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

Ivana Ait et Donatella Strangio

Résumés

The Roman historiography has focused on the presence of nobiles viri, in which stand out important figures of merchants; in this paper is meant to deepen an area little explored and that is the relationship between political stability and economic success of the merchant elites, theme of different disciplines that has never had adequate depth in the case of Rome. We now need to move on from synthesis of the economy of the city of Rome in the 15th century, that this would be done in two stages: the areas of investment and in section 3 they present new documents that allow you to highlight the strategies implemented by the Roman citizens to maintain the privileges attached to those who enjoyed 'economic citizenship', i.e. Mercatores Romanam Curiam Sequentes.

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Notes de l’auteur

This essay is a revised version of the text presented at the Annual Meeting of The Renaissance Society of America, held in New York on 27-29 March 2014.

Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 Maire Vigueur 1976, and 2011; Carocci 1989; for the fifteenth century, refer to the essays Esposit (...)
  • 2 See the recent volume Chiabò, Gargano, Modigliani, Osmond 2014.
  • 3 On these aspects see Rossetti 1994 : p. 52.

1Roman historiography has focused its attention on the presence of barons and nobiles viri, among whom the figures of merchants stand out1; in this paper, we examine a less explored area2, 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 space3. 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.

  • 4 Palermo 2013.

2To 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 »4, that is, the Mercatores Romanam Curiam Sequentes; the final section holds a conclusion.

The Economy of the City

  • 5 See Palermo 1990 and Palermo 1997, p. 427.
  • 6 Esch 1969, Esch 1976-77; and Miglio 1993.

3Historiography has addressed the analysis of the economic processes regarding the city of Rome in the Middle Ages. With regard to the period under consideration here, we must note the phase of expansion that affected many aspects of the economic life of the city. This phase, begun in the late fourteenth century5, was not without its internal struggles of various kinds, as revealed by the studies of Arnold Esch and Massimo Miglio6.

4The quantitative data available lead us to abandon the traditional image of Rome as an economically « inactive » city, which had always seen it tied to the economic movements related to the presence of the pontifical court and the influx and stays of pilgrims.

  • 7 Esch 1994, p. 108. See also Esch, 2014.

5According to Arnold Esch, papal Rome is « productive », but in a broader sense: « it generates power, dominion over the souls of all of Christianity, papal privileges, benefits, indulgences, and all of that naturally has an economic dimension! »7.

  • 8 Palermo 1997, p. 355.

6However, studies focusing on the Roman market show the interest of the city elite, which monopolized political power during the fourteenth century, in reorganizing to fit, starting from the last decades of the 1300s, into the new curial elite, arrived in the city after the Avignon phase, in an integrated system, « equipped with much broader boundaries and much more consistent opportunities for wealth »8.

7According to what has been shown in the cases of many other Italian locations, even in Rome we have signs of overall growth of the city’s economy.

  • 9 The passage between the fifteenth and sixteenth century is often indicated with the term « Renaiss (...)

8In an attempt to discuss, even in brief, the period of time roughly between the 1400s and the first decades of the following century9, it is necessary to emphasize the fundamental changes undertaken in this span of time. We begin from two observations: first, that they were slow changes, and second, that economic as well as political modifications took place, able to transform the appearance of the city that was becoming the capital of the State of the Church.

  • 10 In the absence of useful documentation for finding statistical measures, the studies undertaken al (...)
  • 11 Here, p. 433; see also Esposito 1993, p. 41.
  • 12 Esch 1981.

9A relevant fact concerns the growth of the population, which tripled between the end of the fourteenth century and the early sixteenth century, such to suggest that in the early decades of the sixteenth century, the city numbered approximately 60,000 inhabitants10. The demographic level grew, therefore, but the needs of the city « furthermore grew with truly special characteristics, because of the increase in wealthy immigrants and curial foreigners, who were able to exercise a truly qualified demand »11. This phenomenon had an immediate reflection on the movement of imports and exports, which, as they were more and more controlled as subject to customs, acquired an important role from a financial and economic point of view12.

  • 13 Palermo 1997, p. 389-390.

10Undoubtedly, the fifteenth century development was closely connected with the movements of the Curia, an aspect that impacted the claim of the « parasitic » image of the Roman economy, but, and we will focus on this second observation, it is an image not as much real as it was a common situation and many capitals of regional states or noble courts that used the income, coming from political opportunities, to develop capabilities of production and consumption13.

  • 14 Insolera 1996, p. 24-50; Frommel 1999, p. 374-433.

11With the re-entry of the papal Court in Rome, and especially upon the return of Pope Eugene IV from Florence to Rome in 1443, the active and constant presence of the popes, the Roman clergy and of the laity of the curia favoured policy increasingly orientated to reorganizing urban spaces and the city’s entire architectural landscape14.

  • 15 Palermo 1997, p. 354.
  • 16 Tafuri 1984, p. 59. On the characteristics of the Roman mercatura and bovatteria refer to Gennaro (...)
  • 17 Among the vast bibliography see: De Roover 1970, Cassandro 1994, Palermo 2000.

