Proposal preview

Weaving links: Cloth production, trade and consumption in the Renaissance Mediterranean

The history of textiles in the early modern world has recently become a subject of renewed scholarly attention. Historians are increasingly exploring the role of textile production on the global evolution of economies, through the circulation of raw materials and of finished cloth. In particular, textile production and consumption was a significant driving force of the late medieval and early modern economy. Whether luxurious silks or simple cottons, textiles served purposes beyond the merely practical. Textiles traveled between cultures, connecting markets, spreading design characteristics and production techniques. More than just commodities to be traded on an economic front, they were sources of cultural exchange spurred by long-distance interactions.

A pertinent area for such an exploration is the intercultural region of the Mediterranean. Textiles defined the development of productive and commercial activities of urban Mediterranean societies where cloth was manufactured or where there was an important market for raw materials. We are particularly interested in the ways in which traded textiles shaped people’s understanding of global processes in the early modern mediterranean.

This session will bring together a group of junior and senior scholars to investigate how textiles connected various political entities, social groups and cultures in the Renaissance Mediterranean The term “textile” covers a wide range of finished products made from a variety of raw materials – a textile is the result of complex interactions between resources, technology, and society. We conceive textiles as ‘boundary crossing objects.’ The circulation of products, the supply chains and markets, as well as the use and consumption of textile products, will form the major topics examined by the participating scholars. We will particularly focus on how trade textiles influenced global economics, social histories, and design aesthetics. The scale of analysis of the different papers will range from local to a broad spatial coverage, with case studies from Asia to Africa.

Organizer(s)

  • Ingrid Houssaye Michienzi French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)-UMR 8167 Orient & Méditerranée houssayeingrid@gmail.com

Session members

  • Juan Vicente García Marsilla , Universitat de València
  • Ingrid Houssaye Michienzi, French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)-UMR 8167 Orient & Méditerranée
  • Mathieu Arnoux, Université Paris Diderot / EHESS
  • Luca Molà, European University Institute (Florence)
  • Agnès Pallini-Martin, Grant of the French Association for Economic History for the WEHC 2018 (AFHE)

Discussant(s)

  • Giorgio Riello University of Warwick G.Riello@warwick.ac.uk

Papers

Panel abstract

This session will investigate the role played by textiles in shaping economic production and connections in the Mediterranean area during the period 1400-1600. The circulation of products, the supply chains and markets, the use and consumption of textile products will form the major topics of our investigation, with an emphasis on how traded textiles influenced global economics, social history, and design aesthetics. We aim at connecting economic history, material culture and the history of consumption. By focusing on material exchanges between Asia, Europe, and Africa, this session will trace the movements of objects through networks of trade and consumption.

1st half

Imported fabrics and their social reach in Valencia and its kingdom (14th- 15th centuries)

Juan Vicente García Marsilla - Universitat de València, Spain

Through post-mortem inventories and auctions from the rich Valencian archives, our proposal here is to study the presence of imported textiles in the homes of people of different social classes and from different geographical areas, within the ancient kingdom of Valencia. We want to verify until where these cloths arrived, what were their origins, qualities, prices and colours, trying to establish also an evolution of these imports over two centuries.

Through post-mortem inventories and auctions from the rich Valencian archives, our proposal here is to study the presence of imported textiles in the homes of people of different social classes and from different geographical areas, within the ancient kingdom of Valencia. We want to verify until where these cloths arrived, what were their origins, qualities, prices and colours, trying to establish also an evolution of these imports over two centuries.

Textiles from Europe to North Africa. Trade, taste and colors around 1400.

Ingrid Houssaye Michienzi - French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)- Orient & Méditerranée UMR 8167 (Paris)

Few documents written in late medieval and early modern times provide accurate information about textile trade in Africa. The Datini archive is an exception. Thanks to this extraordinary documentation it is possible to see which products were then exported, who were the essential buyers and what were the tastes of the different consumers.

Few documents written in late medieval and early modern times provide accurate information about textile trade in Africa. The Datini archive is an exception. Thanks to this extraordinary documentation it is possible to see which products were then exported, who were the essential buyers and what were the tastes of the different consumers.

