Postby admin » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:52 am

Part 1 of 2

by Webster Griffin Tarpley
Address delivered to the ICLC Conference near Wiesbaden, Germany, Easter Sunday, 1981; (appeared in Campaigner, September, 1981)



Periods of history marked, like the one we are living through, by the convulsive instability of human institutions pose a special challenge for those who seek to base their actions on adequate and authentic knowledge of historical process. Such knowledge can come only through viewing history as the lawful interplay of contending conspiracies pitting Platonists against their epistemological and political adversaries.

There is no better way to gain insight into such matters than through the study of the history of the Venetian oligarchy, the classic example of oligarchical despotism and evil outside of the Far East.

Venice called itself the Serenissima Republica (Serene Republic), but it was no republic in any sense comprehensible to an American, as James Fenimore Cooper points out in the preface to his novel The Bravo. But its sinister institutions do provide an unmatched continuity of the most hideous oligarchical rule for fifteen centuries and more, from the years of the moribund Roman Empire in the West to the Napoleonic Wars, only yesterday in historical terms. Venice can best be thought of as a kind of conveyor belt, transporting the Babylonian contagions of decadent antiquity smack dab into the world of modern states.

The more than one and one-half millennia of Venetian continuity is first of all that of the oligarchical families and the government that was their stooge, but it is even more the relentless application of a characteristic method of statecraft and political intelligence. Venice, never exceeding a few hundred thousand in population, rose to the status of Great Power in the thirteenth century, and kept that status until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, thanks to the most highly developed system of embassies, of domestic and foreign intelligence, and related operational potentials.

As the following story details, Venice was at the center of the efforts to destroy the advanced European civilization of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and bears a crushing burden of guilt for the ascendancy of the Black Guelphs and the coming of the black plague. The Venetians were the intelligencers for the Mongol army of Ghengis Khan and his heirs, and had a hand in guiding them to the sack of Baghdad and the obliteration of its renaissance in the thirteenth century.

The Venetians were the mortal enemies of the humanist Paleologue dynasty in Byzantium. They were the implacable foes of Gemisthos Plethon, Cosimo de' Medici, Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli, and the entirety of the Florentine Golden Renaissance, which they conspired -- successfully -- to destroy. Venetian influence was decisive in cutting off the Elizabethan epoch in England, and in opening the door to the lugubrious Jacobean era.

Venetian public relations specialists were responsible for picking up the small-time German provincial heretic Martin Luther and raising him to the big-time status of heresiarch among a whole herd of total-predestination divines. Not content with this wrecking operation against the Church, Venice was thereafter the "mother" for the unsavory, itinerant Ignatius of Loyola and his Jesuit order. After the Council of Trent, Venice was also the matrix for the Philosophe-Libertin ferment of the delphic, anti-Leibniz Enlightenment. Venice beat Thomas Malthus and Jeremy Bentham to the punch in inflicting British political economy and philosophical radicalism on the whole world.

Although Napoleon Bonaparte had the merit of forcing the formal liquidation of this loathsome organism during his Italian campaign of 1797, his action did not have the effect we would have desired. The cancer, so to speak, had already had ample time for metastasis -- into Geneva, Amsterdam, London, and elsewhere. Thus, though the sovereign political power of Venice had been extinguished, its characteristic method lived on, serving as the incubator of what the twentieth century knows as fascism, first in its role as a breeding ground for the protofascist productions of Wagner and Nietzsche, later in the sponsorship of fascist politicians like Gabriele D'Annunzio and Benito Mussolini. The Venetians ran a large chunk of the action associated with the Parvus Plan to dismember Russia, and may well have been the ones who surprised everyone, including London, by unleashing World War 1 in the Balkans.

Most important, Venice is today through its Cini Foundation and its Societé Europeenne de Culture the think tank and staging area for the Club of Rome and related deployments. Venice is the supranational homeland of the New Dark Ages gang, the unifying symbol for the most extreme Utopian lunatic fringe in the international intelligence community today.

Get to know Venice. Then look back to the monetarist imbecility of Paul Volker, at the ideological fanaticism that radiates forth from the Bank of America, Chase Manhattan, the Bank for International Settlements and the rest. You will recognize the unmistakable putrid stench of a Venetian canal, where the rotting marble palaces of generations of parasites are corroded by the greatest cynicism and cruelty the world has ever known.

Three of the four 9/11 pilots learned to fly at two flight schools at the tiny Venice Airport. A terrorist trifecta out at the Venice Airport. Venice, Florida is the biggest 9/11 crime scene that wasn't reduced to rubble. But it hasn't been treated that way. And no one has offered any reason why....

Venice, Florida, is an unlikely center of intrigue. But the Venice Airport, set beside an unsuspecting population of golf-playing retirees, is another story, we discovered. It has a history as a free-booting port of call for an international cast of Lear jet-setting rogues, spies, villains and terrorists.

-- Chapter 1: Welcome to Venice, from Welcome to Terrorland, by Daniel Hopsicker


In the Middle Ages the Venetians were known as the archetypes of the parasite, the people who "neither sow nor reap." For the Greeks, they were the hated "frogs of the marshes." In Germany, a folk tale describes the merchant of Venice as an aged Pantaloon who makes his rounds robbing men of their human hearts and leaving a cold stone in their place.

Closer to the essence of Venice is the city's symbol, the winged lion of St. Mark, bearing the misleading inscription, Pax Tibi Marce, Evangelista Meus ("Peace be with you Mark, my evangelist.") The chimerical winged lion comes out of the East, either from Persia or from China. The symbol is thus blatantly pagan, with St. Mark being added as an afterthought because of his alleged visit to the Venetian lagoons. To buttress the story, the Venetians stole St. Mark's body from Alexandria in Egypt, and Tintoretto has a painting celebrating this feat.

The point is that Venice looks East, toward the Levant, Asia Minor, central Asia, and the Far East, toward its allies among the Asian and especially Chinese oligarchies which were its partners in trade and war. This is reflected in a whole range of weird, semi-oriental features of Venetian life, most notably the secluded, oriental status of women, with Doges like Mocenigo proudly exhibiting a personal harem well into modern times.

Venice today sits close to the line from Lubeck to Trieste, the demarcation between NATO and Warsaw Pact Europe, roughly corresponding to the boundary between Turks in the East and Christians in the West, and still earlier between the Holy Roman and Byzantine Empires. Into this part of the northern Adriatic flow the rivers of the southern side of the Dolomites and the Julian Alps. The greatest of these is the Po. These rivers, around 300 A.D., made the northern Adriatic a continuous belt of marshes and lagoons about fifteen kilometers wide, and extending from the city of Ravenna around to the base of the Istrian Peninsula, where the Italian-Yugoslavian border lies today.

In the center of this system was Aquileia, starting point of an important north-south trade route across the Brenner Pass to the Danube Valley and Bohemia. Aquileia was the seat of a patriarch of the Christian Church, but its tradition was overwhelmingly pagan, and typified by rituals of the Ancient Egyptian Isis cult. For a time after the year 404, Ravenna and not Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire in the West. After the extinction of the western empire, Ravenna was the seat of government of Theodoric the Ostrogoth, the court visited by Boethius. Later Ravenna was the capital of a part of Italy ruled by the Byzantines.

The islands of the lagoons provided an invulnerable refuge, comparable to Switzerland during World War II, for Roman aristocrats and others fleeing the paths of Goth, Hun, and Langobard armies. Already between 300 and 400 A.D. there are traces of families whose names will later become infamous: Candiano, Faliero, Dandolo. Legend has it that the big influx of refugees came during the raids of Attila the Hun in 452 A.D. Various areas of the lagoons were colonized, including the present site of Torcello, before the seat of administration was fixed at a group of islands known as Rivus Altus ("the highest bank"), later the Rialto, the present location of the city of Venice. The official Ab Urbe Condita is March 25, 721 A.D. Paoluccio Anafesto, the first ruler of the lagoon communities, called the doge (the Venetian equivalent of Latin dux or Florentine duca/duce, meaning leader or duke), is said to have been elected in the year 697.

The most significant fact of this entire period is that the whelp of what was later to become Venice survived and grew thanks to its close alliance with the evil Emperor Justinian in Constantinople, an alliance that was underlined in later years by intermarriage of doge and other leading Venetian oligarchs with the nobility of Byzantium, where a faction embodying the sinister traditions of the Roman Senate lived on for a thousand years after the fall of Rome in 476.

Venetian families are divided into two categories. First come the oldest families, or Longhi, who can claim to prove their nobility substantially before the year 1000. The Longhi include many names that are sadly familiar to the student of European history: Dandolo, Michiel, Morosini, Contarini, Giustinian (perhaps related to the just-mentioned Byzantine emperor), Zeno, Corner (or Cornaro), Gradenigo, Tiepolo, and Falier. These old families held a monopoly of the dogeship until 1382, at which time they were forced to admit the parvenu newcomers, or Curti, to the highest honor of the state. After this time new families like Mocenigo, Foscari, Malipiero, Vendramin, Loredano, Gritti, Dona, and Trevisan came into the ascendancy.

These families and the state they built grew rich through their parasitizing of trade, especially East-West trade, which came to flow overwhelmingly through the Rialto markets. But there is a deeper reality, one which even derogatory stories about spice merchants are designed to mask. The primary basis for Venetian opulence was slavery. This slavery was practiced as a matter of course against Saracens, Mongols, Turks, and other non-Christians. In addition, it is conclusively documented that it was a matter of standard Venetian practice to sell Christians into slavery. This included Italians and Greeks, who were most highly valued as galley slaves. It included Germans and Russians, the latter being shipped in from Tana, the Venetian outpost at the mouth of the Don, in the farthest corner of the Sea of Azov. At a later time, black Africans were added to the list and rapidly became a fad among the nobility of the republic.


During the years of the Venetian overseas empire, islands like Crete, Cyprus, Corfu, Naxos, and smaller holdings in the Aegean were routinely worked by slave labor, either directly under the Venetian regime, or under the private administration of a Venetian oligarchical clan like the Corner, who owed their riches to such slavery. In later centuries, the harems of the entire Ottoman Empire, from the Balkans to Morocco, were stocked by Venetian slaves. The shock troops of the Ottoman Turkish armies, the Janissaries, were also largely provided by Venetian merchants. A section of the Venetian waterfront is still called Riva Degli Schiavoni -- slaves' dock.

Around 1500, the Venetian oligarch Cristofor da Canal, the leading admiral of the Serenissima Repubblica at that time, composed what he described as a Platonic dialogue concerning the relative merits of galley slaves: the Italians the worst, Dalmatians better, the Greeks the best and toughest of all, although personally filthy and repulsive. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Venice had treaty relations with other states, like Bavaria, by which convicts were delivered to the Serenissima to work as life-long galley slaves.

Indistinguishable from slave gathering operation were piracy and buccaneering, the other staples of the Venetian economy. Wars with Genoa or with other powers were eagerly sought-after opportunities to loot the enemy's shipping with clouds of corsairs, and victory or defeat usually depended more on the success of the privateering than on the direct combat of the galleys, cogs, and soldiers of the battle fleets.

Piracy shades over imperceptibly into routine commerce. Through decades of treachery and mayhem, the Venetians were able to establish themselves as the leading entrepot port of the Mediterranean world, where, as in London up to 1914, the vast bulk of the world's strategic commodities were brought for sale, warehousing, and transshipment. The most significant commodities were spices and silks from India and China, destined for markets in Central and Western Europe. Europe in turn produced textiles and metals, especially precious metals, for export to the East.

Venetian production from the earliest period until the end was essentially nil, apart from salt and the glass manufactures of Murano. The role of the Venetian merchant is that of the profiteering middleman who rooks both buyer and seller, backing up his monopolization of the distribution and transportation systems with the war galleys of the battle fleet.

The Venetian approach to trade was ironically dirigistic. Venice asserted a monopoly of all trade and shipping in the northern Adriatic. The Serenissima's own functionaries organized merchant galley fleets that were sent out one or two times a year to key ports. The galleys were built by the regime in its shipyards, known as the Arsenal, for many centuries the largest factory in the world. They were leased to oligarchs and consortia of oligarchs at a type of auction. Every detail of the operation of these galley fleets, including the obligation to travel in convoy, was stipulated by peremptory state regulation.

In the heyday of Venice, galley fleets were sent to Tana and to Trebizond in the Black Sea, to Crete, Rhodes, and Cyprus on the way to Beirut in the Levant, to Tunis, Tripoli, Algiers, Oran, and Alexandria in North Africa, as well as to Spanish, French, and west coast Italian cities. Especially well-served was "Romania," the area roughly corresponding to modern Greece. Another galley route passed through Gibraltar on the way to Southampton, London, Antwerp, and Bruges.

Many of these galley ports correspond to continuing Venetian influence today. In every instance the Venetians sought to skim the cream off the top of world trade. Their profit margins had to be sufficient to cover a "traditional" twenty percent interest rate, the financing of frequent wars, and maritime insurance premiums, in which they were pioneers.


The tremendous stability of the Venetian state has fascinated historians. How is it possible to maintain the great power of Venice for more than a millennium and a half without being conquered from the outside, and without significant upheavals from within?

Venice remained impervious to foreign invasion from the first settlement until 1797. The monolithic iniquity of Venetian state institutions was seriously disturbed no more than a half dozen times from within the city, and such incidents were speedily terminated by bloodbaths that restored stability rather than spurring more violence. This feature of the Venetian oligarchical system contrasts sharply with that of its rival, Genoa, where each regime from 1300 to 1500 had the life expectancy of an Italian government today. It contrasts sharply with the papacy, where the highest office was up for grabs every dozen years or less, and where humanist factions could sometimes prevail.

In Venice, the bloody resolution of internal faction fights within the oligarchy was suppressed to a minimum, and these energies were effectively sublimated in the depredation of the outside world. The raging heteronomy of each oligarch was directed outward, not at his factional rivals. In the typology of Plato's Republic, Venice is an oligarchy, "a constitution according to property, in which the rich govern and the poor man has no share in government," "the rule of the few, constitution full of many evils." This oligarchy has a residue of timocracy, of rule based on honor. But at the same time the Venetian regime was perversely aware of Plato's description of the swift transition from oligarchy to democracy and thence to tyranny, and against this evolution the patriciate took measures.

Plato notes in Book VIII of The Republic that a "change in a constitution always begins from the governing class when there is a faction within; but so long as they are of one mind, even if they be a very small class, it is impossible to disturb them." The threat of factionalization is located in the "storehouse full of gold, which every man has," and which "destroys such a constitution." The oligarchs "lay a sum of money, greater or less, according as the oligarchy is more or less complete, and proclaim that no one may share in the government unless his property comes up to the assessment. This they carry out by force of arms, or they have used terror before this to establish such a constitution."

Venice lasted as long as it did because of the effective subordination of the oligarchs and families to the needs of the oligarchy as a whole, by the ironclad delimitation of noble status to those already noble in 1297 and their male descendants, and by continuous terror against the masses and against the nobility itself.

All male members of the approximately one hundred fifty noble families had the permanent right to a seat in the Gran Consiglio, or Great Council, which grew to 2000 members around 1500 and thereafter slowly declined. The seat in the Gran Consiglio and the vote it brought were thus independent of which faction happened to be calling the shots at a given moment. The ins might be in, but the outs were sure of their place in the Gran Consiglio, and this body elected the key governing bodies of the regime.

The first of these were the one hundred twenty members, or Pregadi, of the Senate, the upper house which oversaw foreign affairs by choosing the Venetian ambassadors. In the middle of the fifteenth century, Venice was the first and only power which regularly maintained permanent legations in all principal courts and capitals. The Senate also chose five war ministers, five naval ministers (all called Savi), and six Savii Grandi, ministers of still higher rank.

The Gran Consiglio elected a Council of Forty, which was first devoted to budget and finance matters, later more to criminal prosecution. The Gran Consiglio chose three state prosecutors, who could and did sue any official of the state for malfeasance, although the doge was accorded the privilege of being tried after his death, with his family paying any fines levied. The Gran Consiglio also elected the doge himself, through an incredible Byzantine procedure designed to assure a representative choice. First, thirty members of the Gran Consiglio were chosen at random, using colored balls whose Venetian name is the origin of the American word ballot. These thirty drew lots to cut their number down to nine, who then nominated and elected a new group of forty electors. These were then cut down by drawing lots to a group of twelve. This procedure was repeated several times, terminating with a group of forty-one electors of whom twenty-five could nominate a doge for the approval of the Gran Consiglio. Somewhat less complicated procedures were used to select a group of six advisors for the doge.

Most typical of the Venetian system is the Council of Ten, established in 1310 as the coordinating body for foreign and domestic political intelligence operations. Meeting in secret session together with the doge and his six advisors, the Ten had the power to issue a bill of capital attainder against any person inside Venetian jurisdiction, or abroad. If in Venice, that person was generally strangled the same night and the body thrown into the Canale degli Orfani.

