On June 14, 1310 the very fabric of the Venetian political institution reached a ripping point. Rome had excommunicated her, leaving her far-flung merchants with no rights or protections, at the mercy of villains. The new aristocracy, risen from the middle class, had maneuvered to close entry to Great Council to all save those who had previously served, ending the tradition of the common citizens of Venice holding seats and therefore having a voice in their own governance.
The voice of the people effectively silenced.
Not a polite knock on the door.
They were betrayed.
Then fell the mortar.
And he fell, dead.
Thus was the final rebellion against the political silencing crushed…by a mortar.
So Spake Me…
Every time I sat down to work on this story, I always ended up getting in a good laugh. Not because the story is necessarily a light-hearted one. Tiepolo spent his remaining years dodging the Doge, and the Council of Ten—Venice’s shadowy KGB-style overlords—arose from the Doge’s constant pursuit of and defense against the Grand Cavalier.
I got a good laugh, because flipping back and forth between the old histories was rather like playing 700 years worth of telephone. In one source the woman throws a flower pot, in another she bumps a kitchen tool off the ledge. In another source the old woman is named Maria de Oltise, in another she is definitely Lucia Rosso. In one source, Tiepolo’s rebellion was the valiant last stand of democracy against the evil oligarchy, in another he was just another despot grasping after power.
And I get it. Nothing is ever black-and-white and 700 years is a particularly long lens to be viewing the picture through. But when you are researching a piece on a kitchen implement wiping out an entire rebellion, you can’t really help but have an eye out for the improbable and the absurd.
Happy cooking! Hey, watch it with that spatula….