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Cav. Marco Cornaro (B-16)


Born: December 1406, Venice

Married: 1444, Fiorenza Crispo

Died: 1 August 1479, Venice

MARCO CORNARO and his younger brother Proc. Andrea Cornaro (B-17), after flirting with disgrace and disaster at the beginning of their careers, engineered one of Venice's greatest triumphs--the acquisition of the Kingdom of Cyprus. Marco began his career in Cyprus, where his family had had close commercial ties for more than 200 years. Marco had acquired property there by inheritance and through his marriage, 1444, to Fiorenza Crispo, who was the daughter of Nicolo Crispo di Santorini, Venice's Regent of the Archipelago, and of Valenza Comnena Paleologa, daughter of Emperor John IV of Trebizond.

Cornaro made strategic loans, 1439-43, to John II Lusignan, the last legitimate king of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Cyprus and Armenia, and he consolidated his Cypriot properties into a series of estates near Limassol.

In Venice Marco was one of five nobles appointed to host the 1452 visit of Emperor Frederick III, for which service he was made a Cavalier [knight]. Marco served in various diplomatic and governmental posts, including Savio di Terraferma, 1456, and Consigliere Ducale, 1457.

Marco was exiled from Venice, 1457-8, for failing to denounce his brother Andrea when Andrea was accused of buying election to the Zonta del Pregadi [Senate] in collusion with the Council of 40. During this period Marco returned to Cyprus, where in the war of succession following the death of King John II he supported first John II's daughter Carlotta and then John II's illegitimate son James II Lusignan, who ultimately prevailed. Marco returned to Venice, 1464, leaving his brother Andrea as Counsellor to the new King.

Thereafter, upon the suggestion of his brother Andrea, he succeeded in arranging the marriage of his daughter Caterina Cornaro with King James II. Following the deaths of King James II and the infant Prince, Queen Caterina Cornaro (B-31) became sole monarch of the Kingdom of Cyprus, though under the heavy influence of Venice. Marco was sent to Cyprus by the Venetian government to counsel his daughter, remaining several years and experiencing many conflicts with other Venetian envoys. In 1489 Queen Caterina ceded sovereignty of Cyprus to Venice.

Upon Marco's death in Venice, 1479, he was buried in the Church of SS. Apostoli with the Doge and the full Signoria in attendence at the ceremony. His portrait was placed in the chambers of the Maggior Consiglio [Grand Council], but was destroyed in a fire in 1577.

Marco inherited 302 campi, half of his family's mainland estates, at Poisolo and Treville, 1439. With his brother Andrea he purchased, 1458, Ca' Mocenigo on the Grand Canal in the parish of S. Cassiano, later renaming it Ca' Cornaro della Regina.

1997 C. I. Gable