The Ten had at their disposal a very extensive foreign intelligence network, but it was inside Venetian territory that their surveillance powers became pervasive: the contents of any discussion among oligarchs or citizens was routinely known to the Ten within twenty- four hours or less, thanks to the ubiquity of its informers and spies. Visitors to the Doge's Palace today can see mail slots around the outside of the building in the shape of lion's mouths marked Per Denontie Segrete ("For Secret Denunciations") for those who wished to call to the attention of the Ten and their monstrous bureaucracy individuals stealing from the state or otherwise violating the law. Death sentences from the Ten were without appeal, and their proceedings were never made public. Offenders simply disappeared from view.

The Venetian regime is a perverse example of the "checks and balances" theory of statecraft, and there were indeed a myriad of such feedback mechanisms. The Savii Grandi balanced the powers of the doge, who was also checked by his six advisors, while more and more power passed to the state inquisitors and the chiefs of the Ten. The state attorneys acted as watchdogs on most matters, as did the Senate, and in times of crises the Gran Consiglio would also assert its powers. The Ten were constantly lurking in the background.

Almost all officials except the doge were elected for terms averaging between six months and one year, with stringent provision against being reelected to an office until a number of months had passed equal to the oligarch's previous tenure in that post. This meant that leading oligarchs were constantly being rotated and shunted from one stop on the Cursus Honorum to another: to Savio Grande to ducal advisor to state inquisitor and so forth. There was no continuity of the population of Venice; the continuity was located only in the oligarchy. In fact, the population of the city seemed unable to reproduce itself. Venice suffered astronomical rates of mortality from malaria and the plague -- its canals, it must be remembered, were first and foremost its sewer system. The decimated natives were continually replenished by waves of immigration, so much so that the Frenchman Philippe de Comynes, an adversary of Machiavelli, could report that the population was mostly foreigners.

Internal order was entrusted to an intricate system of local control in each of the city's sixty parishes, meshing with an elaborate apparatus of corporatist guilds called the Scuole. This was supplemented by an unending parade of festivals, spectacles, and carnivals. Very few troops were usually stationed in the city.

So much for the phenomena. Reality was located in the fact that an elite of ten to fifteen families out of the one hundred fifty effectively ruled with an iron hand. Various Venetian diarists let the cat out of the bag in their descriptions of corruption and vote-buying, especially the bribery of the impoverished decadent nobility, called Barnabotti, who were increasingly numerous in the Gran Consiglio. The regime ran everything, and offices of all types were routinely sold.

This reality of graft was also known to Dante. The poetical geometry of Canto 21 of the Inferno, the canto of the grafters or Barattieri, is established by a reference to the Venetian Arsenal and the pitch used to caulk the hulls of the galleys:

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in the winter the tenacious pitch
To smear their leaky vessels over again,
For sail they cannot

The souls of the grafters are immersed in the boiling pitch, where they are guarded by the Malebranche, grotesque winged monsters armed with spears and hooks: a fitting allegory for the souls of the Venetians.

Dante visited Venice in 1321, acting in his capacity as diplomatic representative of the nearby city of Ravenna, whose overlord was for a time his protector. He died shortly after leaving Venice. The two explanations of his death converge on murder: one version state that he was denied a boat in which to travel south across the lagoon. He was forced to follow a path through the swamps, caught malaria, and died. Another version says that a boat was available, but that to board it would have meant certain assassination. Venetian records regarding this matter have conveniently disappeared.


The Venetian method of statecraft is based on Aristotle -- the deepest Aristotelian tradition in the West. Long before the era of Albertus Magnus (1193-1280) and St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Venice had established itself as the chief center for the translation and teaching of Aristotle's works.

In the year 1135, the Senate sent Giacomo da Venezia to Byzantium, where he was trained in post-Justinian Aristotelian orthodoxy, returning to Venice after two years to begin lectures on Aristotle and to prepare Latin versions of the Greek texts he had brought back with him. A school of Aristotelian doctrine was set up at the Rialto market, the heart of the business and commercial activity of the city. When Venice conquered Padua at the beginning of the fifteenth century, Aristotelian hegemony was imposed on the University of Padua, which became the only one where Venetian nobility were allowed international clientele, especially from Germany.

The inveterate Aristotelianism of Venice is the starting point for a major literary attack on that city by Francesco Petrarch, son of Dante's personal secretary, who took up the responsibility of servicing Dante's humanist networks during the disastrous years around the middle of the fourteenth century. Although these were the years of the Black Death, Petrarch ("Fraunces Petrak the laureate poet" as Chaucer knew him) was the soul of a tenacious humanist rearguard action, with spirited counterattacks at every opportunity, that made the later Italian Renaissance possible.

Petrarch was a contemporary of the Ciompi revolt against oligarchical rule in Florence; he was certainly involved in Cola di Rienzo's seizure of power in Rome in May, 1347. The real story of Petrarch's literary and political achievements has yet to be told. Nonetheless, the fact that he was a determined foe of Venice and its ideology is abundantly clear.

In 1355 Venice had just passed through one of its infrequent internal crises, usually explained as the attempt of the Doge Marin Faliero to overthrow the regime and establish a Signoria, or personal dictatorship, of the type common in Italy at the time. Marin Faliero was publicly decapitated by the Council of Ten.

Petrarch might have had a hand in this operation; during this period he was a frequent guest at the court of the Da Carrara rulers of Padua, about thirty kilometers from the Venetian lagoon. Petrarch may have developed plans for injecting a dose of Platonism into the intellectual life of the Serenissima. Petrarch proposed that he be allowed to take up residence in Venice and locate his library there; the books would remain as a bequest to the city after his death, forming the nucleus of what would have been the first public library in Europe. The Venice authorities accepted, and Petrarch, the most celebrated intellectual of his times, took up his residence on the Riva degli Schiavoni.

Soon he began to receive the visits of four Venetian Aristotelians, whom he later referred to as "my four famous friends." These four oligarchs were Tommaso Talenti, Guido da Bagnolo, Leonardo Dandolo, and Zaccaria Contarini, the latter two of the most exalted lineage. After several discussions with Petrarch, these four began to circulate the slander that Petrarch was "a good man, but without any education."

Petrarch shortly abandoned the library project and soon thereafter left Venice permanently. His answer to the slanderers is contained in his treatise "De Sui Ipsius et Multorum Ignorantia" (1367) (with a swipe at Aristotle in the title), his most powerful piece of invective-polemical writing.

Petrarch scored Aristotelian scholastic philosophy as "a prostitute who delights to worry about vain questions of words." Real philosophy, with the clear purpose of advancing morality, he said, is to be found in St. Augustine. All that Aristotle is capable of doing is providing a delphic description of what the external attributes of morality might look like. To the authority of Aristotle, Petrarch counterposed the Platonism of the New Testament, saying that Christ, not Aristotle, was for him the decisive guide. His "four friends," he asserted, were not Christian, but preferred to follow their favorite philosopher in their sophistry, blasphemy, and impiety. They mocked Christ, and were so pretentious that they could not even understand their own arguments.

Petrarch pointed out that Aristotle provided his followers with all sorts of strange and curious lore, like the number of hairs on a lion's head or of feathers in a hawk's tail, how elephants copulate backwards, how the phoenix arises out of his own ashes, how the only animal that can move its upper jaw is the crocodile. But these facts are not only useless, he said, they are false. "How could Aristotle know such facts, since neither reason nor experience reveal them? Concerning the ultimate objects of philosophy, Aristotle is more ignorant than an old peasant woman.

Venetian nominalism went hand in hand with the most vicious avarice. In a play written in Venetian dialect by Carlo Goldoni in the eighteenth century, a Pantalone-type miser comes home to find wife and daughter busily engaged in needlework. The two women look up briefly and say hello. The miser flies into a rage screaming "What? You quit working to pay me compliments!"

An eminent witness of this typical Venetian vice was Erasmus of Rotterdam, who was to the years after 1500 what Petrarch had been in his own time: Leader of the Platonic humanist faction. Erasmus came to Venice in 1508, on the eve, interestingly enough, of the attempt to annihilate Venice in the War of the League of Cambrai. Erasmus came to get in touch with Aldo Manunzio, the Aldus who owned what was at that time the largest and most famous publishing house in the world.

Venice had reacted to the invention of moveable-type printing by Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz in a way that foreshadowed the reaction of the British oligarchy in this century to radio, the movies, and television. They had immediately attempted to seize control of the new medium. Dozens of Gutenberg's apprentices from the Rhein-Main area were bought up and brought to Venice, where the production of books up to 1500 and beyond was frequently a multiple of the number of titles published in the rest of the world combined.

Aldus was the William Paley and Jack Warner of the industry. Martin Luther was one of that industry's later creations. Aldus brought out the works of Aristotle in Greek shortly after he began operations in 1495. Plato had to wait for almost twenty years.

One of Erasmus' goals in visiting Venice was to accelerate the publication of Plato. He stayed at the home of Aldus' brother-in-law. Erasmus writes about his Venetian sojourn some time later, in the dialogue titled "Opulentia Sordida" of the Colloquia Familiaria. The Urbs Opulenta referred to is of course the wealthiest of all cities, Venice. Aldus appears as Antronius ("the caveman"), described as a multi-millionaire in today's terms.

Erasmus had been away, and is asked by a friend how he got so skinny. Has he been working as a galley slave? Erasmus replies that he has undergone something far worse: ten months of starvation in the home of Antronius. Here people freeze in the winter because there is no wood to burn. Wine was a strategic commodity in Erasmus' opinion, as indeed it was in a time when water was often very unsafe to drink. To save money on wine, Antronius took water and faeces annorum decem miscebat (mixed it with ten year old shit), stirring it up so it would look like the real thing. His bread was made not with flour, but with clay, and was so hard it would break even a bear's teeth. A groaning board on the holidays for a houseful of people and servants was centered around three rotten eggs. There was never meat or fish, but the usual fare was sometimes supplemented by shellfish from a colony that Antronius cultivated in his latrine. When Erasmus consulted a physician, he was told that he was endangering his life by overeating. Erasmus' friend in the dialogue concludes that at this rate, all Germans, Englishmen, Danes, and Poles are about to die. Finally, Erasmus takes his leave, to head for the nearest French restaurant.
Site Admin
Posts: 23130
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:52 am

Part 2 of 2


What was the Venetian political intelligence method? The classical Venetian predicament is that of the weaker power attempting to play off two or more major empires. This was the case when the Venetian power was in its very infancy, and survival depended upon playing off the Langobard Kingdom of Italy against the Byzantines. This ploy was later replaced by the attempt to play the Byzantines off against the Carolingian Empire in the West, an attempt that almost misfired when the army of Charlemagne under Pippin laid siege to Venice inside its lagoons. That siege, however, was not successful.

In the eleventh century, the Venetians successfully incited the Norman barons operating out of Sicily under Robert Guiscard to attack Byzantium, and then moved in to offer the desperate Byzantines protection. The price for that protection was indicated by the famous Golden Bull of 1082, a decree of the Byzantine Emperor by which Venice acquired tax customs-free access to the whole of the eastern empire, where the Greeks themselves had to pay a tax of 10 percent on their own transactions. Thus began a hatred for Venice among the Greek population which persists down to the present day.

In the sixteenth century, Venetian strategic doctrine was to play the Ottoman Turks against the Spanish and Austrian Hapsburgs, and then to correct any residual strategic imbalance by playing the Hapsburgs off in their turn against the French. Sometimes Venice attempted to play the Portuguese rival power off against the Dutch. Later this was expanded to include playing the Dutch against the English, and the English against the French.

The Venetians also goaded forces out of the East to attack Christendom. Venice was the manipulator of Saracens, Mongols, and Turks, and got along with the slave-trading factions in each of these groups about as well as a power like Venice could get along with anybody. In particular, the Venetians were more willing to see territory -- excepting Venetian territory -- be occupied by the Turks than any other power. Venice was thus the past master of the more exotic permutations of the stolid old British dividi et impera, "divide and conquer."

But the essence of their strategic doctrine was something more abstruse, something sometimes described as the "collapse of empires" scenario. Venice parasitized the decline of much larger states, a decline that Venice itself strove to organize, sometimes in a long and gradual descending curve, but sometimes in a quick bonanza of looting.

Venice was repeatedly confronted with the problem posed by a triumphant enemy, at the height of his power, who would be perfectly capable of crushing the Serenissima in short order. This enemy had to be manipulated into self-destruction, not in any old way, but in the precise and specific way that served the Venetian interest. Does this sound impossible? What is astounding is how often it has succeeded. In fact, it is succeeding in a very real sense in the world today.

The most spectacular example of Venetian manipulation of the dumb giants of this world has gone down in history as the Fourth Crusade. At a tournament in the Champagne in 1201, the Duke of Champagne and numerous feudal barons collectively vowed to make a fighting pilgrimage to the sepulcher of Our Lord in Jerusalem. Here they were to reinforce a French garrison hard-pressed by the Turk Saladin. For many of them, this involved penance for certain misdeeds, not the least of which was a plot against their own sovereign liege, the king.

Reaching the Holy Land required transportation, and the French knights sent Geoffrey of Villehardouin to Venice to negotiate a convoy of merchant galleys with an appropriate escort of warships. Geoffrey closed the deal with the Doge Enrico Dandolo, blind and over eighty years old. Dandolo drove a hard bargain: for the convoy with escort to Jerusalem and back, the French knights would have to fork over the sum of 85,000 silver marks, equal to 20,000 kilograms of silver, or about double the yearly income of the King of England or of France at that time.

When 10,000 French knights and infantry gathered on the Lido of Venice in the summer of 1202, it was found that the French, after pawning everything down to the family silver, still owed the Venetians 35,000 marks. The cunning Dandolo proposed that this debt could easily be canceled if the crusaders would join the Venetians in subjugating Zara, a Christian city in Dalmatia, across the Adriatic from Venice. To this the knights readily agreed, and the feudal army forced the capitulation of Zara, which had been in revolt against Venice.

At this point Dandolo made the crusaders a "geopolitical" proposal, pointing out that the emperor of Byzantium was suspected of being in alliance with the Saracens, and that an advance to the Holy Land would be foolhardy unless this problem were first dealt with. As it happened, the Venetians were supporting a pretender to the Byzantine throne, since the current emperor was seeking to deny them their trading privileges. The pretender was the young Alexios, who promised the knights that if they helped him gain power, he would join them on the crusade with an army of 10,000 Greek soldiers.

Thus, from 1203 to 1204, Constantinople was besieged by the joint Franco-Venetian expeditionary force, which finally succeeded in breaking through the fortifications along the Golden Horn, the bay on the north side of the city.

Byzantium was sacked in an orgy of violence and destruction, from which the Venetians brought back as booty the four bronze horses which generally stand on the Basilica of St. Mark, but which are often exhibited in other cities. Count Baudoin of Flanders was place on the throne of a new concoction titled the Latin Empire of Constantinople. The doge of Venice received a piece of the action in the form of the title Lord of Three Eighths of the Latin Empire. Venice took over three-eighths of Constantinople, a permanent Venetian colony with its own battle fleet. Lemnos and Gallipoli came into Venetian hands. Crete was annexed, and were Naxos and related islands, and the large island of Euboa, which the Venetians called Negroponte. On the Ionian side, the Venetians appropriated Modon and Koron and several islands up to and including Corfu. All Venetian trading privileges in Greece were restored.

The loot brought back from the sack of Constantinople was greater than anything Europe would see until the Spanish treasure fleets from the New World several centuries later. Venice had acquired a colonial empire of naval bases, and was hegemonic in the eastern Mediterranean. To top it all off, the sultan of Egypt had paid a substantial bribe to Dandolo to keep the Crusaders out of Palestine in the first place.

For the human race, the Fourth Crusade was an unmitigated tragedy. The hypertrophy of Venetian power in the Mediterranean was one of the decisive factors ensuring the later defeat of Emperor Federigo II of Hohenstaufen, King of Sicily. The Venetian puppet "Latin Empire" was overthrown by the Paleologues in 1261, but by that time Federigo was gone. By 1266-68, Federigo's two sons and their Ghibelline supporters were defeated by Charles of Anjou, and the last representative of the Hohenstaufen dynasty was beheaded in the public square of Naples. The triumph of the Black Guelphs had become irreversible.

A further contributing factor in this tragedy was doubtless the Mongol hordes. At about the time the Venetians were sacking Constantinople, Ghengis Khan ruled over an empire that extended from Korea all the way to Iran, and which was rapidly advancing to the West. Batu, a nephew of Ghengis, defeated the Bulgarians in 1236, captured Kiev in the Ukraine in 1240, and swept into Poland. In Silesia in 1241 the German and Polish feudal army, including the Teutonic Knights, was annihilated. Later in the same year the Mongols defeated the Hungarians. The Mongols did not, for reasons that are not clear, advance further westward, but the Mongol Golden Horde that imposed its hegemony over Russia was the beginning of Russia's economic and cultural backwardness. For some loosening of the Mongol yoke, the Russians would have to fight the titanic battle of Kulokovo Field on the Don in 1380.

