I was awarded my PhD in Socio-Economic history in 2008. My thesis explored two distinct 'working class' communities in Preindustrial Venice: the Greek immigrants as representatives of the numerous foreign communities settled in the city, and the Shipbuilders of the Venetian Arsenal as representatives of the populous artisans and craftsmen setting inmotion the well-oiled machine called Venice. I focused on the financial and social standing of these two groups and their influence of the social, economic, even political dynamics of Late Renaissance Venice. My aim was to uncover the populous Venetian popular classes that made up 90 per cent of the city's total population. My thesis shed light on vital aspects of the way of life of these people, previously eschewed by scholars, and demonstrated that their financial and social situation was not as abysmal as hitherto scholarship has presented it. In fact, 'special' rights granted to them by the Venetian Government, combined with abnormally substantial savings, reveal that 'low class' did not necessarily mean wretched financial and living conditions for them as, possibly, for other Early Modern Europeans of the same social stratum.
The Gate of the Venetian Arsenal