John, deacon of Venice
John the Deacon was a Venetian
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

, secretary to the doge of Venice
Doge of Venice
The Doge of Venice , often mistranslated Duke was the chief magistrate and leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state's aristocracy. Commonly the person selected as Doge was the shrewdest elder in the city...

 and a chronicler.

The Venetian chronicle

According to the New Advent
New Advent
New Advent is an online version of the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.In 1993, Kevin Knight, then a 26-year-old resident of Denver, Colorado, was inspired, during the visit of Pope John Paul II to that city for World Youth Day, to launch a project to publish the 1913 edition of the encyclopedia on the...


The oldest chronicle of Venice, known as the Chronicon Sagornini, was compiled by deacon John, the chaplain and perhaps a relative of the Doge Pietro II Orseolo
Pietro II Orseolo
Pietro II Orseolo was the Doge of Venice from 991 to 1009.He began the period of eastern expansion of Venice that lasted for the better part of 500 years...

 (991-1009). John enjoyed the confidence of this doge, and was often sent as his ambassador to Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

s Otto III
Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto III , a King of Germany, was the fourth ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire. He was elected King in 983 on the death of his father Otto II and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 996.-Early reign:...

 and Henry II
Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry II , also referred to as Saint Henry, Obl.S.B., was the fifth and last Holy Roman Emperor of the Ottonian dynasty, from his coronation in Rome in 1014 until his death a decade later. He was crowned King of the Germans in 1002 and King of Italy in 1004...

. In the first part of his chronicle, which deals with the early period of the republic, the narrative is often confused and deficient; later it becomes more accurate and complete, and for the time in which the writer himself lived it is particularly valuable. He carries the narrative to 1008 and treats in detail of the reign of Pietro Orseolo.

John's chronicle is an key primary source for the history of Slavic peoples and polities in Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....

 during the 9th and 10th centuries, for which he probably drew on earlier documents. He distinguishes between the Neretva Slavs or Neretljani, who lived about the mouth of the Neretva River, and another, more northerly group that would give rise to the principality of Croatia
Littoral Croatian Duchy
Littoral Croatia or Dalmatian Croatia is a name for a region of what used to be a medieval Croatian principality which was established in the former Roman province of Dalmatia...

 and later still, the kingdom of Croatia
Kingdom of Croatia (medieval)
The Kingdom of Croatia , also known as the Kingdom of the Croats , was a medieval kingdom covering most of what is today Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Balkans.Established in 925, it ruled as a sovereign state for almost two centuries...

. John reports on the troublesome dealings of Doge John
Giovanni I Participazio
Giovanni I Participazio was the tenth or twelfth Doge of Venice from the death of his brother in 829 to his arrest and deposition in 836....

 (829-836) and his successor Peter
Pietro Tradonico
Pietro Tradonico , an Istrian by birth, was the Doge of Venice from 836 to 864. He was, according to tradition, the thirteenth doge, though historically he is only the eleventh. His election broke the power of the Participazio. He was illiterate, and forced to sign all state documents with the...

 (836-864) with the Neretva Slavs; the Pactum Lotharii of 840 and the Venetian-Frankish alliance against Slavic piracy; Domagoj and the wars about the Istrian region; the coup of the Slavic principality by Zdeslav
Zdeslav of Croatia
Zdeslav was a Knez of Dalmatian Croatia in 864 and again in 878–879. He was from the House of Trpimirović.-Biography:Zdeslav was a son of Trpimir I. After his father death in 864, an uprising was raised by a powerful Croatian nobleman from Knin - Domagoj, and Zdeslav was exiled with his...

; the usurper Branimir
Branimir of Croatia
Branimir was a ruler of Dalmatian Croatia who reigned as Knez from 879 to 892. He was recognized by Pope John VIII as the Duke of the Croats...

; and naval warfare against the Neretljani Slavs in 887 and 948. For his own time, John reports on the successes of his master, Doge Peter (II) Orseolo
Pietro II Orseolo
Pietro II Orseolo was the Doge of Venice from 991 to 1009.He began the period of eastern expansion of Venice that lasted for the better part of 500 years...

 (991–1009), against the "Slav Croats", his clashes with both Croats and Neretljani over the possession of Zadar
Zadar is a city in Croatia on the Adriatic Sea. It is the centre of Zadar county and the wider northern Dalmatian region. Population of the city is 75,082 citizens...

, and the submission of Dalmatian rulers (except the "king of the Croats") to Venice.

John has also been erroneously credited with the Chronicon Gradense, which is in the manuscripts usually given with Chronicon Venetum.


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