Vecia del morter

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The old woman of the mortar
The legend of a Venetian commoner
Vecia del morter

Between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century, a struggle for power was underway in Venice between some members of patrician families and those of the “middle class” who had enriched themselves through trade and business and could count on enormous assets.

In 1289 the election of Doge Pietro Gradenigo, an exponent of the “aristocratic party”, had created a certain discontent among the ranks of the “popular party”, which supported Jacopo Tiepolo for the supreme office of the Maggior Consiglio. On June 15, 1310, the Bajamonte and Tiepolo families devised a plan to attack the Doge’s Palace, kill the Doge and seize power.

But the insurgents’ assault was repelled and legend has it that a commoner, Giustina Rossi, contributed to the victory of the guards placed to protect the Doge’s Palace. The woman, who had appeared at the window to look around, would accidentally overturn a mortar on the head of the standard-bearer riding beside Bajamonte Tiepolo. The event wreaked havoc among the soldiers, who were so easily defeated by the regular army.

The repression against the conspirators was timely and ruthless: some of the Palaces of the people involved in the revolt were demolished and a handful of conspirators were stopped and arrested at “Campo San Luca”.

Out of gratitude, the Republic of Venice granted the old lady a block on the rent of her house, which was never raised until the fall of the Republic.

To commemorate the danger foiled and in memory of the event, a marble relief was placed above the arch depicting the “Vecia del Morter” (the old lady of the mortar) with the date 15 June 1310 and a flag bearer with banner in Campo San Luca, which is hoisted every year on that day.

If you want to see this curious “monument”, walk along the Mercerie dell’Orologio towards Piazza San Marco and at the corner with “Sotoportego del Cappello” look up…

Location: Vecia del Morter

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