Women have always played a significant role in shaping the history of Venice.
From powerful queens to skilled lace makers, Venetian women have been making history in this city for centuries.
Even though some of these women may not have received the recognition they deserved, their contributions to Venice's development are indisputable.
In this article, we will explore the most famous women in Venice history and the gender equality that prevailed during the Serenissima Republic.
Gender equality during the Serenissima Republic
During the Venetian Republic, women enjoyed a level of freedom that was unusual for their time.
In fact, they could devote themselves to different aspects of life and arts, like culture, painting. music and the literary world.
However, they were allowed to own and run their businesses, sign contracts, and even sue men in court. Some women even held important positions in government, such as the position of counselor.
Throughout the history of Venice, we can find women that have worked in the fields or went to the sea. Some of them have founded cloisters and hospitals, but have also decided to become glass makers, alcohol distillers, and any kind of artisan you can imagine.
They could also express their Last Will without a man putting pressure on them.
Additionally, women were free to choose their husbands and to divorce them if they were unhappy with the marriage.
Even if we take some of these aspects for granted, you have to understand that the condition of women during the Venetian republic was exceptionally good for the time.
Some of these Venetian women of the past are famous even today, and we are going to have a quick look at their exceptional lives.
The most famous women in Venice
The history of Venice is filled with remarkable women who left a lasting impact on the city.
You probably don't know that one of the most important deities in the pre-Christian era was the goddess Reitia.
Legend has it that Reitia was a powerful goddess who protected justice and education, promoting equality and harmony. She has been the precursor of the image of Venice as a woman.
Here are some examples of the most famous women in Venice.
The first graduated woman in the world
She is probably the most famous woman in the history of the city. Her name is Elena Lucrezia Cornaro (also called Elena Lucrezia Corner Piscopia) and she lived in the Seventeenth century.
She was an erudite and a philosopher and she graduated at the University of Padua in 1678.
This remarkable woman of Venice is now buried inside the splendid Basilica di Santa Giustina in Padua.
A great Baroque composer: Barbara Strozzi
Barbara Strozzi was a contemporary of the first famous woman we have talked about.
She is famous because she has been a great composer and singer, being a great representative of the Baroque period. She is probably buried in Padua, inside the beautiful Eremitani Church.
The poet and courtesan Veronica Franco
Veronica Franco lived in the second part of the Sixteenth century and she was known to be a great poet, humanist and philanthropist.
She was one of the most celebrated writers of her time and used her platform to advocate for the rights of women. She was also known for her beauty and charm, which attracted many powerful men.
As for her will, she is buried in the Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice.
The last queen of Venice
Caterina Corner (or Caterina Cornaro) was the last queen of Cyprus.
She was a talented diplomat and ruler who fought to protect her country from foreign invaders.
After her husband's death, she was forced to abdicate her throne and returned to Venice, where she lived the rest of her life in relative obscurity.
Adele della Vida Levi
She lived in the Nineteenth century and she was known as the woman who founded the first Italian kindergarten.
The Kindergarten was founded in 1869 and the idea behind it was that the kids should learn while playing games. This was the idea from which Maria Montessori also took inspiration.
Do you know any other famous women in Venice?
Of course our list could be longer. We could have included the great actress Eleonora Duse, the first journalist Elisabetta Carminer Turra, and many other great female personalities of the history of Venice.
We hope this article has inspired you to come here and get to know more about the stories of these wonderful women of Venice.