Vittore Branca. Merchant Writers: Florentine Memoirs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Trans. by Murtha Baca. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015. x, 407p. ISBN 9781442637146. CAN $75.00 (hardback).
Students, scholars and more casual investigators of the Italian Middle Ages and early Renaissance have good reason to celebrate the publication of Murtha Baca’s expert translation of Vittore Branca’s Mercanti scrittori. If not transformed, our usual notion of the mercantile experience of this period will at least be greatly expanded and enriched by the documents assembled in this volume – ranging from the conduct book-like prescriptions of Paolo da Certaldo’s Book of Good Practices to the picaresque fanfaronade of Bonaccorso Pitti’s Memoirs – produced by the same industrious hands that count out the florins, wield the daggers, and bury the countless victims of violence and plague that darken these pages.