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Secondo alcuni fu il primo doge a essere eletto essendo i due precedenti di nomina bizantina.

Di Eraclea, Orso era salito al potere forse con un pronunciamento militare e in mezzo a disordini di origine religiosa, infuriando in quegli anni l’iconoclastia.

È ricordato per aver dato agli abitanti delle isole una mentalità militare: organizzò le milizie a difesa del Dogado e diede inizio alla tradizione di allenare i civili, giovani e meno giovani, «nell’arte del marittimo e terrestre combattere», cioè nell’uso dell’arco e delle altre armi. E fu ancora lui ad inculcare in ognuno la voglia di combattere, di «non rimanersi contenti di fugare i pirati, ma inseguirli senza posa nei tortuosi nascondigli, nelle fortificazioni e ne’ porti loro, bruciare navigli, assalire mura e torri, predare per rappresaglia».

Orso Ipato fu uno dei protagonisti della Battaglia dell’Arco combattuta tra Eraclea, capitale del Dogado, e la rivale Jesolo sulla sponda opposta. Tra di loro il Canale dell’Arco. Orso Ipato comandava le truppe di Eraclea. La battaglia fu una carneficina per entrambe le fazioni.

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