The Three Bogeymen and the Black Legend of Venice: Beckford, Casanova, Twain and Dickens

Letters from the exile

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Cell in the Pozzi, next to the Doge’s Palace

De chi me fido guardami iddio
De chi no me fido me guarderò io

[God protect me from all those I trust
From those I trust not, I’ll protect myself.]
A prisoner’s inscription in the Pozzi

The Most Sinister of Police States

The origins of the black legend of Venice date from a few centuries before the fall of the Republic, starting from the creation of the new judiciary (1539) called Inquisitori di Stato (State Inquisitors), also commonly known as I tre babài or The Three Bogeymen. Two were chosen from among the members of the Consiglio dei Dieci (Council of the Ten) and were dressed in black (i negri, The Blacks), and one was a ducal counsellor dressed in red (el rosso, The Red). They sat in a room of Palazzo Ducale, under the…

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