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Wednesday 12 April 2023 16.30 - 18.30
K-4 ELI04 Responses in Hard Times. Ruling Emergencies in Mediterranean Cities and Territories
B44
Network: Elites and Forerunners Chairs: -
Organizers: Isabella Cecchini, Idamaria Fusco, Geltrude Macrì Discussants: -
Moderators: -
Isabella Cecchini : Business Communities in Hard Times: Venice in the 1620s
How do merchant elites react to crises? And how crises shape and transform early modern business communities? With their complex and interrelated structure, merchant networks are in general extremely sensitive to shocks. Shocks intrinsecally express a repentine, accidental event or a group of events (not necessarily of economic nature), which ... (Show more)
How do merchant elites react to crises? And how crises shape and transform early modern business communities? With their complex and interrelated structure, merchant networks are in general extremely sensitive to shocks. Shocks intrinsecally express a repentine, accidental event or a group of events (not necessarily of economic nature), which create a damage to single agents or to the general confidence in the economic system itself and in its capacity for growth, as in a banking panic or on the waves of economic hardship. Wars, epidemics, natural disasters, and of course accidental events as shipwrecks or bankruptcies, have the power to block the recovering of goods and credit, or to make them extremely difficult, often leading to a series of chain failures. In advanced, mature economies, merchants could rely on mercantile courts and on a range of informal institutions that allowed them to recover from losses; however, in hard times many firms were simply driven out of business, and replaced once the emergency has ended.
Italian city-states experienced several of these crises in the early seventeenth century, ending abruptly the prosperity enjoyed from the 1550s. In the most advanced areas of northern Italy a full decade of crisis came to an end only with a burst of plague epidemics in 1629-1631. Plague was triggered by war and by several years with adverse weather conditions (especially for cereal crops) that caused profound structural changes and decreasing agricultural yields for the following decades. The impact on business communities, however, has not received proper attention.
Venice offers a case in point. As a city with nearly 190.00 inhabitants in 1607, and still an important Mediterranean hub, the business community that sustained its wealth was increasingly made up of trade professionals who linked up the lagoon with the Italian and European capital markets. The early decades of the seventeenth century saw an increasing participation of non-patrician companies on the Rialto. The 1620s, however, mark a breaking point: Venice and its mainland state suffered from recurrent famine outbreaks; the government was financing military interventions in the war for the Mantuan succession, causing reprisals at the borders, and in 1630-1631 a terrible plague arrived. As a result, several trading companies in Venice had to give up. After the plague, those who were personally involved in trade and manufactures no longer coincided, to a large extent, with the patriciate, which by the fifteenth century had given rise to a Senate assimilated to a 'board of directors' in Frederic Lane's fortunate expression – no longer realising the paradigm that had driven the city's economic growth in the previous two centuries, namely the active involvement of the ruling class in trade. Focussing on Venice in the hard times of the 1620s, and on one of the longest residing community of foreign merchants – Florentines – this paper examines how the business elite adapt, resisted, or give in to the crisis. How did this community change? Were the 1620s a watershed? (Show less)

Idamaria Fusco : Governing Emergencies in the Kingdom of Naples at the End of the Seventeenth Century
At the end of the seventeenth century, the Kingdom of Naples had to deal with many emergencies: epidemics, bandits, Turkish corsairs. Neapolitan rulers did not manage to control the twelve different and distant provinces of the kingdom from afar. They had to rely on local ministers, who acted in the ... (Show more)
At the end of the seventeenth century, the Kingdom of Naples had to deal with many emergencies: epidemics, bandits, Turkish corsairs. Neapolitan rulers did not manage to control the twelve different and distant provinces of the kingdom from afar. They had to rely on local ministers, who acted in the name and on behalf of the capital city. A new efficient bureaucracy emerged who characterized the fin-de-siecle government of far and sometimes difficult territories. These new men were called to govern hard situations. However, thanks to them a good control of the territory was often guaranteed.
In this paper I deal with a minister who acted at the local level in the most difficult provinces of the kingdom. He was sent by Naples to manage different emergencies in various areas. His government was so efficient that he failed in coming back home, despite his continuous requests. Neapolitan rulers could not renounce him because they needed him in the provinces. Through him Naples tried to govern its territory which at the end of the century had become more and more out of control. (Show less)

Geltrude Macrì : Urban Patriciate and Emergency Management in Palermo in the First Half of the 17th Century
In the first half of the 17th century, the city of Palermo had to tackle a series of food emergencies and a plague that severely strained the city's finances. The patriciate leading the city together with the viceroy appointed by the Spanish crown reacted by activating strategies already tested during ... (Show more)
In the first half of the 17th century, the city of Palermo had to tackle a series of food emergencies and a plague that severely strained the city's finances. The patriciate leading the city together with the viceroy appointed by the Spanish crown reacted by activating strategies already tested during previous emergencies and well rooted in the historical memory of the urban community in order to control the urban territory, the foreigners and the city dwellers, for the provisioning and distribution of the scarce existing resources.
Following a political revolt in the middle of the century, however, the patriciate, the crown delegate and the popular components of the urban society attempted to reorganise the city's fiscal and financial system and, above all, to seek new criteria for the distribution of rents to the subscribers of the municipal public debt by referring to distinctive taxonomies linked to the privilege of citizenship, in order to identify the first beneficiaries of the scarce resources available. (Show less)

Mariarosaria Rescigno : Bureaucratic Elites and Land Management: Abruzzo citeriore in the French Decade (1806-1815). Stories of Emergency
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Southern Italy was affected by a profound institutional change; the introduction of a modern state system, such as that arrived with the French rulers, changed the country irreversibly. The transformation in pro-gress is made, among other things, by the new public institutions, ... (Show more)
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Southern Italy was affected by a profound institutional change; the introduction of a modern state system, such as that arrived with the French rulers, changed the country irreversibly. The transformation in pro-gress is made, among other things, by the new public institutions, which end up rede-signing the territory.
This paper aims to analyze the peripheral level of new system, the intendenza; this in-stitute, which representing the regnicola variant of the French departements, now su-pervised the entire provincial territory. In the focus of the research one of the qualify-ing moments of the activity that the new bureaucratic elite, present within the institute, carried out: the visit to the province. The investigated space is that offered by one of the provinces of the Kingdom, Abruzzo citeriore.
The gap between the new legislation and its concrete translation in the provincial space, the plan of the real that is, shows a scenario marked in more than one sense by the emergency. (Show less)



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