Journal Article


The secret service of renaissance Venice: Intelligence organisation in the sixteenth century

Abstract

Contrary to more rudimentary espionage networks created by rulers (and their rivals) in various parts of early modern Europe, by the sixteenth century, early modern Venice had created a remarkable, centrally organised state intelligence organisation, the Venetian secret service. This was built on a rigid organisational hierarchy and branched out into distinct communication networks. This article describes, in detail, the structure and function of the Venetian secret service, dwelling on how it was administered and managed by the Council of Ten, Venice’s infamous spy chiefs. To explore the early modern organisational and managerial practices on which this service was premised, the article borrows theoretical concepts deriving from the disciplines of Intelligence Studies, Sociology, Organisation Studies, and Management, which it weaves together with archival sources and relevant literature. In doing so, the article explores some of the methodological challenges of studying the phenomenon of early modern intelligence organisation. Ultimately, the article puts forth the argument that systematised intelligence and espionage are not ‘modern’ phenomena, as conventional wisdom dictates, but date back to the early modern era.

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Authors

Iordanou, Ioanna

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford Brookes Business School

Dates

Year of publication: 2022
Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-08-08


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


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