12It is necessary to distinguish, in terms of size and economic potential15, truly Roman nobles, coming from the bovatteria the bobacterii (mercanti di campagna) or the mercatores16, from the foreigners, who became part of the citizen model thanks to the papal curia. It should be remembered that many bankers connected to the papal court used their position to carry out credit transactions and commercial operations of broader nature, both for cash supply, designed to meet the needs of the papal court, as well as to achieve direct control of specific markets and thus to fully enter the process of commercialization of goods. In this sense, the function of the banker accredited at the court of Rome was mixed and merged with that of the merchant, given place to a vast and various movement of goods. Therefore, even the greatest representatives of papal finance took advantage of their role to become heavily involved in mercantile, a role that the Florentine bankers had begun to practice in the late 1300s. This financial and mercantile movement was not connected to Rome as a city but as seat of the papal court. When this was moved, the banker merchants followed it through the various stages and reconstructed the network of their international relations in every place. For this reason they were called Romanam Curiam sequentes17. The result of this dynamic was the rise of a market model that reflected the submission of the city to the growing power of the curia but that, at the same time, was exalted as centre of Christianity and its constitution as capital of the regional State of the popes.

13In this context, the Roman market had to adapt and meet exponential growth during the 1400s: how did the economic players of the city respond?

Roman Families and Investments

  • 18 Lori Sanfilippo 2001.

14Historiography has offered information and interpretation on the Roman entrepreneurs starting from the municipal period18, even though the sources are limited and of various types, and has outlined a mixed and complex picture for the second half of the fifteenth century.

  • 19 Grohmann 1995, p. 465.

15In order to reconstruct the business figures, on the type of those that obtained profits and increased their own capital on the demand that emerged from pilgrims, travelers, etc., providing services and facilities, useful elements are drawn from notarial minutes preserved only from the second half of the fourteenth century.19

  • 20 Romani 1948, p. 68.

16In particular, taverns and inns experienced a strong increase following Boniface’s great initiative proclaiming 1300 a Holy Year, and the prolonged period of stay in Rome to perform the ritual that ensured plenary indulgence and the remission of sins. This provision required masses of penitents, coming from various countries of Christian Europe, to provide for their basic needs for several days. The Jubilee was transformed into a powerful driving force for activities related to the hospitality sector20. A clear analysis of the economic meaning of this event is given by a report, related to the Jubilee of 1350, made by an especially attentive witness, sensitive to economic phenomena, the Florentine, Matteo Villani:

the Romans were all made to be hoteliers, giving their houses to pilgrims on horseback; taking per horse per day a large « tornese » (denaro di argento di Tours), and when two, based on time; the pilgrim having to buy everything for his life and his horse.

  • 21 Villani 1995 , p. 111.

The Romans, to earn inordinately, being able to allow abundance and a good market for everything for living for the pilgrims, maintained a lack of bread and wine and meat all year, prohibiting that merchants bring in foreign wine, or wheat or oats, so they could sell it at a higher price21.

  • 22 This was a sort of ministry that joined all the administrative, accounting and litigation competen (...)

17Two elements emerge from the excerpts above: the economic impact that special events had on both on the « State », or rather on the coffers of the Apostolic Chambers22, and on the activities that were carried out on the city of Rome:

  • 23 Paolo Di Benedetto Di Cola Dello Mastro 1910-12, p. 93- 95.

« … the activities that made the most money were these, that is the first of bankers and the apothecaries and penctori of Volto Sancto, (pittori del Volto di Gesù) these made great treasures; then hosterias and taverns, especially those that faced the street outside, or in St Peter’s Square or St John, and all these did well »23.

18The political situation instated with the return of the popes in Rome led to the expansion of specific economic sectors in such a way to respond to the increased city demand for products and services. Thereby the intervention of Roman merchants increased within production and commercial structures.

19The profile of the mercatores romani is increasingly definable: they demonstrate clearly entrepreneurial traits, with strong ties to the most vibrant artisans of Rome, wool merchants and butchers that become the pivot of citizen economic activity thanks to senior positions inside city offices and to their capability of diversifying their investments: from the tertiary sector, in particular the accommodation business, to the production sectors, closely linked to the investment typology of the bobacteri (that is, agricultural merchants).

  • 24 Ait 2011.
  • 25 Strangio, Vaquero Piñeiro 2004.

20The unification policy of the houses found in the fifteenth century was aimed at strengthening livestock breeding that had become one of the greatest sources of income24. The calling of the powerful merchant class transformed the terrain, even that designed for grain, into pastures. A glance at the profits from the sale of wholesale livestock allows us to observe the families that dominated the sector: Del Bufalo (3,000 gold ducats), Margani (2,200 gold ducats), Santacroce (about 2,000 gold ducats), Massimi (around 1,400 gold ducats). A comparison with the average price of urban real estate that, as has been calculated, stabilised around 200 gold ducats, allows us to better evaluate the extent of their profits25.

21Naturally, the incidence of animal products in diet increased following the rise in number of affluent classes in the urban population and led to the consequent increase in the demand for meat, milk, and cheeses of various types. However, the greater weight of the demand for wool necessary to the textile sector, fed by the capital of rich Roman entrepreneurs should not be underestimated.

  • 26 Massimi, Margani, Santacroce possessed on average 4.000 sheep in the years 1463-1473, dans Ait 201 (...)
  • 27 The Papal State was divided into various provinces, including: Rome and its district, the Country, (...)

22The possessors of great properties and of herds of cattle, of considerable dimensions, the Roman merchants26 also awarded themselves, in the second half of the fifteenth century, the contracts of the Customs of Pastures of Rome, Maritime and Country27. The deal is evident: they managed the important structure of the Capitoline administration of which they had been the major clients for some time.

