The Florentine Company of Francesco Neroni and Trade with Dubrovnik (Ragusa) in the First Half of the 15th Century , in S. Rudic (a cura di), Homage to Academician Sima Cirkovic, Beograd 2011, pp. 159-175

In the collection of documents titled Corporazioni Religiose Soppresse dal Governo Francese in the State Archives in Florence there is a small group of letters from correspondents in Dubrovnik (Ragusa) addressed to the Florentine merchant Francesco
of 18
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  УДК: 339.56:677.3/.37](497.13 Дубровник:450.521)"14" Paola PINELLIDepartment of Economic SciencesFaculty of EconomicsUniversity of FlorenceFirenze, Italy THE FLORENTINE COMPANY OF FRANCESCO NERONI AND TRADE WITH DUBROVNIK (RAGUSA) IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE 15TH CENTURY  Abstract: In the collection of documents titled Corporazioni Religiose Soppresse dal Governo Francese in the State Archives in Florence there is a small group of letters from correspondentsin Dubrovnik (Ragusa) addressed to the Florentine merchant Francesco Neroni which revealthe intensity, frequency and importance of the trade relations between Dubrovnik and theTuscan city during the first half of the 15 th century. This trade involved mostly silver and woolenfabrics.These documents also contain frequent references to the role that the Florentine companieshad in the importation of Spanish wool to the city of Ragusa and the importance that Dubrovnik had in the trade of cochineal, a valuable substance used in the dyeing of silk fabrics.  Кey Words: Dubrovnik; Florence; 15 th century; Francesco Neroni; wool; woolen fabrics;silver; cochineal. Francesco Neroni belonged to a rich Florentine family whosefortunes were directly connected to the political ascendancy of the Medicifamily because of the unconditional support that his father, Nerone di Nigi di Nerone Dietisalvi, had offered to Cosimo the Elder after his return from exilein 1434. Cosimo could not have been more demonstrative of his gratitudetoward Nerone di Nigi, who had shown himself to be a friend in times of difficulty and he appointed all the members of the family to prestigious positions: they were nominated Gonfaloniere or member of the Signoria , or   Accoppiatore or member of the Otto di Guardia o di Balìa , or called to speak in the Consulta, used as ambassadors and representatives in diplomaticnegotiations 1 . The friendship and the company of powerful men, the participation 1  N. Rubinstein, Il governo di Firenze sotto i Medici, Firenze 1971, pp. 165-210.  in political power, the fortunate outcome of their mercantile and bankingactivities, the luxurious life style (as demonstrated by the size and elegance of the Neroni residences) 2 , the purchase of a funeral chapel (the last of which,acquired in 1463 was double and facing the Medici chapel) 3 , and the patronage and commissioning of works of art authorized the Neroni to feelthat they were equals of the Medici and, after the death of Cosimo and theaccession to power of his son Piero, as guarantors of the defense of republicanliberty and the preservation of the people’s government 4 . In 1466 Dietisalvi,Francesco’s brother, one of the most influential and prestigious exponents of the 15 th century Florentine oligarchy and secretary of the Medici, wasimplicated in having a major role in the conspiracy organized against Piero diAgnolo Acciaiuoli, Niccolò Soderini and Luca Pitti. Francesco, who was alsoamong the conspirators, was arrested after the flight of his brother andconfessed 5 . The failure of the conspiracy swept away the fortunes of the Neroni over night and many members of the family were either exiled or  banished. On the 11 th and 12 th of September Dietisalvi, Francesco, Agnolo, Nigi, Filippo and Antonio were deprived of all civil rights for the next twentyyears (“privati di tutti gli uffici drento et fuori per XX anni proximi futuri”)and confined at distances from Florence which varied according to the degreeof their guilt 6 . Later, Dietisalvi, Agnolo, Francesco and Filippo along withtheir male descendants were declared rebels of the Municipality of Florenceand all of their goods and possessions were confiscated 7 . Francesco went tolive in Naples, a city where he had already established trade relations, anddied there in 1481; he was buried in the Church of SS. Severino e Sossio 8 .If we are to believe the tax forms, the richest of the brothers wasFrancesco; he was a member of the silk makers guild as well as being amerchant and a banker and in 1457 he had a taxable income of 9365 florins 9 , 160  Paola Pinelli 2 P. Benigni (ed.), Palazzo Neroni a Firenze. Storia architettura restauro, Firenze 1996. 