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Daniels, Tobias ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5560-7251 and Esch, Arnold (24. January 2021): A Donatello for Rome, a Memling for Florence. The maritime transports of the Sermattei of Florence. In: Renaissance Studies, Vol. 35, No. 4: pp. 658-674 [PDF, 196kB]


This article deals with the maritime transports of a little known but not unimportant Florentine merchant family. On the basis of previously unknown archival source material, we address questions of family history, mercantile networks, maritime trade connections, and merchandise (including some famous artworks), shedding new light not only on the Florentine merchant navy, but also on the history of maritime trade between the Mediterranean and the North in the Renaissance. In particular, we show what impact factors like bankruptcy and exile had on Florentine merchant families conducting in longdistance trade, and of how setbacks in Medicean Florence could be mastered. After establishing a business enterprise between Venice, Apulia and Poland, the Sermattei were disfavoured by the regime Cosimo de’ Medici established in Florence, struck by bankruptcy, exiled and murdered. In order to overcome this existential crisis and to re-establish the bonds with the Medici, the Sermattei moved to Pisa and started trading. The story of the Sermattei illustrates what the exile and return of the Medici meant for Italian merchant families and their businesses, and how it was possible for them to overcome a business failure via mare transporting a specialised assortment of goods and artworks for the Medici.

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