23This class of merchants participated in the fifteenth-century growth phase and was part of the most important manufacturing sector of the Italian economy, the textile industries, which, in the sixteenth century, demonstrate one peculiarity. From the early decades of the fifteenth century there is a shift of the manufacturing structures of the textile market that can be linked to the increase in demand for medium-high quality fabrics.

  • 28 In the fourteenth century stage, the directional center was the shop of the weaver, where they con (...)

24To meet the city’s demand and the satisfaction of a diverse population, the initiatives taken by Pope Martin V encouraged a growth in autonomy of the players in the wool sector and the formation of production centres. No longer dependent on the master weaver, as in the fourteenth century, skilled workers such as dyers, fullers, and « gualcatori » (addetti alla 'gualchiera' = un tipo di macchina idraulica che infeltriva i tessuti) whom the Art of Wool in 1321 had prohibited from making any kind of corporation agreements, with the intervention of the large merchants could become autonomous28. This new direction, while causing a sharp rift between the holders of capital and the workers, marked a turning point in Roman manufacturing organization. The group of merchant-entrepreneurs, equipped with sizable wealth and interested in breeding sheep, became the sole owners of the raw material, wool, and of the finished product – cloth and textiles: this is the sign of a profound evolution. Notable in this sector were the Santacroce, who were repeatedly at the top of the powerful guild of Merchants of Rome and of the art of the mercantia pannorum Urbis besides being actively involved in the retail and wholesale of wool.

  • 29 Archivio di Stato di Roma (ASR), Collegio dei Notai Capitolini (CNC) 1763, c.116r ad annum.
  • 30 Roma, Archivio Caetani, Fondo generale, c. 734 A, cc.1r-2v.
  • 31 ASR, CNC 1109, cc.283-284.
  • 32 Ait 1996, p. 273.
  • 33 ASR, CNC 1109, c. 283.
  • 34 The concept of proto-industry applied by the historian Franklin Mendels to the phase that preceded (...)
  • 35 A certain Carrotius de Gisolfo of Genoa had 3/4 of an iron mine in the name of Massimo de' Massimi (...)

25The fortunes and careers of the Massimi are closely bound to the trade of spices. Great importers, present in international commercial circuits, the Massimi were also part of the metal industry, with ironworks spread throughout the territory around Rome - Pantanella29, as well as in the woods Palestrina30, Ninfa31- and in further areas (in Siena)32. Very localized mines employed complex technical procedures in which the Massimi looked after the subsequent processing, providing for the supply of charcoal, and for the assignment of the workers. Once the cycle of processing was concluded they dealt with the sale on the Roman market and more33. This proto-industrial effort of preparation34 was also linked to the supply of iron from Piombino, in the trade of which the Massimi were involved35.

Roman citizens, Mercatores Romanam Curiam Sequentes, popes: a strong dialectic

26The choices of economic investment formed part of the complex strategies of families that, with deep-rooted trading traditions, had their strengths in important positions: 1) in the high offices of municipal tradition; 2) in the control of Chapters of the two most important basilicas – St John Lateran and St Peter-, of particular economic importance because of the set of benefits, prebends and for the conduct of financial and property business of those institutions; 3) finally in winning the procurement of the most important tax revenue.

  • 36 The document dated 8 May 1369 is published in full in Lombardo 1978, p. 53-56. From this it is cle (...)

27The system of the procurement of taxes allowed Roman merchants to manage sums of money, sometimes even large, from the collection of taxes, and at the same time, to intervene in the specific field of some municipal administrative offices, like customs. In 1369, three Roman merchants, Lello Madaleno, Petruccio Sarragona and Paolo Belcogia, acquired the duties on wine at the price of 820 gold Florins that they deposited to the Camera Urbis, thus they accounted for the contract of « ripatico » for a year as a monopoly36.

28For this, we refer to just two of the most important entries of revenue of Camera Urbis, the administrative structure of Rome, controlled by Roman families: livestock breeding and the wine trade.

  • 37 In 1465 the income of the customs of Ripa, that is, the customs on goods brought by river, amounte (...)

29As for breeding, a recent study focused its attention from the middle of the fifteenth century until the first decades of the sixteenth century, in relation to some aspects, such as the role of merchant capital, the organization of livestock, and the goals of this business. In 1466-67 the customs proceeds of the pastures of Rome came to approximately 18,000 gold ducats37. Within the group of mercatores, three individuals stand out: Paolo de’ Massimi, Paolo di Cencio dei Rustici and Lorenzo Leni. In addition to taking on, in the second half of the fifteenth century, the functions of customs officers of the Customs of the Pastures of Rome, Maritime and Countryside: as large breeders they became, at the same time, managers of the important structures of Capitoline administration, of whom they had been the biggest clients for some time.

  • 38 It was closed to the point that they alternated constantly in the decision of contracts. Sometimes (...)
  • 39 Starting fom the 1450s, an intense reorganization of Roman tax management can be noted: the creati (...)
  • 40 Once again in the reading of the two tables caution is required, both from a chronological point o (...)

30Contractors, at least until the middle of the fifteenth century, came from a circle of families of the urban aristocracy that formed a substantially closed group38 capable of controlling and managing the majority of the duties belonging the customs of the Grascia39. In this regard, through the comparison of prices of the contracts of taxes and actual revenue, the profit margins of the contractor merchants can be deduced (Table 1 and 2)40.

