Foscari, Francesco (1373–1457)

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Foscari, Francesco (13731457)

A famous Doge of Venice, who led the republic in its expensive and futile wars against Milan. Foscari held many important positions in the Venetian Republic, including ambassador, procurator of the Cathedral of Saint Mark, and member of the Council of Ten. Foscari was elected doge in 1423 after the death of Tommaso Mocenigo. He allied Venice with the city of Florence, a rival of Milan. The war dragged on for several years, draining the treasury of Venice and, at one point, inspiring Foscari to ask permission to resign his office. The Council refused.

Foscari's reign was tainted by the trial of his son Jacopo Foscari on charges of corruption by the Council of Ten, the governing council of Venice. The charges were first made in 1444; Jacopo was finally banished to the island of Crete, a Venetian possession. There he negotiated with Milan and the sultan of the Ottoman Empire; accused of treason, he was brought back to Venice and made to face another trial. Foscari refused to pardon his son, and Jacopo was shipped back to Crete, where he died in 1457. The Council of Ten forced Foscari out of office, soon after which he died. The story of Francesco and Jacopo Foscari inspired poetry, plays, and an opera by the nineteenth-century Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.