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52                                POLITICAL SCIENCE.
for the expansion of its power in the east.    The events of
this  epoch seem to have increased the separation between
the nobles and the people ; as was natural when such new and
copious sources of wealth and such knowledge of the world
was open to the upper classes.    In the dukedom of Peter
Gradenigo (1289-1311) occurred the change in the constitu-
tion of the grand council, to which we have already referred,
and which is known as " il serrar del grande consiglio."    The
object of this measure was to restrict admission into that
body to a certain number of families, who thus would com-
pose an aristocracy within an aristocracy.   These privileged
families were such as had supplied members to the council
within four years.    The names of the families were inscribed
in the "golden book," and at that time or afterwards all
members of such families, on reaching the age of twenty-five,
had admission into it.    Thus it was at hist a close body, of
the same kind substantially with the English house of lords,
without being confined to the oldest sons of the nobles, and
to a certain extent resembled the Roman senate, since a large
part of its members must have had experience in public life
through the busiest centuries of Venetian history.
The law of 1398 for the new constitution of the council is
given as follows : " The forty (the quarantia) are to ballot as
to all those who have been members of the great council
within the last four years, and every one who receives at
least twelve votes out of thirty will be a member for the
next year. So also is the ballot to be taken in regard to
the places of those who are in office or accidentally absent."
Further, " three men, nominated for this purpose, can pro-
pose persons as members of the council who have not sat
there hitherto, and these have admission, provided twelve
votes as above are cast for them. By this however it is not
to be understood that those can be admitted into the great
council, who by the usual resolutions are excluded from it."
To these acts may be annexed a part of a law proposed by
the doge Gradenigo in 1297, through Leonardo Bcmbo and
Marco Badoario, heads of the quarantia, and confirmed by the