The Tudor Society

An Italian Tudor at the Doge’s Court by Heather R. Darsie

The Tudor rose adornment

In an unassuming hallway leading visitors to the Doge's Palace in Venice, Italy, from the Staircase of Giants and out through the Porta della Carta, there is an extraordinary feature adorning the ceiling not once, but twice: a Tudor rose.

Daniele Barbaro was a Venetian cardinal, born in 1514 and dying in 1570. During his lifetime, Barbaro translated the works of Vetruvius, a Roman architect, and was known to be a patron of architects. Particularly, he patronized the Venetian architect known as Andrea Palladio. Barbaro, a bit of a linguist, also served as ambassador to the court of Elizabeth I of England. He may also have served as ambassador to Edward VI. Pleased with his service, Elizabeth allowed Barbaro in 1560 to quarter his personal arms with Tudor roses.

Daniele's brother, Marcantonio, was born in 1518 and outlived his brother by several years, dying in 1595. A diplomat, he served as ambassador to France from 1561 to 1564. Marcantonio was nominated for the position of Doge in 1570, 1578, 1585 and 1595. Marcantonio, educated at the University of Padua, became Rector during his final years and served the university at the same time as Galileo Galilei was a professor.

In 1577, a fire devastated the Doge's Palace. Palladio was approached to perform restoration work and new construction. Already Palladio had been the architect for several palaces and churches in Venice, and had a good reputation. Palladio designed apartments on the first floor (second floor, to Americans). But did he work on that hallway by the Porta della Carta? Is the relief that appears to be a Tudor rose a nod to the Barbaro brothers, who were influential in Venice and supported Palladio’s career, or is it mere coincidence? The answer is not easily found, though the evidence is compelling.

Here are more photos Heather took at the Doge's Palace:

Heather R. Darsie lives in the United States with her family and three parrots. She works in the legal field, with a focus on children. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Languages and Literature, then a Juris Doctorate in American jurisprudence, and studied abroad in Costa Rica and France. Heather has always loved history. She first became acquainted with Elizabeth I when she was in middle school and chose to write a book report about her. Since then, she has always held an interest in the Renaissance and its numerous enigmatic citizens, with particular focus on the history of England and Italy. She is currently working on a book on the heraldry of Tudor women and is also researching Anne of Cleves.

Sources and Suggested Reading

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