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Silver Grosso of Doge Raniero Zeno, 1253-1268, Venice.
Coat of Arms of Reniero Zeno.

Reniero Zeno (Venetian: Renieri Zen; died July 7, 1268) was the 45th Doge of Venice, reigning from January 1, 1253 until his death in 1268.

Life

The first references to Zeno in historical sources describe him as a diplomat in France and Italy, where he was excommunicated for having pushed Bologna to avoid paying tributes to the Papal States. In 1240 he helped Doge Jacopo Tiepolo during the siege of Ferrara, in 1242 put down a revolt in Zara and in 1244 he was named capitano da mar (fleet commander) of the Republic of Venice. He was also the podestà (Chief Magistrate) of numerous Italian cities.

After the death of Marino Morosini, Zeno, who was podestà of Fermo, was elected Doge with 21 out of 41 votes. In 1256-1259 he helped the Pope Alexander IV and Treviso in the war for the Marca Trevigiana against the Ghibelline warlord Ezzelino IV da Romano, whose death resolved the conflict.

In the meantime, Venice found itself engaged in a war against the Republic of Genoa, its greatest rival in the Mediterranean. The cause of the conflict was the sacking by the Genoese of the Venetian quarter in Tyre. When the future Doge Lorenzo Tiepolo destroyed the Genoese fleet in 1257, Genoa allied with Michael VIII Palaeologus, who in 1261 captured Constantinople, putting the end to the Latin Empire and awarding Genoans the privilegies formerly held by Venetians. Venice replied by building two large fleets which again defeated the Genoese in Morea in 1262 and in Settepozzi in 1263. In 1265 a truce was signed between the two parties.

In 1268 Byzantine Empire restored to the Venetians most of their former priviliegies, establishing the uneasy balance between the two maritime republics, allowing them to compete freely in the Levant.

Also, under Zeno's reign a series of 129 law articles were approved which gave Venice a modern maritime legislation. Doge died in Venice in 1268.

Preceded by
Marino Morosini
Doge of Venice
1252 – 1268
Succeeded by
Lorenzo Tiepolo
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