Florentine merchant-banking companies played an important role in international trade well into the early sixteenth century, when their hometown’s economy was declining. This paper analyses the export of precious silk cloths towards central european markets and in particular the German area, centered on Nuremberg and on the fairs of Leipzig and Frankfurt. A handful of companies based in the Bavarian city were continuosly asking their correspondants in Florence for damasks, brocades, velvets, satins, etc.: their requests were very specific and therefore – among other things – provide modern historians an interesting insight into the taste of the German wealthy clients. Based upon these instructions, businessmen in Florence were able to commission the manufacturing of these precious textiles to local silk-weavers. Sometimes there was a partnership between the company in Germany and a Florenine setaiolo (silk-producer). Or, in other cases, some merchant-bankers built a network of companies allowing them not only to co-ordiante things from Florence, but also to supply Florentine botteghe (workshops) with raw silk coming from the South of Italy. In this way they exerted their control over the entire process: from the purchase of the raw material to the sale of finished cloths.
Florence, Nuremberg and Beyond: Italian Silks in Central Europe during the Renaissance / F. Guidi Bruscoli. - STAMPA. - (2016), pp. 107-129.