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The Merchant of Prato: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City
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The Merchant of Prato: Daily Life in a Medieval Italian City

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Francesco di Marco Datini, the 14th-century Tuscan merchant who forms the subject of the Marchesa Origo's study, has now probably become the most intimately accessible figure of the later-Middle Ages. In 1870 the whole astonishing cache, containing some 150,000 letters and great numbers of business documents, came to light. The Marchesa Origo has drawn on this material to ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 10th 1992 by Penguin (first published December 1957)
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3.89  · 
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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)). 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
Feb 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: histories
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
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
'De koopman uit Prato' is bijna een spreekwoordelijk beroemde middeleeuwer, beroemder dan vrijwel ieder ander willekeurige figuur van niet-aristocratische komaf - en dat is vrij opmerkelijk. Want hij was niet geïnteresseerd in politiek (speelde daarin ook geen noemenswaardige rol), schreef geen traktaten of gedichten, maakte geen kunst, en leidde in geen enkel opzicht een uitzonderlijk leven. Nee, in zekere zin valt hij juist op omdat hij zo normaal was.

Zijn reputatie is voor een groot deel te d
Richard Koerner
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is not my usual book, but at Randy's recommendation, I read it. This is the actual story of a man in the late 14th and early 15th centuries in Italy, Prato to be exact. Prato is near Florence. He was a businessman and spent much time in Avignon, France as well as Italy. He documented pretty much everything, and the author, Iris Origo, managed to put it into a form that reads easily. It is an amazing account of life in that time period and what people had to do to get along and how they deal ...more
David R. Godine
Dec 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"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
Jose Esquibel
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Ocean Gebhardt
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journals, tuscany
Quite dry and full of facts, but an excellent book. Taken from correspondence and contemporary writings and literature. A fascinating insight into a family's life in the late 14th century in Avignon and Prato.
Alexandra Wieland
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Well researched and beautifully written book on Francesco Datini of Prato, and his household.
Floortje Zwigtman
Interessant verslag van het leven in het Middeleeuwse Toscane, gebaseerd op het archief dat de rijke koopman uit de titel naliet. Veel boeiende details maar helaas ook net wat te veel herhalingen.
John McCormack
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Fascinating insight into life way back then. Then,as now, business was all that mattered to the merchant. Everthing else, everything, was secondary.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Scholarly analysis of the life of a 14thC cloth merchant who left behind a trove of his commercial and personal papers, by a early 20thC polymath.
Mykyta Kuzmenko
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Занимательно. О жизни предпренимателя в Европе до Колумба.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this but I don’t know who I’d recommend it to.
Rob Shurmer
Everything you always wanted to know about a 14th century Italian merchant but never got around to asking about - and for good reason!
I read it in Italian. I am normally not a fan of biografy, but I have to say, the life/story of this man was interesting.
Madison Partida
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May 30, 2015
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Jul 13, 2013
James Sorrell
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Feb 10, 2016
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Iris Origo (1902–1988) was a British-born biographer and writer. She lived in Italy and devoted much of her life to the improvement of the Tuscan estate at La Foce, which she purchased with her husband in the 1920s. During the Second World War, she sheltered refugee children and assisted many escaped Allied prisoners of war and partisans in defiance of Italy’s fascist regime and Nazi occupied forc ...more