Introduction: Mercury, Venus, and the Muses
This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores three case studies that are intertwining phenomena that developed in Venice in the short distance between the last quarter of the fifteenth century and the first third of the sixteenth century. Between 1490 and 1530, the Most Serene Republic was transformed by the rising nation-states and empires from an independent, expanding empire richly financed by lucrative international commerce into a bounded and shrinking dominion strapped by heavy war debts and leanly financed by reduced commercial and agricultural income. Occurring thirteen years after Machiavelli's visit to a Verona under enemy domination, the performance had connections to the Venetian cittadino and former member of the Leonine court Zuan Manenti. Manenti was charged by Venice at the same time with running lotteries to finance its wars and by Machiavelli with conveying intelligence to the Doge.