Table 1 - Price of contracts for the period 1446-47

Tax Contract Price (in current Florins*)
Must 692,33
Roman wine at retail 5,009,01
Roman wine wholesale 877,40
Wine by » land » 1062,31
Borgo -
Total for wine 7,645,25
Meat 3,007,13
Flour 3,029
Sant'Angelo 2,04.0

31Source : Archivio di Stato di Roma, Introitus-Exitus,. Camera Urbis, reg. 104 (1446-47).

Table 2 - Customs proceeds of Grascia in the fifteenth century (in lire of the value of 20 units)

Source: Strangio, Vaquero Piñeiro 2004, p. 8. *The tax entry for foreign wine at retail is missing.

TAXES 1459 % 1469 % 1478 % . 1479 % . 1480 %
Wine (sum of the taxes for retail, wholesale, « by land », Borgo, must)* 14,622 35 16.833 29 13.582 24,5 15.905 26,79 19.559 30,9
Meat 5,114 12.3 10,096 17.8 14,446 26.07 15,120 25.46 14,906 23.6
Flour 7,329 17.6 7,885 13.9 8,405 15.16 8,644 14.56 8,866 14
Sant'Angelo 3,607 8.6 6,490 11.4 7,002 12.63 7,901 13.31 7,365 11.6
Seals 1,349 3.2 2,373 4.1 1,308 2.36 2,620 4.41 2,752 4.4
Oil 1,508 3,6 1,847 3.2 1,788 3.23 1,541 2.6 2,054 3.3
Contracts 2,236 5.4 2,825 4.9 2,880 5.2 3,078 5.18 2,038 3.2
Carpentry 1,149 2.8 1,95 2.5 1,545 2.79 1,262 2.13 1,995 3.1
Leather 1,195 2.9 1,677 2.9 1,573 2.84 1,470 2.48 1,113 1.9
Gates - - - - 899 1.62 - - 894 1.4
Statera 610 1.5 1,126 1.9 - - - - 763 1.2
Calcarari 334 0.8 394 0.6 610 1.1 405 0.68 585 0.9
Milk - - 667 1.1 500 0.9 504 0.85 271 0.4
Frodi 35 0.1 202 0.4 135 0.24 62 0.1 67 0.1
Port 748 1.7 923 1.6 754 1.36 860 1.45 - -
Piano 1,865 4.5 2,714 4.7 - - - - - -
Total 41,701 100 57,447 100 55,427 100 59,372 100 63,228 100
  • 41 It continued to be very high in the following centuries. More generally on the importance of the t (...)
  • 42 Herlihy 1964, p. 392.
  • 43 Refer to Malatesta 1885, p. 159-161.

32The most important entry in this context is that related to the income of wine that stands on average at 30 percent41. Like in Rome, also in Florence the tax on wine at retail made 59,300 florins, against the 90,200 of the port taxes, that is, about 20-25 percent of the city’s income, this effect was also found in Pistoia and in Prato42 where the tax on wine was one of the key revenues for the treasury. In January 1456, a contract was granted for one year to Giovanni Bello and Janne Jacobelli, the duty of Borgo at the price of 600 gold florins43.

  • 44 Various studies have focused on the socio-political meaning played by managerial functions within (...)

33Other important income was guaranteed by the proceeds of the wine tax, also known as the tax of Study designed to maintain the Studium Urbis, or the Sapienza of Rome, re-established in 1406. The small group of Reformers of Study were in charge of the management of the movement of money for the financing of the Roman university: from raising funds (through the contract system of the taxation of foreign wine) to the deposit to one of the most respected Roman bankers. In 1438 a bull of Eugene IV stated that the task of the Reformers would be covered by the guardians of the prestigious confraternity of St. Salvatore, reserved to the city elite44. Thus, the sale of the duties passed into the hands of a group of Roman players that succeeded to the heights of society. The political function, in addition to economic, of the Roman entrepreneurial class was recognized. In 1451, the banker Paolo Massimi covered the role of depositary of the Studio and among the contractors we find the names of the main protagonists of the city’s economic scene: including Leni, Porcari, Capogalli.

  • 45 ASR, Camera Urbis, 279, c. 1v.
  • 46 On 21 February 1487 Giacomo acquired the custom mercantie Urbis, Archivio Segreto Vaticano (from h (...)
  • 47 ASV, Camera Apostolica, Div. Cam., 49, cc. 85r-86v

34The monopolization of taxes by the Roman entrepreneurial group entered into crisis as soon as the popes turned to the administrative and financial services of « foreign » technicians of the sector. Starting from the second half of the fifteenth century, the popes even proceeded to incorporate these important revenues within the chamber administration. Basically we see a transfer of the taxes to cope with the large loans made by the most important banking institutions in the service of the Apostolic Chamber: in 1483 Taddeo Gaddi and partners had the tax of Study for 10,000 gold florins, of which they deposited only 3,89345. And a few years later, merchants from Siena were awarded this important revenue:46 for example, the Spannocchi and the Sienese merchant Giacomo Bertini that, in 1486, had taken over from the Florentines Martelli and Ricasoli in the management of the customs on goods, with the disbursement of the sum of 7,500 gold florins47.

  • 48 ASR, Camera Urbis, reg. 278, c. 1v e reg. 279, c. 14v.

