Again, where are the footnotes? Nice bibliography, but no other apparatus. Makes this excellent prose work of history that is an easy entry for beginn...moreAgain, where are the footnotes? Nice bibliography, but no other apparatus. Makes this excellent prose work of history that is an easy entry for beginners seem chintzy, half-rate. Too bad.(less)
It's great. Just what I was looking for. So lucky we have it in English. Part of the overarching theme of course. Here: "...The great cities remained...moreIt's great. Just what I was looking for. So lucky we have it in English. Part of the overarching theme of course. Here: "...The great cities remained in their dominating positions, with the advantages of high prices, high wages, and many customers for their shops, while satellite towns surrounded them, looked towards them, used them and were used by them,. These planetary systems, so typical of Europe and the Mediterranean, were to continue to function virtually unimpeded. Nevertheless, conspicuous changes, which could not be ignored, did take place: they too followed a fairly logical pattern. In the first place, an increase in population always works both ways: it may be a source of strength or of weakness, stability or insecurity. Many ancient evils persisted and were sometimes aggravated: the sixteenth century had neither the courage nor the strength to eradicate them. Secondly, the cities were no longer undisputed rulers in the world. Their reign, which had lasted throughout the early rise of Europe and the Mediterranean, from the eleventh to the fourteenth century, was beginning to be challenged at the threshold of modern times by the territorial states which modern times suddenly projected to the centre of the stage. Finally, the rural population was still in the majority... the towns were reaching a peak, perhaps overreaching it. When the population declined in the seventeenth century, as in Venezia, where figures are available, the towns declined more rapidly than the surrounding countryside. Had the picture changed by the eighteenth century? M Moheau claimed [in 1778] that rural France was then growing faster than urban France. These rapid comparisons may help us to understand the decisive yet fragile fortunes of the towns in the sixteenth century. '...famine and the wheat problem.' The sixteenth century was not always kind to urban communities. Famine and epidemics waged a continuous onslaught on the towns. Because of the slowness and prohibitive price of transport and the unreliability of the harvests, any urban center could be exposed to famine at any time of year. The slightest pressure could tip the balance. When the Council of Trent met for the third and last time in 1561 (and although the town was on the great Brenner-Adige route, the route taken by the Bavarian grain which sometimes served Verona). the first problem facing the delegates to the council and their staff was the difficult question of supplies, about which Rome was justifiably anxious. Both in the Mediterranean regions and outside famine was a commonplace hazard. The famine in Castile in 1521 coincided with the beginning of the war against France and the rising of the Communeros at home. Nobles and commoners alike were panic-stricken by the lack of bread during that year which was known in Portugal as the year of the Great Hunger. In 1525 Andalusia was devastated by a terrible drought. In 1528 famine brought terror to Tuscany: Florence had to close her gates to the starving peasants from surrounding districts. In 1540 the same thing happened. Again Florence was about to close her gates and abandon the countryside to its fate, when the region was saved by the arrival of ships at Leghorn carrying grain from the Levant; but that was something of a miracle. In 1575, in the Rumanian countryside, which was normally rich in cereals, the flocks died by the hundred; the birds were surprised in March by snowdrifts five feet deep and could be caught in the hand. As for the human inhabitants, they would kill their neighbors for a piece of bread. In 1583 the scourge swept through Italy, particularly in the Papal States where people starved to death. More often however, famine did not attack entire regions, but struck only the towns. The striking feature of the famine in Tuscany in 1528 was that it extended to the entire countryside surrounding Florence, ... at Perugia in 1529 there was no grain at all for a radius of 50 miles. These were still rare catastrophes. In normal times the peasants would obtain from their own land almost all the frugal fare on which they survived. Urban