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Everyone is familiar with the idea of espionage and spies, from Christopher Marlowe during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I to the modern day James Bond.
Dr Ioanna Iordanou is beginning to challenge our ideas of espionage with her research, which is concerned with Intelligence Organisations in the early modern world.
Typically people think of intelligence agencies as modern day (post 1800s) institutions, which serve the political and military interests of states. In popular culture privateers are often shown to have been hired in order to protect state interests during the early modern world.
However, Dr Iordanou’s research shows that in actual fact intelligence organisations did exist and that they were created in order to protect a state’s economic interests. She argues that Venice had one of the first intelligence agencies. Venice’s location at the head of the Adriatic Sea and being in the centre of Europe had allowed it to grow through trade into a large empire by the 16th century. Dr Lordanou’s research focuses on how, in renaissance Venice, espionage was used to protect Venetian economic, commercial and maritime assets not just the state’s political interests.