The unglamorous side of shopping in late medieval Prato and Florence : the Ricordanze of Taddeo di Chello (1341-1408), and Piero Puro di Francesco da Vicchio (1397-1465)
This thesis examines virtually unstudied sources, the ricordanze of a wage-earner, Piero Puro di Francesco da Vicchio of Florence, and the account book of a small tradesman, a rigattiere, Taddeo di Chello of Prato. It also expands the framework of the information available in these sources using records of property assets, taxes and commercial transactions in the Florentine Catasto and Estimo. The thesis exploits the vast amount of data available from and through these books of account to approach the theme of clothing consumption in its various aspects – cultural and social as well as economic. It also argues that clothing was one of the foremost indicators of one‟s improved status, and that social mobility could be achieved through networking, and by projecting the best image of oneself to the outer world. The thesis is structured in three parts. The first reconstructs the clientele of a Pratese rigattiere, Taddeo, outlining the clothing, materials and accessories sold, their cost and diffusion, primarily in an attempt to establish their destination and use. The second part of the thesis is then dedicated to the social and, especially, the economic significance of the accessories purchased. This was possible thanks to the wealth of data provided by the case of Piero, whose consumption practices are exceptionally well-documented in his extant books. The third part, a comparative analysis of the cases of Piero and Taddeo's customers, demonstrates, as we might expect, that different individual financial capacities determined different patterns of consumption, but that these also depended on the individual's access to different payment facilities, such as credit. Piero, thanks to his active, gradual and astute penetration into a system of patronage and power relations, alongside a dense social network – which played a fundamental role in his life – ultimately managed to improve his and his family's living standards. Taddeo on the contrary, because of his inability fully to develop a social network, ultimately compromised his professional achievements.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Electronic copy restricted until 30th November 2019, pending formal approval
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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