History of inequality, history of capitalism, history of money, economic policy, development of the welfare state.
Major and Minor Fields
European History - Early Modern
History of Economy, Technology and Society
History of the early modern Atlantic World
Private Wealth, Public Profits: Moral Economies in sixteenth century Italy
My dissertation, Private Wealth, Public Profits: Moral Economies in sixteenth-century Italy examines the development of public welfare in Italian city-states. Inequality in early modern societies was a societal issue that could spell disaster especially in times of famine where those with liquidity to purchase food could survive while rest starved. Christianity, the dominant religion on the Italian Peninsula, provided the public with some sense as to what equitable wealth distribution resembled and became a potent rhetorical force to lobby for solutions. Merchants and nobles, the richest in Italian societies, responded to these considerations with complex financial schemes that recirculated wealth throughout their communities but also yielding considerable profits and political benefits. My project compares the activities of Lorenzo di Filippo Strozzi of Florence (1482-1549) and Count Giovanni Pepoli of Bologna (1521-1585). They created elaborate grain provisioning initiatives to counteract the effects of runaway inflation of food prices during famines. Strozzi owned substantial agricultural holdings whose yields he sold in local markets at reduced prices for cash which he then deposited in Florence’s Monte di Pietà, a charity for the poor that payed interest on deposits to incentivize donations. Pepoli ran a food provisioning operation where he stockpiled grain. When famine struck, he would sell from his supply below market value for cash that he would then recirculate by replenishing his reserve once the famine abated. At this stage, my research suggests that the success of these inclusion initiatives is best measured politically for their designers and economically for their beneficiaries. Strozzi and Pepoli did not get significantly wealthier with their ventures. Their patrimonies remain largely unchanged in their lifetimes. However, irrespective of financial outcomes, they secured public approval and political security throughout their lives.