CONTARINI, the name of a distinguished Venetian family, who gave to the republic eight doges and many other eminent citizens. The story of their descent from the Roman family of Cotta, appointed prefects of the Reno valley (whence Cotta Reni or Conti del Reno), is probably a legend. One Mario Contarini was among the twelve electors of the doge Paulo Lucio Anafesto in 697. Domenico Contarini, elected doge in 1043, subjugated rebellious Dalmatia and recaptured Grado from the patriarch of Aquileia. He died in 1070. Jacopo was doge from 1275 to 1280. Andrea was elected doge in 1367, and during his reign the war of Chioggia took place (1380); he was the first to melt down his plate and mortgage his property for the benefit of the state. Other Contarini doges were: Francesco (1623-1624), Niccolò (1630-1631), who built the church of the Salute, Carlo (1655-1656), during whose reign the Venetians gained the naval victory of the Dardanelles, Domenico (1659-1675) and Alvise (1676-1684). There were at one time no less than eighteen branches of the family; one of the most important was that of Contarini dallo Zaffo or di Giaffa, who had been invested with the countship of Jaffa in Syria for their services to Caterina Cornaro, queen of Cyprus; another was that of Contarini degli Scrigni (of the coffers), so called on account of their great wealth. Many members of the family distinguished themselves in the service of the republic, in the wars against the Turks, and no less than seven Contarini fought at Lepanto. One Andrea Contarini was beheaded in 1430 for having wounded the doge Francesco Foscari (q.v.) on the nose. Other members of the house were famous as merchants, prelates and men of letters; among these we may mention Cardinal Gasparo Contarini (1483-1542), and Marco Contarini (1631-1689), who was celebrated as a patron of music and collected at his villa of Piazzola a large number of valuable musical MSS., now in the Marciana library at Venice. The family owned many palaces in various parts of Venice, and several streets still bear its name.
See J. Fontana, "Sulla patrizia famiglia Contarini," in Il Gondoliere (1843).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)