Though it boasts to be one of the oldest republics in the world, Venice and its empire is nevertheless organised and run for the most part to the benefit of a very small portion of its inhabitants. Its laws, traditions and history have been shaped by the needs and demands of the Patrician families that rule the city through the Doge’s government. It may not have a king or queen, but La Serenissima is arranged no less for the benefit of the aristocratic few than the monarchies of Europe.
The power of the ruling classes has been under threat for a while, not just within Venice, but throughout Europe as the merchantile and artisan classes gain wealth and land. Many rich families of Venice, ones who had always had power and position, were shrunk to almost nothing by Venice's poor economy. As trade and ship building dwindled to nothing in Venice, these families got smaller and smaller, many losing everything. High society became even more insular, rather prop up rivals and neighbours than let the entire system, a system they relied on, to collapse.