Conservation of 15 volumes of the Despatches of Francesco Morosini (1619-94)

Parchment bound volume of the Morosini Despatches BEFORE conservation
Pages from the Morosini Despatches showing the loss of the cords and other damage BEFORE conservation
Bound volume AFTER conservation by the Rosano Convent

About the project

In the nave floor of the church of San Stefano you will find one of Venice’s more unusual memorials to her doges. This is the massive decorated brass cartouche commemorating Francesco Morosini, who died at Nafplion in Greece on 9 January 1694. Known as ‘Il Peloponnesiaco’ from his successful campaigns against the Turks in the Peloponnese, Morosini was the last of the great Venetian doges.

Theoretically the highest office in the state was that of a mere figurehead, but several of those elected to it contrived to make their mark through sheer force of personality or by showing prowess in war and diplomacy. Francesco Morosini nearly ended up in prison for having, on his own initiative, concluded peace with the Turks, following his surrender of Candia (Heraklion) which ended Venice’s long but fruitless struggle to hold on to the island of Crete.  He had fought a tough campaign, so the Senate was persuaded to give him another chance to prove his generalship, in an invasion of Greece in 1684, resulting in a series of spectacular victories.   One of these took place in Athens, where his Swedish artillery commander, Count Koenigsmark, fired the fatal cannon shot which blew up a powder magazine inside the Parthenon, dislodging its carved marble frieze now displayed in the British Museum.

In 1688 Morosini was elected Doge of Venice, though without renouncing his role as triumphant restorer of military glory to La Serenissima. His dispatches from the battle front, now in the Archivio di Stato, are a major historical source, but by 2017 their fifteen volumes were in a precarious state and had long been unavailable for consultation.  In particular they appear to have suffered badly from rain damage in the 19th century, loss of bindings and the fragility of age.

The project was supported jointly by the Austrian and Swiss committees (Venedig lebt and Fondazione Svizzera Pro Venezia).

How to find it

In brief

  • 2018 Conservation of 15 volumes of the Dispatches of Francesco Morosini (1619-94)
  • Joint project marking the 400th anniversary of Morosini’s birth.
  • This project cost £18,000 and was undertaken by the Benedictine nuns of Rosano, near Florence who specialise in the conservation of books and rescued many of those damaged in the famous 1966 flooding.
  • Treatment included conservation of the distinctive Venetian Archive bindings and parchment covers, cleaning, de-acidification, resewing and provision of conservation-grade storage boxes. 
  • The Morosini Despatches are accessible to those undertaking research at the Archivio di Stato
  • For information about the Archivio di Stato
  • Archivio di Stato di Venezia Youtube channel 


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