This introductory chapter briefly explores the complex networks of alliance and interest, hierarchies of authority, and modes of interaction between the various groups and individuals that helped draw political, religious, and linguistic boundaries in early modern Venice. Such networks engaged—and with time transformed—contemporary patrician notions of social order premised on rigid legal hierarchies, civic unity, and Christian communitas—all constituent elements of the fabled myth of Venice as a serene and cohesive society, free of tensions and political strife. In tracing these networks, the chapter underscores how various articulations of belonging and foreignness were engaged by trans-imperial subjects, émigrés from Venetian colonies and borderland regions, redeemed slaves returning from the Ottoman Empire, converts from Islam or Judaism, and merchants and diplomats who regularly travelled across the Venetian–Ottoman frontier.
Keywords: networks of alliance, hierarchies of authority, modes of interaction, early modern Venice, civic unity, Christian communitas, belonging, foreignness, Venetian–Ottoman frontier, trans-imperial subjects
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