The Likeness of Venice: A Life of Doge Francesco Foscari 1373-1457

Francesco Foscari became Doge of Venice in 1423 at the age of 50, unusually young for a Doge, and remained in the position for an unusually long time; he was eventually forced to resign after 34 years as the head of one of Renaissance Europe’s most important states. Despite his long rule, he left behind no personal papers, and our impressions of him have been taken mainly from Byron’s play The Two Foscaris and Verdi’s opera I Due Foscari, which deal with the tragic end of his Dogate, when he watches powerless as his son is driven into exile. Dennis Romano’s subtle, intelligent and scholarly biography sets out to correct this gap in our knowledge, and is, according to Edward Muir, (Clarence L. Ver Steeg Professor in the Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University) ‘certainly the best book ever written about Venetian politics and political culture and certainly one of the best ever written about the relationship between power and the arts for any Renaissance city.’

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