WMU News

Grundler Prize awarded for book on Venetian leader

May 12, 2005

KALAMAZOO--The remarkable rise of medieval Venice and the life of one of its most famous rulers are illuminated in a book selected for this year's Otto Grundler Prize, awarded recently by Western Michigan University.

"Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice" by Thomas F. Madden received the annual award at the 40th International Congress on Medieval Studies, hosted by WMU's Medieval Institute May 5-8. Awarded each year during the annual gathering of about 3,000 medievalists from around the world, the Grundler Prize is named for the former director of the Medieval Institute and includes a $2,500 award. First awarded in 1997, it recognizes a book or monograph on a medieval subject chosen by a selection committee as an outstanding contribution to the field. Authors from any country are eligible, and nominations are accepted from readers or publishers. The prize is generally awarded two years after the winning book is published.

In his book, Madden, associate professor of history and chairperson of the history department at Saint Louis University, traces the city-state's extraordinary rise through the life of Dandolo (c. 1107­1205), who ruled Venice as doge from 1192 until his death. The scion of a prosperous merchant family deeply involved in politics, religion, and diplomacy, Dandolo led Venice's forces during the disastrous Fourth Crusade. Despite his influence on the course of Venetian history, little is known about Dandolo, and much has been distorted by myth.

The first full-length study devoted to Dandolo's life and times, "Enrico Dandolo and the Rise of Venice" corrects the many misconceptions about him that have accumulated over the centuries, offering an accurate and incisive assessment of Dandolo's motives, abilities, and achievements as doge, as well as his role--and Venice's--in the Fourth Crusade.

Madden also examines the means and methods by which the Dandolo family rose to prominence during the preceding century, thus illuminating medieval Venice's singular political, social, and religious environment. Culminating with the crisis precipitated by the failure of the Fourth Crusade, Madden's groundbreaking work reveals the extent to which Dandolo and his successors became torn between the anxieties and apprehensions of Venice's citizens and its escalating obligations as a Mediterranean power.

For more information or to order a copy of the book, visit the publisher's Web site at <www.press.jhu.edu>.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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