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Historical Climate
Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of a Woman
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This burst of creativity occurred in a period of crisis. As the century opened, the Most Serene Republic of Venice (La Serenissima) was at war with the Ottoman Turks and lost important Aegean trading outposts to them. Plague repeatedly struck the city, and one virulent outbreak in 1510 probably cut short the life of Giorgione, then in his early thirties. More disastrous was the war that pitted Venice against the League of Cambrai, an alliance formed by the papacy, its Italian allies, and the Holy Roman Emperor to halt Venetian expansion on the mainland. Venice's humiliating defeat in a crucial battle of 1509 nearly extinguished the republic. Recovery was slow, but the war effectively ended when Venetian troops marched victorious into Verona in 1517. That the arts flourished amidst this chaos was largely due to the wealth the city had accumulated in the previous century, its prosperous trade with northern Europe, and its stable republican government.

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