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Alvise Contarini

Contarini was included as a mediator at the Congress of Westphalia because of the presence of Protestants with whom the papal mediator, Chigi, would have nothing to do. He was briefly considered as a replacement for the Danish mediators in Osnabrück when the Torstensson War forced their withdrawal, but he did not want to get involved and the Swedes did not want him.

Contarini was an experienced diplomat, having served as Venice’s ambassador successively in the Dutch Republic, England, and France, and had been in Constantinople for the five years immediately preceding his transfer to Münster. Although he had encouraged France to block Spain’s occupation of the Val Tellino and to subsidize Sweden’s intervention in the Holy Roman Empire in 1630, he was not considered partial to any side, and indeed he complained repeatedly in his official letters to Venice of France’s (particularly Mazarin’s) unwillingness to make peace.

After the Ottomans attacked Venice in 1645, initiating the War of Candia (1645-1669), Contarini was even more motivated to bring an end to the fighting in Europe. He solicited aid against the Ottomans, and knew it would be more forthcoming when the Christian states of Europe were not fighting each other.

After peace was signed, Contarini was invited to Paris to try to end the Franco-Spanish war, which continued until 1659. However, he became sick, returned to Venice, and died in 1651.

Books and Articles

“The Role of Venice in the War and during the Peace Negotiations” (1999) by Bernd Roeck, in 1648: War and Peace in Europe, vol. 1, ed. by Klaus Bussmann and Heinz Schilling, 161–68.

Alvise Contarini, mediatore per la repubblica di Venezia nel congresso di Vestfalia (1643–1648) (1971) by Angelo Zanon dal Bo.