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Saberes, cultura y mecenazgo en la correspondencia de las mujeres medievales

 | 
Ángela Muñoz Fernández
, 
Hélène Thieulin-Pardo

Saberes, negocios e intercambios político-culturales y familiares

Masculine Abilities in the Pens of Women: Correspondence and Business in the 14th and 15th Centuries

Angela Orlandi

Texte intégral

  • 1 Simonetta CAVACIOCCHI (ed.), La donna nell’economia. Secc. XIII-XVIII, Atti della “Ventunesima Sett (...)
  • 2 Maria Paola ZANOBONI, “Mobilità sociale e lavoro femminile nelle grandi città italiane”, in: Sergio (...)

1Studies dedicated to women’s work published in Italy and Europe over the last few years allow us to shed light on many aspects of female entrepreneurship in the Late Middle Ages. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the historiographical framework has changed significantly. While in the 1920’s studies of this kind were relatively few and focused above all on curious facts and events, the 60’s and 70’s –when cultural tensions emerged on the role of women in the family and society– began to see more numerous publications. By the end of the 80’s, interests and topics of research underwent important developments, thanks in part to the “Settimana di Studi datiniana” dedicated to women in the economy. In his introduction to the session devoted to urban activities, David Harley opened an intense debate on the interpretive questions relating to women in economic activities1. For years, though, the almost exclusive use of financial and guild sources depicted women’s work as marginal, unqualified, limited to the home, underpaid, and excluded from the corporative world. The broadening of heuristic approaches –to notarial and juridical sources, to the correspondence of merchant houses and families, and to account books– has allowed for a revision of these positions2.

  • 3 M. P. ZANOBONI, “Mobilità sociale…”, p. 75-76.

2Recently, Maria Paola Zanoboni wrote that “women’s activities during the Late Middle Ages –both in Italy and beyond the Alps, without any break between the two regions– were prevalent at all levels of work; women were involved in multiple activities in all social classes, playing important roles in some sectors”. Zanoboni refers to a sort of informal economy, based on a tight network of relations which functioned alongside the guilds. Women took advantage of all work opportunities and were able to organize independently and defend their interests3.

  • 4 Here we note several studies that to a greater or lesser degree treat the topic of female merchants (...)
  • 5 Gabriella PICCINNI, “Le donne nella vita economica, politica e sociale dell’Italia medievale”, in: (...)

3Within this field of inquiry, studies on the contribution of women to international commerce are still few in number4. The lack of such research has often been attributed to the relative scarcity of suitable sources, above all those connected to commercial activity.5

  • 6 L. FRANGIONI, “Aspettando Smeralda…”, p. 65.
  • 7 In 1995, Luciana Frangioni began a study on the work of women mentioned in the papers of the Datini (...)
  • 8 Gemma Teresa COLESANTI, “I libri contabilità di Caterina Llull i Sabastida (XV sec.)”, Genesis, IX/ (...)

4Nonetheless, we must recall the study by Luciana Frangioni, “Aspettando Smeralda”, which on the basis of an analysis of documents from the Datini archive showed that women were active in the commercial world of Avignon, in particular in the import-export trade, in which they sometimes handled quite significant volumes of merchandise6. Similarly, Gemma Colesanti has aimed to reconstruct the milieu and characteristics of female merchants in the Mediterranean7, focusing on the figure of Caterina Llull i Sebastida. Using her account books and private correspondence, Colesanti showed that Caterina had noteworthy entrepreneurial abilities8.

  • 9 Angela ORLANDI, “Le merciaie di Palma…”, p. 149-150.

5Indeed, company records allow us to recreate not only the presence of women in their trades but also to gain insight into the value of their actions: their level of independence vis-à-vis men, their networks of relations, and the informal relationships which they forged with others9.

  • 10 Duccia was the widow of Ambrogio Dei, a Florentine merchant. We have no information about her own f (...)

6Commercial correspondence and company accounting records in fact constitute the sources which have allowed us to construct this portrayal of Monna Duccia Dei, a Florentine merchant who worked in Montpellier during the second half of the 14th century10. As we will see, her letters –written in her capacity as manager– were addressed to merchants, men who directed companies of the illustrious Datini group in such cities as Avignon, Genoa, Pisa, and Florence. Indeed Duccia held a position of importance in the vast network of commercial companies which operated along the northwestern Mediterranean coast. Through an examination of her letters, we will attempt to assess not only her level of preparation and skill but also the context of her actions; we will also look at any peculiarities of her writings. We will see that this woman was able to master complex knowledge typically available only to men, such as the management of goods and the drafting of commercial letters. The latter were indeed the most delicate documents in the business world: learning to write them was the last stage in the merchant’s training. First, operators learned to keep account books, and only later to write letters. Not by chance was this task often reserved for company directors within the Datini commercial system.

Monna Duccia and her Company

7An account book of the Datini company in Avignon shows an account opened in 1378 for Monna Duccia, widow of Deo Ambrogi, one of the many Florentines who was transferred to French Mediterranean markets during the second half of the 14th Century to work closely with Avignon, the most important commercial location of the region.

  • 11 State Archive of Prato, Fondo Datini (herein ASPo, Datini), 184, Paris-Avignon, Deo Ambrogi to Fran (...)
  • 12 The first letter with the complete business name (Deo Ambrogi and Benedetto Cambini and Partners) b (...)

8We must assume that upon her husband’s death Duccia took over the management of the family company perhaps because her son Deo was not able to do so. By June 1384 he was certainly ready to assume responsibilities: at this time we find him in Paris, from where he sent a letter to the Avignon branch of the Datini group11. This is the first surviving letter from the French capital, although from his mother’s correspondence we understand that Deo had already been in Paris, where he had a partnership with Benedetto Cambini. Research by Jérôme Hayez shows that members of the Cambini family also formed part of the company directed by Monna Duccia in Montpellier12. This fact leads us to believe that the connection between the Cambini and the Dei was strong and well-structured in those years.

  • 13 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 22 June 1385
  • 14 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 22 March 138 (...)
  • 15 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia and Francesco Datini and Partners. 15 Septembe (...)

