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CRRS Erasmus Lecture — Francesca Trivellato: “Jacob Burckhardt and the Economic Historians of Renaissance Florence: A Missed Encounter”

October 2, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Fra Angelico, St Nicholas Saves the Ship (Perugia altarpiece, detail), 1437

Abstract: In his landmark 1860 The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Jacob Burckhardt identified individualism as a hallmark of the Italian Renaissance. During the decades to come, several modern social theorists, and Max Weber in particular, elevated individualism to a defining trait of modern capitalism. But the individualism that Burckhardt and Weber evoked meant different things. This talk will explore the implications of this difference, which has so far gone unacknowledged, for the economic and business history of Renaissance Florence. Borrowing from Trivellato’s work in progress, it will also suggest alternative ways of thinking about the relationship between the family and the firm, a topic that has long polarized the scholarship on Renaissance Florence.

Bio: Francesca Trivellato is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of History in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She previously taught at Yale University for fifteen years. Her work revolves around a broad set of questions about the organization and the culture of the marketplace in early modern Europe and the Mediterranean. Her first book was a study of Venetian glass manufacturing and its commercialization in regions near and far: Fondamenta dei vetrai: Lavoro, tecnologia e mercato a Venezia tra Sei e Settecento (Rome: Donzelli, 2000). In 2009, Yale University Press published her prize-winning The Familiarity of Strangers: The Sephardic Diaspora, Livorno, and Cross-Cultural Trade in the Early Modern Period. Her most recent book is The Promise and Peril of Credit: What a Forgotten Legend about Jews and Finance Tells us about the Making of European Commercial Society (Princeton University Press, 2019). Trying to make sense of a new wave of scholarship, in 2010 she wrote a review essay on “Renaissance Italy and the Muslim Mediterranean in Recent Historical Work,” Journal of Modern History, 82 (1): 127-55.

A graduate of the University of Venice, Trivellato earned a Ph.D. in economic and social history from the Luigi Bocconi University (Milan) and a Ph.D. in history from Brown University. She served as an assistant professor at the University of Venice before coming to Yale University in 2004, where she was named the Frederick W. Hilles Professor of History in 2012, then Barton M. Biggs Professor of History in 2017. Her honours include fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for Advanced Study, the American Academy in Berlin, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She has been a visiting professor at SciencesPo and the EHESS in Paris, as well as Monash University in Melbourne.

Tea/coffee will be served at 4:00pm, and the lecture will begin at 4:15pm.


October 2, 2019
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies


Alumni Hall, Victoria College
91 Charles St W.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K5 Canada
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