The Cornaro Family of Venice


THE CORNARO FAMILY was present in Venice from the earliest days of the lagoon settlement and remained among its richest and most powerful leaders through the whole life of the Venetian Republic. Discussion of the family can easily lapse into superlatives.

In politics and diplomacy, the family produced four Doges of Venice and a Queen of Cyprus. In religion, nine Cornaros served as Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. Cornaros led Venice in battle against the forces of Hungary, Milan, the Ottoman Turks and the League of Cambrai, and they were pioneers in expanding Venice's empire in the Eastern Mediterranean. Elena Lucrezia Cornaro-Piscopia was the first woman ever awarded a University degree. (At right is a detail from Vassar College's stained glass window in her honor.)

History, however, will likely recall the Cornaros most for their role in commissioning some of the great masterpieces in the history of art and architecture, including (among many other examples):

A related website focuses on the Cornaro family's commissions as a window onto the art and architecture of Venice.


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1998 C. I. Gable