9During this period, Duccia had at least two collaborators, Giovanni Franceschi and a certain Antonio. The former kept the books, among other duties: Duccia herself wrote in answer to several requests from the Datini company in Avignon that “the accounts that you request will be sent as soon as Giovanni is better”13. On another occasion she wrote, “Giovanni is at the fair; as soon as he returns he will arrange the silk account and we will send it to you”14. Antonio was a young man who looked after departing and arriving merchandise, loading and unloading operations on the ships, payment of taxes, warehousing, and reassembly of packages to be sent to new destinations15; he was the one who often travelled to Aigues-Mortes to mail correspondence.

  • 16 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Deo Ambrogi and Giovanni Franceschi and Partners to Francesco (...)

10Monna Duccia continued her work until 19 September 1391. That month she became ill; as we learn from her son, she died on 24 October16.

  • 17 Mathieu ARNOUX, Caroline BOURLET and Jérôme HAYEZ, “Les lettres parisiennes…”, p. 206.

11In Paris, Deo continued the partnership with the Cambini until autumn 1389; he then worked with Stefano and Matteo Ramaglianti until 1391. He probably returned to Montpellier when his mother took ill; here he founded a new company with Duccia’s trusted collaborator Giovanni Franceschi17.

The Correspondence

  • 18 Specialized correspondence refers to those letters which are not general in nature, such as “banker (...)
  • 19 Together with the 116 letters written by Duccia, we also examined one received by our merchant in M (...)

12The correspondence which we examined consists of 116 letters, some of which are of a common variety while others are specialized in nature18. The missives span the period from 20 May 1383 to 19 September 139119.

13Eighty-two of these letters are addressed to Avignon, twenty-seven to Pisa, four to Florence, two to Aigues-Mortes and one to Genoa. It is no coincidence that most of the missives were destined to Avignon, the principal branch of the Datini company with which our merchant collaborated for business that centered on the Montpellier market. Before Duccia, the Datini group rarely had contact with commercial companies in that city; we do not know whether Duccia’s efforts were responsible for changing that situation or if it was simply a question of a delay on the part of the Merchant of Prato before he decided to strengthen his connections with companies operating in the cities of Occitania. Later in this essay we will see more clearly that this region was an effective sorting center for merchandise that moved between northern Europe, Catalonia, and the Italian peninsula.

  • 20 At the time, Boninsegna di Matteo was director and partner of the Datini company of Avignon.

14We note a change in the tone of the correspondence when Duccia took over control of the Montpellier branch. She wrote quite often to Boninsegna di Matteo20, on average three times a month. These missives reached their destination in roughly two and half days. The correspondence shows a certain continuity between 1384 and 1386, while between 1387 and 1389 no letters were evidently sent. We are not able to explain the reason for this interruption other than that this correspondence has perhaps been lost.

  • 21 ASPo, Datini, 1116, Palermo-Montpellier, Manno Agli to Antonio Agli, 31 May 1385, codex 1402899

15Our merchant had contacts with other companies of the Datini group as well, in particular with those of Pisa and Florence. The correspondence with Pisa consists of 27 letters, which indicate continuous relations in the two-year period 1383-85, followed by an interruption between 1386 and 1390, when only four missives were sent. In 1391, this correspondence became more regular. Duccia must have had personal relations with Manno d’Albizo, Francesco’s Pisan partner, seeing that she hosted his brother Antonio at her home21. The average delivery time of her letters to Pisa was approximately 20 days.

  • 22 ASPo, Datini, 1116, Montpellier-Aigues-Mortes, Monna Duccia to Boninsegna di Matteo, 9 March 1384 a (...)
  • 23 Angela ORLANDI, “The Catalonia Company: an Almost Unexpected Success”, in: Giampiero NIGRO (ed.), F (...)
  • 24 ASPo, Datini, 1144, Montpellier-Genova, Monna Duccia to Ambrogio di Meo Boni, 31 May 1391, bill of (...)

16The four missives to the company in Florence were sent between 22 December 1389 and 1 October 1390. Her letters to Aigues-Mortes were very few: these were addressed to Boninsegna di Matteo, who on those occasions was in the small port town and wished to be informed as to the availability and prices of several goods on the Montpellier market22. Finally, Duccia sent just one letter to Genoa, to the company of Ambrogio di Meo Boni, which Francesco would soon take over in order to establish his group in the cities of Liguria23. This missive was a bill of exchange for 105 florins for a certain Francesco di Bonaccorso24.

17The correspondence was written by different hands. Duccia therefore dictated the letters, a fact that does not in any way lessen the value of this correspondence or an assessment of her abilities. We must recall that even the great merchants, including Francesco Datini himself, sometimes had recourse to the aid of scribes and collaborators. At the same time, we are forced to conclude that Ambrogi did not know how to write: like many women of her time, she had probably undergone a sort of “informal” apprenticeship next to her husband, from whom she acquired the basic knowledge for running the business. In her case, what made the difference were her training and skills, neither of which she lacked.

  • 25 These were the prices which goods had reached on the local market.
  • 26 On the functions and structure of commercial correspondence, see Federigo MELIS, Documenti per la s (...)

18All her letters respect the basic structure of a typical commercial missive. They open with a religious invocation, followed by the date; the first paragraph notes the correspondence that had been sent and received, information that would indicate whether any letters had been lost. The text continues with the various issues that concerned the sender and her recipient, while the concluding section lists the currencies in which merchandise was valued25 and the exchange rates. This information was of an extremely technical nature and required thorough familiarity with the markets. The letters end with a signature: Monna Duccia used only her first name followed by that of the city from which she was writing. In some cases she added a brief phrase of salutation26.

Style and Contents

  • 27 Pianelle were shoes without the part that covers the heel, a type of slipper.
  • 28 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 2  (...)

19A request for “four women’s slippers (pianelle)”27 is the only reference to females that Duccia’s letters give us. Her correspondence does not seem to contain any clues that reveal a particular personality; no part of these missives shows us that behind those pages was a woman. Very little distinguishes these letters from those written by men: indeed Duccia even used masculine forms in those rare cases that she referred to herself. Commenting once on the death of a certain Antonio (probably a collaborator of Datini in Avignon), she went so far as to compare her own sufferings with those of a father28. In light of these circumstances, we must ask ourselves whether Ambrogi had absorbed the masculine traits of the milieu in which she operated to the point that she dictated and wrote using masculine forms, or rather whether the male scribe who wrote her letters was so used to using the forms of his own gender that he adopted these instinctively.

