Merchant Writers: Florentine Memoirs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance

By Vittore Branca
Translated by Murtha Baca
With a biographical essay by Cesare de Michelis

© 2015

The birthplace of Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and the powerful Medici family, Florence was also the first great banking and commercial centre of continental Europe. The city’s middle-class merchants, though lacking the literary virtuosity of its most famous sons, were no less prolific as writers of account books, memoirs, and diaries. Written by ordinary men, these first-hand accounts of commercial life recorded the everyday realities of their businesses, families, and personal lives alongside the high drama of shipwrecks, plagues, and political conspiracies.

Published in Italian in 1986, Vittore Branca’s collection of these accounts established the importance of the genre to the study of Italian society and culture. This new English translation of Merchant Writers includes all the texts from the original Italian edition in their entirety. Moreover, it offers a gripping personal introduction to the mercantile world of medieval and Renaissance Florence.

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Product Details

  • Series: Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 424 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.3in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP004152

  • PUBLISHED OCT 2015

    From: $57.75

    Regular Price: $77.00

    ISBN 9781442637146
  • PUBLISHED NOV 2015

    From: $57.75

    Regular Price: $77.00

Quick Overview

This new English translation of Merchant Writers includes all the texts from the original Italian edition in their entirety. Moreover, it offers a gripping personal introduction to the mercantile world of medieval and Renaissance Florence.

Merchant Writers: Florentine Memoirs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance

By Vittore Branca
Translated by Murtha Baca
With a biographical essay by Cesare de Michelis

© 2015

The birthplace of Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and the powerful Medici family, Florence was also the first great banking and commercial centre of continental Europe. The city’s middle-class merchants, though lacking the literary virtuosity of its most famous sons, were no less prolific as writers of account books, memoirs, and diaries. Written by ordinary men, these first-hand accounts of commercial life recorded the everyday realities of their businesses, families, and personal lives alongside the high drama of shipwrecks, plagues, and political conspiracies.

Published in Italian in 1986, Vittore Branca’s collection of these accounts established the importance of the genre to the study of Italian society and culture. This new English translation of Merchant Writers includes all the texts from the original Italian edition in their entirety. Moreover, it offers a gripping personal introduction to the mercantile world of medieval and Renaissance Florence.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 424 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 1.3in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    ‘The content of these ricordanze is so rich and accessible that they not only can provide an introduction to late medieval history to newcomers but they also continually reveal new insights to readers already familiar with these texts.’


    Brian Jeffrey Maxson
    Sixteenth Century Journal vol 47:04:2016

    ‘The great pleasure of this book is the way the author involves readers in the rich fabric of life in Florence and the activities of the city’s merchants in the world beyond its walls.’


    Jeanette M. Fregulia
    Renaissance Quarterly vol 70: 01:2017

    “These merchant writings paint a wonderfully candid, varied, and vivid portrait of the practical realities that confronted the fourteenth-century Italian merchant; they depict the social, political, and economic milieu through which he forged his way, at times with a handful of florins, at others with bales of wool, casks of wine, and other merchandise, and, more often than one might have thought, with the help of a dagger or sword.”


    Tobias Foster Gittes, Liberal Arts College, Concordia University

    “The memoirs and family histories in Merchant Writers will interest historians, anthropologists, and scholars of cultural studies, as well as those curious about Florentine families in the days of Boccaccio. Murtha Baca’s translation is truly outstanding, a superb job done with competence and exquisite taste.”


    Paolo Cherchi, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago
  • Author Information

    Vittore Branca (1913–2004) was the leading Boccaccio scholar of the twentieth century.


    Murtha Baca’s translations include several manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci, An Italian Renaissance Sextet: Six Tales in Historical Context (edited by Lauro Martines) and Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.
  • Table of contents

    Translator’s Note
    Introduction
    Paolo Da Certaldo – Book of Good Practices
    Giovanni di Paolo Morelli - Memoirs
    Bonaccorso Pitti - Memoirs
    Domenico Lenzi the Grain Merchant – Mirror of Humanity
    Donato Velluti - Memoirs
    Goro Dati – Secret Book 
    Francesco Datini – Last Will and Testament 
    Lapo Di Giovanni Niccolo De’ Sirigatti – Book of Family Affairs
    Bernardo Machiavelli – Memoirs
    Appendix - Cesare De Michelis - A Portrait of Vittore Branca

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