In these Mongol victories, there was something more than mere numerical superiority at work, as one historian sums up the case:

The Mongols did not sweep in wildly and suddenly, like reckless barbarians. No indeed, they advanced according to careful plan. At every stage, the Mongol generals informed themselves ahead of time about the state of European courts, and learned what feuds and disorders would be advantageous to their conquests. This valuable knowledge they obtained from Venetian merchants, men like Marco Polo's father. It was thus not without reason that Polo himself was made welcome at the court of Kublai, and became for a time administrator of the Great Khan.

So the great Marco Polo, and the Venetian family from which he came, was responsible for directing the destruction of Ghengis Khan against Europe. The omnipresent Venetian intelligence was also a factor in the Mongol destruction of the Arab cultural center of Baghdad in 1258.

Friedrich Schiller and William Shakespeare both analyze the manipulative methods employed by the Venetian secret intelligence establishment; both considered Venetian intelligence one of their most formidable enemies. Much of Schiller's writing is dedicated in various ways to fighting the Venice-Genoa-Geneva combination that had held the financial reins of King Philip II of Spain.

Schiller's direct treatment of Venice is a fragment of a novel titled Der Geisterseher ("The Ghost Seer"). Its central character is a Sicilian charlatan, expert at bringing the spirits of the departed back into the world for the thrill-seeking nobility at seances. This Sicilian charlatan is a figure for a whole class of Venetian intelligence operatives, like Count Cagliostro, the mountebank who claimed to be the reincarnation of the leading Mason of ancient Egypt. Another of this breed was Emanuel Swedenborg. After Schiller's time, this category swelled considerably with theosophists like Madame Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Henry Steel Olcott, and with that archapparitionist Rudolph Steiner, founder of the Anthroposophy movement and the Waldorf schools.

In Schiller's tale, a young German prince in Venice for the grand tour is subjected to a series of manipulations by a sinister, masked Armenian, who informs him, before the fact, of the death of a close relative hundreds of miles away. At a gambling den, a young Venetian patrician picks a quarrel with the prince, who fears for his life until he is ushered into one of the chambers of the Council of Ten, where the offending patrician is strangled before his eyes. He comes into contact with the Sicilian mountebank, and then spends weeks attempting to ascertain the identity of a mysterious beauty he has seen at church.

He begins to frequent a semi-secret free-thinking club, called the Bucentoro after the golden ship used by the doge on occasions of state. At least one cardinal is also a member of the Bucentoro. He takes to gambling, loses heavily, and contracts immense debts. In the meantime, rumors are spread at his Protestant court that he has become a Catholic, which leads to his repudiation by his entire family. At the end of the fragment, his life has been ruined, and his death is imminent.

Shakespeare's "Othello, The Moor of Venice" is a more finished analysis of the same technique. It was written and performed shortly after 1603, when the Venetians and Genoese had acquired vast powers in England through the accession of their puppet James I to the throne.

Othello is a Moor, hired out to Venice as a mercenary, and at the apex of his power, having just won a victory over the Turkish fleet attacking Cyprus. He enjoys the full confidence of the Senate, and has just married Desdemona, the daughter of a patrician. Othello, the "erring barbarian," is however something of a dumb giant: his proficiency in the arts of war is unmatched, but his emotional makeup tends decidedly toward the naive and infantile. He has no real insight into affairs of state, or into psychology. Above all, he is superstitious and has a propensity for jealousy.

All of these weaknesses are systematically exploited by "honest Iago," a member of Othello's staff who is determined to destroy him. Iago is the figure of the Venetian intelligence officer, an expert in what he calls "double knavery" -- the art of manipulation. He sets out to destroy Othello using an accurate psychological profile of the Moor, and exploiting above all Othello's naive willingness to trust his "honest Iago." Iago's modus operandi is to:

Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me,
For making him egregiously an ass
And practicing upon his peace and quit
Even to madness.

Iago uses his throwaway agent, the dupe Roderigo, for financing and services. He sets up scenes where he cons one participant with one story, briefs another participant with a different story, brings them together in a controlled environment, and exploits the resulting fireworks for his overall strategy. He sets up a fight between Roderigo and the drunken Cassio that leads to the wounding of Montano by Cassio, who is ousted as chief lieutenant by Othello. After this, he manipulates Desdemona's naive desire to help Cassio regain his post into prima facie evidence that Desdemona is an adulteress. Iago is then able to goad Othello all the way to killing Desdemona and, finally, himself.

At the center of the play are epistemological questions of truth and proof. In Act 3, Iago drives Othello wild with innuendoes about Desdemona's alleged adultery, and makes him commit to the murder of Cassio, all without the slightest shred of proof. What Othello then regards as definitive proof of adultery, sufficient to motivate the murder of Desdemona, is a handkerchief which Iago obtains and plants on Cassio. This handkerchief is an object of deep emotional and superstitious importance for Othello, as it had been given by his father to his mother. It had been his first love token for Desdemona. When he sees it in the hands of Cassio, he is ready to kill.

Iago is well aware of Othello's epistemological weakness. When he first obtains the handkerchief, he gloats:

I will in Cassio's lodging lose this napkin,
And let him find it. Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ; this may do something.

Shortly thereafter, Othello demands certainty that Desdemona is betraying him. What would be definitive proof, Iago asks?

Would you, the supervisor, grossly gape upon --
Behold her tupp'd?

This kind of certainty, he says, is impossible to obtain, but he offers an inductive- deductive substitute:

But yet, I say,
If imputation and strong circumstances,
Which lead directly to the door of truth,
Will give you satisfaction, you might have't.

In the final scene, we can agree with Iago's wife Emilia that Othello is a gull and a dolt, a "murderous coxcomb ... as ignorant as dirt." But the lesson is that not only Othello, but all those who love not wisely but too well, who, "being wrought" and "perplexed in the extreme," are potential victims of Venetian intelligence.


Since the Venetian oligarchy relied for its survival on the secret weapon of political intelligence manipulation, its primary strategic targets were first and foremost dictated by epistemological rather than military criteria. Fleets and armies, even in the hands of a powerful and aggressive enemy state, could well redound to Venetian advantage. The real danger was a hostile power that developed epistemological defenses against manipulation and deceit. In the face of such a threat Venice did -- and does -- kill.

The Italian Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, perhaps the greatest outpouring of human creativity in history, represented such a threat to the Serene Republic, and in a more concentrated form than it had ever faced before. The threat arose from the epistemological warfare and alliance system of the great Cosimo de' Medici of Florence and his successors. Venice mobilized every resource at its disposal to destroy the Renaissance. After decades of sabotage, going so far as to arrange the ravaging of Italy by foreign armies, Venice succeeded.

The potential political and epistemological power of the Italian Renaissance are best identified in the ecumenical council of the Church convened in Florence in the year 1438. The council, first convened in Ferrara, was moved to Florence at the urging of Cosimo de' Medici, who held power from 1434 to 1464. Cosimo was the major financial and political sponsor of the proceedings.

Cosimo was a self-declared enemy of Venice. On one occasion he wrote, "Association with the Venetians brings two things which have always been rejected by men of wisdom: certain perdition and disgrace."

The council had to deal with the ongoing crisis in the western church, which had been exacerbated by the struggle between the Council of Basel and Pope Eugene IV, who had been driven out of Rome by a revolt. In the East, the Ottoman Turks were beginning to recover from the crushing defeat that the Turkish Emperor Bajazet had suffered in 1402 at the battle of Ankara at the hand of Tamerlane the Great. The first, unsuccessful, Turkish siege of Constantinople had already been mounted in 1422.

The hope held out by the Council of Florence was to implement Nicolas of Cusa's program of the Concordantia Catholica -- a community of principle among humanist sovereign states for cultural and economic development, against Venetians, Turks, and all enemies of natural law. To Florence came the Emperor of Byzantium, John VIII Paleologue, accompanied by his advisor Gemisthos Plethon and Plethon's student, Archbishop Bessarion of Nicea. The Latin delegation was titularly headed by Pope Eugene IV, heavily dependent upon the support of Cosimo de' Medici at that time. This delegation was dominated in outlook by men like Nicolas of Cusa, Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo Bruni, Cardinal Capranica, and Aeneas Piccolomini of Siena, later Pope Pius II. The Greek and Latin delegations were each profoundly vitiated by powerful Aristotelian factions, but this was still one of the most impressive assemblies in history.

The culmination of the council was an impassioned oration by Plethon on the antithesis between Plato and Aristotle, a speech which went far beyond anything ever heard in the West. Marsilio Ficino, himself a participant at the council, tells the story of how Cosimo de' Medici, while listening to Plethon, made up his mind to create the Platonic Academy in Florence.

The most immediate question to be addressed was the reunification of the Roman and Greek churches, abrogating the mutual excommunications issued by the pope and the patriarch of Constantinople in 1054. The contending theologians debated the question of the "filioque" in the Latin credo, attempting to resolve the question of whether the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father, as the Greeks argued, or from the Son as well, according to the Roman view. The Greeks eventually agreed to recognize the correctness of the Latin position, although they declined to modify their own credo accordingly. The Paleologue emperor intervened repeatedly in these discussions, stressing that there were no real differences in doctrine, and that anyone who let nonexistent divergences stand in the way of common action against the Turks was a worse traitor than Judas. In the end a purely formal reunification of the two churches was attained, but it remained a dead letter.

Even so, Cosimo and his cothinkers came close several times to welding an alliance capable of dominating the world, and the first to pay the price of their success would have been the Venetians. Medici Florence was at the center of a network of trade and finance that was beginning to rival Venice, with the crucial difference that the Florentines were the producers, thanks to Cosimo's dirigism, of the textile products they offered for sale. The Duchy of Milan would shortly come under the domination of the condottiero (mercenary commander) Francesco Sforza, installed in power with the help of the Medici, and an enemy of Venice. In 1461 the humanist Louis XI would take the throne of France. This new king was determined to apply the concepts of statecraft developed in Italy, and considered the Venetians "insolent merchants." In 1460, the humanist Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini would be elected Pope Pius II; in the meantime he was in a position to influence Frederick III of Hapsburg, the Holy Roman Emperor.

The Venetian reaction to this potential for the implementation of an ecumenical Grand Design on the platform of the Italian Renaissance humanists was, predictably, to bring on the Turks once again. During all these years the Turks possessed a combined warehouse-residence-safehouse in Venice, the Fondaco dei Turchi, which facilitated dealings between the doge and the sultan. Spurred on by Venetian financing and Venetian- procured artillery, the Sultan Mohammed the Conqueror laid siege to Constantinople and captured it in 1453. The Turks were aided by the Greek patriarch, who had pronounced the defense of the Paleologue dynasty a heretical cause. Finally, it was the Genoese troops who opened the gates of the city to the forces of the sultan. Hardly a coincidence was the burning of the library of Constantinople with its matchless collection of Ionian and Platonic codices, most unavailable anywhere else since the library of Alexandria had been destroyed some fifteen centuries earlier. In their own sack of Constantinople in 1204, the Venetians had declined to appropriate these manuscripts.

The destruction of Byzantium by the Turks gave the Venetians a slogan with which to organize their war against the Renaissance. Since the Roman Empire had finally ended, it was left to the Venetians to arrogate to themselves the task of building a new Roman Empire. The foundation of a new Roman Empire became, in Venice, from the middle of the fifteenth century on, the leading obsession of the oligarchs.

"The Venetians are called new Romans," confided the patrician Bernardo Bembo to his diary. Francesco Sforza of Milan wrote that the Venetians were:

"obstinate and hardened, always keeping their mouths open to be able to bite off power and usurp the state of all their neighbors to fulfill the appetite of their souls to conquer Italy and then beyond, as did the Romans, thinking to compare themselves to the Romans when their power was at its apex."

Machiavelli wrote that the Venetians had "fixed in their souls the intention of creating a monarchy on the Roman model." This is corroborated by a dispatch of the ambassador of Louis XII of France at the court of the Emperor Maximilian I some years later, which described the Venetians as:

"traders in human blood, traitors to the Christian faith who have tacitly divided up the world with the Turks, and who are already planning to throw bridgeheads across the Danube, the Rhine, the Seine, and Tagus, and the Ebro, attempting to reduce Europe to a province and to keep it subjugated to their armies."

These megalomaniac plans of the Venetians were no secret. In 1423, the Doge Tommaso Mocenigo had urged upon his fellow oligarchs a policy of expansionism which would make them the overlords "of all the gold and of Christendom."

The most penetrating indictments of the Venetians during this period were issued by Pope Pius II Piccolomino, who tried in vain to force Venice into joining a crusade against the Turks. A Venetian saying of this period was Prima son Vinizian, poi son Cristian. (I am a Venetian first, then a Christian.") In his Commentaries, Pius II excoriates the Venetians for their duplicitous treachery, and establishes the fact that they are a pagan, totalitarian state. The Venetians, he says, have acted in their diplomacy:

"with the good faith characteristics of barbarians, or after the manner of traders whose nature it is to weigh everything by utility, paying no attention to honor. But what do fish care about law? As among the brute beasts aquatic creatures have the least intelligence, so among human beings the Venetians are the least just and the least capable of humanity, and naturally so, for they live on the sea and pass their lives in the water; they use ships instead of horses; they are not so much companions of men as of fish and comrades of marine monsters. They please only themselves, and while they talk they listen to and admire themselves.... They are hypocrites. They wish to appear as Christians before the world, but in reality they never think of God and, except for the state, which they regard as a deity, they hold nothing sacred, nothing holy. To a Venetian, that is just which is for the good of the state; that is pious which increases the empire.... What the senate approves is holy even though it is opposed to the gospel.... They are allowed to do anything that will bring them to supreme power. All law and right may be violated for the sake of power."

During many of these years Venetians were in a tacit alliance with the Turks. When, for example, a revolt against Venetian rule in Albania was started, threatening the Venetian naval base at Durazzo, the Venetians made a deal with the Turks to crush the revolt. On one occasion Pius II received the Venetian ambassador to the Roman court and condemned Venetian policy with these words:

"Your cause is one with thieves and robbers.... No power was ever greater than the Roman empire and yet God overthrew it because it was impious, and He put in its place the priesthood because it respected divine law.... You think [your] republic will last forever. It will not last long. Your population so wickedly gathered together will soon be scattered abroad. The offscourings of fishermen will be exterminated. A mad state cannot long stand."

In 1464 Pius II, despite a serious illness, traveled from Rome to Ancona to personally lead a crusade against the Turks. He wished to force the hand of the Venetians, who had promised him a battle fleet. He died shortly after the Venetian warships arrived, and Venice thereupon pulled out of any serious fighting against the Turks. But his attack on "the mad state" was on target, then and now.

During the first half of the fifteenth century, much Venetian energy was devoted to a rapid expansion up the Po Valley toward Milan. They seized Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Brescia, and Bergamo, reaching the Adda River, just a few miles from Milan. With Milan under Venetian control, the "new Romans" could bid fair to dominate northern Italy and then the entire peninsula.

Cosimo de' Medici, as we have seen, secured a Florence-Milan alliance by supporting the claims of Francesco Sforza, fighting a war against Venice to do it. Basing himself on this Florence-Milan axis, Cosimo then proceeded to create an uneasy peace in Italy that was to last forty years. This was the Italian League, formed at the Peace of Lodi in 1453, which united the leading powers of Italy, the pope, Naples, Milan, Florence, and Venice, ostensibly in an alliance against the Turks, who had for a time held a toe-hold in Apulia. In reality, the Italian League was a Florence-Milan-Naples combination designed to check Venetian expansionism. In this it proved effective, giving the Renaissance almost half a century of time to develop under the longa pax of the Medici.

During these years, stymied in Italy, the Venetians concentrated on overseas expansion, including the conquest of Cyprus. But on the death of Cosimo's successor, Lorenzo the Magnificent, they began their systematic campaign to destroy the civilization of the high renaissance. Their basic premise was that, given their own inability to devastate the centers of Renaissance culture and economic development, they must concentrate on duping the overwhelming military forces of European states like France, Spain, and the other Hapsburg dominions into accomplishing this task for them.

The most competent contemporary observer of these matters was Niccolo Machiavelli, active somewhat later in the post-Medici Florentine diplomatic service, and a factional ally of Cesare Borgia, Duke of Valentino. Machiavelli noted that the two most dangerous forces in Italy around the turn of the century were the Venetians and the pope. His own hatred was directed especially against Venice, firstly because of the stated Venetian intention to subjugate Italy in a new Roman Empire. Secondly, Venice more than any other state relied on armies of mercenaries, and thus embodied precisely that practice which Machiavelli knew had to be extirpated, in favor of citizen-soldiers, if Italy was to be saved from humiliating subjugation to the likes of the Hapsburgs.

Machiavelli pointed out that the disintegration of Italy began when the Venetians succeeded in turning Lodovico il Moro, successor of Francesco as Duke of Milan, making him their agent of influence. Lodovico was responsible for the first major invasion of Italy in many years when he agreed to support the claims of Charles VIII of France to the Kingdom of Naples. This was the French king whom his father, the great Louis XI, considered a hopeless imbecile. In 1494 the French army crossed the Alps, accompanied by a Genoese advisor we will meet again later: Giuliano della Rovere.