  • 29 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 19 September 13 (...)

20We tend to favor the second hypothesis: at least in some cases, Duccia’s language was softer and used terms which we have never come across in correspondence conceived and written by men. In a letter addressed to the Pisan company, Duccia answered the director who had solicited the collection and immediate transfer of money earned from the sale of sugar and cotton in these words: “As soon as I collect the money I will be quite happy to send it”29. That “happy”, which at times escaped her lips, might well be a sign of feminine sensibility! Yet beyond such points of style, the contents of the correspondence clearly reveal that in the world of business as well Duccia moved just like a man, respecting typically male stereotypes.

  • 30 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 1 (...)
  • 31 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 4 (...)

21She personally carried out the company’s main commercial activities: for example, on the occasion of a deal involving the stockpiling of some “Valverde” kermes, she handled all the operations, coordinating the execution of the orders received from third parties and acting as intermediary on behalf of a number of persons. The purchase of kermes was an important transaction requiring careful analysis of the markets involved. Duccia knew how to estimate how much could be obtained in Provence, how much from «this side of the Rhône», and how much from Spain; she calculated the possible demand for purchase and redistribution in such markets as Genoa, Pisa, Florence, Paris, and the towns of Flanders. She was able to figure the ideal moment for purchase and knew how to delay a deal when she was unsure whether her suppliers would be able to procure the most mature scale insects for her30. Above all, she knew that the best time for procuring them was the month of June, around the feast of St. John the Baptist, because before that date their dye was too fresh, meaning that over time their weight could be reduced by 10%31.

  • 32 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 3 (...)

22She attended the fairs of the region, where she procured various products, such as ostrich feathers and honey; she rightly considered Toulouse the main “source” of this rich foodstuff, which was collected by “pasturali” who then went on to sell it32.

23She was perfectly familiar with the Montpellier market, to the point that she answered the Datini company in Pisa with some irritation when it demanded the transfer of money, using these words:

  • 33 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 19 September 13 (...)

You ask me to send the money […] apparently you are unaware of the customs of these markets, otherwise you wouldn’t write this way. I told you that we have collected part of the money; the rest has been promised to me at the end of the fair33.

  • 34 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 8 (...)
  • 35 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, * December 1384

24Indeed, from her correspondence emerges a personality which is determined and often inflexible: “I don’t want us to give credit now […]. It’s high time we did as I say”34, she wrote dryly to Avignon in July 1384 when she did not wish to supply anything on credit. She was firm and decisive, even in the face of pressure from male colleagues. With regard to the sale of a lot of silk undertaken together with the Datini company in Pisa, whose director suggested even selling it at the market rate, Duccia responded that at that price they would not recover their costs; she insisted that she was not willing to part with her share “at a loss” and so would hold on to it until “its time has come”. She concluded by emphasizing that her decision would not prevent her from selling below cost the portion of the lot belonging to the Pisan company if that was what the director wished.35

  • 36 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 3 (...)

25Always conscious of her abilities and never intimidated, several months later she answered Boninsegna di Matteo regarding several cases of gold thread: “I know its value, I know how to recognize good quality thread and whether it will sell well or not. So leave it to me”36.

  • 37 A liuto was a two-masted boat of small tonnage.
  • 38 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 20 (...)
  • 39 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 23 November (...)
  • 40 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, * December 1384

26Like any merchant of the period, Duccia had relations on which she could count: to give an example, she turned to Aghinolfo dei Pazzi, requesting him to ask the pope’s chamberlain in Avignon for the payment of money that was lost in the capture of two “liuti”37 arriving from Barcelona, on which she had two bales of cotton yarn. She was aware of how important it was to have access to updated information on which to base decisions and navigate the complexities of the markets of the time. It was essential to know the prices and availability of goods, but it was equally important to be familiar with the factors that interfered with or conditioned the workings of the marketplaces. From her letters we see that she carefully read the news that she received38 and shared advice and information within her dense network of allies and competitors. Her mottos reveal her good sense: “whoever errs in buying leaves his profit at the market”39 or “profits are made by making good purchases”40.

  • 41 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 1 (...)

27She also showed pragmatism and courage. In her first letter to Avignon, she reported the presence of the “bocchinera” (plague) in Montpellier, which was significantly hampering trade; she coldly wrote that it was inopportune to do business with people who risked dying at any moment and who would therefore not be able to pay. For four months, the epidemic scourged the city: although she wrote to Boninsegna several times that she wished to leave to “get away from the slaughter”, in the end she stayed so as to maintain oversight of the market41. Like many of her male colleagues, finally, she avoided paying taxes when she could.

28She was, then, by no means a woman who resorted to improvisation in the business world. To the contrary, she had thorough knowledge of international marketplaces and was able to master a number of subjects: commercial techniques, juridical practices, economic and political trends, and the wiles that were sometimes necessary to attain positive results.

The Balance Sheet of her Management

  • 42 On the economic characteristics of the region as revealed by the Datini documentation, see Florence (...)

29When Duccia was writing, Montpellier was a marketplace of some importance, thanks to its strategic geographic position. It had a synergic relationship with Aigues-Mortes, whose hinterland it was, functioning as a point of coordination for maritime and overland commercial flows. From an economic point of view, Montpellier was the primary locus of a region characterized by thriving manufacturing and agricultural activity: while on the one hand many centers of Languedoc manufactured cloth, on the other the land produced fabric dyes, such as woad and kermes, as well as wool, wheat, oil, and honey, which were available in significant quantities in the surrounding areas42.

  • 43 Overland connections with Avignon were also quite good: mules regularly drew wagons full of goods a (...)

30Aigues-Mortes functioned primarily as a point of reception and redistribution for products from the Levant directed toward northern Europe as well as for many types of merchandise arriving from the western Mediterranean. These commercial flows sometimes passed along the Rhône, quickly reaching Avignon, Carpentras and Lyon43. From there, trade routes headed toward Paris, continuing perhaps toward Bruges and the port of Middelburg, where a correspondent of Duccia’s company was active, a certain Salvestro.

  • 44 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 26 November (...)

31As is known, Montpellier also had intensive relations with Catalonia, by way of Perpignan. Thanks to a good road network, the city had frequent contact with Italy as well, especially its central and northern regions: the Mont Cenis pass represented an excellent communication route with Milan and Bergamo, where fairs were held which were attended by economic operators active in those cities44.

