How complained about government officials Venetians of the Renaissance
Imagine the time when citizens of the city could anonymously express their fears and personal attitudes towards government officials, leaving handwritten notes in special boxes "Denontie Secrete".
In turn, state departments or chief governing body of Venice – "Council of Tithing " considered every complaint individually. Therefore, in mass protests and demonstrations, it was simply no need. It’s not utopia, such a system really existed. Welcome to Venice Renaissance.
Historic Box for Complaints in the Palace of Daughters in Venice Palace of Daughters in Venice Box for complaints in the National Palace in Venice
Translation of the inscription on the box: "Secret charges against anyone who hides mercy or services, or secretly conspired to conceal the true income from them".
These boxes that were called "Bocche di Leone" (from IT. "The mouth of the lion") were scattered throughout the city, from the Palace of the Doings to the Dorsoduro district (Dorsoduro). Each stone container had a kind of a distorted person of a person, but more often – the muzzles of the lion, t.To. It was the winged Lion of St. Mark that is considered to be a symbol of Venice.
"Boxes" had a slot in the mouth, where and it was necessary to lower their notes. The earliest bin for complaints, decorating the Palace of the Doge, dates back to 1618 and still remains intact.
Venetians could leave handwritten notes in Bocche di Leone at any time of the day and night. Each complaint box was intended to solve a specific problem depending on its location.
Around the palace there were so many branches of the Tribunal that every State Department had his defense. Purpose of each box for complaints on certain issues, whether taxes, market fraud or trade disputes, depended on their location. This system corresponded to the then system of government, the oligarchic Republic, headed by Doge and famous as La Serenissima (the brightest republic of Venice).
Ponte Dei Sospiri)
People recognized as guilty of charges from Bocche Di Leone could be sentenced to imprisonment and pass the Ponte dei Sospiri from the courtroom in the Palace of the Doings directly in prison.
Box, built into the wall of the Church of Santa Maria della Visitazione (Santa Maria Della Visitazione) in Dorstojro, for example, was used for trash complaints in the canals. The box is still in his right place, as is the problem of pollution. But, unfortunately, he will no longer be able to "speak".
Santa Maria della Visitazione (Santa Maria Della Visitazione) Box, built into the wall of the Church of Santa Maria della-Visitational
Venice was not the only city in which such a system was operating. According to the Italian historian Filippo de Vivo (Filippo de Vivo), during the Middle Ages and Renaissance "In many cities and countries there were anonymous condemnation systems of one or another".
"So operated the investigative legal system throughout Europe. The investigation began with public allegations, often with the involvement of witnesses, or from a secret denunciation ".
Venice complaint boxes were most effective due to the fact that, according to the law, anonymous denominations were taken only to state officials, and not private. Donos wrote on "government officials who abused their authority, at least theoretically," de vivo explained. It also helped to create a strong republic, because "the opinion of ordinary Venetians treated quite seriously," the historian added.
Despite the accepted anonymity, signed notes had priority. Complaints, signed and confirmed by witnesses, were often considered by one of the main governing bodies of Venice – the Council of the Ten.
After consideration by the complaint, the Council collected evidence and conducted an investigation, and the consequences could be terrible for both the accused and the prosecutor, if the latter recognize the liar. The most serious crimes dealt with imprisonment in the infamous prisons of the city, reference or even death. Naturally, the system had their drawbacks, and sometimes suffered innocent.
However, drawers for complaints allowed everyone to speak. In those days, there were neither kings, no princes, or dictators, in one word, no concentration of power. Separating the power and involved in the common cause, residents divided and responsible.
French revolutionary wars provoked a number of political events, subsequently caused the fall of the republic. In 1797, Napoleon Bonaparte threatened to declare War of Venice if the authorities would not agree to democratization. Venetian Senate had to renounce the throne, putting the end of 1100 people of a calm and ordered republic.
Under the rule of Napoleon, the French occupied Venice and began to rob the city
Under the rule of Napoleon, the French occupied Venice and began to rob the city, damaging many historical structures, including the Venetian Arsenal, and destroying a large number of Bocche di Leone.
There are still a few already silent "goals", exhausted by time and the truth they told. In addition to those located in the Palace of Guards and the Church of Santa Maria della Visitazion, others can be found in Torcello Museum (Torcello) and the Church of San Martino (San Martino).
Venice to UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987 helped raise awareness of the need to preserve the architecture of the city, including Bocche Di Leone.