This was enough to bring about the fall of the Medici regime in Florence, to the advantage of the Pazzi, Albizi, and related oligarchs of that city. These oligarchs immediately sought to crush the Florentine Renaissance using the regime of the demented Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola, who set up a theocracy a la Khomeini. Savonarola proudly trumpeted that his rule was based on sound Venetian principles; his family was closely related to the Padua Aristotelian community. As for Charles VIII, he went on to establish a tenuous hold on Naples.

Several years later, in 1498, the Venetians repeated this maneuver, with the variation that this time it was they who blatantly invited the French to cross the Alps. This time the pretext was the French claim to the Milanese dukedom, and the dupe was a new French king, Louis XII. The French army knocked out Milan in 1500, a fatal blow to the Renaissance cultural ferment associated there with Leonardo da Vinci. Shortly thereafter, Louis XII decided to compensate the Hapsburgs with Naples. Naples accordingly became the first beachhead of what would shortly become a totally destructive Hapsburg hegemony in Italy.


For Venice, so far so good: Florence, Naples, and Milan had been ruined. But ironically, the same dumb Valois and Hapsburg giants which had taken out three dangerous rivals were now to turn like Frankenstein's monsters on the wily new Romans. Venetian manipulations were about to boomerang in the form of an alliance of all of Europe against Venice.

This was the famous crisis of the War of the League of Cambrai, which was assembled in 1508-1509. The opposing coalition was made up of the pope (by then the Genoese Giuliano della Rovere, as Julius II), the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, France, Spain, Savoy, Mantua, and Ferrara. The announced purpose of this alliance was to expunge Venice from the face of the earth.

It nearly worked. At Agnadello, near the Adda River, the Venetian mercenary army was crushed by an army composed predominantly of Frenchmen. The Venetians were driven all the way down the Po Valley to Padua, and they soon lost that as well. Machiavelli exulted that on the day of Agnadello, the Venetians lost everything that they had conquered in more than 800 years. Machiavelli was himself engaged in operations against Venice, bringing a grant of Florentine cash to the aid of the Franco-Imperial forces holding Verona.

With nothing left but the lagoons, the Venetian position was desperate. The doge sent a message to the pope asking for mercy, and announcing that Venice would vacate territory taken in the past from the Papal States.

Inside Venice, Agnadello brought on an orgy of hysterical self-flagellation among the terrified patricians. The banker Girolamo Priuli wrote in his diary that Agnadello had been a punishment for the sins of the Venetian nobility, among which he numbered arrogance, violation of promises, lechery in nunneries, sodomy, effeminate dress, and luxurious and lascivious entertainments. Antonio Contarini, newly appointed patriarch of Venice, gave a speech to the Senate in which he characterized the Serenissima as a thoroughly amoral city. The defeat was a punishment for the city's sins, he said. Nunneries were catering to the sexual needs of the rich and powerful. Homosexuality was so widespread that female prostitutes had complained to him that they had earned so little during their youth that they had to keep working far into their old age.

But more significantly, the shock of Agnadello set into motion a strategic review in the Venetian intelligence community which led to very far-reaching conclusions, some of which were not obvious before several decades had gone by.

The first Venetian ploy was to attempt to dismember the Cambrai coalition. They started with Pope Julius II. This pontiff was, as already noted, Genoese. Genoa and Venice had engaged in a series of highly destructive wars up till about the end of the fourteenth century, but after that, Genoa gravitated toward the status of junior partner and close associate of the Venetians. The Venetians had bested the Genoese by virtue of superior connections in the East, but otherwise their was a broad area of agreement.

The symbol of Genoa was St. George the dragon-slayer, in reality no saint at all but a thinly disguised version of Perseus saving Andromeda by slaying the sea monster, a legend that is centered on the coast of Lebanon. The "George" is said to come from the Gorgon Medusa, whose head Perseus was carrying.

Perseus is in turn nothing but a westernized variant of Marduk, the Syrian Apollo, a deity associated with the most evil forces of ancient Assyria and Babylon. The Venetians had their own Marduk cult, although subordinated to St. Mark, on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, home of a Dominican monastery and today of the Cini Foundation, one of the highest level think tanks in the world. The modern British preference of Gorgons is too well known to need comment.

What probably accounted more directly for Julius II's decision to reverse his alliances was a deal mediated with the Venetians by Agostino Chigi, the Siena Black Guelph banker from whose financial empire the infamous Siena Group of today derives. He proposed that the Venetians stop buying alum, needed in textile and glass manufacture, from the Turks, but contract for a large shipment at higher prices from the alum mines at Tolfa in the Papal States -- mines for which he, Chigi, was acting as agent. To sweeten the pot, Chigi offered the Venetians tens of thousands of ducats in much-needed loans.

The Venetians, fearing a rapid French offensive, accepted. Their own state finances were in total shambles. Only the Chigi loan allowed them to hire enough Swiss mercenaries to hold out against the French and the Imperial Landsknechte.

To provide a plausible cover for his move, Julius II suddenly discovered that the real issue was not Venice after all, but the need to expel the barbarians (primarily the French) from Italy. Julius stipulated an alliance with Venice. He then set up the slogan of Fuori Barbari! (Kick the Barbarians out!) which is still recorded by credulous writers of Italian school books as the beginning of the struggle to unify Italy. Even the Venetian mercenaries, mostly Swiss, began using the battle cry of "Italy and Freedom!"

Thus the post-Agnadello crisis was overcome. Some years later the Venetians tried the same tactic in reverse, this time with more lasting success. By 1525 the prevalent barbarians in Italy were the forces of Emperor Charles V, who had defeated the French at Pavia, capturing King Francis I. The French lost their hold on Naples and Milan. At this point Doge Andrea Gritti, whose portrait by Tiziano speaks volumes about his personality, decided to agitate once again the banner of Italian freedom. This took the form of the Holy League of Cognac "for the restoration of Italian liberty," uniting France, Venice, Milan, Florence, and the Papal States under Pope Clement VIII Medici. After having set up this alliance, designed to play the French against Charles V once again to destroy Medici-controlled Rome, the last intact Renaissance center, the Venetians retired into defensive positions to await the outcome.

Venetian capacities to manipulate Charles V were formidable indeed. The emperor's bankers and intelligencers were the Fuggers of Augsburg, a banking house and a city that must be regarded as Venetian satellites, within a context of very heavy Venetian control of the cities of the Danube valley. Virtually every young male member of the Fugger family, and of their colleagues the Welsers as well, was sent to Venice for a period of apprenticeship at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. This was the case with Jacob Fugger the Rich. Venice was the pivot for Fugger metals trading, especially toward the East.

Thus, the Venetians stayed in their phony war posture against Charles V, while the imperial army of Lutheran Lanzi under Georg Frundsberg devastated Italy. The sack of Rome in 1527 was the direct outcome of this combined Venetian diplomacy and manipulation. To make Charles V's triumph complete, the Genoese Admiral Andrea Doria, commanding the French fleet, defected to the imperial side. A Doria coup in Genoa then established a permanent de facto alliance with Venice.

In 1530, Charles V was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor and King of Italy in a ceremony at Bologna. Garrisons of imperial troops were shortly stationed in every major city. Thanks to the tenacious policy of the Venetians, the main centers of the Renaissance had been subverted or destroyed. Venice was the only major Italian state which had retained real sovereignty. With the end of the Renaissance, Venice could feel free to start a delphic Renaissance among the throngs of intellectuals seeking asylum in the lagoons.


The "long autumn of the Italian Renaissance in Venice" during the rest of the sixteenth century was only one deployment among several. Another was the promotion of the Protestant Reformation. The more immediate controllers of Martin Luther have yet to be identified, but this is something of a secondary matter. Luther's agitation in Wittenberg was merely one more example of protests against the papacy and the Curia that had been chronic and endemic for decades. What gave Luther and the rest of the Protestant reformers real clout was a publicity and diffusion of their ideas that owed much to the Venetian publishing establishment. The Venetian presses quickly turned out 40,000 copies of the writings of Luther, Calvin, Melancthon, and the heresiarch Juan Valdes, especially popular in Italy.

Pope Leo X publicly denounced the University of Padua as the hotbed of inspiration of the German disease of Lutheranism. Clearly, Venetian interest was well-served by a schismatic movement that would embroil Germany, France, and the rest of Europe in a series of easily profiled conflicts. In addition, a conflict between reformers and counter-reformers, all owing allegiance to Aristotle, would severely undercut the influence of Erasmus and others like him.

Venetian influence on both Reformation and Counter-Reformation can be seen most clearly in the remarkable career of Gasparo Contarini, who did not let the fact that he was a Protestant in theology, well before Luther, prevent him from founding the Society of Jesus.

Contarini was the scion of one of Venice's most prestigious LONGHI families. The Contarinis had produced seven doges, and Gasparo had his sights set on being the eighth, before he was tapped to serve Venice as a member of the College of Cardinals. He served the Serene Republic as ambassador to the court of Charles V, and as ambassador to the Vatican, where he took a role in setting up the Medici Pope Clement VII for the 1527 sack of Rome. Toward the end of his life, Contarini was sent as papal legate to the Imperial Diet at Regenburg, where he represented the Roman point of view in debates with schismatics like Melancthon. There, he had a hand in destroying any compromise between the Lutherans and the Emperor Charles, which would have helped to end the bloodshed and dissension of the Reformation years.

What does this sublime Venetian patrician have to do with the founding of the Jesuit order by that itinerant and deranged mystic, Ignatius of Loyola? Ignatius was the creature of Venice, and of Contarini in particular.

In 1521, Ignatius was wounded while fighting the French in one of the wars of Charles V. During his convalescence, he underwent his much-touted mystical crisis, after which he took up the life of a hobo. Making his way around Europe seeking funding for a pilgrimage to the holy land, Ignatius found his way to Venice, where he camped out in St. Mark's Square and lived by begging.

One evening the Venetian oligarch Marcantonio Trevisan was sleeping in his golden palace, and had a vision. An angel came to him asking, "Why are you sleeping so soundly in your warm bed, while in the square there is a holy man, a poor pilgrim who needs your help?" Trevisan rushed downstairs to find Ignatius, who became his house guest, fleas and all.

After that, Ignatius was given an audience with the doge, Andrea Gritti, who offered him passage to Cyprus on a Venetian warship as first leg of his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Ignatius continued his travels, but soon returned to Venice to develop relationships with other members of the oligarchy. These included Gasparo Contarini's nephew Pietro, who became a recipient of Ignatius' patented brainwashing treatment, the Exercitationes Spirituales.

Then Ignatius made his way to Rome. Here he became the protégé of Gasparo Contarini, who had been appointed to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul III Farnese. The cardinal took the Exercitationes Spirituales, and appointed Ignatius his personal confessor and spiritual advisor. By 1540, Contarini had personally interceded with the pope against Ignatius' enemies within the church hierarchy to ensure the founding of the Society of Jesus as a new Church order. In June 1539, Contarini personally traveled to the pope's summer residence at Tivoli, and prevailed on the pontiff to let him read aloud the statutes of the new order composed by Ignatius. The pope must have been favorably impressed by something. His approving comment Hic est digitus Dei, ("Here is the finger of God"), has become a feature of the turgid Jesuit homiletics.


An ironic postscript to this story is that later the Venetian oligarchy decided that it simply would not do to be too closely identified with the benighted excesses of the Spanish and the papacy they so thoroughly dominated. In the years around 1570, accordingly, Venice became the site of the first example in Europe of what the French later termed "salons" for socializing and literary discussion: the Ridotto Morosini, sponsored by the ancient family of the same name. Here the seeds were sown that would later produce free-thinking, l'esprit libertin and the Philosophes -- in a word, the Enlightenment. The Ridotto Morosini salon was in favor of tolerance and science, against everything doctrinaire and narrow. They sheltered Galileo against the Inquisition. Out of the Morosini salon came one of the rare public factions in Venetian political history, the so-called Giovani.

The Giovani, in contrast to their rivals, the Vecchi, were in favor of profound innovations in Venetian foreign policy. They wished above all to cement alliances with the countries to whom they felt the future belonged: France, England, and the Netherlands. The Vecchi, they said, were paralyzed by too much fear of Spanish power, and not ready enough to tangle with the people.

The Giovani were able to implement their program in 1606, when the Pope (now Paul V, Camillo Borghese) strenuously objected to the arrest by Venice of several ecclesiastics in its territory. The Borghese pope placed Venice under the interdict, and proceeded to excommunicate government officials. The main supporter of Venice internationally was James I, the Stuart ruler of England.

At the same time, the powerful Venetian propaganda apparatus swung into action, under the leadership of a Servite monk named Paolo Sarpi, whose lack of noble birth kept him from public office. Sarpi was the Venetian contact man for Sir Francis Bacon.

Sarpi had been in Rome, where he had been associated with Nicholas Bobadilla, one of St. Ignatius' original hard core. He had been a friend of Bellarmino, later the Jesuit-general, and his direct adversary during the Interdict affair. He was close to Galileo, who called him "my father." Sarpi had lent a hand in the construction of Galileo's telescope. Sarpi was lavish in his praise of Gilbert's treatise on magnetism. He was also the author of an Arte di Ben Pensare, which is curiously similar to the writings of John Locke. Sarpi admitted in private to being "a Protestant."

He engaged in a long pamphlet war with Bellarmino, and topped this off with a muck-raking History of the Council of Trent, which needless to say whitewashed the role of Venetian intelligence in the Counter-Reformation. The noise created around the whole affair was so great that some people forgot that it had after all been the Venetians, specifically Zuane Mocenigo, who had consigned Giordano Bruno -- also of Ridotto Morosini -- into the hands of the Inquisition just a few years before.


The policies of the Giovani, propagandized by Sarpi and Doge Leonardo Dona' during the struggle around the Interdict, corresponded to a metastasis of Venice's power and influence through the world. The Venetians and their Genoese Doria-faction associates were busily shifting their family fortunes into more profitable locations, not tied to the fate of what was rapidly becoming a third-rate naval power.

The Venice-Genoa partnership is in evidence first of all in the banking side of the Spanish looting of the New World. Venice got control of the silver coming from the Americas, shifting to a silver standard from the previous gold standard in the middle of the sixteenth century. This silver was used to pay for the spices and other products from the East.

Venice was extremely liquid at this time, with about 14 million ducats in coins in reserve around 1600. At about the same time, incredibly, the Venetian regime had completed the process of paying off its entire public debt, leaving the state with no outstanding obligations of any type. This overall highly liquid situation is a sure sign that flights of capital are underway, in the direction of the countries singled out by the Giovani as future partners or victims: France, England, and the Netherlands.

The Genoese around the St. George's Bank received virtually the entire world's circulating gold stocks. The two cities teamed up starting around 1579 at the Piacenza Fair, a prototype of a clearing house for European banks, which soon had a turnover of 20 million ducats a year. This fair was a precursor of the post-Versailles Bank for International Settlements.

In 1603, Venice and Genoa assumed direction of the finances of Stuart England, and imparted their characteristic method to the British East India Company. It is also this tandem that was present at the creation of the great Amsterdam Bank, the financial hinge of the seventeenth century, and of the Dutch East India Company. Venice and Genoa were also the midwives for the great financial power growing up in Geneva, which specialized in controlling the French public debt and in fostering the delphic spirits of the Enlightenment.

The Venetians, in cooperation with the restored -- that is, degenerated -- Medici interests, began a major move into maritime and other types of insurance. These ventures live on today in the biggest business enterprise associated with Venice, the Assicurazioni Generali Venezia, one of the biggest if not the biggest insurance and real estate holdings in the world.

On May 12, 1797, the Gran Consiglio obeyed Napoleon's ultimatum and voted itself out of existence. Four thousand French infantrymen paraded on St. Mark's Square, where foreign troops had never before in history been seen. The golden Bucentoro was burned and the gold carted off. The Venetian "Republic" was finished, but it continued most emphatically to exist in less visible but highly effective forms.

One particular of the last years of Venice is of special interest to us: During the American Revolution about 3000 Venetian naval personnel, corresponding to about one-third of the total available strength, were serving with the British Royal Navy.

Commenting on the liquidation of Venice, the great Neapolitan Neoplatonic Giuseppe Cuoco wrote:

"I don't know what will happen to Italy, but the fulfillment of the Florentine secretary's prophecy in the destruction of the old, imbecilic Venetian oligarchy will be a great boon for Italy always."

The reference, of course, is to Machiavelli.

On the other side, William Wordsworth lamented the demise of "a maiden city," the "eldest child of liberty."


Unfortunately, all the obituaries were premature: Venice has continued to be very much alive. During the nineteenth century and up to our own time it has been the most important single incubator for fascist movements. With its military and financial power largely emigrated elsewhere, Venice's importance for political culture is now greater than ever.

Examples of this are inexhaustible. Richard Wagner wrote part of Tristan und Isolde while living in the Palazzo Giustinian on the Grand Canal. One story has it that the leitmotif of the Liebestod was inspired by the mournful call of a gondolier. At the end of his life Wagner moved to Palazzo Vendramin Callergi, where he died. This building, presently a gambling casino, was also the home of Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, the founder of the Pan-European Union. Friedrich Nietzsche loved Venice, returned there incessantly, and dedicated certain poems to the city which today can still be used in lieu of a powerful emetic. Venice was an inspiration for Lord Byron, for Thomas Mann, and so on.