32Political factors also contributed to making Montpellier a quite important marketplace, especially in view of the fact that Aigues-Mortes was subject to the French crown and therefore benefitted from concessions granted by France.

  • 45 Information on Duccia’s activities also emerges from the correspondence exchanged between the Datin (...)

33Montpellier’s strategic position, then, together with its clear division of functions with Aigues-Mortes, made the city into the destination for the redistribution of a variety of merchandise that arrived from different parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. This was the context in which Monna Duccia operated, a busy economic network of men and goods. Our sources allow us to carefully reconstruct some of the transactions that she brought to completion. As the exchange of letters reveals, her most intensive relations were with the Datini company in Avignon, for which she bought and sold all sorts of products and carried out services of various kinds, such as the payment of fees for shipped goods, taxes, warehouse costs, and other expenditures45.

  • 46 Net profit refers to net earnings from a transaction. Indeed, the accounts report gross earnings fr (...)
  • 47 Based on the indications given in El libro di mercatantie et usanze de’ paesi, 1 Montpellier carica(...)

34In particular, the account records that she sent to Avignon provide insight into some of these operations. In April 1386, as part of a partnership she sold four bales of silk from Sulmona, which produced a net profit46 of over 492 Provençal francs. In June of the same year, she closed a sales account on commission for 6 “pondi”  of rice, the equivalent of 24 “cariche” 9 pounds47, sold at 5¾ francs per “carica”. The Datini company was credited almost 25 francs, while Monna Duccia received a commission of 1%, which came out to 7 Provençal soldi 6 denari.

  • 48 This was ginger from Quilon.

35In November 1389, she was again entrusted by the Datini company in Avignon and by that of Salvestro Bongianni and Bruno di Francesco in Pisa with the sale of eight bales of “belliscogli” and “colombino”48 ginger, from which she earned over 367 francs. At the end of the month, she closed the account for the sale of nutmeg, again on behalf of the two companies in Pisa and Avignon. The entire transaction brought in net earnings of 128 francs 2 soldi.

  • 49 Brown sugar.

36Less than a month later, she closed yet another account for another important sale: 12 cases of sugar and “cassona”49 from Malaga. Three partners with equal shares participated in the deal: the Datini company of Avignon on behalf of their colleagues in Florence, the company of Salvestro Bongianni, and Duccia herself. The net profit was over 518 francs. A month later, she also sent the calculations regarding the sale of a barrel of granulated sugar in a 50/50 partnership between the Avignon branch and Salvestro Bongianni. The profit for this operation amounted to 78 francs 12 soldi.

  • 50 ASPo, Datini, 623, Avignon-Florence, Francesco di Marco Datini and Partners to Francesco Datini and (...)
  • 51 ASPo, Datini, 623, Avignon-Florence, Francesco di Marco Datini and Partners to Francesco Datini and (...)

37It is much more difficult to reconstruct the operations that Duccia carried out for herself. The correspondence provides few details, yet here again we are led to believe that these transactions also involved significant sums. In January 1390, for example, her company purchased all the costly pepper and ginger that could be found in Montpellier50. This turned out to be an excellent operation, as our merchant planned to resell these products at higher prices before April, when ships from the Levant would arrive with new cargoes51.

Conclusions

38While many women were directly involved in production and retail trade in medieval towns and cities, very few acted as managers in the world of large-scale international commerce, even if such female figures were not completely lacking.

39Duccia was one of these rare women. Her 116 letters show that she had every claim to take her part alongside those female merchants who operated in the dense network of maritime and overland trade routes that crisscrossed Europe and the Near East, along which men and goods moved.

40Her correspondence is truly unique: these letters are genuine commercial missives, identical to those written by the many Florentine merchants who were present in all the principal marketplaces of the time. This correspondence served to manage the business and guide the company; through these letters, orders were given and decisions communicated. Their contents put forth precise company strategies.

  • 52 On Margherita Datini, see Carolyn JAMES, “A Woman’s Work in a Man’s World. The Letters of Margherit (...)
  • 53 Gemma Teresa COLESANTI, “I libri di contabilità…”, p. 135-160, p. 155.
  • 54 Macinghi’s letters are published in: Cesare GUASTI (ed.), Lettere di una gentildonna fiorentina del (...)

41It is difficult to find documentation of a similar nature from the pen of a woman. Duccia’s letters cannot be justly compared to the correspondence –essentially private in nature– of Margherita Datini, who took on roles that were by no means secondary in support of her husband’s management of the family’s assets, without, though, ever becoming a manager52. Nor can they be compared to the writings of another Florentine woman, Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi, whose work focused on rebuilding her family’s wealth and setting up her sons in those foreign markets which would become the nodes of the revived system of the great Strozzi company. Macinghi carried out her “family project intended as a necessary and integral link of civil and political life”53, making significant contributions to the management of property assets and the maintenance of relationships with tax authorities and with the political milieu of Florence; unlike Duccia, however, she did not hold a position involving governance, but only played an informal role54.

  • 55 Gemma Teresa COLESANTI, Una mujer de negocios catalana…; ead., “I libri di contabilità…”.

42A woman who comes closer to the figure of Duccia is the Catalan Caterina Llull. Coming from a noteworthy merchant family of Barcelona, in 1460 she married Joan Sabastida, who was also a merchant as well as a functionary of the kingdom. Shortly afterwards, Caterina followed her husband to Syracuse in Sicily, where he was entrusted with supporting the presidency of the Queen’s chamber. When she was widowed in 1471, she became the true protagonist and administrator of the family’s possessions and activities55.

43These two female merchants have many similarities. Both were widows, and both were far from improvised businesswomen, having learned much from their respective husbands. While Caterina learned to read and write as a child, we can assume that Duccia was also exposed to the mercantile culture of her own family. From an educational point of view, Llull undoubtedly benefited from the social context of her origins; we must also recall that she lived nearly a century after Duccia. Both women operated on an international level, managed a very large commercial network of products of every kind, and knew how to make best use of the human and economic relations at their disposal. They both demonstrated pragmatism, precise knowledge of the contexts and milieus in which they acted, and a developed sense of responsibility.

  • 56 ASPo, Datini, 625, Avignon-Florence, Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina to Francesco Datini an (...)

