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The Florence grain market (1320-1335)

Grant number: 17/13122-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2017
Effective date (End): March 27, 2020
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Ancient and Medieval History
Principal Investigator:Marcelo Cândido da Silva
Grantee:Felipe Mendes Erra
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):18/19704-1 - The Florence Grain Market (1320-1335), BE.EP.MS

Abstract

The intense process of urbanization, in Northern Italy, during the Central Middle Ages, resulted in the formation of basic cereals markets for the supply of the largest cities. In the case of the Republic of Florence, where the population has surpassed the mark of 80,000 inhabitants, it is possible to find a rich documentation on the grain market of the city. Stands out "Il Libro del Biadaiolo", by Domenico Lenzi, grain merchant of Florence. The text describes the everyday life of this market between 1320 and 1335, registering the price oscillation (monthly, weekly or daily), the various types of products commercialized (cereals and vegetables), the supervision of the officers of the Republic, and the action and reaction of buyers to various situations. The starting point of the analysis of documents will be the historiographical debate involving two separate interpretative models of the economy of the middle ages: the Malthusian model and the commercialization model. The first, proposing the conjunction between excessive population growth and a scant ability to technological improvements, defends the theory of "Crisis of the 14th century"- economic situation characterized by the inability of societies of the period to respond to needs. On the other hand, the commercialization model seeks to describe a population growth associated with a range of socio-economic transformations, including: the expansion of markets, the spread of the monetary uses, the improvement of agricultural techniques, improvement in the forms of transportation, and institutional changes beneficial to trade. In this scenario, the concept of "Crisis of the 14th century" is replaced by the concept of "The Conjuncture of 1300". Our goal will be to understand the participation of the actors involved in the daily operation of the market. To do this, we will look at the source from three aspects: the foodstuffs placed on the market; the fluctuation of prices; and the description of the social actors involved in the process of buying and selling. This will allow us to address the commercialized products and the dynamics of prices not as abstract elements, but as a result of social relations and, therefore, to investigate to what extent the institutionalization of market functioned as an element of organization of the Florentine society of that period.