Francesco Barbaro (politician)

Francesco Barbaro (1390–1454) was an Italian politician, diplomat, and humanist from Venice and a member of the patrician Barbaro family. He is interred in the Church of the Frari, Venice.[1]

Francesco Barbaro


Francesco Barbaro was the son of Candiano Barbaro,[2] uncle of Ermolao Barbaro,[3] grandfather of the younger Ermolao Barbaro,[4][5] and great-great grandfather of Marcantonio Barbaro and Daniele Barbaro.[6][7][8] Francesco's father died in 1391 and Francesco was raised by his older brother Zaccaria.[9] In 1419, Franceso married Maria Loredan, daughter of Procurator Pietro Loredan.[10] Francesco and Maria had five daughters and one son, Zaccaria, who was born in 1422.[11][5][12][13]


Francesco Barbaro was a student at the University of Padua and studied under John of Ravenna, Gasparino Barzizza, Vittorino da Feltre, Guarino Veronese,[2][14] and Giovanni Conversini.[15]


In 1419, Barbaro was appointed senator of the Republic of Venice.[16][2] He was elected governor of Como in 1421, though he declined the post. Later that year he accepted the governorship of Trivigi.[13] He served as governor of Vicenza in 1423, of Bergamo in 1430, and of Verona in 1434.[12][2][16][17]

In 1426 Barbaro was sent as a special envoy to the Papal Court to try to persuade Pope Martin V to ally with Venice against Milan.[3][16][17] In 1428, the Pope assembled a congress at Ferrara, which ended the war, with Francesco Barbaro being one of Venice’s representatives there.[17] That year Barbaro also served as ambassador in Ferrara and Florence. In 1433, Barbaro represented Venice at the court Emperor Sigismund in Bohemia, where he and the other envoys were knighted by the Emperor.[3][16][17] At Emperor Sigismund’s request, Francesco Barbaro attempted to soothe relations between the Emperor and the Hussites.[17] Eugenius IV also employed Barbaro in his negotiations with the Emperor.[17]

Barbaro served as Venetian ambassador to Mantua in 1443, Ferrara in 1444, and Milan in 1446.[3][16]

As governor of Brescia, from 1437 to 1440, Francesco Barbaro was able to reconcile the two rival factions of Avogadri and Martinenghi and he attained a great reputation in his defense of the city against the forces of the Duke of Milan, led by Niccolò Piccinino.[12][2][16] Barbaro's success was commemorated by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in his painting The Glorification of the Barbaro Family.[18]

Barbaro was governor of Verona again in 1441, and later was appointed governor of Padua and Governor General of Friuli in 1445.[3][16] In 1444 he arbitrated a border dispute between the cities of Verona and Vicenza.[19] He finally returned to Venice as a state councilor and was elected Procurator of St Mark's in 1452.[19][12][16] Francesco Barbaro also served as Luogotenente of Friuli from 1448 to 1449.[20]

In 1453, Barbaro's friend, Filippo da Rimini, serving as chancellor of Venetian Corfu, sent him an account of the fall of Constantinople. When Barbaro died the following year, da Rimini delivered a funeral oration.[21]


Barbaro engaged in research, collection and translation of ancient manuscripts[12][16] and served as a patron to George of Trebizond[16] and Flavio Biondo.[15]

Early in his career, he translated two of Plutarch’s Lives, those of Aristides and Cato from Greek texts into Latin[16] and dedicated them to his older brother Zaccaria.[22]

He wrote a treatise on marriage, De re uxoria, in 1415 to celebrate the marriage of Lorenzo de' Medici and Ginevra Cavalcanti.[23] It was inspired by ancient Latin and Greek sources,[16] and he wrote it in just 25 days.[24] In 1513, the treatise was published in Paris by Badius Ascensius,[2][12] a transcription having been made in Verona by André Tiraqueau at the house of Guarino Veronese.[25] A French translation was made by Martin du Pin in 1537.[12][2] The work was translated into Italian by Alberto Lollio in 1548.[12][2] The Latin version was reprinted in Paris in 1560 and again in Amsterdam in 1639.[2] In 1667, another French translation was made by Claude Joly under the title L'Etat du Marriage.[12][2] Another Italian translation was made in 1785 as A Scelta Della Moglie.[2]

Some of his letters and speeches were published for the first time in Brescia in 1728 under the title of Evangelistae Manelmi Vicentini Commentariorum de Obsidione Brixiae ann. 1438.[2] Among the people he corresponded with were Alberto da Sarteano, Guarino Guarini,[26] and Ludovico Trevisan.[15] Many of his letters were published by Bernard Pez in Brescia in 1753.[12][19] He may have been the author of a history of the Siege of Brescia.[12][2][19]


  1. ^ Cantù 1856, p. 127.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Rose 1857, p. 135.
  3. ^ a b c d e Rose 1857, p. 136.
  4. ^ Valeriano 1999, p. 288.
  5. ^ a b Peter Gerard Bietenholz; Thomas Brian Deutscher (2003). Contemporaries of Erasmus: A Biographical Register of the Renaissance and Reformation, Volumes 1-3, A-Z. University of Toronto Press. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-8020-8577-1.
  6. ^ Rivista di storia della Chiesa in Italia. Herder. 1962. p. 107.
  7. ^ Clement, David (1751). Bibliothèque curieuse historique et critique ou Catalogue raisonné de livres difficiles à trouver. J. G. Schmid. p. 409.
  8. ^ Zeno, Apostolo (1753). Dissertazioni Vossiane di Apostolo Zeno cioe giunte e osservazioni intorno agli storici italiani che hanno seritto latinamente. Giamb. Abbrizzi. p. 360.
  9. ^ Pade 2007, p. 199.
  10. ^ Michela Marangoni; Manlio Pastore Stocchi (1996). Una famiglia veneziana nella storia: i Barbaro. Ist. Veneto di Scienze. p. 95. ISBN 978-88-86166-34-8.
  11. ^ Venice: A Documentary History, 1450-1630, Brian Pullan, 2001, University of Toronto Press, pg.201
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Michaud 1811, p. 328.
  13. ^ a b Shepherd 1837, p. 89.
  14. ^ Shepherd 1837, p. 88.
  15. ^ a b c Frazier 2005, p. 224.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Lane 1973, p. 219.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Shepherd 1837, p. 90.
  18. ^ Yriarte, Charles (1874). La vie d'un patricien de Venise au seizième siècle: Les doges--La charte ducale --Les femmes à Venise--L'Université de Padoue--Les préliminaires de Lépante, etc., etc., d'après les papiers d'état des Archives de Venise. Plon. p. 11.
  19. ^ a b c d Shepherd 1837, p. 92.
  20. ^ Gius. Dom. Della Bona (1856). Strenna cronologica per l'antica storia del Friuli e principalmente per quella di Gorizia sino all'anno 1500. p. 126.
  21. ^ King 2014, p. 407.
  22. ^ Pade 2007, p. 200.
  23. ^ Tomas 2003, p. 14.
  24. ^ Frazier 2005, p. 225.
  25. ^ Carole Collier Frick, The Downcast Eyes of the Women of the Upper Class in Francesco Barbaro's De Re Uxoria, p. 26 note 3, in UCLA Historical Journal vol. 9 (1980);
  26. ^ Frazier 2005, p. 86.