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Descrittione fatta l’ann[o …] tutte l’anime che si trovano nella citta di Venetia (census of the inhabitants of Venice classed by rank or profession)

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9461

Scope and Contents

A census, recording, under the heading of each sestiere, the number of persons in each category of the population (noblemen and women, boys and girls, servants, citizens, artisans, priests, monks, beggars, poor in receipt of alms; general total 148,640), followed by a list of the parish churches with the numbers of the 'capi di casa' (heads of houses) and 'boche' (mouths to be fed in each house). The islands of the Lagoon, such as Murano and Torcello, are not included.

At the top of the first leaf is a damaged inscription ‘Descrittione fatta l’ann[o …] tutte l’anime che si trovano nella citta di Venetia’ (‘The description made in the year … of all the souls to be found in the city of Venice’). The original year date is missing, but ‘1536’ is pencilled on the outside of the back cover and may indicate the missing date.

Under Castello are listed nobles with the numbers of their children, families, massere (female servants), followed by the citizens with their various categories, and the artisans and shopkeepers, men, women, boys and girls. The poor are counted, divided into beggars (118) and those in the ospedali (754), ending with priests, friars and nuns. The total comes to 31,066. There follows a list of thirteen churches, beginning with San Pietro da Castello (the former Cathedral of Venice) and including San Provolo. San Giovanni in Bragora appears in the Venetian dialect as ‘Zuanebragolla’.

Each sestiere has a slightly different composition: San Marco has beggars but no hospitals: Canareggio has both, and also gives, at the end, the number of ‘ebrei’ (1,694), in other words, the Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto; the total population being 34,311. San Polo has nine churches and a population of 11,381. ‘Santa Crose’ has eight churches and a population of 16,777. The Dorsoduro with a population of 31,448 has eleven churches. The Salute and the Redentore, as well as other post-medieval churches, are not mentioned.

At the end is a list of religious houses of monks and nuns, first the friaries including ‘zuanepollo’ (SS. Giovani e Paolo). The Church of the Frari is simply designated ‘I fratti minori’. The booklet ends with a list of houses of monks and nuns.


  • Creation: Early sixteenth century (1536?)

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


1 collection

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased at Sotheby's sale, 1 DEC 1995, lot 56

Physical Description

18 paper folios, bound up as a small limp vellum notebook (184 x 138mm), with the ends folded in and stitched at the corners; there are two tacks of twisted vellum serving as sewing stations to hold the book together. There is no ornament, but booklet has six finger tabs down the foredge, on which are written in red the names Castello, S. Marco, Canareo, S. Pollo, Sta ‘+’ and Orso duro [i.e. the names of the six sestieri of Venice: Castello, San Marco, Cannareggio, San Polo, Santa Croce and Dorsoduro].

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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