Using dogesr for a Venetian doges timeline

JJ Merelo



The so called ducali families controlled elections to doge in the Republic of Venice for a good part of the early Modern age (Chojnacki 1985). Only nobles were eligible for many of the jobs in the Venetian government, including of course doge. But Venetian nobility was not a homogeneous class, with many divisions based on when and how they effectively became part of the nobility. The families to which the first doges belonged are classified, in this library, as either estinte (extinct) or Unknown (in many cases, only the name of the doge is known, not the family name).

The evangeliche families are just four, and are part of the families that became noble during the Serrata (Lane 2019), same as the apostoliche (which were twelve) and the vecchie. This set of families are jointly called lunghi; the denomination of the rest depends on when they became part of the Golden Book where all families were inscribed: either nuove (new) or nuovissime (very new); those called soldi are simply families that paid their way into nobility, something that became possible in the late stages of the Republic. The ducali families are, in fact, nuove, but they are just 15 families that were able to include one of their own as doge before the end of the XV century.

As a matter of fact, they monopolized the first job in the Republic for more than two centuries. This vignette tries to visualize this fact, using dogesr.

Set up


doge.type <- unname(unlist(family.types[data.doges$Family.doge]))
doge.type.color <- unname(unlist(family.colors[doge.type]))
doge.timeline <- data.frame(start=data.doges$Start,end=data.doges$End,type=doge.type,color=doge.type.color)

This will import the data from the dogesr package into the data.doges data frame, as well as the family.types and family.colors. The first maps family to type, the second family type to a pre-established color, which we would like to keep the same throughout the package for consistency.

Then, we create a data frame for the timeline, with the relevant variables: years when every doge started and ended his tenure, as well as family type and the corresponding color.

Plotting the timeline


We import the two libraries used for plotting the timeline, and use a specific theme to be able to see lines more clearly. What we see is that there is some alternance between family types, but the timeline is dominated by long stretches where families of a single type succeed each other as doges. Some types of families, notably the one called soldi, managed to have a single doge, Ludovico Manin, who was the last one before the extinction of the republic.


Using dogesr we are able to gather some insight on the power dynamics of the Republic of Venice, and confirm the widely held belief that ducali families were in office for the best part of almost three centuries, from the XIV to the XVI century. Except for small gaps, the visualization shows that as a fact.

The reason why 15 families were the sole drivers of power in Venice for such an extended amount of time is left as an exercise.


Chojnacki, Stanley. 1985. “Kinship Ties and Young Patricians in Fifteenth-Century Venice.” Renaissance Quarterly 38 (2): 240–70.
Lane, Frederic C. 2019. “The Enlargement of the Great Council of Venice.” In Florilegium Historiale, 236–74. University of Toronto Press.