Portrait of Leonardo Loredan (1436-1521), Doge of Venice (1501-1521)
Leonardo Loredan (or Loredano) (November 16, 1436 – June 21, 1521) of the Loredan family was the 75th doge of the Republic of Venice from 1501 until his death. His dogeship was one of the most important in the history of Venice. After having studied literature, Leonardo Loredan commenced his political ascent at the age of nineteen when he became a lawyer in the “Giudici di Petizion” - magistracy concerned mainly with financial scandals and bankruptcies. A few years later, Leonardo sat on the “Collegio dei Savi” where he was responsible for assessing and evaluating foreign policy matters prior to their examination in Senate. Shortly after, Leonardo became the “Podestà” in the city of Padua – the Venetian equivalent of a governor ruling in the cities belonging to the Republic. In 1492, Leonardo Loredan was elected as the Procurator of San Mark’s, a prestigious position that helped the future doge gain important political influence. Upon the death of Pope Alexander VI in 1503, Venice occupied several territories in the northern Papal States. When Julius II was elected as Alexander's eventual successor, the Venetians expected their seizure of papal territory to be tacitly accepted, as Julius had been nicknamed Il Veneziano for his pro-Venetian sympathies. But instead the new Pope excommunicated the Republic and united the Papal States in an alliance with France, the Holy Roman Empire and several other Christian states. The Doge's problems did not end in Europe. In 1509, the Battle of Diu took place, in India, where the Portuguese fleet defeated an Ottoman and Mameluk fleet, which had been transferred from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea with Venetian help. The defeat marked the end of the profitable Spice trade, which was bought by Venetians from the Mameluks in Egypt and in turn monopolised its sale in Europe, reaping great revenues from it. After losing to the league's forces at the Battle of Agnadello, Venice found her holdings in Italy shrinking drastically. Soon Padua, Venice's most strategically vital Terra Firma holding, had fallen, and Venice herself was threatened. Loredan united the population, calling for sacrifice and total mobilisation. Padua was retaken, though Venice was still forced to accept a reluctant peace, following which it joined the Pope as only a junior ally in his new war against the French. When the Pope betrayed Venice once again, upon the verge of victory over France, Venice retaliated by aligning themselves with the French King Louis XII and were able to secure back all the territories they had lost. In addition, the Papacy was forced to repay many outstanding debts to the Loredan family totaling approximately 500,000 Ducats, an enormous sum of money. He was married to Giustina Giustiniani (d. 1500).
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