The early development of the Florentine economy, c.1100-1275
This thesis examines Florentine demographic and economic expansion during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Around the year 1200, Florence was still a second-rate town in Tuscany, overshadowed in terms of size and economic vitality by Pisa, Lucca, and Siena, all of which had grown substantially during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Florence, by contrast, began to expand appreciably only towards the middle of the twelfth century. Around the beginning of the thirteenth century, the other major Tuscan towns ceased to expand, but Florence was entering its most profound period of growth. Between 1175 and 1275, Florence grew from a second-rate town in Tuscany into the largest and most economically dynamic city in the region. By the early fourteenth century, Florence had become one of the largest cities in all of western Europe. This study addresses both the late development of Florence in relation to other Tuscan towns and its ultimate supersession of these towns, and it examines Florentine development in the context of regional development in Tuscany. It considers the expansion of Florentine urban jurisdiction in the surrounding countryside, demographic growth in the city itself and in the Florentine hinterland, agricultural productivity, the development of urban manufacturing and finance, Florentine trade both within Tuscany and in other Italian regions, the development of an integrated trade infrastructure around the city, and the coordination of local, regional, and supra-regional trade. Before 1100, Florentine growth was constrained by jurisdictional fragmentation within the territory of Florence, but the commune was beginning to assert its jurisdictional authority in the surrounding countryside in the early twelfth century. Jurisdictional fragmentation raised the costs of trade in the territory and compelled Florence to satisfy many of its basic needs by recourse to trade in external markets, but jurisdictional integration in the territory gradually lowered transaction costs and increased the benefits of trade. Reduced trading costs within the territory enabled Florence to coordinate the development of local trading networks with regional and supra-regional trading networks. The growth of Florence was also a result of regional development within Tuscany as a whole. The growth of other Tuscan towns towards their maximum levels of expansion in the twelfth century created both opportunities and pressures for intra-regional trade in Tuscany and for inter-regional trade between Tuscan towns and other trading centres situated beyond the frontiers of Tuscany, which encouraged development at a central location that was favourably situated to articulate supra-regional trade. Florence was by no means the only contender for the role, but geography, politics, the sheer dimensions of its territory, and, paradoxically, the strength of seigniorial power in the territory, ultimately favoured Florence over other possible sites in north-central Tuscany.