Era nato nel 1419 e aveva 67 anni, fratello minore del precedente doge Marco.

Vedovo di Isabetta Soranzo, che gli aveva dato 5 figli (4 femmine e un maschio), era ambizioso e vantava una buona carriera militare e politica: era stato tra l’altro podestà di Verona (1478) e di Padova (1482), dove gli morì l’unico figlio maschio, Francesco; da allora si fece crescere la barba bianca con la quale è ritratto a Villa Barbarigo a Valsanzibio (frazione di Galzignano Terme, presso Padova).

Fu capitano generale nella guerra di Ferrara o del sale (1482-1484) e procuratore di S. Marco de supra (25 novembre 1485).

Fu descritto come doge di gran presenza ed eloquenza, Homo de degna statura, de admiranda prexentia et non veduta la talle a li tempi nostri, sapientissimo, eloquente, di molta memoria e di carattere fermo. Come doge voleva il baciamano e la genuflessione di quanti lo avvicinavano. Prima di entrare a Palazzo Ducale (19 marzo 1492), restaurato dopo l’incendio del 1483, pretese il suo stemma araldico su tutti gli stipiti e i caminetti.

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