In Venice he is remembered for his military victories against the Turks, but in the world at large Doge Francesco Morosini (r. 1688-94) has gone down in history for quite a different reason.
Francesco Morosini (1619-94), a member of a prominent noble family, spent much of his military career leading, mostly successful, campaigns in Greece against the Turks. He was known as Il Peloponnesiaco in honour of his victories in the Peloponnese peninsula.
On September 27th 1686, during the siege of Athens, Morosini's forces scored a direct hit on the Parthenon, which the Ottoman Turks had chosen to use as a gunpowder magazine. The temple of Athena, which had stood on the Acropolis since 432 BCE, was, in an instant, reduced to a virtual ruin.
An attaché of the Swedish field commander General Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck, whose forces were aiding the Venetians, later wrote: "How it dismayed His Excellency to destroy the beautiful temple which had existed three thousand years!". By contrast Morosini described the action, in his report to the Venetian government, as a "fortunate shot".
To make matters worse, Morosini then tried to loot the horses and chariot of Athena from the west pediment. The sculptures fell and smashed into pieces. He had to content himself with two stone lions, which he plundered from elsewhere. Morosini was elected doge in 1688 and in 1692 the lions were placed outside the entrance to the Arsenale, where they stand to this day.
In the same year a bronze pedestal and flagpole was erected in Doge Morosini's honour in the campo outside the Arsenal. A second bronze pedestal (this time bearing the doge's portrait) and flagpole was erected in his honour at the south end of the Campo Santo Stefano, where his family palace still stands.
Francesco Morosini is interred in Santo Stefano, his parish church.
Blogging about Venice:
its art, history & culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England.
Since 200I I have been living in Italy, where I run private tours of Florence, Rome &