This is a Bible with a compartment for a gun filled by a gun. Made in Venice for Doge Francesco Morosini in the second half of the 17th century. The owner of the bible could pull the silk bookmark to shoot while the book was still closed. Now on display at the Museo Correr in Venice.
In his book, Venise, L’hiver Et L’ete, De Pres Et De Loin, Lorenzo Cittone talks about this incredible gun-book: “I’ve found in a display case (of the Correr museum, in Venice), Morosini’s prayers book that I used to love so much as a kid. This wonderful book, apart from a few prayers, contains a buttless gun. The binding, of course, is gorgeous. And once the book closed, it is impossible to make the gun out.”
Francesco Morosini (February 26, 1619 – January 16, 1694) was the Doge of Venice from 1688 to 1694, at the height of the Great Turkish War. He was a member of a famous noble Venetian family (the Morosini family) which produced several Doges and generals. He “dressed always in red from top to toe and never went into action without his cat beside him.”
Morosini first rose to prominence as Captain-General of the Venetian forces on Crete during the siege of Candia by the Ottoman Empire. He was eventually forced to surrender the city, and was accused of cowardice and treason on his return to Venice; however, he was acquitted after a brief trial.
In 1685, at the outbreak of the Morean War, Morosini took command of a fleet against the Ottomans. Over the next several years, he captured the Morea with the help of Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck, as well as Lefkada and parts of western Greece. He also briefly captured Athens but was unable to hold it, and attempted a failed siege of the former Venetian fortress of Negroponte. His fame reached such heights that he was given the victory title Peloponnesiacus, and was the first Venetian citizen to have a bronze bust placed during his own lifetime in the Great Hall, with the inscription Francisco Morosini Peloponnesiaco, adhuc viventi, Senatus.
During the siege of Athens in 1687 at the Morean War, his artillery turned the Parthenon from a functioning building to a simple ruin, and he personally oversaw the looting of some of the surviving sculptures. The Parthenon was used as a powder magazine by the Ottomans when on September 26, 1687, Morosini’s cannon scored a direct hit on the edifice. An attaché of the Swedish field commander General Otto Wilhelm Königsmarck wrote later: “How it dismayed His Excellency to destroy the beautiful temple which had existed three thousand years!” By contrast Morosini, who was the commander in chief of the operation, described it in his report to the Venetian government as a “fortunate shot.”
When he conquered Acropolis in early 1688, Morosini tried to loot Athena’s and Poseidon’s horses and chariots from the west pediment of the Parthenon but the sculptures fell on the ground and smashed. This was the first documented attempt to remove sculptures from the pediments. The Ottoman Empire regained possession of the monument in the following year and having noticed the demand began to sell souvenirs to Westerners.
Morosini also looted from the port of Piraeus the famous Piraeus Lion which is on display at the Venetian Arsenal.
In the summer of 1688, Morosini, now having been proclaimed Doge of Venice, attacked Negropont but was unable to capture it and was forced to return to Venice when plague broke out among his troops. He embarked on a final campaign in 1693, but was again unsuccessful in taking Negropont, and returned to Venice after sacking some minor coastal towns. After his death in 1694, a large marble arch was placed in his honor at the Doge’s Palace, and his cat, of which Morosini was notably fond, was embalmed and taken to the Museo Correr.