Other examples abound of how the Venetian oligarchy's cultural and political influence has reached down into the modern era:

* When British East India Company retainer Thomas Malthus published his Essay on Population he was plagiarizing from the Venetian Giammaria Ortes, who produced, around 1750, a fully developed version of the argument that geometric population growth outstrips the much slower arithmetric progress of food production.

* John Ruskin, the leading ideologue of the British Dark Ages faction, began his career with a raving treatise on architecture, The Stones of Venice (1851). This volume popularized the notion that a "Venetian Gothic" style had been developed in the better times of the city's history (which for Ruskin ended in 1418) and it was used systematically to discredit the Golden Renaissance.

* A turn-of-the-century new Roman Empire faction led by Venetian Count Volpi di Misurata, who was known as the doge of his era, sponsored the fascist Mussolini supporter Gabriele D'Annunzio to drum up enthusiasm for a new crusade into the Balkans and the East. Volpi became finance minister in Mussolini's cabinet, along with a very large number of other Venetians. D'Annunzio incited the Italians to take back Trieste, the rest of Italia Irredenta, and the Dardanelles, bringing on to center stage the so-called Parvus Plan for dismemberment of the Ottoman and Russian empires, which is generally recognized as the detonator of World War I. It is possible that the turn-of-the-century super spook Alexander Parvus was ultimately employed by Venice.

* The Societe Europeenne de Culture, a think tank created in 1950 through the efforts of Venetian intelligence operative Umberto Campagnolo, has for the past three decades pulled intellectuals from both East and West into organizing for an "international culture," based on rejecting the existence of sovereign nations. The SEC counted among its members the cream of the postwar intelligencia: Adam Schaff of Poland, Bertolt Brecht of East Germany, Georg Lukas of Hungary, and Boris Paternak of the Soviet Union, as well as Stephen Spender and Arnold Toynbee, Benedetto Croce and Norberto Bobbio, Julian Huxley and Thomas Mann, Francois Mauriac, and Jean Cocteau. Later, the SEC launched the Third World national liberation ideology.

Today, the Club of Rome is the institution that represents the most concentrated essence of Venetian influence and the Venetian method. The Club of Rome wants to convince the great powers and peoples of the world to commit collective suicide by accepting the genocidal doctrine of zero growth. It also hopes to abolish the sovereign nation as a vehicle for economic growth and scientific progress.

Club of Rome founder Aurelio Peccei has just written a new book titled One Hundred Pages For the Future, a global review of the impact of the Club of Rome, and particularly since its 1972 release of the zero-growth model Limits to Growth was published, a series of social movements has sprung up under the sponsorship of the ideas in the book. These -- the women's movement, the peace movement, Third World national liberation movements, gay rights, civil liberties, ecologists, consumer and minority rights, etc. -- must now be welded together into one movement for a single strategic goal: the implementation of a zero-growth international order.

The Venetian problem remains with us today. Truly, the most urgent task of this generation of mankind is to definitively liquidate the horror that is Venice.

Site Admin
Posts: 23130
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:58 am

by Webster Griffin Tarpley
Appeared in Fidelio, Summer 1995



The British royal family of today typifies the Venetian Party, and continues the outlook and methods of an oligarchical faction which can be traced far back into the ancient world. Oligarchism is a principle of irrational domination associated with hereditary oligarchy/ nobility and with certain aristocratic priesthoods. At the center of oligarchy is the idea that certain families are born to rule as an arbitrary elite, while the vast majority of any given population is condemned to oppression, serfdom, or slavery. During most of the past 2,500 years, oligarchs have been identified by their support for the philosophical writings of Aristotle and their rejection of the epistemology of Plato. Aristotle asserted that slavery is a necessary institution, because some are born to rule and others to be ruled. He also reduced the question of human knowledge to the crudest sense certainty and perception of "facts." Aristotle's formalism is a means of killing human creativity, and therefore represents absolute evil. This evil is expressed by the bestialist view of the oligarchs that human beings are the same as animals.

Oligarchs identify wealth purely in money, and practice usury, monetarism, and looting at the expense of technological advancement and physical production. Oligarchs have always been associated with the arbitrary rejection of true scientific discovery and scientific method in favor of open anti-science or more subtle obscurantist pseudo-science. The oligarchy has believed for millennia that the earth is overpopulated; the oligarchical commentary on the Trojan War was that this conflict was necessary in order to prevent greater numbers of mankind from oppressing "Mother Earth." The oligarchy has constantly stressed race and racial characteristics, often as a means for justifying slavery. In international affairs, oligarchs recommend such methods as geopolitics, understood as the method of divide and conquer which lets one power prevail by playing its adversaries one against the other. Oligarchical policy strives to maintain a balance of power among such adversaries for its own benefit, but this attempt always fails in the long run and leads to new wars.

The essence of oligarchism is summed up in the idea of the empire, in which an elite identifying itself as a master race rules over a degraded mass of slaves or other oppressed victims. If oligarchical methods are allowed to dominate human affairs, they always create a breakdown crisis of civilization, with economic depression, war, famine, plague, and pestilence. Examples of this are the fourteenth century Black Plague crisis and the Thirty Years War (1618-48), both of which were created by Venetian intelligence. The post- industrial society and the derivatives crisis have brought about the potential for a new collapse of civilization in our own time. This crisis can only be reversed by repudiating in practice the axioms of the oligarchical mentality.

A pillar of the oligarchical system is the family fortune, or fondo as it is called in Italian. The continuity of the family fortune which earns money through usury and looting is often more important than the biological continuity across generations of the family that owns the fortune. In Venice, the largest fondo was the endowment of the Basilica of St. Mark, which was closely associated with the Venetian state treasury, and which absorbed the family fortunes of nobles who died without heirs. This fondo was administered by the procurers of St. Mark, whose position was one of the most powerful under the Venetian system. Around this central fondo were grouped the individual family fortunes of the great oligarchical families, such as the Mocenigo, the Cornaro, the Dandolo, the Contarini, the Morosini, the Zorzi, and the Tron. Until the end of the eighteenth century, the dozen or so wealthiest Venetian families had holdings comparable or superior to the very wealthiest families anywhere in Europe. When the Venetian oligarchy transferred many of its families and assets to northern Europe, the Venetian fondi provided the nucleus of the great Bank of Amsterdam, which dominated Europe during the seventeenth century, and of the Bank of England, which became the leading bank of the eighteenth century.


In the pre-Christian world around the Mediterranean, oligarchical political forces included Babylon in Mesopotamia. The "whore of Babylon" condemned in the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine is not a mystical construct, but a very specific power cartel of evil oligarchical families. Other oligarchical centers included Hiram of Tyre and the Phoenicians. The Persian Empire was an oligarchy. In the Greek world, the center of oligarchical banking and intelligence was the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, whose agents included Lycurgus of Sparta and later Aristotle. The Delphic Apollo tried and failed to secure the conquest of Greece by the Persian Empire. Then the Delphic Apollo developed the Isocrates plan, which called for King Philip of Macedonia to conquer Athens and the other great city-states so as to set up an oligarchical empire that would operate as a western version of the Persian Empire. This plan failed when Philip died, and the Platonic Academy of Athens decisively influenced Alexander the Great, who finally destroyed the Persian Empire before being assassinated by Aristotle. Later, the Delphic Apollo intervened into the wars between Rome and the Etruscan cities to make Rome the key power of Italy and then of the entire Mediterranean.

Rome dominated the Mediterranean by about 200 BC. There followed a series of civil wars that aimed at deciding where the capital of the new empire would be and who would be the ruling family. These are associated with the Social War, the conflict between Marius and Sulla, the first Triumvirate (Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great, and L. Crassus), and the second Triumvirate (Octavian, Marc Antony, and Lepidus). Marc Antony and Cleopatra wanted the capital of the new empire to be at Alexandria in Egypt. Octavian (Augustus) secured an alliance with the cult of Sol Invictus Mithra and became emperor, defeating the other contenders. After the series of monsters called the Julian-Claudian emperors (Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, etc.) the empire stagnated between 80 and 180 AD under such figures as Hadrian and Trajan. Then, between 180 and 280 AD, the empire collapsed. It was reorganized by Aurelian, Diocletian, and Constantine with a series of measures that centered on banning any change in the technology of the means of production, and very heavy taxation. The Diocletian program led to the depopulation of the cities, serfdom for farmers, and the collapse of civilization into a prolonged Dark Age.

The Roman Empire in the West finally collapsed in 476 AD. But the Roman Empire in the East, sometimes called the Byzantine Empire, continued for almost a thousand years, until 1453. And if the Ottoman Empire is considered as the Ottoman dynasty of an ongoing Byzantine Empire, then the Byzantine Empire kept going until shortly after World War I. With certain exceptions, the ruling dynasties of Byzantium continued the oligarchical policy of Diocletian and Constantine.

Venice, the city built on islands in the lagoons and marshes of the northern Adriatic Sea, is supposed to have been founded by refugees from the Italian mainland who were fleeing from Attila the Hun in 452 AD. Early on, Venice became the location of a Benedictine monastery on the island of St. George Major. St. George is not a Christian saint, but rather a disguise for Apollo, Perseus, and Marduk, idols of the oligarchy. Around 700 AD, the Venetians claim to have elected their first doge, or duke. This post was not hereditary, but was controlled by an election in which only the nobility could take part. For this reason, Venice erroneously called itself a republic.

In the years around 800 AD, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, using the ideas of St. Augustine, attempted to revive civilization from the Dark Ages. Venice was the enemy of Charlemagne. Charlemagne's son, King Pepin of Italy, tried unsuccessfully to conquer the Venetian lagoon. Charlemagne was forced to recognize Venice as a part of the eastern or Byzantine Empire, under the protection of the Emperor Nicephorus. Venice was never a part of western civilization.

Over the next four centuries, Venice developed as a second capital of the Byzantine Empire through marriage alliances with certain Byzantine dynasties and conflicts with the Holy Roman Empire based in Germany. The Venetian economy grew through usury and slavery. By 1082, the Venetians had tax-free trading rights in the entire Byzantine Empire. The Venetians were one of the main factors behind the Crusades against the Muslim power in the eastern Mediterranean. In the Fourth Crusade of 1202 AD, the Venetians used an army of French feudal knights to capture and loot Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian city which was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The Venetian doge Enrico Dandolo was declared the lord of one-quarter and one-half of one-quarter of the Byzantine Empire, and the Venetians imposed a short-lived puppet state called the Latin Empire. By this point, Venice had replaced Byzantium as the bearer of the oligarchical heritage of the Roman Empire.

During the 1200's, the Venetians, now at the apex of their military and naval power, set out to create a new Roman Empire with its center at Venice. They expanded into the Greek islands, the Black Sea, and the Italian mainland. They helped to defeat the Hohenstaufen rulers of Germany and Italy. Venetian intelligence assisted Genghis Khan as he attacked and wiped out powers that had resisted Venice. The Venetians caused the death of the poet and political figure Dante Alighieri, who developed the concept of the modern sovereign nation-state in opposition to the Venetian plans for empire.

Whoever contemplates the good of the state contemplates the end of Right....If, therefore, the Romans had in view the good of the state, the assertion is true that they had in view the end of Right.

That in subduing the world the Roman people had in view the aforesaid good, their deeds declare. We behold them as a nation holy, pious, and full of glory, putting aside all avarice, which is ever adverse to the general welfare, cherishing universal peace and liberty, and disregarding private profit to guard the public weal of humanity. Rightly was it written, then, that "The Roman Empire takes its rise in the fountain of pity."...

That people, then, which was victorious over all the contestants for Empire gained its victory by the decree of God. For as it is of deeper concern to God to adjust a universal contention than a particular one, and as even in particular contentions the decree of God is sought by the contestants, according to the familiar proverb, "To him whom God grants aught, let Peter give his blessing," therefore undoubtedly among the contestants for the Empire of the world, victory ensued from a decree of God. That among the rivals for world-Empire the Roman people came off victor will be clear if we consider the contestants and the prize or goal toward which they strove. This prize or goal was sovereign power over all mortals, or what we mean by Empire. This was attained by none save by the Roman people, not only the first but the sole contestant to reach the goal contended for.

The kingdom is apportioned by the sword, and the fortune of the mighty nation that is master over sea, over land, and over all the globe, suffers not two in command. Wars engaged in for the crown of Empire should be waged without bitterness.

-- De Monarchia of Dante Alighieri, edited with translation and notes by Aurelia Henry

A series of wars with Genoa led later to the de facto merger of Venice and Genoa. The Venetian bankers, often called Lombards, began to loot many parts of Europe with usurious loans. Henry III of England in the years after 1255 became insolvent after taking huge Lombard loans to finance foreign wars at 120-180 percent interest. These transactions created the basis for the Venetian Party in England. When the Lombard bankers went bankrupt because the English failed to pay, a breakdown crisis of the European economy ensued. This led to a new collapse of European civilization, including the onset of the Black Plague, which depopulated the continent. In the midst of the chaos, the Venetians encouraged their ally Edward III of England to wage war against France in the conflict that became the Hundred Years War (1339-1453), which hurled France into chaos before St. Joan of Arc defeated the English. This was then followed by the Wars of the Roses in England. As a result of Venetian domination, the fourteenth century had become a catastrophe for civilization.

In the midst of the crisis of the 1300's, the friends of Dante and Petrarch laid the basis for the Italian Golden Renaissance, which reached its culmination with Nicolaus of Cusanus, Pope Pius II, and the Medici-sponsored Council of Florence of 1439. The Venetians fought the Renaissance with a policy of expansion on the Italian mainland, or terra firma, which brought them to the outskirts of Milan. More fundamentally, the Venetians promoted the pagan philosophy of Aristotle against the Christian Platonism of the Florentines. The school of the Rialto was an Aristotelian academy where Venetian patricians lectured and studied their favorite philosopher. Authors like Barbaro and Bembo popularized an Aristotelian "humanism." The University of Padua became the great European center for Aristotelian studies.

Venice also encouraged the Ottoman Turks to advance against Constantinople, which was now controlled by the Paleologue dynasty of emperors. When Cusanus and his friends succeeded in reuniting the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox and other eastern churches at the Council of Florence, the Venetians tried to sabotage this result. The ultimate sabotage was the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, which was assisted by Venetian agents and provocateurs. Venice refused to respond to Pope Pius II (Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini) when he called for the recovery of Constantinople.

The program of Cusanus, Pius II, Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and other Italian Renaissance leaders for the creation of powerful national states proved impossible to carry out in Italy. The first nation-state was created in France by King Louis XI during the 1460's and 1470's. The successful nation-building methods of Louis XI compelled attention and imitation in England and Spain. Despite their incessant intrigues, the Venetians were now confronted with large national states whose military power greatly exceeded anything that Venice could mobilize.


The Venetians tried to use the power of the new nation-states, especially France, to crush Milan and allow further Venetian expansion. But ambassadors for the king of France and the Austrian emperor met at Cambrai in December 1508 and agreed to create a European league for the dismemberment of Venice. The League of Cambrai soon included France, Spain, Germany, the Papacy, Milan, Florence, Savoy, Mantua, Ferrara, and others. At the battle of Agnadello in April 1509, the Venetian mercenaries were defeated by the French, and Venice temporarily lost eight hundred years of land conquests.

Venetian diplomacy played on the greed of the Genoese Pope Julius II Della Rovere, who was bribed to break up the League of Cambrai. By rapid diplomatic maneuvers, Venice managed to survive, although foreign armies threatened to overrun the lagoons on several occasions, and the city was nearly bankrupt. Venice's long-term outlook was very grim, especially because the Portuguese had opened a route to Asia around the Cape of Good Hope. The Venetians considered building a Suez canal, but decided against it.


One result of the Cambrai crisis was the decision of Venetian intelligence to create the Protestant Reformation. The goal was to divide Europe for one to two centuries in religious wars that would prevent any combination like the League of Cambrai from ever again being assembled against Venice. The leading figure of the Protestant Reformation, the first Protestant in modern Europe, was Venice's Cardinal Gasparo Contarini. Contarini was a pupil of the Padua Aristotelian Pietro Pomponazzi, who denied the immortality of the human soul. Contarini pioneered the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone, with no regard for good works of charity. Contarini organized a group of Italian Protestants called gli spirituali, including oligarchs like Vittoria Colonna and Giulia Gonzaga. Contarini's networks encouraged and protected Martin Luther and later John Calvin of Geneva. Contarini sent his neighbor and relative Francesco Zorzi to England to support King Henry VIII's plan to divorce Catherine of Aragon. Zorzi acted as Henry's sex counselor. As a result, Henry created the Anglican Church on a Venetian-Byzantine model, and opened a phase of hostility to Spain. Henceforth, the Venetians would use England for attacks on Spain and France. Zorzi created a Rosicrucian-Freemasonic party at the English court that later produced writers like Edmund Spenser and Sir Philip Sydney.

