This chapter’s aim is twofold. Firstly, it discusses the extraordinary measures that those in charge of Venice’s secret service employed in their ongoing effort to maintain the security of the Venetian state throughout the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. These measures included interrogations, tortures, assassinations, chemical warfare, as well as tricks such as letter interceptions and bribes. Such dealings were devised to complement the Republic’s intelligence operations and state surveillance activities. Secondly, it shows how such extraordinary measures, some abhorrent, others more benign, yet equally cunning, were routinely normalized and commonly accepted without dispute or dissent. Instead, with unstinting panache and little consideration for public censure, the Ten routinely legitimized morally reprehensible acts in the name of state security. Their most brute force was revealed on one crucial occasion: the need to prevent enemies from obtaining intelligence on Venetian affairs.
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