Venice: Empire of the Sea

Ref: C3741501

From Constantinople to the Dalmatian coast the Venetian empire sailed its great galleys and established trading posts. This domini da mar was echoed inland in the Veneto in the terrafirma, all defined as Venetian by the lion of St Mark. They all contributed to its unique greatness. The course will cover the interface with the growing Ottoman empire and trade in its luxuries, the complex relationship with the Jews, art patronage of the scuole, Roman inspiration for Palladian palaces and churches and painters from the Veneto.

Course aim

This course aims to look at places on the ancient trade routes of the Venetian empire of the sea and trace their influences on its characteristic architecture and historical paintings.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • 1. Describe at least two of the trading centres of the Venetian empire.
  • 2. Name two painters from the inland empire and some of their works.
  • 3. Evaluate the influence of the wider empire on the cultural life of the Venetian republic.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • Handouts are available in advance for every session by email and hard copies if desired. A notebook is useful.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • All materials will be provided
  • A walking visit to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is a most informative and enjoyable part of this course

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • "The Venetian Empire A Sea Voyage" by Jan Morris is a wonderful book to obtain in advance, as is "Venice and the East" by Deborah Howard. Further reading will be suggested at every session.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Students have found that this course also informs volunteering work they are involved in locally

Download full course outline

Venice: Empire of the Sea Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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