Contarini was also the leader of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. He sponsored St. Ignatius of Loyola and secured papal approval for the creation of the Society of Jesus as an official order of the Church. Contarini also began the process of organizing the Council of Trent with a letter on church reform that praised Aristotle while condemning Erasmus, the leading Platonist of the day. The Venetians dominated the college of cardinals and created the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, which banned works by Dante and Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (Pope Pius II).

This almost unknown work by Daniel Cramer of his 40 sacred emblems should be recognized as a Rosicrucian item of great interest. This very rare book was published in 1617 at the height of the Rosicrucian publishing period, and only a year after the appearance of the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz. Cramer received a short mention in A. E. Waite's Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, London, 1924, p. 234:

In 1616 Daniel Cramer, a Protestant theologian who taught at Wittenburg and Stettin, produced a tract entitled Societas Jesus et Rosae Crucis Vera.

Little is known of Cramer, but it seems that he was, as Waite suggests, a Protestant theologian, and published various works between 1595 and 1620 including Orations on the Most Sweet Name of Jesus, a work In Memory of the Birth of Martin Luther, an essay "Against the Jesuits," The Reward through Grace, and other books of a theological nature.

In addition to the heading of the title page in The True Society of Jesus and the Rosy Cross, there are also a number of internal Rosicrucian references relating the symbols of the rose, the heart, and the cross (in particular see Emblems 19, 22, and 31). The True Society of Jesus obviously has no direct connection with the Jesuits, the 'Society of Jesus' of St. Ignatius of Loyola, as Cramer's other writings show him to be a strong Lutheran Protestant. Indeed, one of his essays was entitled "Against the Jesuits." However, perhaps we can recognize a parallel between these emblems and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola; it is quite possible that here Cramer was consciously trying to produce a series of spiritual exercises of a Protestant esoteric Christianity.

-- The Rosicrucian Emblems of Daniel Cramer

E formed the seed parent, and from blood, and from her womb, for a light, naturally, excluded: in the land of the holy Catholic, which still dwells happily, Saturnia in the kingdom: and though the world mockery of the unclean, in the sight of the wise man, however, pretiosissimus. Catholic: the body, because he has Catholicon, the hylÍ of, for example, primordial, universal in the state still not that (God, so issues) of other things, sublunaris globe, bodies matter, in the state of special or particular, sparks from the soul of the world, or of special particles propietatum, specified and (so to speak) particularisata. Universal condition is also his spirit, and the universal soul, which the Catholic spark of the soul of the Catholic world, that is the universal nature of property and of operation. This is the only place Catholicismus has particular solecism. Catholicon, only by the Catholic. Away, then, and all of a particular nature or a special matter discendant far from here. Addo: solamque for this single cause, by and of itself, sufficient and only able to (after his passion has been regenerated) in the primary kind of being the fruit of, created, Catholics, special, or particular, as it were in his blood relatives, (hence learn, why uegetabilis stone, animal, and mineral.) exercise a wondrous strength, Catholic, their number at the same time, all. Triunus: One, that is, in the whole in the composite, and which was without this or on this side, there is no other, in the power with a wonderful, like this. Triunus: in substance, essence and hypostasis or subsistence: the nature of the three are distinct and different. The stone is why our divine, heavenly, is earthly. And, which is from the salt, Mercury and brimstone in the stone is composed triunum. In the definition of as concerning other words, how presuppose mind.

-- Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae, by Heinrich Khunrath

As the Counter-Reformation advanced, the Contarini networks split into two wings. One was the pro-Protestant spirituali, who later evolved into the party of the Venetian oligarchy called the giovani, and who serviced growing networks in France, Holland, England, and Scotland. On the other wing were the zelanti, oriented toward repression and the Inquisition, and typified by Pope Paul IV Caraffa. The zelanti evolved into the oligarchical party called the vecchi, who serviced Venetian networks in the Vatican and the Catholic Hapsburg dominions. The apparent conflict of the two groups was orchestrated to serve Venetian projects.

PRIEST: That's why the whole world is now Catholic.

COP: What do you mean, Catholic?

PRIEST: That's right, the whole world.

COP: But what about the Moslems?

PRIEST: Come now, the Moslems are Catholic.

COP: What about the Jews?

PRIEST: Especially the Jews.

-- The Milky Way, directed by Luis Bunuel

During the decades after 1570, the salon of the Ridotto Morosini family was the focus of heirs of the pro-Protestant wing of the Contarini spirituali networks. These were the giovani, whose networks were strongest in the Atlantic powers of France, England, Holland, and Scotland. The central figure here was the Servite monk Paolo Sarpi, assisted by his deputy, Fulgenzio Micanzio. Sarpi was the main Venetian propagandist in the struggle against the papacy during the time of the papal interdict against Venice in 1606. Sarpi and Micanzio were in close touch with the Stuart court in London, and especially with Sir Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes, who got their ideas from Sarpi's Pensieri (Thoughts) and Arte di Ben Pensare (Art of Thinking Well). Sarpi's agents in Prague, Heidelberg, and Vienna deliberately organized the Thirty Years War, which killed half the population of Germany and one-third of the population of Europe.

Sarpi also marks a turning point in the methods used by Venetian intelligence to combat science. Under Zorzi and Contarini, the Venetians had been openly hostile to Cusanus and other leading scientists. Sarpi realized that the Venetians must now present themselves as the great champions of science, but on the basis of Aristotelian formalism and sense certainty. By seizing control of the scientific community from the inside, the Venetians could corrupt scientific method and strangle the process of discovery. Sarpi sponsored and directed the career of Galileo Galilei, whom the Venetians used for an empiricist counterattack against the Platonic method of Johannes Kepler.


During the 1600's, the Venetian fondi were transferred north, often to the Bank of Amsterdam, and later to the newly founded Bank of England. During the reign of "Bloody Mary," the Stuart period, the civil war in England, the dictatorship of Cromwell, the Stuart Restoration, and the 1688 installation of William of Orange as King of England by the pro-Venetian English oligarchy, the Venetian Party of England grew in power.

During the first half of the 1700's, the most important activities of Venetian intelligence were directed by a salon called the conversazione filosofica e felice, which centered around the figure of Antonio Schinella Conti. Conti was a Venetian nobleman, originally a follower of Descartes, who lived for a time in Paris, where he was close to Malebranche. Conti went to London where he became a friend of Sir Isaac Newton. Conti directed the operations that made Newton an international celebrity, including especially the creation of a pro-Newton party of French Anglophiles and Anglomaniacs who came to be known as the French Enlightenment. Conti's agents in this effort included Montesquieu and Voltaire. Conti was also active in intrigues against the German philosopher, scientist, and economist Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, whom Conti portrayed as a plagiarist of Newton. Conti also influenced Georg Ludwig of Hanover, later King George I of England, against Leibniz.

The Conti conversazione was also sponsored by the Emo and Memmo oligarchical families. Participants included Giammaria Ortes, the Venetian economist who asserted that the carrying capacity of the planet Earth could never exceed three billion persons. Ortes was a student of the pro-Galileo activist Guido Grandi of Pisa. Ortes applied Newton's method to the so-called social sciences. Ortes denied the possibility of progress or higher standards of living, supported free trade, opposed dirigist economics, and polemicized against the ideas of the American Revolution. The ideas of Conti, Ortes, and their network were brought into Great Britain under the supervision of William Petty, the Earl of Shelburne, who was the de facto Doge of the British oligarchy around the time of the American Revolution. The Shelburne stable of writers, including Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Malthus, James Mill, John Stuart Mill, Charles Darwin, and other exponents of British philosophical radicalism, all take their main ideas from Conti and especially Ortes.

Francesco Algarotti, author of a treatise on "Newtonian Science for Ladies," was another Venetian in the orbit of the Conti conversazione. Algarotti was close to Voltaire, and along with the French scientist Pierre Louis de Maupertuis he helped form the homosexual harem around British ally Frederick the Great of Prussia. Frederick the Great was Britain's principal continental ally during the Seven Years War against France, when British victories in India and Canada made them the supreme naval power of the world. The homosexual Frederick made Algarotti his court chamberlain at his palace of Sans Souci. Maupertuis had become famous when he went to Lapland to measure a degree of the local meridian, and came back claiming that he had confirmed one of Newton's postulates. Frederick made him the president of the Berlin Academy of Sciences. Frederick corresponded with Voltaire all his life; Voltaire lived at Sans Souci and Berlin between 1750 and 1753. Voltaire quarreled with Maupertuis and attacked him in his "Diatribe of Doctor Akakia." The mathematicians Leonhard Euler of Switzerland and Joseph Louis Lagrange of Turin were also associated with Frederick's cabal.

The Conti salon directed the activities of Venetian intelligence agent Giacomo Casanova, a protégé of the homosexual Senator Bragadin. Casanova was employed primarily in operations against King Louis XV of France. During the War of the Spanish Succession, the Venetians helped the British to emerge as a great power at the expense of Holland and Spain. In the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War, the Venetians helped the British to defeat the French as a world-wide naval power, ousting them from India and Canada. Later the Venetian agent Alessandro Cagliostro would destabilize Louis XVI with the Queen's necklace affair of 1785, which according to Napoleon Bonaparte represented the opening of the French Revolution.

Venice ceased to exist as an independent state after its conquest by Napoleon in 1797 and the Austrian takeover of the lagoon under the Treaty of Campo Formio. But the influence of the Venetian oligarchy over culture and politics has remained immense. From 1945 to about 1968, one of the most important of these influences was the Societe Europeene de Culture, based in Venice and directed by Umberto Campagnolo. The SEC operated freely in eastern and western Europe, and agitated against the nation state in the name of supernational values. The SEC launched the career of Franz Fanon, author of the Wretched of the Earth, whose ideas form a justification for terrorism. The premier foundation of the world is the Cini Foundation, which provides ideological directives for the far wealthier but junior foundations with names like Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, MacArthur, Volkswagen, etc.
Site Admin
Posts: 23130
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Postby admin » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:02 am

by Webster Griffin Tarpley
ICLC Conference, Sept. 1, 1996; appeared in the New Federalist, Sept. 23, 1996



The War of the League of Cambrai proved that Louis XI's modern French nation-state was a threat to the survival of Venice. The Venetians wanted to destroy France. But how? Direct military force was out of the question. The Venetians therefore decided on a strategy of cultural and political subversion. This subversion of France between 1500 and 1800 by the Venetians has few parallels in modern history.

Of all the national cultures of the modern age, the French is the most prestigious. In culture, the Anglo-Americans provide trash for the mass market, but the French provide the luxury goods for the elite. In Asia, Africa, and Latin America, intellectuals and elites who are tired of MacDonald's look, above all, to France. French culture, however, has been polluted by centuries of unrelenting operations by Venetians like Paolo Sarpi and Antonio Conti and others. Century after century, the most famous French writers professed their admiration for Venice, and made their personal pilgrimage to Venice. Exceptions there are, but they are few and far between. As Machiavelli or Leonardo might have put it, "La culture Francaise e una porcheria Veneziana'': French culture is indeed a Venetian monstrosity.

British Prime Minister Robert Walpole gloated that "the French are ten times more idiotic than the British since they are so easily duped...." The French pride themselves on their knowledge and urbanity, on their glittering, cynical intelligence. They think they are true sophisticates and connoisseurs of intrigue. The worst thing that can happen to them is to be fooled. Well, the worst has happened, and the proud French are the dupes, fall guys, and suckers for the Venetians. British oligarchs who went along with the Venetians stood to gain. French oligarchs who went with the Venetians stood only to lose. The French are the pathetic losers.

The Venetians had been profiling the French since the Fourth Crusade of 1202, when Doge Enrico Dandolo duped the French feudal knights into capturing Constantinople for the Venetians. The old chronicles of Robert de Clari and Villehardouin show us something of the minds of the French dupes.

The heart of the Venetian cultural warfare after Cambrai was the no-soul thesis. Aristotle had taught that man has no soul. The Venetians taught the same thing. This is not theology, this is the essence of politics. The no-soul thesis means that man has no reason, man is an animal, man is a beast. But the soul is empirically there: You know it through creativity, through your own insights and discoveries, the fruits of which are permanent -- immortal. You know your soul through love and charity and through your yearning for the good. If man is a beast, then the oligarchy and the empire are simply unavoidable. Venetians are materialists in this sense.

The no-soul thesis has technical names. It is called mortalism, annihilationism, thenetopsychism. All mean the same thing: no human soul. Around 1500, the University of Padua, the university of the Venetians, had a famous professor, Pietro Pomponazzi, warts and all. His doctrine was that there is no immortal human soul -- in other words, that there is no soul at all. The whole person dies, body and soul. The main idea of what is called the Paduan school of Aristotelianism is that there is no human soul.

Around 1600, this was taught at Padua by Cesare Cremonini. When Cremonini died, he ordered a tombstone with the inscription: Hic jacet totus Cremoninus -- "here lies all of Cremonini." The idea was that there had been no soul, and that all of Cremonini had gone into the grave. Pomponazzi and Cremonini exercised immense influence on France.

The no-soul thesis is the one infallible marker for a Venetian agent. Every Venetian agent, every Venetian asset, claims man has no soul, including Pomponazzi, Contarini, Cremonini, and Antonio Conti. In England, the no-soul idea was proclaimed by Venetian assets like Robert Fludd, Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, Cromwell's ally Sir Henry Vane, and various of the Cromwell-backed radicals including Richard Overton of the Levellers, Laurence Clarkson of the Ranters, Lodovic Muggleton and his Muggletonians, Gerard Winstanley of the Diggers, and Anne Hutchinson of Boston. Martin Luther had his own variation, that the soul slept until the last judgment. Every time you find the no-soul thesis, you have a Venetian agent, and generally also vice-versa.

The modern Venetian Party in France was founded by Paolo Sarpi (1552-1623), a no-soul Satanist and chief Venetian policy maker of the period around 1600. The best name for the Venetian Party of France is the cabal of the libertines. That is what they called themselves. Their creed was the no-soul thesis, mixed with various forms of Satanism and mysticism. To found the cabal of the libertines, Sarpi first needed a war of religion.

I have shown that Gasparo Contarini of Venice was the prime mover behind both Martin Luther and King Henry VIII, thus creating both Lutheranism and Anglicanism. Neither of these doctrines could be sold in France, so a new and more militant form of Protestantism had to be created. It featured total depravity and absolute predestination, and it came to be called Calvinism.

Calvin had to be taught how to create a synthetic religion. His teacher was Pierre Taisan de l'Estoile. This Pierre Taisan de l'Estoile was a Venetian operative; his son was an admirer of Paolo Sarpi. The younger de l'Estoile wrote in his Journal (after the Interdict crisis of 1606) that "Father Paul, the Venetian monk of the Servite Order... is, in my judgment, the one who has best and most sincerely written for my lords the Venetians.... The treatise of Paul Sarpi, a monk and professor of Venice, along with his other writings published at this time in support of the Venetians against the attacks of the Pope, are seen in Paris, and are praised and collected by all the men of character and learning.... Sarpi's life is even more persuasive than his writings, and make him admired and revered in Venice as a holy man and give a great weight of authority to his books." Thus wrote the son of Calvin's teacher. Calvin was a Venetian agent.

The French King at this time was Francis I, who had been in Spanish captivity after the Battle of Pavia in 1525 in the Cambrai Wars. Francis I was inclined towards a reasonable policy of peace and tolerance until 1534, the year of the so-called Placards Affair. The placards were leaflets with violent protests against the Pope and the mass, put up in numerous public places and on the door of the King's bedroom. Francis I went wild; 20 heads rolled, and Francis persecuted the Protestants. One of the provocateurs had been Jean Calvin, who had a previous arrest record for such actions. One of the victims of this operation had been Calvin's own brother, who was executed and buried under the gallows.

The greatest French writer, Francois Rabelais, opposed Calvin. In the fourth book of his Gargantua, Rabelais condemned the "little Calvinist demons and other impostors of Geneva."

Calvinism was directed much more against the King than against the Pope. The French Calvinists were called Huguenots, meaning confederates. When the Calvinists of Geneva became embroiled with the Catholic Duke of Savoy, these Calvinists, since they were Swiss, were called the Eidgenossen, citizens of the Confoederatio Helvetica, and, thus, confederates. For French speakers, Eidgenossen became Huguenots. Huguenots were drawn chiefly from the oligarchy; it is estimated that, around 1570, more than a third and possibly half of the French nobility were Protestant.

Huguenot ideology permitted a comeback for the French feudal barons who had been crushed by Louis XI. These barons had been fighting the central monarchy for centuries, and now they had a new ideology to rationalize their desire for civil war. Some oligarchs became Huguenots to spite their enemies who stayed Catholic. Many oligarchs wanted to determine the religion of their own peasants, as they could in Germany.

Admiral Coligny of the Huguenots called in the English, while the Guise, the leaders of the Catholic Party, called in the Spanish. Crushed in the middle was the state built by Louis XI, and crushed along with that state was the expiring Valois monarchy, a series of the sons of Catherine de Medici. Irrationality loomed large in daily life; this was when the seer Nostradamus acquired his reputation.