44Both figures, then, were merchants with great ability, able to move with authority in a world ruled by men. In Duccia’s case, these men came to respect the role which she attained with great effort and which only death took from her. When she died, the director of the Datini company in Avignon wrote to a Florentine colleague, the ambitious Stoldo di Lorenzo: “A few days ago, Monna Duccia met her Maker. May God grant her forgiveness. Her death is a great loss because she was a gifted woman”56.

Bibliographie

AIT, Ivana, “Donne in affari: il caso di Roma (secoli XIV-XV)”, in: Anna ESPOSITO, Donne del Rinascimento a Roma e dintorni, Rome: Fondazione Marco Besso, 2013, pp. 53-84.

ANTONIETTI, Florence, “Arles au travers de la correspondance Datini (1383-1410)”, Provence historique, 232, 2008, p. 161-179.

ARNOUX, Mathieu, BOURLET, Caroline and HAYEZ, Jérôme, “Les lettres parisiennes du carteggio Datini: première approche du dossier”, Mélanges de l’École Française de Rome. Moyen-Âge, t. 17, 1, 2005, p. 193-222.

ASENJO GONZÁLEZ, María, “Participación de la mujeres en las compañias comerciales castellanas a fines de la Edad media. Los mercaderes segovianos”, in: Ángela MUÑOZ FERNÁNDEZ and Cristina SEGURA GRAIÑO (eds.), El trabajo de las mujeres en la Edad Media Hispana, Madrid: Marcial Pons, Madrid, 1988, p. 223-234.

BATLLE, Carme, “Noticias sobre la mujer catalana en el mundo de los negocios (siglo XIII)”, in: Ángela MUÑOZ FERNÁNDEZ and Cristina SEGURA GRAIÑO (eds.), El trabajo de las mujeres en la Edad Media Hispana, Madrid: Marcial Pons, Madrid, 1988, p. 201-221.

BIANCHINI, Angela, Tempo di affetti e tempo di mercanti. Lettere ai figli esuli, Milan: Garzanti, 1987.

BORLANDI, Franco, El libro di mercatantie et usanze de’ paesi, Torino: S. Lattes, 1936.

CAVACIOCCHI, Simonetta (ed.), La donna nell’economia. Secc. XIII-XVIII, Atti della “Ventunesima Settimana di Studi”, 10-15 aprile 1989, Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “F. Datini”-Prato, Florence: Le Monnier, 1990.

COLESANTI, Gemma Teresa, “«Per la molt magnifica senyora e de mi cara jermana la senyora Catarina Çabastida en lo Castell de la Brucola, en Sicilia». Lettere di donne catalane del Quattrocento”, Acta historica et archaeologica mediaevalia 25, 2003-2004, p. 483-498.

COLESANTI, Gemma Teresa, “I libri contabilità di Caterina Llull i Sabastida (XV sec.)”, Genesis, IX/1, 2010, p. 135-160.

COLESANTI, Gemma Teresa, Una mujer de negocios catalana en la Sicilia del siglo XV: Caterina Llull i Sabastida. Estudio y ediciò de su libro maestro 1472-1479, Barcelona: CSICS, 2008.

DE MATTEIS, Maria Consiglia, Donne nel Medioevo: aspetti culturali di vita quotidiana, Bologna: Patron, 1986.

DRONKE, Peter, Donne e cultura nel Medioevo: scrittrici medievali dal II al XIV secolo, prefazione di Mariateresa Fumagalli Beonio Brocchieri, trans. Eugenio Randi, Milan: il Saggiatore,1986.

ENNEN, Edith, Le donne nel Medioevo, Rome-Bari: Laterza, 1990.

FABBRI, Lorenzo, Alleanza matrimoniale e patriziato nella Firenze del '400. Studio sulla famiglia Strozzi, Florence: Olschki, 1991, p. 19-25.

FIORAVANTI, Maria Luisa, Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi e il suo Libro di ricordi, 1453-1473, dissertation, University Florence, academic year 1978-79, vol. 1: biography and family assets, vol. 2: transcription of book of memoirs.

FRANGIONI, Luciana, “Aspettando Smeralda. Prime note sul lavoro delle donne fra Tre e Quattrocento”, Quaderni di studi storici, 7, Università degli studi del Molise SEGES, Series of publications by the Department of Management and Social Economics, Campobasso, 1995, p. 51-75.

FRANGIONI, Luciana, “Il carteggio commerciale della fine del XIV secolo: layout e contenuto economico”, Reti Medievali Rivista, X, 2009, p. 123-161.

GIAGNACOVO, Maria, “The Genoa Company: Disappointed Expectations”, in: Giampiero NIGRO (ed.), Francesco di Marco Datini. The Man the Merchant, Florence-Prato: Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “Francesco Datini”-Prato, FUP, 2010, p. 321-346.

GREGORY, Heather (ed.), Selected letters of Alessandra Strozzi (English translation and parallel text), Los Angeles-Londres: Bilingual edition, 1997.

GUASTI, Cesare (ed.), Lettere di una gentildonna fiorentina del secolo XV ai figliuoli esuli, Florence: Sansoni, 1877.

IRADIEL, Paulino, “Familia y función económica de la mujer en actividades no agrarias”, in: La condicion de la mujer en la Edada Media. Actas del Coloquio celebrado en la Casa de Velázquez, del 5 al 7de noviembre de 1984, Madrid: Universidad Complutense, 1986, p. 223-259.

JAMES, Carolyn, “A Woman’s Work in a Man’s World. The Letters of Margherita Datini”, in: Giampiero NIGRO (ed.), Francesco di Marco Datini. The Man the Merchant, Florence-Prato: Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “Francesco Datini”-Prato, FUP, 2010, p. 53-72.

KLAPISCH-ZUBER, Christiane (ed.), Storia delle donne. Il Medioevo, Bari: Laterza, 1990.

LO FORTE, Maria Rita, “La donna fuori di casa, appunti per una ricerca”, Fardelliana, IV, 2-3, 1985, p. 85-95.

LO FORTE, Maria Rita, “Per una storia della condizione femminile in Sicilia: caste e pie (Corleone XV sec.)”, Incontri Meridionali, IX, 2, 1998, p. 61-82.

MARTINI, Angela, Manuale di metrologia ossia Misure, Pesi e Monete in uso attualmente e anticamente presso tutti i popoli, Rome: E.R.A, 1976

MELIS, Federigo, Documenti per la storia economica, Florence: Olschki, 1972, p. 14-40.

