Murano, like many other islands in the northern lagoon, was founded by the Romans who fled the fall of the Roman Empire and the Barbarian invasions of the late 5th century. The first evidence of glass production in the lagoon dates back to the 6th century, although initially the main commercial activities of Murano were fishing and salt trade.
During the early days of the Republic of Venice, the area called “Murano” included also the islands of Sant‘Erasmo, Vignole and San Michele.
Murano had his own Great Council, similar to the “Council of Ten” of the Republic of Venice and even coined its own currency.
Only in 1200 Murano passed under the judiciary of the Republic of Venice and was governed by the Mayor of Venice.
Murano’s fame as a center of glass processing was born when the Republic of Venice, to prevent the burning of the city’s buildings (at the time largely built of wood), ordered the glassmakers to move their factories to Murano in 1291 .
The transfer to the Murano Island of all the furnaces in 1291, created the first industrial zone in the world 500 years before the Industrial Revolution in Europe.
Privileges and restrictions of Murano glass masters:
The imposition to transfer the furnaces to Murano, and therefore also of the glassmakers and their families, was accompanied by a series of incentives and, at the same time, of restrictions established by the Republic of Venice.
The glass masters reached a high social status, certainly above other craftsmen of the same time.
The daughters of the Masters of the Glass were also allowed to marry with the Venetian nobility. The masters were also authorized to carry a sword and enjoyed immunity from judicial proceedings. These were incentives not only aimed at convincing masters glassmakers to move to the island, but they were also an encouragement for their children to continue working with glass. Finally, these measures also served to further preserve the secrets of glass processing
On the other hand, the Republic was so jealous of the secrets of Murano glass that it was forbidden to the masters to leave Venice without being authorized by the Republic.
The masters who allowed themselves to leave the city without permission, on
their return were banished from the guild and could no longer work the glass.
To Export of the secrets of Murano glass processing abroad was considered a crime punishable by the death penalty.
…Nowadays Murano glass masters have to face the commercial threat of mass glass production made to imitate the famous shapes and styles of glass work invented by Murano masters in the past. Since these items are produced at low prices, they can also be sold at lower prices than those of authentic Murano glass.
In spite of this, as when they faced the competition of the Bohemian crystal during the Renaissance and then again when they encountered difficulties recovering from the suppression of the Habsburgs, the Murano glass masters again responded to this challenge by producing more original, unique and stunning Murano glass works…
Murano still preserves one of the most ancient art still alive in this world