Thursday Seminar:"Renaissance Individualism Revisited: A Business History Perspective"


Thursday, November 2, 2023, 6:00pm to 7:30pm


I Tatti
poster with a quote of Jacob Burckhardt

Speaker: Francesca Trivellato (I Tatti / Institute for Advanced Study)

The goal of this seminar is at once conceptual and archival. Conceptually, it stems from the realization that many distinguished scholars of the economic and business history of late medieval and early modern Tuscany (once a venerable crop) have misconstrued Burckhardt’s notion of Renaissance individualism and bent it to fit a progressive view of the development of impersonal credit markets. Archivally, it analyzes a vast collection of limited partnership contracts preserved in the Florence State Archives (likely the largest of its kind in Europe) and probes the degree to which these contracts fostered the impersonality that legal and economic theory attributes to them. Ultimately, this investigation interrogates the assumptions that we bring to the study of the interplay between cultural and economic change, especially but not exclusively in the pre-modern period.

Francesca Trivellato is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Early Modern European History at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. She previously taught at Yale University for fifteen years. Her principal publications include: Fondamenta dei vetrai: Lavoro, tecnologia e mercato a Venezia tra Sei e Settecento (Donzelli, 2000); The Familiarity of Strangers: The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno, and Cross-Cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period (Yale University Press, 2009); and The Promise and Peril of Credit: What a Forgotten Legend about Jews and Finance Tells us about the Making of European Commercial Society (Princeton University Press, 2019). She is one of the founding co-editors of Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics.

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