3 H. Saalman, San Lorenzo 1462-66: The Neroni Ascendancy, in Hulle und Fülle. Festschriftfür Tilmann Buddensieg, A. Beyer, V. Magnago Lampugnani, G. Schweikhart (eds.), Alfter 1993, pp. 483-489. 4  N. Rubinstein, Il governo di Firenze, pp. 165-210. 5 There are several copies of Francesco Neroni’s confession. In this regard see: N. Rubinstein,La confessione di Francesco Neroni e la congiura antimedicea del 1466, in “Archivio StoricoItaliano”, 1968, pp. 373-387. 6 Archivio di Stato di Firenze (from now on referred to as ASFi), Otto di Guardia e di Balìa,224, cc. 126v-127v. 7 For Francesco see ASFi, Capitani di Parte Rossi, 65, c. 169v. 8 ASFi, Ceramelli Papiani, 3391. 9 ASFi, Catasto, 821, ins. 273.  while Dietisalvi followed him with a much smaller amount, 4270 florins 10 .Information about Francesco is fragmentary and scattered among variousarchives; for this reason no complete study of this merchant figure has beenconducted, although many scholars have recognized his importance in theeconomic context of Florence in the first half of the 15 th century 11 . Thesurviving documents in fact, consist of some accounting books which cover the period from 1454 to 1465 related to the Pisan company with Averardo diAlamanno Salviati which are preserved in the Archives of the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa 12 ; a large set of letters (about 80) written between1445 and 1463 to Francesco Neroni in Florence and in Barcellona containedamong the documents related to religious institutions suppressed by theFrench Government ( Corporazioni Religiose Soppresse dal Governo Francese )in the State Archives in Florence 13 ; also in the Florentine archives, in thecollection of documents titled  Mediceo Avanti il Principato (Medicidocuments from the period before the princedom) we have a series of copiesof Francesco’s confession made the day after the conspiracy, a sales contractfor lands sold to the Medici family, a receipt for payment made at the Medici bank in Florence and 17 letters written from Pisa to the Florentine companyof Giovanni di Cosimo and Pierfrancesco di Lorenzo di Giovanni de’ Medici between 1455 and 1459 14 . There is also quite a large set of documents in theState Archives in Naples in which Francesco Neroni is recalled as the personwho first introduced the manufacture of silk in that city 15 .The trading activities of Francesco Neroni are first mentioned in adocument dated 1442, which states that he was at the head of a small convoyof galleys sent from Florence to Flanders and England 16 . The Florentine lettersshow that already in 1444 he had an individual firm in Florence and a The Florentine Company of Francesco Neroni . . . 161 10 ASFi, Catasto, 822, ins. 766. 11 In this regard see: L. Molà, Oltre i confini della città. Artigiani e imprenditori della setafiorentini all’estero, in Arti fiorentine. La grande storia dell’artigianato, F. Franceschi, G. Fossi(eds.), vol. II, Il Quattrocento, Firenze 1999, pp. 85-107; B. Dini, La ricchezza documentaria per l’arte della seta e l’economia fiorentina nel Quattrocento, in Idem, Manifattura, commercioe banca nella Firenze medievale, Firenze 2001, pp. 9-44. 12 Archivio della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Salviati, Serie I, 13-23. 13 ASFi, Corporazioni Religiose Soppresse dal Governo Francese, 78, 322, cc. 1-80. 14 ASFi, Mediceo Avanti il Principato, 6, 785; 7, 186; 9, 57; 16, 73-74, 449; 17, 208, 211, 229,322, 531; 68, 86-87, 122; 84, 284; 97, 438; 137, 1003; 138, 452-455; 147, 24. 15 R. Pescione, Gli statuti dell’Arte della Seta in Napoli in rapporto al privilegio di giurisdizione,in “Archivio storico per le province napoletane”, 1919, pp. 159-190, pp. 160, 175-182; Idem, IlTribunale dell’Arte della Seta in Napoli (da documenti inediti), Napoli 1923, pp. 95-105; G.Tescione, Statuti dell’Arte della Seta a Napoli e legislazione della colonia di S. Leucio, Napoli1933, pp. 4-5, 12-17; A. Cirillo Mastrocinque, Per la storia dell’Arte della Seta a Firenze e a Napoli nel ‘400, in “Archivio storico per le province napoletane”, 1964, pp. 130-138. 16 M. E. Mallet, The Florentine Galleys of the Fifteenth Century, Oxford 1967, p. 158.  