MUZZARELLI, Maria Giuseppina, “Margherita Datini e Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi spediscono, ricevono e smistano cibi”, Progressus Rivista di Storia Scrittura e Società, Anno II, n. 2, December 2015, p. 34-53.

ORLANDI, Angela, “Aspetti della circolazione del frumento nei documenti commerciali toscani (secoli XIV-XV)”, in: Gabriele ARCHETTI, La civiltà del pane. Storia, tecniche e simboli dal Mediterraneo all’Atlantico, Centro studi longobardi e Fondazione Centro italiano di studi sull'alto medioevo, Milan-Spoleto: 2015, p. 147-177.

ORLANDI, Angela, “Le merciaie di Palma. Il commercio dei veli nella Maiorca di fine Trecento”, in: Giovanna PETTI BALBI and Paola GUGLIELMOTTI, Dare credito alle donne. Presenze femminili nell’economia tra medioevo ed età moderna, Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi, Asti: Centro Studi Renato Bordone sui Lombardi, sul credito e sulla banca, 2012, p. 149-166.

ORLANDI, Angela, “L’olivo e l’olio tra Mediterraneo e Mare del Nord (secoli XIV-XV)”, in: Irma NASO (ed.), Ars Olearia. Dall’oliveto al mercato nel medioevo. Ars Olearia. From Olive Grove to Market in the Middle Ages, Guarene: Centro Studi per la Storia dell’Alimentazione e della Cultura Materiale “Anna Maria Nada Patrone”-CeSa, 2018, p. 107-122.

ORLANDI, Angela, Mercanzie e denaro: la corrispondenza datiniana tra Valenza e Maiorca (1395-1398), Valencia: Universitat de València, 2088, p. 11-127.

ORLANDI, Angela, “The Catalonia Company: an Almost Unexpected Success”, in: Giampiero NIGRO (ed.), Francesco di Marco Datini. The Man the Merchant, Florence-Prato: Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “Francesco Datini”-Prato, FUP, 2010, p. 347-376.

PICCINNI, Gabriella, “Le donne nella vita economica, politica e sociale dell’Italia medievale”, in: Angela Groppi (ed.), Il lavoro delle donne, Bari: Laterza, 1996, p. 5-46.

PISTARINO, Geo, “La donna d’affari a Genova nel secolo XIII”, in: Miscellanea di storia italiana e mediterranea per Nino Lamboglia, Genoa: 1978, p. 157-169.

QUADRADA, Coral, “Les dones en el treball urbà (segles XIV-XV)”, Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 22, 1999, p. 219-234.

SOLÓROZANO TLECHEA, Jesús Á., ARÍZAGA BOLUMBURU and Beatriz, AGUIAR ANTRADE, Amélia (ed.), Ser mujer en la ciudad medieval europea, Logroño: Instituto de Estudios Riojanos, 2013.

WADE LABARGE, Margaret, La mujer en la Edad Media, Madrid: Nerea, 1998.

ZANOBONI, Maria Paola, “Lavori di donne, lavoro delle donne”, in: Franco FRANCESCHI (ed.), Storia del lavoro in Italia. Il Medioevo. Dalla dipendenza personale al lavoro a contratto, Rome: Castelvecchi, 2017, p. 421-448.

ZANOBONI, Maria Paola, “Mobilità sociale e lavoro femminile nelle grandi città italiane”, in: Sergio TOGNETTI (ed.), La mobilità sociale nel Medioevo italiano. Competenze, conoscenze e saperi tra professioni e ruoli sociali (secc. XII-XV?), Rome: Viella, 2016, p. 51-76.

Notes

1 Simonetta CAVACIOCCHI (ed.), La donna nell’economia. Secc. XIII-XVIII, Atti della “Ventunesima Settimana di Studi”, 10-15 aprile 1989, Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “F. Datini”-Prato, Florence: Le Monnier, 1990.

2 Maria Paola ZANOBONI, “Mobilità sociale e lavoro femminile nelle grandi città italiane”, in: Sergio TOGNETTI (ed.), La mobilità sociale nel Medioevo italiano. Competenze, conoscenze e saperi tra professioni e ruoli sociali (secc. XII-XV?), Rome: Viella, 2016, p. 51-76. The author of the essay provides a complete overview of studies devoted to women’s work in Italian cities between the Middle Ages and early modern period. See also Maria Paola, ZANOBONI, “Lavori di donne, lavoro delle donne”, in: Franco FRANCESCHI (ed.), Storia del lavoro in Italia. Il Medioevo. Dalla dipendenza personale al lavoro a contratto, Rome: Castelvecchi, 2017, p. 421-448.