35The collection of indirect taxes was the way in which the mercatores Romanam Curiam Sequentes recuperated some amounts lent to the Apostolic Chamber, increasingly in debt because of the greater need of cash to meet the growing expenses of the papal court. This procedure favoured those who were able to give significant advances of cash that benefited from a reliable and consistent profit growth48. The process was triggered on the relationship established between the large merchant-bankers and the pope; sometimes they were the same people to whom the Depository of the Apostolic Chamber was entrusted.

  • 49 ASR, Camerale I, Mandati Camerali, reg. 851, c. 356r, c. 358r. On this aspect refer to Ait 2000, p (...)

36The procedure would continue in the following years: the Genovese merchant Gerardo Usodimare, in 1486, during the pontificate of his compatriot Sixtus IV, was named depositary of the Studio; another Genovese merchant-banker was Leonardo Cibo, who was also compatriot and connected to the new pope, Innocent VIII, who in 1488 controlled the depository of the Camera Urbis49.

  • 50 Pavan 1996 bis, p. 326.

37Faced with the advance of a papal policy that was detrimental to the interests of the Roman merchant elite, the city administration took measures to stop the dangerous trend. A first step was the emptying of all political weight from the office of Senator, having become the prerogative of people connected to the popes, giving, instead, greater power to the City Council formed by the « Conservatori » (magistratura cittadina) and « Caporioni » (capo di un rione cui erano affidati compiti di polizia) that became an effective instrument of social and economic control.50

  • 51 In the statues of 1519-1523 the requisites for obtaining citizenship are found in the twenty-ninth (...)

38The second step was carried out by the City Council, on 30 July 1486, by adopting an additional resolution – « quomodo recipiantur in cives forenses »: that is, emphasis was put on the procedures to follow to obtain the privilege of citizenship, stating what the requisites were – house in Rome, a vineyard in the area of the city, and residence with one’s own family for three parts of the year, thus the already prescribed nine months51. The council placed emphasis on that which was the main crux: it was up to the municipal institutions to concede the privilege of citizenship thus legitimizing new Roman citizens.

  • 52 Palermo 2013.
  • 53 ASC, Statuta almae Urbis Romae, Cred. IV, t. 88, l. IV, chap. 22, f. 146: «Quod statuta consulatuu (...)

39This act had been determined by the finding that the pope and cardinals were granting to many foreigners beneficia ecclesiastica Alme Urbis (...) et de illis provideat et fiat collatio civibus romanis. The beneficiaries are easily identified: those Mercatores Romanam Curiam sequentes that, because of their international financial role performed on behalf of the Apostolic Chamber, they were a « caste » with a dangerous quality, « economic citizenship »52. And this way of understanding and acting on behalf of the highest religious authority went « in damnum et preiudicium aliorum verorum originalium civium romanorum. So the Capitoline magistrates, that is, the three conservators together with the leaders, clerks, and councillors of the city, in defence of the Capitoline prerogatives ordered that nullus forensis laicus nec clericus recipiatur in civem romanum nisi facta prius delibera- tione per dominos conservatores, cancellarios, capita regionum et consiliarios alme Urbis, a decision that had to be passed by a majority.53

  • 54 The defence of municipal policy and of libertas, values underlying the ideology of the family, is (...)

40And it was the members of the city elite - Arcioni, Branca, Mellini, del Bufalo, to name just a few –, that, seeing themselves deprived of the most important Capitoline offices, expressed the will to take back the concession of the coveted privilege of citizenship54, emphasizing that this was the only way to gain access to public office.

41The motu proprio of 15 September 1487, issued by Innocent VIII, undermined the citizenship conceded by the Romans (see Appendix A): in the act, indeed, it reported the serious damage caused to the Apostolic Chamber by the increasing number of foreigners – exteros sive forenses – that:

  • 55 ASV, Camera Apostolica, Div. Cam., 46, cc. 285v-286r.

querare et impetrare non absque favoribus et intercessoribus civilitatem et municipium Urbis Rome et Cives Romani fieri, cupiditate quadam ut sub civilitatis pretextu a iure dohane ex eorum animalibus Camere Apostolice debite immunes fiant, et ut Cives et non forenses solvere teneantur... 55.

42As the pope explains, the condition acquired in this way permitted the access ad iura Civilitatis et Municipii ipsius Urbis; the provision primarily affected the new citizens but, above all, the merchants of livestock, given that the problem was that of the exemptions from the taxes due from those who brought their cattle to graze.

Conclusions

43The constant interplay of the municipal forces with the various powers that made up the social-political context of Rome, sees on the one hand the negotiation with central power, the pope, whose characters of centralization and absolutism were still fluid, on the other hand the construction of a network of business and links with the Mercatores Romanam Curiam Sequentes, which follows in the second half of the fifteenth century, inside which marriage policy played a central role.

  • 56 Not even a year after the wedding of Lorenzo and Clarice, a brother of the youth, Orso, called Org (...)
  • 57 Daughter of Sisto Mellini of the rione Parione, as results from an act of 14 November 1541 related (...)
  • 58 On the ascent of Ambrogio awarded the title of magnificent and of the surname of the pope Pius II (...)
  • 59 The marriage between the extremely young Cristofora and the merchant from Pisa, Ludovico Gaetani, (...)

