Italy Merchants and Bankers Part 2

According to ITYPEMBA.COM, the memory of these best known and strongest companies is linked, in Italy and also abroad, to works of art, military enterprises, political events, diplomatic deeds. Moreover, in the centuries in which there was such a wealth of Italian companies outside Italy (and up to the end of the fourteenth century) abroad the associations formed by indigenous people were very few and of limited importance. As regards the activity carried out by these Italian companies, it can be observed that the characteristic of the first Italian capitalism, destined to be preserved for other centuries beyond the fourteenth century, was that of being interested in any business. In all countries, money was loaned to bourgeois, ecclesiastics, monasteries, barons, princes, sovereigns; and to guarantee the restitution all sorts of pledges were accepted, the management of the mints and the collection of state revenues were demanded. With the Church there were tithe collectors, which were transmitted to Rome or in the places designated by the popes. At fairs, loans were made, coins were exchanged, and remote payments were made. At the fairs all the articles of the market were trafficked everywhere. Where there was a chance, mining companies also went (see bank). Contact with the principles sometimes led to the creation of personal situations of the first order. As happened to the brothers Musciatto and Bicci Guidi de ‘Franzesi from Siena, the famous Mouche and Biche councilors of Filippo il Bello; to Scaglia Tifi (13th-14th century), treasurer of the Dukes of Burgundy and decisive factor in the passage of that duchy to the French crown; to Dino Rapondi from Lucca,

Gradually (from the early fourteenth century) persecutions of sovereigns and hostility of populations; the growing need for ever stronger capital for larger funding of larger-style military ventures; the effort to triumph over the competition of the nascent local capitalism led to the elimination of the weaker companies, also favored by the political conditions of the peninsula, where the transition from the communal form to the noble one contributed to the decline of many cities. However, the desire to cope with the supreme needs was accentuated every day, and culminated in the colossal financing of the first campaigns of the Hundred Years War, parallel to which the centralization in a few hands, especially of Florentines, of all English economic life proceeded. Then came the failures of 1345,

The second period, which lasted until the early seventeenth century, presents itself with other characteristics, in harmony with the changed European political and economic conditions. In the diminished importance of the Italian factor in the European economy as a whole, the reduction in the traffic of goods appears more sensitive than the reduction in the traffic of money, which was practiced in conditions of almost monopoly (shared with the large German capitalist formations). In this second period, the Italian merchants preferred to frequent those areas of the European sector that were richest in political events. But if England passed into the second line vis-à-vis the states of the continent, we find the company of the Bards reconstituted, almost a shadow of that of the past; we also know of the activity in England of a branch of the Filippo Borromei bank which had its headquarters in Milan; we know many merchants, especially the Medici, in the second half of the fifteenth century, who continued to export wool, within increasingly reduced limits due to the protectionist orientation of the local cloth industry. In continental Europe there are two sectors: the central-eastern and the north-western: in the first of which the Italians gave themselves mainly, except in the territories of the current Helvetic Confederation, to the management and exploitation of mines, and in the second, they were particularly interested in financial transactions. On the German territory, where indigenous entrepreneurs as contractors had preceded from the end of the fourteenth century, especially in Tyrol and Hungary, oberdeutsche Hochfinanz  in the second half of the 16th century, and in the last decades of the century they again began to frequent many of the main commercial centers of Germany; of which process, called  Überfremdung  “intrusive intervention”, in the economic life of central Europe, we know some details regarding Leipzig, Cologne and Frankfurt. In Friborg and Geneva, on the other hand, loans were mainly taken care of, and with a large profit.

Italy Merchants and Bankers 2