Economic Power in Rome. The role of the city’s elite families (the 1400-1500 period)

Economic Power in Rome. The role of the city’s elite families (the 1400-1500 period)

By Ivana Ait and Donatella Strangio

Mélanges de l’École française de Rome – Moyen Âge, Vol.126:1 (2014)

Introduction: Roman historiography has focused its attention on the presence of barons and nobiles viri, among whom the figures of merchants stand out; in this paper, we examine a less explored area, namely the existing relationship between political stability and the economic success of the merchant elite, a topic of interest to various disciplines that, in the case of Rome, has never been given adequate space.

In this context we hope to examine the dynamics of the families of the Roman merchant aristocracy in the new aspect that Rome was taking on with the return of the popes, and particularly those of the most representative families that, present in the economic hotbed of the city, followed a dual mode of defence of their interests, threatened in the second half of the fifteenth century by the Mercatores Romanam Curiam Sequentes, that is, the figures of papal finance.

To this end, the paper will be structured as follows: Section One offers a summary of the economy of the city of Rome; Section Two explores the sectors of investment; Section Three presents new documents that allow us to highlight the strategies implemented by Roman citizens to maintain the privileges under attack by those who enjoyed « economic citizenship » – that is, the Mercatores Romanam Curiam Sequentes; the final section holds a conclusion.

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