Marino Faliero (1285 – 17 April 1355) was the fifty-fifth Doge of Venice, appointed on 11 September 1354. He was sometimes referred to simply as Marin Falier (Venetian rather than standard Italian).
Coat of arms of Marino Faliero
Marino Falier was appointed Doge at 4.00 pm on 11 September 1354, against competition from three other candidates whose names are not known. He succeeded at the first ballot, with 35 votes. Nominated by twenty-seven electors, he was chosen by destiny to be first in the ballot. As he was Ambassador of Avignon, a notary was sent to inform him of his election, followed by twelve ambassadors, who met him in Verona. He was, at the time. unquestionably the most eminent among Venetian personalities, and was aged about seventy. The King of Bohemia had made him a knight, his counsel and confidant; he had become Count and Squire of Valmareno, which was ceded by the da Camin in 1349, and given to him as a fief by the Bishop of Ceneda. The da Camin family had also entrusted to him the Castle of Fregone In Venice, he had the family palace at S.S. Apostoli, which exists today as a period residence (Hotel Antico Doge), and still bears the ancient owners coat of arms.
This Doge was, for a quarter of a century, perhaps the most important and representative of Venetian political figures. Time and again he was a member of the Council of Ten, who would later condemn him to death. In this capacity, curiously, he had the task. together with Andrea Michiel, to ensure the death, at all costs, of the rebels Bejamonte Tiepolo and Nicolò Querini, who attacked the Doges Palace in order to overthrow the Republican Government and establish in its place an absolute Seignory. Falier was captain and bailo (ambassador of the Venetian Republic) of Negroponte and podestà of Lesina and Brazza, of Serravalle and of Treviso He went as ambassador to the Pontiff Emperor, the King of Hungary, the Duke of Austria, the papal legate and to Ferrara. As plenipotentiary of Venice, he established the alliance between Venice and the Scaligeris, the Estensis and Faenza against Genoa and against the Viscontis He also had a lot of military tasks. He was a man of war and a commandeer on land and at sea against the Scaligeris, during the rebellions of Zara and Capodistria, in Slavonia and against the Genovese, also taking care of war preparations- He was a Sage on numerous occasions, with various administrative responsibilities and he even attended to building work in Venice. Privately, he still found the time to involve himself in trade and commerce. Consequently, he very often had to borrow money from private individuals and from the Procurators of Saint Mark. He did business with his brother, Ordelaf, with his cousin, Nicolò Falier, and others. Cargos of spices, wheat, wood, alum and cloth, were transported in his name on cocche and taride (medieval merchant vessels) and on merchant galleys, running the risks of the sea and pirates. In his capacity as a humanist, he preserved a small collection of diverse objects, given to him by no less than the celebrated explorer, Marco Polo, and kept for a few years in a room of his palace at S.S. Apostoli. All told, he was an attractive and well-rounded medieval figure. Especially considering the political orientations of the era; nonetheless. he showed himself to be tirelessly active in both public life and in private, as a merchant, resulting from the extremely varied tasks entrusted to him.
At the beginning of his dogate, he revealed himself to be so cautious in exercising his prerogatives that he even refused to give his opinion during a murder trial, although he could have done so, because his exclusion from the oath regarded only civil cases born in 1285. to Giacomo and Beriola Loredan, who had two other sons, Marco and Ordelaf He was much loved and cared for by his family, and his contemporaries, including Petrarch, were united in considering him a man of great wisdom. valorous and liberal. Nothing is known of him before he was thirty years old, when he appears as Head of the Council of Ten. He does not appear to have been so ambitious and irascible as has been suggested, even if, in a fit of anger, he is said to have slapped the Bishop of Treviso, arrived late for the ceremony of Corpus Christi.
His first marriage was to Tommasina Contarini, with whom he had one daughter, named Lucia. His second was to the celebrated young , bela moier (beautiful wife) Aluica, daughter of Nicoletto Gradenigo, son of the Doge Pietro, whom he married prior to 1355 and who gave him 4,000 lire as a dowry. She is believed to have been born in the first decade of that century, meaning that she must have been born forty-five years old when she became Dogaressa. It is not certain whether- or not she really was a woman of frivolous and lewd conduct- It is certain that the Doge held her in esteem until his death and wanted her to be the sole executor of his wishes. It is true that husbands are the last to become aware of and to believe their wives' guilt. Indeed, some historians have recorded populace' s thoughts. which perfectly evoke the dialect of the fourteenth century.
Marin Falier da la bela moier, Altri la galde e lui la mantien Marin Falier, with his beautiful wife, Others give her pleasure and he keeps her.
The insults aimed at his adulterous wife were not the main cause of the famous conspiracy, but they were certainly a notable influence. It was a time when, in Italy, seignories and princedoms began to be formed in the communes, and the ambitious Falier, not satisfied with having become Doge, conspired to become signore a bacchetta (a man who rules with a rod of iron), as was said at the time in his homeland, and to ensure the ruling power of his family, which did not end with him, but could have continued with his nephew, Fantino, son of his brother, Marco. The conspiracy appears to have been brought about by the financial difficulties ofthe period, and as a reaction of the faction, lead by the impulsive Falier, who favored a war to the bitter end against the Genovese. Through this faction, Falier tried to fulfil his covetous ambitions, and he ultimately found himself alone, to atone for others' guilt.
He attempted a coup d'etat in 1355, at the time being Doge himself, but with the intention of declaring himself Prince. This failed action is mostly attributed to a combination of a strong hatred for nobility and his senility (he was in his seventies at the time). He pleaded guilty to all charges and was beheaded. Ten additional ringleaders were hanged on display from the Doge's Palace on St Mark's Square.
He was condemned to damnatio memoriae, and as such his portrait displayed in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Hall of the Great Council) in the Doge's Palace was removed and the space painted over with a black shroud, which can still be seen in the hall today.
Faliero's picture in the Great Council Hall. The black shroud painted in its place bears the Latin phrase:
HIC EST LOCUS MARINI FALETRI
DECAPITATI PRO CRIMINIBUS
"Here is the place of Marino Faliero, beheaded for his crimes."
The story of Marino Falier in the Arts
The story of Marino Faliero's uprising was made into a drama by Lord Byron in 1820 and an opera by Gaetano Donizetti in 1835.
The Execution of Marino Faliero, Eugène Delacroix, 1827, Wallace Collection, London, 145 x 137 cm
The Last Moments of the Doge Marin Faliero, Francesco Hayez, 1867, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milano, 192 x 238 cm