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The Local Merchants of Prato: Small Entrepreneurs in the Late Medieval Economy (The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science)

Marshall, Dr. Richard K.

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ISBN 10: 0801860571 / ISBN 13: 9780801860577
Published by U.S.A.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999
New Condition: New Hardcover
From Mima Mia Books (Boston, MA, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Local Merchants of Prato: Small ...

Publisher: U.S.A.: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


Located just ten miles from Florence and completely integrated into that city's economy, the small fourteenth-century Italian town of Prato lived mostly in the shadow of its larger neighbor. Its merchants and small businessmen and -women would be forgotten today but for the survival of an unusual number of documents from Prato -- detailed account books that preserve line-by-line records of business transactions. In no other Italian town -- not even Florence -- did account books survive in such quantity. Mining this unique resource, Richard K. Marshall throws new light on the everyday business life of Renaissance Italy.

Marshall begins with a look at the local marketplace in Prato, examining the way of life in this small town, explaining how business was conducted, and offering an in-depth look at the particular cases of an independent broker and a family of innkeepers. He then turns to common business practices, paying special attention to methods of bookkeeping, credit, loans, and banking in the local economy.

Marshall's attention to detail helps capture the vagaries and difficulties of trying to make a living as a small merchant during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. Although focused on Prato, the story told here represents that of many other small towns that thrived in the regions surrounding the great Italian cities.

"The picture Marshall gives us of these Pratese shopkeepers and artisans is altogether different from the guild stereotype that dominates much of the traditional historiography... Marshall's book opens up yet another direction in taking a look at how the entrepreneurs among the working class confronted market forces in organizing their work. This is one of the central problems of the economic history of preindustrial Europe, and these small operators working away in provincial Prato are as unique a testimony as their more famous contemporary, Francesco Datini, to the development of capitalism in late medieval and Renaissance Florence." -- From the foreword, by Marco Spallanzani, Institute of Economic History, University of Florence


"A noteworthy addition to our understanding of the economic past." -- George Dameron, Renaissance Quarterly

"Provides singular glimpses into the function and practice of a local economy that will be useful to anyone concerned with late-medieval business." -- Thomas W. Blomquist, Speculum

"In an exceptionally well-documented volume, based on 45 account books distilled into seven short chapters, Richard K. Marshall gives us both a glimpse of the lives of 17 tradesmen and an introduction to their business practices." -- Frances Andrews, Historian

"Marshall's book is a fine introduction to late medieval business practices, and it deserves to be read by late medievalists, specialists in Italian history, and business historians." -- Paolo Squatriti, Business History Review

"This is an extremely valuable, informative and admirable concise study which shows the percocity of the Italian urban economy at this time." -- Craig Muldrew, History

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