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The Merchant of Prato, Francesco Di Marco Datini, 1335-1410
by Iris Origo
Datini, a fourteenth-century Florentine merchant banker, provides us with one of the great success stories of the Middle Ages. He left behind the entire archive of his business - over 150,000 letters, some 500 ledgers and accounts books, and a mass of personal and business documents that Iris Origo tracked down, translated, selected, and made accessible to the modern reade ...more
Paperback, 458 pages
Published March 1st 2002 by David R. Godine Publisher
(first published December 1957)
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Oct 10, 2014 Jan-Maat added it · review of another edition
This lovely study of mercantile life in northern Italy based on a chance find of a set of documents which turned out to be almost the complete archive of Francesco di Marco Datini (1335ish - 1410 (view spoiler)[ the era of Boccaccio and his Decameron (hide spoiler)]). Datini came from Prato in Tuscany, as a young man went to work in Avignon - at the time the seat of the Papacy and an important commercial centre - where he set up a shop which expanded over time into a far reaching network of comp ...more
A friend who knew of my interest in textiles recommended that I read this. Francesco Di Marco Datini was (among other things) a wool trader in 14th century Tuscany. The most interesting thing about the book is the raw materials the author uses to reconstruct Datini's life: he left unbelievably vast amounts of letters, business records, ledgers, all of which were discovered undisturbed and intact in the 1870s. Just the fact that all this material was left in a room under the stairs for over 400 y ...more
"Like a modern day Forrest Gumpp, Datini was an average person dealing with the everyday business of life but one where circumstances placed him at the center of great change. He lived at the time of transition from the middle ages to the modern era and was one of the many who were in the forefront of the march to modern times. He was a minor figure at the Papal Court in Avignon which was the center of a political and religious struggle. And, unlike the thousands of others in the same position, ...more
Well-researched account of the 14th-century merchant, Francesco di Marco Datini. If you enjoy reading about the early history and commercial success of the Medici family of Florence, you'll discover many business details that contributed to the Medici prosperity found in the rich records left by Datini as revealed by Iris Origo.