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Foscari Family project

Foscari Family project collects profiles of all descendants of the Foscari, and people with the surname Foscari. Also profiles of close friends and supporters, and people closely related to Foscari's, are welcome. The present Family Head of the House of Foscari is Lorenzo de Medici-Tornaquinci-Foscari. (This project was started Jan 23rd 2019)

The Foscari

The Foscari were an ancient Venetian patrician family, which reached its peak in the 14th–15th centuries, culminating in the long dogeship (1423–1457) of Francesco Foscari (1373–1457). Francesco Foscari (1373-1457)' Foscari, now the University of Venice, a Gothic-style palace in the sestiere of Dorsoduro, was built in the early 1400's for Doge Francesco Foscari.

There are many Foscari palaces in Venice. Palazzo Foscari (Giudecca) is a Gothic-style palace on the Giudecca island in Venice. Palazzo Foscari Contarini is a Renaissance-style palace in the sestiere of Santa Croce, Venice. Palazzetto Foscari (Palazzo Foscari del Prà) is a Gothic-style palace in the sestiere of Cannaregio, Venice.


According to Foscari family tradition, they originated from the area of Mestre, and had settled in Venice proper in the late 10th century, and the first members of the family are attested in written sources in the early 11th century. Guarino Foscari (1080 - 1158) was a Cardinal-Bishop of Palestrina. His mother was a Foscari, which name he used. He was a relative of Pope Lucius II. He was canonized a saint for his great generosity to the poor. He is known as Saint Guarinus di Palestrina. The Foscari were not very important during the subsequent centuries, but in the 13th century, after the Fourth Crusade, they became rulers of the Greek island of Lemnos, along with the Navagero family, until 1276.

The family's real rise to prominence began in the early 14th century, when they managed to be included among the c. 150 patrician families that held the hereditary right to be members of the Great Council of Venice following the so-called "Serrata" ("Closing"). As membership in the Great Council was a prerequisite for holding any of the senior offices of the Republic of Venice, this meant that henceforth the upper nobility monopolized control of the state. The first important member of the family was Niccolò (c. 1290 -), who owned much property both in Venice and in the hinterland (terraferma). His contacts with the princes of northern Italy led to him being knighted by Cangrande I della Scala, Lord of Verona, in 1328, while three years later, he was enfeoffed over his estates at Zellarino, Noventa, and San Bruson and given the hereditary title of count by John of Luxemburg. Niccolò married three times and had two sons, Giovanni and Jacobello, and two daughters, Agnesina and Maria.

Giovanni enjoyed a long and somewhat successful career in public office, serving as military commander, city governor (podesta), and ambassador. He had at least six sons, of whom the most prominent were Archbishop Paolo (c. 1335 -1394), who became a priest and eventually rose to become Latin Archbishop of Patras, Niccolò the younger, and Franzi Foscari. Until his death in 1412, Niccolò served in a succession of political offices, including governor of Corfu and Verona, ducal councillor, and finally a member of the powerful Council of Ten. The eldest of his six children was the future doge Francesco Foscari. Franzi Foscari also followed a distinguished career until his death in 1424/25, and his son Polidoro Foscari rose to become Archbishop of Zara. Cardinal Pietro Foscari and diplomat, senator and merchant Andrea Foscari were sons of Doge Francesco's brother Procurator Marco. Andrea was the main assistant of the Doge after the Doge's son Jacopo was sentenced to exile and his other sons were taken by the plaque. Tomb of Cardinal Pietro Foscari (1417-1485) in Costa Chapel, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

The family reached its apogee under Francesco Foscari, Doge of Venice from 1423 to 1457, when he was forced to abdicate by the Council of Ten. Francesco Foscari's dogeship was marked by Venice's expansion in the terraferma and its wars with the Duchy of Milan, but also by the increasingly autocratic rule of the Doge, and the trials and exile of his son Jacopo Foscari (c. 1416-1457) for bribery and corruption. Jacopo's misdeeds, actual and alleged, provided a means for the Doge's political opponents to attack him, and played a major role in Francesco's own downfall. The tragic spectacle of a father, acting as head of state, forced to send his only surviving son into exile, provided much inspiration for artists, such as Lord Byron's The Two Foscari, on which Giuseppe Verdi based his opera I due Foscari. The family continued after that, being always significant, but never recovering its former prominence. Last Meeting Between Jacopo Foscari and his Family Before Leaving into Exile, by Francesco Hayez, 1838-40. In front, from left to right Lucrezia Contarini, Marina Nani, Doge Francesco Foscari, Jacopo Foscari. Abdication of Doge Foscari, (by Louis Duveau 1850). In front from left, Lucrezia Contarini, Francesco Foscari, and his nephew Andrea Foscari.

There were prominent clergy men also In the next centuries ao.: Archbishop Girolamo Foscari (1505-1563), and Alvise (Aloysius) Foscari, Patriarch of Venice (1679-1758). Many family members were Procurators of San Marco, which was the second highest rank after the Doge. These two were the only life-long posts in Venice. Some family members were close to become elected the Doge, eg. Alvise (Luigi) Foscari (1521-1600).

The unlucky Jacopo Foscari's grandson's family built the famous Villa Foscari in Venice in 1558 - 1560. Villa Foscari is a villa in Mira, near Venice, designed and built by the Italian renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. Villa Foscari was ordered by the brothers Nicolo (1513-1560) and Alvise Foscari (1521-1600). Foscari 'La Malcontenta', by architect Andrea Palladio, ordered by Nicolo and Alvise (Luigi) Foscari. The villa is also known as La Malcontenta (bad conduct), a nickname which it received when the spouse of one of the Foscaris was locked up in the house because she allegedly didn't live up to her conjugal duty.

Progetto Famiglia Foscari

Il progetto Famiglia Foscari raccoglie profili di persone con il cognome Foscari. Sono benvenuti anche i profili di amici intimi e sostenitori e di persone strettamente legate a Foscari.


Foscari è un'antica famiglia del patriziato veneziano.


Le tradizioni affermano che i Foscari fossero originari di Zelarino, località presso Mestre, e che fossero giunti a Venezia nel IX secolo (882?). Di certo, il cognome è attestato per la prima volta nel 960.

Arricchitisi coi commerci e le colonie d'oltremare, nel Duecento ebbero, con i Navagero la signoria di Lemno. Sin dal XII secolo tennero inoltre possedimenti in territorio trevigiano (area a est di Mestre, tra Campalto e Tessera), cosa abbastanza eccezionale in un'epoca in cui le proprietà delle famiglie veneziane erano perlopiù distribuite entro i confini del Ducato; fu in questo contesto che, nel 1331 Giovanni I di Boemia creò Nicolò Foscari conte di Zelarino e Noventa.

Raggiunsero l'apogeo con l'elezione a doge di Francesco Foscari nel 1423.

Foscari palazzi e ville