Clothing beyond production and trade: the coats of the priest Arlotto

Mathieu Arnoux - Université Paris Diderot / EHESS

Priest Arlotto's collection of misdeeds and jokes (Motti e facezie del Piovano Arlotto), an emblematic figure of the Florentine people in the second half of the 15th century, offers multiple references to his clothing and makes it possible to sketch a socio-economy of clothing in the popular or middle categories. The paper will show how this casual and discontinuous information offers a coherent view of the links between ostentation and economical use, between the luxury market and the second-hand market. Such records shed light on the actors' games and make it possible to bypass the level of the supply side to which the history of textiles too often stays.

Priest Arlotto's collection of misdeeds and jokes (Motti e facezie del Piovano Arlotto), an emblematic figure of the Florentine people in the second half of the 15th century, offers multiple references to his clothing and makes it possible to sketch a socio-economy of clothing in the popular or middle categories. The paper will show how this casual and discontinuous information offers a coherent view of the links between ostentation and economical use, between the luxury market and the second-hand market. Such records shed light on the actors' games and make it possible to bypass the level of the supply side to which the history of textiles too often stays.

2nd half

Tastes and colors. Ottoman consumption of Florentine textiles around 1500.

Ingrid Houssaye Michienzi - French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)- Orient & Méditerranée UMR 8167 (Paris)

Early modern Florentine business records, comprising of account books and copious correspondence, offer a privileged source for the study of European and Mediterranean trade and culture. In this paper, I will use these extraordinary sources to investigate the material tastes and fashion preferences of Ottoman Empire buyers of Florentine silk and wool cloths in the sixteenth century, and reflect on what impact these preferences had on production.

Early modern Florentine business records, comprising of account books and copious correspondence, offer a privileged source for the study of European and Mediterranean trade and culture. In this paper, I will use these extraordinary sources to investigate the material tastes and fashion preferences of Ottoman Empire buyers of Florentine silk and wool cloths in the sixteenth century, and reflect on what impact these preferences had on production.

Venetian Textiles for the Ottoman Empire: Production, Trade and Competition in the Renaissance

Luca Molà - European University Institute

Since the late 15th century the Ottoman Empire was a major commercial partner for the Venetian Republic. Exports from Venice consisted in large part of luxury and medium-quality textiles produced in the city, which during the 16th century became the most important goods traded with the Levant. The paper will analyze the evolution in the production and commerce of Venetian silk and woolen cloth sent to Anatolia, Syria and Egypt, and its adaptation to different markets. It will also discuss the competition these fabrics faced from the products of Genoa and Florence, and the strategies that Venetian artisans and merchants adopted in order to overcome their rivals.

Since the late 15th century the Ottoman Empire was a major commercial partner for the Venetian Republic. Exports from Venice consisted in large part of luxury and medium-quality textiles produced in the city, which during the 16th century became the most important goods traded with the Levant. The paper will analyze the evolution in the production and commerce of Venetian silk and woolen cloth sent to Anatolia, Syria and Egypt, and its adaptation to different markets. It will also discuss the competition these fabrics faced from the products of Genoa and Florence, and the strategies that Venetian artisans and merchants adopted in order to overcome their rivals.

Textile trade and consumption in Lyon in the Early Modern Period: the wardrobe of a Florentine merchant

Agnès Pallini-Martin - Grant of the French Association for Economic History for the WEHC 2018 (AFHE)

Textile trade largely took place at the fairs in Lyon and the Italians, Florentines in particular, were the best actors of trade. The merchants exported of Italy luxuries silks and wool (drappi and panni), and imported raw cottons and wool from France or England for example. Through the study of the wardrobe of one of these men, specifically Giuliano da Gagliano, we want to explore the availability and production of textiles in Lyon, and to explain the extent to which the choice of clothes also reflects a political choice for a new man.

Textile trade largely took place at the fairs in Lyon and the Italians, Florentines in particular, were the best actors of trade. The merchants exported of Italy luxuries silks and wool (drappi and panni), and imported raw cottons and wool from France or England for example. Through the study of the wardrobe of one of these men, specifically Giuliano da Gagliano, we want to explore the availability and production of textiles in Lyon, and to explain the extent to which the choice of clothes also reflects a political choice for a new man.