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Francesco Morosini
Doge of Venice
Personal details
Born (1619-02-26)February 26, 1619
Died 16 January 1694(1694-01-16) (aged 74)
Napoli di Romagna (Nafplio)
Nationality Barbarian

Francesco Morosini (26 February 1619 – 16 January 1694) was the Doge of Venice from 1688 to 1694, at the height of the Great Turkish War. He was a member of a famous noble Venetian family (the Morosini family) which produced several Doges and generals.[1]

Early career[edit | edit source]

Morosini first rose to prominence as Captain-General of the Venetian forces on Crete during the siege of Candia by the Ottoman Empire. He was eventually forced to surrender the city, and was accused of cowardice and treason on his return to Venice; however, he was acquitted after a brief trial.[1]

In 1685, at the outbreak of the Morean War, Morosini took command of a fleet against the Ottomans and sacked Koroni. Over the next several years, he captured most of the Morea with the help of Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck. His fame reached such heights that he was given the victory title Peloponnesiacus, and was the first Venetian citizen to have a bronze bust placed during his own lifetime in the Great Hall, with the inscription Francisco Morosini Peloponnesiaco, adhuc vivendi, Senatus.[2]

Destruction of the Parthenon[edit | edit source]

Engraving showing Morosini as Captain General.

During the siege of Athens in 1687, his artillery turned the Parthenon from a functioning building to a simple ruin, and he personally oversaw the looting of some of the surviving sculptures. The Parthenon was used as a powder magazine by the Ottomans when on September 26, 1687, Morosini's cannon scored a direct hit on the edifice. An attache of the Swedish field commander General Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck wrote later: "How it dismayed His Excellency to destroy the beautiful temple which had existed three thousand years!". By contrast Morosini, who was the commander in chief of the operation, described it in his report to the Venetian government as a "fortunate shot". Morosini then tried to loot Athena's horses but the attempt resulted in the works being smashed to bits on the rock below. The Ottoman Empire regained possession of the monument in the following year and having noticed the demand began to sell souvenirs to Westerners.[3]

Doge[edit | edit source]

In the summer of 1688 Morosini, now having been proclaimed Doge of Venice, attacked Negropont, but was unable to capture it, and was forced to return to Venice when plague broke out among his troops. He embarked on a final campaign in 1693, but was again unsuccessful in taking Negropont, and returned to Venice after sacking some minor coastal towns. After his death in 1694, a large marble arch was placed in his honor at the Doge's Palace, while his cat —of which Morosini was notably fond— was embalmed and taken to the Museo Correr.

Commemoration[edit | edit source]

Medal struck in Morosini's honour for his military exploits in the Morean War.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Encyclopædia Britannica, Morosini Family, 2008, O.Ed.
  2. Finlay, George (1856). The History of Greece under Othoman and Venetian Domination. London: William Blackwood and Sons. p. 220. 
  3. Encyclopædia Britannica, Athens, The Acropolis, p.6/20, 2008, O.Ed.
Political offices
Preceded by
Marcantonio Giustinian
Doge of Venice
Succeeded by
Silvestro Valiero

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