Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
New interface
Journal articles

Les délégations de la Seigneurie (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle). Communication politique ou pratique de négociation entre Venise et la Terre ferme?

Abstract : In the early modern period, the Venetian state—consisting of the city (known as La Dominante), the western regions of the Terraferma, and the coastal territories in the Mediterranean—was a complex entity, in which different cultures and juridical systems coexisted. This article analyzes a frequently used type of petition, designed to adjourn a trial and delegate the proceedings to another court in Venice itself or outside of the city. Reading the procedures and guiding principles of this delegation or delegazione according to the interpretative categories of the premodern “jurisdictional state” opens up new interpretations of the Venetian legal system, which subsequently appears more consistent with the law of other European countries. A subject who feared that the outcome of a trial would be compromised by differences in position or resources between the parties had the right to petition the Signoria to have it delegated to another court. The procedure for granting this favor or grace—which should be considered as a political act—was based on a cross-examination of both parties resulting in a judgment. Although this trial was subject to the same guarantees as ordinary civil or criminal procedures, the “mixed” nature of the delegazione meant that its resolution did not simply depend on the application of strict legal standards. Instead, the judgment was a discretionary act on the part of the patrician judges, based on a political reading of the case and its context. Rather than seeking to present the legal truth, the petitions thus expressed political accounts of the facts in order to be persuasive. Moreover, the procedure also fostered negotiations between the parties, who enjoyed a great deal of autonomy in managing the conflict. In fact, sometimes the goal of a petition for delegazione was not to obtain a court decision but rather to create better conditions for an extrajudicial, nonviolent resolution of the dispute. This negotiatory aspect contributed to the procedure's popularity. In return, by bringing local disputes to the city of Venice, the petitioners laid the foundations for a cross-cultural legal “contamination,” the seed of a common vocabulary shared by the different legal subsystems that made up the Venetian State.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Pierre Labrousse Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, February 21, 2022 - 9:53:20 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, February 22, 2022 - 3:35:40 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-03582193, version 1



Alessandra Sambo. Les délégations de la Seigneurie (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle). Communication politique ou pratique de négociation entre Venise et la Terre ferme?. Annales. Histoire, Sciences sociales, 2015, 70 (4), pp.819-848. ⟨hal-03582193⟩



Record views