice, Venetian Jews, ghetto, mercantilism