The social and political transformations that shook the life of Vicenza were underscored by the general crisis that struck the Venetian state around the middle of the 17thcentury. Despite its undeniable capacity to put up both political and commercial resistance, the city on the lagoon had to face a long and wearying conflict with the Turkish power, which in the end led to a sig-nificant weakening of its hegemonic role in the Mediterranean.Honor and honorsIn the years when Giovan Maria Bertolli first made his entry in the domi-nant city, under the pressure of the military and financial urgency created by the conflict with the Turks, the Venetian ruling class decided to open up 6 See on this underlying theme my L’intrigo dell’onore. Poteri e istituzioni nella Repubblica di Venezia tra Cinque e Seicento, Verona 1997, in particular pp. 147-227.7 Cf. again ibid, pp. 186-190. For an exemplary episode cf. Il processo a Paolo Orgiano (1605-1607), ed. by C. Povolo, with the collaboration of C. Andreato, V. Cesco, M. Marcarelli, Rome 2003. See also G. Cozzi, Repubblica di Venezia e stati italiani. Politica e giustizia dal secolo XVI al secolo XVIII, Turin 1982; and by the same author, for a general picture of political transformations in the life of the Republic, Venezia nello scenario europeo, in La Repubblica di Venezia. Dal 1517 alla fine della Repubblica, Turin 1992, pp. 5-200.8 Cf. in particular C. Povolo, L’uomo che pretendeva l’onore. Storia di Bortolamio Pasqualin da Malo (1502-1591), Venice 2010.
66Claudio Povolothe narrow passage, until then all but impenetrable, that gave access to its patrician class. Numerous wealthy families, ambitious to reach the thresh-old of power, paid huge sums of money to acquire the dignity of becom-ing Venetian patricians9. The climate was thus favorable for this son of an obscure carpenter, determined to make his way in the complicated, and in some ways inextricable, maze that was Venetian power. The knowledge that Giovan Maria Bertolli possessed and the profession of lawyer that he had chosen to follow at a young age, did not seem to offer much room in a city that had not only declaredly rejected any and all refer-ence to Roman law, but also had on more than one occasion openly shown diffidence, and even hostility, towards the cast of jurists who had made itself the jealous interpreter of that law10. As we have said, Giovan Maria Bertolli came from a city which, like all the other great cities of the Terraferma, was deeply inspired by imperial com-mon law. This was a legal system legitimated by tradition and by its cultural and ideological references. Moreover, it was a system that sanctioned, with the preeminence of its knowledge, the autonomy of the subject centers and the indispensable function of their ruling classes11.