chapter  2
15 Pages

Voicing popular politics: The town crier of Murano in the sixteenth century


During the Carnival in January 1510, the town crier of Murano, Antonio Malcanton, made an announcement on the two main bridges of the small island in the Venetian lagoon: ‘that no one, whatever his condition is, from here or from abroad, dares wear a fancy dress, a mask or a scarf without the written authorization of the magnicent podestà’.1 Two days later, he made another announcement on four different bridges, still by order of the podestà and the Illustrissima Signoria: ‘that any captain of a small boat, in Murano and its district, as well as any person, aged 20 to 50, whatever his condition is, has to report immediately to the podestà’.2 The League of Cambrai was becoming a dangerous threat, and Venice required the help of its population to defend her territory. Any boatman who could serve in the Terraferma had to be conscripted. A month later at the end of February, Malcanton made a new announcement on the northern part of the island that shermen were forbidden to hang out their nets and sails on the bridges for drying, in order to avoid their takeover of the public space.3