Data on Medieval Venice

Data and replication files for 'International trade and institutional change: Medieval Venice's response to globalization'

by Diego Puga and Daniel Trefler

This site distributes and documents the dataset on prominent families in medieval Venice, their membership of Venice's Great Council 1261-1296, their participation in colleganza contracts 1073-1342, and their marriages 1400-1600, created by Diego Puga and Daniel Trefler for their article 'International trade and institutional change: Medieval Venice's response to globalization', published in Quarterly Journal of Economics 129(2), May 2014: 753-821, as well as the computer code required to replicate their results. Users of this dataset are asked to cite the Quarterly Journal of Economics article as the source. We would also appreciate it if you let us know the details of any paper in which you use the data by sending an email to Diego Puga (

These data and replication files, documented below, are freely available for download from this site as a zip file: (619 Kb.) . This contains:

Standardized family names

In order to document the political participation, involvement in international trade, and marrriage patterns of prominent families in medieval Venice, we must identify such families in heterogeneous historical sources. Since each family is referred to in historical sources using different variants of their family name, we group all variants representing the same family. We use an extended definition of family (casata). Sometimes a casata was made up of multiple branches (rami), but separating these systematically is not feasible. See Raines (2003, 23-25). The standardization of family names presents many difficulties. Even within the same source, the same family name appears sometimes in Latin and other times in Italian (e.g., Mauroceno or Morosini). There are multiple patronymic prefixes (d', da, de, di, dalla, della, de ca', de cha, de Casa, da Casa, etc.). There are also many spelling variants, the doubling of the 'n' or of the 'l' being the most common variants. Other variations reflect differences between Venetian and Italian, such as the alternative spellings 'ç', 'z' or 'zh' for the interdental voiceless fricative (a sound that is used in Venetian but not in Italian). The standardization was done with careful assistance from Lisa Chen and Jennifer Konieczny, Ph.D. students in the Medieval History Department at the University of Toronto. The correspondance between family name variants and standardized family names includes all the family name variants found in the historical sources used in this project for each prominent family, meaning a family that held seats in the Great Council at any point in 1261-1296 according to our Great Council membership data described below, or was present in the Great Council at any point from 1297 onwards according to Raines (2003), or was politically prominent in 960-1141 according to Rosch (1989), or was among high-office holders in 1142-1204 according to Castagnetti (1995). Note that this correspondence is not required to reproduce our results, since all other data files also include standardized family names. The correspondence is provided to help merge additional sources with our data. The data (files venice_familynames.dta and venice_familynames.csv) include the following variables:

Great Council members 1261-1296

Section 5 of the article presents evidence that in the period leading up to the Serrata there was a high degree of mobility into and out of the Great Council; a majority of seats in the Great Council were held by a relatively small number of powerful families; and, some of these families were losing seat shares to merchants that had not previously participated in the Great Council. To this end, we have constructed a database on representation in the Great Council. A Great Council session lasted for one year, starting in October. The Council recorded the names of its members and these lists have survived for each of the sessions in 1261-1262, 1264-1271, 1275-1284, and 1293-1296. The handwritten lists, together with other surviving records of Great Council deliberations, have been transcribed in the Deliberazioni del Maggior Consiglio di Venezia (Cessi, 1931-1950). The data on members of the Great Council of Venice 1261-1296 (files venice_greatcouncil.dta and venice_greatcouncil.csv) include the following variables:

Colleganza contracts 1073-1342

To examine the impact of the reorganization of the galley trade in the 1320s and the 1324 Capitulare Navigantium, we look at the characteristics of merchants who used the colleganza before and after 1324 to see whether non-nobles were excluded and whether, among nobles, usage shifted to those with greater political power (as measured by seat shares in the Great Council). We begin by examining colleganza contracts that have survived for the period 1073-1342. In particular, we examine all contracts that appear in Morozzo della Rocca and Lombardo (1940, 2 volumes), Lombardo and Morozzo della Rocca (1953), Tiepolo (1970), and Sebellico (1973, 2 volumes). These volumes are collections of all types of commercial contracts, such as dowries, wills, lease agreements, loans, settlements, etc. We first identify which of these commercial documents are colleganza or settlements of a colleganza. In some of these volumes, each contract is preceded by an editorial header giving the date, place and type of contract; however, these headers are often vague or inaccurate so we instead reviewed each of the 2,833 documents individually.

