The Republic of Venice was a sovereign country and an important center of trade and culture in the medieval and early modern periods. The Republic’s golden age occurred during the High Middle Ages, when it had one of the most powerful economies in the world and boasted a wealthy merchant class. Venice also became an important center of the arts, home to many famous painters, writers, and musicians.
In the early modern period, the Republic’s decline began as other European states rose in power. Venice’s status as a leading maritime nation was challenged by the Ottoman Empire, and its position as a center of trade was undermined by the rise of Portugal and Spain. In 1797, the Republic was conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte and dissolved.
After the Napoleonic Wars, the Austrian Empire annexed Venice to its Italian possessions. Venetians continued to identify themselves as Venetians and to maintain a distinct culture, even as the city changed hands multiple times in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1918, after the First World War, Venice became part of the Kingdom of Italy.