Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

History General

Merchant Writers

Florentine Memoirs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance

by (author) Vittore Branca & Massimo Ciavolella/Luigi Ballerini

translated by Murtha Baca

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2015
General, Italian, Italy, Medieval, Renaissance
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2015
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2015
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


The birthplace of Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and the powerful Medici family, Florence was also the first great banking and commercial centre of continental Europe. The city’s middle-class merchants, though lacking the literary virtuosity of its most famous sons, were no less prolific as writers of account books, memoirs, and diaries. Written by ordinary men, these first-hand accounts of commercial life recorded the everyday realities of their businesses, families, and personal lives alongside the high drama of shipwrecks, plagues, and political conspiracies.

Published in Italian in 1986, Vittore Branca’s collection of these accounts established the importance of the genre to the study of Italian society and culture. This new English translation of Merchant Writers includes all the texts from the original Italian edition in their entirety. Moreover, it offers a gripping personal introduction to the mercantile world of medieval and Renaissance Florence.

About the authors

Vittore Branca (1913–2004) was the leading Boccaccio scholar of the twentieth century.

Vittore Branca's profile page

Murtha Baca’s translations include several manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci, An Italian Renaissance Sextet: Six Tales in Historical Context (edited by Lauro Martines) and Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Murtha Baca's profile page

Massimo Ciavolella/Luigi Ballerini's profile page

Editorial Reviews

‘The content of these ricordanze is so rich and accessible that they not only can provide an introduction to late medieval history to newcomers but they also continually reveal new insights to readers already familiar with these texts.’

Sixteenth Century Journal vol 47:04:2016

‘The great pleasure of this book is the way the author involves readers in the rich fabric of life in Florence and the activities of the city’s merchants in the world beyond its walls.’

Renaissance Quarterly vol 70: 01:2017

Other titles by Massimo Ciavolella/Luigi Ballerini

Other titles by Murtha Baca