France had nine flare-ups of civil war between 1562 and 1598. The French wars of religion had no clear fronts and were marked by looting and raiding operations by groups of armed oligarchs on each side. All of the contending factions had leaders who were Venetian agents, and, as time went on, more and more were agents of Sarpi personally. Sarpi's main French operative was Arnaud du Ferrier, who had been the French ambassador to the Council of Trent. Du Ferrier used his notes on the council to help Sarpi write his most famous book, The History of the Council of Trent. Arnaud du Ferrier was in direct personal touch with Jean Bodin and Michel de Montaigne. Sarpi's friend, fellow monk, and biographer Fulgenzio Micanzio says that Sarpi was "intrinsichissimo" -- extremely friendly -- with Arnaud du Ferrier.

Among the Venetian operatives were:

Michel de l'Hospital, the Grand Chancellor of France during the 1560's. He advised Henry II, Francis II, and Charles IX. It was on his watch that the weakness of the monarchy allowed the Guise to open the hostilities of the civil war. Michel preached moderation and tolerance; he has been called the first politique. We can imagine what would have happened to the United States if Abraham Lincoln had made tolerance the supreme virtue. Michel grew up in a family marked by treason to France: His father was a retainer of Duke Charles of Bourbon, the Constable of France, who went over to the Emperor Charles V and died fighting for the Hapsburg empire during the Sack of Rome in 1527. Michel had studied at Padua for six years; he wrote a Latin ode glorifying Venice:

"Salve, Urbs antiqua, potens, magnaeque urbs aemula Romae."

Michel's career benefited from early sponsorship by the Guise. According to the Venetian ambassador Andrea Barbaro, Michel was always a secret Huguenot. Even so, Michel took King Charles IX on a tour of France, allegedly to build his popularity and stability. In practice, the impressionable young king was shocked to see many churches that had been destroyed by the Huguenots. During the same trip, Michel left the suggestible Queen Mother Catherine de Medici alone at Bayonne in the company of the Spanish Duke of Alba, the butcher of Holland for Philip II. It is thought that the bloody-minded Alba directly or indirectly provided the idea for the St. Batholomew's Day massacre of 1572.

Philippe Duplessis-Mornay, correspondent of Sarpi, was the leader of the French Calvinists after the death of Admiral de Coligny in 1572; his nickname was the Huguenot Pope. He had visited Venice at the age of 18. He was a direct correspondent of Sarpi. He was the finance minister and money man for Henry IV, who later dumped him in a process of rapprochement with the Pope.

Jacques-Auguste de Thou was in correspondence with Sarpi. He was taught by Scaligero and Cujas. He visited Venice in his youth, and went there again in 1589 to seek assistance as a minister of King Henry III. For five years, de Thou accompanied the future King Henry IV in his field campaigns during the civil war. De Thou helped to write the Edict of Nantes of 1598, which provided tolerance, meaning an armed Huguenot party in the state with its own armies and fortresses. At one time, de Thou was named ambassador to Venice. One of de Thou's books was a life of Jean Bodin. Another was a monumental Latin history of France in his time, parts of which were translated into French by J. Hotman de Villiers, a Sarpi correspondent. De Thou bequeathed his library to his relatives of the Du Puy family, and it became an organizing center for the cabal of the libertines. De Thou's son was part of the attempt to assassinate Richelieu by the Count of Cinq-Mars.

Tracing this network is easier if we recall that the Venetians first supported Henry of Navarre to become King of France as Henry IV and were the first to recognize him. The Venetians controlled Henry IV's advisers. When Henry IV refused to back Venice in the Interdict, refused to start a war with Spain, and attacked Sarpi as a heretic, Venetian intelligence assassinated Henry IV, the most popular king in French history.

Sarpi held his French Calvinist network in contempt. He wrote: "The heretics of France are for the most part bad men...."

After the 1572 massacre of Huguenots on St. Bartholomew's Day, there was a growing reaction against religious fanaticism. This was expressed by a third force called the politiques. The politiques are much misunderstood. They were not just fed up with religious fanaticism. Several of the politique leaders represented an early form of the cabal of the libertines under Venetian control.

The leading politique was Jean Bodin, the first philosophe and an intelligence agent who worked for the Duke of Alencon, the son of Henry II and for a time the politique candidate for the monarchy. Jean Bodin was a disciple of Contarini and of Pomponazzi. Jean Bodin was in close contact with Sarpi's friend Arnaud du Ferrier, as well as with Cecil in London. Bodin was involved in plots to kill Queen Elizabeth of England, and was the judge in a trial in which a woman was executed for sorcery.

His Six Books of the Commonwealth talks much about sovereignty, but this is not the modern concept of sovereignty. For the Venetians, the slogan of sovereignty was used as a device to create conflict between any given government and the Pope. Sarpi, for example, posed as the defender of Venetian sovereignty against Pope Paul V Borghese during the Interdict. The Jesuit Cardinal Bellarmino had proclaimed that all temporal rulers were subordinated to the supremacy of the Roman Pope. Sarpi became celebrated in all of Europe by arguing that the Pope could not interfere with the prerogatives of the sovereign state. King James I Stuart of England and Scotland, who claimed to get his divine right directly from God without any papal intermediary, was one of Sarpi's biggest fans. Telling the princes of the Holy Roman Empire that they were not really sovereign was also a great way to stir them up against the Hapsburgs. This close parallel between Bodin and Sarpi has been noticed by Italian writers including Federico Chabod and more recently Paolo Frajese.

Much of Bodin's book is also devoted to a weird theory of climate, which appears as a racist determinism. Northerners succeed by force, southerners by cunning; "... southern peoples are cruel and vindictive in consequence of their melancholy, which engenders extreme violence in the passions and impels men to take vengeance for what they suffer." And: "There is another very notable difference between northerners and southerners, in that the former are modest and chaste, and the latter very libidinous as a result of their melancholy temperament." Or: "northern races, or those who live in mountainous regions, are proud and warlike, relying on their physical prowess, and so they prefer popular states, or at any rate elective monarchies, and will not endure to be ruled by pretentious boasters." From such arid banality it is not far to Henry Kissinger's idiotic dictum that "history is not made in the South."

Bodin also talks of tolerance. As we can see in sixteenth-century England, tolerance often meant opening the door to gangs of Venetian madmen organized as religious sects. If Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts had caved in to Cromwell's pressure to tolerate these sects, North America might have become a madhouse for depraved sectarians. In any case, notice that Bodin's model for tolerance is none other than Gasparo Contarini, the Venetian patrician who started the Reformation and the Wars of Religion as a wartime measure against the League of Cambrai. Venice itself managed to be the most thorough totalitarian police state while at the same time tolerating the exercise of many religions.

The real Jean Bodin emerges in obscene relief in his long-unpublished Latin work, Heptaplomeres. (See Marion L.D. Kuntz [ed.], Colloquium of the Seven about Secrets of the Sublime, [Princeton, 1974]). There is no doubt that Jean Bodin was the author. The scene is Venice, famous for its atmosphere of perfect freedom, where a group of oligarchs discuss religion. They are Coronaeus the Catholic, Salomon the Jew, Toralba the naturalist or empiricist, Fridericus the Lutheran, Curtius the Calvinist, Senamus the skeptic, and Octavius the Moslem. According to some commentators, the tolerant Catholic Coronaeus "in several ways resembles the eminent Cardinal Gasparo Contarini." [Kuntz, p. xlv]

If Coronaeus acts as ireneic mediator, it is Salomon the Jew who emerges as the dominant figure. This is because he is able to draw upon the Cabala, the mass of mystical writings much fetishized by Bodin and Postel. Cabala is of course not a part of Judaism, but represented an entirely different polytheistic religion much inferior to Judaism itself. Octavius, a convert from Rome to Islam, is the resident expert on mummies and other exotic spiritual phenomena of the East. This is completely unfair to real Islam. Fridericus, the Lutheran, is also a great expert on demons. Toralba recommends reverence for God and following the laws of nature. Senamus, the skeptic, accepts no religion but at the same time rejects none.

What they all agree on is that mummies can stir up storms and have miraculous powers of healing, that the world is full of demons, and that true wisdom is to be found in the mysticism of the Cabala. They are interested in necrophilia, sing hymns to Isis, talk of Cabbalist Hermes Trismegistus, and praise Gasparo Contarini. The first sentence of the actual dialogue is, "Don't you think we have talked enough about the immortality of souls?" Voila: the Venetian party.

The dialogue is preceded by an introduction which sets the stage:

"You ask me in letters to write you about my foreign travel. Everything would have happened to my liking, if I could have taken delight in your companionship. If I shall ever meet with you again, I shall never allow myself to be separated from you. When we had a difficult time sailing along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, we reached Venice, a port common to almost all nations or rather the whole world, not only because the Venetians delight in receiving strangers hospitably, but also because one can live there with the greatest freedom. Whereas other cities and districts are threatened by civil wars or fears of tyrants or harsh exactions of taxes or the most annoying inquiries into one's activities, this seemed to me to be nearly the only city that offers immunity and freedom from all these kinds of servitude. This is the reason why people come here from everywhere, wishing to spend their lives in the greatest freedom and tranquillity of spirit, whether they are interested in commerce or crafts or leisure pursuits as befit free man." [Kuntz ed., p. 3]

There is also much praise for Cardinal Contarini, the Venetian intelligence chief of the Cambrai period:

"Fridericus: When, at the imperial Diet at Ratisbon the Emperor Charles V, in agreement with the German princes, had selected six most upright theologians of each religion to settle the religious controversies of the Romans and Germans ... they thought they should begin with the question of human justification. When in this discussion three theologians of the Augsburg Confession had drawn the Catholics, Pflugius, Fabrus, and Groppeus to their position and had likewise persuaded Cardinal Contarini, legate of the Roman See of this point of view, namely, that man is blessed by faith alone and by no merit of his own, Eckius, one of the Catholics, became so angry against his colleagues that the Catholic bishops and princes, convinced by him, forced Charles V to dissolve the discussion twenty days after it had begun.... Cardinal Contarini, the most learned Venetian patrician who was said to have agreed with the Lutherans, died a little afterwards, and it was strongly suspected that he died of poisoning." [Kuntz ed., 423]

It is no coincidence that Bodin puts this speech into the mouth of Fridericus, the Lutheran spokesman; Contarini was the founder of Lutheranism and assured the protection of Luther, through his agent Spalatin.

The first phase of the search for true religion in Book I of Heptaplomeres is centered on a discussion of the amazing powers of Egyptian mummies, as illustrated by the soi-disant Moslem Octavius, who tells of how he robbed a grave, stole a mummy, and tried to ship the mummy home by sea from Alexandria. He wanted the mummy because "there was so much healing power in these corpses that they warded off almost all diseases." After Octavius left Egypt, the ship on which he was traveling with the mummy was overtaken by a terrible storm. The terrified passengers began praying for safety according to Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Moslem, and even Venetian rite customs. A Spanish soldier even tried blasphemy of the Christian God. But, Octavius recounts, all prayers and incantations were useless until the ship's captain threatened to execute anyone with a mummy in his baggage. At that point, Octavius surreptitiously threw his mummy overboard, and the storm calmed immediately. The captain later told Octavius that "the transportation of Egyptian corpses always stirred up storms and... that the nautical laws of the Egyptians scrupulously prohibited this." [Kuntz, 14]

The message is clear: All the monotheistic religions put together are no match for even one good old-fashioned mummy. Mummies were a favorite theme of Bodin's, since he also wrote about their powers in two of his other books, his 1580 On the Demonomania of Witches and his 1596 Universae naturae theatrum. With Bodin, we are not far from the later British intelligence stunt known as the "curse of King Tut's tomb."

From the mummies of Book I, Bodin moves on to the demons of Book II. Let us sample some of the exchanges:

"Fridericus: ... those who have been present when magicians assembled together agree if anyone uninitiated to demonic rites is brought there and shudders at the detestable devotions, suddenly with a clap of thunder the assemblage of demons and magicians is dissolved.... And just as the assemblages of soothsayers and the dire poisons of magicians smell of sulphur, so also those places in which lightning has struck are filled with the foulest odor of sulphur. We have observed that those fiery rocks made by demon's art smell of nothing but sulphur. Now, who is so blind that he does not see the actions of demons in the flashing of lightning.... the power of demons is also indicated when swords melt in an unharmed scabbard, when utensils burn in a closed and untouched cupboard, when the private parts lose hair though the skin is unblemished, when a wife recoils from the embrace of her husband. In countless actions which are most alien to nature, we must admit these things happen contrary to nature only by the force and power of demons or angels.

"Curtius: The ancient theologians identified three thunderbolts of Jupiter, namely white, red, black.... Since Pliny did not comprehend this, he thought that the white lightning fell from the body of Jupiter himself, an opinion too frivolous to deserve refutation.

"Octavius: I hear that Timurbecus, whom our people call Tamerlan, followed this method of imposing punishment....

"Salomon: Into their myths the Greeks wove the truth which they received from the Hebrews. They represented Juno as presiding in the air and hurling down avenging spirits from the midst of the air to keep them from flying into heaven. This indicated only that lesser spirits and demons were enclosed by their particular boundaries, to keep them from breaking out above the region of the clouds and were cast out by higher angels and powers and hurled down on the earth. By their fall they terrify mortals....

"Senamus: You have explained these matters elegantly and charmingly, but I do not know why demons pursue the bodies of Egyptians rather than Greeks or why they are accustomed to stir up tempests only when those bodies are stolen. Surely everyone knows that corpses are customarily carried on ships, sometimes to Asia, Greece, and even to Italy without a storm.

"Fridericus: But those corpses were not yet buried....

"Octavius: Perhaps demons envy men the salutary remedies which are recovered from those corpses of Egyptians. For they guard with unusual diligence the hidden treasures and kill those who dig them up.... George Agricola has many stories of this kind in which he relates that many people saw demons of pygmy size in the mines.... A long time ago, Apuleius, that greatest magician and poisoner, recalled this vexation. I find it strange, however, that no one who had sought a treasure with a demon's help had ever found it or was enriched with the find.

"Curtius: Surely by Roman law money is denied to those who search out treasures by means of detestable sacrifices or from any other forbidden art.

"Fridericus: The Chaldeans say their terrestrial demons, supposedly the guardians of treasures and corpses, are more deceitful and cruel because they are farther from the purity of light and divine knowledge....

"Salomon: The divine law wholeheartedly curses this impiety and mischief that magicians used and those who thus feast on blood with demons.

"Fridericus: But if those demons are the souls of wicked men who either had placed all their hope in their buried treasures secured from plunder,... let them pay just punishments with daily torment. Or demons may be the spirits of those who must pay the penalties for directing all their efforts to building palaces and towers with the blood of the people.... Finally, I do not doubt that impure spirits wander around the foul and loathsome regions and stir up storms and winds.

"Toralba: was not without cause that Thomas Aquinas, famous even among physicists, wrote that demons stir up lightning and thunder.

"Curtius: Pliny and Strabo wrote something similar to this.... Plutarch thought that the causes of this extended silence [of oracles] must be attributed to the death of demons.

"Senamus: If demons disturb the visible sky, the seas, lands, fires, if they terrify men with thunder, lightning, winds, whirlwinds, earthquakes, and unexpected portents, if they hover over divine and human ambassadors, if then they regulate and overturn powers, states, cities, districts, families, finally if they are added to individual men as guardians and avengers, consider how great a multitude of demons and angels must be stationed up and down in all parts of the world and in individual places.... Fridericus has maintained that there were demons of each nature and sex, ephilates and hyphilates, in the unions of witches with incubi and magicians with succubi....


"Coronaeus: Senamus has proposed a very difficult but proper question. If Toralba will explain it with his usual care, he will render a great service not only to Senamus but to all of us.

"Toralba: ... since a discussion of the origin of angels and demons, their place, condition, and death seems far removed from positive proofs, surely we ought to seek an explanation of these things from the Hebrews, who drank divine secrets from those very fountains and sacred sources....

"Salomon: After our ancestors returned to Chaldea as prisoners, they became acquainted with many things by divine communication. However, we received nothing which has not been common knowledge throughout the world and available to everyone." [Kuntz, 83-89]

The "divine communication" which Toralba appeals to, and which Salomon declines to discuss is of course the Cabala. Of this latter Salomon says in Book III:

"Since that teaching is perceived only by hearing, it is called qabbalah (tradition). This is what Esdras meant when he said: 'Some things you will make common knowledge; others you will relate to the wise'.... In like manner, the sacred books were written in such a way that those things which pertain to the salvation of everyone, such as the decalogue and everything connected with it are easily understood by all.... The occult rites and sacrifices which have less to do with salvation are understood only by the learned, and the knowledge of natural mysteries, the Cabala, is understood only by the most learned." [Kuntz, 94-95]

In sum, we can see that all of the interlocutors of the Heptaplomeres, whatever their nominal religious affiliation, are Venetian cultist kooks. There is not one of them who stands up to confront the others with the plain fact that they are all wallowing in wild insanity and black magic.