company in Barcellona in partnership with Iacopo di Giovanni Masi 17 with a densenetwork of correspondents at all of the major European markets: Naples, Palermo,Lisbon, Valencia, Montpellier, Genoa, Savona, Bologna, Venice, Ancona andRagusa. In 1450 the partnership with Carlo Carnesecchi, presumably a silk company, was terminated. Starting in at least 1454 Francesco was a partner of Averardo di Alamanno Salviati, who in 1457 married his sister Maddalena, and hada firm in Florence and one in Pisa. The Pisan company, for which, as mentioned,some documents survive, conducted mercantile and banking activities and, aboveall, dealt in raw silk coming from Spain and the area around the Caspian Sea, whichwas supplied to a great number of silk manufacturers in Florence; there was also asignificant trade in Spanish wool of the “sanmattea” type, and substances used bydyers like alum and cochineal, leather from Portugal, paper and some foodstuffs likesalt from Tortosa and Sardinian and Sicilian cheeses. According to the land registryoffice, in 1457 Francesco also had a silk manufactory (“uno traficho d’arte di setain Porta Santa Maria”) in partnership with Bartolo di Biagio Tovaglia and amerchant company (“uno traficho in Merchato Nuovo”) in partnership withGiovanni de’ Medici and Nerozzo di Piero del Nero 18 . Using the account books atthe Ospedale degli Innocenti in Florence, Bruno Dini was able to make a list of thesilk makers active in Florence from 1451 to 1453 and from 1461 to 1462; Francesco Neroni’s name appears on this list, with a production worth about 12-13.000 florinsannually 19 . In 1474 Ferrante I of Aragon granted Francesco numerous privileges for the introduction into Naples of the art of silk manufacture (“introdurre in questa citàde Napole ... l’arte de la seta”): an annual commission of 200 ducats (and another 100 ducats for the chief builder that he appointed); exemption from payment of taxes and custom duties for the importing of raw silk, precious metals, dyeingsubstances, mordant and raw materials; free export of all the silk materials produced; citizenship for his partners and master craftsmen; immunity for crimescommitted outside of the kingdom and autonomous penal and civil jurisdiction. Inexchange the Florentine merchant promised to manufacture brocades and gold andsilk cloths for ten years and provide the necessary workforce to do so. The activitywas conducted in partnership with Luigi and Francesco Coppola, who were amongthe leading businessmen in the kingdom of Naples 20 .In this study we are considering a particular aspect of the activities of  Neroni and that is the trade relations with the city of Dubrovnik (Ragusa). 162  Paola Pinelli 17 The company contract has survived in ASFi, Corporazioni Religiose Soppresse dal GovernoFrancese, 78, 322, c. 8. 18 ASFi, Catasto, 821, ins. 273; also F. Edler De Roover, L’arte della seta a Firenze nei secoliXIV e XV, Firenze 1999, p. 29. 19 B. Dini, La ricchezza documentaria per l’arte della seta, pp. 15, 18. 20 L. Molà, Oltre i confini della città, pp. 95-99.  Among the letters to be found in the collection of documents related to religiousinstitutions suppressed by the French Government there are, in fact, 19 lettersaddressed to Francesco Neroni in Florence and written between 1445 and 1453 by correspondents in Ragusa, which shed new light on the trade relations betweenthe two cities in the first half of the 15 th century. These documents were partiallyused by Mario Del Treppo in his book  I mercanti catalani e l’espansione dellaCorona d’Aragona nel secolo XV  which focused mainly on the relations betweenFrancesco Neroni and the Iberian peninsula 21 . More recently, Luca Boschetto usedfour of these letters, those written by Benedetto Cotrugli, for the purpose of  providing new information about this citizen of Ragusa 22 . Tab. 1 Letters from Ragusa addressed to Francesco Neroni in Florence (Archivio di Stato di Firenze, Corporazioni Religiose Soppresse dal Governo Francese , 78, 322) SenderDate (d/m/y) Benedetto Cotrugli26. 11. 1445Benedetto Cotrugli10. 12. 1445Giovanni Cotrugli11. 12. 1445Benedetto Cotrugli31. 1. 1446 Nicola di Butico16. 6. 1446Sigismondo Zorzi16. 7. 1446Giovanni Cotrugli10. 3. 1447Antonio Spini13. 3. 1447Giovanni Cotrugli18. 3. 1447Sigismondo Zorzi10. 7. 1447Sigismondo Zorzi5. 10. 1447 Nicola di Butico6. 10. 1447Benedetto Cotrugli6. 11. 1447 Nicola di Butico15. 11. 1447Giovanni Cotrugli, Niccolò di Luca Zorzi11. 12. 1447 Niccolò di Luca Zorzi10. 3. 1448Benedetto Cotrugli19. 10. 1448Sigismondo Zorzi11. 1. 1449 Niccolò di Luca Zorzi7. 12. 1453 The Florentine Company of Francesco Neroni . . . 163 21 M. Del Treppo, I mercanti catalani e l’espansione della Corona d’Aragona nel secolo XV, Napoli 1972, pp. 55, 300, 312, 324-327, 777. 22 L. Boschetto, Tra Firenze e Napoli. Nuove testimonianze sul mercante umanista BenedettoCotrugli e sul suo Libro dell’arte di mercatura, in “Archivio Storico Italiano”, 2005, pp. 687-715.
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