44Following the example of the Orsini who, through the double kinship with the Medici, had acquired positions of great importance on the international stage56, also the families of the city elite made moves in this direction. In the construction of family bonds that could guarantee an interregional or international horizon, the Mellini, at the top of Roman society, chose the Sienese Spannocchi. For example, the marriage of Giovanna57, to Giulio, one of the sons of the magnificent Spannocchi Piccolomini58, allowed them to enter into the business circles and networks of friendships of the powerful merchant-financial group. This policy was even followed by the Margani who, in addition to reinforcing the relationships and networks of solidarity with the houses of the urban nobility and with baronial lineages, approached characters gravitating around the papal court59.

45These were the strategies of defence and attack undertaken by the rich Roman merchant families, strategies for growth of power and social consensus in a city that was turning into the capital of the State of the Church.

46Facing the papal policy condition by a strict dependence on foreign merchant capital, Tuscan in particular, the city elite refined its weapons for defending benefits and privileges torn between many « contenders ».

  • 60 The episode regarding the clash between Roman elite on one side and Pope John XXIII and foreigners (...)
  • 61 Gennaro 1967 bis.

47The message of pride launched in 1486 is among the most important positions taken to affirm the prerogatives of the city’s management group and consequently to protect their own economic spaces. The long phase of defence of these spaces started at the beginning of the fifteenth century60 and concluded in 1511 with the famous Pax Romana that was by no means signed between barons and the Roman people in favour of the pope, Julius II, but in clearly anti-papal function: the « ‘Roman people’ blatantly refused to succumb to the expropriation of their jurisdictional authority »61.

Appendix A

48Pope Innocent VIII, on his own initiative, on the 15th of September 1487 submits the following mandate to the apostolic prothonotary, the cleric Andrea de Spiritibus: « Since often many foreigners or outsiders seek, and obtain, not without recommendation, the conditions of the citizens of Rome and, having become Roman citizens, with a certain greed, on the grounds of citizenship, benefit from some customs privileges due to the Apostolic Chamber with their animals, paying as citizens and not as foreigners, with great damage to this Chamber.
Intending, therefore, to provide for this, we establish and decree with this document that it is legally and correctly permissible from now on that everyone, of any condition, rank, and dignity, having become a Roman citizen and that receives the rights of citizenship and from the Municipality of the same city, although considered in the benefit of of the aforementioned right of citizenship, are required and must pay in full all of the owed fees to the Customs Office of the city of the Apostolic Chamber for their animals and for whomever, like the other outsiders and foreigners pay and are obliged to pay.
It is established as null and void from now on anything by them or by others and by any authority until now performed in the opposite direction be made or decreed or in the future knowingly or unknowingly be given or conceded by the constitutions and apostolic ordinance, and statutes, decrees, privileges and customs of the aforementioned City, with the guarantee, either apostolic or from another authority, in all the others, despite any other thing, wanting and ordering that our mandate in every way and for always must be observed and registered for future memory in the public books of the statutes of the Chamber of Rome and of its Customs Office and of the Apostolic Chamber ».
The approval follows.


  • 62 ASV, Camera Apostolica, Diversa Cameralia, 46, cc. 285v-286r.
  • 63 It is Andreas de Spiritibus de Viterbio, decretorum doctor, the apostolic nuncio in France and Bur (...)

49Innocentius papam .VIII.62
Motu proprio. Cum sepe continua nonnullos advenas exteros sive forenses assertare, querare et impetrare non absque favoribus et intercessoribus civilitatem et municipium Urbis Rome et Cives Romani fieri, cupiditate quadam ut sub civilitatis pretextu a iure dohane ex eorum animalibus Camere Apostolice debite immunes fiant, et ut Cives et non forenses solvere teneantur, in grave dicte Camere preiuditium, super his igitur providere intendentes, statuimus et decernimus per presentes ut omnes et singuli, cuiuscumque status, gradus, dignitatis et conditionis fuerint, qui Cives Romani fient et ad iura Civilitatis et Municipii ipsius Urbis licet rite et recte ex nunc in antea suscipientur, quamvis dicto iure civilitatis gaudere censerentur nichilominus teneantur et debeant integre solvere omnia iura debita ex dohana Urbis dicte Camere Apostolice ex ipsorum animalibus quibuscumque, prout ceteri forenses et exteri solvunt ac solvere tenentur et obligantur, decernentes ex nunc irritum et inane quicquid per eos sive alios quacumque auctoritate fungentes in contrarium hactenus factum sive decretum sit aut imposterum scienter vel ignoranter dieri sive concedi contingerit, constitutionibus et ordinationibus apostolicis, ac statutis, decretis, privilegiis et consuetudinibus dicte Urbis, Apostolica vel alia quavis auctoritate vallatis, ceterisque contrariis, non obstan(tibus) quibuscumque, volentes ac mandantes ordinationem, decretum et mandatum nostrum huiusmodi perpetuo observari, ac in libris publicis statutorum Camere Urbis et ipsius dohane ac Camere Aostolice ad futuram rey memoriam registrari
Placet et ita mandamus .I.
MCCCCLXXXVII .XV. septembris presentatum fuit in Camera Apostolica pro parte Sanctissimi Domini Nostri Pape. An. de Viterbio prothonotarius Apostolice Camere Clericus
63.

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Notes

1 Maire Vigueur 1976, and 2011; Carocci 1989; for the fifteenth century, refer to the essays Esposito 1994 and Modigliani 1994. For the Roman city government, Pavan 1996.