3 M. P. ZANOBONI, “Mobilità sociale…”, p. 75-76.

4 Here we note several studies that to a greater or lesser degree treat the topic of female merchants: Ivana AIT, “Donne in affari: il caso di Roma (secoli XIV-XV)”, in: Anna ESPOSITO, Donne del Rinascimento a Roma e dintorni, Rome: Fondazione Marco Besso, 2013, p. 53-84; Maria ASENJO GONZALEZ, “Partecipacion de la mujeres en las compañías comerciales castellanas a fines de la Edad Media. Los mercaderes segovianos”, in: Ángela MUÑOZ FERNÁNDEZ and Cristina SEGURA GRAIÑO (eds.), El trabajo de las mujeres en la Edad Media Hispana, Madrid: Marcial Pons, Madrid, 1988, p. 223-234, p. 229-232; Carme BATLLE, “Noticias sobre la mujer catalana en el mundo de los negocios (siglo XIII)”, in: Ángela MUÑOZ FERNÁNDEZ and Cristina SEGURA GRAIÑO (eds), El trabajo de las mujeres…, p. 201-221, p. 209-211; Gemma Teresa COLESANTI, “Per la molt magnifica senyora e de mi cara jermana la senyora Catarina Çabastida en lo Castell de la Brucola, en Sicilia”. Lettere di donne catalane del Quattrocento”, Acta historica et archaeologica mediaevalia 25, 2003-2004, p. 483-498; id., Una mujer de negocios catalana en la Sicilia del siglo XV: Caterina Llull i Sabastida. Estudio y ediciò de su libro maestro 1472-1479, Barcelone: CSICS, 2008; Maria Consiglia DE MATTEIS, Donne nel Medioevo: aspetti culturali di vita quotidiana, Bologna: Patron, 1986; Peter DRONKE, Donne e cultura nel Medioevo: scrittrici medievali dal II al XIV secolo, preface by Mariateresa Fumagalli Beonio Brocchieri, trans. Eugenio Randi, Milan: il Saggiatore, 1986; Edith ENNEN, Le donne nel Medioevo, Rome-Bari: Laterza, 1990; Christiane KLAPISCH-ZUBER (ed.), Storia delle donne. Il Medioevo, Bari: Laterza, 1990; Luciana FRANGIONI, “Aspettando Smeralda. Prime note sul lavoro delle donne fra Tre e Quattrocento”, Quaderni di studi storici, 7, Università degli studi del Molise SEGES (series of publications by the Department of Management and Social Economics), Campobasso, 1995, p. 51-75; Paulino IRADIEL, “Familia y función económica de la mujer en actividades no agrarias”, in: Yves-René FONQUERNE (ed.), La condición de la mujer en la Edad Media. Actas del Coloquio celebrado en la Casa de Velázquez, del 5 al 7 de noviembre de 1984, Madrid: Universidad Complutense, 1986, p. 223-259, p. 257-258; Angela ORLANDI, “Le merciaie di Palma. Il commercio dei veli nella Maiorca di fine Trecento”, in: Giovanna PETTI BALBI and Paola GUGLIELMOTTI, Dare credito alle donne. Presenze femminili nell’economia tra medioevo ed età moderna, Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi, Asti: Centro Studi Renato Bordone sui Lombardi, sul credito e sulla banca, 2012, p. 149-166; Geo PISTARINO, “La donna d’affari a Genova nel secolo XIII”, in: Nino LAMBOGLIA, Miscellanea di storia italiana e mediterranea per Nino Lamboglia, Genova: 1978, p. 157-169; Coral QUADRADA, “Les dones en el treball urbà (segles XIV-XV)”, Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 22, 1999, p. 219-234; Margaret WADE LABARGE, La mujer en la Edad Media, Madrid: Nerea, 1998; Maria Rita LO FORTE, “La donna fuori di casa, appunti per una ricerca”, Fardelliana, IV, 2-3, 1985, p. 85-95; id., “Per una storia della condizione femminile in Sicilia: caste e pie (Corleone XV sec.)”, Incontri Meridionali, IX, 2, 1998, p. 61-82; M.P. ZANOBONI, “Mobilità sociale…”; id., “Lavori di donne…”. See also the essays collected in: Jesús Á. SOLÓROZANO TLECHEA, Beatriz ARÍZAGA BOLUMBURU and Amélia AGUIAR ANTRADE (eds.), Ser mujer en la ciudad medieval europea, Logroño: Instituto de Estudios Riojanos, 2013.

5 Gabriella PICCINNI, “Le donne nella vita economica, politica e sociale dell’Italia medievale”, in: Angela Groppi (ed.), Il lavoro delle donne, Bari: Laterza, 1996, p. 5-46.

6 L. FRANGIONI, “Aspettando Smeralda…”, p. 65.

7 In 1995, Luciana Frangioni began a study on the work of women mentioned in the papers of the Datini collection. In that work she mentions Duccia’s correspondence. L. FRANGIONI, “Aspettando Smeralda…”, p. 66-67.

8 Gemma Teresa COLESANTI, “I libri contabilità di Caterina Llull i Sabastida (XV sec.)”, Genesis, IX/1, 2010, p. 135-160.

9 Angela ORLANDI, “Le merciaie di Palma…”, p. 149-150.

10 Duccia was the widow of Ambrogio Dei, a Florentine merchant. We have no information about her own family.

11 State Archive of Prato, Fondo Datini (herein ASPo, Datini), 184, Paris-Avignon, Deo Ambrogi to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 2 June 1384, codex 6301515.

12 The first letter with the complete business name (Deo Ambrogi and Benedetto Cambini and Partners) bears the date of 8 November 1385. ASPo, Datini, 184, Paris-Avignon, Deo Ambrogi and Bendetto Cambini and Partners to Francesco Datini and Partners, 8 November 1385, c. 6301510. Mathieu ARNOUX, Caroline BOURLET and Jérôme HAYEZ, “Les lettres parisiennes du carteggio Datini: première approche du dossier”, Mélanges de l’École Française de Rome. Moyen-Âge, t. 17, 1, 2005, p. 193-222, p. 206.

13 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 22 June 1385.

14 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 22 March 1386.

15 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia and Francesco Datini and Partners. 15 September 1384, c. 1r.

16 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Deo Ambrogi and Giovanni Franceschi and Partners to Francesco Datini and Partners, 4 November 1392, c. 102922.

17 Mathieu ARNOUX, Caroline BOURLET and Jérôme HAYEZ, “Les lettres parisiennes…”, p. 206.

18 Specialized correspondence refers to those letters which are not general in nature, such as “banker's checks, account balances, and bills of exchange”.

19 Together with the 116 letters written by Duccia, we also examined one received by our merchant in May 1391. This was a bill of exchange sent by Falduccio di Lombardo from Spugnole. ASPO, Datini, 1142, Florence-Montpellier, 28 May 1391.

20 At the time, Boninsegna di Matteo was director and partner of the Datini company of Avignon.

21 ASPo, Datini, 1116, Palermo-Montpellier, Manno Agli to Antonio Agli, 31 May 1385, codex 1402899

22 ASPo, Datini, 1116, Montpellier-Aigues-Mortes, Monna Duccia to Boninsegna di Matteo, 9 March 1384 and 28 April 1384.

23 Angela ORLANDI, “The Catalonia Company: an Almost Unexpected Success”, in: Giampiero NIGRO (ed.), Francesco di Marco Datini. The Man the Merchant, Florence-Prato: Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “Francesco Datini”-Prato, FUP, 2010, p. 347-376; Maria GIAGNACOVO, “The Genoa Company: Disappointed Expectations”, in: Giampiero NIGRO (ed.), Francesco di Marco Datini…, p. 321-346.

