Francesca Trivellato (Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton) 'Renaissance Individualism Revisited: A Business History Perspective'

gold florin

Economic history was once a key component of Renaissance Studies, and of the scholarship on Renaissance Florence in particular. Rather than lamenting the passing of an era, this paper begins by examining a troubling feature of that bygone time, namely, the remaking of Jacob Burckhardt’s individualism in the image of the progressive, liberal economic individualism that Burckhardt despised. The rest of the paper sketches the contours of an ongoing project on the business organization of early modern Tuscany that questions the homology between economic and cultural change which the remaking of Burckhardt’s individualism had taken for granted. In place of that homology, it outlines a comprehensive approach to the financial, legal, and social dimensions of credit.


Francesca Trivellato is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Early Modern European History at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. She previously taught at Yale University. Her publications include: Fondamenta dei vetrai: Lavoro, tecnologia e mercato a Venezia tra Sei e Settecento (Donzelli, 2000); The Familiarity of Strangers: The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno, and Cross-Cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period (Yale University Press, 2009); and The Promise and Peril of Credit: What a Forgotten Legend about Jews and Finance Tells us about the Making of European Commercial Society (Princeton University Press, 2019). She is one of the founding co-editors of Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics.