The Venetian Ghetto was the area of Venice in which Jews were forced to live by the government of the Venetian Republic. The English word ghetto is derived from the Jewish ghetto in Venice. The Venetian Ghetto was instituted on 29 March 1516 by decree of Doge Leonardo Loredan and the Venetian Senate.
It was not the first time that Jews in Venice were compelled to live in a segregated area of the city. In 1555, Venice had 160,208 inhabitants, including 923 Jews, who were mainly merchants.
In 1797 the French Army of Italy, commanded by the 28-year-old General Napoleon Bonaparte, occupied Venice, forced the Venetian Republic to dissolve itself on 12 May 1797, and ended the ghetto’s separation from the city on 11 July the same year. In the 19th century, the ghetto was renamed the Contrada dell’unione.