Family Names for the leaders of the three Italian Republics
Italy, even more so than Greece, can justifiably be called the birthplace of Western Democracy. The ancient Romans practiced a form of republican government which mixed aristocracy with democracy for several hundred years, before the tension between the two resulted in the creation of a monarchy, in the form of the Empire. With the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century, Italy fell into chaos for many centuries.. But as early as the 6th Century many cities had created --or recreated-- republican institutions. By the 14th Century, there were three very robust, wealthy, and powerful republics in Italy. Florence, Genoa, and Venice. These were oligarchic rather than democratic republics, that limited allowed one to vote roughly in proportion to one's wealth, a custom that did not die out in Europe until the 20th Century. With that kind of a set up, you would expect a small number of powerful families to monopolize the job of head of state and this is exactly what happened. Actually, ancient Rome wasn't much different and modern democracies tend to see the same names popping up in leadership positions.
The constitutional set-up in Venice made it much less likely that the republic would become dominated by one family, which was the fate of Genoa and Florence, as shown by the number of names available. The list below shows the families that dominated in each of the Italian republics during the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
FLORENCE GENOA VENICE
Bardi Boccanera Barbarigo
Bueri Caboto Celsi
Cavalcanti Colombo Contarini
Cerchi Doria* Dandolo
de Medici* Corner
degli Albizzi Dolfin
* Indicates the family which came to dominate the Republic
over the next few generations.
Typical First Names
Andrea Carlo Cosimo Filippo Francesco
Giovanni Giuliano Giuseppi Lorenzo Piero