2 See the recent volume Chiabò, Gargano, Modigliani, Osmond 2014.

3 On these aspects see Rossetti 1994 : p. 52.

4 Palermo 2013.

5 See Palermo 1990 and Palermo 1997, p. 427.

6 Esch 1969, Esch 1976-77; and Miglio 1993.

7 Esch 1994, p. 108. See also Esch, 2014.

8 Palermo 1997, p. 355.

9 The passage between the fifteenth and sixteenth century is often indicated with the term « Renaissance »: it is known that the debate that has sparked this expression used by Burchkardt more than one hundred years ago, and, especially for economic analysis, is inadequate to place long-term developments: see Cherubini 1983 and Cherubini 1990.

10 In the absence of useful documentation for finding statistical measures, the studies undertaken allowed us to note and over 60,000 at the beginning of the sixteenth century, see Esposito 1998 and refer to Lee, 1985 and now Lee 2006.

11 Here, p. 433; see also Esposito 1993, p. 41.

12 Esch 1981.

13 Palermo 1997, p. 389-390.

14 Insolera 1996, p. 24-50; Frommel 1999, p. 374-433.

15 Palermo 1997, p. 354.

16 Tafuri 1984, p. 59. On the characteristics of the Roman mercatura and bovatteria refer to Gennaro 1967.

17 Among the vast bibliography see: De Roover 1970, Cassandro 1994, Palermo 2000.

18 Lori Sanfilippo 2001.

19 Grohmann 1995, p. 465.

20 Romani 1948, p. 68.

21 Villani 1995 , p. 111.

22 This was a sort of ministry that joined all the administrative, accounting and litigation competences.

23 Paolo Di Benedetto Di Cola Dello Mastro 1910-12, p. 93- 95.

24 Ait 2011.

25 Strangio, Vaquero Piñeiro 2004.

26 Massimi, Margani, Santacroce possessed on average 4.000 sheep in the years 1463-1473, dans Ait 2011, p. 840-841.

27 The Papal State was divided into various provinces, including: Rome and its district, the Country, Maritime provinces and Latium, Umbria, Sabina, Ducato of Spoleto, Patrimonio, Marca, the Legation of Bologna, Romagna, the Legation of Ferrara with Comacchio, State of Urbino, Montefeltro, State of Benevento, Avignon and Venassino county. The provinces of Campagna, Maritime and Latium extended along the south.

28 In the fourteenth century stage, the directional center was the shop of the weaver, where they concentrated all the directive and organizational funtions of the manufacturing process. See Ait 2005.

29 Archivio di Stato di Roma (ASR), Collegio dei Notai Capitolini (CNC) 1763, c.116r ad annum.

30 Roma, Archivio Caetani, Fondo generale, c. 734 A, cc.1r-2v.

31 ASR, CNC 1109, cc.283-284.

32 Ait 1996, p. 273.

33 ASR, CNC 1109, c. 283.

34 The concept of proto-industry applied by the historian Franklin Mendels to the phase that preceded and prepared for modern industrialization can be compared to the late medieval (refer to Mendels 1972; Malanima 1994.

35 A certain Carrotius de Gisolfo of Genoa had 3/4 of an iron mine in the name of Massimo de' Massimi: ASR, CNC, 1763, c.116r ad annum. On 19 June 1452 our worker realized that he was in debt by 20 ducats and 50 bolognini to Pietro Martini de Monte Migniano of the committee of Florence, owed to this and other workers of the Florentine county for works done at his ironworks, here, CNC, 1763, c. 159r.

36 The document dated 8 May 1369 is published in full in Lombardo 1978, p. 53-56. From this it is clear how public contracts had been banished to find as quickly as possible the money necessary for the restoration of the Santa Maria bridge (today known as the Ponte Rotto, Broken bridge) located just downstream from the Tiber Island.

37 In 1465 the income of the customs of Ripa, that is, the customs on goods brought by river, amounted to about 18,500 gold florin, one of the best years, refer to Esch 1981, p. 23.

38 It was closed to the point that they alternated constantly in the decision of contracts. Sometimes bearing the burden of paying the managment of a tax alone, other times associating themselves with other merchants to cope better and divide the risks and profits. This is the case of Colaccio Teuli of the Rione Trastevere and of Giovanni de Cancellariis of the rione Colonna that in 1444, having to take on an expense of about 6,000 current florins necessary for being awarded the contract of the tax on Roman wine at retail, prefer to collaborate by one contributing 3.305 florins and the other 2.600 florins, refer to ASR, Camera Urbis, reg. 331, cc. 40r-41r.

39 Starting fom the 1450s, an intense reorganization of Roman tax management can be noted: the creation of the customs of Sant’Eustachio or customs on goods, for the control of customs duties on incoming, outgoing, and transit, and the birth of the customs of the Grascia that brought a contribution of 11,000 gold ducats, ranking in third place among all income, namely after the entries related to net salt in wholesale (17.000 ducats) and to the provincial Treasury of the Brand (15.000 ducats). This therefore represented about 10% of the total of the ordinary pontifical income (equal to 118,000 ducats), see Bauer 1927, p. 392.

40 Once again in the reading of the two tables caution is required, both from a chronological point of view – considering the decades that separate the information taken from the only sources available -, as well as from the monetary point of view since the data in the first table are expressed in currency while in Table 2 they are reported in gold coin.

41 It continued to be very high in the following centuries. More generally on the importance of the taxes on wine in the taxes of the old regime governments see the considerations of Pinto 2000. A In this regard there are also important examples outside of Italy, such as in France in Bordeaux, refer to Bochaca 1999, p. 86-88. Regarding Bordeaux as a viticultural center of strategic importance in the Middle Ages, refer to Roudié Cervin 1996; and the new makeready by Matheus 2004.

