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Venice's Secret Service

Venice's Secret Service

Organizing Intelligence in the Renaissance

About the book

Venice’s Secret Service is the untold and arresting story of the world’s earliest centrally-organised state intelligence service. Long before the inception of SIS and the CIA, in the period of the Renaissance, the Republic of Venice had masterminded a remarkable centrally-organised state intelligence organisation that played a pivotal role in the defence of the Venetian empire. Housed in the imposing Doge’s Palace and under the direction of the Council of Ten, the notorious governmental committee that acted as Venice’s spy chiefs, this ‘proto-modern’ organisation served prominent intelligence functions including operations (intelligence and covert action), analysis, cryptography and steganography, cryptanalysis, and even the development of lethal substances. Official informants and amateur spies were shipped across Europe, Anatolia, and Northern Africa, conducting Venice’s stealthy intelligence operations. Revealing a plethora of secrets, their keepers, and their seekers, Venice’s Secret Service explores the social and managerial processes that enabled their existence and that furnished the foundation for an extraordinary intelligence organisation created by one of the early modern world’s most cosmopolitan states.

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About the author

Ioanna Iordanou is a Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Oxford Brookes University and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance at Warwick University. Her research is in economic and business history and organisation studies, focusing on the complex role of intelligence and espionage in early modern economies and the emergence of proto-modern organisations in the pre-industrial world. She is the co-editor of Spy Chiefs , Volume 1: Intelligence Leaders in the United States and the United Kingdom and Spy Chiefs, Volume 2: Intelligence Leaders in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. She also co-authored the award-winning book Values and Ethics in Coaching.