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Venice 2014

Introduction

Venice during the early eleventh century was going through many changes.  After recently losing the original church of San Marco to a fire, Venetians were eager to begin the process of making a new plan and building a new church.  By 1063 the new basilica was up and consecrated. From the eleventh century to the end of the thirteenth century, the church of San Marco was undoubtedly the most important center for religious and political life in Venice.  The beautiful mosaics that filled the walls, including the exteriors, astounished everyone who visited the small city.  It was not until the Fourth Crusade, during the early thirteenth century (1202-04), that they received their legendary treasures.  The “treasures” also known as the spolia or “spoils” of San Marco were taken from all the areas they had conquered.  The Doge wanted all or nothing. It was not until Doge Ranieri Zeno that the spolia was displayed in the Piazza of San Marco, especially on the basilica.  For Venetians, the spolia came to mean pride and victory. They placed the spolia in obvious spots so that people could see them and be reminded of who the true victors were.  They wanted their visitors to see them as the “New Rome.”