famine on the contrary, within the city walls was an extremely frequent occurrence in the sixteenth century. Florence, although it certainly does not lie in a particularly poor region, experienced 111 famines between 1375 and 1791 [more than one every four years], as against sixteen very good harvests over the same period. Even the wheat ports, such as Messina and Genoa, suffered terrible famines. Every year, even at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Venice had to part with millions of gold to secure the city's food supply....and also had permanent regulations: notably in 1408, 1539, 1607 and 1628, she prohibited the export of any grain outside her 'Gulf'. ...what is in Venice known as the grain-office ... controlled not only grain and flour entering the city, but also sales in the city markets: flour could only be sold in two public places, one near St Mark's and the other near the Rialto. The doge was to be kept daily informed of the stocks in the warehouses. As soon as he discovered that the city had reserves only for a year or eight months, the College was duly informed, provision was made by the office, on the one hand, and on the other by the merchants, to whom sums of money were immediately advanced. The bakers were also supervised: they had to provide the public with loaves made from 'good grain', white, whose weight might vary according to the abundance or otherwise of supplies, but whose price per unit remained constant, as was the rule in most every town in Europe.... When famine threatened, the measures taken were everywhere identical. To the sound of trumpets it was forbidden to take grain out of the town, the guard was doubled, searches were conducted, and available supplies were inventoried. If the danger increased, sterner measures were taken: the number of mouths to feed was reduced, the city gates were closed, or else foreigners were expelled, the normal course at Venice, unless they had brought enough grain.... The Protestants were expelled from Marseilles in 1562, a double gain for the city, which was opposed to the Huguenots. At Naples during the famine of 1591 the university bore the brunt of the disaster. It was closed and the students were sent back home. After that, rationing was generally introduced, as in Marseilles in August 1583. But naturally before taking any other steps the town would make every effort to find provisions at any price, in the first place from its usual sources. Marseilles usually turned to the interior and the gracious bounty of the king of France, or applied to 'her very dear and beloved friends', the consuls of Arles, even to the merchants of Lyons. And in order to reach the grain of Burgundy beyond Lyons and to convey it down river to Marseilles, the boats ... had to pass 'the bridges... without grand danger'. At Barcelona in August 1557, the Inquisitors begged Philip II to allow them be sent, at least for their personal use, a little wheat from Roussillon. The Inquisitors of Valencia in the following year asked permission to import wheat from Castile, a request that was repeated in 1559. Verona, expecting a poor harvest, asked the Serenissima permission to buy wheat in Bavaria. Ragusa turned to the sandjak of Herzegovina; Venice asked the Grand Turk for authorisation to load grain in the Levant. Every time this meant negotiations, expeditions, large expenditure, not to mention promises and extra payments to the merchants. If all else failed, the last great resource was to turn to the sea, to watch out for grain ships, seize them, then to pay the party concerned for the cargo later, not without some discussion... And nobody was more skilled at this unpopular practice than Venice. As soon as her food supply was endangered, no ship loaded with wheat was safe in the Adriatic.... Her behavior was the source of persistent, quite justified, and completely ineffective protest from Naples, backed up by Spain: the ships seized by Venice were usually those that Naples had chartered for her own supplies. Venice's captures were likely to provoke riots in a city swarming with poor people. All this proved a great financial burden. But no town could escape its crushing weight. At Venice, enormous losses had to be registered at the Grain Office, which on the one hand gave large bonuses to merchants and on the other often sold the grain and flour it had acquired at lower than normal prices. ... At Florence the Grand Duke made up the difference. In Corsica, Ajaccio borrowed from Genoa. Marseilles, which kept a tight hold on the purse strings, also borrowed, but always, looking ahead..."
