Di Malamocco, già tribuno sotto il dogado di Giovanni Galbaio e sposato con una nobildonna francese, aveva tendenze filofranche e proprio per questo fu eletto: una reazione dei gruppi di potere ostili al precedente doge Giovanni Galbaio che era filobizantino.

Obelerio si associò il fratello Beato senza chiedere l’approvazione popolare, racconta Giovanni Diacono, mentre altre fonti dicono che gli fu assegnato il fratello di tendenze filobizantine per una ricerca di equilibrio politico. Questo conferma il clima di incertezza del tempo: i veneziani si trovavano al centro di due appetiti, quello dei franchi con Carlo Magno il quale, avendo rinnovato l’impero d’Occidente, pretendeva un tributo anche dai dogi (tradizionalmente legati a Costantinopoli), e quello dei bizantini di Costantinopoli che dominavano le coste dell’Alto Adriatico.

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