42 Herlihy 1964, p. 392.

43 Refer to Malatesta 1885, p. 159-161.

44 Various studies have focused on the socio-political meaning played by managerial functions within the Roman lay confraternities, refer in particular to the essay by Pavan 1984.

45 ASR, Camera Urbis, 279, c. 1v.

46 On 21 February 1487 Giacomo acquired the custom mercantie Urbis, Archivio Segreto Vaticano (from here on referred to as ASV), Camera Apostolica, Div. Cam., reg. 49, cc. 89r-91r and ASR, Camerale I, Mandati Camerali, reg. 857, c. 74r.

47 ASV, Camera Apostolica, Div. Cam., 49, cc. 85r-86v

48 ASR, Camera Urbis, reg. 278, c. 1v e reg. 279, c. 14v.

49 ASR, Camerale I, Mandati Camerali, reg. 851, c. 356r, c. 358r. On this aspect refer to Ait 2000, p. 51-53.

50 Pavan 1996 bis, p. 326.

51 In the statues of 1519-1523 the requisites for obtaining citizenship are found in the twenty-ninth chapter of the book "De offico Conservatorum Camere Urbis": whoever possesses real property in the city and lives in the city for the majority of his time will obtain citizenship convocatis in concionem Capitibus regionum cum XIII et XXVI Consiliariis. The formula is different and one could depart from these provisions in the case of famous men to whom the privilege would be given honoris gratia with the consensus of the majority of the Councillors «et non aliter dare nisi honoris gratia illustribus vel claris viris postulantibus et cum assensu omnium vel maioris partis ipsorum», a provision that ratified citizenship with privilege. In these statutes the resolution of 30 July 1486 is not reported, while the chapter CXIV of book 1, De civibus intelligendis pro Romani repeates exactly the content of the Statues of 1469, Archivio Storico Capitolino (from here on referred to as ASC), Statuta almae Urbis Romae, Cred. IV, t. 88, l. I, cap. 144, f. 38v and l. III, cap. 146, f. 136v: «De forensibus habendis pro civibus».

52 Palermo 2013.

53 ASC, Statuta almae Urbis Romae, Cred. IV, t. 88, l. IV, chap. 22, f. 146: «Quod statuta consulatuum ligent etiam forenses», which states that neither citizens nor « forenses laici romanam Curiam sequentes cuiuscunque status, gradus vel conditionis fuerint » can contravene certain standards.

54 The defence of municipal policy and of libertas, values underlying the ideology of the family, is well represented by Platina 2014.

55 ASV, Camera Apostolica, Div. Cam., 46, cc. 285v-286r.

56 Not even a year after the wedding of Lorenzo and Clarice, a brother of the youth, Orso, called Organitno, with the support of the Magnificent had a military conduct from the Duke of Milan, Galeazzo Sforza, see the letter sent on 12 May 1470, in Lorenzo de' Medici, Lettere, edited by Riccardo Fubini, Florence 1977, letter n. 44, pp. 129-130. Another brother, Rinaldo, in January 1474 was elected archbishop of the cathedral of Florence, joined by Leonardo de’ Medici, named vicar general: in this part of the century ecclesiastical positions and riches became increasingly exclusive aristocratic monopoly, Bizzocchi 1984, p. 228-229.

57 Daughter of Sisto Mellini of the rione Parione, as results from an act of 14 November 1541 related to the return of the dowry in Archivio di Stato di Siena, Diplomatico Spannocchi, A. 1 bis, perg. 29.

58 On the ascent of Ambrogio awarded the title of magnificent and of the surname of the pope Pius II refer to Ait 2007.

59 The marriage between the extremely young Cristofora and the merchant from Pisa, Ludovico Gaetani, partner of the production and trade company of alum of Tolfa, refer to Ait 2010, p. 244-247.

60 The episode regarding the clash between Roman elite on one side and Pope John XXIII and foreigners on the other, a conflict sparked by the measure directed at devaluing the Roman gold coin that, essentially meant taking away the sovreignty of the « Romans », ended with the withdrawal of the expedient. Refer to Ait 2013, p. 329-330.

61 Gennaro 1967 bis.

62 ASV, Camera Apostolica, Diversa Cameralia, 46, cc. 285v-286r.

63 It is Andreas de Spiritibus de Viterbio, decretorum doctor, the apostolic nuncio in France and Burgundy; refer to Walsh 2005, ad indicem. He was a canon of St Peter from 1463 until his death (January 1495). He was also notary and clerk of the Apostolic Chamber; refer to Bianca 1992, p. 155, nt. 6, which refers to Frenz 1986, p. 281; Miglio 1991, p. 23.

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Ivana Ait et Donatella Strangio, « Economic Power in Rome. The role of the city’s elite families (the 1400-1500 period) », Mélanges de l’École française de Rome - Moyen Âge [En ligne], 128-1 | 2016, mis en ligne le 03 février 2016, consulté le 23 août 2017. URL : http://mefrm.revues.org/3083 ; DOI : 10.4000/mefrm.3083

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Ivana Ait

Sapienza Università di Roma - ivana.ait@uniroma1.it.

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Donatella Strangio

Sapienza Università di Roma - donatella.strangio@uniroma1.it.

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