shipwreck, spiritual possession, loss of life, limb, progeny, sanity, home, or plot, conspiracies of wizards with dunces, revenge stories gone awry, r...moreshipwreck, spiritual possession, loss of life, limb, progeny, sanity, home, or plot, conspiracies of wizards with dunces, revenge stories gone awry, random accidents. You know what scares me? Putting this play on in the park in 6 months. Scary. Actually got some good out of this copy that works as a crit with primary documents! Reminding me of Montaigne.(less)
still another view of different social arrangements back then gleaned from the notes and records once directed by a man who would become another Bened...morestill another view of different social arrangements back then gleaned from the notes and records once directed by a man who would become another Benedict. A pope for the 14th century. But the social arrangements that draw my interest is in the trade in the uplands north of the Pyrenees at that time. Relative freedom from distant monarchs, and with only the Church as authority the locals could live as they could. Just as you'd think, by herding, only subsistence levels of oat or wheat, some vines but not enough for trade, the domi left on the routes to the passes over the mountains could win from some benefit of trade or caring for pilgrims, but not much. More information could be had though with trade going in both directions, compared with many places that didn't, all giving the locals a chance to have a better chance of outside information.(less)
p. 237 "February 1, 1499 (2:391) This morning at Rialto a considerable crowd gathered at this bank to withdraw money, but even by a late hour none of t...morep. 237 "February 1, 1499 (2:391) This morning at Rialto a considerable crowd gathered at this bank to withdraw money, but even by a late hour none of the Garzoni [the owners] had come to the bank. Therefore, everyone became suspicious, and there was much grumbling throughout the city. And I do not wish to neglect recording that 500 ducats that my mother had received from a legacy had been deposited in this bank. Since I know what was happening, I ordered ser Lunardo, my brother, to withdraw it, and so he did, so that on the eve of the holiday he withdrew from the bank these 500 ducats and had that number of Hungarian gold ducats."
[Editor note:]The Garzoni stated that they intended to pay back all their creditors, for they had the funds but not the cash. Sanudo surmised that money was tight everywhere because of the wars Venice had been fighting, the continual levying of taxes to fund these wars, and withdrawals from banks to purchase Monte Nuovo bonds, which were shares in the public debt.
"February 1, 1499 (2:391-92) [The Garzoni say] that they have 45000 ducats owing to them, of which 10000 are owed by bad debtors; they have 15000 in jewels and silver and 45000 in real estate. And the members of the Garzoni family said they wanted to pay everyone but needed time, given that everyone wanted his money and they did not have the cash.... But I must state what I heard, that the money of the Venetians has disappeared largely because during four wars taxes have been raised in the city, that is, for the War of Ferrara, 37 decime*, for the War with Austria, 5 decime, for the Invasion of Italy by Charles VIII, king of France, 18 decime, and in this war against the Florentines, 10 decime up to this point. And huge sums of money have been spent in the purchase of Monte Nuove bonds and the building of homes and the expenditures on luxurious dress, so that the city is in financial straits."
* The decime was a direct tax inaugurated in Venice in 1463."
[Editor note: "Another meeting was held in the ducal chambers. The creditors pressed for some guarantees and wanted more control over the process of repayment through a committee of creditors, which the Garzoni protested against as humiliating for so ancient and accommodating a bank. The government continued its mediation between the two groups."]
"February 4, 1499 (2:401) The doge spoke of the good intention of these Garzoni to pay everyone and said that, God willing, after Easter they would make a beginning, and they had many debts to call in. He exhorted the creditors to quiet down, saying that the Garzoni intended to pledge their entire fortune to their creditors. They would place the money they collected from their debtors in the care of our government treasurers; [the Garzoni] would keep one key and would give the other to the heads of the creditors' group, etc. The creditors were still complaining about not having their money, and they wanted to name the heads for their group to oversee the bank's books. And so, somewhat subdued, these Garzoni went to the bank, but they wrote nothing and did nothing and were scowled at by everyone, and this caused great pain to ser Andrea, who was the senior member of the family and a very good man.. And in one vote, two were elected to the Collegia who, in the name of the Signoria, would keep the key to the Garzoni funds, and they, in the place of the heads of the creditors' committee, would view the Garzoni account books."
[Editor note: "The loss of confidence in the Garzoni spread to other banks in the city. Hard pressed were the Lipomano, the Pisani, and the Agustini.* By May the Lipomano bank had lost a quarter-million ducats' worth of deposits and had to be given a moratorium similar to that given the Garzoni, to the great distress to the Lipomano creditors. The Pisani saw the handwriting on the wall and through the efforts of relatives were in a position to dispense 100000 ducats. The creditors who had previously been adamant in their demands to withdraw their funds, now tried to reinvest.]
