The Economy of Renaissance Florence

The Economy of Renaissance Florence

by Richard A. Goldthwaite


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Richard A. Goldthwaite, a leading economic historian of the Italian Renaissance, has spent his career studying the Florentine economy. In this magisterial work, Goldthwaite brings together a lifetime of research and insight on the subject, clarifying and explaining the complex workings of Florence’s commercial, banking, and artisan sectors.

Florence was one of the most industrialized cities in medieval Europe, thanks to its thriving textile industries. The importation of raw materials and the exportation of finished cloth necessitated the creation of commercial and banking practices that extended far beyond Florence’s boundaries. Part I situates Florence within this wider international context and describes the commercial and banking networks through which the city's merchant-bankers operated. Part II focuses on the urban economy of Florence itself, including various industries, merchants, artisans, and investors. It also evaluates the role of government in the economy, the relationship of the urban economy to the region, and the distribution of wealth throughout the society.

While political, social, and cultural histories of Florence abound, none focuses solely on the economic history of the city. The Economy of Renaissance Florence offers both a systematic description of the city's major economic activities and a comprehensive overview of its economic development from the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance to 1600.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801889820
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 03/01/2009
Pages: 672
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Richard A. Goldthwaite is professor emeritus of history at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of The Building of Renaissance Florence: An Economic and Social History and Wealth and the Demand for Art in Italy, 1300–1600, both also published by Johns Hopkins.

Table of Contents

List of Tables, Figures, and Maps
Introduction: The Commerical Revolution
Economic Growth and Development in Italy to 1300
Trade with the Levant
Links to the North
The Tuscan Towns
Rise to Predominance
The Dynamics of Growth
Part I: International Merchant Banking
1. The Network
Dynamics of Change
The Era of the Florin
Balance of Payments
The Firm
The Conduct of Business
Interfirm Relations
The Center
Florence and Regional Trade
Florence as International Emporium
2. The Shifting Geography of Commerce
Northwestern Europe
Naples and Southern Italy
The Western Mediterranean
A Transport Revolution
The Iberian Peninsula
Southern France
The Later Sixteenth Century
Central Italy and Rome
Venice, the Adriatic, and the Levant
Central Europe
3. Banking and Finance
Deposits and Loans
International Transfer and Exchange
The Bill of Exchange as Credit Instrument
The International Exchange Market
Government Finance
Loans to Rulers
The Papacy
Competition and Innovation in the Sixteenth Century
Part II: The Urban Economy
4. The Textile Industries
General Performance
The Wool Industry
The Silk Industry
Linen Drapers
Business Organization
The Firm
Operations beyond the Firm
The Shop
The Work Force
Recapitulation: Wool, Silk, and the Economy
5. Artisans, Shop keepers, Workers
The Work Force
Works on the Margins of the Market
Performance of the Artisan Sector
Demand-Driven Growth
Parameters of the Local Market
6. Banking and Credit
Banking Institutions through the Fifteenth Century
Historiographical Problems
Local Banks
Welfare Institutions
Banks and the Government
Lack of a Banking System
Performance of the Banking Sector
Economic Functions
Banking outside of Banks
The Private Credit Market
New Directions in the Sixteenth Century
A Public Savings- and- Loan Bank
A Central Clearance Bank?
7. Contexts
Government and the Economy
Economic Policy
Fiscal Policy
Business Interests and Government
The Region and the City
Urban Geography
Industrial Resources
Economic Integration
Private Wealth
Social Mobility
A Profile of Wealth Distribution in 1427
Redistribution of Wealth in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries
Economic Culture
Attitudes and Behavior
Notions about the Economy
The Economy in the Short Run
A Final Judgment
Appendix: Changing Values of the Florin

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