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Using de’ Barbari’s View of Venice as its framing device, chapter 17 joins other recent scholarship in challenging the notion of a neat public/private, male/female divide in Venetian space. Women fulfilled significant roles in civic rituals and acted as conduits in informal politics. Although the presence of de’ Barbari’s brawny Neptune as guardian of Piazza San Marco seemingly underscores the Venetian Republic’s masculinity, neither the civic rituals that regularly filled the piazza and the Grand Canal nor the politics that radiated from the Doge’s Palace were the sole provenance of men. As this essay demonstrates, the bodies of women filled the ceremonial spaces depicted by de’ Barbari in unprecedented numbers, marking events of considerable political, diplomatic, and imperial significance. While sex technically prevented women from participating in Venetian governance, behind walls their social networks enabled them to become essential contributors to the informal world of Venetian political influence.

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