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Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

THE  CONSTITUTION OF VENICE.                      57
sought to disturb the state of the country. (Murat., u. s., under
the year.) The ten were, at first, an extraordinary commis-
sion, appointed to sit for two months in order to ferret out
this conspiracy, and full power was given to them both for
the purpose of summoning witnesses before their tribunal, and
of using means, such as they thought best, for eliciting the
truth. As suspicion was aroused by the information brought
before this court of secret police, its continuance was pro-
longed from one space of two months to another, until it be-
gan to be regarded as a necessary addition to the government.
Then, it had a year's lease of life, until, in 1335, the great
council—with the people, it is said—converted it into a stand-
ing institution by resolution and vote. This board of inquis-
itors, which the " holy office," then in full strength, may have
suggested, has made more impression on the minds of readers
of history than any other of the institutions of Venice. In
1335 the conspiracy of the doge, Marino Falieri, was brought
to light by this board, and he was beheaded on the steps of
the ducal palace. In 1432 Francesco Carmagnola, the ablest
condottiere in Italy, and then at the head of the army of the
republic, having aroused suspicion in regard to his fidelity,
was invited to Venice on the pretext of asking his advice in
respect to peace, and after a consultation with him until late
in the night, was thrown into prison, tortured until he made
the confessions desired, then led, with a gag in his mouth, to
the piazza before the doge's palace, and beheaded—a terrible
warning, whether he was guilty or not, to a class of men who
would not scruple to overthrow or desert the governments
that employed them.
The council of ten may be regarded as a police board and
criminal court united, and was associated with the doge and
his six councillors as a new council for special purposes. The
members were chosen for a year, and could have no family
connection whatever with the doge, nor could more than one
belong to a single house. Its functions led it to control the
executive officers, to detect conspiracies among the aris^oc-
racy, to look into every matter which might prove dangerous