24 ASPo, Datini, 1144, Montpellier-Genova, Monna Duccia to Ambrogio di Meo Boni, 31 May 1391, bill of exchange.

25 These were the prices which goods had reached on the local market.

26 On the functions and structure of commercial correspondence, see Federigo MELIS, Documenti per la storia economica, Florence: Olschki, 1972, p. 14-40; Luciana FRANGIONI, “Il carteggio commerciale della fine del XIV secolo: layout e contenuto economico”, Reti Medievali Rivista, X, 2009, p. 123-161; Angela ORLANDI, Mercanzie e denaro: la corrispondenza datiniana tra Valenza e Maiorca (1395-1398), Valencia: Universitat de València, 2088, p. 11-127.

27 Pianelle were shoes without the part that covers the heel, a type of slipper.

28 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 2 July 1384.

29 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 19 September 1391.

30 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 1 June 1384.

31 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 4 June 1384.

32 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 3 January 1386.

33 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 19 September 1391.

34 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 8 July 1384.

35 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, * December 1384.

36 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 3 August 1384.

37 A liuto was a two-masted boat of small tonnage.

38 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 20 July 1384.

39 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 23 November 1385.

40 ASPo, Datini, 532, Montpellier-Pisa, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, * December 1384.

41 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina, 1 June 1384.

42 On the economic characteristics of the region as revealed by the Datini documentation, see Florence ANTONIETTI, “Arles au travers de la correspondance Datini (1383-1410)”, Provence historique, 232, 2008, p. 161-179; Angela ORLANDI, “L’olivo e l’olio tra Mediterraneo e Mare del Nord (secoli XIV-XV)”, in: Irma NASO (ed.), Ars Olearia. Dall’oliveto al mercato nel medioevo. Ars Olearia. From Olive Grove to Market in the Middle Ages, Guarene: Centro Studi per la Storia dell’Alimentazione e della Cultura Materiale “Anna Maria Nada Patrone”-CeSa, 2018, p. 107-122; id., “Aspetti della circolazione del frumento nei documenti commerciali toscani (secoli XIV-XV)”, in: Gabriele ARCHETTI, La civiltà del pane. Storia, tecniche e simboli dal Mediterraneo all’Atlantico, Centro studi longobardi e Fondazione Centro italiano di studi sull'alto medioevo, Milan-Spoleto: 2015, p. 147-177.

43 Overland connections with Avignon were also quite good: mules regularly drew wagons full of goods along those routes.

Monna Duccia made use of the carter Simonetto, who travelled back and forth between Avignon and Montpellier. The overland route was less safe than the maritime one because of the risk of bandits, but it avoided the payment of duties.

44 ASPo, Datini, 184, Montpellier-Avignon, Monna Duccia to Francesco Datini and Partners, 26 November 1385.

45 Information on Duccia’s activities also emerges from the correspondence exchanged between the Datini companies in Avignon and Florence. As an example, in September 1388 she made advanced payment for freight charges for 25 sheets of Cornish tin that had been shipped from Genoa to Aigues-Mortes, from where they would be sent to Avignon. Here they were sold to a tinsmith. ASPo, Datini, 623, Avignon-Florence, Boninsegna di Matteo to Francesco Datini, 23 September 1388, c. 1r.

46 Net profit refers to net earnings from a transaction. Indeed, the accounts report gross earnings from sales, from which are deducted all costs for transport, warehousing, and taxes.

47 Based on the indications given in El libro di mercatantie et usanze de’ paesi, 1 Montpellier carica equaled 300 Montpellier pounds gros, with one Montpellier pound equal to 14 4/5 Florence once. Therefore, the 6 pondi of rice (equaling 24 cariche 9 pounds) sold by Monna Duccia corresponded to 10,789.2 Florence once, or slightly more than di 305 kg. Franco BORLANDI, El libro di mercatantie et usanze de’ paesi, Turin: S. Lattes, 1936, p. 41-21; Angelo MARTINI, Manuale di metrologia ossia Misure, Pesi e Monete in uso attualmente e anticamente presso tutti i popoli, Rome: E.R.A, 1976, p. 207.

48 This was ginger from Quilon.

49 Brown sugar.

50 ASPo, Datini, 623, Avignon-Florence, Francesco di Marco Datini and Partners to Francesco Datini and Partners, 1 January 1389, c. 2r.

51 ASPo, Datini, 623, Avignon-Florence, Francesco di Marco Datini and Partners to Francesco Datini and Partners, 16 January 1389, c. 1r.

52 On Margherita Datini, see Carolyn JAMES, “A Woman’s Work in a Man’s World. The Letters of Margherita Datini”, in: Giampiero NIGRO (ed.), Francesco di Marco Datini…, p. 53-72.

53 Gemma Teresa COLESANTI, “I libri di contabilità…”, p. 135-160, p. 155.

54 Macinghi’s letters are published in: Cesare GUASTI (ed.), Lettere di una gentildonna fiorentina del secolo XV ai figliuoli esuli, Florence: Sansoni, 1877; Angela BIANCHINI (ed.), Tempo di affetti e tempo di mercanti. Lettere ai figli esuli, Milan: Garzanti, 1987; Lorenzo FABBRI, Alleanza matrimoniale e patriziato nella Firenze del '400. Studio sulla famiglia Strozzi, Florence: Olschki, 1991, p. 19-25; Heather GREGORY (ed.), Selected letters of Alessandra Strozzi (English translation with parallel text), Los Angeles-London: Bilingual edition, 1997. The book of debtors and creditors and memoirs of Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi (1453-1473), preserved at the State Archivze of Florence, has been studied and transcribed in Maria Luisa FIORAVANTI, Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi e il suo Libro di ricordi, 1453-1473, dissertation, University of Florence, academic year 1978-79 (vol. 1 contains her biography and family assets and vol. 2 the transcription of her book of memoirs). A comparison of some of the household activities carried out by Margherita Datini and Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi can be found in: Maria Giuseppina MUZZARELLI, “Margherita Datini e Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi spediscono, ricevono e smistano cibi”, Progressus Rivista di Storia Scrittura e Società, Anno II, n. 2, December 2015, p. 34-53.

55 Gemma Teresa COLESANTI, Una mujer de negocios catalana…; ead., “I libri di contabilità…”.

56 ASPo, Datini, 625, Avignon-Florence, Francesco Datini and Bassano da Pessina to Francesco Datini and Stoldo di Lorenzo and Partners, 2 November 1391, c. 1v.

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