Gaetano Cozzi

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Gaetano Cozzi
Born September 15, 1922
Zero Branco
Died March 15, 2001
Nationality Italian

Gaetano Cozzi (Zero Branco, September 15, 1922 - Venice, 15 March 2001) is an Italian historian, professor at Padua University, and researcher with the Giorgio Cini Foundation and Fondazione Benetton Studi e Ricerche. He is a specialist in Venetian history, with special attention to the institutions, the relationship between law and society and the cultural environment. [1]



Education and period in Milan

He was born in Zero Branco (Province of Treviso, Italy) on 15 September 1922 of Elsa Olivetti and Giovanni Cozzi. [2]

He spent his childhood and adolescence in Legnano (near Milano). [3] He started high school in Milan, then, in 1938, he entered in the military school. In 1939 he entered the Military Academy of Modena. [4] In 1942a and three years later, in March 1942, he left it as a Lieutenant of the “Alpini”. A month later, he was affected with paralysis as a consequence of a former fall from his horse. [5] Despite the limitations caused by his illness, Cozzi took part in the Resistance with propaganda activities. [6]

Meanwhile, he prepared his university exams as an external candidate; in 1949 he graduated in history of Italian Law at the University of Milan. His thesis was about Paolo Sarpi and relationship between Church and State. He was most influenced by the writers Benedetto Croce and Adolfo Omodeo.

Venice and beginning of his historical activity

After the war, he moved to Venice. Soon after, he interrupted his studies on Sarpi and devoted himself to the study of an ancient Venetian Magistracy, the Esecutori contro la Bestemmia, that prosecuted not only political and religious offences, but also any behaviour in conflict with official values. [4]

In this period, he formed afriendship Fernand Braudel, one of the fathers of the “Annales”, who met Cozzi just in Venice,(even if later he will prefer Lucien Febre’s historical method). [7] In 1955 when the Institute of History of the Giorgio Cini Foundation was created, he became secretary. In 1958,laid up in bed because of his illness, he wrote his first book about Nicolò Contarini, that he dictated to his mother Elsa.”. [8]

University teaching

In 1960 he started teaching at the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literature in Venice. In 1962 he married Luisa Zille., [9] an expert in philology. They collaborated to the publishing in 1969 of the complete works of Paolo Sarpi, edited by Ricciardi.

In 1966, he taught medieval and modern history at Faculty of Political Science of Padua University, In 1970 he returned to Ca' Foscari in Venice. [10]

In the late '70s, he promoted among his collaborators and students, a series of researches about State and Justice in the Republic of Venice in the modern age. That year, Cozzi received the prestigious Chabod award for historiography from the Accademia dei Lincei. [1]

In 1986 the first volume of the history of the Republic of Venice, edited by Cozzi and Michael Knapton, was published by UTET, as part of a History of Italy, directed by Giuseppe Galasso. The aim of the book is to demonstrate the symbiosis between Venice and its mainland, and the hegemonic ambitions of Venice(competing with the Roman Church), in Italy and in the Mediterranean Sea.

Latest years

Cozzi became Director of the Institute of History of the Cini Foundation, a member of the Accademia dei Lincei, and, in 1987, director of the newly formed administrator FBSR, (Fondazione Benetton Studi e Ricerche). In this institution, initiated a series of researches on his favorite themes: the landscape, the countryside, the emigration and games.

In 1998 his teaching activity ended with a ceremony in his honor at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice where he was given the title of Emeritus Professor.

On 15 March 2001, at the age of 78, he died in Venice. He was buried in the cemetery of Zero Branco, next to the companion of his life, Luisa.

An eloquent and touching commemoration of Gaetano Cozzi was given by Professor Gino Benzoni, a lifelong friend, at the “Istituto veneto di Scienze, Lettere e Arti”, on 23 March 2002. [11]



  1. 1 2 Michele Gottardi, "Il sapere di un gentiluomo", “La Tribuna di Treviso”, March 17, 2001, p. 49
  2. See, "Anagrafe", Municipality of Zero Branco
  3. G. Cozzi, "La storia come esperienza umana: Gaetano Cozzi: sei conversazioni, una lezione inedita, la bibliografia", by Marco Folin e Andrea Zannini, Treviso, Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche-Canova, 2006, pp. 116-117
  4. 1 2 "Ibidem", p. 30
  5. "Ibidem", p. 22
  6. "Ibidem", p. 57
  7. "Ibidem", p. 35
  8. "Ibidem", p. 52
  9. "Ibidem", p. 127
  10. "Ibidem", p. 62
  11. [ dead link ]