Redeemed by the Blood

James H. Johnson

in Venice Incognito

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267718
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948624 | DOI:
Redeemed by the Blood

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter discusses the immemorial ritual of the rebirth of the blood. In the late winter of 1679, the Venetian Giovanni Corner staged a spectacle that linked images of renewal to the pressures of an empire beginning to collapse. The event was called an equestrian ballet. It was a masquerade on horseback that combined music, costumes, and symbolic killing in choreographed maneuvers. As an orchestra played, riders systematically pierced, stabbed, and shot their victims. The participants were all Venetian nobles. Corner’s masquerade was a pantomime of violence with the bloodshed sublimated. The chapter also discusses the giovedi grasso or the bull hunts. More than bloodshed and the entertainment it depicted, the giovedi grasso and the equestrian ballet, were affirmations of the skill and daringness of the Venetian people. Both aimed to show foreigners the power of Venice, and both sought to show an assurance of salutary hardness. In addition both also renewed participation and solidarity. Both strengthened civic unity through a shard act of violence and regeneration.

Keywords: rebirth; blood; Giovanni Corner; equestrian ballet; pantomime of violence; giovedi grasso

Chapter.  5007 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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