Cav. Federico Cornaro (SA-35)

Married: Bianca

Died: 1382

CAV. FEDERICO CORNARO and his brothers Fantino Corner (SA-32) and Marco (SA-33) acquired, in 1364, the palace on the Grand Canal in the parish of S. Luca that serves today (with the adjacent Cą Farsetti) as the municipio [city hall] of the municipality of Venice. (After Federico's descendant Lucrezia Cornaro-Piscopia (D-103) married Giovanni Battista Loredan in 1703 and inherited the property in 1740, the palace has been known as Cą Loredan.)

In that palace Federico hosted Albert Hapsburg, future Duke of Austria, 1361, and Peter I Lusignan, King of Cyprus, 1366. Peter I had come to Venice in the course of a trip to France to seek aid against the Turks who were menacing his island kingdom.  Federico, who already had commercial ties with Cyprus, provided financing to Peter I, receiving in exchange a tax-free fiefdom on the Cypriot peninsula of Episcopi (Piscopia), knighthood, and the right to place in his family crest the lion rampant of the royal house of Cyprus.

Federico exploited his new Cypriot concession with skill and audacity. With a massive capital investment he and his brothers Fantino and Marco immediately set about a large scale rationalization of sugar production in Cyprus. They organized irrigation, introduced improved methods for processing cane, and imported a work force. Fantino soon moved his residence to Cyprus to oversee the operations there. Their risky commitment for sugar mills, irrigation systems, and imported labor paid off quickly, producing a cheaper and better product to meet the vigorous demand for sugar in Europe and the Near East.

To the Cornaro dominance in Cypriot sugar production was later added a monopoly in Cypriot salt. By 1379 Federico was the wealthiest citizen of Venice (with 150,000 ducats in assets, as indicated in the assessments list of that year). The family moved quickly to consolidate its position by arranging the marriage of Federico's son Proc. Pietro Cornaro (SA-45) with Maria (di Enghien) Lusignan, the wealthy widow of a member of the Cypriot royal family.

Federico's branch of the Cornaro family became known in later generations as Cornaro-Piscopia in recognition of the fountainhead of its wealth, which far outstripped the attainments of other families who lacked the daring of the Cornaros to venture so far beyond Venice's own secure but highly structured political realm.

In his career Federico served Venice in numerous diplomatic posts. He was also honored for his role in support of the Republic in its warfare with Genoa. At the time of a feared attack by the Genoese on the Lido, 1379, he was made Capitano della Piazza.

In his will Federico, one of the most remarkable of all the Cornaros, requested that he be buried in the Church of the Frari beside his brother and business partner Marco Cornaro (SA-33). In 1417 Federico's son Sen. Giovanni Cornaro (SA-46) erected the beautiful Cornaro-Piscopia Chapel there in his memory. The chapel, dedicated to S. Mark the Evangelist in honor of Cav. Federico's brother Marco, contains a magnificent sculptural monument to Cav. Federico.

1997, 2006 C. I. Gable