The Doge

The Doge was the chief magistrate at the time of the Serenissima. The word Doge derives from "dux", the Latin word for "Duke". In Venice, Doges were elected for life by the city–state's aristocracy. According to historical documents, the first Doge was elected in 700.


A Doge had economic, civil and religious power, making him a figure similar in many ways to a pope or a king. When the doge was elected, he was presented to Venetians at the Ducal Palace in St. Mark’s Square. After the XIII° century, the power of the Doge diminished; he was controlled by other offices, which in some ways balanced the political power.

For more than a 1000 years, Doges ruled the city of Venice. The last Doge was Ludovico Manin who lost his power to France, when Venice fell under Napoleon's rule on May 12, 1797.

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