* The Lipomano and the Pisani were patrician-family bankers; the Garzoni and the Agostini were popolani-family bankers. There was also a patrician Garzoni family.
May 17, 1499 (2: 726-27) The heads of the Council of Ten - ser Benedetto of the Pexaro family, ser Piero Loredan, and ser Nicolo di Prilo - arrived [in the Collegio] and with great vehemence sent everyone outside, and this was because of what had happened at the Pisani bank. ... after dinner, money was frantically being put [into the bank], and the reason for this was the failure of two banks, and the city was complaining that safe-conducts had been issued by the Council of Ten.* And this morning I saw ser Beneto Zustignan come into the Collegio followed by many merchants and patricians, who were shouting that the safe-conduct for the Lipomano should be withdrawn etc. ...
* The failed banks were the Grazoni and the Lippomano, whose members obtained safe-conduct in order to leave the city."
p. 239 [Editor note: The economic tremors continued to spread. Four military leaders were asking for their troops' wages. The government responded that this was not the moment, that it would be taken care of in the future. In short, what the petitioners received were what Sanudo called 'good words,' bono parole (2:731), but not wages to pay their troops or themselves. Then there were the masters of the Beirut and Alexandria galleys, "dismayed that because of the Lipomano p. 240 bank, they were unable to move ahead and to post the bonds [as required] because the shareholders' money was tied up in that bank'. May 18, 1499: "And during the discussion in the Collegio, I registered an opinion that was praised by everyone, which was to propose in the Senate that the 200 ducats loaned to the Arsenal be recalled, as well as the 200 ducats that used to be given to the Captain to buy biscuits. And so the [the shipmasters] were called in by the doge who said, "This will be expedited for you by the savi ai ordeni."(2:732). (less)
A surprisingly quick read by itself, I forced myself to keep at it only a chapter a month. Even so, the author really hammers the evidence home giving...moreA surprisingly quick read by itself, I forced myself to keep at it only a chapter a month. Even so, the author really hammers the evidence home giving it over and over to emphasize the daily routine or the natural reactions of those people having to make it through one of humanity's darkest times. Drawing from local records in and around Walsham, England just east of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, it attempts to tell in an active-omniscient voice how things were before, during and after the great plague. Like reading a novel but whose essential bits of activity are grounded in historical reality. Very good for it's blending of this.(less)
Runciman does it again. He takes a period full of constant strife and turmoil with a bewildering array of characters and shifting alliances and aggres...moreRunciman does it again. He takes a period full of constant strife and turmoil with a bewildering array of characters and shifting alliances and aggressions and lays it all out plain as day. Mostly centering on the life and times of Charles II of Anjou and King of Naples and Sicily,it is the island itself that both becomes pawn and pivot in Europe at a time when all of western christendom would turn after centuries of outward reaching and seeking instead would become both inward and self-absorbed. Internal or cross border factionalism would remain the by-word of collective activity rather than the forging of bonds to make overseas conquests of the numerous crusades over the previous centuries. Sicily would thereafter become an appendage to the Two Scilies crown and forgotten as mostly a source of revenue with scanty and problematic representation.(less)
Maybe people don't think anymore the way this author writes. Too bad. What follows will be a reproduction of as much of the first chapter (and called t...moreMaybe people don't think anymore the way this author writes. Too bad. What follows will be a reproduction of as much of the first chapter (and called the introduction) as I feel like typing. I'll probably add to it later. First published in 1973 and Yeah, it starts like this.
