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THE  CONSTITUTION OF VENICE.                      53
council, that " in future no more elections are to be held, but
that those who during the last four years were members of the
council shall continue to be members of it, they and their
children." This law was not to be abrogated unless five
members of the signoria, twenty-five of the quarantia and
two-thirds of the great council itself were against it.
The grand council was the proper deliberative and law-
making assembly of the republic, but it had sundry appoint-
ments also in its hands. Mr. Rawdon Brown, who has
searched the archives of Venice in quest of documents relat-
ing to English affairs, thus speaks of the efficiency of the
great council at different times.* " Throughout the whole
of the republic the grand council continued to act, though
with various degrees of power, and to register its proceedings.
Overridden by the doge and his minor council in early times,
it seems in the middle of the thirteenth century to have re-
gained a portion of its influence, or at all events to have
exercised a great amount of activity. We find that in 1255
it authorizes the doge, who probably was a sportsman, to
grant permits for the exportation of hawks and hounds duty
free. In April, 1281, it forbids surgeons to practice, until
sworn before justices. In 1293, it prescribes the amuse-
ments of the citizens, prohibiting all games but chess and
backgammon ; and at the close of the following century,
from 1393 to 1395, it regulates the paving and lighting of the
town, and even interferes with the winding up of the parish
clock at Rialto. But over-meddling is fatal to the influence
of a numerous legislative assembly, and already, at the com-
mencement of the fourteenth century, had its power passed
over to the senate; nevertheless to the last the grand coun-
cil exercised considerable patronage, and was in theory the
sovereign body."
In the note extracted by Muratori (xii., 361) from the
margin of a MS. of Dandolo's chronicle, the offices of the
grand council are thus described. " They elected magistrates
* Preface to his Calendar of State-papers and Manuscripts relating
to English affairs, etc., pp. xii., xiii.