The Venetian Bride: Bloodlines and Blood Feuds in Venice and its Empire
A true story of vendetta and intrigue, triumph and tragedy, exile and repatriation, this book recounts the interwoven microhistories of Count Girolamo Della Torre, a feudal lord with a castle and other properties in the Friuli, and Giulia Bembo, grand-niece of Cardinal Pietro Bembo and daughter of Gian Matteo Bembo, a powerful Venetian senator with a distinguished career in service to the Venetian Republic. Their marriage in the mid-sixteenth century might be regarded as emblematic of the Venetian experience, with the metropole at the center of a fragmented empire: a Terraferma nobleman and the daughter of a Venetian senator, who raised their family in far off Crete in the stato da mar, in Venice itself, and in the Friuli and the Veneto in the stato da terra. The fortunes and misfortunes of the nine surviving Della Torre children and their descendants, tracked through the end of the Republic in 1797, are likewise emblematic of a change in feudal culture from clan solidarity to individualism and intrafamily strife, and ultimately, redemption.
Despite the efforts by both the Della Torre and the Bembo families to preserve the patrimony through a succession of male heirs, the last survivor in the paternal bloodline of each was a daughter. This epic tale highlights the role of women in creating family networks and opens a precious window into a contentious period in which Venetian republican values clash with the deeply rooted feudal traditions of honor and blood feuds of the mainland.