Identification is tricky and requires a considerable investment in time to learn how to distinguish colleganza from other related contracts. We have benefitted enormously from numerous discussions with Yadira González de Lara on the coding of colleganza. Colleganza contracts are most clearly identified by the statement that, in the event of profits, the travelling merchant receives a share of these profits e.g., 'Reliquam quartam partem in me retinere debeam.' Settlements of colleganza require a careful reading to understand what type of contract is being settled. The most common difficulty is distinguishing between a colleganza and a sea loan. Where no other distinguishing features are available, we follow González de Lara (2008) in classifying a contract as a colleganza if the travelling merchant rendered accounts under oath. Sometimes both the original colleganza and its settlement have survived, in which case we count only the original contract; however, most often only one of the two has survived, in which case we date the contract to the date of the original colleganza (which is almost always specified in the settlement). There are a small number of other related contracts dealing with the transfer of colleganza obligations, and we include these as well. There are two settlements of colleganza for which only a fragment of the original parchment has survived. Since the names of the merchants are missing, we exclude these two.

The data on Venetian colleganza contracts 1073-1342 (files venice_colleganza.dta and venice_colleganza.csv) include the following variables:

Marriages involving a noble husband 1400-1600

A handwritten list kept at the Archivio di Stato di Venezia records Venetian marriages involving a noble husband. This was compiled in the late nineteenth century by archivist Giuseppe Giomo from multiple sources, including the records of Avogaria di comun and an earlier compilation by Marco Barbaro. We have digitized this list and performed the same standardization of family names described above. This allows us to track the evolution of power within Venice's nobility. Our analysis in the article uses marriages among noble families for the period 1400-1599. The handwritten list also contains a few earlier marriages (23 in 1398 and another 33 scattered over the period 1348-1397), but these are far too few to be useful. It also contains marriages for 1600-1887, but these are beyond our period of interest. Nevertheless, we provide data for the entire period 1348-1887. The handwritten list only contains marriages involving a noble husband. Our analysis in the article uses marriages among noble families, but we also provide data for marriages between noble husbands and non-noble wives. The data on Venetian marriages involving a noble husband (files venice_marriages.dta and venice_marriages.csv) include the following variables:


Castagnetti, Andrea. 1995. Il primo comune. In Giovanni Cracco and Gherardo Ortalli (eds.) Storia di Venezia dalle origini alla caduta della Serenissima, Volume II: L'età del comune. Rome, Italy: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana, 81-130.

Cessi, Roberto (ed.). 1931-1950. Deliberazioni del Maggior Consiglio di Venezia. 3 volumes. Bologna, Italy: Nicola Zanichelli.

Giomo, Giuseppe. Indice per nome di donna dei matrimoni dei patrizi Venetie. Archivio di Stato di Venezia, indice 82 ter I/II.

Lombardo, Antonino and Raimondo Morozzo della Rocca (eds.). 1953. Nuovi documenti del commercio veneto dei sec. XI-XIII. Venice, Italy: Deputazione di storia patria per le Venezie.

Morozzo della Rocca, Raimondo and Antonino Lombardo (eds.). 1940. Documenti del commercio veneziano nei secoli XI-XIII. 2 volumes. Turin, Italy: Istituto storico per il Medio Evo.

Puga, Diego and Daniel Trefler. 2014. International trade and institutional change: Medieval Venice's response to globalization. Quarterly Journal of Economics 129(2): 753-821.

Rösch, Gerhard. 1989. Der Venezianische Adel bis zur Schliessung des Grossen Rates: zur Genese einer Führungsschicht. Sigmaringen: Thorbecke.

Raines, Dorit. 2003. Cooptazione, aggregazione e presenza al maggior consiglio: le casate del patriziato Veneziano, 1297-1797. Storia di Venezia, Rivista 1: 1-35.

Sebellico, Andreina Bondi (ed.). 1973. Felice de Merlis prete e notaio in Venezia ed Ayas 1315-1348. 2 Volumes. Venice, Italy: Comitato per la Pubblicazione delle Fonti Relative alla Storia di Venezia.

Tiepolo, Maria Francesca (ed.). 1970. Domenico prete di S. Maurizio, notaio in Venezia, 1309-1316. Venice, Italy: Comitato per la Pubblicazione delle Fonti Relative alla Storia di Venezia.