As Jacques Roger wrote, "since he has assembled in his dialogue all the traditional arguments against the divinity of Jesus Christ, Bodin is a 'rationalist', probably a disciple of Pomponazzi.... The problem is that this modern thinker, this rationalist, firmly believed in demons and witches...."

Bodin was in a tandem with Guillaume Postel, the first Frenchman to read the Cabala and publish an edition of the Zohar, one of the classics of Cabala. Bodin and Postel shared the same patron; this was Gabriel Bouvery, Bishop of Angers, and nephew of Guillaume Poyet, Chancellor of France, who was Postel's paymaster by 1538-40. According to various sources, the discussions described in Heptaplomeres were not a work of fiction, but had actually taken place in Venice. Postel had attended them. The goal of the discussions had been to create a new, synthetic, syncretic, and satanic religion using scraps of the three monotheistic faiths. After Postel's death, Bodin got his stenographic notes and made them into the Heptaplomeres. Postel's Venetian seminar could only have been sponsored by the Giovani Party of the Venetian oligarchy, the party of the Ridotto Morosini salon attended by Paolo Sarpi. Postel's seminar was a founding constituent of the cabal of the libertines, the Venetian Party of France.

The goal of Bodin and Postel was to synthesize a new religion, as related by Antoine Teissier, Eloges des hommes savants, tires de l'histoire de M. de Thou, avec des additions (Leyden, 1715):

"Henri Etienne assures us that he saw Postel at Venice publicly proclaiming that if one wished to have a good religion, it would be necessary to compose a religion from those of the Turks, the Jews, and the Christians. Moreover, Mr. Naudé said that at the time when Postel was at Venice there were four men who gathered twice every week to discuss with complete freedom all the religions of the world, and that Postel wrote what took place in their discussions. After the death of Postel these writings fell into the hands of Bodin and became the material for the book entitled About the Secrets of Sublime Things...."

The same notion is conveyed by an earlier source, Diecmann's 1684 De Naturalismo:

"And so it was pleasing to arrange his whole scene with Bodin as chorus-leader so that any religion might be applauded more than the Christian religion, or that religion might be mingled by Samaritan confusion with Jewish and Turkish treachery; that he seems to have wished to unite himself clearly to the intention of his most insane citizen, Guillaume Postel, whom Henricus Stephanus heard saying publicly now and then at Venice that whoever wishes to fashion a form of good religion ought to blend this from those three -- the Christian, Jewish, and Turkish religions. I am not at all deceived in this conclusion which I learned not so long ago from a French manuscript which mentioned that Guy Patin, physician and royal professor at Paris, had heard from Gabriel Naudé whom he knew very intimately, that there had been at Venice four men who had met twice a week for the purpose of establishing philosophical discussions about the various religions. Among those were Coronaeus of Rouen and the one whom I mentioned, Guillaume Postel, who acted as stenographer. His [Postel's] manuscripts, after he had died at Paris in 1584, came into the hands of Bodin and were used to complete this work." [Kuntz, p. lxi]

As for Postel, he tried to start a cult around that rarest of commodities, a 50-year old Venetian Virgin -- in this case a certain Mother Zuana, a woman he found working among the poor at the Ospedaletto of Venice. Postel came under the influence of Madre Zuana during 1549-1550. Postel identified her with the shechinah, the cabalistic term for the female aspect of the deity. Madre Zuana's father confessor was a member of the Convent of St. Francesco della Vigna, which had previously been the base of operations of Francesco Giorgi, the relative of Contarini who had earlier moved to the English court as resident sex therapist for King Henry VIII. It is a safe bet that Postel imbibed the Francesco Giorgi version of Cabala and Rosicrucianism from Giorgi's old colleagues at St. Francesco della Vigna.

Later, in 1552, Postel claimed that the departed spirit of Mother Zuana had occupied his body through a mysterious process he called "immutation." Perhaps as a result, Postel became an early feminist. He was also Royal Lector for King Henry II of France and was close to the king, who died in a suspicious tournament accident which Nostradamus claimed to have predicted.

The exoteric ideas of the cabal of the libertines involved much verbiage around the idea of Nature. What was natural was good, what was unnatural was bad, etc. The state of nature was good, other states were less good, etc. St. Evremonde praised "la bonne loi naturelle." The world is ruled by blind fate, which is amoral and cannot be opposed. Wisdom is a matter of giving expression to one's own Nature by seeking enjoyment. Most of the so- called Enlightenment boils down to these few banal notions.

Parallel to Bodin, was Michel de Montaigne, the inventor of the essay form and the founder of the modern French ideology of the honnete homme -- clever, urbane, cynical, skeptical, sensual. Bodin and Montaigne were linked by their common acquaintance with Sarpi's favorite Frenchman, Arnaud du Ferrier. Montaigne was close to Sarpi's correspondents DuPlessis-Mornay and de Thou, with the latter of whom he wanted to retire to his beloved Venice at the end of his life. Montaigne was Sarpi's favorite writer, especially for his essay on friendship with its homosexual overtones.

It is quite likely that Montaigne met Sarpi when he visited Venice in 1580. There is a tradition that Montaigne was on a diplomatic mission; he might have been representing his king or perhaps a faction on the French political scene. Some of Montaigne's ideas on magnetism are reflected in Sarpi's Pensieri. Later, Montaigne's disciple Pierre Charron wrote various tracts to popularize his master's point of view, and these writings of Charron also find their reflections here and there in Sarpi's notes for his neo-Aristotelian, neo-Ockhamite empiricist method.

Montaigne's motto was "Que sais-je?", what do I know? His answer reflected his pessimism about human knowledge and human creativity. Montaigne thought that even the "brutal stupidity" of animals assisted by their instincts could do better than "everything of which our divine intelligence is capable."

Montaigne's father had been a French soldier in the War of the League of Cambrai. The elder Montaigne had served with Lautrec; he kept a diary of his Italian years which has never been found. Montaigne's father had brought back from Italy a system of education supposedly endorsed by Italian humanists. The main idea was to speak only Latin around the child so as to make Latin the child's native language. Montaigne claims that he heard only Latin until he was six years old. Had the Venetians furnished the plan embraced by the elder Montaigne?

Montaigne wrote of cannibalism: While we think it is barbarous, many cultures think it is fine, so who are we to say? And, given our wars of religion, who are we to talk? "I think there is more barbarity in eating a man alive than in eating him dead; and in tearing by tortures and the rack a body still full of feeling, in roasting a man bit by bit... (as we have not only read but seen within fresh memory, not among ancient enemies, but among neighbors and fellow citizens, and what is worse, on the pretext of piety and religion), than in roasting and eating him after he is dead."

Antonio Conti's later assets, Montesquieu and Voltaire, paid tribute to Montaigne as the founder of their tradition. For two centuries, until the regime of Napoleon, the popularity of Montaigne in France survived, cutting across all changes in government or literary taste. Montaigne's "honnete homme" remains the foundation of the French ideology to this very day, a fact that helps to explain the political success of such creatures as Georges Pompidou, Giscard d'Estaing, "Tonton" Mitterrand, and Jacques Chirac.

Montaigne's partner was Etienne de la Boetie, another fanatical admirer of Venice. Only after de la Boetie died did Montaigne get married. Etienne de la Boetie wrote a praise of Venice in his Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, a book which still elicits enthusiasm from Murray Rothbard and other libertarians of today: "Whoever could have observed the early Venetians, a handful of people living so freely that the most wicked among them would not wish to be king over them, so born and trained that they would not vie with one another except as to which one could give the best counsel and nurture their liberty most carefully, so instructed and developed from their cradles that they would not exchange for all other delights of the world an iota of their freedom; who, I say, familiar with the original nature of such a people, could visit today the territories of the man known as the Great Doge, and there contemplate with composure a people unwilling to live except to serve him, and maintaining his power at the cost of their lives? Who would believe that these two groups of people had an identical origin? Would one not rather conclude that upon leaving a city of men he had chanced upon a menagerie of beasts?"

Etienne de la Boetie died in 1563. His remarks on Venice correspond exactly to the general political line of the Giovani Party, the patrician association meeting in the Ridotto Morosini. The agitation of the Giovani was that the Council of Ten and its Zonta (or Giunta) had robbed the Venetians of their ancient liberties. The Council of Ten was the organ of government that supervised internal security, spying, and surveillance; it could and did conduct secret trials of patricians and sentence them to death. The Giovani demand was, of course, that the members of the Vecchi Party who dominated the Council of Ten should be ousted and replaced by Giovani, along with some other formal changes. The reform of the Council of Ten was carried out in 1582, and marked the transition to overall domination by the Giovani. Etienne de la Boetie's treatment of Venice shows that he was not only an admirer of the Venetian oligarchy, but also that he was a partisan of the Giovani Party specifically.

Montaigne wrote of his friend: "if [la Boetie] had been able to choose, he would have preferred to have been born at Venice than in Sarlat [near Bordeaux], and he would have been right." For his own part, when Montaigne crossed the Alps for the first time in 1580, his paramount goal was Venice. His travel journal notes that Montaigne "was saying that he would not have been able to stop at Rome or anywhere else in Italy and be at rest if he had not first seen Venice." The French writer who most distinguished himself in attacking Montaigne was Blaise Pascal.

Now for a few key figures from the cabal of the libertines over the centuries.


The Venetians sent Giordano Bruno to Paris. They later also sent Vanini, a disciple of Bruno. Vanini was accused of propagating the no-soul thesis and was burned at the stake, which spread sympathy for the libertines. Vanini's doctrine was that men were without souls and died in the same way that dumb animals do. At his trial, Vanini testified that he had attended a Naples meeting of 12 operatives dedicated to spreading atheism in Europe, and that he had been assigned France by drawing straws. Bruno has since had a following in France, including Cyrano de Bergerac, and later Fontenelle, the permanent secretary of the Academy of Sciences and an ally of Antonio Conti.

In the wake of Bruno and Vanini, a nucleus of libertine poets emerged in Paris. These included Maynard, Boisrobert, Tristan the Hermit, Saint-Amant, and Theophile de Viau. Among the poets of the same time, there was Desbarreax, who had studied with Cremonini. Close to him was Theophile de Viau, who was almost burned at the stake himself. This Theophile de Viau was reputedly a bisexual and for certain Descartes' favorite poet. The libertine poet Tristan was an imitator of the Italian pornographic poet Marino. In the same circles traveled the atheist and libertine Abbé Boisrobert, who, with the support of Richelieu, founded the Academie Francaise on the model of the Venetian controlled Aristotelian academies of Italy.

French intellectual life during the 1600's was often centered in salons, academies, and cabinets. The procedure of the Venetian Party was to establish or take control over the most prestigious and fashionable of the salons, and then use the hegemonic influence of these Venetian dominated leading salons to set the tone the lesser and provincial salons and academies were expected to follow. A prime example is the leading cultural academy of the early 1600's, the Academie Puteane. Its organizer was Elie Diodati of the infamous Calvinist Diodati family of Geneva, friends of Sarpi and controllers of Milton. Diodati was in direct touch with Galileo and hosted Milton during the latter's grand tour. During the first phase of the Academie Puteane, Diodati functioned as its secretary. Another member was Gabriel Naudé, who had studied with Cremonini in Padua and admired him as a "deniaise," meaning that Cremonini was an initiate who had seen everything. Naudé, who admired Cremonini's powers of deception, was Cardinal Mazarin's librarian, and anticipated several important ideas of Descartes.

A third member was the philosopher Gassendi, the dominant philosopher of the period from 1640 to 1660 in France. Gassendi taught an empiricism similar to Sarpi's. This included a material soul which was as rarefied as the simplest atoms, but material nonetheless. LaFontaine, whose fables imitated not just Aesop but also much more recent Venetian models, was influenced by Gassendi. Other Puteane activists included Guy Patin, a professor of medicine, and the skeptic La Mothe le Vayer.

Patin had a joke about the immortality of the soul: He said that he once asked a moribund patient to come back and report on the afterlife. Patin said that the patient had indeed come back, but had refused to speak, leaving him ignorant about the immortality of the soul.

When Gassendi went out of fashion around 1660, he was replaced by the notorious Rosicrucian Descartes, who was also steeped in the Cabala. When he was at college with the Jesuits, Descartes had been a pro-Galileo activist. The turning point in Descartes' intellectual biography was a series of three rapti philosophici, or philosophical trances, experienced on the night of November 10-11, 1619 in a heated room in a German village. November 11 was St. Martin's day, and St. Martin's eve was one of the great drinking bashes of the old Christian year -- something like New Year's Eve today. The three dreams were the sources of Descartes' theory of vortices, among other things.

Descartes completed his own pilgrimage to Venice, and combined it with successful espionage for clients, including the French army of the Alps. Descartes visited the highly strategic Valtellina region of Switzerland, which was one of the nodal points of the Thirty Years' War, then in progress. The Valtellina was the territory of the Protestant Grisons or Grey Leagues, a land corridor which permitted direct communication between the possessions of the Austrian archdukes, on the one hand, and Spanish-occupied Lombardy and Milan on the other. It had been seized by the Spanish in 1619. Descartes, by then an expert in fortification and siege warfare, sent back such accurate reports that a French force was soon able to seize the Valtellina, severing the Austrian-Spanish communications. Naturally, all this was perfectly coherent with the anti-Spanish policy of the Venetians. Descartes arrived in Venice to see the traditional yearly ceremony acting out the marriage of the Doge to the Adriatic Sea.

Soon countergangs emerged with the announced purpose of countering the cabal of the libertines. An example was the Company of the Holy Sacrament, created in 1629 by the Duke of Ventadour. This was a secret society and included a pervasive spy network. Mazarin formally dissolved the Company of the Holy Sacrament, but its networks were still active as the "cabal of the devout" at the court of Louis XIV. The playwright Moliere, who was for a time the director of Louis XIV's entertainments, came into conflict numerous times with the cabal of the devout. Moliere, who was something of a libertine himself, satirized the religious activists in the figure of Tartuffe, the sanctimonious hypocrite who affects a mask of piety to pursue his often immoral goals.

After Richelieu died, the oligarchs rose up in rebellion against Mazarin under the leadership of the Cardinal de Retz, also a prominent author. This was the Fronde of 1650. Many rebellious nobles, like the Orleans, were atheists and libertines and frondeurs. Another famous frondeur was La Rochefoucauld, the author of the many cynical and worldly maxims.

Among the libertines of the second half of the 1600's, we find Pierre Bayle, the antagonist of Leibniz. There is also St. Evremonde, a veteran of the Fronde and the de facto libertine envoy to London. St. Evremonde's pose was that of the refined voluptuary. Under Louis XIV, libertines and atheists met at the Societe du Temple, where the dominant figure was the Grand Prieur de Vendome. Another center of the Venetian Party was the Palais Royal, controlled by the Duke of Orleans.


The cabal of the libertines, from the very beginning, had capabilities for espionage, assassination, and terrorism. A good example is the network of Pierre Jurieu, an espionage agent in the service of William of Orange active around 1700. The Public Record Office in London has thousands of pages of espionage reports from Jurieu's extensive network. Jurieu was a Huguenot minister and a translator of Paolo Sarpi. According to one commentator, "Jurieu made himself the tenacious defender of Calvinist orthodoxy. He refused any compromise, any relaxation, any tolerance. But this intransigence, which gives him a somber grandeur, also led him, by apparent paradox, to the most revolutionary theses. Jurieu severed the French Huguenots from any duty of obedience to the King; he thus legitimized insurrection and was one of the fathers of democracy, and one of the most obvious precursors of the spirit of 1789." (A. Niderst, Dictionnaire des Litteratures). Based on his reading of the Apocalypse, Jurieu announced that in 1689 both the regime of King Louis XIV and the French Catholic Church were going to collapse.

Jurieu on Sarpi: " hath pleased God in his Providence to raise up even in the Church of Rome, a wise, a moderate, a judicious and sincere man, one that in a word was the greatest man of his age, who hath carefully wrote this History. He has all the Perfections required to compleat an Historian...."

After about 1710, the Venetian networks of France were reorganized around Newtonianism by Antonio Conti. Conti worked with Montesquieu and Voltaire. Conti's later network included Buffon, Diderot, Condillac, and other leading lights of the celebrated French Encyclopedia.

Venetian operatives like Giacomo Casanova moved through the network of the cabal of the libertines. Casanova's mission for Venetian intelligence was to attack and undermine the regime of Louis XV. He was followed by the Venetian agent Cagliostro, who organized scandals that helped, according to Napoleon, to start the Revolution with the "queen's necklace affair," which generated widespread hatred against Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. None of these operations could have succeeded without the cabal of the libertines, the ambient portrayed by Mozart in the "Viva la liberta" scene in Don Giovanni.

Finally, by about 1800, after three centuries of subversion, French society had been degraded to the point that Frenchmen were willing to submit to the dictatorship of a foreigner -- of a Venetian. The cabal of the libertines had set the stage for the Revolution, the Terror, and for Bonaparte. France's most famous dictator turned out to be a post-1380 Genoese Corsican and therefore a de facto Venetian, revealing the open secret that so much of the dark side of French culture had been produced by the Venetians all along.

Site Admin
Posts: 23130
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Return to Science

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests