THE MERCHANT OF PRATO by Iris Origo

THE MERCHANT OF PRATO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Francesco di Marco Datini, a 14th century merchant, left the whole of his fortune to charity at his death. To posterity he left another vast treasure; over 150,000 documents containing every detail of his business dealings as well as her personal correspondence. Ships transporting Datini's cargoes of oranges, cloth, lead, slaves; strict accounts of the string of ""trading posts"" which Datini founded; insurance policies, partnership deeds, bills of lading- not an item is scanted. This is indeed the fullest single source of information about the methods of medieval trade. Datini's letters suggest a man of shrewd, reserved, pious character, daring and imaginative in his schemes but cautious in their execution. Constantly anticipating disaster, he still survived the plague and a Papal ban; and if his marriage to a young girl goes childless, his wife consented to rear his illegitimate daughter. The merchant is hardy, patient, and in fact admirable. One likes him, and his wife, and his family friend with his 14 children and unselfish loyalty. The biography has warmth and intimacy, and it makes the most of the domestic affairs and business interests of the canny Florentine.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1957
Publisher: Knopf