Concio (Venice)

The Concio (from the Latin contio, "assembly"), in the Republic of Venice, was the general assembly of freemen (citizens and patricians) from which the Doge was elected. It was in use between 742 and 1423 before it lost its function when the Serrata del Maggior Consiglio passed power into the hands of the aristocratic class interior.


The origin and the conquest of power for the election of the Doge

The origin of the popular assembly is uncertain. Assemblies of free men were already widespread in the 6th–7th centuries in various cities of maritime Venice, for the election of local magistrates, or tribunes. Although the Venetian traditions called for a general meeting of the Venetians, in 697, the appointment of the first Doge, Paolo Lucio Anafesto, should have been the prerogative of the Byzantine Emperor, through the Exarchate of Ravenna. The first actual election was probably that of the third Doge, Orso Ipato, when in 726 the Venetians, rejecting measures imposed by iconoclasts of the 'Byzantine emperor Leo III the Isaurian, chose their leader autonomously. Upon the death of Orso, however, the Byzantines replaced the government with a ducal courts annual magistri militum until 742, when the emperor formally granted the populate the right to elect the Doge.[1] The power of the assembly had yet be precisely defined, and John Deacon reports that even in 887 when former Doge Giovanni Participazio II had to reaffirm that it was the responsibility of the people's assembly to elect the Doge.[2]

The Struggle for Power

Despite the power of choice right now it was up to Concio, over time the Dukes tried to prevail on the assembly resolutely turning their monarchy to be elective in hereditary. The strategy chosen was to circumvent the electoral power of Concio associating the throne a co-regent, also called co-Dux, selected from children or close relatives, which could at the time of death of the Doge owner, automatically succeed him, being already on the throne and thus in a position of strength. It is unclear the role that the Assembly had at the time of the coronation of coreggenti and if it was up to it, however, some form of confirmation of their appointment, however, between the 8th and 11th centuries, there were at least fifteen coreggenti that were associated with throne, and of these, only six could actually happen to your colleague. And the twenty-eight successive doges, fourteen ended deposited with blinding, cutting of the beard and hair for scarring or forced to tonsure (the Byzantine way), or killed in the riots, while four others preferred to abdicate.

This chaotic phase found a solid place in 1032 when the Concio, refusing to recognize the coronation of Domenico Orseolo, appointed in his place Flabanico Domenico, while enacting the first law of the Constitutional Republic, with which forbade forever practice of the association to the throne, went off in the perpetual Orseoli from the government, and is flanked to the Doge two ducal councilors, because they constantly sorvegliassero the work.

The training of municipal institutions and the loss of power of Concio

Now become in effect the supreme arbiter of the state, the Concio was faced with the need to create permanent organisms are able to continuously meet the progressive depletion of the ducal power. At the same time, the ancient noble families, no longer committed to contending for a hereditary sovereign, began to form, along with other prominent families, a class of aristocrats able to influence and direct the city politics.

In 1143, he was thus created a first Consilium Sapientium, appointed by and responsible to support the Doge permanently in government: the new communal form of the State was sanctioned by the appearance of words Veneciarum Commune ("City of Venice") documents.

But the first real step that marked the beginning of the decline of the power of Concio occurred in 1172 : the Consilium Sapientium, became the Great Council, was entrusted with the ordinary legislative power, while being on the other hand, decided to entrust the election ducal seven elected by voters. A second shot was then six years later, in 1178, when the Concio lost further control over the appointment of the doge. From that, when in fact, the seven electors from this nominated no longer directly choose the Doge: they are in fact now we raffled four, with the task of appointing the forty ducal actual voters, the Council of Forty, which sold out the task, then remain in power as an assembly of government and supreme court.

In 1207 also the appointment of members of the Great Council was entrusted to a small group of three voters, then increased to seven in 1230. Obvious consequence of these choices was the aristocratic part of the increase in municipal bodies. The status quo of popular power supported by an aristocratic power is cracked to 1286, when two attempts, rejected, to foreclose access to the Great Council families popular, marked the opening of hostilities between the two factions. Rejected again in 1296, but with difficulty, the proposed Serrata was finally approved at the urging of the Doge Pietro Gradenigo on 28 February 1296.

Although in 1300 and in 1310 the plots of Marin Bocconio and Tiepolo attempted a restoration of the people, the aristocratic form of the state was now a reality.

The abolition

Private been any real power, the Concio People survived only as a formal meeting at dell'acclamazione the new Doge was elected the fact still presented the crowd with a ritual phrase:

( VEC )
"Costui è il nostro signore, il Doge, se vi piace!"
( EN )
"He is our lord, the Doge, if you like!" (ritual presentation of the new Doge to the People)

The meeting was useless anyway and officially abolished only in 1423, but the custom of ritual request for approval to the people remained in use until the fall of the Republic in 1797.


  1. Diehl, Charles: La Repubblica di Venezia, p.21., Newton & Compton Editori.
  2. Giovanni diacono, Cronaca, in Cronache veneziane antichissime, Fonti per la storia d'Italia IX, Roma 1890, p. 129.

See also

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