"History is often beclouded, and each period has clouds specific to it. Medieval history's cloud is because Europe's culture was then ecclesiastical whereas today's is secular. Secular historians seek to find the origins of the institutions and thought they favour: when looking for today's spiritual ancestors, they vault back over the Middle Ages to Greek and Roman antiquity. Prisoners of laicism, moderns who favour going to church, mosque or synagogue, experience there only a subculture, one threatened by secularism's greater culture. As a result, the friends of the Middle Ages are as bothersome as its enemies. They are those who, reacting against secular dominance, look back to earlier times in order to criticise the present. After recent European history, one understands their doubts about secularism, but their Middle Ages is often only partially similar to reality. Their idealised community of the medieval town, for example, is clearly partly fictional. Modern research has defined the differences between classical, medieval and modern times, and contrasted the other-worldly emphasis of late antique and medieval thought with the this-worldly emphasis of moderns and of their predecessors in antiquity. This truthful distinction has, however, encouraged some to inscribe it in stone. To them, the latter promotes rational propositions, those within reach of natural demonstration, whereas the former's are religious, beyond, that is, the reach of the same. This causes some to make institutions coterminous with ideas: the Church [i]is[/i] religion, so to speak, and the State and other secular institutions [i]are[/i] reason. This overlooks the fact that, although there are many differences between the two ways of thinking, they have something in common, namely their love of indemonstrable propositions. Many present-day convictions about human free will, moral potential, the necessity of personal freedom for social and economic advancement, for example, and mankind's central role in the cosmos are as indemonstrable as any mystery found in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Using the ideas expressed in the words 'religious' or 'rational' to describe motives for human action is both traditional and valid. To reject either one of them in favour of the other, however is to misuse them. Some say, for example, that a person or group acted only for religious motives; others counter that they were animated by rational, economic, or material motives. One wonders if either one standing alone suffices to describe human actions. These actions vary. Men and women play games. They turn prayer wheels, recite gods' names, make music, do puzzles and calculations. When done by one alone, they have little to do with the society in which a person lives, and seem instead to be means of testing one's harmony with the nature of things. When one plays with others or before an audience, however, play becomes a way of competing or joining with other men and women. People hope that there is a natural order to which they can fit themselves, or of which they can make use. The desire is tied to society, but, rather like play, transcends the particular social world in which they live because the problems it tries to handle are uniform throughout history. These problems are those caused by birth, exuberant growth, sickness and death as well as hopes for freedom and love, and are expressed by a mixture of rational and religious passions and ideas. The desire to avoid death, for example, causes humanity both to people the other world with possibly imaginary souls and to work rationally to prolong life in this one. The particularities of periods in which individuals live attract historians especially because they distinguish one age from another. They also bulk large in the sources for historical study, probably because humans spend little time being born, loving or dying and much in life's routines. Only sleep takes more time than these. Experience nevertheless teaches that the primal activities are more consequential because humans are mostly moved by the need and desire to attain love and retain life by finding and using the right order of things. Historians should therefore try to recognise the similarities of human desire and need in the many languages, secular or ecclesiastical, technical or commonsensical, scientific or mystic, lent them by transient institutions, philosophies and religions. One recalls, for example, debates among even 'materialist' thinkers as to whether the ideas of their favourite intellectual forebears were mainly drawn from the thought of their time, or instead arose within themselves, having few or no outside sources. Such debaters, one guesses, rehearse arguments as indemonstrable as the old scholastic ones favouring natural or innate capacity versus the need for divine grace, arguments essentially about free will and determination. Once, moreover, the similarities of some modern and medieval propositions about mankind's role in natural history or under the deity are perceived, one can comprehend why humanity is addicted to the indemonstrable. This addiction presumably derives from need: nobody can be sure that his or her cancer will not kill, and nobody that he or she is loved. All one can do is hope and play games. Although recourse to indemonstrable propositions often inhibits human freedom, history also shows that it sometimes helps it. Most institutions have been built on humanity's natural, reasonable and demonstrable needs for health, material welfare and a measure of freedom in the disposition of talents and goods. In late Rome, however, these normally healthy drives and their concomitant institutions were so overwhelmed by internal disruption and external attack that they became oppressive. Then, the need for relief or freedom forced the people to turn to the other world, the world of the indemonstrable. Although Christianity's obscurantism partly reflected a failure of nerve, it was also a liberating secession from service to State and society and from the often self-defeating race for wealth, learning and well-being. Rome's peoples rejected Greco-Roman earth-centered reason, religion and society."(less)