Aveva 72 anni (era nato il 21 agosto 1543) e un bel passato di militare.

A soli 12 anni aveva dimostrato tutto il suo coraggio imbarcandosi su una galea. A 28 anni partecipò alla battaglia di Lepanto (1571) al comando di una galea distinguendosi per l’ardire nonostante le ripetute ferite. Più volte provveditore d’armata, fu savio, consigliere, infine capitano generale da mar, mentre il 14 agosto 1601 fu eletto procuratore di S. Marco de ultra.  

Alla morte del doge Marcantonio Memmo il dibattito su chi dovesse essere il futuro doge s’infiammò subito. Dopo scontri e falliti compromessi solo la minaccia di sciogliere il conclave, dopo 24 giorni e 114 votazioni, costrinse i 41 elettori dogali a convergere sul Bembo, membro d’una casa vecchia.

È sepolto nella Chiesa di Sant’Andrea della Zirada (S. Croce). Durante il suo dogado si combatté la guerra di Gradisca (1616-1617) per liberare l’Adriatico dai pirati uscocchi, foraggiati dal duca d’Austria col fine di colpire il commercio veneziano.

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