The city of Venice celebrates this year officially its 1600th birthday.
It is said that Venice was founded on the 25th of March 421, but is this true?
Just think about the date, the 25th of March: A symbolic day in the Christian Church.
On this very day an angel visits Mary to announce: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call His name, Jesus.”
Mary learns that she was chosen to give birth to Jesus Christ.
With the beginning of her pregnancy on the 25th of March, known in the Church as “Annunciation”, begins the life of Jesus Christ on earth and (!) symbolically also the “life” of the city of Venice. A date that was chosen on purpose.
And the year 421?
This year is recorded by (M. Sabellico) in the 15th century when writing about the foundation of the city of Venice. He admits himself that there are doubts about the date, but he firmly believes that the year is correct and so he makes the year 421 the official year of the foundation.
And what is the year 421 really all about?
In 1420 the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua is burning. Padua was then since 15 years under Venetian reign. An unknown counterfeiter used this event to transform the legend about Venice being founded by Padua (in 421)* in an official document and voilà …this counterfeited document and year is widely copied and enters even the chronicles of the historian Sabellico.
Marcantonio Sabellico had now written the official history of Venice. Thus, all the other historians to come after him didn’t have to dedicate their work to the foundation of city any more – the history was already written.
That is the reason why the belief that Venice was founded in 421 continued to be considered true till recent times.
Did you know that the copyright was born in Venice?
The same Marcantonio Sabellico was granted the copyright by the Serenissima in 1486 for his works: No one could illegally copy his creations. Sabellico was even granted the right to choose his own publisher: Andrea Torresani, the father-in-law of Aldo Manuzio, the inventor of italic type.
*to be found in the Cronachetta by Jacopo Dondi (13th century)