Proposal: Restore the memorial to the Infamy of Bajamonte Tiepolo

Venice in Peril was delighted to be associated with the proposal to restore the memorial to the Infamy of Bajamonte Tiepolo being put forward by Michelle Lovric.

On 15 June 2010 it will be the 700th anniversary of Bajamonte Tiepolo's bloody conspiracy against the state of Venice; he planned to murder Doge Pietro Gradenigo and seize power for a few noble families. His defeat was one of the great occasions in Venetian history, when democracy triumphed over potential dictatorship. The establishment of the Council of Ten was a direct result.

After his downfall, Bajamonte Tiepolo was sent into exile and his palace was razed. A column of infamy was erected in Sant'Agostin, where the palace once stood. It bears these words:

This land belonged to Bajamonte
And now, for his iniquitous betrayal,
This has been placed to frighten others
And to show these words to everyone forever.

The column has a fascinating story. Even from exile, the Tiepolos sent a henchman to destroy it. The man succeeded in breaking it in three pieces before he was caught in the act. He was deprived of a hand and his eyes were put out. The column was repaired and re-erected behind the nearby church of Sant'Agostin.

Four hundred years later, in 1785, one Angelo Maria Querini purchased the column, leaving in its place a humble stone plaque that read Loc. Col. Bai. The. MCCCX.

Querini sent the column to his villa in Alticchiero on the mainland. Then it passed into the hands of the antiquarian Sanquirico, and finally to the nephew of the Duke of Melzi, who used it as a garden ornament at a mansion on Lake Como. Some time in the early nineteenth century, the column was brought back to the Correr Museum in Venice. It now lies in the stores of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.

Yet, as its inscription says, this column was designed to be exhibited in public as a warning 'FOREVER'. Moreover, the column is one of the earliest examples of public stone lettering in Venice. Why can it not be re-erected in Sant'Agostin, where it belongs, for the 700th anniversary? With an appropriate explanation of its provenance and history? Or could it at least be restored to public view in the Correr Museum for the anniversary, along with any other relevant artefacts?

Even Venice does not have many 700th anniversaries, and the re-erection of the Column of Infamy could be accomplished easily and without expense to the city, as various international charities would happily subsidise the cost.

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