La Serenissima is a republic. It has existed since the days of the Tiberian Empire and is ruled by the Doge, an elected official who typically serves for life. He is considered to be the beloved of Asherat, the city's patron goddess. The city is divided into six Sesteri, or districts, who each put forth a candidate. The Doge is elected from this assortment by the Consiglio Maggiore. He is sworn in at the temple of Asherat and a gold ring symbolizing his "marriage" to the goddess is put on his finger. In Kushiel's Chosen the Doge is Cesare Stregazza. It later books, it is Lorenzo Pescaro.
The city consists mostly of canals. Because of this, boats such as gondoli and bissone are the primary form of transportation. the canals are full of sewage and not at all safe to swim in.
Important landmarks include the Campo Grande, where the Doge's palace and the temple of Asherat are located, and the Arsenal, which is a shipbuilding yard. La Serenissima has an unrivaled navy. The Little Court is the home of Prince Benedicte and his family.
Society and CultureEdit
Serenissimans are not nearly as open about sex as D'Angelines are. Women are expected to remain virgins until marriage and unmarried noblewomen do not go out unchaperoned. Noblewomen are not typically given much of an education and they do not inherit. Homosexuality is not considered acceptable and is referred to as the "D'Angeline sickness." Courtesans do not have anywhere near the prestige they do in Terre d'Ange, but that may have changed in later books due to Phedre's influence.
The major noble families of the city are known as the Hundred Worthy Families. The Stregazza are one of the most prominent noble families. Young noblemen frequently join noblemens' clubs. One of these is the Immortali. Members of these clubs wear striped hose in the club's colors to signify membership. They frequently fight with rival clubs.
The War of the Flowers is a mock battle between the sons and daughters of the nobility. The daughters stay in a fortess on a small island and throw flowers and hollowed eggs filled with confetti at the men who try to scale the fortress. Afterwards there is feasting at the fortress.
The primary goddess is Asherat-of-the-sea. The only other deity mentioned is Baal-Jupiter. She is served by priestesses, who dress in blue robes overlaid with silver mesh. They also wear mesh veils and and bells around their ankles. There are eunuchs who serve the temple as guards. The highest-ranked priestess is known as the Priestess of the Crown.
Animal sacrifice is practiced. Priestesses may also provide fortunes for worshipers by reading pomegranate seeds. Women may take the veil of Asherat and be given sanctuary in the temple.
Yeshuites face discrimination in La Serenissima. They may only live in certain areas of the city and are required to wear yellow stars on their clothing. Joscelin trains several Yeshuites to fight in the Cassiline style during Kushiel's Chosen. They later leave for Vralia.
La Dolorosa is a prison island where the most dangerous criminals may be sent. It is said that when Baal-Jupiter slew Eshumun, the son of Asherat, she wept and stamped her foot. The bottom of the sea rose in response, creating the island. Sailors whistle when they pass it, out of respect for Asherat's grief. The currents around the island are strange and the winds howl around it. The howling wind slowly drives the prisoners held in La Dolorosa mad. The only way to reach the island from the mainland is by rope bridge. Guards are stationed at the end to cut it if necessary.
Phedre is imprisoned there by Melisande and Benedicte. Joscelin, with Ti-Philippe, Micah ben Ximon, and three others, attempts to rescue her and approaches the island by clinging to the underside of the rope bridge.
La Serenissima in the seriesEdit
Phedre travels there in Kushiel's Chosen, searching for Melisande. She finds her in the Little Court, wed to Benedicte. After escaping from La Dolorosa, Phedre returns to La Serenissima to foil their plot and prevent Ysandre's assassination.
Phedre travels there again in Kushiel's Avatar. She answers Melisande's letter and then returns after discovering Imriel was sold into slavery. She visits with Imriel on the way back from Menekhet and Imriel is not at all pleased to see his mother.
Melisande remains in the temple of Asherat for some fourteen years before leaving for Cythera.
Real Life CounterpartEdit
La Serenissima's real life counterpart is Venice.