Date of Birth: circa 1107
Spouse: Contessa Minotto
Predecessor: Orio Mastropiero
Reign: 1193 – 1205
Summary: Venice was not yet at the height of its power when Enrico Dandolo entered the scene. He was born in Venice to a prominent jurist. Enrico served as a diplomat and ambassador for many years, traveling locally to Ferrrara and further to Constantinople. His family was close to Doge Vitale II and his uncle was patriarch of Grado. When the Byzantine Empire began seizing Venetian goods in 1171, Enrico advised the doge and went with him to invade the Constantinople. The invasion force fell to pieces after a plague killed many members. The doge was killed violently by a mob Enrico accepted blame and returned to Constantinople the next year to settle the dispute. It took twelve years, until 1186, for the Venetians and Byzantines to come to a resolution, and Enrico grew to loathe the Eastern Roman Empire. During his negotiations, he gained the respect and alliance of William II, king of Sicily, which helped him in later years. During his first years in Constantinople, it is now thought that Enrico became blind either through a head wound given by a Byzantine or from cortical blindness. He was blind for the rest of his life, which makes his later accomplishments even more profound.
Enrico Dandolo became the thirty-ninth doge of Venice on 1 January 1193 despite his advanced age and blindness. Soon after taking control of Venice, he reformed the Venetian currency and debased the dinaro to keep it useful in foreign trade. This move eventually set up Venetian currency as the ultimate form of money in the Mediterranean. When the Fourth Crusade attempted to set off in 1202, far fewer soldiers than expected arrived and Enrico had to find a way to get rid of them. The easiest solution became his plan: to take up the cross and go crusading at the young age of 95. Thousands of Venetians joined him and the knights. The trade-off was that the crusaders had to take the city of Zadar from Hungary and return it to Venice. Soon after, Alexius Angelus, the son of the deposed emperor Isaac II arrived in Zadar asking for help. The doge agreed to install Alexius on the Byzantine Throne in exchange for support against the Holy Land. This plan backfired terribly when the crusaders sacked Constantinople in 1204 and installed the Latin Empire controlled by the pope instead. Venice gained nearly a third of the Byzantine Empire as a result and the Byzantines were permanently weakened from this point onward. Enrico died while on campaign against the Bulgarians near Adrianople in 1205. He was buried in the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople where his tomb was eventually destroyed after the conquest of the city by the Turks in 1453. His grandfather, Anna Dandolo, eventually married the Serbian king Stefan Nemanjic. Many other members of his family became doges in future years, though none were directly descended from Enrico.
Date of Death: 21 June 1205
Successor: Pietro Ziani
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Liu Bei, emperor of China (223)
Fulk III, count of Anjou (1040)
Philip, king of Germany (1208)
Wenceslaus II, king of Bohemia and Poland (1305)
Edward III, king of England (1377)
Leonardo Loredan, doge of Venice (1521)
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